Sunday, November 30, 2014

New Glasses Blues

I love my new glasses! Though it seems, alas, that they do not love me. At approximately two hours of wearing time I develop a massive headache. If I take them off at the first sign I'm fine. If I go longer, it's a three Advil sort of night. I don't know about you, but I'm not willing to suffer even though I look totally fabulous in them. Bleah.

In Praise of the Turkey Carcass

Beginnings of the soup of the day, turkey vegetable!

A post-dinner, Thanksgiving afternoon conversation with Holly. We are sitting in her kitchen.

Me: (indicating turkey carcass with envy) Oh, you can make the best soup with that!

Holly: That? I was going to throw it away! Do you want it?

Me: (astonished at this wonderful and unexpected turn of events) Heck, yeah!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Tis The Season for Deliciousness

Back in the days when I read as many as seventy daily newspapers every week at my job, I was a serious recipe clipper. Most of them went in a file folder and were never whipped up in my kitchen. From among the ones that I did prepare, only a half dozen or so made it into the regular rotation of dishes I serve. Sometimes I tinkered with the original recipe to the point that they were an entirely different thing. One of those is pictured above. A little holiday delicacy I call Lemon Cranberry Bread. When I clipped the recipe it was called something like Edible Fruit Cake. A nod of sorts to the much maligned holiday fruitcake, which by many is considered a treat to avoid at all cost. In that regard the word treat is applied ironically, particularly when you consider the wide array of much more desirable actual treats. The original recipe called for all kinds of candied fruits that I didn't care for and eventually I settled on a blend of just three add-ins that I liked the best for their compatibility and the textural variety they lend to the finished product. The base is a very rich and dense lemony cake that holds up well to the addition of fruit and nuts. The recipe follows. I insist that you enjoy.

Lemon Cranberry Holiday Bread

1 pound butter, brought to room temperature yes, really, an entire pound 
2 1/3 cups sugar
6 eggs I am so fortunate to have fresh farm eggs from my friend Karen
1/3 cup lemon juice preferably fresh squeezed
4 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Approximately 2 cups of fruit and nuts, combined in a bowl with 4 Tablespoons flour and set aside. My favorite combination is 1 10 oz bag of Craisins, 8 oz chopped dates, 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans. I use mini loaf pans because I have never been able to get a full size loaf to bake properly. The batter is so dense that the outside gets overdone while a tunnel of raw goo remains in the center.

Thoroughly blend the butter and sugar. I use my KitchenAid mixer. Add eggs one at a time and allow each one to incorporate completely before adding the next. Add the lemon juice. Combine flour, baking powder and salt together and add. Mix until the batter is creamy and smooth. Add fruit and nuts and fold in by hand. Divide into 8 mini loaf pans that are greased and I recommend lining the bottom with parchment paper. Place loaf pans on a cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before removing from pans.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Dear Jarlsberg

I don't know quite how to say this, but I've found a new favorite cheese. You've done nothing wrong, in fact, you have been more than wonderful, and we've had a long and lovely time together. But I have grown as a turophile and have greater expectations from my fromage. I find that I derive greater satisfaction from a more edgy flavor profile and a firmer texture. And it's not so much that Gruyere is better than you, just different. Don't cry, Jarlsberg, we'll always have Oslo.

If You Dare!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Six Weeks

I'm pretty sure Amelia*, who cuts my hair, doesn't read my blog. Three weeks ago I went in for a serious trim and to blend in my too-long bangs with the the rest of my longer hair with the intention of growing them out. Something like three weeks prior to my haircut they were too long. My bangs. So I had started kind of pushing them off to the left with pretty okay results. The latest attempt at growing out my bangs was off to a great start. Then something happened to me yesterday involving the need to wear a hat due to the sudden onslaught of winterish weather and my too-long-to-be-bangs, too-short-to-be-not-bangs and their lack of cooperation pushed me to the limit and I trimmed them! Hello, bangs, I missed you! I don't know what I was thinking to try to abandon you! I totally own the bangs look! Not to mention that I'm quite amazed that the attempt lasted six weeks. I might just be developing a modicum of self control. But don't hold your breath.

*And even if she does, as a hair-bending professional I'm sure she has noticed that I whack at my hair between appointments. And that I color my hair at home. She is just too smooth and wonderful to mention it. Is this where I should say that I love Aveda products even though I can only afford to buy them a couple of times a year?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

All Better

Last night I had one of those moments. Where a memory is unexpectedly triggered and I saw a little glimmer of light. It went like this. I had settled in to watch Playing By Heart. Glass of wine, a cozy throw, my feet up on the ottoman with a kitty snuggled up nearby. If you haven't seen this movie, I recommend it. One of those multi-storyline with everything coming together and making sense at the end sort of plots. So I'm not going to say much and spoil it for you. Oh, Jon Stewart is in it. And I sort of adore him. Sean Connery is in it, too, and I adore him, but this is all about Jon. At a critical point, Meredith (Gillian Anderson) utters his character's name. Trent. I had to back up just to hear it one more time. And I sat there bemused for a moment. I expect that the last time I viewed Playing By Heart was over a year ago, well before Trent entered my life. That's when the glimmer happened. I was perfectly fine with my much adored Jon Stewart bearing a former beau's name in a movie. No pang, no awwww, no nothing. The sound of his name had no power over me. Once again I have tripped and fallen into romantic entanglement, picked myself up, brushed myself off, and survived. I'm all better. 

A Tradition Worth Preserving

Say Cheese!

I know, I know, the current phase is supposed to be devoted to downsizing and getting rid of stuff! We are not in accumulation mode! Except when a cheese plate hollers at me from a shelf. I ignore it and move on to the next aisle. Then circle around again and pick it up. It's only six bucks! So I bought it. Now I have to find something I can part with to make way for this purchase. In order to maintain the non-accumulatory status. Sometimes my life feels like a trip to Bethselamin.

Love My Sissies!

Texting on the phone with Miss Martine. Messaging on Facebook with Miss Pam. At the same time. This is multi-tasking at its most enjoyable.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday Chuckle

They won't let me upload their video, so please watch it here. You're welcome! I have never been so proud to be half Norwegian. And this almost makes up for the lutefisk.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors?

I live in a medium-sized, midwestern college town. Without the presence of South Dakota State University, Brookings would be something of a cultural desert. Aside from providing the obvious entertainments through the production of plays and concerts, SDSU also brings in speakers from the worlds of politics and publishing. Authors, journalists, artists, and those who dwell inside the beltway arrive as guest lecturers and routinely fill the house. The South Dakota Art Museum is ensconced on the western edge of campus. But my favorite haunt is McCrory Gardens, SDSU's botanical gardens and arboretum. Wide expanses of barefoot quality grass studded with themed areas and gorgeous mass plantings of perennial and annual flowers. It is beyond beautiful. Peaceful. Rejuvenating to the mind and soul. Oh, and it's free. Has been since its inception. Rumors had been making the rounds recently that this was soon to change. In the last few weeks a very attractive six foot high, black iron fence has sprung up around McCrory's sixty-plus acres, ensuring that all who visit must enter and exit through the visitor's center. Personally, I am of the thought that the gardens should remain open to the public and free of charge. I am also of the thought that the thousands of dollars invested in the fancy fence could have gone a long way toward maintenance costs. Today I signed an online petition meant to help keep the gardens free for any and all who visit. If you have toured McCrory Gardens, or hope to when you visit Brookings in the future, maybe you should consider signing the petition as well. Robert Frost made a good case for fence building in Mending Wall, but to isolate McCrory Gardens from this community only serves to divide with offense. Pun intended.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I Miss Carl Sagan

From his 1995 book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. I think there are too many broadcast hours to fill on too many media outlets. Rendering lots of repeats. Whether the content is the least bit substantive in nature. I tuned out of pretty much everything but National Public Radio so long ago I feel blessedly unaware of so much cacophony. I try to catch the broadcast of Big Bang Theory most weeks, but that is dependent upon me remembering that it's Thursday and that I can get a decent, non-pixilated signal. Not to mention that BBT was on Mondays for a few weeks, completely throwing off my schedule. I opted out of cable tv twelve years ago and can't say I have missed it. I wonder why cable seems like a necessity to so many. But then I look at what's in other peoples' grocery carts, too, and wonder the same thing. I will own up to a mild addiction to Netflix and am quite happy to own dvds of many of my favorite movies. What would happen if everyone just stopped watching and read a newspaper every day? Smartening up seems like a much better alternative to dumbing down.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Aqua Net Memory

When I hear the words Aqua Net hairspray, a certain olfactory memory zooms to the front of my brain. It is the 70's, children. My mother wore her hair in a swept up French roll which she sprayed into place with a generous top coat of Aqua Net. It had this solvent-like scent that could travel through walls with incredible speed. I swear I could smell it three rooms away before I heard her pop the cap off the can. Which brings us to yesterday. When I heard the term Aqua Net bangs for the very first time. Without Googling up an image I knew precisely what they were talking about. Just for fun I Googled anyway, and was treated to this. Immediately I thought of a woman whom I have known for thirty or so years. And she still wears her hair the very same way she did back then. Observe her bangs.

This was on a relatively calm day, hairwise. Probably soon after a haircut. My memory is that when she would complain that her hair was much too long and in need of a trim, her bangs were at least twice this high. She continued to crimp and spray them into a mostly vertical position as they grew out. She left in her wake the distinctive smell of Aqua Net. I point this out not to be bitchy, because suddenly it feels as though I am being pretty bitchy, petty even. I point this out because we are all survivors of questionable hairstyles. Particularly those from the 80's. I personally am still in recovery from those dark times before good anti-frizz, curl-taming products were available. But most of us move on to commit new and interesting and perhaps even more regrettable crimes of coiffure. Maybe it makes sense to stick with what you know. The only real advantage to changing up the style is that I can accurately date a photo by how my hair looks. 

Seems Obvious to Me...

Saturday, November 15, 2014

"I only paint them because they're cheaper than models and they don't move."

Red Hills With Flowers

Happy birthday, Georgia O'Keeffe. I love your giant flowers. And I am so with you on being absolutely terrified every single moment of your life but not letting it get in the way of what you wanted to do. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Well Documented

So I'm wading into this project. And I keep getting distracted by things I forgot I had. 

Like this. The certificate from my mother's baptism when she was just over three months old. There is no need to adjust your screen or clean your glasses. It looks a little odd because it's in Norwegian.

Also from 1932, Mom's baby picture. All I have to say is, great smile, even better hat.

Fourth grade Edna had perfect attendance.

In case you were thinking that making a big fuss over every single passage from one thing to another is a new fad, in 1945, in Alamo, North Dakota, fancy certificates were handed out for elementary school graduation. I do not know what sort of ceremony may have accompanied the distribution of this honor. And if it was for the same number of students that made up her graduating class four years later, there were ten kids involved. A little fuss on the prairie, if you ask me.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Carpe Brewem!

Everyone who loves beer should attend a craft beer expo. I confirmed that my palate preference leans toward amber and Scottish ales. And I have yet to meet an Octoberfest style beer that I haven't liked. I also have a fondness for a great number of seasonal brews. I felt like a bit of a rookie when I asked the guy next to me at the cheese sampling booth why he was wearing a string of pretzels around his neck. For future reference, remember that the pretzels are nibbled between beer samples to clear the palate. Thankfully we were not asked to merely swish and spit the beer, we actually got to drink it. There were strategically placed buckets and water dispensers. This was a good thing for a few samples that did not agree with my taste buds. Everyone got the cute tiny glass to the right as they entered. There is a 2 oz line marked on it, I expect for sample rationing purposes, but most vendors poured generously. The Carpe Brewem glass was given to me by the nice young man at this booth. It was a lovely afternoon.

Jacket Required

Well. It appears that maybe I should have vacuumed before the photo shoot! Pay no mind to the schmutz on the carpet. Thank you. So. Sister Pam gave me this lovely silk kimono jacket last spring. And it hung forlornly in the closet while I figured out what to wear with it. I even took it shopping with me a couple of times attempting to find a coordinating tank or cami to wear with it. But nothing promising was ever found.

Now please ignore the photobombing cat. If only Newt was being truly helpful by obscuring the schmutz on the carpet by sitting on it. But no.

That's better. A few weeks ago I was wandering through Kohl's and found this lovely burgundy top. I grabbed it because I loved the color, never thinking it would go beautifully with the silk jacket. I rarely wear yellow gold jewelry, I almost always go with silver because I think it looks better with my skin tone. But silver just wasn't cutting it with this ensemble. This is my new dressing up the jeans outfit! Thanks, Pam.

Friday, November 7, 2014


In the movie Three Days of the Condor, Joseph Turner (Robert Redford) tells Kathy Hale (Faye Dunaway) that her photographs look like November. There are a series of framed prints on her wall of stark, black and white, very lonely looking yet beautiful images. And this is how he describes them, not winter but not autumn, in between. November. A couple of years ago when I snapped this photo in my back yard it reminded me of that scene in Condor. Still does. Watch this movie! Even though it's set in the Christmas season, it has more of a November attitude. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Cake vs Crumbs

Based on a very informal and highly unscientific study, I have come to an unfortunate and sad conclusion. Considering the outcome of Tuesday's election and my observation of the reactions to it from my Facebook friends. The trend being this. The people who are happy over it seem to be in denial over many issues that affect our future as a nation. Among these issues are climate change, the shrinking middle class, pay inequality, the astronomical costs of higher education. I could go on and on. But instead I will make my point. It seems to me that I am acquainted with many people who live inside heavily insulated bubbles of privilege. They are so out of touch with how the average person lives that they have completely lost empathy for anyone outside their bubble. I'm not saying they are undeserving of what they have achieved. I am saying that it's difficult to recognize the benefits of privilege when that is your norm. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


In case you've been totally cut off from, I was going to say civilization but I have to say civility has had little to do with campaigning as of late, the media, you know that yesterday was mid-term election day. Well, that was a long and quite clunky sentence. Robert Reich had this to say on Facebook this morning...

Looks like the Republicans will now run Congress, but their entire campaign was focused on repudiating Barack Obama, who wasn't on the ballot and won't be on one again. They didn't offer a single new idea, no constructive proposal, no suggestion for moving the country forward. Can they possibly govern? Are they even interested in governing?

And I had this to say in response...

Here's the deal, Republicans. You have control of the House and the Senate. Use this power wisely to pass meaningful, progressive legislation that will move this nation forward. Let's feed all our citizens and ensure all have access to medical care. Let's confront the reality of climate change and do what is necessary to limit its devastating effects. Make decisions based on fact rather than opinion and mindless flag waving. Prove that there is more to you than naysaying and gridlock. Spend the next two years drafting and passing laws that our President will sign rather than veto. The spotlight is on you. Show us what you're made of.

Not that any one in power has much interest in listening to me. But I do have the feeling that many people are simply fed up with a do-nothing government. It's like they need Mom to step in and let them know that this has gone on long enough and it's time to knock off the bull and get down to business. Clean your rooms, you lard-ass gasbags! You don't want to know what kind of tough love Mom has in store for you. No cookies! And you might just get packed off to where you came from in two years. Now get busy!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


It's official. I'm old. I have the tiniest bit of the beginning of a cataract in my left eye. The good news is, the difficulty in achieving 20/20 in that eye is fixable. Unlike other sorts of nasty possibilities like macular degeneration or problems with optic nerve function, cataracts are totally reparable. I'll have new glasses in a week with tweaks in respect to correction in my mid-range focus. My eyes are just now recovering from the dilation portion of the exam. An hour ago I couldn't look at the computer screen without tearing up but now it feels pretty normal. This is good because I'd feel silly watching tv in my sunglasses. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Expiration! Perspiration?

I'm using it anyway! If you should happen to see me, it might be a good idea to cross the street. At least the season of layered clothing and bulky sweaters has arrived.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Out of the Closet

I also hug trees and think firemen in general are pretty hot. And you can't make me drink light beer. 

On Behalf of All American Women, Thank You for Boycotting Us

This is the content I just deleted from the comments section of yesterday's post. I have removed the link to his blog to spare you his drivel.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I am an American man, and I have decided to boycott American women. In a nutshell, American women are the most likely to cheat on you, to divorce you, to get fat, to steal half of your money in the divorce courts, don’t know how to cook or clean, don’t want to have children, etc. Therefore, what intelligent man would want to get involved with American women?

American women are generally immature, selfish, extremely arrogant and self-centered, mentally unstable, irresponsible, and highly unchaste. The behavior of most American women is utterly disgusting, to say the least.

This blog is my attempt to explain why I feel American women are inferior to foreign women (non-American women), and why American men should boycott American women, and date/marry only foreign (non-American) women.

My Top Ten Reasons Why Sunday Restores Sanity

1. Sleep in

2. Coffee

3. Peanut butter cookies

4. Tony Bennett and k. d. lang on the stereo.

5. The Sunday paper

6. The two crossword puzzles and cryptoquip in the Sunday paper.

7. The rebroadcast of A Prairie Home Companion. To fill in what I missed yesterday.

8. Bubble bath

9. Wearing my pink flannel penguin jammies til 3 this afternoon.

10. Daylight Savings Time ended at 2am, giving me an extra hour to enjoy all of this.

Saturday, November 1, 2014