Monday, November 30, 2009

people dream up

the darndest things

the proposed 38 States, by C. Etzel Pearcy, mid 1970s; it follows natural borders and makes the states more equal in size

Sunday, November 29, 2009

home away from

I hadn't had an American Thanksgiving in two years.  Last year in Munich, I succeeded in putting on a pretty decent dinner, turkey and all.  Sure, I mucked up the gravy, but everything else was good, and I introduced some Germans to the wonders of stuffing. Easily one of the more grown-up and adult accomplishments of my life to date.  Much more preferable, however, to throw it all out the window and down the drain and revert wonderfully to childhood where my mother cooks fiendishly and won't let anyone step in the kitchen.  (I've extracted a promise that I'll be allowed to help out next year).  I got fed endlessly for four days and was reminded of all I loathe and dread about the suburbs.  At about 11pm, with my dad in the living room watching Fox, the dog snoring on the floor, the rest of the house in bed and me lying on the couch in the front room, reading a novel and day-dreaming with the other half of my brain I thought this could have happened a decade ago.  And did. 

Still, it's not all housing developments and quiet desperation.  On Saturday I went for an outing with my Mom; we started at  Snow's Citrus Court, a small family orchard in Newcastle (a neighboring suburb to the one I was raised in, Orangevale, no longer a vale particularly noted for its oranges) where we bought Satsuma mandarins and some mandarin-based marinades.

persimmons out to dry 

Then, we went for a stroll through some recently reclaimed open space. 

We ended with wine tasting at Mt. Vernon Winery, which had been wildly successful (especially relative to it size) at the most recent California State Fair, and makes, among other whimsical blends, a "Girly Man" Syrah.  I'm not a fan of the governator but it's a tasty red.  You can keep your Napa and your Sonoma.  At the little wineries in Placer and Amador counties, tasting is free and refreshingly devoid of snobbery. 

I returned to my apartment to find my housemate John making pizzas from scratch.  I know, you're sick of hearing it: I love my home.


"When a newspaper dies in America, it is not simply that a commercial enterprise has failed.  If the San Francisco Chronicle is near death – and why else would the editors celebrate it 144th anniversary? and why else would editors devote a week to feature articles on fog? – it is because San Francisco's sense of itself as a city is perishing...
We will end up with one and a half cities in America – Washington, D.C., and American Idol.  We will all live in Washington, D.C., where the conversation is a droning, never advancing, debate between 'conservatives' and 'liberals.'  We will not read about newlyweds.  We will not read about the deaths of salesmen.  We will not read about prize Holsteins or new novels.  We are a nation dismantling the structure of intellectual property and all critical apparatus."
               - Richard Rodriguez, "Final Edition: Twilight of the American newspaper," Harper's, Nov. 2009

In this same article, I learned that the word "hoodlum" was coined in San Francisco.  Neat!  Of course (of course), I'm hoping he's wrong.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Cha-Ya kind of blew my mind Saturday night.  Then on Sunday there was

(beet and apple pizza with ricotta)


and a really gorgeous pumpkin pie that I stupidly forgot to take a picture of. 
And that's only the food.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Barbara Kingsolver is Dr. Frankenstein

according to her (but then, aren't all authors?).  That's a direct quote.  As is:
"My country does not encourage me to view it as a work in progress, but as a perfect, finished product, and if you criticize it, you are called 'unAmerican.' "
"When I'm reading a novel – and I try, I do, I give it a chance, at least fifty pages – I ask myself: Do I care what happens to these people? And if not, why keep reading?  Because they're not real!"
"The greatest virtue of fiction, in my opinion, is that it creates empathy for the theoretical stranger...By reading novels, we're participating in a profoundly political act."
She also referred to writing as a "barely controlled lunacy."  I like that. 

In other notes, I wish I didn't like my job so that I could call in sick for the rest of the week and finish reading this Doris Lessing quintet.  I wouldn't even come up for air.

better than a cartouche

At the touring King Tut exhibition currently at the De Young, I fell in love with the Magical Brick of Thutmosis IV.  According to the display tag, "An image on a magical brick was placed in hall niches of burial chambers to ward off dangers from the north, south, east, or west.  This northern example warned:
'You who come to pull [my hair], I will not allow you to pull [my hair].' "
Sure, it had nothing on Egypt.  But the labeling was worlds and galaxies better than in the Cairo museum.  

Monday, November 16, 2009

I think that I shall never see

a poem as lovely as a stuffed bell pepper.  Oh Kristin, you could convert the most hardened of carnivores.

topped with mashed sweet potatoes and beets.  Not homemade but definitely worthy of mention: a parmesan-cream-cheese-garlic dip.  Where've you been all my life? 


I've been meaning to get to this for some time.  I saw it at the Alte Pinakothek in Munich.  It's also pure Monty Python.  Clearly, what we have on our hands here is a classic chicken/egg problem.

ain't too proud to beg

ain't too modest to boast.  I figured out some tricky html stuff at work today and boy oh boy do I feel like a genius.  Sure, if you know what you're doing, it's quick and easy, but I didn't so it was slow and difficult.  Nonetheless, victory is mine!  Next up: 
1) latin
2) the mighty wurlitzer
3) surfing
4) alchemy

Sunday, November 15, 2009

lately in the kitchen

A somewhat off-the-cuff dinner party on Tuesday mushroomed rapidly from five to fifteen people.  Luckily, they brought food.  I love it when people bring things that I've always been too intimidated to try making myself:

or when our fantastic downstairs neighbors bring up something tasty:

or when food starts moving towards the absurd, such as the jar-within-a-jar chutney:

Not pictured here but worthy of special mention: the people who brought wine.  You are essential.

The group ultimately was too big for the kitchen and we all spilled out into the backyard.  I finished up my beet gnocchi (tasty but not up to my aesthetic standards.  So, sorry, no photo) and joined the party.

Last night found an equally charming and motley group in the kitchen again, again more or less equally improvised.  Many lovely things, but far and away my top prize goes to this soup, whose creator insisted on dubbing "carrot carrot."

Monday, November 9, 2009

how to do

"'s not the notes.  It's the spaces between the notes that make the music."
                  - Masimo Vignelli, Helvetica

Sunday, November 8, 2009

pumpkins after the rain

Our jack-o'-lanterns have decayed rather spectacularly:

If there is an apocalypse for pumpkins, I think it must look a lot like this.

My poor pumpkin: its snaggle-teeth now like sad dentures, an octogenarian vampire that has to suck blood through a straw.

pejoratives and purgatory

A funny series of things culminated in me sitting in at the Make-Out Room Friday night, having just watched Mortified - for free!  I love my job! - and generally feeling good about the world but also talking to a man whose ideas of gender were so normative it was as if he were a paper doll cut out of the Normal America magazine.  Don't call me a jerk; he told me he thought of himself as "normal," that he felt like "most men."  These were labels he chose for himself.  Actually, I am being inaccurate.  He told me he felt like "most dudes."  These are the words he chose: "dudes" for men and "chicks" for women.  He, easily in his thirties, collared shirt, job at eBay, apartment in SOMA*.  Kristin told me the only bar he knew in the Mission was Medjool's* but at first I thought she was joking.  Hard to believe that anyone so entirely and willingly signs themselves up for a stereotype.

After about five consecutive uses in our first ten or fifteen minutes of conversation, I said I thought he should reconsider his use of the word "chick," that it was pejorative.  This is progress for me, who would have once said flatly "Stop saying that word, it's ridiculous."  To his credit, he thought about it.  He went on to tell me how men feel when they see a beautiful woman.  You don't need to tell me about it, I said, you don't know me.  I like women sometimes, did you know that?  Well, he replied, I assumed.  This was veryvery funny to me.  Perhaps only the second or third time (that I know about) in my life when someone's assumed I'm a lesbian.  Because I have short hair? I asked through the laughter.  What if I told you that I like men sometimes, too?  Did you know that also?  No, he said.  I didn't.  Right, I replied.  Because you don't know me.  Again on the topic of personal progress, I managed to say (and feel) this not-antagonistically.

Although it goes against years of training and toughness and being ready to fight the world with teeth bared and balled fists, I have for some years now been making an effort to practice more enfoldment-like techniques (thank you, Sally Gearhart) with, let us be honest, mixed success.  It is hard for me to overcome my combativeness.  But shouting, insulting, and even out-talking are not effective methods of persuasion**, of stimulating discussion, or creating an atmosphere where people might begin to reconsider or at least consider reconsidering something which is to many as fundamental and unneeding of questioning as gender roles.  I, however, am damn interested in having people question.

*cheat-sheet for non-Sanfranciscans: these are kind of gross trendy places for yuppies
**I know, I know, if I were really interested in enfoldment (more here) I wouldn't be talking about persuasion at all.  Oh well.  I tend to think of my minimal goal as seed-planting. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

noche de los muertos vivientes

I've been wanting to check this out since Spanish 1 in the 8th grade.  Finally!   Several of my housemates and I wandered out into the Día de lo Muertos parade, joined up, drifted around, caught up with it again, and eventually circled back home. A warm night and burning incense and herbs made for air so thick you could swim in it.  Some shops in the neighborhood had alters out front or even inside:

I offer you a rather clumsy montage I put together:
And today, I popped into Panaderia La Mejor on 24th and Mission and my undying optimism was rewarded. Por fin: ¡Pan de Muerto!

un sabor simple y exquisito

My only regret?  I wasn't able to get my hands on a candy skull.  Until next year, festival!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

tying the knot

Tonight was the first in what I predict will be a series of pretzel experiments.  The results were tasty and enjoyable, but not quite the Bavarian delicacy of my dreams.  I'll keep trying.

pre-boiling.  note: I used this pretzel recipe

post-boiling, salted

baked!  with a yummy and totally unbayerisch cheddar-mustard sauce, recipe here

all hallowed out

My feet ache, my ears are ringing, and my fingertips are covered in superglue.  Yesterday must have been Halloween.  
Last week I made a truly excellent kite costume:

but by the time Halloween rolled around I'd worn it twice and was bored with it.  So I decided to be a dead princess.  I bought a child's princess dress at a thrift store, cut it up, and gave myself sunken-in dead eyes, black lips, and  judiciously applied pink glitter.  I tried to make myself a tiara but it wouldn't stay, so I improvised one out of headbands and a fake pearl hair clip.  Before that, though, we carved pumpkins:

and in the evening, we went to Zambaleta's Halloween Hullabaloo.  Such a fabulous party!  Zambaleta is a new project conceived and run by my downstairs neighbor, he whose wonderful friends created the fabulous music in my backyard a bit back, so my expectations were high.  I was not disappointed.  I was on the dance floor all night, or at least until they turned all the lights on and made everybody go home.  At one point I was in a can-can line and someone kicked one of my shoes off and I had to go chase after it.  I danced so much I tore up my shoes, look:

I always did have a Cinderella complex.  Mostly because I have such hard-to-fit feet.  I was never going to be the glass slipper girl.

Add to Technorati Favorites