Friday, December 25, 2009

venid, adoremos

I may be spending Christmas day in jail airports but don't feel too sorry for me. I've already had xmas x 3!

#1: Steve and Inder's family dinner. JR's 1st Christmas!


#2: Christmas morning on E 23rd, a day early. JR's first stocking!


#3: Full on Christmas eve, Italian/Mexican/Scottish fusion style. Natalia the Christmas elf!


Next stop: Christmas in Texas! Goals include sleeping, eating, reading, and Sherlock Holmes.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

And the festivities continueth...

Just when you thought he couldn't outdo last year's Christmas outfit, R busts out the bright green bow tie.


Door-to-door caroling 2009 was a decided success... this year, rather than our usual hit-or-miss strategy of wandering around until we found a house with lots of Christmas lights and singing on the sidewalk until they either opened the door delightedly or until it became painfully apparent that they were determined to ignore us, Bill sent out an email to the neighborhood listserv where we'd be going asking if anyone was interested in lining us up for a stop at their house. Then he used the responses to plot a course through the neighborhood via one of his trademarked complex itineraries, which we even managed to mostly stick to. Oh man, only going to ringers' houses is SO the way to carol. Not least because they all feel obligated to offer you hot drinks and other assorted tasties (including, but not limited to, mulled cider, cocoa, hot buttered rum, glogg, hot toddies, tom and jerries, tamales, and cookies). At our first stop, a 4-year-old girl helped pour the cocoa for us, and then asked how we got to her house. Bill, our de facto spokesperson, replied that we were traveling via pickup truck (which was, in fact, how we got to several of our far-flung stops... he'd even picked up two bales of hay for us to sit on for an especially dirty and authentic experience). She asked who was driving the truck. He told her that he was. She considered him for a moment, nodded to herself and replied, "I thought you'd be in charge." It was most excellent. We concluded at a friend of B&Q's who'd requested only our most dreary and depressing carols, and wasn't put off by the warning that none of them are very good because we mostly sing the happy ones - I guess if you're going to be grinchy about it, out-of-tune singers really are more satisfying than good ones. He posted one of the songs we sang for him on YouTube, which I won't link to because I'm shy and I don't know him that well, but if you desperately want to hear us (Mom) you can go to YouTube and search for "Lulle Lullay."

Okay, my vacation pretty much starts tomorrow, and since we're internetless these days I'm not sure when I'll be showing up here again. But I hope you all have a lovely week, and I'm sure I'll surface at least once while the Jam Queen is in town!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy darkest day!

I've never known anyone to actually celebrate the Winter Solstice - unless you count the time Katie had that unfortunate accident. But suddenly this year Inder's mom is getting jam for the occasion and Carly is also celebrating with her family! Hippies, coast to coast, rejoice!

Speaking of jam, check out my recipe for Jam Squares!

Friday, December 18, 2009

O the busyness!

Happy last night of Chanukah! Rebecca sent us a fabulous anniversary/holiday package of preserved treats that unfortunately did not include applesauce, so this year, rather than stoop to buying my own or even making my own (that's right, there's only one person in this family who cooks fruit in a big pot and that's Rebecca), I ate my latkes with pearsauce. So wrong. But still so tasty. Almost as wrong as (and far less tasty than) the fact that this is maybe the fourth year in a row that I've put off buying Chanukah candles for so long that by the time the first night comes it's too late and I have to wait till the second night. All the Maccabees are, if not rolling in their graves, at least collectively palming their foreheads. But there are only a couple of places in town that sell candles and the closest one to our house is only 10 minutes away but in the opposite direction from everywhere else I might ever conceivably go when I leave the house, and it's also on this road that is ONLY ACCESSIBLE BY TAKING THE HIGHWAY which is a TOTAL dealbreaker.

So this year I decided to MacGyver me a first night of Chanukah by cobbling together some Shabbat candles and arranging them around the menorah so that if you glanced at it really fast and maybe had never seen a menorah before and weren't sure how it should be used, it looked okay. I did manage to break one of my glass candlesticks in the process because the flame burned to close to it and a piece broke off (please let it be noted that I am apparently extraordinarily incompetent at putting candles in glass candlesticks, this being the second pair of glass candlesticks I have bought from Goodwill, broken one of them, and been forced to return the lonely survivor back to Goodwill), but I decided to consider it as a tribute to my ancestors, who wandered the desert for 40 years, uphill both ways... probably wearing shoes made of broken glass. Or so the Torah tells me. Or would tell me if I had ever studied it.

Here's a final relic from my New York vacation (altos + ice cream!). It's been a wacky week full of work events, hosting a colleague from New York, and getting my advanced green belt in karate... but all that will pale in comparison to the ABSURD amount of caroling that will be taking place this coming week. We're doing our annual sidewalk caroling Saturday and Wednesday, and B&Q's annual caroling party is Monday. Then comes Christmas in Texas, which means a full week of Rebecca in town! I'm pleasantly exhausted just thinking about it all. Clearly this calls for more ice cream.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

like holy oil to cheer my head

Reporting from the patented last-week-before-holiday craziness. Actually it's rather nice to be on a school schedule again... I feel in step with everyone on facebook counting down the days of finals instead of ramping up for holiday retail madness. School itself is mostly preempted by assemblies and parties, which sounds nice but is sort of endless hurry-up and waiting on my part. When I actually get to teach I've been introducing many a child to the art of snowflake making.

By the way, have I MENTIONED the insanity of parties at our school? I'm all for excessive feasting and a general mangia! mangia! approach to fellowship, but even I have a limit. Pretty much every classroom has a party over the course of this week and again the last week of school (I counted 9 just today) and if you don't visit all of them you will hurt their feelings. And if you don't visit them fast enough you will get accosted by other staff members with heavy laden plates who insist you try their second hand delicacies. So cornered, I make my rounds and skirt the ubiquitous fried chicken, egg rolls, pepperoni pizza, and 4-10 identical trays of fried rice and fried noodles with identically microscropic pieces of meat that I always get taken in by despite having been fooled more than twice. I eat my weight in fruit and dessert and scrape by on the odd wilted piece of salad green. Then there are redeeming blissful moments when I score veggie sushi, veggie egg rolls, and homemade glutinous rice desserts.

After-school life? Besides coming down with a really very tiny wimpy cold it's been a fun week.

Monday: Sang in an erring-on-the-side-of-too-live room for a change and it was a beautiful, beautiful thing. I think we're going to have the Golden Gate there, yay!

Tuesday: Latkes, aka an excuse for more applesauce! My friend Talaria put up with our elaborate Cook's Illustrated latke recipe fussing, the loudest but most adorable baby around (he also likes the 'sauce) and some particularly naughty dogs. Everyone had presents to open. Living with gentiles who are somehow MORE excited about Hanukkah than I? Pretty great. I was swept up in the festive cheer and managed to stay up and write all my Hanukkah cards!

The last couple days have featured continued in-the-spirit-of-hanukkah frying, selling jam, making soup, enabling embroidering of stockings, and more packages arriving!

Cookware at the zoo is canceled. Trying to be sad about the lost income but mostly pleased to have the weekend back. 8 days until Christmas in Texas!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tis the season for... jam!

If you're sick of hearing about J-A-M, avert your eyes. Still with me? This week I'm counting down (up?) 4 ways pretty jars of preserves make the perfect gift! Follow along at the all jam all the time blog... (if you're on my mailing list you already have spoilers, but look! pretty pictures!)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Happy (C)hanukka(h)!!



I still have a menorah (excuse me, hanukkiyah) identical to the smaller one pictured. I bought it on ebay after losing the original in a move. Though, sadly, I didn't get to light quite so many candles tonight. I did eat fried eggs and give JR his first Hanukkah present.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Home sweet home

Me and my lovely New York hostess Nhu with like half an inch of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree behind us. Taking the picture myself seemed like such a good idea at the time.

How was this night trip to Washington DC different from all other nights trips to Washington DC (otherwise known as the two times I went in November)? Because this time I had them fly my to New York first, whence I indulged in some good old-fashioned socializing before continuing on to my conference in DC last Sunday. Two planes, three trains, three beds, countless subways, and excessive tasty East Coast food later, I'm back in Texas and still too busy to blog. But here's a quick rundown of trip highlights:

1) Visiting the Chrysler Building lobby for the first time, not because it's actually extraordinarily impressive (though the elevator doors are pretty awesome) but because it's in Cremaster 3 and I'm still a little too obsessed with the Matthew Barney exhibit I saw seven years ago.

2) Eating the following things that don't exist in Austin: lox cream cheese, latkes, deli pickles, and Chinese hot pot.

3) Wes Singers alto reunion circa 2002!!!! Rebecca, you were sorely missed. I'll post a photo once somebody sends me one, because all of mine are awful.

4) The super enjoyable Tim Burton exhibit at MoMA. Oh MoMA. What a shining beacon of light you were after the New York Historical Society Museum. What can I say? I was in the neighborhood waiting to meet up with a friend for lunch! It was $12 worth of bad, my friends. SO BAD. And SO BORING. (I was going to call it the worst museum I ever went to but then I remembered that terrible Museum of War they made us go to in Normandie when I was studying abroad that I literally had to WALK OUT OF in the middle of our guided tour and wait for everybody else in the parking lot because it was so bad. Okay fine, this one was just ALMOST the worst museum I ever went to. Pah.)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

why do you keep all your stars in

*waves*

I still heart my blog, I promise. Am too lazy to write many words all together these days. I guess there's always twitter... *blows up computer first*

1) Record low temps the last couple days, with a frost advisory and everything. Now, I know an oakland cold snap is not exactly comparable to a chicago cold snap, but at least you people have sensible insulation and heating! I could SEE MY BREATH INSIDE THE HOUSE THIS MORNING. INSIDE. THE HOUSE.

2) I've been spending more time with one student who cracks me up. She's, I don't know, not a normal child but straight out of quirky children's stories about precocious girls with vivid imaginations. She passionately reenacts her favorite activities - eating and sleeping. She taught me how to draw a cowboy hat. But she reeeally needs to turn off the teevee. She's convinced that a) I look like Pam from the office and b) vampires are real - "I saw it on Tyra!"

3) I have a goofy holiday job selling cookware at the zoo. I'll just be working two weekends, but it means I can pretend to afford Christmas in Texas! The best news I've heard all week? At the training the organizer said they couldn't afford to pipe in christmas music. *cue heavenly choir*

4) A car in front of me today sported two bumper stickers: "Wouldn't you rather be behind a good book?" and "My other car is a Pynchon novel." OK, I'm all for nerdy book love, but really? REALLY??

Monday, November 30, 2009

and bear our harvest home

Yikes, I better post while it's still November! Hope everyone has been having a marvelous season of plenty.

1) Overheard in the lunchroom today.
Teacher 1: What are you eating?
Teacher 2: Turkey with cranberry sauce.
Teacher 1: You always have the most exotic meals!

(I have never wished more to be an edgy cartoonist so I could illustrate this little scene to its full culturally subversive potential.)

2) I turned my cell phone off for my flight to Chicago... and it never turned on again. *mourns* Actually, it's quite liberating. Yet, there's that whole thing where I'm paying for the service. Also, it's my mp3 player. Also, I dropped my camera the week before so I suddenly have no functioning picture taking devices. I suppose I should look into repairing the damn thing...

3) Sure, I ate my way through my home town and had some quality family time, but the absolute highlight of my trip?

Miniature Rooms: The Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago Miniature Rooms: The Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago by Fannia Weingartner


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Yes, I read the whole thing. Yes, I took the book to the museum. Yes, I gave my dad a guided tour of all 68 rooms whether he wanted one or not. Yes, I am a huge nerd.


Coming soon: JR's adventures in crawling! More Thorne Room action! (cue: crickets) Localfooding. Nostalgia for many things but mostly analog media. And the first in a recurring segment: From the Labon files, in which I am my own grandpa.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

And keep me in mind of the ones who are kind

How did we get to Thanksgiving Eve already??? Tomorrow we're having our annual Thanksgiving at Alexa's, for which so many contributions have already been planned that I am utterly at a loss as to what I could possibly bring that people would actually eat. Got any ideas for dishes that aren't turkey, gravy, stuffing, relish, rice, a green salad, roasted root vegetables, a spinach tart, a beet gratin, two other veggie dishes, a pumpkin pie, an apple crisp, beer, or wine? No? Me either. Maybe I'll invent some Thanksgiving party games.

While I am thankful for all sorts of things, I'm not the type to get into them in public. I will, however, freely admit that I am thankful to get to live with a guy who in the midst of a conversation the other day noticed a jar of dried cranberries sitting on the counter, stopped literally in the middle of his sentence, said "Mmm, delicious!", opened the jar, popped some into his mouth, and cheerfully walked away. Without finishing his sentence. Or having the slightest recollection of what we were talking about. It was pure amazingness.

Hope everyone has a lovely holiday weekend wherever you all may be! I'm feeling particularly sentimental so I'll sign this one off old-school style...

Love,

K

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

2008 Book List: A Visual

Between November 1st and today: two trips to DC, 1000 karate kicks, Asian-American Film Festival, all-day board retreat, three concerts, a lecture, and a planning meeting for an event I'm chairing.

But it's all worth it because I finally finished updating my 2008 books, and now I have the smug satisfaction that only producing a completely pointless montage of all their covers can inspire. So here they all are, arranged in descending order by rating. Look forward to a 2009 montage sometime in 2014. In the meantime, someday when I finally stop to catch my breath you may hear from me again!

Read by KT in 2008



Hardboiled and Hard Luck

Call Me by Your Name: A Novel

Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith

Swordspoint

The Wedding: A Novel

The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse

The Guardians: A Novel

The Translator

The Cider House Rules

Your Blues Ain't Like Mine: A Novel

Graffiti

Babyji

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

On Fortune's Wheel

Funny Boy

Sense and Sensibility

Dreamhunter

Dreamquake (The Dreamhunter Duet, Book 2)

The Shadow of the Wind

The Longest Memory

The Hero and the Crown

The Vintner's Luck

Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow

The Twyborn Affair

Waiting

Twilight at the Equator: A Novel

Loving Pedro Infante

So Hard to Say

Women Without Men: A Novel of Modern Iran

A Miracle in Paradise

Coffee Will Make You Black: A Novel

Memories of My Melancholy Whores

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Autobiography of a Family Photo: A Novel

Luna

If You Awaken Love

Stone Field, True Arrow: A Novel

Hood

Childhood

The Book of Revelation

A Walk Down the Aisle: Notes on a Modern Wedding

Serafina's Stories

The Da Vinci Code

Dispatches from the Cold: A Novel

The King in the Tree: Three Novellas

Nocturnes for the King of Naples

Letters in the Attic

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Pesach for the Rest of Us: Making the Passover Seder Your Own

The Pirate's Daughter

Flight: A Novel

The Saffron Kitchen

Measuring Time: A Novel

The Charioteer

Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins

The Insufficiency of Maps: A Novel

The Holder of the World

Swimming in the Monsoon Sea

The Privilege of the Sword

I Left My Back Door Open: A Novel

Thomas the Rhymer

I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This

Stir-Fry: A Novel

A Place I've Never Been

Comfort and Joy

Dropped from Heaven: Stories

Binu and the Great Wall: The Myth of Meng

Haunting of Hip Hop

The Grand Complication: A Novel

The Front Runner: A Novel

Elske: A Novel of the Kingdom

Ancient Rage

The Book of Lost Things

The Weekend

Wild Ginger: A Novel

The Friendly Young Ladies

Deception Point

Digital Fortress

Martin Bauman: or, A Sure Thing

Adele: A Novel

Body and Blood

The Girl with the Golden Shoes

The Almond: The Sexual Awakening of a Muslim Woman

Boulevard

Two Gentlemen Sharing

Mambo Peligroso: A Novel

The Fall of The Kings

My Side of the Story

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

The God in Flight

The Mind-Body Problem

Porcelain Dove

Eclipse of the Heart