Archive for June, 2010

the best/worst one yet

I think that I may have committed a fashion faux pas over the weekend: I repeated the octopus necklace for the second time in a week. How shocking. But I’ve started this week off fresh with this cluster of seaside detritus, from Target. There are so many layers of sealife in this one that you can’t even see all of them at once. See that fish tail hanging down beneath the crab? There’s so much sealife, in fact, that I’m probably going to have to take this thing off before I can get any work done—it’s a bit heavy.

I’ve been spending my mornings lately with Rodney Yee. I had these yoga programs on VHS (!!!) but got out of the habit when lightning killed my VCR (a mercy, really). Then I bought the DVD—but, mysteriously, my laptop refuses to play it (although it plays everything else just fine). Despite this conspiracy, I’m finally getting into the habit (thanks to Erich’s Xbox, which seems happy to play the DVD). Admittedly, AM Yoga in my small (and cat-filled) living room can be a bit of a challenge. Yesterday, a foster kitten ran across my hand and scratched me deeply in the midst of “deep relaxation.” This morning, Mr. Cat started chewing on my glasses in the middle of a leg stretch and then stepped on the controller and hit fast-forward. It was later revealed that his food bowl was empty.

I’m counting down to my trip to the UK later this summer. We’ve finally set the itinerary: four nights in a cottage outside Bath, two nights in a B&B in the Lake District, a week on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, and four nights in a hotel near the Tower of London. On my must-see list for this trip: the dinosaurs in Crystal Palace Park. Tintern Abbey, Dove Cottage, the Brontë Parsonage, and some odd things in the London museums.

The big question: how many sealife necklaces can I fit into my alarmingly small Timbuk2 suitcase? There are going to be four of us driving around in a small rental car, so suitcase space is at a premium. Does anyone have any packing advice? I, being quite the fan of organization, like to begin obsessing about packing far in advance. I already have some little packers and good walking shoes. . .

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I wasn’t kidding

…about the sealife. Here’s today’s selection—a J Crew starfish that a very kind Ebay seller sent to me for free with the starfish print swimsuit I bought from her. Unsurprisingly—as I live in Wisconsin—I get a lot more wear out of the necklace.

Writing about sealife jewelry doesn’t seem all that ridiculous to me this week. I’ve been working on a writing schedule of a page a day, and so far I’ve written three pages about shawls (plaid, also, watered-silk) and two pages about bonnets (and the nails upon which they can hang). Time for the weekend!

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I should not have bought these raspberry yogurt pretzels at the Coop. They’re almost as troublingly delicious as Pretzel M&M’s. (You’ve tried those, right? good.) They do look cute in an Ikea jar, though. But what isn’t improved by a little bit of the Ikea aesthetic?

I’ve been wearing my lobster ‘flops around town. Don’t worry; I haven’t worn them with the lobster dress. or the lobster skirt. yet. I did wear them the other day with one of my ridiculous sealife necklaces:

I have quite a few. Maybe I’ll show you some more this summer. It could be like National Blog Posting Month: National Sea Life Necklace Month.

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Another crazy storm last night—the lightning probably would have woken me up even without the accompanying thunder. My whole bedroom was awash in flares of blue light for more than an hour. I got out of bed for a bit at 4AM to check the storm warnings on TV. Nothing too severe in our area; certainly, nothing severe enough to deter Keatsycat, who purred in my lap while the weather raged on outside. The other (wiser?) felines had all taken shelter.

One of Erich’s college friends was passing through the Midwest earlier this week. We took him out to lunch and then did the Madison tour: walking up and down State Street, pointing out the badger art/statuary inside the State Capitol, and quickly eating ice cream cones in the sweltering heat on the Terrace. It was fun to play tourist for an afternoon in my own town.

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summer reading update

I just finished The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I accidentally bought this book twice—once at Costco and once at a thrift store. I was able to return the (unread) Costco copy, which left me with a barely (and probably not completely) read second-hand copy that included several pages of notepaper filled with spoilers and questions about the plot. The material history of my own reading ended up being very appropriate—the whole thing is about books and bookstores and bookishness. At one point, the narrator receives the following prescription from a doctor (after he asks her about her reading habits, which include reading and rereading novels such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights):

“Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes. Take ten pages, twice a day, till end of course.”

This exchange reminded me a prescription that I once received from a doctor—to read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

But back to the book—it’s a rather dark and Gothic kind of thing, but I liked it. Excellent summer reading for people who like, well, the Brontës. Speaking of which (as I tend to do), I am very excited about going here

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I don’t know how well this picture shows the flood, but last night my whole street—and most of the sidewalk—was underwater. It looked a bit like the Mississippi. A small wave broke against the curb in front of my neighbor’s house. Generally, I have a hard time remembering to water my garden. That has not been an issue so far this summer. Unfortunately, the bevy of tornado warnings in our area preempted the second half of The Bachelorette. The street has dried out, but I still don’t know who got a rose.

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summer reading

Recently, I acquired a Kindle. I think that I’m an unlikely candidate for an e-reader. I love books. I collect useless antique volumes that I never intend to read. My living spaces are filled with stacks and stacks of books, some chosen mostly for the covers. I often read in the bathtub; despite this suggestion, I’m wary of going for a swim with my technology. So far this summer, I’ve been reading lots and lots of paperbacks. Here’s my recent list:

Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout (melancholy but compelling novel-in-stories)

The Monsters of Templeton, Lauren Groff (love this strange book by a recent UW Madison MFA grad—the voices of her characters continue to haunt me)

The Host, Stephenie Meyer (I had a hard time getting into this huge volume until I took Hyperbolic Obsessive’s advice and increased my already speedy reading to almost-skimming; then, I couldn’t put it down)

Commencement, J. Courtney Sullivan (smarter-than-usual account of the friendship between four women—nostalgic for me because they are all women’s college grads)

A Reliable Wife, Robert Goolrick  (thriller set in in 1900’s Wisconsin—I love period fiction, especially when tricky women are involved)

The White Queen, Philippa Gregory (see above; period fiction, tricky women)

The Other Queen, Philippa Gregory (time has shown that I’ll read just about anything by this author, but this wasn’t my favorite)

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, Katherine Howe (more with the tricky women; this time, in witch-hunt era Salem. Despite the lack of lake monsters, this book reminds me of Groff’s. I think it may be the hints of academia in each. One of Groff’s main characters is a Ph.D. candidate hiding from her work (this, I can understand); Howe’s book starts off with a Ph.D. candidate trying to get through her candidacy exams.)

The City and the City, China Mieville (ok, not a paperback: an audiobook. I loved it, though—a thriller, like “Law in Order” but in two parallel cities that share the same geographical space.)

Un-Lun-Dun, China Mieville (kind of similar to the above, but aimed at a younger audience: parallel geographies, but not so much murder. )

People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks (I read somewhere that this book is something like The DaVinci Code for smarter people; that seems a little condescending and I liked The DaVinci Code just fine for a summer read. But it’s true that this book has more style. I like the cover, too)

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birthday cake

This is not the most photogenic piece of cake. It’s been getting jostled around in the refrigerator for the three days since my birthday; although these occasions are exceedingly rare, from time to time, I do wish that I owned something large enough to contain and store an entire cake (rather than being forced to hack it into chunks to fit into a series of nesting mixing bowls). Speaking of the aesthetics of this cake…it was kind of a mess, although I managed to patch it back together with frosting and some distracting embellishments.

I got the idea that I wanted a yellow cake stuck in my head the night before my birthday and landed on this recipe. At first, while wandering the aisles of Woodman’s, I thought about going the Duncan Hines route. The list of ingredients, though, was a little too disturbing. More disturbing, even, than half a pound of butter. After a narrow escape from the gravitational pull of the pinata aisle at Woodman’s (actually, there are several pinata aisles), I got down to baking. All is going to plan. And then, chaos—rescued kittens (another component of my birthday celebrations) start creating a ruckus in the back room—I go to check on them—and the cake pans begin to overflow. And then, the cakes begin to fall. I have no idea why—the pans were the right size, my oven was at the right temperature, and the batter seemed fine. I ended up with a rather doughnut-like cake—raised on the sides and heavily indented in the middle—but it was actually still delicious. The texture of this cake is much more dense than the eerie lightness of box cake, but it’s a good kind of dense. And the sour cream frosting might convert me to a frosting person after all (I usually scrape most of it off of my piece of cake before eating it). Luckily, Ricky and my mom were more than willing to eat ugly-ish, delicious cake. And now my freezer is full of ugly-ish, delicious slices of that cake—the kind of thing that one can only serve to family and true friends.

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(neutral) Seller overcharged insurance by $9.00. I paid, for I badly wanted the spoons.

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For some reason, Erich* and I have been talking a lot about Chipwiches lately. I don’t think that I’ve ever had a Chipwich, actually, because the idea has always seemed kind of appalling—I would rather just eat cookies. But last night, inspiration struck—in the form of an overly full refrigerator (so much disappointingly marinated tofu), a lust for chocolate, and about eight leftover bits of dough from the Nestle Toll House Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies that I bought to feed the crowd who convened the other night to watch this train wreck (a BNL music video? really?).

Sandwiched with Trader Joe’s tart frozen yogurt and rolled in the tiny chocolate chips that I seem to always have on hand, these were kind of odd little concoctions. But also kind of delicious. We’re already planning a second round, with some modifications—more frozen yogurt and more time in the freezer after assembling and before eating. These were very melty and squishy, but I still took a quick picture before I ate mine. The picture was so bad, though, that I went all out with the effects on iPhoto to try and make its blurriness into something artful.

* /Ricky

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