Wednesday, December 19, 2007

RIP Dan Fogelberg

As you may remember, I like Dan Fogelberg's Same Old Lang Syne. I heard it in the car today, and when I got home I thought I'd just buy it on ITunes.

When I opened ITunes, imagine my surprise when the first thing it said was "Remembering Dan Fogelberg."

Remember him.

As the snow turns into rain.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My Christmas Present from Ergo

Lunch....A cross between Holly Golightly and Doris Day with a dash of Dorothy Parker.

I am so pleased to have been half of a lunch date that made Ergo feel that way!

Too True

I finally got around to reading Prep (incidentally, if you accidentally search Amazon for "perp," Prep is still the first hit). Eh. But it did have this very good passage, which touches on some things I have been thinking about lately, and something that haunted me throughout my school life:

Sports contained the truth, I decided, the unspoken truth (how quickly we damn ourselves when we start to talk, how small and inglorious we always sound), and it seemed hard to believe that I had never understood this before. They rewarded effortlessness and unself-consciousness; they confirmed that yes, there are rankings of skill and value and that everyone knows what they are...they showed that the best things in the world to be were young and fast.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Cookie Report

Cue newsroom music: doot doo-doo doot doot, doot doo-doo doot doot...

Today was Baking Day chez MomVee, and the results were distinctly mixed. I'm going to take off on a real flight of pop psychological fancy here and posit that the poorness of my cookies reflects my ambivalence at the very idea of cookies in light of R.'s illness and my own desire not to get fat again.

First up: Klejner. This did not go well. I'm really glad that deep-fried things are bad for you, because I am never deep-frying anything ever again. Either the thermometer or the recipe was a total liar, because no matter what temperature the oil was, the cookies browned too fast. Also, the recipe I linked is not the one I used. I used a recipe with three eggs in the dough, and the cookies puffed way up, and my great-grandmother's Klejner were not puffy.

Next: Lemon-Lavender Shortbread. These turned out great. I substituted brown rice flour for 1/4 of the cup of flour, as suggested by Laurie Colwin in More Home Cooking. Also, I pressed the dough into my madeleine pan, which was a risk, but it worked. I wanted the cookies to look like shells because they are for dessert on December 23rd, when I am serving bouillabaisse and doing a sort of South of France theme. There are only 18 of them.

Cranberry-pistachio biscotti. I have had this recipe for so long that it didn't come from the Internet, so no link. They would be much better if I had not left them in the oven too long after I turned all the pieces during the second bake. They are still edible, but the festive Christmasy green and red are all pretty much brown.

I made lots of walnut-stuffed dates on Saturday, so I've got that going for me. Which is nice.

Please, someone, use the hilarious gift tags at Angry Chicken.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Everybody's Doing It

The 2007 Watering Place Gift Guide

This gift guide is a little different. I like Design with a capital D mostly when it's on the Internet or in a magazine, not my house. I know nothing about technology. I violently disapprove of whole categories of products--such as scented soap--most of the time. I can't guarantee that you'll be able to find these gifts--some of them are...metonymic, let's say. But here are nine things that I love, and one thing I think would be a good gift.

1. Creeque Alley
This 2-disc greatest hits of The Mamas and the Papas has been in heavy rotation in my car ever since Ergo blogged about "Dream a Little Dream of Me." Disc One has some of their standards--"California Dreamin'," "Monday Monday," "I Saw Her Again"--but I go for Disc Two, and not just because it boasts "Dream a Little Dream"; you also get the shot of music history in "Creeque Alley," a surprisingly sexy "Twist and Shout," a little Rodgers and Hart with "Glad To Be Unhappy," and the mesmerizing 60s drama of "Safe In My Garden." When the band splits up, the great stuff just keeps coming with Cass Elliot's one-two punch of "It's Getting Better," and "Make Your Own Kind of Music," "Sing" for grownups.

2. My Santa Statue
Someone gave me this as a hostess gift at the first Christmas party we had in our new house--eight years ago! It came from a particularly delicious store, so I was excited when I saw the box at the end of the night. When I opened it, I was disappointed. I needed another Christmas knickknack like a hole in the head. But the next year I got the idea to put him on the newel post. One of the children knocked him off and broke his arm, and it's the old story--I cried, and discovered how much he meant to me. Now he is firmly attached with fun-tac, and he makes me happy every time I use the stairs. Don't be afraid to give someone something they won't immediately go crazy over. And don't be so sure you don't like the thing you just got.

3. My Mystery Grandmother Photo

This is someone's Scandinavian great-great-grandmother. It could be mine, but I know for a fact it isn't. Anyway, this picture is a fantastic piece of cultural history, and I see something new every time I look at it. I had it scanned at Kinko's and so far I've made a big framed print which hangs over my desk, and also had it put on the cover of a notebook at, which came out great. Perhaps there is a photo kicking around your place with untapped potential.

4. The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story
Run, don't walk, to get this little book into the hands of anyone with a sense of humor.

5. Perlagrigia with Truffles
I had this cheese in March and I have not stopped thinking about it since.

6. German Chicken Games
We love to play a game called "Hick Hack In Gackelwack," now available in an English language edition as "Pick Picnic." Another, dominos-and-dice, chicken game is "Pickomino," which we know as "Heckmeck am Bratwurmeck." And my least favorite, but still worth mentioning, is a concentration-type game called "Au Backe!" Like Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, and Hi-Ho Cherry-O!, these games can be played with the very young; but unlike those games, these games do not make you want to stab yourself in the eye with a fork.

7. Love Actually
Since my husband will be at his office party tonight, which blessedly does not involve spouses, I will be watching this movie, sobbing, and folding laundry. I cannot wait.

8. The Pin
I'm not sure what the message of this one is. Keep reaching out? Appreciate your Peter Gabriel t-shirt? Despite what I said above, good design is paramount to a successful gift?

9. The Fountain Overflows
Perhaps the message of the pin is "read more Rebecca West." I firmly believe the world would be a better place if everyone read this book.

10. McSweeney's Book Release Club
The next ten McSweeney's releases for $100. Book-of-the-month club for the terminally hip. It's the gift that keeps on giving, and other cliches! The Michael Chabon looks particularly good.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Eggony and Irony

Egging Me On
Here's a new expression for you; at least, it was new to me.

The Punch cartoon was entitled "True Humility," which I found interesting in two ways: one, I don't agree that it's true humility to say such a thing (that parts of a bad egg are excellent, for those who take a firm stand against link-clinking). Why? Because I have been saying things like that--smoothing-over things, get-the-attention-off-me things--and taking the smallest or worst piece all my life, even before I was a mother...and yet, I don't think anyone would say humility is one of my virtues.

The other thing that struck me is that humility isn't a, ahem, cultural value these days. A curate who didn't speak up for himself and try to get a better egg would be viewed as a candidate for therapy. He'd certainly never get his own parish.

Please Alert Alanis Morrisette
Two years ago I made NSLR a shepherd costume for his school's nativity pageant. I was rather proud of the headdress, for which I found instructions on the Internet. As you may have observed, a rectangular dishtowel tied on with rope tends to leave a distressingly bare, un-desert-nomadlike area at the back of the head. The key is to fold a one-yard-square piece of material into an uneven triangle and...but I digress.

A friend of mine reserved the costume in January of 2006. "If the fourth grade is still doing the Nativity in two years, can I borrow that costume?" "Sure," I said, "but I screwed up and it's really, really tight. I didn't leave enough seam allowance, I eyeballed the whole thing. R.'s really skinny, and he could barely squeeze it on." She assured me that her son is also extremely thin.

A few weeks ago I handed over the costume, and then a few days after that I saw my friend. "Boy, I've been meaning to tell you, X. can barely get that robe on. It is tight!" I smiled, also tightly. "We'll still use the headdress, though, and I'll figure something else out," she added.

Last night was the pageant. X. was the shepherd whose head was lost in the vast emptiness tailored to R.'s gigantic cranium.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Real Life Horror

In the car just now S. was talking about something she's doing in science class, sprouting two seeds in damp paper towels. A bell went off in my head.

MV: S, what ever happened to that extra credit experiment you did a long time ago? Trying to make things get moldy?
S: Oh yeah! I totally forgot about that.

It was in one of the kitchen cabinets. It was not pretty.

In other dramas, "The Dresser that Refused to be Delivered" has finally come to a peaceful conclusion. Perhaps because the furniture store knew that I was really, really, angry, they arranged to send the chattiest, most decor-minded delivery man I have ever encountered.

He puts the dresser down in the bedroom.
DM: Hey, this green looks nice with the periwinkle. Different!
He and the silent second delivery man follow me back downstairs and I start writing a check.
DM: It is so cozy in here! Aside, to his co-worker: I want to get this kind of chairs. They're called "Mission."

It's pretty hard to stay mad under those circumstances.

I guess that's good...

cash advance

Monday, December 03, 2007

Freeze Frame!

I think it's safe to say that, since my November 15 post, at least half my traffic comes from people searching for the lyrics to "Centerfold." I don't know what to think about that. One thing it does is give me a sense of the vastness of the world's population, that every day, many many people in New Zealand, Denmark, and Singapore wake up and think to themselves, "What is that song? The one that goes 'My blood runs cold...'?" And a couple of them end up here. Of those, a couple have stayed and clicked around for a few minutes. Which is nice.