Travel Notes

Southwest Entertainment: For those who haven't had the pleasure, Southwest boards without assigned seats. Since i recalled the need to check in in the last hour available, my boarding position was B60. A1-60 loads before B 1-60. So A loads, B lines up, and the call goes out for any other As? No? B begins to board. I wander over to B60 and my glance passed over that of chatting teens. A. "Are you in A?" l ask. Yes, they are waiting. They laugh at their parents who are trying to figure out the boarding state. Parents see them and explode in indignation. kids are nonplussed. "WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?" rants the mother.

I figure I would have been grounded which ever choice, so i am totally in sympathy with the eyerolling teens.

And, as an adult, despite my crankiness at loading last - would the teens have been able to hold seats for the parents? Or would the parents have been in middle seats either way? And it's just a two hour flight.... I was quite lucky to find a middle seat near the front with plenty of luggage room and petite folks in both the isle and window seats.

I've set my calendar alarm for the return because i have a layover in Baltimore: it's going to be a long trip.


Getting ready for this trip seemed a trial. Wardrobe that was professional and flexible enough for sun, rain, highs in 70s and in 50s. will the hotel be heated hot? Or icy cold?

I did cook most of the remaining tomatoes yesterday, a mix of green to red. Sauteed in olive oil they melted down and then i added a Quarter of preserved lemon and a dash of the brine. It was fabulous! the preserved lemon added just the right umami.

My brother is in town so I saw him with my parents and sister's family last night, then he stopped by this morning.


I was surprised by the palm trees used in landscaping at the airport. Less by the bald cypress turning russet by the highway. Eventually the evergreen live oaks and magnolias made an appearance. I noticed a plane tree (probably American not London) wit leaves changing and a maple still green. A pine was that was unfamiliar: long needled like a loblolly, but far shorter and there was something different about the crown.

Despite my fear of humidity, it very pleasant at landing. Blue sky with ... the sun setting in the wrong direction? It took me a little bit to realize why the very flat land with no hills in the distance was so disturbing: with all the industry by the highway it seemed like i was on the Bay area's highway 101. But there should have been hills. Could i be aware of Lake Pontchartrain -- similar in scale to the South Bay -- without seeing it?

Entering the city and seeing the superdome and elevated highways brought forward the memories of the people stranded on the highways by Katrina. My eyes hungrily took in the details of urban life, and i realize how small my built environment is.

Walking around in the evening was pleasant. The grocery store, Rooses, was delightful. So many spices in the spice section! Blackend tuna and lovely French from the deli section, Parish pilsner from Broussard, and Creole cream cheese. The cream cheese wasn't what i was expecting: more runny and sour than Greek yogurt. I even drain my Greek yogurt to make it thicker. Ah well, i did my part to help protect a threatened foodway (although it's a food way that will go extinct in my diet).


A happy thing

I wonder about mom's cognitive capabilities frequently. The lingering aphasia is a challenge, especially given my mother's poor communication even when i was growing up. (Lots of pronouns and relative indicators, very few proper nouns or precise indicators.) Yesterday, as i settled her in watching the Agatha and the Truth of Murder, i lingered a little to make sure she was connecting. Indeed, Agatha dressed to visit Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on the golf course was a little hard for her to connect to Agatha dressed in her home to write. I lingered for the next scene, where Agatha visits Sir Golf Course Designer and gets dismissed -- no woman could design a golf course. Mom looks at me and asked, "What is this?" But then character Agatha gives the most delightful cutting reply and mom delighted in it.

"What is this?" apparently isn't a confused question, but the response of indignation at the sexist lecture. And Mom delighted in the witty response. It's a good reminder that while her universe is so limited, she's still sharp in there. I need to remember that and try to verbally bring more of a world in, as Dad's dystopian preoccupation with Trump and global warming is not a broad landscape of conversation.

I should probably intentionally work on noting conversation topics to help me stretch a bit: i am preoccupied myself, despite my wide reading and curiosity.


Highlights of the week

Monday through Wednesday: finished three presentations and got them to session organizers in a timely manner. Will present next Monday and Tuesday on the working group effort and participate on Tuesday on a panel. Deer in headlights. Butterflies. It will be fine. But.

Thursday had many meetings and still was able to post presentation to corporate enterprise architecture review board to My Contact. Unfortunately My Contact is out of the office this week. I'm out next week but found a half hour i could arrange to meet.

The President Of The Whale (named so when the previous small "boutique" organization i worked for merged with the global behemoth) reviewed responses to a quick survey in which he asked what we liked about his leadership style and what he should change. I... "Look, honey, you don't ask "what should i change" and then say you got stupid and wrong answers, even if you are trying to be authentically flip. Bless your heart."

Much energy spent explaining to a product manager basic principles of privacy. Also, conflating a data element that changes how your results are displayed with the equivalent of "liking" a page on Facebook is silly. It's not both a social signal AND a configuration to improve my results: it's one or the other. (And since the data element is highly correlated with where one resides, it's not a element that all people will want public.)

Bless his heart.

Christine is getting a Patreon site together as she leaves the (dysfunctional) radio station to do a podcast. I will be delighted that y'all will be able to listen without the constraints of timing with streaming radio. On the other hand, her music selection skills -- pulling together themes in songs, creating contrasts in soundscapes by juxtaposing different compositions -- won't be as rich as the licensed radio station (paying ASCAP etc) allowed.

I am feeling very tired, perhaps because of wee-hours interruptions of sleep, but i may also be coming down with something. I was at Mom and Dad's today, away from my SAD lamp. I probably should have tried the portable blue LED SAD lamp, but the drive over was so bright and beautiful -- the cold blue, gold and grey of winter sunrise dazzling on frosty grasses; the wisps of mist rising from the still surface of the lake; russet oak leaves gleaming; a sundog -- i didn't realize the day was going to be so dreadfully grey.

I am sick of Father Brown blaring down the hall when i'm with Mom, so i turned on the first episode in documentary series The Royal House of Windsor(2017) and followed it later in the day with Agatha and the Truth of Murder (2018). It's so hard to see Mom essentially parked in front of the TV all day. On the other hand, i have reflected that she watched so little television when i was growing up that perhaps it's more of a pleasure for her. Still, a life of TV, "going through her papers" and going to therapy.... I hope my sister can think of ways to bring more engagement for her. I fear though, that this is where she was pre-stroke, it just wasn't so evident. Still, she was such a reader, and now she seems to not be able to really engage. I suppose it's because she never had any light reading -- just massive biographies and histories. Fiction was "lies."

My brother arrives tonight, i'll visit a little with him, my sister's family, and my parents tomorrow evening. Sunday i fly to New Orleans.


(no subject)

Fifth anniversary of Christine's mother's death, first anniversary of Mom's emergency room visit which lead to the CAA diagnosis. Mom's went back to the emergency room Saturday, as she had a strong headache (which have been recurring) and "face tingling." All's well last i heard ; as she was there they ordered a CT scan and some blood work. I did hope to hear they they were heading home. On the other hand, given the time they would get home , i suspect my father would be overwhelmed with just taking care of dinner and getting Mom to bed.

I am so glad they have such good insurance from my father's long tenure in the Navy reserve.

--== ∞ ==--

I bought a star fruit at the grocery today. Not kumquats, but something different. I think i will use one of the Meyer lemons in making sugar cookies. I wonder if just a pinch of turmeric would make a nice color for the cookies. I was initially disappointed by the store Meyers: have i bought a Meyer before? But i am enjoying one today in tea, and i'll enjoy another in cookies and the juice in tea.

I enjoyed listening to Christine guest host the Saturday Morning Music Hall today. She said it was Dec 1 a few times (apparently) before her sister texted her a correction. I only heard one break and didn't quite hear what she said about December: i thought it was the Sunday forecast. I thought she very charmingly acknowledged her error. Unfortunately, she gets spooked by mental gaffes like this -- her mother's Alzheimer's haunts her. I have been scatterbrained forever, so i ... well, i just get a little worried at how slow i seem to be. How did i do so much before? (Am i more easily distractable?)

I enjoyed wearing my souvenir poncho a mohair-acrylic blend lace knit, with bright pink flowers printed on it. It's surely factory made, but it's lacy, light, and fun -- and warm.

I was happy to gaze at my raked mossy glade. Another winter and spring during which the moss can grow in the light and get thicker before the stilt grass and other grasses compete with it. I don't know if it will ever be so thick as to smother out the grasses, but it's wonderful in the winter. There's an arc we made to delimit the glade from the east yard. I planted gladiolas which ... well, the deer eat and they don't shade out stilt grass. I need to find something else to plant to create the shift of space.

I found a few nice pieces of pottery at the closing sale at Lyn Morrow pottery. I don't know if she's going to have anything left by the end of the month. She sells other's work as well as her own. I bought a few pieces as gifts. For myself i bought a vase and a small delicate bowl. Lyn's glazes have small grey crystals in the glaze, not the large blooms. The little silvery dots in the celadon are very controlled and subtle.

--== ∞ ==--

Marlowe Kitten Collapse )

--== ∞ ==--

Go to Meeting or stay home and try to get slides done for the week in New Orleans? Rain rain....


(no subject)

My dear friends, thank you for reading and continuing to share your lives - your creations, your dreams, your heartaches and sorrows, your paths as you make hard decisions, your philosophy, faith, and ethical concerns. And thank you for sharing your insights and compassion as you learn of mine.

--== ∞ ==--

The weather was spectacular yesterday. I'm going to ignore my twinge of guilt as i think about all the folks who were snarled in the air traffic disrupting weather. Summer is so stifling here: i must celebrate the crisp, blue sky day. Christine and i sat in the deck in the sun; its bright touch was not particularly warming. The sun glistened off the needles of the tall yellow pines, the wind surged in the tree tops, sounding like ocean waves crashing on a distant shore.

I do love our yellow pines, even as i grumble about the shade and ponder their deaths over the next decades. When i drive around the area i marvel at the oaks this year: the freeze we had in early November must have come at just the right time to trigger color. Mahogany reds, a range of saturated yellows to golds to oranges: i'm so used to oak tree leaves being dull brown. We don't have any good sized oaks: the large trees here are the tulip poplars, that drop black leaves early in the autumn, the black cherries, whose leaves just seem to disappear while i'm raking the tulip poplars up, and sweet gums, whose colors in the full genetic spectrum don't frequently pull the dramatic garnets and flames of the trees planted as landscape trees.

The tulip poplars and the black cherry have much to commend them despite the lack of fall color. The sweet gums i will thin so the slower growing oaks can have a chance to mature. I'll be planting another beech tree this winter, which won't provide much fall color, but the persimmon and sassafras should. I want to plant sumac once i find a vendor: that too should glow with color in the fall.

I wonder if i can find a shade loving native small tree or shrub that has autumn color.

--== ∞ ==--

I imagine in five years or so making plans with my sister that we have home-grown Thanksgiving. This year, she brought a feast to Mom and Dad's: salad, multiple vegetable sides, potatoes, dressing, a whole Turkey. It's the type meal my mother would have put on the table. She confided as i was leaving that she realized that it was crazy to do such a massive meal -- incredibly demanding on the hostess -- and she wouldn't be doing it again. I suppose she's been doing the big meals with my mother the past few decades, while i was in California doing minimalist meals, and now -- without my mother to be in a position to direct and insist -- the big feast isn't necessary. So she had a time of mourning, but she isn't going to do the big production again.

Over the years, Christine's holiday-phobia crashed up against my mother's standard of tradition, and the debris sifted through the straits of my depression. I do like to take the holiday time to do some special cooking, but not to feast. My family's performance of traditional celebration lacked a emotional grounding to which i could connect. If we didn't have some of my mother's extended family present, there would be arguments. It we did, there would be the sniping, alcohol, and unpleasantness.

It seems my sister is just now able to step away from the structure my mother enforced. In retrospect, i see my mother's holiday preparations as the way she could connect without engaging. She lost herself in all her elaborate preparations, hid from engaging with the rest of the family that way. It was her way to communicate love and care, and i honor that in her actions. But it was also dysfunctional. I remember my great aunt's kitchen from one holiday or another, and the sense of community in the kitchen. Visiting, story telling and sharing, love. My mother's kitchen was never like that, not a place of shared time together, but a carefully staged place of production. It was work.

Now that both my sister and i are beginning to have gardens that produce, i imagine a harvest meal with small servings of flavors from our gardens. A quiche or two with eggs from my sister's kitchen. A soup from re-hydrated summer produce. Potatoes or winter squash. I'd be delighted to be able to make a hibiscus jam to provide a tart-sweet relish. Pickles, maybe. I can imagine the stories and sharing that could come from a harvest meal.

--== ∞ ==--

I did make the vegan pepperoni, consulting many recipes but in particular . It's a wheat gluten/seitan protein -- there is one recipe that involves tofu rolled out and baked for the gluten free choice. Christine was delighted with it: she did note that the garlic note was missing and would be OK to introduce. (Generally, Christine prefers to not have garlic flavors.) My sister and her husband have the alpha-gal mammal protein allergy: they appreciated the pepperoni as well. It's not super red, which is apparently due to sodium nitrite in cured meat. I didn't add tomato paste but molasses: next time i will add tomato paste in hopes of more red (without going to red food dye.) Maybe more paprika, as well.


Vacation continues

Collapse )

--== ∞ ==--

I became curious about silicone and how "environmentally friendly" a choice it is. Collapse )

--== ∞ ==--

Mom had a headache so yesterday's art museum plan was ditched. I had lunch out with my sister and ran errands. I hope the spices i picked up at the co-op are OK. I have had a few ... unhappy ... discoveries in the bulk section that lead me to think the stock turn over is low. Buying bulk spices appeals to my minimal plastic goals, but if the spices are ... worse than stale... it's not helping anything. (It's been a great way to get bay leaves, though.) A bit of poking on the internet and i find The envelopes surely have a plastic lining, but the price seems comparable to the grocery store spices.

Cooking-wise i roasted butternut squash to make puree for pies. Peeling the squash is a pain, but the roasting did evaporate so much water. Maybe an alternative would be to roast thin slices, maximizing the cut surface, but leaving long enough strips of peel to make removal after cooking easy. I also made rice flour sugar cookies that turned out quite well.

Today i'm making ginger snap crust based on an amaretto crust recipe (which presumably is like graham cracker crust).

The trauma for the day was when Christine thought she had deleted her data partition from her computer. She had been formatting an external drive so i could mount it on my mother's old Toshiba laptop and rescue the photos, etc. Apparently, she some how dropped the drive letter. I am impressed by how many "recover deleted data" applications are on the market. We bought EaseUS and recovered all the files, and then found the disk drive application allowed her to simply reassign the drive letter. Unnecessary insurance, but it assured us that she had recovered data before possibly making another disk management change. I think i've thrown out all the damaged drives i had once imagined recovering.

I've done a little work today -- given how much work needs to be done to prepare for presentations next month, it's not enough. The holiday is helping me with my sense of being burnt out i think, although the various dramas and traumas are not helping.

--== ∞ ==--

It's after 6 pm, and i'm feeling proud that i've planted the amaryllis bulbs and cat grass from Monday's errands. So often these impulse projects just sit and sit and sit. Like the gluten i bought to make vegan pepperoni. I don't know how long that's been in the pantry. I'm soaking the beans for it now, and i'll make it for Christine tomorrow morning. I hope the seasonings work out.

Mom had another headache this morning and she feels "vibrations" again -- if the CAA side effects are flaring up, could this be the harbinger of another stroke? Worry worry.


(no subject)

The cone they sent us home with was far too heavy (and almost too large) for Marlowe. We have a lighter weight one that we can fiddle to make work, but ... gah, what a torture device. I went to Amazon to see what we could get quickly and saw little post surgery "suits" that a few sellers have. I've ordered one, but in looking to see if there were any we could next-day deliver, i saw a type that was, essentially, a rectangle of fabric and front-leg holes, with strips cut so you can tie the cat in, like so. So i promptly cut up a t-shirt and made her one. The first try i thought i could keep her back legs out of the design, but the surgical location really needs the back end of her body involved. Try two seems to have worked all night, although now that she's out and squirming around i don't know how long until she works her way out. With luck, it will last until the professionally made one arrives.

The mowing happened, although there are areas where the grass is flopped over and the mower didn't engage. I suppose i should give the orchard some time to recover and re-mow. I raked much of the driveway and took the gravel-free pine straw to place along the outside eastern border of the orchard. Last summer this became a dense stilt grass area. I think i mowed before it went to seed, but there are plenty of seeds in the seed bank. Thick mulch does keep the cursed stuff back. Preserving a way to walk around the outside perimeter and holding back the weeds a bit should be helpful. I think clover and other cover crop plants are coming up (along with Oriental hawksbeard, another invasive) but deer must be keeping them grazed low.

I probably scattered some of my precious native grass seed where i am putting the straw. Sigh.

Plenty more raking to do to collect pine straw and leaves and surround the fence, leaving the native grass and moss in light. Moss definitely grows over the winter. I think the native grass does, to some extent, as well. The ponysfoot (Dichondra carolinensis) also spreads in the winter. It's a native and somewhat aggressive ground cover, but once a plant can get above it i think the other plants will manage. I'm worried my cranberry has been overrun and the two compete in the same niche - so it goes.


Cooking notes: fried oysters and sorreled peas

I bought a small tub of fresh oysters, and Christine encouraged me to fix them for myself last night. I picked sorrel and green onion leaves, sliced them thinly and mixed with mayonnaise. I fried up the oysters with all the steps:

* clarified butter
* dredged oysters in flour & pepper
* dipped in egg white
* dredged in old French bread bread crumbs and panko crumbs
* fried
* drained on paper bags

and then because my timing was off, i put them in the toaster oven to keep warm -- but i think the additional baking helped with the crispiness.

I mixed the sorrel mayonnaise with the cooked and hot peas, plated the oysters on the peas. This was very pleasing.

It was plenty of bother, but worth it.

For Thanksgiving i'm going to prepare mussels that have been sitting in my freezer for months and months since buying them on a whim. I just never found i time when i wanted to make something fussy just for me - and picking the mussels out of the shells while eating seems to demand a more socail meal. Dad and Christine both were not interested. My sister's family are a bit more adventurous, so this is a good time to fix them. And, it turns out mussels were likely part of the early Massachusetts feasts, so approproate. I found this recipe with apple cider that sounds like a pleasure.

I'm also bringing a pumpkin pie - i'm going to try fixing the squash from scratch.

--== ∞ ==--

Yesterday i planted an order of daffodil bulbs from Brent and Becky's bulbs: how large an beautiful were the bulbs! I ordered classic daffodils, trumpets and large cups, a selection each for early, mid, and late spring. I had planted some very fun daffodils shortly after we moved in, but i realized i miss the classics.

I also finally planted the Asclepias incarnata (rose milkweed) and Amsonia tabernaemontana (possibly a hybrid and not species selection - "Blue ice"). I didn't get the trees in, and my puttering around this midday doesn't promise much digging either. I will probably go mow. Ive needed to for a while but various combinations of needing to rake (because the electric mulching mower is not that great at mulching) and rain has held me back.

--== ∞ ==--

Marlowe is at the vet for her spay. She'll come home with a cone tonight.

I keep saying "Greycie Lou" -- our cat who died so suddenly during the summer of 2018. Marlowe's lithe body and happiness to leap to high places reminds of of all of Greycie's energy.


I must needs some vitamin C

I am craving and wishing for a bunch of uncommon citrus: blood and cara cara oranges, meyer lemons, and i would like to try kumquats. I suppose i'll see if the grocery has kumquats. They had Buddha's hand citron when i was there last.

But grocery store citrus leaves me sad, as i think about roadside stands in California. When we drove through Florida last i looked for roadside stands but what i saw seemed stuck in 1970.

Collapse )