Friday, December 15, 2017

Birthday joy, and chicken soup

Lovely day today, total lazy lounging about, receiving greetings, tweets, and this bouquet from sister dogonart







Just lovely, many colors,  has to be seen from all sides.  Posed in the kitchen, because the winter light's best there, hence the colander which got in there.  Perfect for a winter's day, as well as a birthday, thank you!

And since it's cold enough for snow, in fact it's snowing, it was a good day for chicken soup.  



Chicken thighs, carrots, yam, onions, scallions, garlic, extra chicken bones, big sprig of thyme, half a dozen curry leaves, salt, pepper, bit of Worcestershire added at the end.  Blended just a bit but leaving plenty of whole vegetable pieces.  Duncan bullied me into a bit of shredded chicken in his bowl, on the grounds that he wanted some. So now I have supplies of soup, always a good thing.

And I made a cool discovery, after the cable cord on my tablet sort of wore out.  In the course of looking online to see what I should buy to replace it, I discovered in the q and a that I could try any micro charger.  So I tried my Kindle charger, and it works a treat. Also has a much longer cord.  I was so used the notion that each device had its own charger and none matched any other, that I hadn't noticed this distinct improvement. My phone charger works, too. No shopping required after all.

Yesterday's joys included a visit from a couple in search of a birthday present for the wife, and we had a visit, tea, cake, chat, and found that her birthday is in fact today!  Happy Birthday Irene!  Not sister Irene, another one, but she pronounces it the same way.

So I guess we were all happy, they because they liked the monotype they chose, I because I was happy to send it to a good new home, and we were amused to find we were birthmates.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Birthdays, wine corks and washing machines

Some wonderful people are Sagittarians, not that we Sags believe in astrology, so let me shout out Piper, Diane, Mare, Tarang and Anthony, all celebrating this week!  Happy Birthday everyone, and many many more.  What good company.  I wish you all knew each other.  And I do thank all the great people who let me know they're donating to a food or rescue bank, and making it my birthday gift. I know they're all the sort of people who don't need to be asked, but it's lovely to feel I'm included!

Meanwhile, back on earth, before I even got the credit card statement for the washing machine replacement at my rental, my own machine here at the townhouse went the way of all metal.  Dangit, it pretended to go through the cycle, but was only phoning it in when it came to actually spinning and draining.

Sooooo, back to the people I now know by name, to see about another machine.  The good part is that I know who I'm dealing with now, that they did a good job, was it only two weeks ago, and that this time the space for the new washer is standard size, no going all over creation to find something to fit.

After I get my old Honda beater into the dealer tomorrow for a repair, which is probably, judging by the washing machine prices, going to astonish me.  Sigh.

I have to allow for a nice lady who's coming this week to pick out a piece of art, so I'd better wait a few days before I start emptying the walls, currently covered in art, and moving furniture to let the old washer come downstairs, round two corners, and the new one go up likewise.

Also today a not so good encounter at a local pretty upscale supermarket, where the employee I asked for directions to a product I was in search of, started to ridicule my request.  This happened one time before, different employee, and I read the riot act in writing to the manager, who humbly apologized, ran a staff meeting to remind folks of civility to customers, etc., and I eventually began to shop there again.  

This time I  wasn't so flustered, and met the ridicule with a steely glare and a repeat of my request in low, cold tones.  Whereupon the guy went red, his turn to be flustered and stammered, oh, sorry, sorry, didn't mean, uh, I mean..obviously having finally realized people get fired for this kind of  talk to women nowadays. And that I may be old and small and talk funny, but I can handle bigger men than he. And that he doesn't get to decide what's funny to me. So that store is off my list, and anyone who asks will hear why.

On the other hand, this time it didn't take a formal letter of complaint to elicit an apology.  So possibly the #MeToo wave is starting to wash over nonfamous men, too.  Let's hope.

Meanwhile, back to civilization, in the studio..several books on carving and whittling from the library, and I quickly realized that while I wasn't interested so much in what they suggested,  I'm still interested in some sort of carving adventure. 



And until I get my hands on some wood, I also realized, I have another carveable material to hand.  I've made stamps from wine corks, so I don't want to repeat that, but there are other possibilities.  

Since I can't drink my beloved red wine any more, having fingered it as the culprit in my ever increasing heartburn, dangit, why couldn't it have been oatmeal or whitefish or something, I may as well use up the corks anyway.

This will probably involve carving and painting, silly fun. And while I was waiting for the carving books, these slippers happened. 



What you make when you're waiting to make something.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

First snowfall of winter 2017 to 18

After a long fall and mild temps, flowering cherry trees out in bloom last week, we got our first snowfall of the season. Great air of urgency over our couple of inches! probably very amusing to readers in places where snow has been a feature for months already, complete with whiteouts.



I do admit to running out for milk this morning as the snow started, because with terrible timing, I was completely out.  Milk is a vital life force in this house.

Aside from that, my prep consisted of rummaging through my storage closet outside to find my snow shovel.  That's about it. 

Then indoor plant care was needed, complete with lugging plants about, sweeping up all the fallen leaves from the ficus tree, which is nearly eight feet tall, and at this time of year, when the indoor air is dry and warm, starts losing leaves. She'll recover next spring as soon as she can go outside again.  It's the time of year when I have to cut back on how much I do for indoor plants,since they're slowing down now, and trying to get a bit of a rest.
 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Bored book, chicken and biscuits

Current reading is Bored and Brilliant, really engrossing study of how using tech can splinter our attention, change our brains, and how all is not lost!  A while back I reported on my resolve to recapture my attention span for longer reading, and managed to do it.  Evidently I'm not the only person worrying about thoughts all over the map, and the danger of losing that long term attention span.



And to prove how engrossing it was, I eventually looked up and it was about an hour after I'd planned to start dinner.  That's because when I looked up at the top right corner of the page, there was no time indicator..So I jumped to it, and put the oven on, hot enough for my regular biscuit recipe, a castiron pan in, as it warmed up, then roasted two nice pieces of chicken from the fridge, along with baking the biscuits.  Chicken dusted with kosher salt, lemon zest (from the freezer, always good to have some around) and fennel seeds.



Biscuits done in 12 minutes, at 425F, chicken another ten minutes. Tonight's supper on the plate, tomorrow's chicken and supply of hot biscuits in the background. Really good, and I was able to get back to my book without too much delay. Well, aside from dealing with the smoke alarm which has a personal vendetta against any recipe requiring an oven hotter than a nice gentle 350F.  And toast. It hates toast.

About the book, though, it's really a plan, which people who follow her podcast Note to Self,  know all about, to develop a better use of tech, rather than be leashed to it at all times and feeling unable to complete a task or a thought, even, without checking something, anything.  It's well researched, and I think blogistas who use smartphones more than they ever meant to at the outset might like to look at it.  I heard her discuss the book on WNYC, and since she mentioned her kids, thought at first she had written a board book..noooooo, much better.

Many of our readers are not in the incessant use category, but it's an interesting read, even if for theoretical purposes! A lot of us were, ahem, mature, before the current wave of technology hit, so we have a lot of experience in reading print material, in actual conversation, in real time social life. That helps avoid being overwhelmed.

As an artist, I'm used to focusing on what I need to, and letting my mind go wherever it needs to in the course of developing new works.  In my own experience, the right brain is completely unimpaired by using devices, even my Twitter habit, unlike the analytical left brain, the reading part, which wants everything short and to the point.

I notice, however, and this relates to her point about boredom, that my best art ideas come when I'm tired and have decided to just retire from making art.  Just damn well stop.  That has lasted at most a couple of weeks, then ideas come at me from all over and I have to use them.  And the energy to do it comes back with them. It's emotional as well as mental energy. Art takes a lot of that.  

I think Minoush would probably say, aha, you just stopped dwelling, and let things unfold, that's the point!  And I think it is. Chance favors the fallow mind, as well as the prepared one.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Vicks plant, succulents and incidental finds

At the herb event I attended back in October, I was given a cutting of vicks plant by one of the gardening gurus, and stuck it in water at home until I could see what was what.  This is a velvety plant, which smells of vicks vaporub, in fact I would guess it's the natural origin of that mentholated stuff.  

It promptly rooted in the water, very exciting, then I bust off a piece to see if that would root.  And it did.  So I thought I'd better learn more about this plant.  Turns out it's related to coleus, species plectranthus, no wonder it rooted so obligingly.  And I found a youtube video about propagating, and found it's as easy as busting off pieces and rooting them in potting soil.  They used rooting hormone, which I've never bothered with, not being in a mad rush to get the roots going.

Then, in the course of digging out a suitable pot from the storage closet outside the front door, where I keep a bunch of them with soil in, like prep cooks doing vegetables ahead of time, I picked one out.  And found when the water wouldn't go through very fast, that it was the one I'd put the ginger roots in way back, which I'd given up on.  It got mixed up with the ones with soil but no occupants. But here it goes with a little shoot!  so it's back in the house to await further developments.  When there's something big enough for a pic, I'll pic it.



And another pot did for the little bits of vicks, seen here complete with now empty glass, scissors for cuttings, and spoon, the handle of which made a hole for each cutting.  All highly technical.




Then I put them among their friends, plants do seem to like company, to create a micro climate, but out of the direct sun.  We'll see if we end up with a much bigger set of plants. This is the kitchen, west-facing, window.  Soon I'll have to start cooking in the living room at this rate.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Play with your food!

So I found this idea in Martha Stewart, at the library, today, and thought, hm, that looks like fun.  And I had some wonton wrappers left from the Tiny Pie caper.





Wonton wrappers, folded twice, into quarter moons,  and cut out like those paper stars kids make, unfolded, fried very fast, sprinkled with confectioner's sugar.  I accidentally picked up two one time and had cut them before realizing. So you can do labor saving, and cut them in multiples if you get impatient.


At this point, don't look away for a second!  this is lightning fast frying.








They're crisp, crackly to eat, and just fun, really. 




 Craft and food intersect with this one.

Preserve hike today, bright sun

Great afternoon for a hike on the Preserve, sunny, cold, not windy.  Not many birds in evidence, probably too early in the afternoon, and none on the lake at all.  One sole turkey vulture swooping and soaring overhead, good updraft today.  

Two female deer browsing in the field.  The one you see here in sunlight.



I took a pic from two hundred yards away, and as soon as the little clunk sounded, one of them looked up sharply and watched me for a couple of minutes before she went on feeding. No pix, since their camouflage worked so well in the photo you can't pick them out.

A while later, after I'd walked in the beechwood 




and come out again, she again looked across sharply, but then went on feeding. 




Beaver activity evident today, some big trees felled.  I believe there's a beaver lodge in the lake just below where these trees have been cut down, or gnawed down.

Near here were a couple of fall warblers, judging from the way they fluttered about, like the butterflies of the bird world.  One went to perch in a tall white birch, and was promptly knocked back off it by a robin already in residence.




And I sat at the edge of the lake for a bit, just watching the water. It's very deep indeed here, nobody allowed in or on it, and the fish thrive.


 A fallen cherry tree is host to an interesting colony of fungi which look very much like seashells.


As I got up, a little hitchhiker fell off my sleeve, and began to make her way to some new destination.

So then I came home to tea.

 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Dickinson, Durrells and Mendelson

I did some serious loafing and watching this weekend, having done all the gratitude earlier in the week, celebrating Thanksgiving early. I did turn the game hen leftovers into a nice soup, with carrots and spices.  But food not the centerpiece.

Something has to be really good to keep my attention for an entire evening of viewing, without even the relief of freecell going, or a book, or Twitter, or something.  It's the oh look a bird syndrome.

And it's this

a wonderful film, not a movie, about Emily Dickinson, great acting from Cynthia Nixon, Jennifer Ehle, and other superstars and written and directed by Terence Davies, whose work I didn't know before,  but really should have.

You know how in every good novel, film, piece of music, artwork, there's a passage which just says everything? The whole work is just the setting for that diamond? Like the debate between Rosamund and Dorothea in Middlemarch? Like the man's hand of the boy David in the Michelangelo David?

Here it's the scene where Emily has just shown her work to an admired outsider, and is waiting for him to read and react.  Her silent but totally eloquent waiting and all the emotions, suppressed and bursting out and being corralled in her tiny facial movements   we can read, is just a masterclass in how to do it.  

She's not depicted as a heroine, but as quite difficult and flawed as well as a genius, but full of uncertainty mixed with rock solid belief in her work.  Ehle plays her sister Vinnie, and there's a hilarious little point, obviously an in-joke inserted by the writer or maybe by Nixon, where Emily refers to Pride and Prejudice, and Vinnie brushes it off with yes, yes, I know about that.  Remembering her performance as Elizabeth Bennet, in the most famous production of PP there ever was!  It was a delicious moment.

And then, hardly fair to them, I came next evening to see the first season of The Durrells in Corfu, sort of loosely based on Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals.  



It went fine for a couple of episodes, lovely scenery, getting to know a quirky family.  Then it seemed to me that the writers began to think that scenery, wildlife and Keeley Hawes as Mrs. Durrell weren't enough to keep on with, and introduced some wildly awkward subplots and deeply uneasy dialog about sexuality.  

Best roles were the boy playing young Gerry, and the man playing Theodore his tutor. Oh, and the woman playing Lugaretzia, the dramatic housekeeper, was good.  The others were largely overractors, trying so hard to be funny or poignant or something, and just sort of acting. Okay, but it did suffer from being seen after A Quiet Passion.

I doubt if I'll follow them to the second season.  But if you can deal with accordions as well as bouzouki music, you might like this one. 

Then there's a thing I just noticed about this, the great classic tome about housekeeping
 


Packed with research and detail, and very useful in a lot of ways.  But when it comes to actually making a home, though she claims this knowledge is part of it, I see a gaping hole in her attentions.
I searched all over for mention of houseplants, since to me they are a wonderful source of life, clean air, peace, and a bond with nature, in your home all year.  And there they weren't.  

I looked all over, in the index, nothing under houseplant, nothing under plant, in fact the index goes straight from plague to plastic without stopping at plant.  Then flowers, ah, one reference.  And she means, in a passing, throwaway sort of way, CUT flowers.  Flowers with their heads off, as my mom used to say.  And not important, just a tiny detail you might consider. Just decor.

So, this reminds me of the garden lady, Rosemary Verey, I blogged about some time ago. Despite her wonderful work on gardens she designed and with much generous explanation and help to other gardeners at all levels, she totally fails even to register, let alone discuss, birds and small animals who live in gardens. A vital part of the ecology of the garden, in fact.

This may simply mean that my idea of home is not that of Cheryl Mendelson, true.  But it does seem like a significant lack. Houseplants, even a tiny group, are a great part of the ecology of the home.  What she does write is fabulous, well researched and really well written, what a joy.  And there's a lot on pets. So I'm seeing what she doesn't write, how annoying of me. On the other hand, she spent years writing this one, and maybe she's at work on another massive tome on houseplants.  I kinda doubt it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017, a bit early, but who's counting

Today was Thanksgiving 2017 chez Boud and visiting Handsome Son.  He's working on Thursday, so we did our celebrating today, both thankful that we're well, solvent, and able to serve another great Thanksgiving dinner.


Last evening, I ensured a very nice day for me today by setting up the game hens, with a couple of hot Italian sausages, lemon slices. 




And set the table, finding all the little cloths that come out of hiding at this time.  Including the Indian one from Kate, seen here on the tea and cheese table, and the Greek one from Donna, on top of the wedding present afternoon teacloth from a lady whose name escapes me. After all these years, it was 1963, the napkins have been worn to shreds and vanished, but the cloth is still lovely, drawn threadwork.  And the hand hemmed green one I made, with a set of napkins, years ago, and use a lot.  The big metal teatray I found in the street, rejected by the recyclers as not aluminum, but sheet iron!  lovely and big, useful.



And the cheese board, another fugitive, in fact another wedding gift,  and the little cheese knife.  And set up the tea tray.  It was great to have it done this morning, particularly when I realized I had no wine, and had to do a store run..

In the middle of the frenzied cooking this morning, about six things all working at once, neighbor came over to ask about Thanksgiving, wondering if I had plans!  I explained I was already doing it, and she laughed, and said, ah, carry on then!  

Nice thought on her part.  I think she worried in case I was ALONE, and didn't want to be. I love ALONE, but give her credit for thinking of it. She's visiting, not familiar with my shenanigans, and I think she thought she should check on the old lady next door..

In fact I have plans for Thursday which involve a lot of loafing, watching of BBC videos and eating a second dinner, leftover from today.  And walking on the Preserve if the weather works out.

So today it was game hens.  These are quite big as these guys go, and one was plenty to share today. The other one partly went home with Handsome Son, along with the rest of a full plate so he can serve himself another Tday dinner when he gets home from work on Thursday.  And sweet potato, stuffing (called dressing, I think, since it's in the oven, crisp on top, not inside the bird), mushrooms, baked potato for HS, corn from the farm, cranberry sauce.  I think I remembered to serve everything, doesn't happen always.


And it was a lovely day.  Crisp sunny weather, son brought good cheeses and crackers, and a pumpkin pie and cream. We got into it to the point of being surprised at seeing people coming home from work.  Oh, not the holiday, after all.  In fact I could check the mail, I suppose.

Usually on Thanksgiving, I get the thankfulness out of the way, then make requests for my upcoming birthday, in a couple of weeks' time, and Christmas, usually just so Handsome Son can plan.  Once again, my birthday gift will be a meal he comes here and cooks for me.  And Christmas I have asked him to give a little gift, food or cash, to the local food pantry.  Seems appropriate that people with plenty to eat can try to spread the goods around a bit.

And I have a request for my faithful blogistas, too.  This year, if you would like to help me mark my birthday (the last one of my seventies) and see out my eighth decade in style, would you please consider a donation to any food related organization of your choice?

Can be international, for children, or local, as in food pantry or bank, but it would be a fab gift to me if you would consider that.  Not that you wouldn't have thought of doing this anyway, but just make it special for me?  Thank you.

Next year I'll start my ninth decade and may be making huge demands...involving diamonds and limos and resorts and who knows what I might just need..so get in now with a modest wish, you'll be glad you did!

 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Thanksgiving coming early this year, and Gregory never fails

So this year I had agreed that whatever day Handsome Son gets off from his retail job we'll do Thanksgiving, hoping it would be on the day.  

For many years he fitted in with my total inability to be free on holidays, because of the petcare service, the holidays usually meaning 18 hour days.  He was always good humored about it, and now it's my turn to fit in.  

Well, turns out it's Tuesday instead.  So Thanksgiving comes early this year.  Good thing I shopped ahead. So here's the doings, the corn still in the freezer



Since that pic, the mushrooms are now cooked, in butter and oil, big pinch of baharat, salt, till the liquids cooked down with the flavor coming better and better.  Rewarmed they will be great.

And the sweet potatoes are cooked, mashed with butter and nutmeg, and set ready.  Ditto with rewarming, and flavors developing.

The cranberries are opened, set in the nice glass container dogonart gave me years ago, which shows up all the time to hold festive stuff.  

Game hens are nice, not too big, easy to roast, but a festive sort of poultry. There won't be a mad rush of cooking at the last minute. In fact we do a kind of potluck, where he always brings the cheese and crackers, and the dessert, also some interesting soft drink of his choice.  I provide the main course and wine.  And we exchange leftovers.  It's surprising how many dishes you still do for two, same as for a crowd, but smaller quantities.

And I am getting to work to decide on fun things to do for a solo Thanksgiving Day.  Plenty of ideas happening.  Another Philippa Gregory on hold for my Kindle, hoping it will materialize in time, but if not, never mind. Plenty of videos, etc.  And with any luck there will still be a few leftovers.  And prosecco, just because.

 
So here's the latest, to me, I'm years late on books, Philippa Gregory, great storyteller, wonderful historical research behind really good, lengthy, goodread sort of novels.   It's long but so well paced and full of exciting stuff, set in the time of Mary Tudor, complete with the story around Calais, and the hazardous life of being a Jew. Particularly a Jew with second sight, as the Queen's Fool is.  It's wonderfully written.

So that's where we are.  The washing machine arrived, is working a treat, fits into the limited space, and the installer thanked me with tears in his eyes for getting the advance prep, and plumbing, done ready.  

He tells me a lot of people expect him when a snag arises, to suddenly do all the plumbing and shutoff replacement if necessary, and get mad that he can't do that!  Different trade, for one thing.  And we did re use the steel hoses, since the machine comes with rubber ones, no longer up to code in this town, in fact.  Handsome Son is pleased with his new appliance.  So it's done, and it's good. And they came in the first hour of the four hour window they gave me.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Simple stuff for trying times

This week has been eventful in various ways.  Bad health news from friend, protecting their privacy here, just take my word for it. And, much smaller deal, though it seemed big until I got the health news,  the washing machine at the condo finally went.  

About twenty years old, not bad, really.  But, big but, the space to fit in a new one is much smaller than the currently manufactured machines.  Such a first world problem, compared to serious health issues, which I don't have.  So I am keeping the whining down to a dull roar.

After extensive research, online, in person, on phone, in suppliers, with mfrs, all that's available to fit in the immovable space -- wall on one side, water heater on the other -- is either a flimsy looking affordable portable which doesn't plumb in to the regular fittings, and an expensive model, which does.  I may end up having to take the expensive one, about three times what I was hoping to pay.

So far so good.  Then my tenant, Handsome Son, unplugged the washer, tried to remove the hoses, and found that the shutoffs didn't. Put the hoses back on quick, and I got the plumber in to replace the shutoffs, which are ancient, well, 80s, anyway.  

And he started making calls to his suppliers, searching his truck, and broke it to me that the fittings were made specifically for this box, that they are no longer made, and that they won't accept modern shutoffs.  But, inventive guy, he figured out how to solder standard fittings into this off standard box.  It seems to work. Now we can safely take off the hoses, retire the machine, and have a water supply at the condo all at the same time.  

So I'm a couple hundred dollars in the hole before I even shop for a machine. Oh well.  But I now have shutoffs that show you  clearly when they're on or off.  Lever, not a wheel thing. Before the others were clearly off, or so they said, big alternative facts, but in fact had not caught and shut off the water.  Probably the thread was worn out.

This family of plumbers have rescued me several times from flooding emergencies at the townhouse, including a biggie where the main shutoff wouldn't.  That time the older guy took a huge hammer and hit the shutoff, which settled its hash.  And made the old joke about knowing where to hit. And there was the time the dishwasher flooded.  Later I replaced it, and the new one, after a few months, went on fire.  After that I got sliding shelves put in place of the dishwasher, and wash by hand, safer, and not too labor intensive compared to the excitement of dealing with flood and fire..drain the dishes on the shelves, works a treat. 

About that time a friend told me a chipmunk got into the house, made for the dishwasher as it was running, chewed through the live wire, which exploded the dw, causing fire and a flood at once, fire department on the scene, dousing and vacuuming.  Poor chipmunk was pretty much cremated.

So one thing and another, simple comfort food was the order of the day.  A batch of Martha Stewart sugar cookies, half of the dough saved and frozen as you see in the ziploc bag, to make the other half of the batch when I need them. There's lemon juice and zest in the recipe, interesting flavor.  The shape is kind of freeform, but they taste fine



And the pasta you see in the top pic in the small end jar, is now cooked, dressed with carrot pesto, and adorned with a hot Italian sausage. 




The other half of that is up for tomorrow.  Carrot pesto is an interesting addition to pasta.  You just grate or chunk carrot in the blender along with the usual ingredients for pasta.  It's a lovely color and an interesting taste.

So that's where we are. Send up good health thoughts for my friend, please.  And stay away from home appliances.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Succulent family reunion, Morningside Heights

Just noticed on a channel I follow on YouTube, a new entry about starting succulents faster, in water.  So I'm giving it a try.

These leaves, now in shallow water, glass pebbles keeping them in place


fell off this parent plant


when it was being transplanted from next door to come in here for the winter.  I found them in the pot, and noticed they were already scabbed up, and now see one of them has roots.  So they can be started right away.

Here are the older siblings of the new leaves, also sporting beads, semi precious, mainly because the fiber kept on rising up and burying the plants when I watered. The beads keep their heads above ground




And the children of the parent plant now all have a family reunion going on.  I'm surprised that the parent, I think an echeveria, but I could be wrong, has thrown blossoms.  Didn't expect that.

And, another character in the ever evolving drama of plant life around here,  is the staghorn fern. She lives in the spare bedroom, the Nook, where I play music and do my workouts, with an attentive audience of plants. a big Boston fern over her head, a ponytail palm beside her


She was a scrawny little guy when my neighbor brought her over, saying, here can you fix this?  I don't have a place for her, she has now, in a few months, doubled in size, shed the original crinkly antlers and developed lovely new healthy ones.  

My researches revealed that they, like a lot of succulents, though this is more of a fern, like to be drowned then quickly drained and left alone till drier.  This one I submerge in the sink, when the pot feels light, quickly lift out and drain, and she seems quite happy.  I expect it replicates natural rainfall followed by dry periods.  I don't know whether she's mine or if I just have custody, no problem either way.

Meanwhile, on the reading front, a lot of books, but the current top of the pile is Morningside Heights, by Cheryl Mendelson, who wrote Home Comforts.  



That was an encylopedic examination of the history, art and craft of homemaking, interesting while being amazing that anyone maintained an interest long enough to do all the research and writing.  One of those books that you're glad someone wrote.


MH is a novel, set in Morningside Heights, several couples, stories intertwined, very thinking sorts of people, analyzing themselves and each other.  It's an interesting read for me, because it is a way of exploring why in the world anyone wants to live in Manhattan, sees any other location as just not possible.  Since it would be one of the lower depths of hell to me, aside from brief forays for art purposes, this is revelatory.  

All the people are very educated, speak in complete paragraphs, and actually let each other finish their thoughts, which is not typical of rl New Yorkers I number among my friends, who are more likely to interrupt loudly and tell you what you should be saying, but oh well.  Recommended, though, as an engrossing book, worth your time.

While I'm at it, I want to give a shout to Asha Francis, who has revived her blog, The Perfect Fit, and is writing daily posts for the month of November, different, thoughtful subjects each day.  Go here

Asha is a talented and way too modest person, and I'm wearing one of her artworks as I type.  Asha, it's that lovely woven scarf, several compliments on it lately, and I credit you duly!  Anyway, go to Asha's blog and enjoy. Put her on your feed, you'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Speaking of resistance, there's the RBG Workout

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, aka the Notorious RBG, a tshirt she wears in the gym, is old, tiny, brilliant, and as strong as wire.

So, since her personal workout is in a small book form now, written by her trainer, very wittily, I think she helped with that, and with a foreword from her endorsing it, I thought it was worth a try.

I now do my RBG workout twice a week. It's on the calendar, to make it more likely I keep it up.

I've been doing weight training at home since I turned 60 and gave myself a birthday present of Strong Women Stay Young and a complete set of weights.  They've been in use ever since.  

I have a feeling that resistance is my middle name, what with one thing and another.  I use all the exercises from Strong Women, and add in a few things from RBG.  Next year will be the twentieth year I've been doing this.  I still remember my excitement when I first did overhead lifts with three, then five, then eight, then......ten pound weights!  I am Woman, I am Invincible!

RBG has a lengthier workout than I usually do, and it adds in a series of stretches, incorporating yoga and other traditions, so they are well worth doing.  I adapted it to my own current strength, and since I don't do gyms, I use my free weights rather than machines.

I originally started because I was doing collaborative art with another artist and when we worked on big pieces, I had to rest my arms much more than she did.  She's younger, but I still thought I should work on that.  Needed more strength.  And now I can paint my house, the biggest thing I paint, only stopping when I get bored, not because my arms are too tired to go on. 
 


The box of weights -- pairs of 10,8, 5, and I think 3(given away years ago, too light) pound dumbbells, and leg weights with pockets each of which takes a one pound weight, 20 lbs each leg, you do the math. Anyway, I lived up a flight then, and the woman from UPS delivered this payload in ONE large box, trotting up the stairs and kindly putting it inside my front door.  Slender young woman, not big beefy man. That convinced me I'd better do some weight training.  I had to empty the box in order to move the weights to where I wanted them, bit by bit.

I like very much the very limber feeling you get after working out with resistance weights.  No, it's not exhausting.  And no, I'm not stiff and achy the next day.  I use the max weight for the legs, women have strong legs, no problem there.  And I mix the 8 and 5 for the lifting. I may reintroduce the 10s, used to use them regularly, but I like to be sure I don't compress my spine in my enthusiasm, so I retired them a few years ago when my life was already strenuous. I don't do all the reps that RBG does, but I do at least one set, 12 reps, of everything.  Suits me.  Takes maybe a steady 35 to 40 minutes.

Found I can no longer do pushups, a couple of years ago I could, so I'm working back to them, from easiest at the moment, off a wall. 

The clunky shoes you see in the pic are useful for leg weights, since they keep the weights from pressing on my footbones, not a good idea.

Anyway, this is what keeps me feeling resistant, and generally up for anything. It also improves your energy level quite a bit, always a Good Thing.  And when you have a wildly successful resistance evening on the political front, like last evening, well, resistance works, is all I can say.

And I'd say this is a nice favor to do for yourself.  You stay capable a lot longer if you have strength to get up and around, and you just feel better more of the time.

Now that I've bored you to a frazzle, I'll leave you!  This is a firmly held belief, that the weights are a great part of my life, that and walking daily outside, in all weathers except ice.  Okay, I'm stopping now.


 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

From the humble toaster oven, come words to live by

Made pumpkin soup this morning, farm pumpkin, steamed till tender, then scooped out.  Seeds went out for deliriously happy squirrels, then the pumpkin meat went into the pot.  Olive oil, whole garlic cloves, sumac, turmeric, curry powder, kosher salt, then the pumpkin, with carrot pesto water, chicken liquid from earlier roasting, defatted, chunks of frozen tofu.  Dash of lemon juice.  Chicken bones, pieces of parmigian rind.



Anyway, while this was all gently simmering, ready to be blended, I noticed the toaster oven bringing me a message.  



Words to live by.  Wonder if this is the current MO in the Washington investigations?

Monday, November 6, 2017

Man in Apron, National Treasure

Today, this little treasure arrived, finally, after many false starts, an old book from the Larry series of Man in Apron, beloved 50s cartoons.  All wordless, and some you have to study before you get the joke, but all wonderful.



This one hit home to this home cook always rushing to take pix of her latest hit


Notice the cover shows Man in the kitchen while everything on the stove is boiling over, peacefully reading Man in Apron! This was a nice bonus, the original jacket still in place.
 

There were other books, too,  compendia of cartoons that had appeared in magazines and newspapers, all hilariously funny. If you can get your hands on any of the Larry books, do so.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Lunch when you're in a bit of a rush, and dinner when you're not

Lunch was a sort of scratch affair today, and I ended up having a sort of invented thing



Two eggs, mixed thoroughly with a broken up wholewheat hot biscuit, swoosh of baharat, seasalt, torn up bits of ham, done in a castiron pan in a little swipe of olive oil.





Dinner was a bit more leisurely, four chicken thighs, enough for several meals, pounded in a bag with flour, curry powder, Bill Veach's no. 2 powder, to be exact, salt, then roasted at 400 for 45 minutes with a few halved Roma plum tomatoes.  Parmigian rind piece on top of each chicken thigh. 

I spooned out a lot of juice at about 30 minutes, then put it back in to brown up a bit more.


The cheese rinds can be reused in soup, ad infinitum. Their work here is done.  The juice is in the fridge, and I'll skim off the fat and use any good flavored liquid left for soup.

This will make a couple of meals, one of them with pasta and carrot pesto, which I made yesterday. Also saved the pesto water for soup.

Now for a nice glass of red wine and some of that chicken and tomato.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Breakfast for one, you're worth it

I usually wake hungry, but not at all eager to start cooking, shuffling about remembering what day it is, tripping on cats demanding their rights, and breakfast is simple.

But it's always cooked, since I just like to start the day that way. Even in my busiest years, working all the hours, family, all that, I still did.



Today it's homebaked wholewheat bread, broken up into sizzling olive oil in a little castiron pan, a farm egg broken over, short cooking, then turn the whole contraption over.  

At that point the heat is turned off, since cast iron goes on cooking while you look for the teapot and the cup, and get some milk organized for the other morning requirement.  Modom's tray.



And there it is.  Maybe five minutes tops, add in a minute for the kettle to boil. The best tea requires a wildly boiling, screaming kettle, to brew right.

Nice start to the day.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Two lunches at once, fish and roast potatoes

Today was the day for flounder.  I knew there was some in the freezer somewhere, buried under all the farm produce.  And so it came to pass that lunch today was flounder, spread with plain yogurt, sliced fresh lemon on top, on a bed of panko, sprinkled with Old Bay Seasoning, and those great parmesan potatoes.  


A few too many potatoes for the one dish, so they migrated to the fish dish, where they worked fine.
 
This time the cheese mix included Old Bay Seasoning and minced fresh garlic, and I recommend the mix.  It went particularly well with the fish.  And the fresh lemon was just a lovely note, as posh cooks say.  It lightened up what could be a rather heavy plateful.


So, today's lunch demolished, I took a pic of the leftovers, which look pretty good to me.  That's for tomorrow.  I can reheat in the same dish, and the potatoes won't be quite as crisp, but still will work just fine. And the fish will hold up as good old flounder always does.

And it's always good to feel that you have a meal in hand, no matter what other stuff needs doing tomorrow.  Years ago I adopted the habit of having the main meal at noon, much lighter in the evening.  The only time I don't is when I feed HS a large and lovely dinner.  But usually it works out better for me this way.  Just a thought.

This was after many years of work of the kind that completely ruled out a full midday meal, on account of meetings, traveling, pressure on time and so on.  Then it was a sandwich shoved in my pocket on the way out the door.  It's a great luxury now to be able to sit at a table midday and enjoy a homecooked full meal.