So funny story. Our internet went out on Thursday. It was out from about noon to after 10 pm. It came back on the next morning. In my building that means the TV is also out. And it means the public garage we all use is not accessible. The fancy new system they put in just doesn’t work. You can’t get in or out. That night all the people who work downtown could not get out to go home. And residents could not get in to go home. Somebody didn’t think it through when they installed the new fancy scanners. The company that owns the garage almost had a riot in their hands. They finally dismantled everything and opened all the gates. That meant that this morning the garage was full of homeless people sheltering out of the rain.
One word – idiots! Not really so funny. The down side of technology. I think more and more, we need a back up for technology.
Facebook is reminding me about my trip to Ireland four years ago. Check it out.
Winter is coming. William O’Brian State Park was kind of magical.
My photos look a little out of focus today. Kind of psychedelic. Or is it just me? The sky is an odd color. A rainy, dark day. But color starting as the trees adjust to winter.
I actually got a story published this week. No money but think of the fame! The notoriety!
Today is also gloomy and rainy. But that’s okay. We need rain. Rain is good. Winter is coming.
I read today that scientists think mammals will die out in 250 million years. All the land masses will collide, the sun will get brighter, and carbon dioxide will rise. We will suffocate and melt. I wonder if we will really last that long. Will we morph into something else? Will another species thrive on the new atmosphere? Will we build bio-domes like our science fiction writers predict? It is hard to imagine what 250 million years looks like. The dinosaurs roamed the earth for 165 million years and then all blew up about 65 million years ago. Mammals showed up about 225 million years ago. So we are almost half way through our time here. On the other hand the earth itself is 4.5 billion years old. We are but blips in time. It’s like democracy in Russia. A nanosecond. Apparently Earth has another 4 billion years to go. Don’t think I’ll be around to see it.
I’m reading Isabel Allende’s memoirs and in it she mentions the filming of The House of Spirits. I never knew it was made into a movie so I watched it last night. It was star studded, Vanessa Redgrave, Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irons, Glenn Close, Antonio Banderas, Winona Ryder, and a million other people. Of Love and Shadows is another one of her books that was made into a movie. I haven’t read that one but looks interesting.
I read that people who are optimistic and have positive thoughts on aging tend to live longer. I’m feeling positive I am aging.
A friend just found out he is going to Burundi for work. The poorest nation in the world. The most unhappy nation in the world. I first heard about Burundi during the Hutu-Tutsi genocide of the 1990’s. So I have been trying to find positive things about it. It is in the African Great Lakes region bordering on Lake Tanganyika. This is what I found.
I had a dream last night where everybody around me was drinking beer for breakfast. And I thought. I want to do that. I want to drink beer for breakfast.
All I wanna do is drink beer for breakfast All I wanna eat is them barbeque chips All I want is someone to just try and protect us You can try but never wanna try and defect us
I telling you I am through Mama’s baby boy is a bum
All I wanna do is stay in this life All I wanna pick is your nose, honey, hi Sweet little corny you’ve gotta be husky I am dreaming of a white Christmas
Honey where I’m from Mama’s baby boy is a bum Honey where I’m from Halle-fucking-lujah I’m a bum
Baby boy’s a bum Baby boy’s a bum Baby boy’s a bum All I wanna do is drink beer for breakfast
—- The Replacements
Actually it really isn’t that odd. All the way up until the 17th century, Northern Europeans drank beer at every meal. It was safer than drinking water and more nutritious. Apparently archeologists have discovered evidence of beer making in Mesopotamia dating back 4000 years. Anyway, it’s been around a while. I remember reading about pregnant women in medieval times drinking beer for breakfast. It was compared to a loaf of bread.
So I could just have a slice of “bread” for breakfast.
When you look up Beer for Breakfast on the internet you get all kinds of recipes that have beer in them. Beer muffins and stuff like that. What for? Just pop a brew instead. A lot less trouble.
I had a birthday recently and decided to take myself to go see “Barbie”. I was hoping for some fun escapism. Well… it was entertaining but it was also a story of a major existential crisis. So I’m conflicted. Not sure I liked it. But Ryan Gosling was excellent as Ken.
I can be conflicted about birthdays in general. Some good, some bad. Some have associations I don’t care for. Some happy occasions.
My mother writes about the menu for my second birthday: hunks of cheese, slices of bananas with peanut butter dabs all on a toothpick, tiny buns filled with ground spam, graham crackers with honey butter, and then cupcakes with a candle on each, coffee and Koolade. Sounds like an exotic ‘50s meal, doesn’t it?
My fifth birthday was memorable because the family had just survived a plane crash and landed at our final destination two weeks late – on my birthday. Another memorable one was in Lagos, Nigeria when my mother and I marked the occasion by opening a small tinned chocolate cake. They probably don’t make such a thing anymore…
In 1999, the last year of the millennium, I spent my birthday in France. We stayed with friends in the suburbs who had a house and small yard and a son our son, Noah’s age. They were about a ten minute walk from the train in a nice little village with a pretty chateau. The first day was spent getting our new visas organized and trying to do some shopping. On Saturday we wandered around the left bank and then the four adults went out to dinner at a very nice kind of ‘new’ French restaurant. It was my birthday so we had champagne and wine and great food. Sunday was the boat ride on the Seine with the boys and then a walk through the Tuileries garden where there just happened to be some rides and of course Noah had to go on them.
We rented a car and on Tuesday left for Metz and the eclipse. Metz is a very pretty town right on the river. We scoped out the area on Tuesday and early Wednesday morning we headed out with the telescope, video camera and other cameras. We set up our camp in the middle of the Esplanade which is a nice park right by the river. The town had organized a big festival around the eclipse and so there were parades, music, etc. going on all day long. It was cloudy. During the first half of the eclipse we were able to see it off and on. But about 20 minutes before total eclipse it started to rain. We could tell when the total was, though, because it was completely dark. It was really cool. All the flowers closed up and all the lights came on and it was really night. Then during the second half it cleared up a bit and we were able to see more. Noah kept looking at the “moon” through his glasses. Nicholas got some good shots through his telescope. And I got a new umbrella. When we got back to Paris our friends who had gone 25 minutes north of Paris on the train said they had seen the whole thing perfectly.
From Metz we drove into Lorraine and the Vosges area. We stopped at the Haut Konningburg castle which is a huge restored castle on top of a mountain in the middle of the forest. You can see forever from it. It is really cool with a moat and drawbridge and inner yard. It would be very hard to penetrate it.
From there we wound our way around down to La Bresse which is in the heart of a big ski area and lots of mountains and forest. Really beautiful. Our hotel was very nice with a good restaurant. We drove all around the area and went hiking around a glacial pool where Noah spent the better part of an hour throwing rocks into it.
On Sunday (the day before Noah’s birthday) we took the boys to the Bois de Bologne to the big amusement park there and I think they went on about 20 rides. They had a lot of fun.
Our last day in Paris we had lunch up at Montmartre with all the tourists in town. It was kind of fun.
I needed a new couch. I gave my old one away. I found the perfect couch. Super comfortable. Perfect color. Nice size. I fell in love with it. I ordered it. I paid for it. I had to wait two weeks for delivery.
It didn’t fit in the elevator. Too big.
I know better than to fall in love with anything. I usually don’t care that much. But it was a really nice couch. So back to square one. And believe me, there are not very many comfortable couches. There aren’t even very many nice looking ones. And I know I won’t see that color again. Unless I want to pay 12,000 dollars which I don’t.
I took a quiz on one furniture store website. It told me my style is Contemporary Chic. But then it didn’t give me any examples or show me any possibilities. What is that about? They did send me a $25 off coupon though…
This is the picture they showed of what Contemporary Chic looks like but it doesn’t exist on their website. I don’t really like it that much.
This is my old couch in its new home.
So after sitting on many sofas, I found this one. It isn’t perfect but I got a red chair to go with it. And it is comfortable.
Now I have to wait another two weeks for it to show up.
I took my car in to get the dents banged out of it this week. That meant getting a rental car. I had the choice of this tiny little thing or a “small” SUV. I took the SUV because it looked much sturdier. But it is big. Bigger than my car. And of course it is an automatic.
I bought an automatic (my first) about ten years ago. The first day I drove to work, I parked my car in the garage and I couldn’t get the keys out of the ignition. I panicked. I tried it again and again. I got out the user manual. And finally I phoned roadside assistant. After some back and forth, the mentioned the gear should be in “park”. What a complete idiot. I apologized profusely for wasting their time. I put the car in “park” and out came the keys.
So now I know. This is happening to me with the rental on a daily basis. But at least I know what to do.
I’m making pumpkin pie this weekend to take over to my dad. My grandmother made her pie with full fat cream and molasses. I started out with her recipe but modified it a bit because I like my pie spicy!
Here we go.
Mother’s Pumpkin Pie
1.5 cup pumpkin (cooked and mashed – I use it out of a can – 425 g., or 15 oz.) 1 tablespoon flour ½ cup brown sugar 5 tablespoons molasses 3 eggs 1/2 tsp ginger 2 tsp cinnamon 1/2 tsp cloves ¼ tsp allspice ½ tsp salt 1.5 cups cream or evaporated milk (I used half and half since that is what I had on hand)
Beat eggs, add pumpkin, sugar, flour, molasses and seasonings and beat thoroughly. It will look dark.
Stir in cream. The cream lightens it up and makes it soupy.
Pour in unbaked 9 inch pie shell. The shell is the hardest part to make as far as I’m concerned. I used to be fastidious about it and make perfect little ridges around the edge and cut-outs for the center. No more. To heck with Martha Stewart. My crust is always overworked and a little tough but frankly, I like it better that way. It’s not beautiful, but it is functional and tastes good!
Bake at 400 degrees F. for 20 minutes, then lower heat to 350 degrees F. Pie will be done when a knife inserted comes out clean. (I check it at 30-40 minutes after reducing temperature. It will kind of puff up.)
I was thinking about eyes. They take in light. Images pour in. Movement. My brain processes them into things I recognize. My ears take in sounds. Add music and conversation. My brain keeps track of it. I’m driving. My hands on the wheel. The cruise control the gears the radio.
Feet on the pedal. Brain keeps track of sights sounds conversation cars. Surrounded by semis. Speeding up to get around semis. Rain starting. Windshield wipers. Billboards along the road. Leonard singing Hallelujah. Bruce belting tramps like us baby we were born to run…. Billboard flashing. Anti choice. God is here. He sent Trump. Brief thoughts about possible identities of “he”.
Impressive all the things we can do simultaneously.
Saw an interesting exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Some of it thought provoking. Some of it just depressing because of what it represents. All the horrible history. America in denial:
“In Native America: In Translation, 10 artists consider Indigenous histories, cultures, and representation through a contemporary lens. Photography, a medium historically used to suppress and stereotype Native cultures, is reclaimed by these artists, who are, in the words of the curator Wendy Red Star, “opening up space in the art world for new ways of seeing and thinking.”” (From museum pamphlet)
Lake Michigan was crazy with big waves. Too cold to surf.
In Moscow they had mesh skirts around the bottom of tall buildings to protect the passersby from falling ice. Even so, people were killed each year by icicles. In Minneapolis they close the sidewalk around tall buildings when the ice starts falling.
It is St Patrick’s Day! Who doesn’t love St Patrick’s Day? The patron saint of Ireland who drove the snakes out of Ireland (even though there were no snakes in Ireland). Sub zero wind chills for the parade today. I think I’ll skip it.
I watched the film Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles the other night. It is a three and a half hour film starring and directed by Chantal Akerman, first screened in 1975. What little dialog there is is in French. It follows a single mother over three days. It is slow and mundane. She cooks, she shops, she feeds her child, she does the washing up, she takes a bath, and she provides sex for money. It is mesmerizing in its monotony. But the changes are subtle, you have to watch closely to see her controlled behavior begin to unravel. She is a complicated woman trapped in her own world. Trapped by society? Very interesting film.
She cooked potatoes every day and some kind of meat. One day it was veal. I am feeling so uninspired. Nothing sounds good lately. I’ve been watching the Sopranos. They eat mounds and mounds of pasta at every meal. Manicotti, Ricotta, Salami, meatballs, Spaghetti, Ziti, Fagioli, etc etc. What I really want is a short rib bolognese but I’m too lazy to make it.
Requiescat by Oscar Wilde
Tread lightly, she is near Under the snow, Speak gently, she can hear The daisies grow.
All her bright golden hair Tarnished with rust, She that was young and fair Fallen to dust.
Lily-like, white as snow, She hardly knew She was a woman, so Sweetly she grew.
Coffin-board, heavy stone, Lie on her breast, I vex my heart alone She is at rest.
Peace, Peace, she cannot hear Lyre or sonnet, All my life’s buried here, Heap earth upon it.
Not a very happy poem but nicely done by an Irish son….
It’s snowing again. What else is new. I saw a movie years ago, I don’t remember the name of it or really much about it except it was about some nuclear war in the future. What I remember about it was the nuclear winter. It looked like it was snowing all the time. (It might have been The Day After) When I moved to Moscow I used to say I lived in the nuclear winter because it snowed constantly. That light steady snow that never accumulated much but just kept coming down. This winter feels like that. Constant snow.
I’m typing my mother’s letters she wrote to her family from Burma in the early 50’s. I’m almost done with 1953. She helped to edit the Rangoon International Cookbook put together by women, both expats and Burmese… and Indian and Chinese, American, English, French, Australian…In the Forward it says:
“There is a Thank You written invisibly to every contributor and source of treasured recipes, named and nameless. But here we wish to record our special thanks to Mrs. Sung San, honored with Burma’s martyr-hero, and beloved herself as Daw Khan Kai for her service to her people. In the midst of new and heavy responsibilities as Chairman of the Social Planning Commission for the Union of Burma, she has found time to give us her entire delicious “company menu”, with the recipes for the nine distinctive Burmese dishes therein.” (She was Aung San Suu Kyi’s mother)
One recipe contributed by my mother is an old favorite of mine. There were no lemons in Burma but she substituted limes and that worked fine.
(Mixture may have curdled appearance, but no matter)
Beat: 2 egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture.
Pour into buttered 1.5 quart casserole. Place in pan of hot water Bake at 325°F uncovered 40-45 min or until set (1 hr).
Serve warm or chilled. I like it warm!
The cook book was published by the Woman’s Society of Christian Service of the Methodist English Church, Rangoon, Burma 1954
About this time my father was traveling around Burma visiting schools to potentially help with agricultural education. He writes:
“I returned last Friday evening from my trip up country. We had a very enjoyable trip for that area is comparatively free from insurgent activity. We were able to drive about 150 miles away from Mandalay without a guard. That has been impossible until recently. On Sunday we were in Maymyo (by car) and the following Wed. the insurgents blew up the train and killed 14 between Mandalay and Maymyo. Day before yesterday the insurgents blew up the guard train and the regular train following behind between here and Moulmein. They then attached the train and killed several and robbed all the passengers. On our trip we were royally received everywhere we went. These people genuinely seem to like to have us visit their schools. At several schools we were presented bouquets of flowers and at practically every school we had to have tea or food. All the schools are clamoring for agricultural teachers so my program should continue to grow. They have never had teachers of agriculture in the schools before and the ones I turn out this year will determine how effective my program is for I’m the only one in Burma doing this work.
The Honorable Vice President of the U.S. is visiting here this week. There was some comment in the papers before his arrival that the Communists were going to demonstrate to protest his visit here but nothing has come off. There was a short meeting on Tuesday of the Embassy and TCA personnel to meet Mr. Nixon. So, when I get home you can shake the hand that shook the hand of the Vice President.”