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Date:2014-10-04 18:48
Subject:Positivity Meme: Day Five

Three and a half (ha ha!) positive things for today:

1. A friend sent a link to one of those online quizzes, this one "How Well Do You Know Minnesota?" I got True & Proud Minnesotan, even though I haven't lived there for many years (I have to say I thought the questions were pretty easy).

2. We went to the farmers market and came home laden with fall vegetables -- eggplant, peppers, cauliflower, etc. Can't wait to cook them up into something.

3. A gorgeous sunset with striations of color the same shade as the maple leaves.

3.5 Another friend sent a link to another quiz, "How Old Are You at Heart?" To tell the truth I didn't understand the purport of most of the questions, but evidently I am 24. But then it occurred to me: I don't want to be 24! The angst, the menstrual cramps, aaggghhh!

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Date:2014-10-03 16:38
Subject:Positivity Meme: Day Four

Three positive things today --

1. Signed a card at the Y for a dear lady who had to give up her membership due to (elder) mobility issues. There were lots of little messages in it already, which was good to see.

2. Scored a bottle of Stoli Blueberi at the liquor store for $10 off. Delicious stuff!

3. Autumn leafage is just starting to get into full swing. It's beautiful just to bike through it.

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Date:2014-10-02 10:44
Subject:Positivity Meme: Day Three

No difficulty coming up with three positive things today (warning, though: they're all self-indulgent).

1. Made huevos rancheros for breakfast, sprinkled with plenty of Tapatío sauce (in days of yore the bottle's label included the motto "Evokes murmurs of appreciative gourmets"; maybe some silly truth-in-labeling law compelled them to remove it).

2. Had my monthly massage at the Y, an amenity definitely worth looking into if one has a membership. Plus I always have an interesting chat with my massage therapist, who is a really nice lady.

3. Had takeout of Thai Spicy Chili Seafood Stir-fry for dinner. (I still *love* hot spicy food, but El Husband's digestion can no longer accommodate it, so on massage days I get to go wild and he fends for himself.)

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Date:2014-10-01 12:56
Subject:Positivity Meme: Day 2 (Late again)

Three positive things that happened on Tuesday:

1. Had a nice chat with my swim buddies at the Y

2. Got to Book 5 of The Tale of Genji, yay!

3. Finally finished my $35 kitchen renovation project

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Date:2014-09-29 11:47
Subject:Positivity Meme: Day One

Following 7veilsphaedra. For 5 consecutive days, post three positive things that happened to you. (I'm starting late.)

1. The maple tree in our back yard is turning gold, almost overnight.

2. El Husband's wrist that he broke this summer is getting back to normal.

3. Last but not least, I have a new grandnephew!

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Date:2014-07-31 18:20
Subject:Adventures in Genealogy

This is about the pursuit of a clue which ended up getting me absolutely nowhere, but which turned out to be fascinating all the same.

I was attempting to determine whether a certain person was a collateral ancestress of mine, one Alfaretta Pugh who was born in Illinois about 1858. I also knew of intermarriage between the Pugh and Wishow families, and I found an Alfretta Wishow born about 1873. Alfaretta is a pretty unusual name, so might there be a connection here?

Not necessarily. It turned out that there were quite a lot of Alfarettas starting around 1847. The name featured in a song called "The Blue Juniata" written by Marion Dix Sullivan in 1844; "bright Alfarata" was an Indian maiden who dwelled by the river, which is in western Pennsylvania. The song became a huge hit in its time (you can google all this).

The two things I found fascinating about this were (1) naming a baby after an icon of popular culture is nothing new -- although naming it after a grandparent is much more useful from a genealogical perspective :) (2) history had been romanticized after less than 90 years: the vicinity of the Juniata River had featured in some bloody raids and battles between American colonists and Shawnee and Lenape Indians in the French and Indian War, in 1755-56.

It just goes to show, you never know what you're going to find until you come across it.

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Date:2014-07-09 10:43
Subject:To Kill a Mockingbird
Mood: sleepy

when it's been imitating a car alarm -- for half an hour -- at 5 a.m.

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Date:2014-06-19 16:49
Subject:Game of Thrones...or not

So, the other night El Husband finished watching Season 3 of Game of Thrones (only 3 because we don't have a TV, only now because he started out #250 or so on the waiting list at the library). I didn't watch it with him, which is unusual because with few exceptions (Tolkien and Fritz Leiber) he doesn't care for fantasy, while I love it.

We did start watching Season 1 together, but I bowed out. Maybe it was the headflinging...and the gratuitous female nudity.... Though he's kept me up on events. A typical interchange from the early days --

"So who got offed tonight?"
"Bubba killed Creepius by pouring molten gold on his head."

If my "ewww" threshold were higher, I might find it compelling. As he says, the plot is extremely complex, and the characters' motivations are over-determined. But as it is, I'm content to let it stay a guy thing.

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Date:2013-11-22 16:47

Since everyone of a certain age has a memory, this is mine.

My homeroom teacher was a sweet little old apple-cheeked nun. When it was announced he was dead she became distraught. "Girls, girls, that I should have lived to see it happen twice!" She told us how she was just a young nun teaching in a one-room school on the prairie in Iowa, and one day a man rode out from town with the news that the president had been assassinated, and she went out into the schoolyard and cried.

That President was McKinley in 1901.

In some obscure way I felt comforted by her story. I think now perhaps it was because it meant that our country had gotten through it then and so we would again. And also perhaps the simple surprise of realizing how young our country really is.

jesus he was a handsome man

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Date:2013-06-12 18:43
Subject:End of an Epoch
Mood: nostalgic


Both of my grandfathers worked at that Plant, as did my father before the War. I leave it to pundits to weigh in on the decline of American manufacturing preeminence; what I mainly recall is two things. During the Armistice Day blizzard in 1940 my Grampap walked home from work across the Ford Bridge as usual, and my grandmother never knew how he made it home alive. And second, when I would bike past the Plant with my girlfriends 50 or so years ago, on our way to the park across the bridge, we would hear a chorus of wolf whistles raised by the guys on the line. Nowadays I suppose it would be labeled sexual harassment, but we just laughed and laughed.

ETA: And a third thing. When my grandfather retired, he bought a car. And he walked down the line checking on it as it was being assembled. Last I heard, one of my cousins' daughters had it and it was still running.

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Date:2013-05-13 17:40
Subject:Alpha meme

Found at 7veilsphaedra, and I clearly need to visit the net more often. This was fun!

A - Age: 67.
B - Bed size: Queen.
C - Chore(s) you hate: Housework (that about covers it!).
D - Pet's name: The last one shuffled off this mortal coil years ago.
E - Essential start to your day item(s): Coffee & toast.
F - Favorite color: Purple, mauve, lilac....
G - Gold or Silver: Gold. (It's...shiny!)
H - Height: 5 foot 3.
I - Instruments you played: None, but I love listening to music.
J - Job title: Principal software developer, retired.
K - Kisses or hugs: Both.
L - Living arrangements: With El Husband, in a house built by a Civil War veteran.
M - Mood: Usually happy (see J, above).
N - Nicknames: Well, my oldest friend from high school still calls me Millsie.
O - Overnight hospital stays other than birth: None.
P - Pet Peeves: Those little paper tabs that are always stuck fast onto pieces of produce.
Q - Quote from a movie: "Mais nous pauvres bêtes, nous ne pouvons que regarder et mourir." Yah, I'm a closet Romantic, and the movie should have ended there.
R - Right or left handed: Left-dominant ambidextrous; the one thing I cannot do right-handed, unfortunately, is use chopsticks.
S - Siblings: Two brothers, one living.
T - Time you wake up: Not before 8 a.m. (see J, above).
U - Underwear: Haven't worn a bra in years (see J, above).
V - Vegetable you dislike: Honestly, I can't think of a vegetable that I dislike.
W - Ways you run late: Underestimating how long it's going to take me to bicycle somewhere.
X - X-rays you've had: I don't even want to think about it. Probably upwards of 100.
Y - Yummy food you make: Baked some cranberry-cornmeal muffins the other night that were pretty good.
Z - Zoo favorite(s): Being inside the aviary at the San Diego Zoo.

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Date:2013-03-27 18:28
Subject:Frontier Food
Mood: amused

The other day, the local newspaper had an article about a proposal to remove the woodchuck from protected species status in Wisconsin, and one official was quoted as saying that they had never heard of anyone eating woodchuck. This reminded me of the recent chapter of Saiyuki Reload Blast in which the boys are wandering in the mountains and famishing until Sanzo hauls in a deer and a rabbit (with X's for eyes!) and proceeds to butcher them.

I was reminded of both of the above today while leafing through my beloved Joy of Cooking, 1967 edition, which I discovered devotes an entire chapter to game. Not only does it include detailed instructions for dressing and cooking rabbit and deer -- including suggested side dishes -- but also squirrel, possum, bear, raccoon, muskrat, beaver, peccary, wild boar, and, yes, woodchuck ("dress as for rabbit, but watch for and remove 7 to 9 small sacs or kernels in the small of the back and under the forearm. Soak overnight in salted water. Drain and wipe dry. Cook by any recipe for rabbit or chicken.").

The Joy was first published in 1931, when a lot more of us were living in rural and semi-rural areas than today, and when it was the Depression and people must have been a lot less squeamish about putting food on the table. Could I prepare a woodchuck if I had to? IDK!

Merry menagerie, cont'd: Fond memory of the comic strip Farley that used to run in the S.F. Chronicle. The cast of characters included a family of California bears headed by a matriarch named Bruinhilda, and a gang of feral pigs led by one Deepork Chopra. A tip o' the hat to you, Phil Frank, wherever you are.

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Date:2012-06-28 19:09
Subject:Just for Fun
Mood: amused

This is
(a) not just another cat video (we're talking true gravitas here)
(b) proof that a lot of stuff is funnier in French:

Henri's ennui

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Date:2011-05-04 11:28
Subject:The weirdest film noir ever
Mood: amused

Or at least, the weirdest I've ever seen: His Kind of Woman!, exclamation point included. A Howard Hughes production, which may help to explain it. With Robert Mitchum as a down-on-his-luck gambler, Jane Russell as a gold-digging chanteuse, Raymond Burr as a mafia kingpin, and...Vincent Price as a ham actor? oh yeah.

It seems the gangster is plotting to kill the gambler and assume his identity, which somehow requires flying him down to a resort in Baja California, to which the singer is also headed because she has set her cap at the actor, who is there because he is an avid big-game hunter. (Honest!) A kind of filmic cognitive dissonance begins to set in, with Mitchum inhabiting one movie and Price the other and Russell shuttling haplessly between them, culminating in Price organizing a Keystone Kops-style rescue party to row out to the gangster's yacht where Mitchum is having the shit beaten out of him.

Oh, there was one sequence when Russell and Mitchum are walking on the beach and she begins to hum "Five Little Miles from San Berdoo," the song she was singing in a bar when they first met, and he begins to whistle the tune along with her. It lasts about five seconds (then they stumble on the body), but it was just a charming moment.

Also, Robert Mitchum shirtless was...beefy. The norm of male attractiveness has definitely changed over the years.

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Date:2010-02-12 15:30
Subject:A belly laugh cure for winter blahs

This made me laugh so hard that I can't resist passing it on. (But be warned that I probably have a warped sense of humor. O the Froot Loops!) You'll probably have to click on the image to enlarge it enough to read it.


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Date:2010-01-30 15:53
Subject:The Sternwood Cocktail

I've finally had one. The recipe comes from The Big Sleep, when Bogart meets General Sternwood in the conservatory, and the General says he used to like champagne "as cold as Valley Forge" with three ponys of brandy in it. The first time I saw the movie with El Husband, we resolved to try it. Maybe for an anniversary celebration? Well, our 10th, 20th, and 30th came and went. Then the other day I threatened to put it on my bucket list.

No doubt the General's champagne and brandy were both of the fine French variety, but then again in the General's day California wines weren't world-class. Our Sternwood Cocktail was a New World version, and all I can say is, it was very very good. Dare to try it.

Oh, except that 3 ponys of brandy would be 3 ounces, which we thought would warm the champagne too much (as well as being hella strong), so we used one shot. The General would probably object.

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Date:2008-04-25 15:59

There is a colony of them living, I'm pretty sure, under the front porch of the house next door. In the winter there was little evidence of them except for their slots in the snow, but now they're back big time. They've eaten the tulips down to the ground. They've even eaten the apple tree. The phrase "shy as a rabbit" doesn't apply here; these guys are brash and bold. There's one blond rabbit of preternatural size that's actually quite striking-looking, and it's produced at least one blond offspring. (I mentioned this to a friend who was over the other day, and who spotted a blond rabbit in the back yard. She: "Wow, that really is a big rabbit!" Me: "Um, that's the offspring.")

Hard-won knowledge to those likewise plagued with bunnies: they don't like to eat either daffodils or tomatoes, those are safe to grow.

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Date:2008-04-22 00:17
Subject:Spring is Really Here
Mood: bouncy

Only last month it was kind of a joke turning the clocks to "summer" time when it was zero(F) degrees outside. But all of a sudden it's warm enough to bike, and since tomorrow is Yard Waste Pickup Day, I raked out the garden plots, bagged the detritus, and lugged it to the curb. Felt like Goldberry doing spring cleaning -- uncovering the tiny red shoots of the peonies and giving the daffodils breathing room. Yow! Once the inside of the house is set to rights I will definitely start concentrating on the garden.

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Date:2008-04-20 22:03

Granted that the family on my mother's side isn't all that large, but even so it is strange to comprehend that I'm now the most senior member of it.

Geez, if I'd ever had any kids, I could be called the matriarch. Thank dog for small favors!

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Date:2007-11-02 16:02
Subject:Letter meme from pcw_rcw: S

Feel free to leave a comment if you'd like to try, and I'll send you a letter. The idea is to list 10 things you like that begin with the assigned letter.

I thought of these while I was...

1. Swimming: the only form of exercise I actively enjoy.
2. Saunas: maybe it's the Finlander blood.
3. Sunsets: California ones didn't hold a candle (as it were) to the ones here in the Midwest.
4. Stars: when I was a kid, we had a lake cabin in rural Wisconsin, and on still nights you could even see the Big Dipper reflected in the water.
5. Stained glass: rose windows, I likes them special.
6. Sifnos: my and my husband's favorite Greek island.
7. Sarah Monette: author of The Doctrine of Labyrinths series and other works.
8. Sauternes: with foie gras. OMG. A once-in-a-lifetime experience.
9. Stitching: mainly cross-stitch; just about to dip a toe into hardanger.
10. Sex: (what, you thought I'd leave it out??)

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