Thursday, November 05, 2009

Rochester eats

Organizing some thoughts around food places here in Rochester - focusing on the city proper...partly as a reco for someone passing thru.

Fine dining -
Pane Vino - Water St
Bamba Bistro - Alexander St
Edibles - University Ave
Pier 45 - Charlotte port
Max - Memorial Art Gallery

Cupcakery -
Sugar Mountain - Alexander & Park

Pizza -
Tony D's - Corn Hill
Veneto - East Ave

Dinosaur - Court St

Thai -
Thai Taste (small, family run) - Mt Hope Ave
Siam - Corn Hill
Esan - Park Ave

Diner -
Jines - Park Ave
Charlie's Frog Pond - Park Ave

Greek -

Aladdin's - Monroe Ave

Sandwiches -

Open Face - South Ave
Orange Glory - East Ave

British Pub -

Old Toad - Alexander St

Just a few of my faves in the city, places I want to try. Feel free to add others in comments....

Monday, October 19, 2009

Furlough's over - it's a wrap!

So, the furlough is up. Went back on the clock today. Had a ton of email to wade through and still need to get re-oriented around what's been done and what's waiting for me to do something.

I had started to picture my furlough as time spent wrapped up in the cocoon of craft ideas, herb harvests, books, and my slightly-OCD to-read pile rotation. I was nestled in home life - talking mostly to the cats, a bit to J. I got out a little bit, but just for fleeting moments.

I loved it. The contemplative side of me did, anyway. And yet I felt isolated, lonely, a bit too, without my friends to hang with or other people to talk to.

I geared up for my re-entrance. I steamed a bunch of clothes to have stuff ready. I was going to barrel in on Monday am, kick butt, and make everyone so happy I was no longer gone.

*snort* yeah, right. J wanted to leave early, I didn't get the chance I wanted to write this post, and the whole morning went off wrong. I was worried about those pants w/ this shirt, so resorted to just jeans and a nice shirt, but the vestiges of my cold decided to play w/ my body temp - I wavered between chilly and sweating most of the day and so remained wrapped in my hoodie. There were several moments when, yes (I have no shame), I actually got tangled up in my own hair. The triumphant nerd who trips on the door mantle on her entrance. MAN. Shall I try again tomorrow?

It's alright. I'll just write it off that I lost coordination on furlough. Everyone knows to milk it for a few days...

Book #21 -A Scanner Darkly: A graphic novel based on the novel by Philip K. Dick. Hmmm. Trippy. And yet, while you assume the plot is somewhat known, it's as roundabout as a drug-addled debate. I did not like the depiction of the scramble-suits, but concept makes stuff interesting.

Oh, PS - So I read the essay on Sylvie and it got somewhat more interesting, but not worth re-reading. Sometimes I think people just read too much into things.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Furlough - the middle

My DSL has been spotty all week so I'm going to try to crank this out before it goes down again, but no promises.

Wednesday night I went to the Beer & Chocolate Tasting event at Tap and Mallet - a local pub that carries a wide variety of beer - and many dark ones. As a lover of "beer you can chew", the beer/ chocolate combo is quite natural to me - I love several chocolate stouts - hmmm can't think of one gone wrong so I guess I love any chocolate stout you put in front of me. I was surprised by the reaction of some people - lips curled, their body weight shifted away as if I had said something horrid. If it had been lemonade & chocolate - I learned in high school that combo is wretched, then I'd understand.
Anyways, the chocolate was exquisite - the dark beers in the pairings were quite nice (I skipped the paler beers - not my style and why spoil it?)

Thursday, I harvested the sage and most of the chives (one bunch was forgotten). This was such an odd year for the garden. Too much rain and cold to produce a lot berry-wise, flowers died fast in all the wet, too. But now I go out there and see that others took the opportunity to totally take everything over. Lemon balm is popping up where it never had before. Strawberries have infiltrated far further into the heart of the flower bed than I ever expected. Lots of clearing to do this fall/ next spring and then I'll have to keep a tighter reign next year.

Speaking of sage. I have tons. And it lasts - plus it is very rare to use more than 1 tbsp max in any meal. I have two large spice containers full of processed sage, 2 clementine boxes of dried sage to process, and a large shopping bag full of the latest. Have to think of a craft project that uses this stuff or else everyone gets a keg of it for Christmas. Thoughts?

Book #18 - Diary by Chuck Palahniuk. Pretty good. I want Sonny to read it. Some of the commentary on art school was great, though some of it got a bit long. One of those - "I would totally have seen it coming and bailed before they got me" - type books.

Book #19 - Straken by Terry Brooks. You guys know I love these books. They follow a pretty clearcut formula - a kid who doesn't think he/she is so special winds up being the only one who can save the land via the magic they didn't know they had. But it pulls you in deep real fast and you become immersed in it. The character development is great. In almost every book of these series, a character dies or comes close to dying and I cry. You wind up caring that much. Linked to the Word and the Void series in a way I haven't got to yet, the Shannara books tend to be more complex, with more plot lines running, but all well done.

Book #20 - Sylvie by Gerard de Nerval. I'm reading On Literature by Eco right now - a collection of essays & lectures. One is on this book - he opens it by gushing about how it "bowled him over" and talking about the love both he and Proust had for the short piece. He also highly recommended reading it before reading his essay. I'm thinking it's one of those stories (like "The Yellow Wallpaper" or "Turn of the Screw") that you really have to read in a critical setting - like a class or partnered with a critical evaluation to get anything out of. I read it and felt "meh". Do have to say, first book I've read on Google Books via my Touch - pretty cool that.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Furlough starts

I'm off this week, but it's my furlough, which means I have no ties to whatever company it was that they thought I worked at anyway. I came into the week with plans to get a specific set of tasks done. They may still, but it's been slow going. Mostly because I'm fighting a cold and physically need to slow myself down sometimes. I'm trying to listen to the signals so that it won't take me out entirely, and in hopes that I'll recover faster.

I may have just needed a recharge anyway.

I'm reading a lot. Cooking about the same, though I'd like to do more - may make some bread today. The basil and mint have been harvested - and if this sun persists for at least 1/2 hr more, I'll take in the chives and sage today. (I have a pic of my monster basil but the network hates me today, so that will have to be part of another blog post.) The piles in my study are slowly ... well getting more organized anyway.

Speaking of food - I had promised to post this: Devil's Food Pancakes
1 1/4c flour
1c sugar
1/2c cocoa powder
1/2tsp baking soda
1/8tsp salt
2 eggs
1 yolk
3/4c buttermilk
1/4c vegetable oil (or sub in applesauce for a tasty lo-fat version)
1tsp vanilla

Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, soda, and salt. Whisk in eggs, yolk, buttermilk, oil, & vanilla until well blended.
Drop onto griddle & cook like typical pancakes.

And, as I read, I'm accumulating a (neat) pile of books to post about. Here's a few:

Book #16 - The Secret Books of Venus I and II by Tanith Lee. Meh. I got pulled in enough that they read pretty fast, but I didn't really care. I thought the religious "fervor" elements of primary characters in the Second book quite annoying and almost all of the epilogue to that one could have been done without to save it from cheese-ball classification.

Book #17 - Lord Minimus: The extraordinary life of Britain's smallest man by Nick Page. Fascinating tale of Jeffrey Hudson, at 18 inches tall a sufferer of growth hormone deficiencies. Unfortunately, while there are many remarkable events in Jeffrey's life that are significant enough to provide the records for Page to build his tale, Jeffrey is often just a sidenote and there's not a ton of rich information. You could say that makes even a bit more the everyman-who-fell-into-the grand-life, I guess. Just wish he kept a diary or wrote letters or something. As Jeffrey was a member of Charles I's court (or more specifically Queen Henrietta Maria's), also a good primer on a time in British history that I hadn't read much about.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A quick Method promo

So, Jenny gave me a sample pack of Method cleaning products a while back. It had:
  • Hand wash
  • Dish soap
  • General purpose cleaner
  • Wood cleaner

Awesome stuff! We normally use the dish soap to wash hands in the kitchen, which always dries my skin on my palms, fingertips. The Method handwash was quite refreshing because it left a clean feeling - not greasy, but not dried out either.
First, I started using the wood cleaner to clean the shelf above our kitchen stove. The kind of spot that has sticky dust and a lot of it. The wood cleaner worked wonders. As I was up there, I looked at the walls above the shelf, and broke out the General spray. And I went a bit nuts, scrubbing all the walls. It worked great and they hadn't been tackled ... in a long time.

All in all, my kitchen is much cleaner thanks to the sample pack....

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Focus, Possibility, and Vacation reads

First - full disclosure - someone commented on the last post that "there's nothing cool about opening for Creed" and I deleted it because I didn't want to deal w/ snarkiness. TBH, I don't know Creed except to say I don't listen to them (I'm really bad at tying bands to music unless they're a fave), but whatever you think of them, my brother got to open for a band that drew thousands on a rainy night at a big venue for our parts. That's cool.


I spent my vacation recentering, spending time w/ J, both of us focusing more on diet and fitness - and I finally saw some minor progress towards my goal - down 4lbs... Ways to go, but good to see movement. I like the way my diet thinking has solidified and I'm hoping this extra step, coupled w/ continued workouts, proves the catalyst needed to keep driving to my goal. I want to dig out that bag of clothes I've stashed away for "when A loses the weight" and try them on again - and have some fit!

One of many awesome birthday gifts was a book called The Art of Possibility. I had forgotten it was on my wishlist, but am grateful it was chosen. The book is structured around "practices" that help to open up the realm of possibility. I'm going to try a practice a week - we'll see what happens. At home so far, practice one has had an impact though more subtle than blatant, I think.

Book #14 -Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. LOVED IT! Structured like exploring a set of Russian nested dolls - the stories are so different in plot and voice and yet meld together into one big saga of where we've been, where we're going and the power one might have to change it. I have many pages flagged for quotes - some for "deep meaning", some for the beauty of the language.

Book #15 - Zombie Haiku by Ryan Mecum. And now for something completely different! Fun romp thru zombieland, though you have to set aside the nagging feeling that zombies who don't remember doorknobs and are dropping pieces of themselves left and right probably can't keep a good haiku journal.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Laughter, tears, and cheetah groundhogs

Tidbits today.

Sonny had a show recently that got written up in Boston's Phoenix paper. Very very cool.

Danny has been playing more gigs than ever with his various bands. The biggest of late was opening for Creed at Darien Lake. Mega cool.

The other day I was waiting outside by myself for a delivery. Walking around in circles, leaning on a street sign. Feeling generally awkward to just be standing there.
As I'm leaning on the sign, scanning for the delivery guy, a cop car pulls up.
Two thoughts automatically pop up in my head - 1) Is it illegal to lean on street signs? 2) Maybe it's Mark or Jason - the guys I know in the RPD.
He stops a short distance away. I gulp a bit.
His hand comes out of the window and makes a "come here" motion. Uh oh.
I walk up. Not Mark, not Jason. I lean towards the window, hands in pockets. "Hey, how's it going?" (Picture a golly-gee-willikers fist pump here)
Guy looks at me. Points out that he was just letting the person standing behind me cross the street.
But the best part was telling this to Jenny & Tina - who double over with laughter and even had me in tears recounting it...

Earlier this summer, J and I were driving by a big lawn on the way to errands one evening. We enjoy spotting the groundhogs that often litter the green expanse, so I was keeping my eyes open. And saw this incredible image. A groundhog RUNNING! He was booking somewhere (and I like to think it was a joyous and not a lifesaving type of thing). He flew over dips, legs extended in each direction. The cheetah-hog. Awesome....

Two catchup books.
Book #12 - Autobiography of a Schizophrenic Girl: The true story of "Renee" w/ forward by Frank Conroy. Fascinating. Renee's story is presented in so matter of fact a manner. Things just get very different from normal. The extent of the loss of reality defies categorization and she's often forced to bucket things in ways that aren't right just to try to convey what's going on. Voices, for example, are more compulsions from "elsewhere". The therapist's interpretation is baffling to me. First, she often uses "psycho-babble" - words that do not need to exist (like utilize in business!!), where syllables are added just to make it sound more official. Then, she's pinned all of Renee's issues to the fact that she was weaned prematurely. Geh? How about the fact that her mother discovered her father cheating, which broke up the marriage and made her mother threaten suicide - right at the time when Renee first started experiencing symptoms???? Never mentioned it. Seemed weird. Good book though.

Book #13 - The Secret of Two-Edge: Book 6 in the ElfQuest reader's collection by Richard & Wendy Pini. To balance #12 - I don't have much to say. Kinda' fun, kinda' ok. Meh.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Two quick food bytes

I had a couple of recipe requests on Twitter - so I'm posting them here quickly. I owe 2 books - hopefully this weekend...

J's simple pho
(note, J does not cook by recipe and is uncertain of volumes. Use best judgement)
Broth: veggie broth ~1/2 strength. Oyster sauce. onion, garlic, hot pepper. Powdered ginger. Dry lemongrass.

Cook shrimp in the boiling broth. Add chopped sun-dried tomatoes early (if using dry - if using ones packed in oil, add at end w/ peas)

Make rice noodles in another pot (the ones we tried fell apart too easily; need to find sturdier noodles)

Combine stuff in bowls, add pea pods broken into bit-sized bits. Serve with basil, lemon balm leaves, and hot sauce.

Bulgar w/ peas, sun-dried tomatoes, & mint

Melt 1tbsp butter in a saucepan. Add 1c bulgar, a couple of cloves of crushed garlic. Toast briefly.
Add 2c water, frozen peas, and some dry ginger.
Let simmer until most liquid is gone. Meanwhile re-hydrate sun-dried tomatoes (if you have dry (same as above) - place in 1c water and heat in microwave til boiling - let sit 5min.
Add chopped sun-dried tomatoes, chopped fresh mint leaves, and a bit more dry ginger.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Summer refocus

Trying to refocus a bit on where I want to be healthy eating wise and workout wise. Just a day or so in, but it feels so good, why is it so hard to keep up? Well, part of the workout problem was the ankle. We'll see how this new workout goes.

Also, trying to make faster progress on projects now that a certain big one (which I'll talk about more later this month) is out of the way... Inspired (and egged on) a bit by the maniac redo of a bathroom & some other stuff next door.

But, mostly, I posted to list the latest books - I've had a bit of a burst lately.

Book #9 -The Incredible Hulk: Transfer of Power written by Bruce Jones, pencils by Stuart Immonen, inks by Scott Koblish. I love the Hulk. Even though he doesn't show much in this particular one, when he does, it's awesome. Another treat is a reference to a children's classic in the artwork....

Book #10 - The Elric Saga, Part 1 by Michael Moorcock. I was curious about this because a friend was gung-ho super into the series. While I intend to put the subsequent books on my library list, I won't add them to my "to buy" list. The stories pulled me along at a pretty good clip, but the lack of character development was annoying. At first I thought it was for everyone but Elric. Yes, true - any culture or character outside the central figure is very flat - but then I realized that Elric himself is never fully explored. So much about personality is stated as a straight fact and depth is never given. One more ding - the dialogue had a tendency to the over-fluffy, fake-formal you see sometimes in books of medieval days.

Book #11 - Moomin: The complete Tove Jansson comic strip: Book 2 by Tove Jansson. I loved the first in this collection and liked this one even better. Poor Moomin fares a bit better in this one - never at the point of losing everything.... As a family, the Moomins face their off-the-wall adventures. And their light-hearted, positive spin prevails, over hordes of young Mymble-siblings, over Stinky and his schemes, and so on. Fun.

(Book #12 will be done soon - maybe a day or so)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

An unexpected trip - Part II

What is it about Paris that brings couples together? I saw many couples all over each other in our walk around the city. It made me wonder - was this Parisians acting Parisian, or was it people assuming "hey, we're in Paris, we can slobber on each other on the streets!"?

Love seeing all sorts walking carrying bread in small paper wrappers, some just randomly taking bites now & then. One guy who looked rather "butler-y" carrying several loaves, perhaps for a dinner party.

Book #8 - Angel Fire East by Terry Brooks. I love this series - and people following the books I read know that. Some themes that stood out to me in this one: 1 - Nest's strength in the face of utmost adversity/ evil. Long caught up in the ultimate battle between the Word and the Void, Nest faced down several demons without taking any smack. She pulled from her core and refused to waver from what was right. 2- I wrote down "Good fooling evil - will get you back" - and I'm not totally sure who is getting who back so that's a bit vague. 3 - O'olish Amaneh - his persistence but in an insubstantial way - a native from an ancient tribe near Nest's home and a servant of the Word, though not a Knight like key character John Ross - O'olish Amaneh is solid as a great tree and yet can disappear on the breeze. I like his "quiet" approach to the fight.

Friday, June 12, 2009

An unexpected trip - Part 1

So the trip to Paris started off rather inauspiciously with an 8 hour flight from Chicago to Dulles. Yick. Missed the flight to Paris, had to get rooms for the night, and the next afternoon flew from Dulles to Ohare (yet again) to Paris. After all of that, I decided to stay until Saturday instead, so that I could decompress before dealing w/ the airlines again.

Finished Book #7 on the trip from Chicago to DC - Eugene Onegin: A novel in verse by Alexander Pushkin - translated by Douglas R Hofstadter. Had this been written in prose, I would have struggled with it, I'm sure. It could have ended up like the Austin novels that I just can't get into. In verse, however, the stuffiness fades quite a bit and the fondness of author and translator for language comes to the fore. Hofstadter is very fond of wordplay, but considers this faithful to the original, as Pushkin used many plays on words himself. The puns, goofy rhyming, and what Hofstadter calls "poetic lie-sense" brought several smirks to my face while reading.
The story itself is one of missed opportunities and stubbornness blinding people to the happiness right in front of them. One trouble spot I had was in the final chapter, where Pushkin jumps ahead and seems to leave out a section of the tale.

Did a ton of walking around Paris. Love the city, but the homeless seemed more prevalent than I remember - of course I did not spend a ton of time in tourist spots when working there, but still. I was struck by their plight. I felt for those caring for pets. The woman with a very young baby almost brought me to tears. And I kick myself now because I just kept going. Was it because a band of girls with the same note written in English about Dad dying and having no food approached first to scam money, and so I felt I needed to guard against appeals? Maybe partly. I was stressed about how much I had and what I needed for the little spending I was doing a bit too. Still, to go back and give, just what I could spare.... In any case, it was tough to see and I wondered about the stories behind the lost eyes...

Good numbers of smart cars, more than here, definitely more than Dublin, but less than expected. Lots and lots of scooters and motorbikes - definitely more than when I was last here. Trouble is, a Parisian driver on a motorbike is still a Parisian driver and can squeeze through more spaces and pull in and out of traffic even more easily than in a car. Chaos ensues.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009


Travelling to Chicago for work. I love the opportunity to mix things up, get out and about, but I feel like things have been non-stop lately, that I need time to retreat from practically everything. So I’m not super excited to be going. I’m hoping the research itself is really insightful so it feels like the craziness and stress I’m imposing on myself (yes, I know it really is all in my head) is worth it.

[Two days later] So, Chicago yielded good insights and now I'm off to Paris - which I didn't know til yesterday. Between groups I ran out and bought more clothes. I'll definitely need at least one more book, but maybe I'll buy it there. To Paris! Just a few days - one to recoup from travel and explore a bit, one full of groups. Haven't been in 14 years (woah). Looking forward to it.

Book #6 Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. I haven't seen the movie yet. Found this quite striking but not in a total downer perspective friends who have seen the movie felt. The alternate history brings intriguing subtleties to the story. While ultimately, I felt some better justice could have been served without the media disaster anticipated, overall the story was super compelling and I loved the format.

Taking Eugene Onegin and Angel Fire East on the trip.
More from the City of Light!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Baby steps

Last night, while grocery shopping, I found relatively inexpensive recycled napkins and chose to get organic ketchup. Little things, but they make me smile & feel good, just like discovering a new plant in the garden would. I hadn't realized before how full of corn syrup normal ketchup is. Now I'm doing that little bit extra for the environment and for our health.

If people responded to positive health/ green decisions the way they do to a favorite fried meal or other indulgence - the cascade of better choices would grow a thousand times over. We need to milk, talk up, promote the endorphins that this can bring. Successful community gardening efforts are a good example - people get really jazzed, involved, and it spreads to others & other choices.

I think I'll add community gardening to literacy programs in my list of "when I give my time"....

BTW - book #5 - Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Wow. Good book. As it opened with life in Kabul in the early 70s, the contrast vs the National Geographic article I had recently read on the 2004 situation was so vivid. And it coincided nicely with Mummies of Urumchi's details of some of the earliest migrations into and through the region. Kite Runner soon became about so much more. Powerful in a not pleasant way that makes you want to run in and help. Somehow. Add Afghanistan kids to "when I have $ and can give both time and...". It could have ended earlier, but then it might have been less "real".

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Vacation and a couple more books

I've taken a few days off, part of J's spring break. He has some homework and I'm largely catching up on to dos and cleaning (or I mean to, anyway), but it's nice. Something about not being pushed by routine - being able to bust away and actually think about some stuff for a bit. I should do this more often...

Today we took a walk around the neighborhood, hitting a couple of our favorite shops- hung out with Wayne for a bit at Futons 'n More, stopped by the Genesee Bakery for some goodies and lunch. And before I dive into cleaning, I'll update you on the latest books:

Book #3 - Heavy Words Lightly Thrown: The reason behind the rhyme by Chris Roberts. Chris is a librarian who runs historical tours around London. In detailing the origins of some of our most common nursery rhymes, he taught me a lot of the nuance and personality behind British history, place names, etc. Especially fascinating is the subject of rhyming slang where "Lady" means "fiver" because of Lady Godiva - it's a type of slang that makes you think to get it. I may have to search for more on this.

Book #4 - The Mummies of Urumchi by Elizabeth Wayland Barber. I got this because I had never heard of caucasian-featured mummies in China before. There is a lot of information on the region (the Uyghur Autonomous Region) and puzzling out who these people were, how they lived, and how they got there from just what they wore into the grave. Anyone interested in the history of textiles or linguistics will find this quite interesting. My only gripe is that Barber seems to come to a conclusion - and then tell us again and again and again. By the end, I kind of wondered why it was still going.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Stories are our lives - thoughts on eternity

That's a bit scary. Feels like it's been so long since I posted I was a bit reluctant to come and write. Typing will help loosen me up, I'm sure. Now that I'm started...

First off, Book #1 - The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, by Edgar Allan Poe. Poe's only novel. I appreciated the backstory in the forward and the footnotes for their critical context. At times, Poe loses track in the longer form and has some disjointed elements - characters never mentioned again, that type of thing. It's rambling and typical of the style of the day. I was a little disappointed that it didn't get more into the characters mental states, but again, that might not have been the era for it. Much matter of fact on a crazy adventure that is definitely memorable and has several gem moments.

So, the other day I was reading a chapter in Aldous Huxley's Perennial Philosophy on "Time and Eternity" and was struck by the relationship Huxley draws between the temporal focus of a faith and its tendency towards violence, political powermongering, slavery, etc. (I'm going to try to quote a piece, it's a long rant)
For four hundred years, from the beginning of the sixteenth centyr to the beginning of the twentieth, most of the Christian nations of Europe have spent a good part of their time and energy in attacking, conquering, and exploiting their non-Christian neighbours in other continents. [...]The first collective protest against the slave system [...] was made in 1688 by the Quaker Meeting of Germantown. [...]Of all Christian sects in the seventeenth century, the Quakers were the least obsessed with histroy, the least addicted to the idolatry of things in time. [...] Moreover their eternity-philosophy preserved them from the materialistic apocalypticism of that progress-worship which in recent times has justified every kind of iniquity from war and revolution to sweated labour, slavery and the exploitation of savages and children - has justified them on the ground that the supreme good is in future time and that any temporal means, however intrinsically horrible, may be used to achieve that good.

Fascinating, I had never considered the tie, although one thing that interests me in other philosophies is a desire to avoid the powermongering that I know exists in certain sects.
One more quote on this to talk about the flip side - the eternal perspective:
For those whose philosophy does not compel them to take time with an excessive seriousness the ultimate good is [...] in an eternal diving now which those who sufficiently desire this good can realize as a fact of immediate experience. The mere act of dying is not in itself a passport to eternity; nor can wholesale killing do anything to bring deliverance either to the slayers or the slain or their posterity. The peace that passes all understanding is the fruit of liberation into eternity [...]

Veering away from the religious, I finished Book #2 - White Teeth by Zadie Smith. Interesting story about the lives of immigrants and those closely tied to them in London - a generational perspective on the desires to succeed, to fit in, to conquer, to fade into the background, etc. There are a few spots where it gets a bit long, but I found the twist at the end quite nice.
On the final page is this quote:
the end is simply the beginning of an even longer story

I like that. A lot. Have to make dinner now.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Today's guest judges...

Last week, J's Aunt was in town from Connecticut, as part of her annual audition tour. She is a choreographer for Nutmeg Conservatory, a ballet school and for the past 3 years has stopped in Rochester to hold auditions at Hochstein and teach at Rochester City Ballet. And for the past 3 years, J and I have been guest judges at the Hochstein auditions.

I've worked for years to understand people, what they want, how they want to hear about it, what makes them happy, frustrated, etc. Observation, as many of the leading edge thinkers point out, is a great way to build up this understanding. I take what I see at the auditions, toss out the fact that I really don't know what a "soda shop" or a "pa de buerre" is (and no, those aren't intended to be the right spellings), and try to get a feel for the students, as students, as dancers. To paint a picture of where they are now and where they might be a few years down the road.

J looked on with a designer's eye, noting the form and line in certain positions.

J's Aunt (Joan) is always thrilled with our input and I'm thrilled to contribute. To have some time to sit, watch, note and have that input valued.

While the auditions can tend to make me feel large and very clunky, as well as slow and clueless about ballet, the up side is definitely worth it.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The final books of 2008 and Christmas crafting

Did I get to 50? No, still not there. ALMOST 30, but not quite. It really depends on mood, type of book (I don't weed out the slow ones to improve my count), and the type of intermediary articles and things that crop up. (The system is a bit complicated and very ocd'ish).

So, here they are:
Book #27 (I actually had 2 #20s before, so this is correct) - Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman. Nice, light, and simple. A series of 30 vignettes, with interludes, that could totally have occupied Einstein's thoughts as he was honing the theory of relativity. Each vignette looks at one way of relating to time and envisions what life would be like.

Book #28 - The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. A horror classic and I can see that. But I want MORE. I wanted more details on the sordid history of the house - maybe somebody should have found a journal or something. I love big old houses - so I wanted more on the house. As it was, I almost drew it because the description of how the house gets you turned around - well, it really turned me around and I was baffled. What were the outbuildings like? *sigh* Still, pretty good.

Book #29 (that's the last one) - Under the Banner of Heaven: A story of violent faith by Jon Krakauer. Fascinating. Depth in areas of Mormon history I had not known - Krakauer even visited Palmyra for the Pageant! I found his style very straightforward. He admits when he is baffled by it all, but still lays it out as the various fundamentalists see it. His analysis of how a faith could spawn such splinter sects was very insightful. I would love to see a postscript that continues the story given recent stories, or just an ongoing commentary.

For Christmas, I did 3 categories of craft projects.
1) Newspaper yarn: (pic not working for some reason)

2) A bag crocheted from plastic bags - Caveat - This deviates from the pattern because it's the first thing I ever crocheted and I used the wrong stitch for the entire thing.

3) Spa stuff! I made lotion bars, herby oatmeal bath soak, and sugar scrub:

Monday, January 05, 2009

My "themes" for 2009

Following the lead of several in my Twitter community (like Chris Brogan), I've shifted my thinking from specific resolutions to a few theme words that should direct most of my thinking and efforts in the new year.

Curious? I've picked 3 themes:

1 - Focus. I'm a multi-tasker with boundless curiosity. Tons of tabs open for posts and pages whose headlines caught my eye. Tons of articles, magazines, and books in my "to read" pile for the same reason. Many projects started and not finished. Happens with hobbies, with work, with housework. With goals like fitness and financials, too. "Focus" as a theme is a deep breath, a bit of zen. Remembering the whole instead of getting caught up in the compulsions around the pieces. It leads to #2 quite well, also.

2 - Calm. Another big breath. I stress. I know that on a semi-regular basis I'll get overwhelmed with all that's going on and how little progress I seem to make. This is my reminder to stop, step away, and melt the tension away before it sweeps me away.

3 - Circle. Not as obvious. I firmly believe (and will post more on my Media Creole blog soon on this) that to get the full benefit of sharing stories, experiences, life, the process needs to be circular. I don't mean that you give with the expectation of getting back in a selfish sense. The "getting back" is in the form of "thank yous", stories told in response, smiles and photos. "Circle" for me, for 2009 is about keeping up my part of the sharing cycle. Being better about my blogs, about keeping in touch with close friends and family, about sharing pics.

So, there you go. I still need to share the last books of 2008 and Christmas crafts - it'll be a flashback of sorts. Here's to a happy, healthy, and peaceful 2009 for all.

Finally, before I go - it was one year ago tonight that my "episode" happened. J's face and voice are graven in my mind. I feel fine now - there's a bit of adjustment to meds when I'm trying new cardio, but that's about it. Bionic pieces have not had to fire. I've only set off store detectors once or twice and no one noticed when I did. But it's still striking and something that makes me pause. Makes me marvel a bit at what I took for granted and focus on what is truly most important. - tears are threatening so that's it. Thanks.