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17 February 2015 @ 09:48 pm
Still here! I had two days' worth of a cold last week; my massage therapist points out that this means my immune system continues to be ready to best all comers. Yay me!

My sister and two young'uns went home today after a brief visit. We went to Slappy Cakes, where one orders pancake batter by the squeeze bottle, and toppings to put on them. Yes, you cook the pancakes right there! (More ordinary offerings are also available for the fun-impaired.) I had chorizo and goat cheese this time but next time it's back to something sweet. I know, this doesn't go with the heart-healthy diet I'm supposed to be living. Does it count when I get it on whole-grain batter?

Before Sue and the kids we had Tom Whitmore and Karen Anderson for a while, and a handful of local folks in and out. David's more and more comfortable leaving me alone while he's out. I do get tired of only leaving the house with a watch-dog, though. Woof.
29 January 2015 @ 08:07 am
THE NIGHT CIRCUS, Erin Morgenstern. Evocative, descriptive, lavish.

THE ROOK, Daniel O'Malley. I got into this book once I'd recognized the humor in it. Unfortunately that was after I'd finished it.

Horror that I didn't like: NOS4A2. When I started skimming I realized I was less than a third of the way through. THE LOST DISTRICT, Joel Lane. BLEAK HISTORY, John Shirley. EXTRAS, Michael Shea. These latter were from an old box in the attic from the "world horror convention for writers with expense accounts", as David sometimes calls it.

Horror that I did like: THE OTHER, by Thomas Tryon. Maybe because it was mostly descriptive, of a fairly pleasant time?

HOMAGE TO BARCELONA. About Barcelona! A lightweight history.

GETTING RID OF BRADLEY and ANYONE BUT YOU, by Jennifer Crusie. Because I like them.

THE NATURAL HISTORY OF THE PIANO by Stuart Isacoff. History of the piano, and of pianists. Very interesting.

SACRé BLEU! by Christopher Moore. Nope.
27 January 2015 @ 10:51 pm
David says I should post. as is often true, David is right.

Hiya. But what should I say? I'm kind of drifting this month--two months I guess. I'm reading about a book a day. That does pall a bit. I get out with David to a play or a movie sometimes: after all, doesn't take much walking! I have radiation appointments M-F that take less time than driving there. That ends next Monday. Maybe I can try to pick up my normal life a bit, but I'm not quite sure what that is....

David's ready to leave me alone more and more often. The freezer of food will continue to be a good thing, as David is low on spoons and me: I can't be trusted with the stove. I has the stupids a bit too often.

Not going to Potlatch. Too much history of con crud there.
29 December 2014 @ 01:27 pm
She has landed in a country she never intended to visit, on a flight she does not even remember having boarded.

She is an experienced traveler. Frequent flyer, passport full of stamps, culinarily adventurous, multilingual. Learning foreign languages is what she does for fun. She is not ready to be here.

It was a rough landing. She is still trembling.

She has not done her research -- places to stay, things to do, people to see. This is very much unlike her. But the computers here are strange, incomprehensible. The keyboard is subtly different; it looks the same, but when she places her fingers on the keys she cannot even type her name. Her Google searches are redirected to a localized version.

The language barrier is the worst part. She can understand the people and the signage, mostly, but none of them seem to comprehend English. Instead, she must try to speak a language she has never studied -- a language with strange grammar and inexplicable lacunae, lacking words for many common things. How could you not have a word for -- ?

Her husband, her flying partner, is with her, which is a comfort. But though he is patient and helpful, he too must be addressed in the local language. Their friends sometimes travel here for a visit, but they share the same communication barrier and they depart far too soon.

This is an expensive place to visit, she knows. Fortunately this is not a problem for her. She is keenly aware that many others would be financially destroyed by this journey. They stay in the nicest hotels. The food is sometimes terrible.

They visit the American consulate every day. The staff are friendly, considerate, polite, helpful... but they cannot give her what she needs, which is a visa to return home. So sorry. Sign this form, sit here, take this pill. Maybe in a few weeks. The local government is difficult, fickle, intractable. Many travelers do not return.

She comes back again the next day, and the next.

She works to learn the language.

There is yet hope.

-- davidlevine
14 December 2014 @ 09:01 pm
Forever young. Hey, i can say "i can say... Um." And It's all this hetero softie.

And I can say "What time are the neighbors coming? Seven? I think I'll take a nap until then but do wake me up."

Either one is as likely as the other. The second one is a litte less likely as the other.

10 December 2014 @ 07:01 am
I'm trying to get my hands on a song from, oh, the last three to ten years? They just fly by.

You know it. We all know it. It has an indigenous guy quelling. It has a ¿white guy? singing, or vocalizing, or otherwise chanting himself... probably... I just can't get hold of it! There was a ruckus when someone heard "oh hey, that's great-grandad singing there, wonder if they gave him any credit?"

Please tell me what this is.

It might might be the key to getting this damn earworm out of my head. Six days and counting.
06 December 2014 @ 04:41 pm
...and other stories.

seriously, she'd have to tell you.

just clutching this little phone gives me a little power. there's going to be lots and lots more of it so DON'T be shy come in for just a minute or um. lot's and lots of um. AND THAT DAMN EARWORM CAN GET OUT OF MY HEAD NOW six days now no that's enough only two but you get the idea.

I sound like Sockington.

please know that I'm pulling as hard in this direction as you are. please know that I want that to be so. I'm not as batshit in here as I sound really but argh, who can tell!! keep those cards and letters coming. --kate
30 November 2014 @ 07:48 pm
I'm going into the hospital for surgery tomorrow morning. Please follow davidlevine for updates.
09 November 2014 @ 12:08 am
Would have liked to be sociable tonight, yes, but not at con-bar noise levels. Settled in on the couch in our room with A Corner of White off the book-swap table. Charming, madcap, like a YA Jasper Fforde. Pleased to see there will be more: this is Book One of The Colors of Madeleine.

Crikey, no wonder I was confused all through about which Cambridge it was set in. There's clotted cream, and star jumps (jumping jacks) and glandular fever (mono) and mould, but they've Americanized the crucial word Colour to Color throughout. Result, mishmash.
08 November 2014 @ 08:39 am
Just one person can make the difference between "pathetically eating dinner alone" and "convivial convention meal experience". Last night was rescued by Susan from Calgary, who has now eaten Ethiopian food and told us about motorcycling in Brazil.
20 October 2014 @ 11:37 am
The writers/producers/directors of Boxtrolls can't be arsed to consider women as people in their boys' club fantasyland.

In Boxtrolls, women have no power, and no voice. The one woman with lines in the script is Mrs. Lord Whosis, very, very briefly. Winnie spends much of the movie trying to tell her father about various crises. There isn't a whisper of an idea that telling her mother might be useful. We don't even know a mother exists until late in the game.

Women's place in this society is as dancing partners and as object of lust from the power elite, period. Yes, Madame Froufrou turns out to be a male in drag, but that doesn't change the fact that the men believe she is female as Lord Whosis is fondling a round of brie and comparing it to her lush flesh. That is what they establish "her" place to be.

Yes, there is The Girl. (There is almost always The Girl.) She is morbid and irritating and dynamic, with all the energy that is lacking from Eggs. She is also done up in ringlets and pink ruffles -- perhaps so that we don't get confused and think that she could possibly be the main character instead of the sidekick?

A friend tried to excuse all this on the grounds that it was "typical for the society this was modeled on." My response: THIS IS FANTASY. There are trolls who live in cardboard boxes! Cheese that makes someone explode! The filmmakers had control over this world and THEY CHOSE THIS.

Shame on them.
01 September 2014 @ 12:57 pm
Fuck. A thing just happened. Cluster of people walking steadily by on opposite sidewalk, our quiet residential neighborhood. 2 or 3 adults, one with a stroller, one wheeling a small pink girl's bike. Fifteen-twenty feet behind, small pink girl, screaming incoherently and running after them. Not running very fast, because she's screaming and sobbing and about 7 years old and wearing a bicycle helmet. Audible all the way down a very long block.

I watched, disbelieving, upset, wondering what the hell was going on-- and what it could accomplish for me to challenge them. Challenging an adult bully can let an older victim get away. Challenging adult bullying a child, their child? Are they really going to change their mind about what they're doing? Maybe she just ran over her brother one too many times on the bike and her parents said "That's it, you're walking."

What would you have done? I feel sick about this.

I finally got up but I'd lost the trail.
20 August 2014 @ 11:48 pm
Hello. Still alive, still in Europe. I don't know why I have a so much harder time than David when it comes to travel blogging. Sorry.

Today, first of two full days in London qua London. Energetic hotel owner of indeterminate accent said "good morning! What can I get you? Coffee, tea, whiskey, amontillado, marmalade?" I was struck speechless by the image of amontillado with added marmalade. Certainly marmalade with added whiskey can be nice.

Later I requested a second cup of coffee. "no, you get only one." "Then I'll take it in trade for the whiskey I didn't have." That got me a brisk nod and a cup of coffee.

Apparently in Britain fried eggs only exist one way: with a firm white and the yolks As Runny As Possible. Seriously, that's it. There's page after page online telling Brits how to order eggs in the US, explaining the mystery that is "over easy" vs. "sunnyside up." What I need to know is how to order here and get a yolk that can be smeared, not poured....

Sir John Soane's Museum: He was an architect and packrat, specializing in decorative chunks of buildings, broken sculptures, and watercolors of what the buildings he hadn't built yet would look like in 1000 years' time. It felt like a very cramped sort of Winchester Mystery House, with the scaffolding and banging noises (they're trying to undo some previous renovations) lending the impression that it is still accreting.

He had an Egyptian sarcophagus carved inside and out with heiroglyphics. It was like an oversize alabaster bathtub, and I kept envisioning the poor bugger who was told "Clamber in here and inscribe an epic ode with this icepick."
08 August 2014 @ 10:25 pm
We spent a week helping celebrate Ellen Klages' 60th birthday in Normandy. Cider, cheese, sausage, more cider. Eventually the wine would come out but because I don't particularly like it, I would have more cider. There was a bottle of Armagnac for a while. I think the calvados & cream hung around as long as it did because it was in the fridge out of sight.

Some days people took off to see Omaha Beach, or the Bayeux Tapestry. We went to Mont St. Michel with Pat Murphy and Greer Gilman. Even as tourist-encrusted as it is, even with Mère Poulard seemingly taking over every second restaurant and gaufre window, it is still a breathtaking place. I'm glad we went back.

Back at the farmhouse (converted barn, we think), there were comfy chairs and a large wooden table inside, an even larger plastic table and small swimming pool outside. Cows came and looked at us over the fence, chiming in with great comedic timing. We went and looked at the cows sometimes: great creamy beauties, Charolais I think? And we had a pig! Traipsing over to empty our carrot tops and melon rinds into her trough made us inordinately happy. Needless to say, it made the pig happy too.

David wants me to help me sort through photos now. I haven't been taking many at all, as he always seems to beat me to the punch. Check out davidlevine for the visuals.
26 July 2014 @ 07:29 am
The apartment shower is literally the size of a phone booth, such that if you dropped a dime (if you happen to take dimes into the shower, which I'm not judging) you'd have to open the door to pick it up.

Which I think makes it even smaller than a phone booth.

Do you still use "the size of an LP" as a unit of measure?

When you do, do you find that your listeners' hands involuntarily curl into a pair of parentheses roughly 12" apart?
25 July 2014 @ 09:14 pm
If you stand in front of Notre Dame and look to the west, you are gazing back at hundreds of cameras, all held by people trying unsuccessfully to get the towers and Mom into the shot at the same time. Hundreds of others have looked their fill and are just waiting for the entrance time on their ticket, or the rendezvous time for their tour group, or for Britney to get back from the bathroom, if there even is one which they're starting to doubt. If they are teenagers, they are sprawled on the flagstones, blithely confident of their ability to get up again at will.

At the back of the plaza, near the entrance to the Crypte archéologique, is a hedge at just the right height that one can look across to the cathedral and see no people at all. It's a nice touch.

Across town, the terraces at the Palais de Chaillot have an uninterrupted view of the Tour Eiffel. Also of children and teens holding out one hand at a particular angle as if only half willing to walk like an Egyptian, their associated camera-wielder squatting and bobbing to make the effect come out right. Sometimes a girl will leap into the air over and over and over, flinging her arms out enthusiastically, then huddle with her girlfriends to learn the result.
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25 July 2014 @ 09:26 am
My reaction to jet lag seems to be not so much brain fog as a wholesale bodily leadenness.

David has given an account of our first couple of days. I shall be more scattershot.

Went out this morning at 7:30 or 8, leaving the sleeping journalist behind, to forage for fresh-baked butter at the boulangerie Julien. Pleasantly cool and unpopulated: few people to be seen except garbage collectors, some shopkeepers cleaning their windowfronts, and men with pugs. One could walk freely in the street, a treat as the sidewalks are quite narrow (and blocked, now, every few yards by green garbage bins).

Some reviews of Julien hinted at a dislike of Americans. I suspect it's a simply a dislike of ditherers and those not quite with the program. I sensed mild irritation, for instance, that I spaced out my requests for deux croissants, svp... un pain au chocolat... et un kouign amann, instead of rattling them right off. But un de ces choses INCROYABLES avec des figues!! and a gesture towards the window won me a quiet smile.

Yesterday when it was time for lunch, we set off for a Senegalese place quite nearby, with the (Ikea-sponsored) cafe at the Swedish Cultural Center we kept passing as Plan B. Well, Le Petit Dakar was closed (summer hours). We started towards plan B... Then said "bugger this" and swerved into the bistro on the corner. This "plan... back-up... serendipity" protocol serves us well.
01 July 2014 @ 02:49 am
Can't sleep. Profitably using my time by browsing the catalog of books held by the Family History Library in Salt Lake. Have identified plenty that are of potential relevance to various branches of my ancestors and David's.

Will not fall prey, this time, to ground-floor volunteers who earnestly want to walk me through Online Search 101, re-creating things I could do at home (and already have).
23 June 2014 @ 04:36 pm
Saturday we went and celebrated Mark & Shannon's new deck. It is a thing of beauty, split-level, with ensuite greenhouse. The massed container plantings and hanging baskets had me agog. Keeping them watered and happy must take dedication and patience. I suspect that our traveling means we are in no more position to keep domestic flora than we are to keep domestic fauna. Damn they're pretty though.

I got braces last Monday. "Invisalign", the ones that are like clear plastic retainers that you snap over your teeth. You swap them out for a new set every two weeks and gradually shove things back into place. My lower teeth have been drifting forward over the last few years, one of them pushed forward enough that its neighbors are almost touching. Nothing would have induced me to go back to metal braces & wires -- been there, done that -- but this seemed doable.

Hmphm. Well. I would probably have made the same decision -- but there were surprises. I did not do my due diligence here. Lord knows people have blogged their experiences.

Some of the things my orthodontist didn't tell me going in:
= It's not just a question of snapping them on over your teeth as-is. Most cases need some number of "attachments", little nubbins bonded to your teeth for the aligners to shove against. I am lucky; I only have 7. Some people write of having 18 or 20, including on the front teeth, where they make the clear sheath decidedly less "invisible".
= There might be rubber bands.
= The "smooth, comfortable" precision-fit aligners can have sharp edges you'll want to file down.
= The aligners have to be out if you're consuming anything other than water(!), and you want to clean both teeth and aligners before putting them back in, lest you get cavities and they get grotty.
= You're supposed to wear the things 22 hours a day.

Think on that for a bit. It goes beyond fitting three meals into 2 hours. I like a bowl of cherry tomatoes or grapes out for casual snacking. Nope. Coffee while you work? Nope. Popcorn at the movies? You'd blow your whole two hours right there, unless you floss at your seat. Have a cookie, have a cocktail, suck on a cough drop, sip on hot honey & lemon -- aligners out, and don't take too long!
28 May 2014 @ 10:10 pm
No, not mine. The Last Five Years is a musical written by Jason Robert Brown, which I've known of for years and finally have had a chance to see performed! Portland Center Stage mounted it in their small "studio", placing the "stage" wall-to-wall across the center and the audience in two sections gazing across it at each other. That called for artful blocking to keep the action facing both directions at once, and while indeed they did it well, I was more aware of the blocking than I'd like to be.

The story itself goes in two directions: he's living forwards, she's living backwards. The play opens with Cathy finding a note and wedding ring on the kitchen table, and the expressiveness of Merideth Kaye Clark's face as she tried to take in what this meant, oh, it could break your heart. As for Drew Harper as Jamie, I was constantly entranced by how he moved.

Both were strong clear singers. I wish they hadn't had to fight the piano for volume.

We came out of the show debating which is ruder, "schmuck" or "putz".