Sunday, November 30, 2008

There will be singing.

Today was just about a perfect day, let me tell you.  It went a little bit like this:
  1. Awesome breakfast.  Omelet with Chad's dad's eggs, onions and mushrooms, with some ricotta cheese folded into the eggs, parmesan on top, and a little bit of a sliced tomato, also courtesy of Chad.  Cornmeal muffins.  Juice.  All eaten while reading the papers.
  2. Long chat with the Scotlands, extra delightful.
  3. Long walk with the historian and Bruiser.  A side of playing on the school playground (don't tell anyone, it's against school rules).
  4. Shower.  Reading Irish detective novel.  Nap.
  5. Modest dinner.
  6. Sang oratorio like it was my job.
I have always wanted to do a Messiah sing-in, but never got organized to do it.  But my niece sorted things out and got my mom, my aunt, myself, and herself tickets, so tonight we went downtown, settled ourselves into our excellent seats at Abravanel hall, and did a combination of listening to the soloists, and singing with the chorus/audience, that was pretty much the funnest thing ever.  Let me just say that there were pieces I remembered and did pretty well at executing, especially if no one was listening too closely; there were parts I remembered but could not pull off anymore (hello, long running passages!); there were songs I don't quite believe I have ever actually sung.  Or maybe even heard, come to think of it.  

But I did my best! I had fun doing it! I think there should be a lot more singing, possibly year-round but at least during the holidays.  I have a longterm goal that I'm moving up the priority list, to find a choir to sing with.  It would  be fun if it were with someone I know, like singing son, but that may not be possible.  Singing, however, is always possible.  Make more time for singing!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bad development = awesome pictures.

My whole camera situation has been kind of an ordeal lately.  An ordeal, in the sense that I have three main cameras, so y'know, the ordeal of having too much stuff, which pretty much means, "quit whining, my God!"  Although, this is a blog, which means whining is the whole discourse, right?  Or at least it's totally allowed.  In point of fact, however, there is little actual whining in this post. Read on!

What I'm trying to say is, my Fuji had a zoom error message, which meant, when all was said and done, that I paid two-thirds of the value of the camera    --original value!--to fix it, because it made me sad to think of not fixing it, what with the beautiful pictures of Fourth of July fireworks I shot this summer. I had to send it to the manufacturer.  In New Jersey.  Using the actual, physical mail.  As in U.S. Mail.  It took forever (weeks) and I despaired that it would ever come back to me (I actually called them.  On the actual phone.).  Important fact:  the camera was not fixed and/or in my hands when I left for my New England swing trip.  Which meant:  the little hp camera with negative useable megapixels (exaggeration) and negligible zoom (true fact).  

Also, I took my splendid 35mm camera.  For an alternative.  My daughter and I took turns using it during the weekend.  

Back in Utah, at Target, I took my 8 rolls of 35mm film, half black and white, half color, to the one hour photo developing place.  We agreed I'd come back in a couple of hours, because that many rolls is plenty of film.  I'm pretty sure I'm one of only a handful of people still using film. Pretty soon you're going to have to pay a lot of money to develop film.  Actually, I paid quite a bit for these, but never mind.

When I came back to Target, the film developing person looked anxious and sweaty.  She'd tried to call me.  On my landline phone.  Something was up with the chemicals.  And their tech hadn't yet arrived.  So my photos were going to take a little longer.  Fine, I said.  No problem. I'll come back tomorrow.

When tomorrow arrived, I moseyed on up to Target, where they were still! not quite done, but they would be done in 45 minutes.  So I looked at stuff and bided my time and when 45 minutes had elapsed, I picked up my photos and guess what? The chemicals must still have been off and whatever that tech did, my photos were nonetheless a very odd mix of crazy weird bad development and pristine, mad gorgeous ones.

What's most interesting to me, however, is that the bad ones are in some ways the best ones. Ghostly, strange, off, eerie. Who knows if this is the development, or our picture-taking chops, or something crazy happening to the camera, or what.  But they're beautiful. See what I mean?

Friday, November 28, 2008

While out and about today, I saw

And now, I am watching the Jazz finish putting away the Sacramento Kings. Who loves the Ronnies, both Price and Brewer? Who loves C.J. "The Kid" Miles?  Who loves Paul "You better never underestimate me ever again" Millsap? I know I do.  

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Just a few things this day reminded me I'm thankful for:
  • my Mom and Dad.  We got to sit around after almost everyone was gone and talk about the cross-country trips we used to take, driving from Tucson to Georgia--what a treat!  
  • my sister and her family.  I always love a family party when I get to hang out with them--my nieces and my sister and her husband.  Peerless folks, all.
  • my own kids, who today were with other parts of their families and, in some cases, in other parts of the world.  They make my life sweet and they are each of them a great joy to me.
  • music.  My aunt Sal, niece Diane, and I played three hands at the piano, and then Sally and I played this Mozart four hands at the piano sonata we've been saying we'll learn--it was so much fun.
  • a house to live in.
  • food to eat.
  • a hive of family relationships that buoy me up and make me feel whole.
  • my beautiful, cherished husband.
  • wonderful friends, old and new.
. . . and much, much else that it's too late to post.  11:59!  

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Eight of this, eight of that.

My friend Ann was tagged to do this and because it's kind of irresistible, I'm doing it too:

8 Shows I watch

  • 30 Rock
  • The Office
  • Mad Men
  • The Closer
  • Saving Grace
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent
  • Damages
  • Frasier

 8 Restaurants I love

8 Things I did yesterday

  • Worked on a poem
  • Took Bruiser for a walk
  • Picked stuff up and put it back at T.J. Maxx
  • Made hash out of roasted vegetables
  • Had a great conversation with a baby (Will)
  • Talked to several of my children
  • Drank a pot of tea
  • Blogged (of course!)

8 things I'm looking forward to

  • Christmas
  • Thanksgiving
  • The movies tonight with the historian
  • Seeing my missionary son again
  • AWP
  • Breakfast, tomorrow and every day
  • Jan. 20
  • Seeing my Scotland daughter again, whenever that may be!

8 Things on my wish list

  • Live in France for some unspecified period of time, but long enough that it’s “live” and not “visit”
  • All sorts of trips with the historian—the above France one, an Eastern swing (Montreal with a side of Ottawa maybe, Maine, etc), a Southern swing, down the Mississippi, an historic L.A. and environs trip, . . .
  • Better organizational abilities and less stuff, probably, although I kind of love my stuff
  • A Kitchen-Aid stand mixer, yellow, like Lis's
  • One of those crazy digital pens that takes a movie of when you’re writing
  • All sorts of awesome cameras, like the one Jeff Bridges uses, for instance.
  • Another book
  • Just a whiff of my youth back

8 things I love, in no particular order

  • My wonderful, adorable husband
  • My splendid, gorgeous, talented, hilarious children, each and every one of them
  • My darling grandchildren
  • My house
  • My crazy garden
  • My awesome dog
  • My fabulous parents
  • My amazing siblings
  • The movies (that’s nine!)

8 things I can’t stand, in no particular order

  • L.A. Lakers, doesn’t matter which era or the personnel
  • Pompous blowhards of any stripe (takes one to know one, though)
  • Being patronized.  I am positively allergic to this.
  • Bad restaurants.  There is just no reason.
  • Giving up hope
  • Movies where they blow stuff up while the hero walks away with cascading sheets of flame in the background with a hard rock musical background (more movies than any of us would care to admit)
  • That one Michael Haneke remake of his own sadistic movie.  Funny Games. Yeah. I can’t stand that, and I only saw the trailer.
  • People who think they’re the boss of me  

8 people I'm tagging:

I would love to hear these things, in whole or in part, from any of my blogging circle family and friends!

Emendation:  I tag theorris, my daughters, my son, dr. write, lis, and otterbutt!  Accept that, theorris.  I command it! (btw, I am thankful for all of you, which is why I am tagging you!)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Because I spend almost every day alone, at least most of the day, I have lots of time, as you might imagine, for thinking about myself.  Myself and the future of democracy, but myself, certainly. This has yielded the following insight, which I'm sure you will find fascinating (me me me me me.  Me!) (and this is worthy of a block indent):
I have a powerful case of Don't-You-Tell-Me-What-to-Do syndrome, with ancillary symptoms of You're-Not-the-Boss-of-Me.
Today, as on most days, I got up, put on my take a walk clothes, made myself some breakfast while working out some of the kinks I worked up during the nighttime hours (also called "sleep"), read the paper, checked my e-mail and The Huffington Post in case democracy faltered during the night.  And so on.  Bruiser, who knows that mornings usually result in a walk for him, is very patient for about 75 percent of this, but about the time I've refreshed Huffington for the third time, he comes over and says, Hey!  and then Hey! again.  Because a dog has only so much patience, and then Hey! it's time for the walk already.

Today I decided I'd get everything ready without Bruiser noticing, so as to avoid the nudging and the standing in my way and the gaze boring into mine.  Because all that amounts to a dog telling me what to do and trying to be the boss of me.  A dog.  Bossing me around.  And by God, I just can't stand that.  Why, I'll show him.  I'll delay the walk until I dang well feel like taking a walk.  A walk that makes me feel good, invariably, that lifts my spirits and eases up the kinks and takes me out into God's own world, &c.  

I'd like to report that being aware of this absurd and yet apparently permanent state of teenage rebellion undoes its stubborn power.  I'd like to report that.  I really would. I would especially like to say that I realize that MY DOG IS NOT TRYING TO BOSS ME AROUND.  My solution, as of today, is to try to beat Bruiser at his own game, starting the walk before he expects it.  This will work for approximately one and a half days, because then he'll recalculate and start with the nudging at an earlier hour.  That dog! He needs to get over himself! I already HAVE a mom and dad! 

Monday, November 24, 2008


Today I heard about the death of a friend's son in a plane accident.  It's the devastating thing--this boy, full of life, just 25, gone just like that.  Even just hearing about it, it's the kind of thing that shakes you.  I sometimes have to talk myself down from the cliff of my fears for my kids, and now their kids--I think most parents do, at least sometimes.  It's a thought you barely allow to enter your mind, and then you have to glance off it.  It's unbearable.  I am thinking of his mother and that's another thought I have to glance off--it, too, is unbearable.

My folks asked me to send them some pictures of my kids for a project they're doing, so tonight I've been sifting through a million images of my beloveds (please, please be safe).

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cooking: a mathematics lesson.

Story problem: You have invited your family to dinner. There will be a total of 10 adults, four kids (ages three to five), two toddlers, and two infants. Your menu includes baked pasta, two kinds; a salad of lettuce, persimmons, gorgonzola, and toasted pecans; fresh baguette; roasted broccoli and cauliflower; and deconstructed apple pie for dessert. Given these facts, solve for the following:
  • pounds of pasta 
  • quarts of tomato sauce
  • heads of lettuce
  • handsful of pecans to toast
  • heads of broccoli and cauliflower
  • pounds of apples
Extra credit question:  what is the area required in the refrigerator for the leftovers, even after you have packed up all of the remainder of one kind of baked pasta for the kids as they leave, if you overestimate each and every item on the menu? By a factor of two?  

I will say, in my defense, that (1) there will be no need to cook tomorrow, since there is plenty of food, including dessert, and (b) we had a swell time and everything tasted splendid.  Check with anyone.

Friday, November 21, 2008

And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together.

In Isaiah there are actually wolves and fatlings in this scripture, but anyway:  drunk on sunshine, Bruiser and the cat had nothing to say to each other except "[yawn]":

What a great day.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Memorandum to my cable television.

TO:         The Downstairs DISH box and DVR

FROM:   Hightouchmegastore

RE:          Your failure to provide me with the television programming and digital video recording that I have paid for and is therefore rightfully mine to expect

DATE:     20 November 2008

It's been six months now since the Great Downstairs Renovation of 2008.  The panelling of death has been removed.  Paint has been applied to the walls.  A new-to-us retro-tastic sectional sofa, cobalt blue, has been purchased, delivered, and attractively arranged for socializing and, yes, let it be said, television watching.  But you, downstairs DISH box and DVR, are not even speaking to the television.  You and the television are not communicating.  The television gives me static.  You make spinning sounds in your self-contained universe.  What are you doing in there?  Working a treadle? Knitting a sweater? Running the dishwasher?

All I know is, they's no shows a-transmittin' on the T.V.  No pictures or banter or dvr'd episodes of Family Guy.  Nothing is what you are delivering.  Nothing.  

More, you act like there's nothing wrong.  I try to reset you, you make your obliging spinning sound. Like you're God, setting the gyroscope of the earth on its axis. Still nothing.  I check your cables and tighten them and still: nothing.   

The worst is calling the DISHOverlord at 1-888-FUT-ILE*.  Here's what the DISHOverlord Robot says to you:  "Did you know that many problems with your DISH television can be solved via your remote?  Are you in front of your television with your remote?  If not, hang up and call back later."  Try talking your way through this problem with the eventual human who shows up on the line:  "Uh, well, let me start about six months ago.  We were doing some work downstairs.  Well, actually, the problem is, well, when we got it going about a month ago, there was a message about a smart card?  But now I can't . . . I can't even get that message back.  It's like.  But. I can't." And so on &c.  It's a nightmare and I'm blaming it on you, downstairs DISH box and DVR.  The Overlord is just gratuitous humiliation.

Please organize yourself and take care of this situation; I'll expect a report when things are back to normal and order is restored.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Literary life.

It's been awhile since I whined about
--I mean updated you--on my literary exploits.  I know! What a terrible oversight!  Thank God I can't think of anything else to blog about.

May I just say that this narcissism--I mean navel-gazing--I mean self-reflection--is stimulated by the fact that I heard Dr. Write read tonight.  She was excellent--the idiosyncratic voices of her stories, read in her trademark unprepossessing and supercool style.  Her writing makes you glad there is such a thing as writing.  Which leads me to this point:  lately, I am writing but not finishing.  

Case in point, I have a piece of writing that I feel great confidence is going to be a terrific poem that will break your heart.  I'm pretty sure that it will break my own heart.  I feel this way especially when I just look at the piece of writing, but I am kind of terrified to press on, to try to find a form for it, to add things or take things out.  As long as I don't write it, I told my friend tonight after the reading, I haven't yet wrecked it.

Why does writing always make me feel like a rank beginner?  

I made a promise to myself that I would have this poem drafted by the next time there's a reading--two weeks from now--and I will read it at the open.  So I may have to break my heart a dozen times, or even more than that, within the next two weeks.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

So, I mean, it's cool if you keep quiet, but I like singing.

Rolling Stone recently named its "100 Greatest Singers of All Time" (top 10: Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, John Lennon, Marvin Gaye, Bob Dylan, Otis Redding, Stevie Wonder, and James Brown). Since they included Tom Waits and Lou Reed among this stellar company, I must conclude that pure vocal beauty is not the sole criterion for inclusion, and therefore, I offer the following as some of my favorite voices, many of which are beautiful but all of which are compelling to me--voices I'm never sorry to hear:
  • Annie Lennox
  • Brian Wilson
  • Regina Spektor
  • Bryan Ferry
  • Stephen Stills
  • that guy from Depeche Mode
  • Gillian Welch
  • Rufus Wainwright
  • Jeff Buckley
  • Jimmie Dale Gilmore
  • Joni Mitchell
  • Kate Bush
  • Mavis Staples
  • Marianne Faithfull
  • Nellie McKay
  • Patty Scialfa
  • Peggy Lee
  • Chrissie Hynde
  • Michael Stipe
  • Richard Thompson
  • Rickie Lee Jones
  • Shawn Colvin
  • Prince
  • Sylvester Stone
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Taj Mahal
  • Al Green
  • Jim Kerr
  • Youssou N'Dour
and, frankly, Tori Amos, Bono, Van Morrison, and Eddie Vedder.

Who makes your heart sing?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Utah, I am home.

Why are you unseasonably warm, Utah? Why are you developing a bad case of the smogs? Why does airline travel make one feel as though the blood has thickened ever so fatally in one veins, and also, and curiously, sweaty?

Utah, I have stories to tell about the curious pleasures of airports: a reason to read Esquire, a moment or 200 to oneself, the chance to read a whole book at a time, time to contemplate one's next move, time to think about and feel everything about the trip--how much fun one had and how much one misses the daughter one visited--and about home. But I am glad not to be in an airport now, even giving the airports their props--the flights were on time, people were helpful, my bag made it with me despite having to change airlines and a stop in Denver, both ways.

Mainly, though, Utah, I am glad to reconnect to my own life and routine. I am very glad to be with my husband. Tomorrow, I will develop rolls and rolls of film. I will be glad to have the photos to remind me of my darling daughter and of the wonderful places we visited together. I will take Bruiser (I believe he was named State Dog in my absence) for a walk. I will go to the bank and write a poem and begin reading a new book. I will see loved ones and eat Utah vegetables. I need to be here, I am glad to be here, though my heart, it turns out, my heart is both here and also everywhere.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Clam chowder: requiem for a dream.

Since today was the last day of running around New England, I determined that today would also be the day I had clam chowder for lunch. Driving from Maine to Provincetown? Surely there would be chowder opportunities aplenty. Alas, when college daughter and I left Maine, we neglected to calculate the effect that a breakfast beverage might have on, oh, say, when or where we might stop to pee.

Skip ahead to Hwy. 6, halfway between Boston and Provincetown. We were navigating by holding a spit-finger to the wind, and the wind was saying, "I don't know where in THE hell we are, and as for a clean public restroom? Beats the hell outta me." Also, one might consider the fact that many locations on the Cape are vacation-y and therefore--oh, and also, it's Sunday--closed for the season.

So, we're in thriving downtown Barnstable, made up, as far as we could tell, by equal parts Episcopal churches, fire stations, gorgeous picturesque houses, and closed antique stores. Our GPS robot was telling us about restaurants that may or may not have been in the area, in any direction from where we were driving. We chose a restaurant with Dolphin in the title. (Have you forgotten that we needed to pee? Don't forget this fact.) And lo! The Dolphin appeared before us, along with the Barnstable Tavern and the Village Cafe.

The Dolphin looked very swanky and also possibly only barely open, and very swanky seemed in excess of our needs, so we turned around and thought, Village Cafe, just a couple of locations back. We hopped out of the car, our bladders doing all the reasoning for us. We stepped into the cafe and lo! it had the smell of two decades' worth of deep-fried food, which my actual brain processed just as the proprietress said, "Sit anywhere you want," and my mouth said, "Mind if we use the restroom first?" and my soul screamed, "NO NO NO NO NO!"

I am an old-fashioned girl, and once you've decided to avail yourself--gratefully!--of an establishment's facilities, it is my view that you must buy something there. They don't just have a restroom so anyone in the world can just casually stop by to pee without also ordering up some fries or a sandwich or something. Or chowder.

And so, dear reader, I ordered the chowder. At the counter. And the waitress said, "Ohhhhh, chowder, right, it's on the menu but I don't think we have it on Sunday."

Deeply disappointing, right? But the cook, behind a fortress made of stainless steel that was probably coated with the grease of the ages, said: "We can heat some up."

"Are you sure?" I said, when a rational person would have said, "Umm, do you have like a bag of pretzels? and a Coke? or, like, maybe a Coke and a bottle of 409 spray and a roll of paper towels?" But no. No, I said, "Great!" And shortly after that, a plastic tub of chowder, labeled "CHOWDER," appeared from the walk-in and disappeared behind the stainless steel. And then, probably three minutes and thirty seconds later, the chowder appeared, in a shallow bowl, over the stainless steel barrier. With some steam wafting, a positive omen, I thought.

But I was wrong.

No, the chowder was lukewarm, or rather, of uneven heat, sort of how a big bowl of soup is when you microwave but do not stir. Moreover, the soup was extra salty, as if salt were the only possible seasoning ever to grace chowder. There it sat, looking like the paragon of chowder, clam-filled and potato-y and even a little creamy. Why was it so nasty? Why?

Here's what I did and did not do: I did not ask for more nuke to be applied to my soup. I did not not eat the soup. No, I sprinkled both packets of oyster crackers on the surface of the soup, and I ate each little cracker, lightly anointed with the soup, telling myself this: "Having made the deal to be polite and eating in a sorry place where even my low(ered) expectations were disappointed, I am not going to change the deal now. No, I will eat the misbegotten chowder and enough of it that I will not have to explain my not finishing it. I like oyster crackers. I like them!" I said this as the chowder cooled and got, yes, nastier.

My daughter asked me if perhaps I wanted to try to redeem my chowder luncheon by finding better chowder for dinner. No, no, I did not. The experience had embittered me. I may or may not eat chowder again, but it will be a cold day in hell before I order it again at a restaurant where the chowder has not been vetted by experts, aka, by me myself at a previous occasion. Even then. The whole concept seems fraught with peril. Milk, clams, potatoes, onions . . . I'm sure there is a long and storied history of how this came to be a beloved American dish, but I'm thinking that the real genius of the soup world is the inventor of the oyster cracker. Now there's a dish no one can screw up.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Maine: observations.

1. Maine has more mottos and slogans than it needs ("Dirigo," or I direct; "Vacationland"; "Worth a Visit, Worth a Lifetime"; "The Way Life Should Be"). I saw the latter three of these on signs within the first few minutes of being in the state. Dave Barry suggests "Cold, but Damp." It rained all day, sometimes harder than other times. On the other hand,
2. It's still quite breathtaking beautiful, the parts I've seen. We were at Cape Neddick today at sunset, when the sky decided, miraculously, to clear just to put on a show, over the crashing waves and an insanely picturesque lighthouse. Ridiculous. I have pictures.
3. The Atlantic? Vast.
4. Plenty of fish, not enough blueberries. Of course, it's November.
5. Dunkin' Donuts: what is it with the donuts here? This observation is mainly about Massachusetts, actually. Many, many donuts and many many donut shops. Never a bad thing in a region, in my opinion.
6. Down East, everything is close together, so you can drive through Massachusetts ("The Spirit of America"), New Hampshire ("Live Free or Die"), and arrive in Ogunquit, ME in just a little over an hour. Picturesque, convenient, and more donuts than any one human might ever need. Is New England great or what.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Changeling: A Movie Review by Hightouchmegastore.

Too long, unexpectedly harrowing crime stuff, arch melodramatics. Angelina Jolie wears excellent lipstick and hats. By the way, she is the heroine.

In other news, today my daughter and I saw pages written by Louisa May Alcott and Henry David Thoreau, and by written, I mean "actually written, as in, the pages encapsulated in plastic are the actual pieces of paper written on in ink by these writers." We saw these pages at the Concord Free Public Library, which is a splendid place. We also went to Salem and took in all sorts of diverse historical hoohah, and by hoohah, I mean "awesome buildings and more stuff than witches, which in itself is very interesting." As in, The House of the Seven Gables, which has (a) seven gables, and (b) a rich and storied history. Did you know Salem was a thriving seaport? That there are many first settlement buildings in Essex county? that you can follow a red painted line all over the historic part of Salem, but that it's kind of a mystery who actually maintains the red line?

Finally, and in summation, GPS contraptions are crazy and annoying, but if you can get in the rhythm of the GPS robot, it might actually help you find the movie theater. There is, of course, no question of the GPS robot getting in your rhythm. No: welcome my friends, welcome to the machine. What did you dream? It's all right--it tells you what to dream.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

East Coast style.

I am in Reading, Massachusetts even as I blog, visiting my daughter, aka college daughter. Highlights of my travel day:
  • finishing The Story of Edgar Sawtelle on the plane, with tears to show for it;
  • finishing the Times crossword puzzle in stages during the day;
  • listening to The Fleet Foxes, the whole thing, on headphones;
  • having not one single hitch in all the arrangements, from check-in to renting a car;
  • arriving at my daughter's place of residence/place of employment and seeing her again!
We have big plans. They include Concord, Salem, a movie, Maine, good dinners, talking and laughing, Nantucket maybe, Provincetown maybe, ancillary talking and laughing. Because it is NaBloPoMo, also a requisite amount of blogging. Check back for updates.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Both hands, alternatively.

On the one hand, I am so excited that I'm going to see my daughter in Boston tomorrow. On the other hand, sometimes I miss the Scotlands so much it makes me a little bit sick inside.

On the one hand, I roasted a lovely piece of squash tonight with the intention of making risotto. On the other hand, by the time the squash was roasted, risotto seemed like kind of a big project, so we ate leftovers.

I find this time of year so beautiful. The early darkness, however, is like automatic melancholy.

On the one hand, I'm glad it's basketball season, but it would be nice if the Jazz weren't making me bite my nails in this last minute of the game (and then losing, dadgummit).

On the one hand, the guy who came to deliver our new-to-us retro-tastic cobalt blue sectional sofa (we can have Jazz game watching parties! board game parties! Mad Men watching marathons!), which we purchased from The Green Ant, said he's never before delivered anything out in our neck of the woods. On the other hand, he said he knew which house it was by the Obama sign.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Leaving me a trail of candy.

Dr. Write tagged me to do the meme--a pressing subject for these dark times, although things are brighter than they used to be--"My Favorite Movies A-Z." Because I am a good citizen, I have prepared my list. There are a few overlaps with hers, but no one said there couldn't be overlaps.

Ahem, and ta-da:

Almost Famous
Bull Durham
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Departed, The
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
French Kiss

Igby Goes Down
Kung Fu Hustle
Lost in Translation
Mysterious Skin
No Country for Old Men
Opposite of Sex, The
Pride & Prejudice (the Keira Knightley one, sue me)
Queen, The
Sexy Beast
Thelma and Louise
Unbearable Lightness of Being
Walk on Water
Year of Living Dangerously, The (also Y Tu Mama Tambien. Also Young Frankenstein.)

Edified? I should think so. I hope my daughters, all three, will accept the challenge, and my son, and my niece Diane, and my nephew Sam.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Good dog.

I am reading The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, which I am finding absorbing, original, enchanting, and other things that I can't exactly articulate. My daughter recommended it to me (Oprah recommended it to her).You know, I'm sure, that the book tells the story of a family who raise and train a special breed of dog.

Last night I couldn't sleep, so I got up, hauling the tome with me. As soon as I got settled, Bruiser pushed the door open and climbed up on the chair next to me, where he stayed while I read for more than an hour in the lamplight. This morning, when, predictably, I was exhausted, and therefore lay back down for a little while, he lay back down right along with me. What a paragon of a dog. What a splendid companion. How he accompanies me in all my moods and ventures.

On the other hand, he did eat a quarter of a leftover pumpkin pie this afternoon while I was out. How delicious he must have found it. His taste! so impeccable!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Still checking.

Who's read this? or this? or this? All terrific, in the new, post-election mode of my obsession.

Meanwhile, moving on, last week I saw this:

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Hightouchmegastore: The Guides for Living.

Part 178.5: Pie-making lessons.

1. A tart is not a pie.
2. Ergo, a pie is not a tart.
3. Ergo (part 2), tart dough and pie dough are not the same thing and should not be thought of as interchangeable.
4. Sometimes your tart dough, which you may be foolishly attempting to use for pie dough, will be contrary. It may want to raise issues, question your authority, try to show you who's boss.
5. You must not let this happen, even if it means stamping your feet and scaring the dog, a little bit.
6. Piecing and pressing together can solve many pie or tart dough issues.
7. Keep everything cold. Keep yourself cool.
8. Sometimes your blender will not be all it should be, such as when you are trying to puree the pumpkin you have roasted. Swearing at the blender may or may not create the necessary motivation, otherwise known as "blending power," to do the job.
9. Try not to get rubber spatula chunks in the puree whilst pushing the pumpkin into the blades.
10. In the end, regardless of the vicissitudes of pastry, blenders, time and the wicked souls of men, the pie will almost certainly still taste pretty good.
11. Usually, even dang good.

Friday, November 07, 2008

"Luxuriant sex opera" or big fat French waste of my time? Discuss.

Tonight, the historian and I went to see Claude Chabrol's A Girl Cut in Two.

This film has Gabrielle, played by Ludivine Sagnier, a lovely and very well-coiffed, made up, and dressed weather girl, falling for a writer who, from all evidence, is an insufferable, personality-less, mot-spouting prick. Apparently, though, he's gonna teach her the sexual ropes, because, well, he's experienced. And old. Married, a degenerate, and did I already say jerk? Jerk.

On the other hand, a sociopathic heir to a chemistry fortune (that sounds pretty hilarious, when you put it that way, but it is not played for laughs in this movie) also falls for her. Dandy-ish, in foppish clothing and a tousled, moppy hairdo, he is scary and stalker-ish. Add to that that his family is insufferable (insufferability is a theme in this film), snobbish . . . the mother has the complexion of a vampire.

With whom will she fall in love? is a wedding in the offing? what will the consequence be? to what depths of depravity will poor Gabrielle fall? what will her dress look like when this happens? and who cares? That is my summation of this good-looking yet tedious film. At least it was set in France--I enjoyed watching the France go by, frame by frame.

I also happen to feel that this film is a little bit overrated, since lots of people are saying things like "impeccably made," "beautifully directed," and "the work of a master." Manohla Dargis says that it's an "erotically charged . . . story of a woman preyed upon by different men and her own warring desires." Charged? Preyed upon? Warring? Okay, but then why did I feel so blah about it, in the end?

I have a friend who claims that there are no good French movies anymore, and at this point, I'm prepared to concede that there is some justice to this . . . check this link for an incomplete listing of French films, decade by decade to decide for yourself. As for this film, you can see for yourself if Wesley Morris is correct about La Fille being a "luxuriant sex opera" or if, as the lights come up, you might find yourself remarking to your viewing companion, "Hmmph." Or perhaps, "Those crazy French." Or even, "Maybe we should have seen Role Models."

Thursday, November 06, 2008

In case you don't have stuff to worry about.

Consider this, from the New York Times (Nov. 4, 2008):

For more public health posters, see this slideshow. And for the love of everything that is holy, never give a germ a break. Never!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The morning after.

When I woke up, my eyes felt like a desert, from the tears of the night before, I think. I had an election hangover, if you will. I checked the interweb, mostly from habit. What were people saying? I think I might miss all those voices I sought out, trawling the commentary sites, the papers, the blab-o-sphere. Although, and on the other hand, I might not miss them all that much. I watched the snow falling. I observed my spirits both rise and . . . not fall, exactly, but I did feel a tiny bit blue. What is that about? I think it's the huge tide of emotion, spilling over when the newsdroids called the election, and the speeches. I was moved by McCain's concession--as gracious as one could ever hope, and then Obama's, which was thrilling and overwhelming and fitting and stirring. I had never heard before how the refrain Yes, we can worked in the context of a whole speech--how the power of it rose and intensified.

I know there's a lot of reasons to be judicious, given everything that's ahead, but I feel full of hope, and today it was good to come back to that, as I took a walk, got ready for the day, wrote, rode the train, started a new book. I kept coming back to that hope, over and over and over again.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

One thing, three ways.

1 There once was a voter from Nantucket
Who went to vote, saw the long line, and said, Ugh. To hell with it.
Voter, I feel your pain,
But you really should have voted anyway.
If I happen to see you on the street, I will kick your ass.


3 (via obsessive consumption)

Monday, November 03, 2008

Stuff that makes me glad.

1. making a splendid dinner out of stuff I have in my house
2. having good stuff in my house to make a splendid dinner (see how that works both ways?)
3. making and eating dinner with people I love
4. the way the fallen poplar and maple leaves make a glowing mosaic on my lawn (really, why rake? overrated.)

Today, after Bruiser and I walked in weather that exemplified what is best about November, I put on a cozy sweater and decided not to worry any more about the election. And I didn't worry. Much. I'll be up early to vote (that's as opposed to voting early).

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Reading the Sunday paper.

The All-Day Protocol:

8:00 a.m. Arise from slumbers. Initiate dog greetings.
8:03 a.m. Begin the day's obsessive internet checking.
8:20 a.m. Assemble Breakfast of Power--buttermilk biscuits with currants, warm beverage, small orange juice, butter and jam.
8:35 a.m. Eat Breakfast of Power whilst perusing this week's Target ad.
8:40 a.m. Organize the New York Times thusly: front section, opinion section, style section, arts section, book review, magazine. Sports, business, and travel sections optional. (This is the dutiful order: news and commentary first, play only after work is done.) Begin reading the front section. "Reading" means "scanning the pages as I turn them." Move on to opinion section.
About 9 a.m. Scotland daughter calls. (newspaper flutters closed)
About 10 a.m. Hang up phone. Where was I? Ah, opinion section. Read the opinions assiduously. Like considering the entrails of a bird or the tea leaves at the bottom of the cup.
10:30 a.m. OMG it's writing group day. Must write poem. Must. Write. Poem.
10: 35 a.m. Begin reading style section. No! Must. Write. Poem.
12:10 p.m. Ugh, draft of poem more or less ready. Finish style section.
12:30 p.m. Take shower to rid self of poem-writing sweat and pre-election worry-stench.
1:oo p.m. Go to OfficeMax to print poem. Is it excellent or is it dross? Discuss with self while driving to writing group.
5:15 p.m. Poem: reviewed. Gossip: exchanged. Writing friendships: renewed.
5:45 p.m. Home. Construct dinner. Eat dinner.
6:22 p.m. Repair to bed because the house is cold, because of the rain and because we haven't bothered to turn up the heat. Why? Take Arts section, book review, and magazine to bed.
6:23 p.m. Commence wrestling with the covers and Bruiser and pillows to get comfortable. Note to self: reading the newspaper prone in bed inefficient and uncomfortable. Finish reading requisite sections in requisite order while prone in bed, interspersed with covers and pillow adjustment.
7:30 p.m. Wash hands to get rid of newspaper ink and cover-wrestling annoyance-chafe-swelter. Turn up heat because hands are cold.
7:32 p.m. Bask in the glow of being thoroughly informed, and having executed faithfully the Sunday ritual. Also, because of the poem. Pet Bruiser and thank him for his assistance.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Hallowe'en stats.

Grandchildren in costume visited: five, plus three on All Saints Day. (For a view of the Scotlandians, see here.)
Amount of candy eaten by dog: can't deliver an accurate figure--those wrappers might have just been in the garbage.
Weather: excellent.
Own costume: raven tee shirt, scary earrings.
Amount of candy left over: ooooh, a lot, and a very good class of candy it is.
Good times: had by all.

Hello, it's National Blog Posting Month! A post a day keeps you healthy, wealthy, and wise, and me happy. C'mon! Post! As for my part, I shall publish and I shall comment.


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