02 December 2008

Random Awesome

Frank Zappa, at home with his parents. via swissmiss, who curates an awesome website. There are more in the series here.

I also really liked how Eric Clapton's mom obviously got out the good silver for the picture. Touching, somehow.

30 November 2008

Monday looms

But not yet! I still have a few hours. We spent most of this weekend completely unplugged and it was glorious. I love the internet, but it's also my job, so it was good to have some time offline.

I got some reading done.
See if you can spot all four cats!

Note also that the living room is trashed. I cleaned it yesterday but it's pretty much ruined again by now. We didn't really go out much, although we did have Thanksgiving at my sister's house, with my nephews and my other sister in attendance. My sister can really put down a thanksgiving spread. I was grateful not to have to cook the whole meal, although I made rolls and a fresh cranberry bread and that was our contribution to the feast.

Besides the normal weekend housework projects, I had time to do some mending which I'd been meaning to get to for roughly six months.

You can see I'm a lousy seamstress. I was originally working with white on white - at least then I don't have to look at my mistakes - but it was really fucking hard to see. So I switched to blue, which is fine since the stitching is on the inside of a pillowcase and won't be seen. I am a slacker. The only reason I mend sheets instead of throwing them out and buying new is that they're really heavy cotton and high thread count, plus since they're old they're really soft and silky. And also new sheets are expensive.

I also got the cats all fucked up on catnip and took pictures.
See if you can spot Pip's need to be neutered! He has no idea.

And now, back to the weekday grind again. Le sigh. I do feel better after the slow, four day weekend, though. Plus I made lasagna tonight (used the recipe from Cover and Bake, with a few modifications. Cover and Bake is done by the obsessive Cook's Illustrated people, so you know that the recipes will always work and be delicious, just as you know the recipe will take forever. And it did take forever, and it was delicious. And I made flavored basil oil, and also some chutney. So at least I have good leftovers to nosh on during the week.

23 November 2008

Winter ramblings

Whenever this showed up on the windows of the house I grew up in, Mom would say that Jack Frost had visited in the night. What do you know, Somerville's on his route, too! I always thought he made gorgeous patterns.

And I know that this blog has become nothing but a repository of Simone and Pip pictures lately, but when they're cute as fuck, how can I resist?


He tried to sleep with me like that last night and ended up getting hairs in my already-sexy mouth guard.(I have bruxism.) In fact, I had headaches and neckaches all last week and was thinking that it was because of my new contacts, so I switched to glasses, but the aches remained. I'm thinking now it was probably the result of clenching my teeth all night long.

The contacts are a pain in the ass, too. I needed a semi-custom lens for my right eye because the astigmatism basically makes my eye lopsided, so the contact won't stay in place. So I have a special giant contact that is supposed to be more stable, except it's not all that much more stable. My vision is really a lot better with glasses, but I don't like the way I look in glasses (mostly 'cause I can't wear mascara.) So I'm wearing the contacts to work anyway, which is exciting since due to the movement of the contact, my right eye's vision correction changes constantly - sometimes it's good and matches the left eye, sometimes it's not so good and I've got one eye seeing things blurrily and one eye seeing things sharply. It's awesome to look at excel spreadsheets when you're seeing double outlines all day, I can tell you. But I've been reading Oliver Sacks and I know the brain is super flexible so I think it ought to be able to re-map so I no longer notice a difference in focus. My left eye is much more severe than my right, so in the years before I had glasses, I used my right eye for distance and my left eye for close up work. Not consciously, of course, my brain just did it. So I think it ought to be able to adapt to the one consistent focus and the one inconsistent focus. And it is starting to happen. But my eyes do get tired towards the end of the day, I have to say.

17 November 2008

Random Yo La Tengo Songs for Monday

Stockholm Syndrome:

I apologize for the Final Fantasy video - it had the best sound quality of all the clips I could find on YouTube.

Mr. Tough

This song always makes me laugh because the vocals sound like Herbert the Pervert from Family Guy (below).

16 November 2008

caturday love fest

I know it's Sunday today but I took these pictures yesterday. We've had such a nice weekend just hanging out. It's been so frigging long since we've actually seen each other for more than ten minutes at a time. I have bread that's gonna be ready to go in the oven any minute and we were lazy and took a nap this afternoon. I'm so relaxed. Wish tomorrow wasn't Monday, but oh well.


She's grooming him while he nurses. She's not producing milk any more (thank god) but he still latches on for comfort, even though he's not very small any more.

I like how she has her paw flung over his shoulder here.

Luv. We haz it.

10 November 2008

Pink Hair and cat pictures

So, new hair:


It's red and blonde highlights really. I told the hairdresser to do whatever he wanted - he's been doing my hair for a while - and that I wanted something really funky. I'm pretty happy with the results.


Also, Simone likes orange juice, which is funny since cats are supposed to hate citrus. I guess no one told her. She still loves green olives, too. I was eating some this weekend and she kept begging and ate all that I would give her. Weirdo.


I think she's cleaning the OJ out of his mustache.


Pip was not really sure about the orange juice, but I think he might grow to like it, with time.


Pip is growing into such a big boy. He's just about Inty's size right now but with those big paws, he won't be for long.

05 November 2008

Internet nerdation and more about the cats

This is fun: Google Street View easter egg on a Pittsburgh street. Google Street View, if you don't use it already or disapprove of it on grounds of invasion of privacy, is the ability to zoom in to a particular street at eye level. It's not on every street everywhere in the world, but their US coverage can be impressively good, especially in major urban areas. I think it's kind of a silly project, myself - the only use for it that I could think of is checking out the street in front of a restaurant you've never been to before. But hey, there are probably uses for lots of things that I haven't thought of, and Google does put out a lot of stuff because they think it's cool or interesting and they figure they'll figure out how to make money off it later - their acquisition of YouTube is a good example of that policy, although digital video fingerprinting technology might soon mean that YouTube could actually make a buck.

But, uh, enough about that internet tech stuff, I know you're all dying for me to talk about Simone's butt again. My blog stats show that apparently a lot of people do keyword searches for cat butt problems. Heh.

Anyway, so Simone went to the vet on Monday for an upper respiratory infection, which she's prone to anyway. They think that at this point, it's not a cold so much as a secondary bacterial infectin (I think that means she has a sinus infection.) The poor thing had taken to breathing through her mouth, which, since cats don't generally pant, was a sad sight to see - her pink tongue kind of lying there like a slice of bologna. So while she was at the vet getting diagnosed (and weighed - she's lost .8 pounds! Which means, hurrah, the diet is working!) - anyway, while she was at the vet they had to take her temperature, which she did NOT like and in fact squirted juice from her anal glands all over the place to express her displeasure.

I am a bad person but since Dave was the one who took her, I laughed my ass off when he got to that part of the story. I guess she stunk so much even in her carrier that everyone in the waiting room was wrinkling their noses while Dave paid.

But wait, the fun's not over yet! Since then she has been leaving slimy brown trails everywhere she sits. I am just thankful for Shout - I don't know what they put in that shit and it's probably toxic for the environment, but it certainly gets stains out of the duvet cover, which is good since I can't afford jack this month and replacing a duvet covet is not an option - nor do I want to sleep under a stinky stained one. Meanwhile, we are working to ensure every piece of soft furnishing in our house is draped in plastic sheeting. Just like Grandma used to do! And now she gets meds in the morning, plus a butt wipe, which doesn't seem to do much good - I'm torn between the advisability of getting a Q-Tip up in there or just putting her in diapers. Or maybe giving her back to the SPCA. "I'm sorry, this cat has a serious design flaw, I'd like a refund." Kidding! Sort of. She's pretty fucking gross. If she wasn't so sweet-natured and googly-eyed I would totally be mad at her, but how can I be angry at those (slightly crossed) eyes?


But there is hope ahead. I think the main problem with the anal glands is that she's so obese she's unable to reach down there and lick it off for herself, and since the diet is working, maybe in a couple of months she'll be thin enough to keep herself clean. It's sad to watch her try to clean her nether regions, she kind of reaches down and grabs pawfuls of tummy fat and tries to get them closer to her mouth but she's still like, three inches away. She reminds me of myself in yoga class, actually, trying to get into a twist when I've got too much tummy fat to really get into the pose properly. Too bad I don't have a beneficient owner to restrict my food - no, I have to exercise plain old willpower, which I think we've seen is not one of my skills. Le sigh.

04 November 2008

Not political

I've had this theme song stuck in my head for a couple of months now. I loved Heathcliff.

02 November 2008

new camera

I've been playing with the new camera for a couple of weekends now but I only just found the software (it was, um, in the box) and got some pictures downloaded onto the computer. Finally! Mostly the pictures following are of the cats and pretty colored leaves. I did not test the macro properties by taking a picture of Simone's snotty nose to share with you - the poor thing has a respiratory infection. Which means one of us has to take time off work to get her to the vet this week (totally kicking myself for not taking her yesterday.) She is all sneezy and sniffly, poor thing.

Simone in happier times - posing with a slice of my pesto bread

Pip's nursing face. Simone is no longer producing milk but he still suckles sometimes for comfort.

Zoe hasn't died yet, as you can see. The only reason she let Pip get that close to her was because she didn't notice him. She fucking hates him!

Inty sharpening her claws, not like they need it. I can really tell from this picture how much better the new camera is (it's an Olympus Evolt E-510. I'm not totally thrilled with everything about it but I'm still learning how to use it. Still, cameras can't replace eyeballs - I take a lot of shots that I think will be great because my brain is only paying attention to one thing, and then find that the picture inside the camera is a compositional mess. Also the camera isn't smart about depth perception and light balance the way my eyeballs are. So a lot of what I need to learn is the limitations of the tool, so I can drive it better.)

Even the projects near our house get pretty light at certain times of the day.

Cemetary near our house, where I often go for walks. A hobo lived there this summer but when I was there taking pictures recently, the hobo's hut seemed to have been demolished.

I don't know what the religious meaning of this statue is, but I really like the round cheeks.

Glorious reds.

Rip Van Winkle

Still jealous of the foot tattoos.

Sometimes Somerville is so beautiful that it breaks my heart a little.

I always sort of imagined that the thorny hedge outside of Sleeping Beauty's castle looked like this in the fall. I have no idea what this plant is but it's fairly common around here, and has evil sharp thorns. While I was taking pictures the plant totally tried to grab me. It probably wanted to drag me inside and scratch me to death so I could fertilize its roots or something.

Scary Mary. You see why I love Somerville so much? Not only are there Madonnas in bathtubs outside every other house, but people decorate them with shrunken heads and cobwebs for Halloween. What's not to like about that?

31 October 2008

Cherry picking fun singles for Friday

It's not halloween-y but I like it anyway:

Mirah, Sweepstake Prize, from her debut album, You Think It's Like This But It's Really Like This, which i do not possess but think I might like.

(heh, I said weenie.)

The thing I really dig about Sweepstakes Prize is the 60s girl-group vibe of the opening notes of the song (chords? bars? I am so musically uneducated), and then the solo guitar adds melody and rhythm, which is maybe what picking and strumming is supposed to do, I just never thought about it before. Listen now 'cause I have no idea what the deal is with the site I've linked to but it seems pretty small and I'm not sure if the offered downloads are legal.

I also like Stray Dog and a Chocolate Shake, for straight up poppy goodness, and this video is reasonably amusing. By Grandaddy. I used to have a Grandaddy of my own. Now he's taking his dirt nap. I guess I could console myself with albums from the band but it wouldn't be the same.

And I had this stuck in my head last night at bedtime, which was a nice song to fall asleep to. The track is called He's Gone, by Leona Naess, from her self-titled album, which is another album I'd like to get my hands on.

All these songs are courtesy of the matchup created by the brilliant Pandora on my favorite Pandora station, which I listen to all day long - srsly, I don't know how I'd get through the work day without streaming music. Pandora is such a smart, smart piece of programming and analysis. If you can have a crush on a website, then I do. Here's my station

Edited to add The great American Napkin, by Summer Skinny, which is not a band I can find out a whole lot about. That link is to their myspace page, by the way, and The Great American Napkin is the second song on their playlist.

Update again: I keep forgetting songs! I also love Corvette by Golden Smog. I want Dave's band to cover this song because I think it would work really well with their style. his band does a kickass version of Jailbreak (Badfinger) and this would fit in nicely.

30 October 2008


Edgar Sawtelle. Love it so far. I'm about halfway through and this morning on the T I started to get nervous about the ending so I totally flipped to the end and glanced at it. I do that sometimes - I used to do it a lot but now I either read more authors I trust or I usually am less invested in the outcome or I can tell from the plot arc where the story is going. Probably a combination of the three. But Edgar Sawtelle is a big, fast read and I really like it - it makes me want to write fiction, especially since the author is a software programmer (I think) in his day job. Something high tech, anyway, and I found that inspiring. I'm in a high tech field! I like to write!

And one of these days, I will quit whining about how I want to write and actually start writing. Today might not be that day, however. I still gotta clean the litterboxes and somehow this Gordon Ramsey reality tv program which is on while I blog is mysteriously compelling.

Edgar Sawtelle is also an Oprah book, which for some reason I only realized just now (despite the fact that I think my copy has a sticker on it promoting the Oprah affiliation) and like all of Oprah's picks, it's a meaty book which is eminently readable and has a gripping story. Plus it's about dogs, the dog training sessions are my favorite parts. I am going to try to remember to send the book to my parents when I'm done, it's totally up their alley - they have a pair of corgis and I share a lot of common reading ground with them.

29 October 2008

why 30 rock should not be cancelled

... not like the shows that I like to watch usually do well commercially and critically, but never mind. This song is hilarious.

28 October 2008

excuses, excuses

So the blogging, she has been very light and infrequent, which I am totally sorry about, not only for anyone who’s checked back here fruitlessly several times in the past month (I recommend using a feed reader to save yourself some clicking), but also because I miss blogging. I like it. Even though I don’t have my new camera’s software downloaded onto the laptop (I dunno what the hell I did with the CD and manual that arrived with the camera but they’re gone and I haven’t had the energy to do really hard things like downloading the software from the company website), I could still tell amusing (maybe) stories about Simone’s butt.

But not having gotten my act together for the camera, it’s kind of an encapsulation of why I’m not blogging. Right now it’s taking all my energy to hold on and keep getting to my job and keep up my end on the housework (which I am also not doing a great job of) and the marriage and the cats. I am barely making it to yoga once a week, never mind voluntary things like getting up early in the mornings to write or getting it together to get the camera installed already.

Not writing is particularly sucky, because I actually have a fiction project in mind that I want to get into already, but somehow it takes everything I’ve got to keep analyzing and tweaking and optimizing for work instead of spending all day sobbing in the bathroom (I’m getting some assistance from Pedro the Lion – I Can. Not. Stop. listening to his melancholy pop songs about god. Plus he is a good lyricist, which I am always a big sucker for. Sad boys writing catching songs! Yay!)

There’s nothing obviously wrong in my life that needs to be fixed and about a zillion things I could point a finger at that could be causing the crazy – hormonal birth control, shorter days with less light, the economy, the election – and that’s just a small sample of the crap I worry about. I swear I have more wrinkles than I did this summer. This Onion article pretty much describes the way I feel all the time. Heh.

To sum up: I am crazed with anxiety, the cause is most likely biological, I don’t have a great deal of faith in meds – they do some of the heavy lifting but they’ve got serious side effects (I’m still taking them, though, don’t worry, I haven’t pulled one of those stunning logical leaps which says, “I still feel crappy despite these drugs so why am I taking them?” to which the obvious answer for the non-crazy is, “you’d be even moar cuh-razee if you stopped taking them” – all I can say is that it’s hard to think that clearly when you’re at the bottom of a well and can’t find the ladder.) Plus for me it’s really roller-coaster-y, so sometimes I’m at the bottom of the well and sometimes I’m like, “what well? Isn’t sunshine great?” and then I fall in and break a leg on the way down, oops.

Okay, so everyone reading this is probably freaked out by now, and you don’t need to be: it sucks to deal with this but it’s nothing new to me. Probably for my whole life I’ll be dealing with inexplicable periods of time where life seems not worth living. (Okay, that didn’t come out reassuring like I meant it to be.) What I am trying to say is that I’ve dealt with this before, lots and lots, and it sucks a whole big bunch but it never lasts forever and – on balance - I spend the minority of my time feeling this way, not the majority, and besides the meds I have lots of coping tools – yoga and therapy and Dave and emailing friends and hey, blogging, plus knowing that I’ve been here before – which helps a lot with perspective. And the cats.

Never underestimate the power of a serenely purring cat. Just knowing, while I’m at work all day, that there are four furry darlings waiting at home to give me nose kisses and get scritches and purr and purr and whine for food and knock shit over and bite me and run and jump and play, fatly or diabetically or kittenishly or with an irritable bowel (depending on the cat) – it helps.

my favorite pedro the lion song, which is actually not about god at all, I don't think

19 October 2008

blah blah blah about nothing in general

Oh man. I have been on fire this weekend, let me tell you. I did a pile of ironing yesterday and made black bread with wacky ingredients like instant coffee and cocoa powder. The bread was kind of fucked up, like tiny little doorstopping loaves of great density. I think I allowed the yeast to over proof, if that can happen. Oh well, shit happens. Then we went out for drinks and then bowling and then burgers and fries for dinner around midnight. It was pretty fun.

We overslept this morning (no surprise there) and skipped the early a.m. run to HellBasket, choosing instead to pay the Stop & Shop convenience tax, where you get the same amount of food but it costs 20% more to buy it in a store with wide, spacious aisles and ample parking. So after yoga and Stop & Shop I started cooking, namely a pot roast with root vegetables, a gingerly-star-anise-y plum chutney and a sauce made from the cooking liquid. Dave just needs to get home now so I can eat it already. I even got wine and lit candles and put a tablecloth on the table, it's all fancy-like. Oh yeah - while I was in the kitchen I also made tomato sauce for a lasagne planned for later this week. And I did the usual boring weekend things like laundry and dishes and catboxes, and now that I'm sitting down I'm not sure I'm gonna be able to get up again. Oof. Plus Zoe is sitting on my lap.

Among other things I didn't mean to do this weekend was misplace my phone. So if anyone is expecting a call from me, sorry and I will catch up with you next week. (Squinting santa fe-wards.)

09 October 2008


Probably everyone has seen this already, but check out this gorgeous video and just try not to choke up. Warning: the song will get stuck in your head.

Unrelated: I think I am finally starting to get the hang of the new job.

05 October 2008

Diet Bear Update

So I'm spending my Sunday afternoon just doing chores and watching HGTV and Inty has been, like, all up in my face all day and affectionate and finally I realize she wants food. So I go get her some food but because the others have all just gone on meal schedules today, they all race in hopefully. They all watched while I poured Inty some food and then put the bag away. I saw Simone's big googly eyes watch me carefully as I put the food away. Moments later, I heard a crash come from the kitchen. Heheheheheh. Poor Diet Bear.

Cat butt spectacular!

so no pictures, but only because I haven't figured out yet how to get them off my new camera and onto my computer. My camera did come with a CD full of proprietary software and a cord to connect it to the PC and even a manual, but I don't know what the hell I did with the manual, so I need to either download another or figure it out the hard way. Neither of those things will happen today since it's already 2 pm and me and the house are still dirty. I'm dirty from not showering this morning and then going to yoga class, the house is dirty from the usual flakes of litter everywhere and Simone's ass.

Yes, Simone's ass is dirtying the house. This is where things are going to get gross, so click away now if you're feeling delicate. We took Simone to the vet yesterday because she's been wheezing and because she had a skin condition (which has since cleared but she's still all scabby) and because she needed to have her anal glands expressed. She's been scooting across the carpet and Dr. Internet, assisted by Nurse Google, informed me that hard stools are necessary in order for cats to keep their anal sacs in good shape. (yeah, go ahead and click on that link, I'm sure you're dying to know more. I do love About.com, though.)

So Simone has been bogarting Pip's kitten food - which is what she was apparently allergic to, since during the kitten food time period she had this horrible dandruff, like big snowflakes of it, which was fucking gross. And since kitten food is so rich and fatty it gave them all diarrhea, which meant the litter boxes were even more dank and digusting than usual. It's not like we entertain often, but seriously, I would not have wanted someone to come over to the house during that time. So we just started giving them all Inty's low ingredient hypo-allergenic food (I figured Pip would survive) and lo and behold, Simone's skin condition cleared itself up. (Mostly. She's still a little scabby, but clearly healing.) And everyone stopped having diarrhea except who Simone (who showed some improvement but not enough.)

But Simone started scooting across the floor and her butt did not smell good and it felt like my house was covered in a thin film of cat butt slime, so I made a vet appointment. The internets all tell you how to express the anal glands yourself, but I'm telling you, it's worth the fifty bucks the vet will charge you. That stuff smells so bad, it's like a durian factory up in here. I'm burning so much incense, round the clock, that smoke billows out the doors when you come in from outside.

Anyway, so at the vet's they put a hilarious red hood thingie over Simone's face - I need to start bringing a camera to the vet, you all would have loved it - and squirted sacfuls of squid ink out of her - which is sticky and she runs away when I start up with the paper towels on her bunghole, which I guess I understand, and oh yeah, the reason she's wheezing is because she weights 15 pounds. When we got her, she weighed 13. She's gained like 15% since she got here, and she arrived tubby! She can't breathe, essentially, because her own fatness is crushing her lungs.

So now in addition to being called Simone Bear and Momma Bear, she's Diet Bear. We started her on the new regime this morning (actually they are all going to have to have their food regulated) and she is already following us around, meowing whenever we get near the kitchen and eying me mournfully with her big round eyes that look like googly eyes. Heh. I am evil for taking pleasure in this, even if it is for her own good.

And now, time to clean my disgusting house. You would never know that a cleaner came on Wednesday, it looks like two tornadoes had a fight.

03 October 2008

wine o' clock

Braless at last, I'm relaxing on the couch with a glass (not my first) of Chardonnay and Zoe on my lap, Inty on the armrest and Simone over at the end of the couch. Pip is digging himself smallish ass groove in the arm rest pillow. For a while I didn't know where Pip was - he turned my screen sideways and then took himself off. (Ctl + alt + up arrow, in case it happens to you and you need to turn it back.)

Lisa noted recently that taking your bra off is the best part of the day, and she's right. It's not like I find bras uncomfortable - I am way more uncomfortable going around outside braless - but there's something deeply satisfying about finally getting free of the tight elastic
band around your chest and feeling your breasts sink down to lie down, tiredly, on top of your ribcage.

The cats and I are all watching Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which I've never seen before but rented on Netflix on the strength of having a white nightgown in my little wedding trousseau that looks a bit like the one Elizabeth Taylor wears in the movie. I can't fit into it at the moment - my boobs, along with the rest of me, put on the annual summertime ten pounds as usual this year - but I should be able to wear it again come january, when it's totally not seasonal. Plus Dave is at band practice tonight, and since classic movies are not his bag, I've got the place, and the cats, to myself. The movie is a little tough to watch - I'd burned through my first marriage by the time I was 26, so it's hard to watch a movie about such a riotously unhappy marriage, but it's completely riveting, I'll give it that. Elizabeth Taylor has some awesome outfits, though, and she does not have at all what we would consider a movie star body, so that's kind of cheering too. Her figure looks a lot like mine. Especially as I slurp up more fattening wine. Om nom nom. Plus Paul Newman just died, so it's good to be watching him in his prime.

21 September 2008

I thig I'b gettig a code

So I skipped yoga today, in favor of a nap, hoping that if I baby myself I can prevent the cold from becoming full blown. Although what I ended up doing was a ton of housework in the morning - litterbox, vacuuming, cleaning someone's shitty paw prints off the couch, starting laundry, changing the sheets, yadda yadda. And I drank like a gallon of orange juice, for the vitamin C. Now I'm all full of juice and sloshing around.

Then after the chores in the morning I napped, and if there's anything nicer than snuggling under a quilt for a nap on a Sunday afternoon with a clean conscience, clean sheets, sunlight streaming in through the windows and a purring cat, I don't know what it is. Dave was at band practice so I had total peace and quiet. Woke up around 5:30, showered and started some bread. Man, I love that KitchenAid so much. Thank you again, Mr. and Mrs. Lynch. The dough came together in about 5 minutes.

I adapted a James Beard recipe (which is itself an adaptation of a Jane Grigson recipe) to suit the ingredients I had on hand. In a funny coincidence, I own the Jane Grigson book that Beard talks about, too. There were so many good people writing cookbooks in the 50s and 60s - James Beard, Elizabeth David, Jane Grigson - that that's what my cookbook collection is based on. I have Julia Child but I confess I've never cooked out of her. The modern writers I turn to most are Mark Bittman, Nigel Slater and Nigella Lawson. Oh, and my friend Anne Bramley's Eat Feed Autumn Winter arrived from Amazon yesterday and I've already read most of it (I inhaled it like a novel) and given my mother a recipe from it (for roasted vegetables.) It has actually made me excited about the squash and root vegetables that I know we'll soon be inundated with from Boston Organics, our CSA.

Anyway, the bread is in the oven now so I can't report yet on whether it's good or not, but so far it seems to be acting normally. I've never made so many drastic alterations to a recipe so I'm a little nervous about the outcome. I will update this post if it turns out gross, otherwise you can assume it was delicious.

Here's Beard's original recipe:

5 cups of all-purpose flour (preferably unbleached)
1 tbl salt
2 tbl sugar
2 pkgs active dry yeast
2 c. warm milk
1/2 c. walnut oil or 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
1/2 c walnuts, roughly chopped
3/4 c. onions, finely chopped

Sift flour, salt and sugar into a warm bowl. Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 c. warm milk and pour into the middle of the flour, together with the walnut oil (or butter) and the rest of the milk. Knead well until the dough is firm and blended into a smooth, springy ball (about 10 minutes.) Leave in a warm place to rise for two hours (or in a cool place overnight.) Punch down the dough, mix in the walnuts and onion, shape into 4 rounds and leave on a greased baking tray to rise for 45 minutes. Bake at 400F for 45 minutes, or until the loaves sound hollow when tapped underneath.

Here's what I made:

Pesto Bread

5 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tbl salt
2 tbl sugar
4 1/2 tsp. bread machine yeast (bought the wrong yeast by mistake)
2 c. warm milk, between 120F and 130F
about 1/4 c. pesto topped off with 1/4 c. olive oil (to keep the right proportion of fat.)

I put all the dry ingredients together in the bowl of the kitchen aid and gave it a few stirs. Then I added the milk (apparently bread machine yeast requires a higher temperature than regular yeast, or so the sides of the jar say. Anyway the higher temp thing was handy since I accidentally let the milk get a little hotter than I planned and I didn't have to wait too long for it to cool enough.) Once the milk was in, I dumped in the pesto and olive oil and let the whole thing come together. I stuck a towel over the bread dough just as it was, in the kitchen aid bowl, and let it rise on the stove top (where it got a bunch of residual heat from the pre-heating oven.) Technically I should have washed and greased another bowl and turned the bread to oil it all over and let the bread rise in that, since mine stuck a little. But who cares when you're skipping a whole pain-in-the-ass step? The sides of the bread machine yeast jar said to let the dough rise for 10 minutes, but I waited until it doubled in size and that took about 30 minutes, which is still faster than the two hours in the original recipe.

Then I peeled it off the sides of the bowl - like I said, it stuck a bit but not terribly - and punched it down and shaped it into two loaves on a non-stick cookie sheet (instead of 4 loaves like in the original recipe. That would have made four elf-sized loaves.) I've made this bread before and not only were the walnuts and onions a pain in the ass to incorporate at that stage, I didn't think they added that much to the bread - not like essential moisture or anything - so I didn't even add pine nuts (though that would probably have been pretty good.) I did brush it with olive oil to prevent it from cracking as it rose, which I guess worked since it didn't crack. I nearly sprinkled it with coarse salt at that point, thinking of foccacia, but decided that salty bread might be strange in sandwiches, which is probably the fate of this bread. My hope was for it to be tasty enough that just smearing cream cheese in between slices would make a good, and easy, lunch.

Once it was shaped into loaves, I let it rise again until it was doubled in size, which seemed to take about half an hour - the kitchen was pretty warm by this time, which I think helped the bread's rise along - and then stuck it in the oven. I set the timer for 45 minutes, figuring that if anything, it would take longer than the original recipe but either my oven timer is messed up (possible) or the bread machine yeast does something crazy, because it was only in there 25 minutes (according to the oven timer) before it was all brown and hollow-sounding when rapped on the bottom. I dunno. I think it's the oven timer, because bread usually takes more than 25 minutes to bake. I didn't look at my watch, either, which means we'll have to wait until it's cool to cut in and see if it's raw in the middle or anything horrible like that. Oh, the suspense! I really know how to live, huh? Probably no pictures even if I do update this post because I still don't have the right memory for the new camera and I don't really want another dachshund fetus incident.

update three seconds later: it is delicious. Om nom nom. The milk made it super fluffy and light, and you get just the right amount of pesto taste, distinct but not overwhelming

20 September 2008

I learned it by watching you!

Dave and I quote this one a lot at each other. Heh.

14 September 2008

Fresh Apple Cookies

I decided to make cookies yesterday, kind of on a whim (as opposed to a crumble from a couple of weeks ago that I considered a chore, since I had to make it that night or the peaches would have gone off.) I looked through a few cookbooks - really just looking for a recipe that I had all the ingredients for.

James Beard's Fresh Apple Cookies fit the bill. (From American Cookery, which Lysne kindly sent me, since she knows how much I love Beard on Bread.) I was thinking I wanted crisp and spicy and these are more tender and cake-y than crisp, but still delicious. Plus since they are crammed full of apples and raisins and pecans, I have been pretending that they are health food. Yeah fucking right - the recipe calls for a stick of butter. At least the KitchenAid makes creaming butter super easy even if you haven't bothered to let the butter sit out and soften. Next time I might mix up the spices a little with some cardamom and fresh ground black pepper, but these are pretty good as is. I'm bringing some into the office tomorrow as part of my quest to win friends and influence people.

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They won't be winning any beauty pageants any time soon.

Fresh Apple Cookies

1/2 c. butter
1 1/3 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 c. sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 c. apple juice, pineapple juice, orange juice, or milk
1 c. chopped, unpeeled raw apple
1/2 - 1 c. chopped walnuts, filberts, or pecans
1 c. raisins

Cream the butter, cream in the sugar, and beat in the egg. Sift the dry ingredients (I totally didn't bother, just combined the dry ingredients in a bowl and stirred 'em with a fork) and add to the creamed mixture along with the juice or milk. Stir in the apples, nuts and raisins. Push the dough from the tip of a teaspoon with the back of another onto a buttered cookie sheet (I used nonstick), leaving about 1 1/2 inches between each cookie. (I found that they didn't spread very much.) Bake in a preheated 375F degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until a light brown. Yields about 4 dozen cookies. (I had exactly 4 dozen.)

13 September 2008

Caturday etc

Immediately after taking this picture Pip let out the most heinous fart. I had to turn the fan on, the air is practically brown.

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He is still nursing from Simone, they had a session this morning. I'm not sure my regular vet believed me when I told her about it - she thought maybe the milk production would be gone in two weeks because Simone's hormones left over from the spaying would be all done. But she was spayed on July 13th, so those hormones ought to have been out of her system long ago (unless she was in heat when they spayed her, which I guess is possible.) Anyway, neither of the cats cares that they are participating in a medical mystery, they both just purr and get squinty happy eyes.

I pulled the trigger on a new camera, a digital SLR. I have wanted one for a couple of years now but haven't been able to justify the expense, since I am such an amateur. But since I'm working really hard at my new job (and also really enjoying the work, yay!), I wanted to reward myself.

My other big reward purchase will probably be a vacuum cleaner - currently we've got an Electrolux that I think I remember from my childhood. It works fine, but it's stinky from years of dog and cat hair, and it's cumbersome - we have it stored in a teeny closet off the kitchen and it has to be taken apart into three pieces to fit into the closet, so it's a pain to haul it out, and then when you do have it out, it's heavy and louder than a fucking jet engine.

So I have convinced myself that being at home less (because of longer working hours and a longer commute, both of which, incidentally, are responsible for my blogging less) means I have to have a lighter, easier and more efficient vacuum, because when I do get home from work I don't really feel like cleaning the litterboxes and vacuuming at all. It needs to be done, though, or else we end up with snowdrifts of litter accumulating in the corners of the room. Which, yeah, gag me with a spoon. Anyway, I looked at the Dyson Animal but we've mostly got hardwood, so I think it might be overkill - I want something light and nimble that I can use without much trouble. I'm thinking Dyson slimline or Miele, and I'd love to hear from anyone who has experience or a recommendation.

So those are my wild and crazy purchases! Woohoo! A camera and a small appliance! And I'm also plotting to get the couch re-covered and we are thinking about a component stereo system at Christmas. We'll have to see about the couch, I think. I'm not making THAT much more at the new job.

11 September 2008

Pip's fall from grace

So Pip fell off the second story porch tonight. It's easily fifteen feet. He probably jumped, the little booger. A neighbor knocked on the door and asked Dave if this was our kitten. Poor little Pip had a bloody, scratched nose and curled up around himself, very still. He was breathing fine but he seemed so lethargic we took him to the emergency vet in Woburn. It's a terrific, if expensive, facility, as we have reason to know. It's where we took Inty for her endoscopy.

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With flash.

He's totally fine, and in fact perked up at the vet's (of course.) Now he's back home, sleeping on the bed. Apparently he had the naughtiness knocked right out of him this evening.

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Without flash. This is closer to the real colors. I need a fucking new camera. I think I will buy one soon, actually. I can't stand it. Plus it would make a good reward for getting a new job. Wow, this is a long aside. Sorry, everyone.

06 September 2008

Wait 'til I tell the other martians about this!

I think this commercial trying to convince kids that fruit was more delicious than candy bars might have been local to the Boston area, Dave doesn't remember it at all. I'm pretty sure my sisters will, though.


It totally backfired for me - I used to dream about how great it would be to live on Mars and eat candy bars all the time.

05 September 2008

slice of life

So last night while everyone else was watching McCain's speech, I was out at a club watching Dave's band and then Leon Rich, the act that followed them. I was pretty tired by then (as usual) but since there were about 7 people in the club and they were all our friends, I felt like it would be really obvious if I left in the middle of the set so I stayed and half-assedly tried to hide my yawns. I was glad I stayed, though, when Leon Rich started playing a song about dead squirrels that involved some kind of United Nations conspiracy theory. The chorus was "dead squirrel, yeah". Tell me that didn't beat the GOP convention speeches!

And then after Leon Rich I took off. The nice thing about local shows is that I don't have to wait for the boys to load in their gear, I can just take a cab home. Fifteen minutes (and fifteen dollars) later, I'm walking in the front door. It makes going out on a weeknight much more feasible - I was in bed by like 12:30 and so when the alarm went off at 7 I wasn't exactly thrilled but I don't feel too awful this morning. I also stuck to beer all night, which was a deliberate choice - that club pours REALLY strong drinks, which I found out the hard way the last time Dave's band played there. So beer drinking + control top panty hose = physically unable to consume a lot of beer. The elastic in those control tops will beat beer in an arm wrestling match every time.

I think the other reason I'm tired, besides the exciting stress of a job change and the fact that I've had after-work commitments every night this week (except for Monday, which was Labor Day, but I actually spent it in the office) - ANYWAY, as I was saying before I got sidetracked by my parentheticals, I think the reason I'm so tired might be related to the fact that I've had my period for NINE DAYS. Motherfucker! It's extra ironic because if I didn't take hormonal birth control, I would likely not get any period at all, so I wouldn't have to deal with it. I am also most likely infertile so the whole birth control shebang is probably a big waste of time, not that I am interested in testing this theory the hard way. (Also I might be fucked up a different way because of not having the correct hormones swirling around. Plus amenorrhea is really bad for future bone density, and since I recently learned that both my parents are two inches shorter than they used to be, I am all about bone density. Bring on the calcium-enriched OJ!) But still, it sucks to bleed for nine days and not know when (if) it'll end.

So that's my life. Also last night I rashly promised to go out again tonight for dinner and to see another local band, the Russians, who I haven't heard of before but they sound pretty good. I think I might need a nap in between work and going out, though.

04 September 2008

It's been busy

For one thing, I am starting a new job on Monday. So instead of a real post, here's a picture of Dave under a waterfall on our honeymoon in Puerto Rico.

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Yes, I'm pretty happy about that six-pack. My husband is hot.

30 August 2008

And then there were still four

So Zoe tried to die again today. We got home from yoga to find her in the middle of a terrifying episode. Her eyes were all pupil and she was twitching and emitting piteous meows, nothing like her usual voice. She had lost control of her bladder and bowels. As Dave rushed her in the door to the vet, she started seizing.

We cried while we waited because we were pretty sure she wouldn't be coming home with us. I added "shovel" to the list for the trip to Target we'd planned later in the day. The vet came in and it turned out to be a hypoglycemic episode - her blood sugar was way too low. So she's had some sugar and a bunch of food and she seems okay now. We are still keeping an eye on her; at least we know the route to the excellent emergency vet facility if we need it. (That facility is where Inty had her endoscopy.) I took "shovel" off the Target list and added "blood glucose monitor" to the pharmacy list.

In retrospect, Zoe was actually showing several signs of being hypoglycemic - inappropriate toileting being the main one. She probably had a seizure yesterday, too, while we were at work, because when we came home we found that her belly was mysteriously soaked in urine.

When we picked Zoe up, the vet mentioned that she probably does have a tumor on her abdomen. One of our options is aggressive chemotherapy. (The other was steroids, but that's problematic for all kinds of reasons for diabetic cats, making the already difficult-to-stabilize blood sugar even harder to track.) Dave said, "I think our option is more like an aggressive syringe of sodium penethal. Oh, wait. Isn't that truth serum?" So then we started talking about what Zoe would say if she was under the influence of sodium penethal:

"I was the one who crapped all over the house."

"I'm pro-life."

"I endorse Sarah Palin."

"I'm secretly gay."

"I'm a Republican."

Heh. Because in Massachusetts, being a conservative republican is pretty shocking.

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kittens nursing 014

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Love fest; everyone in this picture is purring

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Love fest part two

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Literary Pip (although Great Expectations is not actually in there; apparently I don't own a copy.)

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Om nom nom, delicious camera cords

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Look at how much bigger he's gotten!

28 August 2008

listy list list

So my shrink and my best friend have both frequently expressed astonishment at how much time I spent doing housework. That's what I spent my evening on tonight, so here's a little run-down, transcribed from my to-do for tonight. (Note, I am blogging at 11:50 pm and I didn't even cook dinner, I just reheated leftovers.)

I got home at about 7:30 - which is not unusually late for me - and sat down and wrote the following list, in all its tedious, tiny-itemed glory:


go for walk


make lemon pepper cashews

laundry (W)

use up basil to make pesto or tomato sauce (I heart my cuisinart mini-prep, it's so much easier to clean than the big guy and perfect for a small job like pesto)

eat dinner

clean catboxes



go to bed early

clean fish tank (W)

prep Inty's meds for tomorrow morning

wash and refill cat food bowls

remove evidence of ravages caused by dinner, cashews and pesto from kitchen


refill brita

The ones with lines through them got done tonight; the (W) items are reserved for the weekend.

So I don't know - is this excessive? Because it all seems very normal to me to want to do this kind of stuff on a regular basis - this is totally regular maintenance stuff, nothing too ambitious - yet I probably won't get to sleep until well after midnight, and I need to be into work at 8 so that means getting up at 6:30 for realsies instead of hitting snooze until 7:15.

Whatever, if I'm normal or not doesn't matter, I am in serious need of the long weekend coming up. I plan to hang with our colony of cats, actually get some reading done instead of reading three pages in bed before I fall asleep ... oh, and I totally have a list of bigger projects to get done around the house this weekend, of course. Because long weekends are made for domestic puttering and naps and drinking beers with lunch. I hope the weather is nice.

27 August 2008

Milk Maid

Simone, our recently adopted large motherly cat, has taken Pip (teeny boy kitten) under her wing, to the extent that she allows him to suckle. That's right. We thought he was just latching on for comfort and she was letting him because she is good natured and easy-going and then on Friday night I was on the phone with my brother and petting Simone idly and I noticed something and wrote this note to Dave: I THINK SIMONE'S NIPPLES ARE ENGORGED.

Yeah. There was no think about it, they WERE. The stimulation/massage actually brought her milk in. Isn't that crazy? She's spayed so it's not a heat or recent kittens issue, though we think she's had litters in the past before she got to the SPCA. I didn't know the milk-producing hormones could still work if the animal in question has had a hysterectomy, which is basically what spaying is. But now when she and Pip settle in for some milky minutes, not only can you hear tiny slurps, you can also hear tiny swallows. He has a favorite teat (actually two) just like he would if he was part of a regular litter. (I guess each kitten usually has their own teat.)

So at first I was kind of grossed out by the idea (mostly by the thought of furniture cleaning). I'm not sure* why I was a little squicked, though, because he was nursing this morning in bed and she was purring and grooming him and it was just about the sweetest scene you can imagine. Slurp-gulp slurp-gulp lick lick purr purr purr purr purr knead knead purr purr purr.

I don't have any pictures of this yet - mostly because my camera battery refuses to hold a charge for more than 5 minutes; also I didn't have my camera next to the bed or anything and the second I got up, the little bucolic scene was disrupted. (Simone is like every other animal I've ever seen with a litter, which is to say when she's ready to get up or wants to move around, she just does, and she doesn't give a shit if it interrupts Pip's nursing. I remember visiting Red, a corgi predecessor to Mom and Dad's current pair, when Red had a litter, and Red just kind of casually stepped out of her nursing box to greet us, using the edge of the box to scrape her puppies off as she went. Heh. Plus I know Pip's teeth are sharp.) But I'll keep trying for pictures, because it's pretty darling to see.

And apart from maybe making sure that Simone is getting the right nutrition (maybe the nursing will use calories and help her lose weight!), I don't think there's any reason to interfere, since they both seem to be enjoying it and no one is being harmed. Pip is now 9 weeks at most, and kittens shouldn't really be weaned until 12 weeks, so it's probably actually helpful for him. (He is mostly eating dry food, he just supplements with milk.) And Simone loves him, and apparently was a good mother in her past life. I'll discuss it with the vet when I take Pip in for his shots in a couple of weeks. (None of the cats go outside so no one is at risk for any diseases, but immunizations are a legal requirement.) I called the vet on Saturday morning and got this response from a tech: the tech was not sure why Simone was allowing this behavior**, but suggested we put her in a baby t-shirt to discourage it. (This was before we knew she was actually nursing.) By the time we got home from Maine on Sunday night, we'd decided that unless there were furniture cleaning issues, we wouldn't bother with the t-shirt idea, and shortly thereafter we realized that she was actually nursing.

So that's the big cat news this week. The other cats are fine, too - Inty is adjusting to Pip and I think we'll see them playing together soon, and Zoe is her usual crabby, randomly affectionate self (she is sitting on my lap and purring as I type this.)

* I think I can maybe place the blame here on a Dan Savage column about Adult Lactating Relationships. Okay, not really, Dan Savage rocks. Probably I am just too culturally inculcated with the idea that pets are supposed to be neutered or spayed and be big teddy bears for my pleasure, not so much that they can have other agendas and think for themselves. But I have gotten over myself.

** Clearly the tech did not understand the disposition of my big gentle sweetest & most affectionate cat on the face of the earth, Simone, who has had litters of kittens and apparently enjoyed being a mother.

25 August 2008

weekend in Maine, in pictures (mostly)

we had good weather for the drive up and light traffic.

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keys to the house in maine

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my dorky hat

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There's not much to look at on the drive up

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Going over a bridge provides a rare dose of scenic excitement

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Ye Olde Nyew Englande

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Once you get close, it starts getting real pretty real fast

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Yes, I think mud flats qualify as pretty. These ones, at least.

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the pump house. I don’t think anyone calls this little building their home (maybe a few squirrels) and I don’t think anything is pumped here, but it’s an excellent arrival marker

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View from the porch of the "Up House" (guest house. That's the corner of the "river house" - main house - in the photo.)

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Of course I am reading instead of looking at the view. (Special Topics in Calamity Physics*)

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Dave studying in the Up House (plus our messy crap all over the counter.)

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We went for a hike amongst tall, skinny pines

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salt marsh. Mmmm, salty...

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Ovenmouth tidal inlet. I love the way the trees come right down to the water in Maine.

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Plenty of red and yellow toadstools but where were all the fucking gnomes?

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* which I liked, if not loved. The ending kind of fell apart and I thought the whole book was a little bit too pleased with its own cleverness and overwritten. Very Secret Histroy-ish. But still fun - I liked the voice overall. And I'm a sucker for the adolescent narrative. But Special Topics is not a patch on Black Swan Green for capturing adolescent angst.