Sunday, January 27, 2008

Topping even Borris' Beetloaf on my childhood list of literary aspirations...

Come on, who didn't secretly yearn to have their own shiny selections sitting on the employee recommendation shelf in an indie bookstore. Well, my friends, I yearn no longer.


So as a warmup to my full rundown of The Books of 2007, I give you my contributions to the Capitola Book Cafe staff picks. (Which wouldn't be complete without the blurbs from those little cards, now would it?)

One Bite at a Time
Rebecca Katz
I was introduced to this cookbook by one of the instructors in my natural chef program (a cancer survivor herself.) Whether you're caring for someone with cancer or just in search of vibrant, healthful food, you deserve to cook from this book.

The Last Days of Summer
Steve Kluger
This is my all time favorite novel and fail-safe gift. I have yet to meet the reader impervious to the charms of Joey Margolis, coming of age in 1940s Brooklyn.

Haroun and the Sea of Stories
Salmon Rushdie
Rushdie's only book for children, it's one of those rare stories that's just as beautiful to revisit as an adult. Guaranteed to make you feel joyous about language and storytelling.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

See R and KT win "The R and KT Award For The Literary Excellence"

Now that Katie has declared it open season for 2007 retrospectives, and now that I am conveniently unemployed, I've undergone that dubious annual tradition of rereading every blog entry for the previous year. As I feared, it wasn't quite the stunning array of travelogue that I amassed in 2006. In fact I had to dredge through an embarrassing amount of my own rambling about latin america / the printed word / jam and other edible substances.
(Insert Reader's Loyalty Award here for putting up with me.)

And yet, the year's blogging was not entirely without merit. What have we learned about our protagonistas? I've prepared the following primer:

See R and KT

See R and KT turn 25
KT style: Nothing Says Happy Birthday Like...
R style: Report from this side of 25

See R and KT find out what they want to do when they grow up
Wise words from R:"Q: Oh, so you're going to be a chef!
A: That wasn't a question. And if it were, I would answer NO..."

Wise words from KT:"I didn't know anything about the RJ movement before this weekend, and I got so excited about it that, like a math nerd after a particularly exciting calculus class, I took forever falling asleep each night because my mind was turning over and over and over."

See R and KT travel
2007, that year in which KT left the country and R just whined about wanting to:
Oh, I Give Up (or, Israel Photos! Get Yer Israel Photos!)
But R has her beat for domestic miles. Ah, back when sunny CA was just a twinkle in my google directions:
Southern Hospitality
"The skies are gray today to mark my departure from Austin."
the ups and downs of road-tripping
3791 - "the least direct route ever between between two points"

See R and KT sing

still on post wmshc high
The awesomeness of singing. Let me count the ways.
"That's me (um, obviously) leading at McMahan two weeks ago."
I want to wear a crown of glory when I get home to that good land..."The singing and the acoustics were terrific today, which always makes me feel happy and beneficent toward humanity in general."
I am going home today / in the narrow gospel way - "My very first cooper convention!"
"the Richard's in Town First Annual Singing at My House was hugely successful!"
and shadows pass away - "Have YOU ever stayed at a haunted rock and roll brewpub / hotel??"
"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."

See R rant

"Lose a Bag For Uncle Sam"
progress shmogress! up with analog!

See R get serious
Obama soul searching
The promised peter post

See KT learn new tricks
"She can talk!"
"I think I still have drink tickets tucked in my bra."
"I did 1,000 kicks and didn't even half-ass most of them..."
"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."

Now, I won't even go to the trouble of nominating these posts because no one will vote on them and, really, what could compete with:
See KT Get Engaged!
How to Ask a Girl To Marry You

Hold on to your RSS feeds folks, 2008 is sure to be another fabulous year of blogging, with exclusive coverage of:
See KT Get Married!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Rebecca's Rules for Moving, now optioned for reality tv

Previously on Rebecca's Rules
Our heroine braved credit-straining car repair and a trip to the DMV, made orange marmalade, set up her new computer, watched Sweeney Todd, made one last trip to the farmer's market, attended the Michael Pollan book signing at the store, filled out her last time card, and rounded out the night with despedida drinks with coworkers. And lest we forget, pushed her move back one day.

On the final episode of Rebecca's Rules

Our heroine went on to check off every single one of those items on her To Do (ON PAIN OF DEATH) List. (With one sad, sad exception... a long overdue package destined for Ecuador that she's been holding on to for over a year and moved with now 3, count em, 3 times. Producers are reported to have arranged for a stay on her execution and resorted to the dubious ploy of declaring this as her project for an upcoming crafting bee.)
Between Thursday and Saturday she: Postponed her move. Again. Mailed those stubborn last two Christmas cards, took down the Christmas tree, made and delivered jam squares for the Literacy Volunteers and the Homeless Garden Project, made two trips to the Goodwill dropoff, made one last late night walk to the Food Bin, burned CDs for the old roommates, created a questionable casserole out of all her leftovers, packed every last one of her possessions, scored some new possessions (an abandoned dehydrator and the abandoned 12 qt stainless steel lobster pot, since rechristened The Jam Pot.) diligently cleaned out her room/house, sang a couple songs in her fabulously reverberant empty wooden box of a room, and yes, moved into her new residence!

On the reunion episode of Rebecca's Rules
A few days after the long-awaited move we visit with our heroine in her fancy new Oakland digs. We see that she has reverted to her default setting of hibernation. Yet she's somehow fit in a job application, a trip to the Berkeley Bowl, a visit from Lauren and Ruth, a parking ticket, and a trial choir rehearsal.

Your questions answered on future very special episodes of Rebecca's Rules
Will our heroine unpack even one box? Will new roomie/landlady Inder lead her astray in a search for thrift furniture? Can she face a return visit to Santa Cruz just weeks after she thought she left it behind forever?

The next big thing to hit Oakland

If you thought you'd seen it all, don't miss the spin off show sure to be even more entertaining than the original - Natalia's Rules for Moving!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

KT's Best of 2007

It's that time again! What better way to pass the time at way-too-late-o'clock than mulling over the highlights and lowlights of 2007? Particularly since I woke up at 11:15 this morning, haven't expended an ounce of energy all day, and my tummy is full of today's bread experiments - which means I have miles hours to go before I sleep. But I digress.

Categories liberally adapted from last year's Best Of.

Lifetime Firsts: Attending a speech by a presidential candidate, becoming the Vice Chair of a convention, visiting a country not in North America or Europe, taking a karate class, riding the NYC-Boston Chinatown bus, gathering chicken eggs, going Christmas caroling

Milestone Of The Year: Getting engaged (You knew I had to include it somewhere.)

Best Concert: Confusingly, this category had NO winners. Honorable mentions, I suppose, to Winterpills' set at the Sig Sounds showcase during SXSW, Amos Lee at ACL Fest, and any of the times we saw Brennen.

Scariest Name Of Someone Performing Surgery On Me: Dr. Slaughter

Best Surgery-Related Side Effects: A two-way tie betwen getting all my high notes back and not being congested once since August!

Best Places Visited: The Angel Orensanz Foundation Center, Israel

Best Culinary Discovery: Cast-iron

Most Enjoyable Shape-Note-Related Accommodations: The Legendary White Eagle Rock & Roll Hotel in Portland (Have you ever been awakened late at night by a tour guide standing outside your door, telling his enthralled listeners about all the people who died where they are standing? I thought not.)

Best Movies: "The Bourne Ultimatum" (Holy crap, really??? Good movie or not, that is SO sad. Needless to say I did not make it to a lot of films this year.)

Number Of Jobs I Quit: One

Musical Discovery Of The Year: Rufus Wainwright (I know, I know... what is this, 2003?)

First Politician Who Ever Made Me Giddy When I Saw Him In Person: Barack Obama

[And now for the books. Rebecca, as the only one who will actually follow most of them, I'm counting on you to tell me if any of these links don't work.]

Favorite Books: Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, What You Owe Me by Bebe Moore Campbell, At the Bottom of the River by Jamaica Kincaid, A Home At the End of the World by Michael Cunningham, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling, Freedom Song by Amit Chaudhuri

Honorable Mentions: On the Road with the Archangel by Frederick Buechner, Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder, Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat

Famous Books I Finally Got Around To Reading In 2007: The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice, What's Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges, Gigi by Colette

Biggest Disappointment: Wifey by Judy Blume (A raunchy novel about an unfulfilled housewife written by my favorite young adult author? It seemed so promising! Alas, it was oh so bad. Clearly, there is a reason why she's known for her other books.)

And so concludes 2007. It was the best of years, it was the worst of years. Actually, it was a fairly quiet year, all things considered. But enough of that - onward and upward to 2008!



Friday, January 18, 2008

Rebecca's rules for moving

#1 Work until the last possible second. Especially try to agree and work until a date past your move out date.
#2 Peruse the mental list of everything you have ever procrastinated about and label each item as: HIGHLY URGENT: COMPLETE BEFORE MOVE ON PAIN OF DEATH. Even if this list includes seeing a movie or making marmalade.
#3 Alternately freak out that you aren't getting those items done OR prepping to move. Frantically jump halfway into every project, but don't finish any of them.
#4 Why yes, you do have time to have a despedida drink with your coworkers.
#5 In the spirit that anything worth doing can be put off til tomorrow... put your move off a day.
#6 When you really can't procrastinate one more second, turn to blogging.

Why no, this list isn't autobiographical. Not at all.

And so, for the blogging portion of this post, I leave you with a most excellently flip article on Sacred Harp from the latest Time. (Thanks to KT for the link, and L for labeling this a Sacred Harp blog and thus legitimizing my sporadic singing commentary.)

"Nothing is weirder than Sacred Harp."

Friday, January 11, 2008


I'm still at work, but Fedex tells me that a computer was delivered at 12:54 this afternoon!

I'm almost afraid to crack it open, clearly we know what's going to eat my nonexistent spare time until my move.

Oh, and if you aren't impressed by my fedex tracking update, go check out pictures from the singing at my house last weekend over here on the shiny new berkeley blog.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Nothing of substance - but so entertaining

No time for a real post this week, but in the meantime, please allow yourselves to be entertained by a few of my recent favorite Jon Stewart quotes:

On former General Ricardo Sanchez's current assessment of Iraq:

"Let's look at Sanchez's hierarchy of bad things. The worst thing ever: standing up to political leadership. And that's preferable to... what's the phrase... 'A nightmare with no end in sight.' Look for more of these tremendous insights in Ricardo Sanchez's new book, 'I Have Difficulty Judging the Worseness of Things.'"

On the Senate's all-nighter:

"The House Judiciary Committee has cited White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolton and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers with contempt of Congress. By the way -- when they cite them for contempt of Congress, they're obviously not referring to the existential disgust we all have for Congress."

On Russia's nuclear program:

"Russia just exploded what they're calling 'The Father of All Bombs.' When it drops -- and I'm quoting here -- 'All that is alive merely evaporates.' The press release goes on to pet a cat and laugh, 'Mwwuah ha ha ha...'"

Oh Jon.

Okay, stay tuned for less Daily Show fluff, more Katie fluff in the very near future...

Monday, January 07, 2008

Point conceded

Me: I can't handle Californians and their inability to understand why anyone would ever want to live anywhere else.
KT: Texans feel exactly the same way, and with far less reason.

Friday, January 04, 2008

"how high's the water mama? 5 feet high and risin..."

Woke up this morning to the back door blown open, the power and heat off, and the roof leaking. Scrounged up a radio and the news came that PG&E had called off repair crews due to dangerous winds, up to 60 mph. So I hightailed it out of the abandoned westside, by which I mean I inched my way through traffic for miles without hitting a working traffic light, passing trees down, roads closed for flooding. Now I'm holed up at the bookstore, which happens to be in the one corner of town with power. Turns out coworkers had actual stories of woe - a daughter stranded at the san jose airport with highway 17 over the mountain closed due to mudslides, a roof blown off, cars hit by fallen trees. And it's only supposed to get worse over the next day. Still, I have to laugh (a hearty cornfed laugh) at all the fuss over a bit of rain and wind. "The storm of the year!" Ha! It's not even cold. Why, I spent my formative years walking to and from school in feet of snow, ice, -30 windchill. My hair used to freeze every morning, and if I didn't end up on my rear a few times it was a good day. Mind you, it wasn't uphill both ways. Only because there wasn't a hill in sight. Midwesterners don't do for these frivolous changes in elevation.

Ahem... fortunately I got a little househunting in before the heavens opened up, and as of January the 13th, I will officially be a resident of the fine city of Oakland! Oh yes.

Updates of more substance pending arrival of new computer.