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Not much to say...

We got through the holidays.
We got to Arisia, which was very great. Both the kids came, too. My son had been to at least one con long ago but it was a first time for my daughter. They both enjoyed it. I didn't manage to get together anything for the art show but they gave me a credit for next year when I cancelled, so we'll see what happens. (Memo to self: I should start now.)


Happy New Year

Still here, the both of us (plus kids!), and still celebrating the holidays as best we can. Hope everyone else is holding on, too, and may everyone find joy, peace, and happiness in the new year.

Happy Holidays

Best wishes to you and yours, for now and for all the coming year.

Heureux by any other name...

The other day, I was (as usual) in the morning commuting traffic on I-93. I'm so used to it that I often go into "automatic" mode and barely notice the car ahead of me except to make sure I keep enough distance to avoid a fender-bender accident. But for a while this time, the car ahead of me was noticeable: an orange Mini with a white top and with the license plate "Heureux". And that reminded me of a long ago French placement test in college. I'd taken four years of French in high school but never achieved fluency. In college, I taken a couple years off from languages, but then needed a distribution requirement and thought about trying another French course. So, placement test, where I found myself searching desperately for words I'd thought I knew. "Write a paragraph about your favorite season of the year." Um... "printemps" is a season, right? Not my favorite, but at least I knew the word. And then a struggle to find things to say about it, except one nice phrase that sprang (pun!) to mind, clearly, simply, easily, and it actually fit: "tout le monde sont heureux".

Which, yes, should have been "tout le monde est heureux". Oh, well!


We're halfway through our week in Vermont and it's definitely been a Good Thing. The place is wonderfully peaceful at this time of year (most of the other guests checked out on Monday morning) and even if the weather hasn't been as sunny as we'd hoped, it's not been pouring down rain either. Today's a gray and blustery day and Lake Champlain is looking very oceanic. The lawn outside our window leads down to the shore, and we can see (and hear) the waves crashing on the rocky beach. The owners set out little pumpkins all around the property and that keeps me aware it's not the ocean outside: there's a spit of rocks with two or three pumpkins wedged in, and they've stayed in place, no tide to lift and float them away.

Rubbed RIBS Recipe

It's now 2/3rds of the way through the 6-week chemo/radiation initial treatment program, and my husband is feeling the side effects in several ways. We're trying all sorts of tricks to get around the changes to his sense of taste. Fatigue has decreased his appetite somewhat, but it's more a problem of "what used to taste good now tastes bad" and sometimes very bad, actually rancid. Currently proteins are much better than starches, dry or seared is better than wet or mushy, spicy is better than bland. Dry rubbed ribs from a local barbeque place (Lester's in Burlington) went over very well, so I tried my own version on boneless ribs at home after checking out a bunch of online recipes, and these also passed the taste test (yay!).

RIBS (Randomly Interchangable Barbecue Spices) Rub

3 Tablespoons Smoked Paprika (could be regular paprika + smoke seasoning)
1-1/2 teaspoons Brown Sugar (light or dark, or could be 1 teaspoon of raw or white sugar)
1 teaspoon Hot Paprika (could be cayenne or red pepper flakes, maybe use less if so)
1 teaspoon Ancho Chili Powder (could be regular chili powder)
1 teaspoon Cinnamon (any sort)
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder (completely optional)
1 teaspoon Black Pepper (can be less if freshly ground)
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg (could substitute/add allspice)
1/2 teaspoon Salt

These can all be combined ahead of time and kept in a jar. I used it on about 3 lbs. of boneless "country style" pork ribs, but it could be used on any meat. For the baking, the trick is "low and slow": low oven temperature, long cooking time, and keep the meat wrapped up until the end so it stays moist during the cooking.

Rub the spice mix into the ribs. If you have time, refrigerate for anywhere from 1 hour to overnight, but if you're pressed for time it's better to spend it in the baking. Wrap ribs up in foil packets and put (seam side up) on a rack over a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 to 4 hours. Remove from oven, but don't turn the oven off. Open the packets carefully and save the juices. Put ribs back directly on the baking rack and return to the oven for another 1/2 hour or so. The juices can be used in something else (pour some into the water for cooking rice?) or reduced to a thicker glaze for basting the ribs. If you choose to glaze the ribs or want to use a regular barbeque sauce at the end, try putting them under the broiler for a few minutes to char them before serving.


Life and all that...

So things have gotten a bit complicated here, lots going on, lots of scheduling of medical appointments and calls about coverage and such, lots to think about and check out (and some things NOT to think too much about). It's hard to pick out what's best to say about it. Most is being said elsewhere. It's taking a while to process it, I can tell. It's not that I'm stuck, not knowing what to do? It's that while we're doing what needs to be done, there's part of me saying "yes, of course, these are the steps we would take, this is what we would do IF this were real, IF it were an actual emergency".

And it is, and we'll keep going, and we'll make it through.


Morning, and the city is in mourning...

The stories are still coming in about the Marathon bombings, and of course that's going to continue. I heard just recently that the governor announced that there were no other devices, no unexploded ones found. That's not completely good news: it means they have less evidence for tracing back to the one who did it. This morning I also heard that that some of the parents from Newtown, CT, were there. There was a moment of silence in memory of the children before each wave of runners went off from Hopkinton. The parents were given seats in the VIP stands at the finish line. The ones right across the street from where the first bomb went off, from where the 8-year-old was killed and other children horribly injured.

Lord and Lady,
Be with your children
And at the hour of our death.


Trees Stand

There are two trees in the 93 median just north of Roosevelt Circle.  I've noticed them on the drive because for the longest time the highway department had been removing the grassy parts of the median on 128/95 along my previous drive between Woburn and Wellesley, squishing it down to a double row of concrete barriers. I like grass, but I also saw this as A Good Thing because now there's an inside breakdown lane and when all four+four lanes are packed at rush hour. it's good to get the fender-benders off to whichever side as soon as possible.  But they didn't need to take down any trees along that stretch.   So if they do the same to 93, what happens?  I assume the trees would be doomed, and that's more of a shame than losing some grass (and, let's face it, it was mostly weeds, only a few of which bothered to bloom).  These aren't big trees.  For a while I thought they might be the same sort, though shaped differently.  The more northerly tree has a straight trunk and gently spreading branches.  The southerly tree has a twist to its trunk, the branches look strained, bent, as if broken off a few times and trying to recover.  An accident could have caused the difference. "There but for the grace of DUI..."  So I'd been waiting till full spring to see if the leaves gave more info, but now that it's been lighter out in the mornings, I see the bark differs.  Smooth patches on the northern tree, rough scales on the southern one.  Different by nature and not by nurture.  But we'll see if the leaves help identify the species more exactly (despite my general botanical cluelessness!).


NIN fan still

A recent Rolling Stone magazine (the one with Mumford & Sons on the cover) had high praise for a new mashup on Soundcloud:


That's "... A Hole" not "... A-Hole" in the real title. The mashup got widespread reportage earlier this month, but I'd somehow missed it. If you didn't hear about it, and know/like NIN, listen now.

And then, read this:


Not so surprising after all!