Old English flEogan to fly -- more at FLY
Monday, December 31, 2007
A resolution or tw0. Or five:
1. More Quicken (less Exel)
2. Less driving (more walking)
3. Less stuff (more room)
4. Less screen time (more friend time, more creative time)
5. Less meaninglessness (more mindfulness)
6. Less resolutions (more results .... and so I'll leave off that bit about my novel and the business plan and the 20 pounds and the re-upholstery of those wingbacks ...)
What's on your list for 2008?
All my best wishes to you and yours for 2008!
Friday, December 28, 2007
Alan Greenspan and me: We agree on a lot of things. Including the sad state of the American educational system.
While First Graders in Finland and Korea are learning multiplication and the scientific method, American First Graders are discovering yet another creative use of dried pasta. Here, farfalla dyed green and made into a Santa Lucia crown!
You're kidding me, right?
And, no, the child cannot read or do basic maths. That would be up to me. We--and I do mean we--have quite the homework assignments. Pasta crafts the School District is handling. Phonics, flash cards and writing: All mine.
You are perfectly free to do some jealous-muching right now. I will argue that this is the most beautiful Christmas dress this year. Maybe ever.
Not only is this dress the most beautiful dress ever, what makes it that much more beautiful is that very fact that it was a gift. A bespoke dress of the finest fabrics and detail upon detail from a far-flung sewing sister, whose creative talent is only matched by her wit and humor.
If your envy is eating away at you, you could make a similar Tuolumne dress. Just not as pretty. Not possible.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
In no particular order:
1. I went to the Post Office on December 21st, in the middle of the day, to mail a large package and there was no line!
2. The parking lot by our Trader Joe's is kind of designed in an odd circular pattern: If you come in one way, you can take a precious parking spot from someone who had already been circling a while. Well, I was in such a position to snag away a parking spot from someone who had been going around a while. O, Christmas spirit: I drove past the highly prized real estate and let him take the spot--hey, I can walk a little bit. But just then, a parking spot opened up right in front of the entrance just for me!
3. On my doorstep appeared a box of homemade cookies made by a friend I've known since 7th Grade Social Studies and her son. Now, for some time it was unclear if my friend could ever become a mother. And when it was clear she would, well, her son was born several weeks too soon. For almost two years it was unclear how long her son would be with us or what his physical condition would be. Well, this boy today is healthy, happy and able to put his own little thumbprints in the thumbprint cookies! You would not believe how good these cookies are. They are the best ever!
4. O Mystery Tree! O Mystery Tree! I like to observe the would-be arborists, structural engineers and tree aesthetes giving each Douglas fir and noble pine on the lot a detailed analysis. But, in an era when technology has made the synthetic tree superior to what comes of the pine cone (already decked out in lights, sets up in 30 seconds, options include a pleasant pine scent, looks more real than a real tree, costs less than a real tree, et. al. ) I'm looking for imperfection. In previous years, I've sought out the Charlie-Browniest of Christmas trees, the one that would make Lucy say, "Charlie Brown, you're not such a blockhead. At least you didn't get that tree." The curvier the trunk, the better. The more sickly and odd arrangement of branches, the better. Well, I made such Christmas tree rescue efforts until one ungrateful, fateful tannenbaum toppled and the tinkling, heartbreaking sound of the big, red Dresden glass balls, I bought many years ago when I didn't have a lot of extra spending money, shattering into a thousand pieces convinced me to select otherwise. Now, I choose straight trunks. Nonetheless, the kids and I select Surprise Tree, one that is still tightly wrapped in twine. This way, the way the tree unfolding becomes a present in and of itself.
5. When I lamented the economics of marzipan in my last post, I received no less than seven offers to have the stuff mailed to me. (I've found a less expensive marzipan dealer, um, source--merci, ihr seid viel zu lieb! Plus, that crazy girl from my 7th Grade Social Studies class has hooked me up pretty thoroughly cookie-wise).
6. I wanted a special gift for a special friend, so I ordered one made special. It came and it is perfect and I can't wait until she gets it. I'd like to show you now, but maybe she read this blog, so no peek-sies. (Thank you, perfect present maker person! It is beautiful!)
7. Anna's class at school sang a few Christmas songs for the parents. They sang, among other songs, "All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth". And Anna, as always, but especially for this song while missing one tooth and the other about to fall out, was really well-dressed for the part.
I wish you many miracles, large and small, this next week and all next year.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Is there a marzipan mafia? I really wonder: $8 for 200 grams raw marzipan? I googled around and learned that this is only about 20 times more expensive than crack cocaine. And just as addictive.
Here's what I did with that 30-cent-a-gram marzipan: I used a Frankfurter Betmännchen recipe and stuck a candied cherry in the middle. Yeah, pretty addictive these little cherry-centered marzipan rocks.
I'm not finding a good photo of the real deal. Although, I must admit, I was googling "Bettmänchen", which is something completely different. A Betmännchen is a German Christmas cookie, which is basically marzipan with some egg whites and powdered sugar to help hold its shape while baking. I also added some additional ground almonds, you know, to stretch the marzipan the way broke Lindsay Lohan now has to stretch her coke with talcum powder. I also added some rose water, just 'cause that's how I roll.
Anyway, these are my holiday give-aways. If you stop by, I probably won't let you leave without some of these cookies (they need a name: "Jingle Bells"? "Marzicrack"?) and a bottle of this red stuff. The cookies are in these adorable little paper acorns from--yes, I'll admit it--Martha Stewart. The red stuff is cherry juice mixed with amaretto, best served warm. I've been saving these French lemonade bottle with the cool ceramic stoppers for some time now.
If there's any interest, and you're not opposed to taking out a second mortgage for cookie baking, I'll post the recipe.
Gibt's ein Marzipan-Mafia? Ich frage mich, denn $8 für 200 g? Ich habe ein wenig im Google gesurft und herausbekommen, dass dies nur ca. 20 mal teuerer als Crack sei. Und genauso süchtig machend.
Also mit meinem 30-Cent-pro-Gram Marzipan habe ich einen Frankfurter Bettmännchen-Rezept genommen und mitten drin eine kandierte Kirsche gesteckt. Ein besseres echtes Betmännchen Bild habe ich nicht gefunden. Zugegeben, zuerst habe ich unter "Bettmännchen" gegooglt, und das ist ja was ganz anderes.
Ganz schon süchtig machend dieses Gebäck. Ich habe zu dem Teich auch etwas gemahlenen Mandeln getan, denn $8 ...
Das sind also meine Mitnehmsel: Kommst du vorbei, verlässt du das Haus ohne so 'n Pappnuß voller dieses Gebäcks und so 'ne Flasche des roten Zeugs nicht. In der Flasche ist Kirschsaft mit Amaretto: Am besten warm trinken.
Monday, December 10, 2007
I haven't quite gotten the Christmas spirit, but I definitely have a feeling of anticipation. Advent is about waiting, isn't it? Preparing. Anticipating.
There is nothing like new bedding from IKEA, I think. Look carefully and you'll see a little girl perfectly camouflaged in her environment. This room is the Annatorium.
I find decorating for Christmas an aesthetic challenge, especially considering my love/hate relationship with kitsch and my tendaency to over-intellectualize metaphors, symbols and messages. Nonetheless, I like bringing promises of life into the house. Here, the narcissus have forced.
Speaking of my love/hate of kitsch, look at boots, purse and samba-dancing kit(s)chen timer that are now part of my life. Oh, like you don't throw in a couple of things in for yourself when out Christmas shopping.
I'm not much of a tea drinker, so I don't have tea leaves to read. I read my cappucino instead. I read this to be a flaming heart milagro. Appropriate, yes, for Advent.
My song recommendations for this week are Rozanne Gates' and Susan Sheridan's 90-Pound Suburban Housewife in Her SUV and Joseph Spence's Santa Claus is Coming to Town.
And how is your holiday season coming along?
Weihnachtsstimmung ist bei mir noch nicht aufgetreten. Die Adventszeit ist doch für das Warten. Vorbereiten. Antizipieren.
Es gibt wenig besseres als neue Bettlaken von IKEA, nicht wahr? Wenn du genau hinschaust, siehst du ein junges Mädchen perfekt getarnt. Dieses Zimmer ist das Annatorium.
Weihnachtsdekoration ist für mich eine aestetische Herausforderung, vor allem im Anbetracht meiner Haß/Liebe zum Kitsch und meines Überdenkens von Metaphoren, Symbolen und Botschaften. Nichtsdestotrotz mag ich es zu dieser Jahreszeit Metaphoren vom versprochenen Leben ins Haus zu bringen. Die Narzissen sind geblüht.
Apropos Kitsch: Diese Stiefel, Tasche und Samba-Tanzende-Roboterküchenuhr sind irgendwie beim Weihnachtseinkaufen mitgekauft worden. Irgendwie.
Ich trinke wenig Tee, insofern fällt das lesen von Teeblättern aus. Ergo lese ich mein Cappucino. Dieser zeigt meines Erachten ein flammides Herz Milagro. Also doch Advent.
Und? Wie geht's euch?
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Fully fledged? Me? Not quite.
I've been taking stock of the past year. Did I accomplish what I intended in the past 12 months? Yes and no. Mostly no.
Do I have any good excuses? Yes and no. Mostly no.
Have I learned anything? Yes. And probably no.
No highs without lows. And tides turn.
Ich blicke auf die vergangenen 12 Monaten zurück. Habe ich das erreicht, was ich mir vornahm? Ja und nein. Überwiegend nein. Habe ich dafür ausreichende Entschuldigungen? Ja und nein. Überwiegend nein.
Habe ich daraus gelernt? Ja. Und wahrscheinlich auch nein.
Keine Höhen ohne Tiefen. Kein Flut ohne Ebbe.