Thursday, December 31, 2009

Year in Review - 2009

These are the first sentences of the first post I did for each month in 2009. I first did this in 2007, when my overall theme was work and remodeling. In 2008 it was more work, plus politics. In 2009, the theme, if any, was more reflective (gee, I wonder if turning 60 in September had anything to do with that?), plus, of course, humor. Here's to a funnier 2010! Happy New Year!

January 1 - It's a little after midnight and I'm about to curl up on the couch in the gameroom to watch Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire movies into the wee hours of the morning.
February 1 - It's Super Bowl Sunday and there was a time I'd have been blogging about that.
March 1 - So my boss came by my cube a couple of weeks ago, as is her wont, sat down and said, "I saw a truck with, uh, balls hanging off the back of it this afternoon. Do you know anything about that?"
April 1 - I love to laugh, and so I especially love April Fool's Day, and all the creative and wonderful pranks that people come up with.
May 1 - Friday night cocktails at A's.
June 14 - Tonight I went to the Meyerson and heard Joe Cocker.
July 2 - A couple of weeks ago, over at Women On, Lisa invited writers to post on Cringe TV, the kind of stuff that makes you cringe when you watch it, referencing an NPR article that cited the stories then circulating about Jon and Kate Plus Eight.
August 1 - It's August 1. Where did July go?
September 1 - (September Song) - I love this song, and although Sinatra made it famous (and I love Sinatra), I really like this version by Johnny Fair.
October 1 - This is Samantha Geiner at 13.
November 3 - Ah, the joys of aging.
December 1 - I love December.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009

This has been one incredible Christmas.

I've happily had a house full of family: all of my children, their spouses and my two grandsons were here on Christmas Eve, not to mention Ike, the orange tabby who found his way into my life a little over a year ago, on the weekend of the hurricane for which he's named. A couple of weeks ago he went out one night for what I thought would be a few minutes except that he didn't come back, and stayed gone for 13 days, only to reappear two days ago. And yes, he is now an indoor cat forevermore. And last but not least, SNOW...yes, SNOW, in Dallas, for this year, in Dallas, we had a white Christmas. Wow.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I'm in love...

with my new MAC!

On which I'm writing this my living front of the Christmas tree... after watching movie trailers on a wonderful app called iMovie. I should have done this a long time ago...I'll never go back to a PC, and for what it's worth, I'm loving the laptop.

Monday, December 07, 2009

overheard at Christmas tree lot...

I was at Home Depot looking for a Christmas tree this past weekend when two women around my age selected what appeared to be a beauty; however, when the tree guy stood it up and shook it out, there was a big hole in the back.

"Oh, there's a hole there!" one woman exclaimed, sounding dismayed.

The tree guy, an older man who looked as though he'd heard everything, wasn't fazed.

"Yes, that's how God made this beautiful tree, with a hole in the back", he said quietly.

Well, what do you say to that?

The women bought the tree.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

I'm goin' MAC...

Yep, this afternoon I did it. I went to Micro Center, who had an incredibly sweet deal on the new MacBook, and bought one. Sleek white plastic unibody, OS X Snow Leopard plus iLife...even the box it comes in is chic and oh so spare...

Earlier this week I went to Hunch where I took the quiz, Am I A PC Person or a Mac Person? I came out 91% Mac, which didn't surprise me.


What's next? A live tree this year, for sure.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Pink Glove Dance

This is a wonderful video. Medline Industries, Inc., began manufacturing pink gloves as a way to promote breast cancer awareness, and they agreed to donate some of the profits from the sale of the pink gloves to fund mammograms for women who can’t afford them. To promote the gloves and breast cancer awareness, more than 200 staff members of Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Oregon, made this video wearing the pink gloves and dancing to Jay Sean’s song “Down”. Enjoy (and get a mammogram!).

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Whoa...December 1st ALREADY?

photo downloaded from Google Images

I love December. There's always been a wonderful sort of magic to the month for me, not least of which is the happy anticipation of Christmas and New Year's Eve. A couple of light years ago, I got married in December, and one of the wedding gifts we received was a beautiful set of handmade cocktail napkins embroidered with Oliver Herford's verse:

"I heard a bird sing,
in the dark of December

A magical thing

And sweet to remember

'We are nearer to spring
Than we were in September'

I heard a bird sing

In the dark of December..."

I still have the napkins. Too beautiful to use (and too fragile...they're embroidered on voile), I planned to have them framed, a task that 36 years after I received them remains undone, and one that perhaps I need to add to my list of 2010 New Year's resolutions, where it will appear somewhere after the recently added but now top of the list item: to replace the guest bath hot water heater, which seems to have sprung a small but ominous leak. Water heater leaks are always ominous, I've learned.

In the meantime...happily, my house is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Do Not Go Gently...

Ah, the joys of aging. Of course, they’re better than the alternative, but still…

I turned 60 in September and this morning I went to see a retinologist, not for pleasure or even curiosity but because, at 60, there are changes in one of my eyes that required examination by a retinologist. When I got off the elevator and walked to the front desk to check in I had no idea what to expect, but I was about to learn that going to the doctor as an old fogey is different from my previous experiences of going to the doctor. For starters, I was almost knocked out by the smell of…um…well, how to put this delicately? Poop. Yup, there was a definite smell of poop in the air, at the check in station at the doctor’s office. I looked around, hoping to see plumbers, but no such luck. There was, however, next to me, leaning on her wheelchair, an ancient, saintly looking white haired woman smiling beatifically up at the ceiling as her nurse whispered rather desperately that she needed to take her into the bathroom to clean her up…and I realized ah, she’s wearing Depends and they need to be changed.

Whoa. That was a little sobering.

I moved down counter to fresher air, got checked in and sat down and waited to be called for my appointment. Eventually, I was called into a room where a technician put drops in my eyes to dilate them. After that, I returned to a waiting area where I was seated next to a very polite little old lady. She was reading the newspaper, when suddenly she turned to me and asked, “Would you like to read the paper?”

Unable to focus, I smiled and said thanks but I’ll have to pass on that.

She smiled back. “I read it, but I don’t remember what I read!” she announced gleefully. Thinking she was making a joke, I smiled and chuckled. In a little while, after finishing the first section of the paper, she carefully folded it, put it down, and picked up the middle section. Just before she began to read that, she looked at me, appeared surprised to see me, leaned over, and asked, “Would you like to read the paper?” I smiled and said no again. She smiled back and said, “I read it, but I don’t remember what I read!” and laughed happily. Apparently she was dead serious, because eventually she worked her way through the entire paper and back to the first section, which she was studiously re-reading when I finally got called in for my appointment.

The retinologist, who had to be close to 70, was friendly. VERY friendly. He introduced himself using just his name, no title. The he asked about the necklace I was wearing (smooth green stones)..."Are those OLIVES?" after which he laughed at his own humor. Then he told me about an award he'd received...finally I realized (hey, I’m old and these things take a while) that he was flirting with me. I was starting to feel good about myself when I realized I was probably his youngest patient by about 20 years. At least I hope all those people in the waiting room were 20 years older than me. On the up side, I’ve decided if worse comes to worse and I end up wearing an eye patch on my left eye...shiver me timbers...I’m going after Johnny Depp...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Moments with Baxter

Grab the Kleenex. I came across this on the web, and if you're an animal lover (or maybe even if you're not) this will touch your heart.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

YUM - York Street Dallas

Doesn't this look like a dish out of the pages of Gourmet? It's the plate of mussels that A ordered as an appetizer at York Street on Saturday. The restaurant is tiny...12 tables, almost on top of each other...but the food is amazing. I'm still swooning over what I ate, but as good as the food was, the wines (we had pairings) were even better. None of the rest of my pics of the meal turned out (problems with the automatic focus on my point and shoot), but I'll go ahead and describe what we had, starting with a gratis taster of a Riesling that left me wanting more. This was accompanied by salted walnuts that momentarily had me worried. I found them very ordinary, and A agreed...but then we tasted the small green olives that are prepared there and are so delicious they could be addictive. These were followed by the mussels for A and steak tartare for me. The mussels were incredible; the steak tartare was perfectly prepared insofar as the meat was concerned, however, it was a little bland. It was served with dark bread toast points on the side. I would have liked a little chopped onion and I swear I am going to start carrying my own salt, because just a crumble of sea salt would have brought out the flavor, and it needed that. On the other hand, the wine pairing for this was an incredibly smooth Northern Italian red made with Lagrein grapes. That was so good that as soon as I got home, I went online looking for a place to buy it. For the main course, A had sweetbreads with mushrooms smothered in a delicious, light, cream sauce, with wonderful pickled beets on the side, paired with a New Zealand Pinot Noir; I had scallops in a cream sauce that I would happily have crawled right into, with cut up, tossed avocado salad on the side, paired with a white that, although crisp and perfect for the dish, I didn't make note of because I'm partial to reds. We each had dessert, but after such a fabulous meal, the desserts were anti-climactic, for me at least. We also had coffee; it was French press, prepared at the table, but only so so. I admit I'm totally spoiled for after dinner coffee or cappuccinos by the fact that I use Peet's beans to prepare my coffee at home and also by having a decent cappuccino maker of my own. This tiny restaurant is a bit off the beaten path, in an incredibly unassuming building, but the food is superb and well worth the trip. York Street definitely makes my small list of best places to eat in Dallas.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday Photo Shoot #59 - 1 Subject, 4 Perspectives

The assignment for Carly's Monday Photo Shoot this week is 1 subject, 4 perspectives. If you want to participate too, click HERE.

I knew right away what pics I wanted to post for this: four shots from my numerous attempts to photograph one of the most beautiful churches I've ever seen: the incredible San Francisco de Asis church in Taos, NM. Many artists have attempted to capture the beauty of this amazing structure, including Georgia O'Keefe, who painted it many times. I am drawn to this place. I don't know how to explain it, but when I see it, my eyes are ravenous for it, and no matter how long I look, I can't get enough. I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get good shots with my point and shoot when I was in Taos in September, going back again and again, at different times of day and in different light, trying to get some shots that would do it justice. This wasn't easy in part because this is an active church; a funeral and a wedding were held there on the first day that I took pics. I could spend days here, shooting, and when I get a digital SLR, I'll go back, with a tripod, and do exactly that. The shot I want eludes me. In the meantime, though, here are 4 different perspectives of this beautiful place:





Sunday, October 11, 2009

the way we were...

Late summer of '76, Colorado...Ali was convinced she could drive.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Friday night

Parsons Dance Company at McFarlin with an old friend, followed by chianti, calamari and catching up...good times.

he was playin' real good, for free...

A man sat at a metro station in Washington, DC and started to play the violin. It was a cold January morning in 2007. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule. A minute later the violinist received his first dollar tip;
a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes: A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes: A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.

In the
45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and listened for a while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities. The questions raised in a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever many other things are we missing?

Saturday, October 03, 2009

settled in...

It's been a little over a year since Chris and Stephanie found a big orange tomcat wandering around in a hedge outside one of those sleazy check cashing places on the edge of a grocery store parking lot where Chris had parked his van while he and Stephanie went shopping for groceries. The cat wore no collar, was not neutered, and was dirty, but he was friendly, and meowed and rubbed up and purred until Chris attempted to pick him up and put him into the back of his van; then he scratched and wriggled and protested loudly.

Nevertheless, Chris got him home and put him in their garage, where he had to stay because they have three cats of their own. The next day Chris called and told me about the cat he'd found. He asked me if I'd stop by and check him out. I did, and I ended up bringing him home with me. "I'm not keeping him!" I said, "but I'll foster him until we find him a good home".

Of course the rest is history. Ike (named that because Chris found him the weekend of Hurricane Ike) has turned out to be a wonderful cat. A year later he's neutered, current on his shots, well fed, and apparently quite happy. And on this rainy fall night he's curled up on the couch just across the room from me, secure in the knowledge that he's found the place where he belongs.

Friday, October 02, 2009

the bronze pour at Shidoni

On my day trip to Santa Fe I stopped at Shidoni Foundry to watch a bronze pour. It was very hot. The temperature of molten bronze is around 2100 degrees Fahrenheit, and it takes a long time to heat up to that temperature. The foundry was also VERY loud prior to the actual pour. It was quiet during the pour and everyone was asked to turn off their cell phones so the workers could completely concentrate. That said, these aren't very good pics because I wasn't able to hold the camera still enough and didn't have a tripod with me. Nevertheless, I think they're interesting.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Beauty and The Beast...

This is Samantha Geiner at 13. I found this photo on Google Images. This is what she looked like when Roman Polanski decided to give her champagne and a Quaalude and have sex with her. Mr. Polanski was 44 at the time.

When Mike Wallace caught up with him after he'd fled to France in 1977, here's what Polanski had to say about Samantha in the days before the internet and Google Images: "Well since the girl is anonymous and I hope that for her sake she will be, I’d like to describe her to you. She is not a child, she’s a young woman, she had testified to a previous sexual experience, she was not unschooled in sexual matters, she was consenting and willing, whatever I did was wrong I think I paid for it; I went through a year of incredible hardship, and I think I paid for it…"

I have strong feelings about this, but I wasn't going to post about it. Why not? Because I haven't the heart to read comments defending Roman Polanski, should anyone make them. Which isn't to say you shouldn't make them, if you feel that way. Just that I get a sort of sick feeling, reading them. But after I saw Robert Harris' OpEd article in the NY Times defending Mr. Polanski, I was so disgusted I decided to go ahead and post.

Except that I found myself strangely at a loss for words. And so I decided to post this excerpt from Steve Lopez' September 30th article in the LA Times, in which he comments on quotes from Samantha's grand jury testimony:

Q: Did you take your shirt off or did Mr. Polanski?

A: No, I did.

Q: Was that at his request or did you volunteer to do that?

A: That was at his request.

She said Polanski later went into the bathroom and took part of a Quaalude pill and offered her some, as well, and she accepted.

Q: Why did you take it?

A: I don't know. I think I must have been pretty drunk or else I wouldn't have.

So here she is, at 13, washing down a Quaalude with champagne, and then Polanski suggested they move out to the Jacuzzi.

Q: When you got in the Jacuzzi, what were you wearing?

A: I was going to wear my underwear, but he said for me to take them off.

She says Polanski went back in the house and returned in the nude and got into the Jacuzzi with her. When he told her to move closer to him, she resisted, saying, "No. No, I got to get out."

He insisted, she testified, and so she moved closer and he put his hands around her waist. She told him she had asthma and wanted to get out, and she did. She said he followed her into the bathroom, where she told him, "I have to go home now."

Q: What did Mr. Polanski say?

A: He told me to go in the other room and lie down.

She testified that she was afraid and sat on the couch in the bedroom.

Q: What were you afraid of?

A: Him.

She testified that Polanski sat down next to her and said she'd feel better. She repeated that she had to go home.

Q: What happened then?

A: He reached over and he kissed me. And I was telling him, "No," you know, "Keep away." But I was kind of afraid of him because there was no one else there.

She testified that he put his mouth on her vagina.

"I was ready to cry," she said. "I was kind of -- I was going, 'No. Come on. Stop it.' But I was afraid."

She said he then pulled off her panties.

Q: What happened after that?

A: He started to have intercourse with me.

At this point, she testified, Polanski became concerned about the consequences and asked if she was on the pill.

No, she told him.

Polanski had a solution, according to her.

"He goes, 'Would you want me to go in through your back?' And I went, 'No.' "

According to her, that didn't stop Polanski, who began having anal sex with her.

This was when the victim was asked by the prosecutor if she resisted and she said, "Not really," because "I was afraid of him." She testified that when the ordeal had ended, Polanski told her, "Oh, don't tell your mother about this."

He added: "This is our secret".

NOTE: You can read Steve Lopez' excellent article in it's entirety here, and, if you have the stomach for it, you can read the entire transcript of 13-year-old Samantha Geiner's Grand Jury testimony here.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

a hint of things to come...

Driving through New Mexico, I saw this stand of Aspens, just starting to turn...

Monday, September 28, 2009

some images from the open road in NM

Uh huh, OK, you don't have to tell me twice...

You've gotta love that sky. You can smell the rain...and I've lived in Texas long enough to learn to love that hot, dusty scent...

Yep, open range means open range...and cattle guards do serve a practical purpose...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday cooking project - candied orange peel

Sweet or salty?

For me, salty wins out every time. I don't have much of a sweet tooth, although I do enjoy good dark chocolate. That said, there's one confection that I love, and always enjoy: candied orange peel, and candied orange peel dipped in dark chocolate...heaven! This weekend I decided to try my hand at making this treat. It turned out to be an all day project, but my kitchen smelled like heaven and the end result was well worth the effort.

I looked for recipes on the net, and all of them started out pretty much the same way: with cutting the ends off the oranges, then quartering the oranges and scraping out the meat to leave the orange peel and pith. I used this method on the first of 6 oranges and decided there had to be a better way. Even using a grapefruit spoon, this was incredibly messy and seemed to waste a lot of good orange.

On the other hand, it immediately resulted in a glass of freshly squeezed juice, which was pretty good to drink as I worked.

But convinced there had to be a better way, I went through my batterie de cuisine and found the handy little plastic device designed to peel an orange with almost no effort.


In no time at all I had a bowl filled with quartered orange peel, ready to be sliced into narrow strips.

Like this.

I covered the orange slices with cold water which I brought to a boil. I boiled the orange slices for 5 minutes, then drained off the boiling water, added more fresh, cold water, and repeated the process two more times, for a total of three blanchings.

Next, I prepared a simple syrup, using 3 cups of sugar and 1 1/2 cups water. I cooked that to the soft ball stage, which took about 8 minutes. I added the orange peel and simmered this concoction, covered, until the orange peels were translucent, which took about an hour and a half at a very low simmer.

When they were done, they looked like this.

I drained them, decanting and saving the orange flavored simple syrup to use as a sweetener for ice tea or mixed drinks.

Then I rolled the strips in sugar and put them on a rack to dry for about 45 minutes.

Finally, I dipped them in bittersweet melted chocolate and put them on wax paper in the refrigerator to cool. In a tightly covered, refrigerated container, these will keep for a month or so. Enjoy!

Here's the recipe; just follow the instructions above:

6 oranges
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water

1 cup sugar for dipping slices in
8 ounces chocolate for dipping

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Santa Fe

I love Santa Fe. When I went to Taos, I made a day trip down to Santa Fe, where I had lunch at La Fonda before walking around and snapping a few pics afterward.