Thursday, October 29, 2009

Can't Stop Coughing

And now Dave has the cough.  (Disclaimer: That is not a portrait of him above.)  I realize I haven't posted--not that anyone reads this, but if you are, my apologies.  I'm now going to go swallow a slug of cough syrup and hopefully sleep well so I can wake  up tomorrow and grade my brains out.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Ages of Man

From an interesting chart, published in the New York Times by one of my favorite columnists (currently): Ben Schott. Here's another (below) and don't miss the one in the lower right of his chart titled, A. A. Gill, who gave a riff on how the ages of man can be compared to European nations.

Monday, October 19, 2009

My Life in France

One bit of silver lining about being sick is the chance to reach into your nightstand drawer and pull out one of the books tucked away in there, and finally read it.

I just finished My Life in France, by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme last night, laying low because Dave said I needed a rest (Did that mean I was a bit crabby?  A bit.).

I ripped through this pausing only for a snack or two, but that is to be expected considering the entire book is about her experience with food.  She begins in Paris, then to Marsaille, and the writing of her cookbook manuscript takes over and becomes the thread that runs through the other places that she lives: Germany and Norway, then finally back to the United States.

 If you've seen the movie Julie and Julia, much of the information in this book feels familiar, as Nora Ephron leaned heavily on this book for her screenplay.

From the New York Times:
Child also did a lot for France — and the American palate — by introducing French cuisine to American homes. But this book, written with her husband's great-nephew, Alex Prud'homme, before Child's death at 91 in August 2004, is really a love story: she loved Paul Child, 10 years her senior; she loved France; she loved French cooking; and she loved life. Listen to her: "The sweetness and generosity and politeness and gentleness and humanity of the French had shown me how lovely life can be if one takes time to be friendly." And a few pages later: "Oh, how I adored sweet and natural France, with its human warmth, wonderful smells, graciousness, coziness and freedom of spirit." 

I liked reading about her love affair with food, with France (Paris and then the south of France), and with her husband Paul, who seemed to have a generous heart and was very supportive of her endeavors (I love the photo on the original cover of the book, on the right. It is from one of their Valentine's Day cards, preferring to send those out instead of Christmas Cards.)

One thing I did find interesting is the references to "bilious stomach" and dieting and portions in this book.  Seems Julia and her husband Paul balanced their sumptious meals with leaner, lighter fare on other days.  Makes sense. This is a pretty fast read and I much enjoyed it.

I think about the list of cooking blogs I have now on my Google Reader (including my own as well as my daughter Barbara's) and have to think that Julia's enthusiasm for cooking from scratch has played a role in this burst of food writing.  I cooked from scratch for many years, and nearly every recipe began with: "Thaw one pound of hamburger. . ." the assumption being that everyone had a pound of hamburger in their freezer--and we did.

My friend Judy and I were discussing this last night and we both realized that we now rarely cook with hamburger.  Our tastes seemed to have changed (last night I just read Cooking With Dorie's discourse on butter, and now am going to track down "cultured butter" to see if it's similar to the butter I had in France on my Paul sandwich), and we're more adventurous with more time and more money to spend in the direction of cooking.

I don't think she and I cook as much as we did when we both had children growing up around us--we just cook differently.  A home-cooked meal two or three times a week, leftovers or a visit to a restaurant the rest of the time.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Signing Time

When Alex came to stay a couple of years ago, when Kristen was pregnant with Andrew (which made her really sick), he loved to watch this series of videos: Signing Time.  I still know the song, but have almost no memory of  the signs except for milk (mimic pulling on a cow's udders with both hands squeezing open and shut) and cookie (hand cupped into a C, and I think you put it on your forearm--not quite sure).

I could have used a few of those signs today as I have been rendered mute by some sort of laryngitis.  I could feel it coming on last night, when I talked with a very husky voice, and today the silence is complete.  If I try to talk, I squeak.  If I try to whisper, I remember that the Mayo Clinic's website said that does harm to the recovering vocal chords.

It's been an interesting day.  I didn't realize how dependent I was on the phone, on my voice.  Dave's probably in seventh heaven, as he's more of an introvert and doesn't mind lots of silence.
I generally don't mind it either, except when its forced upon me, by some random thing floating around in the air.  I don't feel too bad--just a little more tired--but realize I can't do anything because that would require me to talk.  Which I can't.

I have a job in my church which I've titled "The Mute Calling."  It's Primary pianist and except for a pair of hands and eyes, nothing else is required of me.  I am learning to appreciate the low-key calling, giving me time to rest for a season from my labors, but it is interesting to be mute at church, typically a place of lots of talk, chatter and action.

I recently read a book by Anne D. LeClare called Listening Below the Noise.  She chooses one day every two weeks to be completely silent, infusing this with a spiritual quest.  I liked the book, and could handle the religiousity bits.  But I never thought I would like to have a day like that.  I can find stillness in my life and I don't need to shut out the noise (although, again, it was an interesting read).

Apparently one challenge for writers is dealing with the silence, the constant isolation.  I've read that many park themselves in the middle of a busy place, tapping away at their keyboards.  They're not necessarily involved with the busy place, but let it swirl around them as they live in the fictional worlds they've created.  If I ever write a novel, I can already tell I'd be one of those type of writers.

As for me, Dave's made me some chicken soup (I mimed it) and I'm headed down to eat.  This ought to be an interesting meal--Dave will have to do all the talking!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


While I like the music, it's the dancing that fascinates me. Reminds me of my sisters Christine and Cynthia.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Day at the Office

Mine are never like this.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Be Of Good Cheer

I'd been seeing red, pink, white and orange quilts all over the blogosphere this summer, so I pulled out my stash, added a few (isn't that what we always do?) and made a quilt.  I somehow knew it wasn't mine, but hadn't yet figured out whose it would be.

My daughter Barbara has a rare heart disease, PeriPartum Cardiomyopathy, the onset timed with (and perhaps due to) the delivery of her third child last December, a little clone of my daughter.  While I could detail for you the technical aspects of this disease, basically Barbara has an 80-year-old heart.  So, no pushing her baby around the block in a stroller, no more taking casseroles to all her neighbors, no more running up and down the stairs.  No more sewing and putting things in her Etsy shop.  As her mother, my heart was in a wrench over all this.

As I sewed the colors of a heart (reds) sprinkled with pinks (for love?), orange (for happy) and white (for faith) it became apparent to me that this was her quilt. I poured my heart into my work as I stitched the brightly-colored blocks. While that has a sappy sentimental sound to it, I think that's what happens when the stewing over something moves into your bones, your thoughts, and all the tears and travail and remembrances carry through your hands.  Orange, red, pink, and white all combined to carry a message of love to her.

We traveled to a family reunion and brought the quilt to her in person (they live in AZ, some 7 hours from me).  She was sweet and open and loved the quilt (see her blog where she writes about it), giving me a tender hug.  This quilt is a tender hug for her when I'm not there, telling her that I love her, to hang in there, to believe that better days are ahead.

In short, to Be of Good Cheer.

Here's some details:

The stash lined up on the ironing board.  I tried to use a lot of different fabrics.

The back, held up by my daughter and my husband at the Family Reunion (we held it in Eden, Utah, not too far from Park City!).

A close-up of the quilting, done with a butterfly pattern--Barbara's favorite since she was a child.
My quilter, Cathy Kreter, of CJ Designs, did it in a record two days--a favor to me because she knew the story and knew I was leaving.

Here I am, holding up Madilyn, that third baby.
She's a gift.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Grading Galaxy

I'm on the other side of the universe, caught in The Grading Galaxy.
See you upon re-entry!