Monday, December 31, 2007

Let's close out the old year...

...with some visual documentation. I now present you with my current favorite pictures of me (as depicted by my 5-year-old friend Ella) and Richard (in his passport photo from second grade):

Happy new year, y'all! (You know that Rebecca and I are counting the minutes until it's officially 2008 and we can post our 2007 book reviews. Forewarned is forearmed.)



Thursday, December 27, 2007

Food, Caroling, Beasts: A December Rundown

In the grand tradition of Dan, I am proud to announce that I have just invented what may be the strangest dessert of my career: break a banana into pieces, cook it in a saucepan with a little water until it's soft, scrape it into a bowl, mash it up, add unsweetened cocoa powder and blackstrap molasses to taste, mix, consume. It definitely satisfied some sort of craving, I'm just not sure which one.

Also, I seem to have become a bit of a crazy bread baker. If only Rebecca and I didn't live 1700 miles away from each other, we would have the world's most complementary cooking obsessions. Tragically, bread can't be preserved indefinitely in a glass jar, otherwise I would send you all a loaf...

And now for a few seasonal updates:

A bunch of us had ended up back at Bill & Quincy's house one evening a couple of weeks ago, and started singing for fun out of their caroling books (they're fabulous Christmas nerds and have numerous copies of these little paperback booklets - which always perversely remind me of haggadahs - full of carols arranged in four-part harmony). We were all kind of entranced by the idea of taking our show on the road, but none of us had actually ever been honest-to-goodness caroling before, so we decided to set up a test run. We met for one more practice session a few nights later, and then Bill set up a bunch of ringer houses in his old neighborhood and we made plans to carol for them, with the option of singing for additional people we didn't actually know if it seemed promising. Our first stop was a ringer house, where we were plied with rum and jalapeno-laced peanut brittle. En route to the second ringer house, our confidenced bolstered by the rum (or possibly the jalapenos), we decided to try our luck at a stranger's house covered in Christmas lights. We stood out on the sidewalk and started to sing (as seven-tenths of us are Sacred Harp singers, we weren't worried that they wouldn't be able to hear us). Since forcibly singing at strangers isn't really my style, I kept my nose buried in my music, and so missed most of the audience action. But to the best of my knowledge, it went something like: Incredulous man opens door. Watches us for a moment. Is joined by two naked toddlers. Sits on floor with toddlers in lap. Wife brings blanket and turns out light so they can see us better. Thanks us at end, as do the three people who've come out onto the porch next door to watch us. Really, it was enough to melt the grinchiest of hearts.

Now we were downright cocky, and we decided to stop at one more house covered in lights. Unluckily, it turned out nobody was home. Luckily, the house was inhabited by a kindly pastor and his wife who were just getting home from dinner and drove up behind us right before we started our first song. The pastor told us to wait until they parked before we started singing, and then they came up and stood on their porch and listened to us, beaming. Apparently, it was their anniversary. Aw geez. Also, he asked us at one point where we all sing, and we told him we sing Sacred Harp, and he replied, "I could tell" (?!?!?!). (And here we were trying to be all good and sound like actual choral singers with our round-note arrangements and everything!) After sufficiently recovering from the shock of someone actually knowing what Sacred Harp was, we sang 99 for him, just for fun. After that, we decided not to press our luck and sang for our final ringers. And thus concludeth our first annual evening of caroling. Now that we've got the hang of it, we're excited for next year. I'm not making any promises, but there may have to be costumes involved.

As if that weren't enough, B&Q held their annual caroling party last Saturday. Richard went to last year's and proclaimed it the best night of the whole year. Fortunately, it lived up to expectation. The caroling extravaganza involves dozens of people packed into the living room, where Bill spends hours at the piano and everyone requests carols from the giant photocopied packets that B&Q provide. Throw in lots of tasty food and massive quantities of homemade eggnog, and you've got yourself some quality entertainment. R&I were the last ones to leave, at close to 2am.

On the big day itself, we honored my ancestors by going to see a movie and then going out for Chinese food. The movie was highly satisfactory, the Szechuan chicken less so, but it was a good day.

Other recent accomplishments: We managed to make it through an entire week of dogsitting without our charges getting deathly ill! Now if they just don't die in their first week home again, we'll be 1 for 2... Also in exciting animal news, I got to gather my first eggs! My egg supplier (like a drug dealer, only I get to pay her in bread instead of lots of money, and we also probably won't get arrested if we ever get caught) let me collect six of my dozen eggs from her henhouse yesterday. Did you know that hens actually lay in nests??? It's just like in the cartoons!

In less exciting accomplishments, I've already consumed at least a quarter of all the dill bread I just pulled out of the oven less than an hour ago. There's nothing that inspires you to bake healthy wholegrain bread more than knowing exactly how much refined white flour you're eating with every bite. But damn, is refined white flour delicious.

I'll conclude with a picture of our new canine friends, Ringer and Boomer. Awww.

(Hey Amy, recognize that laundry basket? Proof of soji, proof of soji!)

Monday, December 24, 2007

The jam has landed

Jam central a few days ago.

Those shelves are now lonely and bare, the contents shipped off to friends and relations. The extra jars sold in one day to coworkers, who've been pestering me for months. For the record, that was a grand total of 160 oz for $120 cash money. I wasn't really looking to turn a profit, but I probably recouped most of the expenses of my new favorite hobby, and twas far more rewarding than the average savings bond! If you're not sick of hearing about my jam yet, you can check out more pictures and info at ye olde recipe blog.

Now I give you my best bookstore anecdote thus far:
This evening I sold a book to a guy, charged his card, and happened to compliment his signature, because it was quite distinctive and abstract, unlike my lame pseudo cursive. They guy chuckled, shot me a funny look and left.
Coworker: "Oh, are you a big fan?"
Me: "Huh?"
Coworker: You know that was Jonathan Franzen.
Me: Stares blankly.
Coworker: "You know, author of The Corrections? He totally thinks you were all aswoon over him and are going to sleep with that receipt under your pillow."
Me: checks credit card receipt. "Jonathan Franzen" is clearly printed under impressive signature.
Boh!! Would it have been less awkward if I had actually recognized him and announced that I once started his book but never finished it? Heh.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Speaking of flesh and wine and pine logs...

Too lazy to write real paragraphs, so I'll revert once again to this blog's preferred expository device: the list.

Things I have done lately, in no particular order:

1. Went caroling! It was a thoroughly delightful experience. We were so riding that caroling high. I'll blog more about it when I'm not so lazy. Did I mention I'm lazy?

2. Broke in my new menorah from Jerusalem. It was every bit as poorly-designed, if superficially attractive, as the hole-in-the-wall tourist shop on Ben Yehuda Street led me to believe it would be, but my time and budget was limited, and my sentimental desire to own a menorah from Israel overpowered my Puritan thriftiness.

3. Became an advanced blue belt. I don't have any pictures from this promotion, but I did obtain a shot of myself from my very first promotion back in August. Awww, look at that little white belt... so innocent... so naive:

4. Brought home two dogs that we're babysitting this week. I fear that Richard won't let me give them back next Thursday.

5. Went to Brennen's cd release at the Broken Spoke, which included a wide variety of my favorite things (getting to see Brennen play, eating greasy quesadillas, sitting one table away from the eccentric offspring of country music legends who died of drug overdoses) and least favorite things (having to two-step with strange men, sitting too close to the speakers, getting dehydrated because I stubbornly refuse to pay for bottled water).

That's all I got for now. Me and my dog allergies are off to wheeze somewhere besides this computer.



[Later: P.S. Turns out I do have some action shots from this week's promotions!

Also, I found my address book! Truly a Festivus miracle.]

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Little Rebecca Visits the Andes

In which I get a taste of future obsessions.

Thanks to my dad for unearthing my new favorite picture, taken during our family vacation to Washington DC in 1992. Which we visited largely to see this special quincentennial exhibit at the Smithsonian, called Seeds of Change. Something about the botanical and culinary influences of the New World on the Old World. Mostly it blew my mind that no one in Italy ever saw a tomato until a few hundred years ago. And, bonus, I got an early start on learning about terraced potato farming.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

bring me flesh and bring me wine, bring me pine logs hither

My dad made me all nostalgic for last year's month o retail work when he sent greetings from the popcorn store. But it's ok, I've moved up in the world. After a cross country move and 5 months of school, I sport the following marks of success:
- I no longer depend on my parents for shelter or transportation
- I live free from fear of snow, ice, and windstorms
- AND, best of all, I control the music. Last year's holiday retail soundtrack meant a default choice between popular country or "Lite FM top 5 xmas hits on repeat" at popcorn, and a corporately enforced choice between christmas music or the beatles at Borders. This year we listen to... gasp... whatever non-seasonal music I damn well want to hear! (with a healthy dose of sufjan's songs for christmas or "christmas with the ratpack" of course.)

Since my last post, some stuff happened.
- got carded buying chocolate AND stopped at a DUI checkpoint.
- received 2 hanukkah cards, 2 christmas cards, and 1 chrismukkah card.
- sold a REALLY excessive amount of books.
- ate an even more excessive amount of sweets.
- made kiwi jam, inventoried and labeled all my jam.
- made beetloaf, which simultaneously used up my leftover grated beets from the latke party and satisfied my lifelong desire to cook like boris (or was it morris?) from freaky friday.
- bought tickets to a concert on May 16th. Yes, I actually spent a day's wages on Ticketmaster. But... Juanes!!!!!!!! Rebecca and I are WAY too excited.
- finally saw my 1 good movie this year! Thanks to a free preview screening of Juno. At which I was instructed to go forth and blog! Look at me, a voice of the myspace generation. (A phrase which, btw, ranks a good bit lower than locavore but still higher than francophone on my linguistic pet peeve scale.) Seriously, if you haven't seen it, it's pretty awesome. A bit overpowering on the movie-made-by-and-for-hipsters angle, but still highly satisfying.
- discovered that the do-nothing tree in my citrus grove is really a lime tree! yum, lime season in my yard.
- bought myself 2 Christmas presents. The Best of the Johnny Cash Show DVD and the annual Best Foodwriting anthology. I plan to spend Christmas day getting a head start on my new year's resolutions, which consist exclusively of: 1) read more books and 2) watch more tv. No, really!

My plans for the near to extended future include
- continuing to sell an excessive amount of books.

oh, perhaps, in my copious spare time:
- procuring and decorating a christmas tree
- singing in SF tomorrow on my one day off before christmas
- making gingerbread to bring to the potluck after the singing
- getting a CA drivers license and registration
- sleeping
- posting book recs
- posting pictures
- making my bed
- mailing out a plethora of holiday cards/presents!
- replacing my sad, sad computer
- making kiwi ginger lime jam

Friday, December 14, 2007

Dear World,

I seem to have lost my address book. This is basically the only way I remember who my friends and family are. So if I appear to have forgotten you, that's why. If you wish to call me to remind me of your existence and/or contact information, that would also not be discouraged.



P.S. Unrelatedly, props to Rebecca for managing to combine two of my favorite things (gay and French) into one fabulous Chanukah gift - an issue of TÊTU. Because the cover had been torn off, it took me a few minutes to figure out what it was... the inordinately high number of advertisements featuring well-sculpted shirtless men should have tipped me off immediately, but my sleuthing skills were hampered by the fact that it came from France, where most of their ads feature shirtless people anyway.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Fried food, now with more symbolism

1. Yesterday a Hanukkah miracle really did happen. I accomplished every single thing on my to do list!!! I don't think this has ever happened. It consisted of: calling several people, mailing two packages, cleaning the house, shopping for an excessive amount of fresh produce, and hosting a latke party. I win.

2. The whole point of my latke party was to try some new recipes (cumin-scented beet, and carrot/parsnip with dill), and I didn't even manage to get any pictures of the food! How unlike me. Suffice it to say they were pretty and colorful, but I was disappointed. The flavor was nice, but I clearly haven't mastered the technique of getting them to stay together or cook long enough without burning. On the other hand, the plain old potato latkes came out beautifully, to rave reviews from latke veterans and newbies alike. Though all three flavors got eagerly gobbled up, the early batches not even making it off the stove before getting doused in applesauce or sour cream and consumed. This gusto probably thanks mostly to the fact that I put everyone to work for a couple hours before they got to eat! (Ha, it's a good thing I'm moving now that my friends are on to what my idea of a party consists of!)

3. I did capture some post-gorging moments. Behold.

The festive lights in my brand new menorah! (My very exciting ebay purchse... it's actually the same as the menorah I took to college and promptly lost.)

My favorite thing about Hanukkah? The applesauce. Oh yes, I will not eat latkes without it. And I am an applesauce SNOB. So I whipped up a big batch of homemade.

My mother requested a photo of me in my brand new apron, which I could hardly deny her because she MADE it for me! And matching napkins! Best present ever. (And now I have a guest apron! I love it.)

Ben and Megan, the other 2/3 of the fabled saturday bookstore crew. (My roommates were somewhere around too, but managed to avoid photographic record.)

4. Our new washer just arrived! Commence testing.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Happy Hanukkah!

I had exactly one present to open, and I was going to save it for the last night. Then my dad informed me that I'd better open it right away. He promised that, like the fabled oil of the Maccabees, it would miraculously last me for all 8 nights! And it did.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Nothing like some good old-fashioned narcissism... spice up the lag time between work and karate. Without further ado, I present to you:

Things I Am Vaguely Embarrassed To Acknowledge

1. How excited I am that the Saturday afternoon Metropolitan Opera broadcasts are starting up again this week.

2. That I'm writing this from the office. (Don't worry, I'm off the clock. No supporters of reproductive freedom in Texas will be billed for the composition of this blog post.)

3. That I scraped open the knuckles on both my hands punching targets last week (FABRIC-covered targets, my friends) and they're still not better.

4. That I still haven't sent thank-yous to 85% of my kickathon donors.

5. How often I check this blog for new comments.

6. That I added a book of Jewish baby names and customs to my wishlist. Don't worry, no buns in the oven for a good while yet. Though that would actually make it less embarrassing, don't you think?

7. That my subscription to The Advocate, the Us Weekly of newsmagazines (which, as I am ever-hasty to point out, was included with my membership to The Task Force), is about to run out, and I am sorely afraid that I've gotten so hooked on it that I just might have to renew, with no subscription to hide behind this year. It would give me the opportunity to write more angry letters to the editor, though, which is always entertaining.

8. That I kind of like wedding planning.

9. How addicted I am to

10. That I felt so compelled to share this inane list with y'all that I made it my second post in two days.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

How to Ask a Girl to Marry You

1. Before your ladyfriend goes out of town for five days, tell her that on the evening she comes back, you don't want her to go to karate because you want her to do something else. She will clap her hands and tell you she loves surprises and then demand to know what you have planned. Refuse to tell her, even though this will make her very angry and she will probably start complaining that she won't have been to karate in a week and it's very important that she maintains a consistent training schedule and it's probably not a good surprise anyhow so MAYBE she'll come home that evening but MAYBE she'll go to karate after all because who are you to tell her she can't go and what the heck is your surprise going to be??? Patiently tolerate all this, secure in the knowledge that no matter how grumpy she is, she'll still say yes when you ask her to marry you. Um, probably.

2. While she's gone, build an Incredible Machine in the living room:

3. Luck will be with you, because she will have gotten sick on the plane ride back and decide to come straight home after all. As you're driving her back to the house, she will ask if you brought her aspirin for her headache and want to know (not very nicely) if she'll need to dress up for your suprise, because she's really tired and feels crappy and won't be very good company this evening. Briefly reconsider the question you're about to ask her. Decide to go through with it after all, but only because some of the components that you purchased to build the Incredible Machine are non-returnable.

4. When you get inside, she will crack up at the sight of the machine, and ask, "THIS is how you spend your time when I go out of town???" Decide to interpret this as a good sign. Remember to warn her that this machine has a very high failure rate. Tell her to turn on the ceiling fan.

5. After several attempts, the stuffed monkey tied to the ceiling fan will finally hit the ball bearing, which will roll down the chutes and hit the On/Off switch of the surge protector, which will power up the clip-on fan, which will blow the roll of packing tape into the tennis ball, which will roll down the pipe and knock over the cereal box, which will pull on the twine threaded through a series of suspended pulleys, which will yank the cover off the upside-down box screwed to the ceiling, which will send the tiny clay Katie on her toy parachute with a ring on her oversized clay finger tumbling to the ground:

6. Hopefully she will say yes, because - let's be honest - you don't have a backup plan...

Friday, November 30, 2007

5 things about the holidays

1. We left bright and early for the airport on Black Friday. My dad put on the AM traffic report. Which usually involves a harried play by play of expressway jams, accidents etc. This morning it consisted of: "Well, it looks like all the roads are clear. Most of the cars are filling the mall parking lots." And then proceeded to check in with ON THE SCENE REPORTERS at various malls to report on how much parking was available. My mouth sort of hung open for awhile. I ended up with plenty of time to reacquaint myself with O'Hare.

2. Brussel Sprouts are the new mashed potatoes. For Thanksgiving I roasted some with shallots and, vaguely inspired by Mollie Katzen, threw in some mustard and maple syrup for good measure. I wasn't super happy with them, as I like my sprouts unadorned and caramelized to the point of falling apart, and these were tender and tasted like something more than eau de brussel sprout. So I was as surprised as anyone when I started hearing a chorus of "who made those brussel sprouts???" Closely followed by "Where did you get them so tiny???" With a few "I don't even like brussel sprouts and these are great!" So I preserved my cooking reputation and promoted the farmers market all over the place. And word is getting out... It's the hot new holiday dish. Just ask Richard, who cooked his own Thanksgiving sprouts.

3. Too bad I didn't wait a month and save $750 before seeing the Second City show Between Barack and a Hard Place. Now I'll never see the man star in the show himself!

4. Hanukkah is FAST approaching and I found myself menorahless and menorah-owning-family-member-or-roomate-less! I decided not to repeat questionable homemade experiments of years past and turned to ebay. And immediately found the same menorah that I took off to college and promptly lost in a move! It's now gracing my kitchen table, courtesy of a lovely seller who informed me his wife's name is also "rivka". I'm strongly pondering a latke party, even if it's just for myself. I have all kinds of colorful latke recipes involving parsnips, beets, and spinach, oh my.

5. Tomorrow is... Demember! I'm going to celebrate by posting my own book awards over the next few days. I know you can't wait.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Taste of Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! We got dressed up in our finery just for fun, and spent the afternoon cooking and eating at Alexa's... here's a brief pictorial rundown of Richard's second-favorite holiday event of the year (second only to B&Q's caroling party, apparently):

The festive preparations: Alexa monitored the turkey...

...Quincy practiced her posture on Alexa's yoga ball...

...and Bill lit some candles.

A little pre-dinner singing (318 and 475, of course). Football and Denson books, a classic American combination.

The obligatory spread shot. (Of note: my vegan dinner rolls, front left corner, next to Bill's crock pot of gravy, consisting almost entirely of pork fat from Landis Powell's sausage drippings. There's a metaphor in there somewhere.)

We were joined partway through the evening by Brennen and Leo, who had already eaten Thanksgiving dinner somewhere else but still managed to arrive in time for pie and Harp of Ages singing, which is really the way any good event should conclude.

Hope you all spent lovely Thursdays! Must go check on my roasted applesauce, so I'm off...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

My favorite holiday!

(For real this time.)

Yesterday I ate at two of Chicago's best restaurants - The Chicago Diner and Cousins. Interspersed with visits to the Green City Farmer's Market and the REAL Thorne Miniature Rooms. What more could a girl ask for?

Today the first snow of the season is falling softly outside, inside it's toasty as my market fresh brussel sprouts roast in the oven (hey, I like them). For more heartwarming holiday news, see below. (Katie, way to bury the lead there!)

I'm thankful for all kinds of things, but clearly amazing food in ample supply is always near the top of my list. As if the news weren't depressing enough, it seems there's a drastic shortage in food donations (thanks to our ever helpful government) this season. So, consider finding your local food bank and helping out. (In the interest of full disclosure, I haven't donated anything this season. Note to self: find a way to donate your services for the holidays. It's not like you even have any Christmas plans.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Oh what a world / it seems we live in

Yikes. It's been a while, eh? Let's make this snappy.

So where did we last leave off? I'll start with November 1st, a nice satisfying number. I flew to scenic Beaumont (it's much more fun if you say it with a heavy Texas accent), which I can't actually say anything nice or snide about because I spent a little less than 24 hours at the Hotel Eleganté (which is also more fun if you say it with a heavy Texas accent) and then flew home again. It was a whirlwind visit with Nathan, who'd been invited to lecture at a museum conference that weekend... since he's spent most of the past several years in either South Carolina or Italy, I figured I'd better grab him while he was at least in the same state as me. One dinner at Chili's, two years' worth of photos on his laptop, a dozen rounds of Nerts, and a walk along the edge of the highway later, I was back on my merry way. The tiny, ramshackle Southeast Texas Regional Airport, complete with faded flowered wallpaper in the security corridor, might be my new favorite transportation hub. Seriously.

We didn't manage to get any pictures of us together, so I can't actually prove I saw Nathan, but here are two separate shots, both stolen from his camera. Above: Still Life With Apple Core And USAToday. Below: Please admire the amazing Eurotrash shirt and shiny tie. He's also holding a fake cat who purrs and makes breathing motions. This is why I'm friends with Nathan.

I got back to Austin late Friday night, and Saturday morning was THE KICKATHON! I did 1,000 kicks and didn't even half-ass most of them... okay, at least half of them... (but really, you wouldn't believe the temptation for half-assery when you know you have 846 more kicks to go). I have a couple of pictures that I'll put up at some point, in which you can also se my friend Cindy who'd hurt her ankle but still hobbled through the whole damn thing. In a tutu. To keep everyone's spirits up. Which all seems pretty impressive and dedicated to me, but she steadfastly maintains that she "phoned in" that kickathon. Hee.

The whole thing was actually shockingly pleasant. It was shorter than we'd expected (R didn't even get bored until the very end, really!) and everyone was enthused - or complainy, which bonds people together even more than enthusiasm - and I even got a prize because all of YOU wonderful dear people who donated made me the participant with the most donations! I was honored to accept it on your behalf. You all have thank-you packages soon to be coming your way (complete with odes, for those eligible), but I'm just running a little behind schedule. There's a shocker. That evening we went to Cindy's birthday party, and even got home at an embarrassingly respectable hour thanks to daylight savings.

The next morning (I wasn't even sore from all that kicking! ...which is, ahem, probably more a testiment to my inability to actually kick properly than the presence of actual muscles) we woke up in the dark so R could do the Susan G. Komen 5K run. I had convinced Quincy to come with us and keep me company, so we went and cheered for Richard when he reached the finish line... fortunately he's a speedy little guy so we were in and out of there and eating breakfast tacos at Maria's before some of the 20,000 other participants had even started. So. Many. People. But hey look, you know that guy:

Fast forward to the following Friday, when I flew to Massachusetts for a day and a half of reproductive/social justice networking and training, sponsored by Hampshire College. They put on two of these meetings per year, and it's a pretty wonderful coalition of people... it always charges me up to spend time with so many young, passionate, lovely activists who are doing such amazing things that I feel absolutely puny by comparison. From there I spent a few days at my parents', where my big project was going through all of my old things in storage there and sorting through 10 years' worth of utter and complete crap scraps of paper - scrawled freewrites, notes from high school friends, significant items torn from magazines, posters pulled from walls, impassioned poetry and journal entries - that still live in shoeboxes in a closet because I AM SUCH A COMPULSIVE PACKRAT. I so desperately wanted to throw most of it out. I didn't quite succeed. At least I emptied a couple of boxes. But holy hell, was it ever a two-day odyssey through the tears and tribulations of Adolescent Katie.

So then I came back to Austin. And oh yeah, I got engaged.



Sunday, November 18, 2007

The usual (books/singing/food), now more concentrated

A rendering of my life for the past few days, and projected future plans:

Thursday: work.
Fri: work, mr bourdain (aka more work).
Sat: work, cook.
Sun: Clean entire house, host singing, clean some more, work party, procrastinate packing by eating/photographing food/blogging.
Mon (wee hours): procrastinate packing by reading large stack of magazines
Mon (weer hours): pack. sleep?
Mon (morning): meet friend, drive to san jose, fly to chicago.

SO... a bit busier than my normal extended vacation. Not bad though. Workwise I've been racking up the hours, Mr B went swimmingly, our staff appreciation party tonight was a good time. It was just a small potluck thing in our cafe, but did feature much more beer than usually consumed at work, an excellent dj (our newest employee's girlfriend, another rebecca... she goes by "reb" and DJ Rebel. Somehow she pulls it off a bit easier than I would...) who we want to keep around for store hours, a neeeeeerdy staff literary quiz, and a special award for each employee - I came away with "Most Unflappable, able to weather the mightiest tempest of the business while keeping her calm (or something similarly dramatic.) And most likely to be seen drinking out of a jar."

The singing today was really different, but awesome... about 5/10 who showed were completely brand new singers! So it fell on the overworked / highly cafeinated / underqualified hostess to be de facto singing school teacher / leader / pitcher, yeesh. But they were all cool young musical folks, and we had strong singers on all the parts, so we powered through all kinds of things with minimal part review. And somehow, it sounded great! Totally on, which is more than I can say for some much better attended singing I've been to recently. Things are looking up for local singing. Just in time for me to move... eeeeeeeexcellent.

And without further ado, THE RESURRECTION OF THE RECIPE BLOG! My culinary contribution for the events today was what I like to call "A Muffin to be Thankful For." My molasses cornbread recipe spiked with sage and a homemade cranberry sauce filling. Before throwing it together I tried and failed to find a similar recipe anywhere online, which I took to mean that a) it's a terrible idea, something never meant to see the light of day or b) I'm a genius and have invented the world's greatest mega muffin. You decide!

Off to pack do anything but face the mountain of clothes that is my bed. My dad may or may not have called to remind me to bring warm clothes. Have I gone soft? Forgotten my roots? Oh no, bring on the snow. Flight delays, sidewalk shoveling, frostbite... I want the whole package.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Yes, the day is at hand. We've been sold out for weeks, and tickets are a hot commodity on Craig's list. People really love them some Anthony Bourdain. Myself, I roll my eyes at his whole devil may care, bad boy celebrity chef shtick. But the man knows how to entertain (and a thing or two about food), so I'm happy to be working the event. Any more devoted fans out there, let me know if you want a signed copy of any of his books. I can pick one up at a 30% discount, and even supervise a personalized autograph. (Yes, I have the oh so glamorous job of managing the signing line. Meaning I get to write down the customer's name on a post-it, stick it on the book, and hand it to Mr. Bourdain. Approximately 650 times. Sigh.)

Personally I'm more excited to see that Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian won the National Book Award for young adult lit!! One of my favorite books of the year for sure.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sunday, November 11, 2007

our days how swift they are / swift as an indian arrow flies / or like a shooting star

I am happy with today. I finally had a day off that coincided with sun, so I took a long hike at the state park 5 mins up the road. It's just ridiculously beautiful, a restored historic ranch complete with interpretive center, horses, and rusting john deeres in the victorian barns, plus 7,000 acres of trails through the coastal terraces, eucalyptus groves, etc, all overlooking the ocean. Was plenty warm in a tank top, and caught the sunset as I finished. Geez. Why am I leaving Santa Cruz again?

Not to mention that I began my day with singing and ended it by cleaning out some of the farmers market bounty from the fridge.. it magically turned into roasted chestnuts and baked squash with cranberry stuffing.

Tomorrow I'm heading up to Berkeley for Tibetan food with Rebecca, and more singing!

Dispatch from back East

How did I end up flying to three different places in less than a month???

I'm currently on location at my parents' house, on Hampshire College's dime... got flown out here for a reproductive/social justice conference that I'm stretching into a paltry two-day family vacation. I'll write more later, but I wanted to check in because it's been a while... in lieu of actual updates, here are a couple of family photos from my parents' computer to keep you entertained:

My cousin, my gorgeous grandmother, and me this past summer. I was feeling terribly special because my cousin let me try on her hot tango shoes. But then we were both too tall so my grandmother made us duck so she would be the tallest one in the picture. And we did, because she is our grandmother after all. Also, we didn't want to get in trouble with our grandfather, who can be a pretty scary guy:

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Monday, November 05, 2007

Look, pretty things.

So, now that my computer is nominally fuctional, I'm working on getting pictures of my recent travels up, and then eventually catching up the archived footage from last year. but... i continue to be lazy. So here, for your enjoyment, are a couple of my photoshop experiments I made a few months ago - part of my art for gmail offer.

(Click to see the full size versions)

This one was for one of the ex-Quito-roommates. I was fooling around with different Ecuador photos and ended up with a sky theme.

- The background picture I took climbing Pichincha, looking back at the path and down on Quito.
- I took the Canoa picture over Semana Santa last year.
- Jennie took the Mindo photo between xmas and new years 2005, which was my very first trip out of Quito.
- John's friend Gabriel took the Tungurahua photo from his home in Salasaca, when it was erupting last summer.

This one was for B. From this excellent action shot which I had just unearthed and scanned. Ah, college.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

What did YOU do with your free DST hour?

When midnight rolled around I put on the next episode in my OC marathon. Totally guilt free. Now, If only I could get back that hour of WMSHC that I missed when my alarm clock didn't spring forward as scheduled.

Also, for the record, my healthy halloween treats were quite popular with the few trick or treaters we got. Take that, you hecklers! Colin had bought some more traditional candy, and I didn't want to rain on his parade, so I ended up offering both bowls. Halloween Death Match: Candy vs. Health Food. I was as surprised as anyone that we came out even, with most kids happy to take one of each. And for every kid that only took candy, I got just as many who enthusiastically took only my stuff! And I don't think anyone would have complained if I hadn't had the candy at all. The very first visitors were sisters from a mexican family who asked after my "feliz dia del escudo nacional" sign, and said "What if we don't want any of THAT?" turning up their nose at the candy. It warms my heart!

For posterity. The contents of my magical Halloween basket, all meticulously screened to meet the following critera:
1) Relatively non-hazardous to one's health.
2) Something I would have eaten/enjoyed as a child, and I think my parents can vouch that I was a picky picky eater with a junk food fetish.
3) Individually packaged. Parents still buy into that poisoned Halloween candy urban legend right?
4) Less than 40 cents per.

The winners:
Trader Joe's organic fruit leather
Trader Joe's granola bars (peanut butter or cranberry/chocolate chip/nut)
Vitamic C gummies
SunRidge Farm's chocolate honey mints from the bulk bin
Stickers - pumpkins, spiders, and pirate flags

Runners up: (they met the criteria but I cut myself off before I bought out the whole store)
Cliff zbars
Apple blueberry sauce cups
Ginger tea bags (For when the indigestion kicks in. I had some myself after binging on the leftovers.)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Best. Holiday. Ever.

You, remember, El Dia del Escudo Nacional! I put out my Ecuadorian flag.

Well, I wish I were in Poland or Peru, where apparently everyone knows Halloween is just for show. Santa Cruz on the other hand does Halloween big. Pacific Ave is closed off and they've been warning for months that "there will be law enforcement agents from 9 municipalities" out. Apparently it turns into one big costume party out there. Already plenty of trick or treaters were toting peppers and avocados from the farmer's market alongside their candy. A live show of Rocky Horror is playing "in rock and roll concert style" at the Rio. And here I am, at the library, with the 3 other people who aren't causing mayhem. Apparently the crazies stay in on Halloween... the guy across from me is carrying on passionately to the space where his neighbor used to be before he got cranky and left.

Another big earthquake last night... nope, nope sure didn't notice. I was driving home and was pretty out of it after having a bit of a cold and working all day, is the only excuse I can offer. At 5.6. it was the biggest since the infamous 1989 quake apparently. My roommate says the walls shook.

Update on Mr Chatty... the poor librarian had no luck in ushering his one sided conversation outside, but then a guy behind me piped up with "would you shut up!" and without skipping a beat he goes "sure!" And he did.

OK, I'm off home. Thanks for your excellent suggestions. I did pick up some healthyish treats, I tried to get a big variety and I'll report on the results. Otherwise I think I'll kick back with a pumpkin beer and continue the OC marathon. Happy holidays.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Don't you love it when... wake up at 3am and can't get back to sleep? Perhaps it was this troubling late-night conversation that kept me tossing and turning:

R: If you could pick any kind of sandwich to represent you, would it be a hamburger?
K: What?
R: White on the outside... delicious on the inside... a ketchup center...
K: Hamburgers don't have ketchup centers.
R: [Silence]
K: What if YOU could pi--
R: Hamburger.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

sunday night at the store

My computer hiatus continues. I've read 6 books and I've been marathoning the OC. Oh yeah.

This book is keeping me entertained today.

Todays act of stupidity: I started to hardboil eggs this morning. About 1.5 hours later I remembered. I was at work in Capitola. No one was home. SOOO I took an early break and jetted home to find no flames or smoke. But the eggs... exploded. I'll be finding pieces in every corner of my kitchen for months.

I'm very eh about Halloween. I didn't mind missing the last two. I hate the holiday pressure to find a cool costume and make a big night of it. And if I stay home I have to a) hide from the children b) find something healthy but packaged to give out. Nuts? Stickers? I don't want to be that lame old lady who gives out pennies or apples either. Suggestions?

Friday, October 26, 2007

A taste of what's to come...

A sneak preview of our northwestern sojourn (well, the photos thereof):

Only a few of you will truly appreciate the amazingness that is David in his Sunday shirt, but I couldn't resist sharing...

R&R looking cute in their Sunday best.

We took our standard hey-we're-in-Seattle-let's-hike hike, complete with standard self-portrait-on-summit. Yes, folks, this was the summit. WHERE'S MY PANORAMIC VIEW?????

THE NEPHS! looking good enough to eat in their one-year outfits.

You haven't lived until you've been manhandled by a drooling baby in the middle of a corn maze.

Yes, that's hay dangling from G's mouth. Mmmm, harvest...

Sorry for the excessive bandwidth... I'll get the rest posted on a proper photo site soon. But that's all for now... happy weekend, y'all!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

and shadows pass away

+ My computer is alive again!

- Still facing one more night of limited internet, as the repair place misplaced my power supply, effectively negating the replacement of the power port. And, I must gripe. Did they a) offer me a discount or b) apologize? No, they a) repeatedly suggested I hadn't really brought it in and b) offered to SELL me a new one.

+ The more competent boss did find it after the fact, so starting tomorrow I'll be fully hooked up. And honestly, Rebecca - unlimited internet = a much healthier more well-rounded person with an earlier bedtime.

+ My weekend getaway to portland was quite fabulous. Have YOU ever stayed at a haunted rock and roll brewpub / hotel?? That's what I thought. Also featuring... Lots of quality time with the Austin gang. A walk down scenic Insterstate Ave, across the bridge to downtown, dinner at a COMBINATION YOGA STUDIO / VEGAN RAW RESTAURANT CALLED LOTUS SOMETHING OR OTHER which luckily was quite tasty or I would have to make even more fun of it - I had the BBQ tempeh plate... mmmm, followed by a fancy chocolate from the fancy chocolate shop across the street (which also uses organic everything and agave, geez). Staying out of the rain on Saturday. Too many trips to the airpot. (Next time you're taking the damn freeway Richard!)

And the singing! And the food. No more need be said on those counts.

And the fellowship, which featured more local beer, lots of bay area friends, and even more western mass transplants. Had forgotten they do an extra long singing school, David Ivey was great of course. Among other feats, in two hours he managed to cover pretty much everything I took out of my ill fated semester of music theory in college. (Not to mention he's a much snappier dresser than Prof Hoyt.)

- The curtains have finally closed on the Extra Special Marathon Fall Season of Travel and Quality Time. Probably won't see KT and R until MARCH! I'll just be over in the corner crying. (In a puddle of my own tears, having lost the will to go on, as it were.)

+ My traveling is over but I will have more visitors... starting with me mom, tomorrow! Lauren, MP, and Becky have all threatened fall visits so hopefully at least one will come through.

- Monday I cooked for the after-school gig again. This gets a minus because the hour I should have been at the school setting up I spent sitting on my car waiting for AAA to unlock it and rescue my keys, my phone, the contact info of my partners in crime, and all the food for the class. With NOTHING to do but ponder my stupidity. Everything went ok in the end, but I was so crazy stressed out and annoyed at myself.

- At work today I ate pizza and pumpkin pie for lunch. Funny how I don't feel so good right now... thank god the farmers market will rescue me with fresh produce tomorrow.

+ I'm actually working 5 full shifts in the next 7 days. Almost like a real full time job! Look at that!

+ Unexpected praise is always fun, so I just want to bask in the many emails in my inbox thanking me for my singing last week, and the many compliments I got on my dress this weekend!

+ It was sunny and 84 today. So long, Portland.

+ There are more pluses than minuses, so in conclusion, my life is not totally without meaning. Or something.

Coming soon: pictures! (Surely to be followed immediately by KT's shinier and more numerous pictures.)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Onward and upward to Portland!

Okay, really, I SWEAR this is the last time I'll post back-to-back with Rebecca and knock her post out of first place. Really. But I seem to be pulling a classic Rebecca And Katie by staying up all night for absolutely no reason (I could easily have gotten all this mandatory packing and housecleaning out of the way before bedtime, but I just plain didn't) so I'll post a few things and then be on my merry way to bed. Or Oregon. Whichever comes first.

Regarding The Darjeeling Express: I was reading a post on Racialicious about Wes Anderson the other day, which linked to "Unbearable Whiteness: That queasy feeling you get when watching a Wes Anderson movie." Okay, I enjoyed The Royal Tenenbaums as much as anybody, but I thought this article was pretty spot-on.

Regarding Rebecca: I realized I never raved about how fabulous it was to have her here! I'll see her in a little over 12 hours, rendering this rave virtually obsolete, but I couldn't let that one slide. Don't you wish you had your own temporary live-in Natural Chef to teach you how to peel garlic with Mason jars and fill you with the (well-founded but still slightly irrational) fear that your walnuts were going to give you cancer unless you put them in the freezer RIGHT NOW? We managed to take her yet again to the only restaurant she's ever been to in Austin, taught her all about the Texas singer family trees, and feasted upon the amazing dinner she cooked us. What more could you ask for from a visit? (Well, excluding a run along the beach, lemons picked in your own backyard, and a 30-person sing in your own living room. Shut up, Rebecca.)

Regarding karate: I am now officially a blue belt! Meaning that, for the first time, I've earned a belt, not purchased it. I feel marginally more important already. The day of 1,000 kicks approaches and I think our dojo has almost reached our fundraising goal, which is tremendously exciting. If any of you who might not have donated yet want to go to to sponsor my kicks and help push us over our goal, I would be absolutely delighted. My ode offer is closed (I've got my work cut out for me in that department...) but you'll still get a handmade special thank-you gift from me for donating any amount. I can't promise it will arrive in anything resembling a timely manner, but I promise you'll get it. If you don't have the faintest idea what I'm talking about, go here.

Regarding people who are more dedicated than I: I also forgot to mention that, before going on vacation, Richard sewed his own down-filled sleeping bag. While I was thoroughly unable to appreciate the technical prowess of this accomplishment (R: "It weighs less than anything of equal warmth currently on the market!" K: "Oh my god, it has a DRAWSTRING!"), I was still pretty damn impressed.

Regarding places where it's not summer all year long: Portland is supposed to be in the 50's. I've gotta say, I no longer have any idea what that feels like. I'm packing as best as I can, but I can't figure out for the life of me whether my clothes will be too warm or too cold. Alexa just had to go out and buy a pair of close-toed dress shoes specifically for this convention because she only owns open-toed ones. WHAT'S BECOME OF US?????

Regarding the previously-mentioned Lance Armstrong photo that we auctioned off: I was wrong, it didn't go for four hundred dollars, it went for SIX HUNDRED AND FIFTY. Someone loves them some Lance. Good lord.

Regarding DVD's I check out of the library when Richard's not around: Our local branch has a pitiful, pitiful selection of DVD's, consisting of a few generic blockbusters insterspersed with a few generic 1950's classics interspersed with a few other strange things that I've never heard of. Such was how I ended up with the exceedingly random British miniseries "Bob and Rose." Six episodes about a gay man and a straight woman who fall in love. Okay, I'm listening. The potential for handling this subject matter badly is probably limitless, but the cover said it was by the creator of (the British) "Queer As Folk" so I decided to take my chances. Oh man, this show is DELIGHTFUL. Cute, smart, passably funny, no "conversion" bullshit, and starring actors who look refreshingly like REAL PEOPLE. The first three episodes were significantly better than the last three, but I was still completely enamored by the whole thing. Props to Rosie for another excellent export from her motherland!

Regarding the time: Somehow it became 4:19 in the morning and I still have yet to finish packing or wash all my dishes. So I'll bid you all adieu for now... back Wednesday!



Thursday, October 18, 2007

autumn in santa cruz

This morning I was admiring the beautiful colored fall foliage of the tree outside my house, which seems so unexpected here. It's been rainier but still lovely and not much cooler than the summer so far. And then... a hummingbird flew over to admire the foliage as well. The second I've seen in as many days. So... all is well in California paradise after all.

No blogging lately,because a) i've been busy busy! and b) my computer is sad again... just dropped it off for $150 repair to make it happy, and so this post is being written at the library / on my rommmate's bootleg chinese laptop.

Due to the computer woes and my trip to portland , I'll be (gasp!) parted from the internet until Monday morning. Any pressing matters, give me a call on my cell.

Things that kept me busy this week.

Richard! Twas a good time, he said. Besides the farmers' market, we managed to squeeze in all kinds of things.
- I went outside! We did a nice hike up at Big Basin state park where we saw banana slugs, giant redwoods, madronas, and other pretty things. And R got to run along the ocean on west cliff, with a view of the latest surf contest.
- Of course we visited BOTH breweries in town.
- I didn't have to work while he was here, but we did hang out at the bookstore and mooch some food and drink. That's the way to do it.
- We dared to drive up to Berkeley in the rainy fri pm commute. 2.5 hours later (instead of 1.5) we were rewarded with awesome vegan sushi at Cha-Ya, and then Rebecca's wine and cheese party. I just wanted to hog her since it was the first time I'd seen her in a year, but everyone else was lovely too. Had forgotten how nice her beau is, probably because they weren't dating when I knew him there... had never chatted with him in English before, but he has a cute accent and was patient with my excessive Ecuadorian nostalgia. And met a super nice Mexican woman who works for a global anti-hunger group, and was heading down to Bolivia in a few days! No fair! It's bad enough that my dad's already there. Otherwise there were a mix of R's law school friends/roommates/associates... good lord, I haven't been around so many young people with things in common with me since forever, quite disconcerting. Seriously it seemed like EVERYONE we talked to overlapped with our lives to a crazy degree... Richard even ran into someone who was on his high school x-country team.
- And, the big event, the Richard's in Town First Annual Singing at My House was hugely successful!! Everything I'd hoped for. It was a gorgeous sunny day, everyone brought good food, was gracious and thanked me copiously for hosting. We had 30 people - from Berkeley, South Bay, plenty of local singers, and even some new converts who had been looking for a local group to sing with. Almost everybody lead a song with or without assistance, and somehow it worked out that we had exactly enough time for everyone to lead before the break and again after the break. Most importantly, it sounded GREAT, and my 2 schemes totally panned out. 1) Bay area sacred harp mixer - people were meeting/reacquainting/generally fellowshipping and saying "yeah, why DON'T we sing together more?" 2) Local singing resurrection - everyone was pumped for more singing and we have a tentative plan for 1st/3rd sundays, swapping between my house and whoever else wants to host.
Was such a good time I even chose to be entertained by the guy who got up and said, i quote: "I'm not a good leader and I don't really know this song, but let's do Rose of Sharon!" sigh.

- I shipped R off to the airport on Sunday, with minimal parting distress because I was going to be seeing him in another airport in 5 DAMN DAYS (man, I really just can never get sick of R and KT and am going to be saddddddd when our Special Marathon Fall Season of Travel and Quality Time ends).
- Monday it was back to the grindstone as I kicked off my first professional chefing gig! I haven't said much about it because it's really been a big hassle and lots of work for very little compensation, but I'm feeling more positive now that the first day was a lot of fun. One of my Bauman instructors had the idea to create a fitness/nutrition after-school program for kids in Santa Cruz, and so 3 of us have been putting that together from sratch. It's great experience and all but also a big pain. Anyway, we're pulling off a 4 class pilot program at a local elementary school with real grant funding, which means money for supplies and a small little paycheck for me. But a paycheck it is, and I got to show up and get called "Chef Rebecca"!! The kids were sooo excited about sampling foods and cooking with me, and think I'm all impressive in my white coat. Hee!!!! I'll share some pictures and recipes later on.
-Also put in a few shifts at the store. Count yourselves lucky that I can't remember any exciting periodical links this time. Ooooh wait, there was this gem in the economist:
Roberto Madrazo, the 55-year-old candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in last year's presidential election in Mexico, was disqualified from the Berlin marathon for cheating after recording an improbably fast time. The PRI has a notorious history of electoral fraud.

- Lack of internet has actually increased my productivity exponentially. In the last two days I've read three books, gone out to a movie (Darjeeling Limited... our unanimous review was: "pretty, but eh"), made applesauce, and accomplished all manner of household and professional tasks in a timely and efficient manner. Who knew.

Oooookay, speaking of timely and efficient, I'm off to do laundry and pack for my whirlwind trip to Portland. I'd better get some sleep, since apparently we're staying at some sort of rock and roll hotel? R swears it's a good deal, but mostly he just wants to be close to the local beer. I'm sure the singing will be great, but R and I most especially hope the food lives up to our memory from the 04 convention. Possibly the best singing food ever.

And... I'm out.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

In which our heroine helps entertain 400 people and lives to tell the tale

My work had our big fall fundraiser this evening, which I suspect went well, but since I tend to spend these events as a walking talking stressball (L, I think I was in dire need of a colored frog...) I'm not entirely sure what exactly took place between 5:30 and 10 this evening. I do seem to recall seeing a fair number of rich people drinking and laughing, and I only had to deal with one volunteer telling me how awful my check-in system was, so I count that as a good night. I guess the money will decide whether or not it was a good night - but since I'm in charge of figuring out exactly how much we grossed, and since I fully intend to put off this despicable task for as long as possible, it might be a while before we know for sure. (You can't see me but I'm shaking my fist right now at the eight giant cardboard boxes in various trunks of cars that are currently full of receipts, credit card slips to be processed, signup sheets in no particular order, miscellaneous wads of cash, and silent auction forms. I HATE YOU ALL, FINANCIAL RECORDS.)

Also, can we all take a moment to collectively let our mouths hang open at the amount rich people will pay for shit? Really I shouldn't complain, and I know people pay more at benefit auctions out of the goodness of their hearts, but SERIOUSLY. We had this goofy framed autographed photo of the man R has called our nation's greatest hero (though you'd be forgiven for taking his opinions with at least a small grain of salt... this is also the boy who once asked me, if I could commit a hate crime against any brand of dental floss, would it be this one?) that went for WELL OVER FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS. I know Texans love Lance - but really????? My co-workers and I solemnly vowed never to mock the man or his rabid fan base again. Not a guarantee.

As you read in the previous post, R is currently in sunny California with Rebecca, picking oranges and running on the beach and generally living off the fat of the land, as best as I can tell. I was inclined to be much more bitter about this twenty minutes ago, when I'd consumed nothing for the past 10 hours except two cups of white wine, but now that I've eaten a bowl of granola and the remainder of a box of butter crackers (remember when you were a kid and you used to dream about the crap you'd eat for dinner if only your parents let you? I'm kind of having one of those moments), I'm feeling much more generous in spirit. Sadly, I don't get to visit Rebecca in Santa Cruz this time around, but I do get to see her next weekend when we all convene in Portland for the Pacific Northwest Convention! Then R and I are continuing up to Seattle where we get to see THE NEPHS! and I once again attempt to convince R's parents that really I'm so much more than the Jewish honky he's living in sin with, and if I had my way, Mr. and Mrs. Lee, he would cut his hair and pray before bedtime and get a law degree. Or at least an office job.

I think I still have drink tickets tucked in my bra. It might be time for bed.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

we lay our garments by / upon our beds to rest

Richard's here and we have big plans tomorrow (and we're going to bed early katie!), so just a few things:

- Since everyone seemed quite excited by the derby shoutout, here's the full scoop... N was in town last weekend with C for a big job interview in oakland, and had practiced with one of the bay area derby teams, so we met up in san jose to see the league's opening bout. It was sort of a blowout, and the venue was not the best for derby (too big to fill up the audience, and a slippery track) but it was a good time, especially with natalia's expert commentary. And the day before, I had some extra quality time with n and c... i knew she had added an interview in santa cruz and when I called her to find out when she would be down here, she said "well, i'm at cathcart and center street right now." !!! so she got to stop over and use my restroom and pick her own oranges.

- While she raved about my toast, N was not nearly as appreciative of my oranges as Richard. He's sufficiently impressed with my fruit trees, my house, the weather, and most importantly, the farmer's market. Damn straight. Well, that pretty much covers his first afternoon here. Then we ate our way through some local produce and bonded over our mutual love of Matt's sacred harp cd which segued nicely into some 2 part singing. We're pretty psyched for the First Annual Richard's in Town Sacred Harp Singing at My House, this saturday. (With potluck!) We should have a big turnout from Berkeley, South Bay, and local singers. Other non-singing plans involve hiking, apple picking, wine tasting, and wine and cheese party with Rebecca and visiting Ecuadorian beau. Somewhere in there I have to fit in a PPD and R has to buy an ice axe.

- I never even watch his show, but I've sort of vicariously picked up a Stephen Colbert fixation from several friends. (Which I'm sure he would approve of.) His book came out yesterday, and I just had to take a picture of my view from behind the counter after the display went up.

So. Much. Stephen. Again, I think he would approve. Perhaps as much he approved of the book itself, which won the "Stephen T. Colbert Award For The Literary Excellence", and prominently displays this quote on the back: "A powerhouse. I laughed. I cried. I lost 15 pounds." -Stephen Colbert

- And, the obligatory "what I read in Wired at work" link:
The New Weapon in the Border Guard Arsenal: the Dreaded Google Search
It turns out that border officers are allowed to use what they call "open source information" — meaning any and all traces of you online, from Facebook and Flickr to flame wars.

Clearly border guard work productivity has reached the high standard set by me and KT.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

"So you DO have a real job!"

Said a friend from the HGP when she saw me at the bookstore today. I was sort of just as surprised. It's been 3 weeks since my last shift, and it's been the last thing on my mind. But I was reminded why I really do so ENJOY my job in a warm squishy way. This is good since I'd pretty much set on not stressing out over the black hole that is the Santa Cruz job market, and decided to stick it out selling books through the busy retail season til Christmas or so. After which, unless something terribly enticing comes my way, I'll hightail it out of town. But back to today... it was a whole new store when I showed up this morning. All kinds of crazy new books have come out that I didn't know about, I didn't recognize any of the displays, we're selling Anthony Bourdain and Tom Brokaw tickets right and left, and they FINALLY put together a real kids section. On top of which, there was a fabulous author event I didn't even know about!

I even got to grab a cup of tea and watch the event like a real person, to bulk up the audience. (There's a reason we rarely have sat events, not a great turnout, sadly.) On hand were two Chinese American authors who write mostly for kids but have recently done highly acclaimed memoirs. Belle Yang read from her latest picture book, which was sweet... the really cool part of her talk was that she passed around the manuscript for her forthcoming graphic novel as well as the large canvas with an illustration she's painting for another story. She's the featured subject of a documentary film called My Name is Belle, which is all over PBS as well as showing at the local Pacific Rim film festival.

The second author, Ying Chang Compestine, totally knocked my socks off! Just a ridiculously accomplished and lovely person. Sigh, I just spent a while trying to write a suitably glowing description, and then I read the San Francisco Chronicle feature on her from last week, and I won't even try to compete. (Yes, it sounds a bit over the top but it's right on the money, I swear):
Spontaneous and bright-eyed, she seems to have a wellspring of inner joy that bubbles up into an infectious laugh. She ticks off her accomplishments, popping up to pull down her many books from the shelf or call up her Web site ( and click on a video of her cooking show or an item about her winning a badminton championship three years ago in Colorado. "I beat all the 20-year-olds!" She lays out her feats unabashedly yet without arrogance, as one might present tasty dishes one had made for a banquet.

(Bah, I know my MOM thinks I'm a good writer, and I suppose my rambling has its charms if you already know and appreciate me, but I'd give a lot to be able to convey to you my experiences vividly and concisely. Perhaps a writing course is in order?)

If you click over to the article, you can see the picture of her dancing in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. She was raving about that photoshoot as the happiest day of her life, and she meant it!

I'm sure you're unsurprised that I appreciated her food fixation. Among other things she writes healthy Chinese cookbooks (her mother practiced traditional Chinese medicine) and really clever picture books like The Real Story of Stone Soup (based on a meal she ate at the Chinese/Burmese border, where they really cooked the soup with stones!) And her recently published young adult fictionalized memoir takes its title from Mao's quote, "Revolution is Not A Dinner Party." She draws on her childhood growing up in China during the cultural revolution. I promptly bought a copy and I'm really excited to read it, it's just the kind of book I loved growing up. And, I think, poised to win some awards and find its place as standard reading in a lot of schools.

You heard it here first.

That being said, I think I've earned the right to praise something you probably heard first on OPRAH. Yes, I read Eat, Pray, Love over vacation and loved it to pieces. And against all expectations... was actually inspired by it! Imagine my shame when suddenly the phone is ringing off the hook for "that food love book from Oprah". I think I mentioned before that I had written it off into several categories of book that send me running for the hills... you know, "hip chick lit", "trendy travelogue" "inspirational memoir". And well, it IS those things. But, it's also, you know, GOOD.

In conclusion, go forth and read! When my head isn't swimming with the printed word, I'll post more on rocks, roller derby, and future schemes.

Monday, October 01, 2007

I am going home today / in the narrow gospel way

Somehow 10 days have gone by, and I'm a few hours away from a flight back to California. My parting from KT/R would be the cause for much lamentation, except that this is HARDLY the end to our quality time this fall. Just 8 days after I leave, I'll be picking up Richard for his long weekend in Santa Cruz, and then the next weekend I'm meeting them both in Portland for another convention. Whew! A balanced travel plan we came up with, clearly...

Before I get ahead of myself, perhaps I should turn back to THIS trip. Well, it's not so hard to fill you in... just picture a lot of singing. And grocery shopping. And cooking. And eating. I also managed to fit in a hike, a canoe trip, and a visit to the capitol building (rather impressive if you can look past the portrait of george w). No live music of the non-sacred harp persuasion, unless you count our night out at the local honkytonk hotspot (i was convinced to take exactly one two-stepping spin around the dancefloor with R. Better than salsa, but a dancer I am not.) or the spontaneous johnny paycheck duet we were treated to at the social.

Back to the singing. I don't have the words. Jenna also made this claim, but then delivered better words than I can find. (Hope you don't mind my linking.)
I just offer a hearty amen.

Hmm, can you add a postscript to an Amen? Here goes. Since in the end, these posts are really for me. And my sense of posterity. (And, err, for anyone who may be googling sacred harp. Yes, you.)
- My very first cooper convention! The good old red book, I will never find it tedious. As someone said this weekend, every year the book grows heavier with memories. But musically, it was so much fun to stretch myself with songs that are fresh to me, amidst people who have been singing them for generations. And they sound GOOD. Especially in that room. Goll-LEE.
- Specifically. The gospel numbers are fun, in moderation. REALLY cool to hear those few songs that I know from the Harp of Ages at full-blast (Eden of Love). Dig the "slower in 4" style down here. Don't mind the 2387465 differing alto parts, but got caught out on so many where it's just a note here or there. (Or just a missing accidental! So jarring to sing cowper that way.) Similarly, all those songs where the oral tradition changed up a few of the words.
- As Jenna mentioned, what a ridiculously amazing blessing to be able to walk into any singing across the country and be among family. I've been so thankful to the California singers I've met this year. It gets even better down here where everyone shakes your hand "good morning."
- "My country tis of thee" in 4 part harmony? Surprisingly powerful.
- And most importantly. Cowboy boots with sunday best. Love it.

Ok. Can you tell I'm on a post-convention high? I'll stop now. Oh, except that the local public radio station did a story on sunday... you can listen to a nice clip online with interviews and music in the background.

Off to pack. When I hit home I'll be sure to post all those pictures of rocks. I might even provide commentary on the rocks.

Actually, this trip has been a great source of inspiration/perspective putting, which perhaps you couldn't tell from all the talk about rocks and singing. More on that too.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

I want to wear a crown of glory when I get home to that bright land...

Excitement abounds this week! You wouldn't have been able to tell it from a snapshot of the past hour and a half at our house - which consisted mainly of lolling around on various couches in post-sing coma with a half-dead look in our eyes, bellies full of convention food, and voices that have undoubtedly seen better days - but really, we're having fun, we swear! In classic convention fashion, Rebecca and I were up cooking until 3am, which means I should really be napping right now, but I'm taking one for the team to make sure we don't all accidentally sleep until midnight. (Really I think my blood sugar is too high for napping anyhow, thanks to all that apple pie I ate. So much mmmmmmm...)

The singing and the acoustics were terrific today, which always makes me feel happy and beneficent toward humanity in general. Two of my lovely newbie friends came by unrelatedly to hear the singing, which was in fact a significant number considering I only have about four non-singing friends in the Republic of Texas altogether. I did a fair amount of singing for the first time since my surgery, and I can still produce noises that resemble words, so everything appears to be in more or less working order. Highlights of tomorrow: a potential third newbie friend who's professed interest in showing up; getting to see Jenna; breaking in my new Sunday dress.

Unrelatedly, it is my belief that an ad like this could do a lot for the dwindling morale of the GOP. Honestly, who CAN'T undressed women convince you to vote for?

[Caption: "The party of women. Poland is a woman"]

Related article: Polish women strip off in bid to woo voters.



Friday, September 28, 2007

una chiste para todos

Well. Mmmm... insomnia. I resent the times that my excessively late bedtimes aren't actually by choice. I place the blame squarely at the feet of the large quantity of coffee ice cream i consumed late in the evening... i even ordered the "tiny" size!! Damn you texan sized portions. Can't wait to get up in 3 hours to meet Richard at the lake for canoeing! Heh. BUT - after running through all the songs on my piddly 512 mb mp3 player, I fell back on the built-in fm tuner, and the early morning comedy hour on "la ley." Yes, that's some quality programming. (What's the point of this story Rebecca? I like stories.) I'm not one for jokes, I seem to have inherited my mother's inability to remember punchlines. I know exactly one joke, only because I had to translate it to Spanish for a class in high school. And, just as I was about to give up on the comic stylings of el chulo y la bola - they told my joke! In Spanish! Oh insomnia, you were worth it after all. Well, not really. But - my joke!

Enfermera: Doctor, un hombre esta esperando. Cree que es invisible.
Psiquiatrico: Digale que no puedo verle.

(Nurse: Doctor, there's a man waiting. He thinks he's invisible.
Psychiatrist: Tell him I can't see him.)

Thank you, and good night!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Look at me, living my life instead of blogging about it!

Wow, I didn't know I was physically capable of going so long without blogging anymore! No pointless links even.

Finished off a relaxing week of ridiculously beautiful landscape and tasty food in Arizona, and now am soaking up my long overdue dose of quality time with R and KT. A visit soon to be new and improved, with cooper book singing and jenna visitation! woohoo!

random notes from austin:
- My first night here I promptly received my first mosquito bite of 2007. It was all exciting and novel... for about the 5 seconds before the whole texas mosquito welcoming committee joined in.
- Also turned on an air conditioner for the first time in 2007. first time since 2005, actually. Remind me never to complain about california again.
- KT's friend, after meeting me for the first time: "you two are so alike. you have all the same mannerisms."
Us: STILL??? We haven't even lived together in years. Perhaps someday we will cease to be the same person.

real details later. just wanted to prove that i'm still aliiiive.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Not on vacation but posting anyhow

Apologies to my other blogging half for relegating her most recent post to second place yet again, but I figured I'd better squeeze something in while I've got time, since our main page has yet again become solid Rebecca. Not that I'm complaining, mind you! I'm a lazy, lazy blogger.

This weekend was Austin City Limits Fest... headliners included Bob Dylan, Bjork, and pretty much every indie rocker in America. Plus a few from England. My general game plan during ACL weekend is to hide at home and cook things and stay as far away as I can from Zilker Park without actually leaving the aforementioned city limits. But this year my friend R from high school was in town playing with Amos Lee's band, and he graciously got me a free day pass, so on Sunday I begrudgingly went. Actually it wasn't so bad. Mostly. It was nice to see R for four seconds, Amos is pretty terrific, and I even let Richard convince me to stay for Wilco's set, because I'm just that kind of amazing girlfriend. Then we got the HELL out of Dodge. Good grief. I can't think of a single band who would actually entice me to PAY to suffer 95-degree weather, the Texas sun (possibly the most evil sun I have ever encountered), and hordes of people just to see them. Not even circa-1997 Katie was that rabid a music fan. (Okay, let's be honest, of course she was. But at least none of the things I did induced sunstroke or dehydration!) And now all of you are six degrees from Dylan & Elvis Costello, because Amos is opening for them on their current tour and I went to school with his bassist and guitarist. So there you go. You're pretty much famous.

Also, just felt compelled to share that I'm biting the bullet and preparing to fast on Yom Kippur this Friday, for the first time ever... I might have to do the chickenshit children-and-invalids fast, though, and drink some water. I'm not sure I can go a whole day without. Perhaps next year in Jerusalem.

Okay, that may be all I got. Please join me in eagerly awaiting Rebecca's pictures of rocks. And please be extra-jealous of me that I get to see her AND Jenna in the absurdly near future! Austin is clearly the place to be, my friends.



"there's just somethin' women like about a pickup man"

(My mom took it upon herself to immerse herself in the local culture by listening to the country station. She recounted this song to me in hilarious disbelief... I maintain it's got nothin on "She thinks my tractor's sexy")

Soooo... somehow I extricated myself from jam central, aka my house, and found myself at a snazzy resort in crazy beautiful sedona. The past 2 days have gone something like this:
sleep late
go for a hike
swim, dip in the hot tub
eat good food (the first night we cooked in our full kitchen, the next night we ate at the local vegetarian hotspot, D'Lish)
read/watch dvd

Yeah. Vacation is pretty sweet.

Now we're off for 2 days at the Grand Canyon, so I'll probably drop off the face of the earth, internetwise.

Too. Many. Pictures of rock formations. Coming soon.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Just for Lauren

Because I had the pleasure of chatting with her EXTENSIVELY as I was preparing my last batch of fig jam, here's a visual. Hmm, I was looking particularly domestic today. You can't really tell, but my skirt even matches my apron.

As far as the jam goes, I'll just quote the latest post at old Scottish saying we’ve heard along the way that speaks volumes to the value people once places on local food as they made visits to friends and family. Here goes:

“Bring honey. If you can’t bring honey - bring preserves.”

Indeed. Look out folks, all winter I'm going to be bringing the preserves like nobody's business. Christmas shopping finished in September, check.

And now, I'm off for my 2 week jaunt through the Southwest, or as the locals say, "out east."

Friday, September 14, 2007

Report from this side of 25

Thanks for the birthday wishes folks! Seriously, I was rollin in mail this week! All kinds of cards and packages showing up here on Laurent St! Makes a girl feel loved. As for the day, 'twas a laid back time for me, I didn't feel a huge need for revelry, my treat is really my big upcoming trip! I did get some quality time in at the farmer's market (the first dates of the season, a flat of figs, orange Turkish eggplant) and a lovely dinner at Mobo sushi. I love their assorted pickles and huge selection of veggie rolls, and under the guidance of masterchefguru kathy we indulged in nerdy culinary analysis, just as in old times. I even got some presents, which I wasn't expecting! Chocolate, and a book on canning!!

Then yesterday I cooked for the last time at the HGP, where they were sweet to me as always, and sent me off with a gorgeous extra large bouquet and a card. (My fave comment... "my stomach is elated")

Look, pictures!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Is it wrong that I bought myself a birthday card?

Inside: May you have a long shelf life!

I couldn't help it! We have the best cards at work. And my birthday DOES coincide with the first night of Rosh Hashanah, after all. It's definitely going up in my pantry.

And then there's this one! Too good. It hurts, it hurts.

Life goes on in NYC...

I've recently been following No Impact Man, as he somehow mantains a sense of humor while...
For one year, my wife, my 2-year-old daughter, my dog and I, while living in the middle of New York City, are attempting to live without making any net impact on the environment. In other words, no trash, no carbon emissions, no toxins in the water, no elevators, no subway, no products in packaging, no plastics, no air conditioning, no TV, no toilets…

Yesterday he posted:
A day in our life
One of the questions people ask me again and again is to describe a day in the No Impact life. I always think it’s a funny question, because I’m so used to it now and it seems so routine. All the same, I thought I might as well answer it:

1. If I get it together, I wake up before the girls when my wind-up alarm clock goes off (no electricity)...

And KT recently reminded me of the hilarity that is
Overheard in New York (Warning: It's the streets of NYC, people. So, yeah, not at all family friendly, and the humor tends toward so-offensive-it-had-to-be-shared. But the best part is the anonymous demographic labeling.)

And eating local, NYC style. (more on the vogue of eating locally this season, when I'm not posting from work.)
Me again: Just had to come back and add a quote from this article, worthy itself of inclusion on overheard in:
Ian went on, “We try to run the farm organically. Our compost is composed almost entirely of manure from the Bronx Zoo. We use the manure of herbivores, like zebras and elephants.”

I looked at him for a moment, wondering if this was an urban-farm poker-faced joke, but he assured me that it wasn’t. I asked if we could taste the elephant manure residually in the food.

“Yes, you can,” he said. “I mean, we have a dark chlorophyll flavor in all of our vegetables, and I really think that you can taste the concentration of nitrogen. It’s a New York taste."