Sunday, November 28, 2010

le week-end

We had a special guest for Thanksgiving, which was fun.
The paella turned out and the bread was delicious.
He's looking kind of guilty here, in front of the empty pan, don't ya think?

It's been quite a leisurely weekend. I may have failed to mention before now that my Life of Leisure is over insofaras I got a temporary, part-time job at a local bookstore to earn a little extra cash. This means I am working more than 20 hours a week, but not a lot more. It's fun being at the other end of the book/information business, working in sales although working retail on Black Friday was kind of a trip. Honestly, I can't believe what people will do to save $5 but, whatever. The only thing I bought on Black Friday was food. (I worked from 6am 'till 10am so no big deal).

We went and saw a couple of movies over the weekend. The new Harry Potter movie was fun, if a bit sad at the end. I'm looking forward to seeing the second half, and I also plan to watch them all over again (we own the first six) since they're fun and it gives me a lot of knitting time. Last night Pato and I went to P.F. Chang's for a lettuce wrap and calamari dinner before seeing Fair Game. I didn't follow the Valerie Plame story much as it was happening, given that any news related to W and Iraq upset me no end back when he was in the Oval Office. It still upsets me, actually, but the movie was good. I would recommend both.

Also, did you know that Rupert Grint (a.k.a. Ron Weasley) chose A Clockwork Orange for his ALA Read poster? What a naughty boy! Bet a lot of folks are unhappy about that one...makes me giggle just thinking about it.

For my part, I am reading The Enchantress of Florence which I have had sitting around for ages but picked up and started only last week. It's great.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


There are lots of things to be thankful for today and every day. I'm not going to make a list, but I will mention a couple of things.

Today I am particularly thankful for Auntie, who gave me "permission" to take leftovers to my mother instead of taking her out to a restaurant, as we have done the past two years. It snowed yesterday and today it is unusually cold. And icy. Not only would it have been impossible to take my mother out today, I would not have been prepared to cook, and so it would have been a bit of a disaster.

I am also especially thankful today for my quirky family, who have requested paella for Thanksgiving dinner. Pato is not big on turkey, and Boy-child doesn't care for poultry in general. Over the years we have done many non-traditional things for Thanksgiving; paella has been a favorite, apparently. So that's what we're cooking today.

Now, a story. We have the (bad) habit in this household of always forgetting something, usually a crucial ingredient, when we're making special or unusual meals. This morning, at about 4:30 (what was I doing awake, you ask? It's a regular thing. They say it's a function of age), I realized that we hadn't purchased French bread. Paella is incomplete without a baguette. So when I got up a couple of hours later I dug through the freezer (just in case - but alas, no French bread hidden there). So I started thinking about how I could procure some French bread on Thanksgiving morning, when absolutely everything is closed.

Suddenly, an epiphany.

Many years ago, in the Dark Ages, when I was a teenager, I worked at Sofitel. Hotels are always open. Sofitel had a bakery. I called. The bakery is still there and open 'till noon. Off I went.

Now I'd just like to mention that on the way I saw what looked to be a homeless man on the Ford bridge. He looked cold. Maybe he wasn't homeless, but he was very definitely down and out. Less than a mile down Minnehaha Parkway I saw someone walking her dog. The dog had on booties to protect his paws from the snow and ice.

Just had to get that out. Back to the story.

In the Dark Ages, when I was a teenager working at Sofitel, there were two ladies who worked at the bakery, Rosie and Audette. Rosie and Audette were war brides; they came over with their G.I husbands who either fought in WWII or were part of the occupation. Rosie had a son, Jean Pierre, who was my age. This morning there were two women working in the bakery, just like the old days, except that instead of speaking French, they were speaking Spanish.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dinner Conversation

From The Nest - How to keep conversation at the Christmas (Thanksgiving) dinner table civil. And boring, imho.

We get it: You haven’t seen these people in months and you’re dying to share your views on everything from your tanking 401(k) to your cousins’ expanding waistlines, but keep the controversial talk to a minimum. Check out these eight topics to avoid at the dinner table -- you can thank us later.

(Un)healthy Conversation
Think you'll crack everyone up with a story about how your husband went all Man vs. Wild, which resulted in a nasty, burning rash in unmentionable places? Stop. No one wants to hear about any kind of bodily ailments while they're eating -- especially your husband’s mom.

Passive-Aggressive Suggestions
Your cousin and his wife know they’re a bit overweight. There’s no need for someone to casually drop hints about how Jessica Alba lost all that baby weight so quickly when they go in for that second helping of pumpkin pie. And, please, steer clear of your balding Uncle Bob who worked so hard to buy that Corvette -- he doesn’t want to be asked if he’s “compensating for something.”

Keeping the Past Alive
You know that saying, “We’ll look back on this and laugh someday”? Well, not so fast. Your cousin Bill probably doesn’t want to be reminded of his drunken date who broke your great-grandma’s gravy boat last year. Some things are better left in the past. Don’t rehash embarrassing or painful events for lack of anything better to talk about.

Ixnay on the Exnay
We’re all packin’ excess baggage from relationships past, but for just one night, don’t ask your brother what happened to that really nice girl he met in college when his fiancee is passing you the green bean casserole.

It’s the Economy, Stupid
Yeah, the economy sucks. Establishing Junior's college fund may seem like an impossible dream. Your 401(k) has disappeared. You really want to wipe all those smiles off your loved ones’ faces? If the answer’s yes, you have other issues that we don’t have time to address here.

Doing the Egg Toss
Children and grandchildren are a happy topic, we agree. Nevertheless, the statement “We’re trying to get pregnant” will evoke images of the two of you going at it (just think of everyone’s red-faced stares, smirks, or grimaces, especially if teenagers are present).

Leave Your Family out of It
Have you ever hosted a dinner party? You want everything to be perfect, right? Well, so does your mother-in-law. If you notice differences between your family’s Thanksgiving hoedown and hers, don’t say a word. No one needs to hear “My mother always makes the stuffing from scratch, but I guess I’ll have to get used to a mix from a box” after slaving over a dinner for 12 for days on end.

The Safety Zone
If and when the convo hits a lull, here are our favorite ways to score big:

Recent vacations
Funny characters at work
The delicious food
Winter/holiday plans
Sports (unless someone at the table is a diehard fan with a hot temper)
The weather
Apolitical movies/TV shows (prepare by catching up on Mad Men and 30 Rock)
And when all else fails: puppies!

-- Lauren Le Vine

Dec 25, 2009

Puppies? Seriously? Of course, maybe that's why my family doesn't get together for holiday dinners any more.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Play Tank Proposal

My thanks to Susan, who can hardly balance her checkbook and does not knit or crochet, for finding this and sending it to me.

It is awesome. Watch the whole thing.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Changing Gears

Birthday season is now officially over.

Time to get ready for Thanksgiving.

And Christmas.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

North Face

Last night we watched an incredibly intense, fascinating movie about mountain climbing Germans and Austrians in Switzerland in the 1930s called The North Face.

Which got me thinking about the company, North Face; very popular here in Minnesota since they have quality winter gear (and camping too, if you're into that).

And then we woke up to the first snow of the season.

I went downtown on the light rail to breakfast with a friend who's in town from Denver.

Found it kind of funny that they have snowflakes on the light posts downtown. Hardly necessary.
Also made me chuckle when my friend mentioned The Mary Tyler More show.

Don't think she would have been taking off her hat this morning.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tree Hater

My family likes to make fun of me. One of my issues is trees. They say I hate trees.
Turns out this is simply not true. We do have a nasty, messy ash tree in the back yard that I dislike. With the Emerald Ash Borer in town, that tree will probably have to be taken down in 2-5 years. The neighbor has one of those trees that dumps the little helicopter seeds all over, which means we have saplings growing everywhere all the time. It's also very big and I fear that half of it will end up in Boy-child's bedroom during a storm. And the boulevard tree is a locust, which is a stupid tree with leaves that can't be properly raked. It's a tree that inspires people to use those horrible leaf blowers. I rake. And when I was raking the other day I discovered that we have a tree in the front yard that I really like. It's one of those maples that is pretty red all summer long, and then in the autumn when it turns color it's all different colors, depending on the time of day and the amount of sun and/or clouds.

So there, family. A tree I like. Maybe it's because I chose the tree myself. Maybe it's because we planted it when Girl-child was born 21 years ago. Dunno. It's pretty, though.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

On Books and Miscellany

We've finished The Tudors. I think that reading Alison Weir's Henry VII The King and His Court maybe spoiled the last season a bit for me. Or maybe it's just because he started out so young, so chivalrous, with so much promise and then he just sort of fizzled out with his weird and tyrannical behavior...I find it hugely ironic that he pretty much considered himself a Catholic to the end. At any rate, I enjoyed the series, I thought the last episode was well done and I got a lot of knitting done. (Thanks, Kirsten).

I started reading Wolf Hall a while ago and was very surprised that it simply didn't grab me. At all. You'd think with my Tudor obsession I would have liked it, but I didn't finish it. Maybe it's because the show covered the fictional interpretation of it enough for me? Everything else I've read about them has been non-fiction (The Wives of Henry VII, The Children of Henry VIII, The Life of Elizabeth I).

I just finished A Christmas Blizzard by Garrison Keillor which Girl-child got (a signed, dedicated copy) for us last Christmas. Very enjoyable; lots of laugh-out-loud moments in that one. (Thanks, Sweet Pea). Now I've started Let the Great World Spin and it looks promising. I recently read a couple of those fluffy knitting novels by Gil NcNeil; they were lots of fun. I also devoured You Better Not Cry which I read only by chance; I'd forgotten my book when I went to Rapid City last month and so picked it up at the airport. The last two essays were the weakest, but the book overall was fantastic. What a delightful, sick, funny guy!

Speaking of delightful, sick and funny, be sure to check out The Bloggess, especially her encounter with Neil Gaiman. And don't miss the hat, which I found on Ravelry either here or here (now I just have to find someone who'll wear it and I can make one).

And one more bit of sick, we've been watching Dexter (thanks Marcus) and enjoying it a lot, even if some episodes are way, way better than others. Another great way to get knitting done.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

On Voting and Recounts

I ran into Boy-child at our voting location yesterday morning. Girl-child came across town to vote too; when she signed in the election judge commented on how I had been there earlier. I guess I mad an impression on the election judge since I was pretty much gushing as I signed in, saying, "Look! Both of my children are able to vote now; my youngest just turned 18!"

Girl-child commented that she wondered if it would be different in a lesser way, voting in a non-presidential year. She said it wasn't; it's always amazing and exciting to vote. I couldn't agree more.

And now it turns out that Minnesota will have another recount ~ an automatic recount in the Governor's race, as the difference so far is less than one half of one percent. This morning it's about a 9,000 vote difference (out of 3 million?).

So welcome to the world of Minnesota voting, children. In 2008 it was the Franken/Coleman contest for senate, and this year it's the Dayton/Emmer contest for Governor. And as the state teeters on the fence between being a majority DFL vs GOP, it's bound to happen again.

Further evidence that voting is very important.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Another Good Sign

Also from the 100 Best Signs site.

Oh, and don't forget to vote today!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Restoring Sanity and/or Fear

My thanks to Kmkat for finding this site with the 100 best signs at the Stewart/Colbert rally last Saturday.
I can't say any single one is my very favorite, but I like this one a lot. It's almost as good as the "Impeach Bush, Waterboard Cheney" t-shirt I saw ages ago.