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October 2009

QotD: Trapped in a TV Show

If you had to be trapped in a TV show for a month, which show would you choose?

I've been mulling over this "stuck in a TV show for a month" question. Unlike some, I am not a snob about TV. I am a snob about most "reality" programming, but that's another matter. 

I love TV, as you may know. I go through periods where I watch a little or a lot, but I do not believe it has harmed my brain or my attention span. They are pretty much what they were always going to be. TV teaches us stuff, if we want to learn, and entertains us besides, which is an awesome evolutionary prize. 


First I considered what I would have chosen to see on my own, up through about the age of 7, when life was sweet and idyllic. 


The children's shows I watched were Captain Kangaroo, Mister Roger's Neighborhood, Sesame Street, The Electric Company, (and later, ZOOM.) The afternoon reruns I (sometimes) watched were Star Trek, Lost in Space, and The Munsters. The Dick Van Dyke Show figured in there somewhere, but I don't quite remember how. I also liked Hanna Barbera cartoons, old ones and new ones, mostly on Saturday mornings. But I mean, I also played outside and with my toys. And read zillions of books. 


Anyway. The Dick Van Dyke Show might be a cool one to spend a day in, but I think not a whole month, unless I could just be Laura Petrie before she had the kid.

Laura Petrie Dick Van Dyke Show


After all that, in the 1970s, a lot of evening broadcast TV was fantastic. But also gritty and argumentative, so I wouldn't want to be there. And then after that, TV was very, very demented and knuckle-dragging for the most part, until the late-90s or so, with only a few exceptions. 


One of those exceptions is Star Trek: The Next Generation. It had a slow start, but you could see potential from the beginning. When it started to get good was when it lifted off from the original episode themes and began doing its own thing. Eventually it was very, very cool. Most of the time. 


So I'd want to be female, of some rank enough to waste time on the Holodeck like the other officers, have a lot of sex with Picard or possibly Riker before he got to be a bit too much, and not have anything at all to do with Counselor Troi, unless we were eating chocolate together in Ten-Forward


A NaNoWriMo Day's Worth of Words (about nothing)

1707 words. Unedited, of course. 

 

I write more than 1,667 words a day nearly every day, no question. Yet when it comes to making things up entirely out of my head for NaNoWriMo, I find it a challenge. I can chat or talk jibberish for hours, especially with someone equally capable of it. But a story, that I make up? That has to be "invented," and I find that when I pressure myself to do so, I draw blanks. 

 

If I tell one of my kids to write a story, I can provide an example, made up on the spot, on just about any subject I've heard of. Extemporaneously, I am often awesome. So what's the deal here, where I struggle all month-long to put together a story? It is a struggle, but it's fun, so I don't worry about it too much. I make a list of topics to cover, and go for it. I do find, though, that as much as I counsel others against it, I tend to think of my words as precious jewels dripping from my fingers, and expect them all to be worthy of hangers-on. That's just silly, and it locks up your brain instead of opening it. 

 

I paint pictures on canvas and with poetry, in careful measured phrasing, embracing informal balance and coaxing it into being. Telling a story gets to be something else entirely, if I can just let go and let it happen. 

 

Today my youngest son is under the weather a bit. He's napping over there on the couch, and I was sitting next to him for a long time, then realized he needed to stretch out more, so I've moved to my little green "easy chair," in front of the cold, cold bow window. Physical memory is very strong for me, and as I plugged in the computer, I was taken back to the Saturday two or three weeks ago when I sat in this chair for nearly the entire day, watching Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin on YouTube. I could feel the air as my son brought in my plants since that was the weekend we were told frost was coming. I remembered some of the exchanges I had with a couple of Twitter friends. All this may seem ordinary, and it is, except for me it is also sensory. I felt the memory, rather than just recalled it. It was fantastic, that day, on this day, a few minutes ago.

 

This is a handy trait, by the way, when driving to a location I have been to only once before, or a long time before. I just feel my way there even if I don't remember the names of the streets or whatever. Mostly, though, it just means I'm slightly out-of-focus when it comes to reckoning the passage of time. I live partially in a state of kairos, if you know anything about that. 

 

Some NaNoWriMo participants like to talk about how many words they can write in an hour, and do go on to produce "novels" of paramount length by the end of the month. They put signatures at the bottom of their forum posts which detail each year's bountiful effort, like thus:

 

2005: Big Deal About Dragons - 34k words, :-(

2006: Something Else Indeed (About Dragons) - 57k words SCORE!!!!

2007: And Then Dragons, As It Were: 119k words =)

2008: A Long Thing About Futuristic Dragons: 270k whoo!!!

2009: Beyond Here Be More About Dragons: ????

 

And I'm exhausted just looking at it. Plus? Whatever. You are no longer on the same page as the rest of us. Move along, then. 

 

I just wrote 600 words. 

 

About nothing. 

 

Would you like to know about my actual 2009 NaNoWriMo effort? First you should know that I know I'll get to 50k, though probably just barely as usual. This year, though, I will not count it a complete success unless it is something that can be regarded as having a beginning, a middle, and an ending. Sure, it'll still be nearly entirely character-driven. No one will die in it, no gigantic crisis will occur; that's not how I roll, baby. But some things will happen, and, like, go from one point to this other point. At least, that is the idea. 

 

I'm either using Steve from my half-book about the twins, Violet and Lily Palm, or someone a lot like him with some of Jack from last year added to the mix. He's fairly new to Sea View, my town, and is trying to learn about the residents for an anthropology project. He attends one of the mayor's weekly meetings at the donut shop and learns they're raising money for a statue of the town founder, Andrew Dexter. Not everyone thinks well of Dexter, and everyone in town has a story about him, so Steve sets out to learn the truth about him, learns some funny secrets along the way, and ends up falling in love with the town. 

 

I love my town called Sea View. It's a conglomeration of the New Jersey shore towns of Rumson, Sea Bright, Long Branch, Fair Haven, and Red Bank. Plus a silly twist thrown in. It's most like Fair Haven, but with liberal Red Bank people, rich Rumson estates, Long Branch hipsters and food, and the Sea Bright (and Rumson) location. Here's the general area: East of 35. I loved it there and would go back. But if I ever get to move to somewhere that feels just right for me, I'll need to have mild, Santa Barbara, California type of weather. 

 

In my town and in my stories there are always a couple of old men who sit around and be funny, a couple of gay people; usually one who has loved or is/has been loved by a non-gay person, at least one dog, argumentative artists, a little drinking, a lot of reminiscing, and someone who is into some form of "alternative spirituality." Oh, and donuts and music and some bad weather. This is New Jersey; those are basic elements. And Sea View is so real to me, I get a little disappointed it's not quite actually over there, just some bits of it spread around that small area. 

 

I think it's probably also heavily influenced by the locations I read about while going through this mad "cozy mystery" phase over the past couple of years with authors such as M.C. Beaton, Nancy Atherton, and Joan Hess. But as much as I love reading mysteries, I'm not very keen on trying to write one. What I most like about those stories is the people and the settings. The plots are secondary, though they are often very interesting or clever. If I ever write a book that is worthy of publication consideration, plot will definitely be my weak point. But I'm working on it a little, this go-round. 

 

I'd like less plot in my own life, actually. There's been quite enough by now, I think, and the rest of it should just be baked goods, gardening, and conversation. Don't you agree? 

 

What should the next 500 words be about?

 

I like living in New Jersey, though as I said, I prefer the other side of the state. These people and their attitudes are informed by both Revolutionary history and 20th century immigration patterns, by wet weather, the sea, New York, Philadelphia, and the bigness of a tiny state no one understands unless they've spent real time here, and not just on the Turnpike or at a beach during the summer season. It's beautiful and wild, natural and artificial, like most other U.S. states I've visited. But it's all mushed up together in a teeny space; mountains, beaches, marshes and forests, overcrowded cities, wealthy suburbs, and farm country, no space between any of it. And every region is different, but you can get good pizza in all of them. Real pizza, not the kind you usually eat wherever you live that's not here!

 

I've lived in three other states and they all have attributes to recommend them, but I felt I belonged here the first time I saw the sea. Now I believe I just belong at the sea, but I'm closer than I ever was before the age of 35, so that's something, at least. Only you wouldn't think an hour is so far away? It really is, somehow. I hardly ever see it anymore, and I feel like it's a necessary and missing component to my life. It was always missing before, all those 35 years, but it hurts more now after getting to embrace it close to me for awhile. 

 

In previous years I always set out to share my NaNo words with friends, but realized that I'd start writing for them, which is not a good thing to do, and then it was harder to share, concerned about receiving judgment and even worse, suggestions. I haven't decided whether to share it this year or not, but if I do, I'll go no-holds barred, and share every word, not just choice segments. The Full Monty. I still won't want judgment or suggestions, though, after all, it's a "30 day novel." First of all, of course it's going to be kind of awful, and second, if you want to judge, you can just go write one yourself and judge that! No, really, how about it? Just click on my icon up there to get started. It's a hoot. 

 

Do people say "hoot" where you're from? Probably not. 

 

It's time to start something for dinner. I have a sick kid, a kind-of sick kid, another out for the evening with his dad, and two picky teen girls who think they have paying jobs and so why should they help with the dishes? If it hadn't been sick kid's dish day, I'd mind going into the kitchen less. But I have to be the substitute, since almost-sick kid would be the usual one. And then decide what sort of food is worth the bother for the circumstance. Even though I had a bourbon drink last night, I might have a martini. Some nights it's nice to do that, and might perk up my mood for the task, make me feel all sprightly and Modern Kitchenish instead of sort of chilly and drudgy. 


QotD: Premonition...

Have you ever had a premonition? Did you heed it? 

Submitted by aynge.

Oh, who doesn't have those? Sometimes you heed them and sometimes you don't. Sometimes it's not about heeding, like on Sunday when my daughter was handed a raffle ticket at the NJIT open house and we both just somehow knew she'd win whatever the prize was—we'd gotten there late and weren't completely on board yet. Her number wasn't called, hers ended in 50 and it was 30 and I kept thinking, the speaker should change that, the 3 should be a 5. It was weird and made me crinkle up my face. That ticket holder wasn't there to win the prize, nor was the next one. And then my daughter's number was called. They're mailing her an iPod. 

The night before last, my phone was dying and I knew I should charge it, but I was so sleepy, so when it jingled at me a second time, I shut it off. I laid there for awhile thinking, "this has portent. something isn't right." but then told myself I was paranoid. And then when I charged it in the morning, there was a voice mail from my brother saying he'd been in a car accident, someone had stolen his bag out of the back of the smashed car while he was being put on a stretcher, and he couldn't remember if my bank account number was in it. 

He is, apparently, okay now. So is my bank account. But I won't shut the phone off again. 



wrapping up against the chill

When I was a child, my grandma decided to make granny square afghans for each of her grandchildren for Christmas. There were, let's see, 14 grandchildren. I don't know the whole story, but I know that it was getting to be crunch time and my mom helped her make some of them. I think one of my aunts did, too. But my aunt crocheted tiny tight squares, and my mom's were big and loopy, just like her handwriting. I think Grandma's were somewhere in-between. So there was a disconnect, but it all got done. 


My afghan was orange, and it did not have "traditional" black borders, just a darker color. I thought orange was a strange color for it, but I loved it anyway. Grandma died a couple of years later, and I was glad to have it. Eventually it wore out, I don't remember what happened to it exactly. But I'm absurdly sentimental so I can tell you I didn't dispose of it lightly. 


Mom did try to teach me how to crochet, but she was up against my left-handedness, my general awkwardness and lack of fine motor skills, and the fact that things just came easily to her, so she didn't give much thought to them. So I never did learn. I can knit, a little, but do not have the patience to excel at it. 


A few years ago, I was at a garage sale at the house of an elderly couple. The woman had cancer, and I guess she wasn't going to make it. They were selling afghans she'd crocheted, extremely well-made ones, so I bought several. I keep the blue and white granny square one on my old loveseat in my library, and love to cover up with it while I read or work on the computer. Though not made by my grandma, it was made by someone's grandma, and that's a special thing. 



A Celebration of Me (Greenwood Girl)

Because this is the mood I'm in. Do you have the font called Baskerville? It's what I used. I have no idea what you'll see, otherwise. Some serif thing. Or not, apparently. (Just go get some more fonts. It's a pleasure.)


I am Not Beautiful.


Put me in an evening gown and watch me stick out like Little Orphan Annie

on the stage of the Miss Texas pageant


But I know how to hold my head up and i know how to walk like you'd wanna follow me anywhere, and I do, everyday, everywhere I go.


I see you there

eyein' me just the way a squirrel

eyes a black oak in a forest full of 

sugar maples


I catch hold of your gaze and begin my search but when you

look in my eyes you know I can read your mind and you turn away


"There's somethin' about that girl; I dunno whether it turns me on or

creeps me out."



 merbelle


 pale tender skin, deep soft eyes

 blinking, flinching at the jeers

 skinny legs, awkward, coltish

 acquiescence stole the tears

 not completely; reaching within

 she saw herself as a Vermeer

 or da Vinci, maybe David

 artless slip met howls and sneers


 now graceful hands lead graceful steps

 with ease she smiles as old men leer

 facing East, she mirrors the sea

 shunning those once called her peers



 possession


 she catches my words in her throat

 holding them hostage, laughing with pleasure

 at my discomfort


 long tangled burnished ropes of bronze

 flung forward across her perfect,

 perfect shoulders all angles and curves

 southwestern earth contrasts creme fraiche


 she draws me into cardamom warmth

 perfumed skin, oiled luxury

 inhaling deeply, i gulp as

 she swallows my breath



toes spread wide

gripping earth clumsily, sweetly

tipping the can over bright pink daisies

happily breathing in light



Sipping Gotham

New York Harbor

slice of lime


I walk differently on New York streets,

everything hums erotic vibrations 

through the soles of my feet. 



QotD: Evaluate Your Life Day

Today is "Evaluate Your Life Day." So, tell us: how do you think you're life's going so far?

I  think, pet, that it's not going so poorly that I can't help but notice your incorrect homophone usage. But I'll try not to dwell needlessly on that just now.

This won't play right for me on here. Maybe it does for you, though, as my computer can be fickle with Vox. This version works but Vox won't attach the picture file with it.


on the death and life of my dog, an audio recording

The boys say my voice is not naturally quite this high-pitched, but I don't remember where the thing is to change that, so I didn't bother. Also, there's background rustling, because they were in the room with me as I read aloud. Also, this 8 minute bit of blather doesn't have much of an ending to it. 


But I've been thinking about the writing I do, and wondering what voice people hear it in? Do you sub-vocalize me? I sub-vocalize you, pretty much, though I don't know your true voice. So I'm offering you a facsimile of mine, though you must imagine it a bit lower, more sexy if you like, if not more breathy. ;-)

Okay, I opened it in GarageBand, lowered the pitch -1 thingy, and they say it's better now, though still not quite right. 
I liked recording this. I always say I'll do more and then I don't, but I think I will. 


The whole of nature in its beauty

When I first wrote this 18 months ago, I was going through one of those stages where things seemed so hard, I had to come through and win some battles in order to just keep myself going. I did win those battles, actually, but I've been slowly losing the war anyway. I used to enjoy Saturday rest, Sunday organization, Monday creative fire. Now I enjoy only the realization that I managed to check a new row of boxes off the calendar. I get very little else done. And heading into another cold, achy, asthmatic season, survival starts to take up all my remaining energy. That's got to change. So I'm reposting this and revisiting it, and if I can make myself believe it all over again, maybe I'll take back some ground. 



Recently I was hit with some utterly devastating news that just shocked me to the core. I could say there have been a couple of times in my life when things might have looked worse from an external view; when my mother died, and when I had to leave an abusive marriage just a few weeks after giving birth. 


But this is different, worse, because it tore a rent in my soul. They say that scar tissue is stronger than the original stuff, however, there can't be any scar tissue if the wound never closes. And that's how I feel, saddled with a permanently open wound in the center of my very being. 


It shocked me because I had been told, cajoled, convinced into believing that nothing like this would ever occur, so partly it's just a huge question of trust. Every molecule trusted and believed in certain memories of the future, and every molecule feels betrayed. 


Because of this, mornings have changed for me. I no longer wake up each morning with a happy bubble in my heart, tra-la-laing about the newness of a day and what it might bring, what might be accomplished, achieved, discovered. 


It's impossible for me to be entirely jaded about the world. I don't understand people very well when it comes to how they view each other, how they view their actions and decisions in terms of how they affect others—I find it so hard to believe that I, well, I can't, quite. To me, so much of it is not only hurtful, it is, more importantly, illogical. It's illogical to make decisions that you think will be good for you if they are so hurtful to many other people. Yet lots of humans do this every day. It's a big puzzle to me. 


Einstein said a couple of things that help me understand myself, my own inadequacies and strengths in all this emotional confusion and torment.


The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained to liberation from the self.


People like you and me, though mortal, of course, like everyone else, do not grow old no matter how long we live. What I mean is that we never cease to stand like curious children before the great Mystery into which we are born. This interposes a distance between us and all that is unsatisfactory in the human sphere—and that is no small matter.


When I was very young, and throughout my youthful adulthood, people took to telling me I had an "old soul." Preposterous!!! What I have is a young, tender soul, often bewildered by the complexities of life pressed upon us by those who seem to worship self-realization yet are unable to recognize it for what it truly is; a barrier, not a doorway, to the fullness of living. 


Here are a couple more statements by Einstein:


A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty... We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive. 

Now, this one is crucial, because it's a type of physics, energy, in its truth. The strength of this statement lies in the fact that it's true within ourselves, within our familial sphere of influence, and within the wider world. As long as we see ourselves separate from others, every relationship we have, close or distant, will not be viewed for what it truly is, or truly can be. At war with our natural selves, we are at war with everyone else.

The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives. 

Children don't really see themselves as separate from their surroundings or from other people. They're taught that as they grow, and it breeds a constant need in adulthood to search for something missing inside, some happiness or contentment to inject into the spot where once resided a natural attunement to the entire universe. 

People place such importance on this perceived need that they often willingly cause pain to others in the process, which means that they then must remain myopic or shut down their peripheral vision, blinding themselves to the chaos surrounding their little self-imposed perimeter, in order to enjoy the fruits of their efforts. This is never wholly satisfying, so they never give up their frantic search. There is no better metaphor, George Orwell, than to say they are missing the forest for the trees...something a healthy child never does. Why does maturity seem to work in reverse in certain ways? Sometimes it feels like the whole world is made up of fitful teenagers, caught between the natural good sense of childhood, and the learned wisdom of adulthood.

Or, as Madeleine L'Engle put it in A Wind In The Door , paraphrased for those who don't know the story: 

The temptation for man or for star is to stay an immature pleasure-seeker. When we seek our own pleasure as the ultimate good we [attempt to] place ourselves in the center of the universe. A man or a star has his place in the universe, but nothing created is the center. 

It is only when we are fully rooted that we are really able to move. That is where your reality lies. That is how you will find your place, and how you will find your true center. 

So the key is to retain the wonder and openness of childhood, yet allow our adult natures to reach into the soil from which we came; like a tree, the deeper we root ourselves into the ground, the higher we can reach into the sky. 

And that's what I aim to do, from this point, all the points, forward. When I wake up tomorrow morning, it will again be a new day, full of possibilities, if not promises.


Sunday in my Kitchen/House of Pie

I'm pretending today is Sunday in my kitchen, for reasons too boring to go into. Last time I made pie, I froze an extra crust, and will be baking it today. The buttery crusts I make do well going straight from the freezer to the oven, though it's still important to guard against overbrowning.


(And yes, yes, Shenandoah pix, K, but I'll get to that in a bit. In the meantime, look at the remarkably touching thing OL did with some of his.)

I was trying to transfer the previous blog to this one, and you may remember I screwed it up and lost a lot of stuff. But the cooking stuff is mostly still around because I keep a recipe folder for my kids to use someday. 

So here is a great deal of blather on pie gathered in one spot, and as the season progresses there will be more. I'm making the "bluegrass" pie today, and will share a new picture later. 

I've always been a fair hand at pie but decided to start perfecting my crust techniques a couple of years ago. This first part is about having found a fairly perfect crust, and something new (for me) to do with it.

1. empanadas/hand pies 


2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 
3 teaspoons sugar for fruit filling, or 1 tsp salt for meat filling
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I used salted butter; always do for sweet crusts, preferring the balance)
1 large egg
1/3 cup ice water
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

3 cups fruit or meat filling

Put flour, sugar, and butter in food processor and pulse. Then mix the egg, water and vinegar together, and pour the liquid through the feeder tube, letting processor run until dough clumps together. Flip it onto a flour-covered counter, lightly knead it together for just a couple of turns, then make two discs, flatten and chill. It didn't seem to need chilling first time I did it, but it might another time. 

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 375°F. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces and form each into a disk. Keeping remaining pieces covered, roll out 1 piece on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 5-inch round (about 1/8 inch thick).

Spoon about 2 tablespoons filling onto center and fold dough in half, enclosing filling. Press edges together to seal, then crimp decoratively with your fingers or tines of a fork. Transfer empanada to a baking sheet. Make 11 more empanadas in same manner, arranging on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets.

Lightly brush empanadas with milk, sprinkle with sugar if making fruit pies, and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until golden, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer empanadas to a rack to cool at least 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

2. bluegrass pie and more on crust 

A number of years ago, I was told of a famous pie, much celebrated in Kentucky, deemed better than any other. When I finally tasted that pie, I understood why it was so well-loved. It's a perfect and decadent combination of ingredients. That pie's name is copyrighted and the recipe heavily guarded. The owners are extremely proud of it, and also extremely litigious if any other pie is called by that name or is said to be made from the same recipe. Therefore, I will not do that company the honor or the disservice of even mentioning the name here in my post. But since it bears a similarity to a pie I once enjoyed on a visit to OL's home state, I have named the pie in the following recipe accordingly. If you ask the internet, you'll find similar pies with names like Kentucky bourbon pie, Thoroughbred pie, chocolate walnut pie, etc. This is a synthesis of three of those.


Bluegrass Pie


1 pie crust, recipe I used below.

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
generous 1/2 cup flour

1 stick butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup finely chopped walnuts that have soaked in bourbon for at least one hour
1 cup chocolate chips


Combine sugar, eggs, and vanilla, mix until smooth and light, add flour and incorporate well. Pour butter into mixed ingredients very slowly. Stir to combine. Add nuts and stir just until incorporated. Sprinkle chips into the bottom of the pie crust. Carefully pour mixture over chips, and bake at 325º for about one hour. Cool it for awhile to let the texture and flavors get all nice and settled, then serve slightly warm with vanilla ice cream.


For the crust I used pâte sucrée. It's similar to the pâte brisée I like to play with (both shown below,) but officially sweet. It's very important not to overprocess the flour or butter, and in this instance, you must go ahead and use cold, unsalted butter, and the cake flour rather than all-purpose. You can buy a little box of it in any grocery baking section. Or you can use any other crust you like, of course. 


You might wish to use a pâte sablée, which will more closely resemble the crust used in that secret recipe, and is a little easier to manage, actually. The butter is completely blended in, making the crust cookie-like, instead of only cut in, as is done for the more flaky crusts. So it is easier to roll out, but mind you don't overwork it. 


3. basic pie crust instructions 

Pâte Brisée

Dough:*
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 
1 tsp salt
1 stick cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 

1 large egg
1/3 cup ice water
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

Make Dough: Sift flour with salt into a large bowl and blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal with some (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Beat together egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork. Add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until just incorporated. (Mixture will look shaggy.) Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gather together, then knead gently with heel of your hand once or twice, just enough to bring dough together. Form dough into two flat rectangles and chill them, each wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour. Dough can be chilled up to 6 hours total.

Pâte Sucrée 


2 1/3 cups cake or pastry flour 

1/3 cup sugar 

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, chilled, cut into small pieces 

2 egg yolks 

1 or 2 tablespoons heavy cream


In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the flour and sugar. Add the butter and process until the texture resembles fine meal.


In a small bowl, whisk together the yolks and 1 tablespoon of the cream. Scrape into the machine and process until a ball begins to form, using the additional tablespoon of cream, if necessary. Remove the dough from the machine, and on a lightly floured surface, press down into a circle. (I divided it in half first.)


Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Makes two 9 inch crusts. 


Later I'll add a new pie photo here. Really. 

bookcases

I rearranged the library. It's made up mostly of old crummy furniture, definitely not the most tasteful and well-appointed room in the house, but it's cozy. And I'll add a painting over the kids' desk soon. Here are some phone pix, just because. There are still books in three bins and 4 large bags, plus the two bookcases in my bedroom and the boxes in the attic. Someday I'll have shelves for all. :-)


The bookcase right outside in the hall is where I put all our main schoolbooks. That will help keep this room neater. 

But the dog used to sleep in here, and since he also likes to spend time outside, the carpet is dirty. So on the long list of things to eventually get to is definitely a steam cleaning. For now, a lot of vacuuming and Febreze, I guess.

If you didn't see it on Twitter, here's a picture of the middle of the process!


My old man talks

This was recorded the last time we were all together, on August 15. He died on the 28th. There are two sections, talking about his name and then how my oldest brother was named, but the beginning of that story wasn't recorded. The picture is of the three of us in 1986. My other handsome brother was not present for that visit.


OL recorded it with his iPhone, and I bumped up the decibels in MPEG Streamclip, and then again in iTunes. Why it never occurred to me to get some video and/or audio with my camera while we were there is just utterly unexplainable, and very sad.


two excerpts from last year's November novel

Over at the card table, Tommy and Vinny were arguing again. Oddly, it was about who put on a better show; Tom Jones or Engelbert Humperdinck.

“Did you know that Engelbert Humperdinck’s real name was Arnold? Who goes from Arnold to Engelbert? Somebody who takes himself way too seriously, that’s who!” Tommy shook his head mournfully. “Tom never did that. That’s why he still has a career.”

Vinny laughed, shuffling the cards slowly and deliberately, as he always did. He’s never in a hurry. “Some producer or agent named him that, that’s all. It’s what they did back in those days. Didn’t you ever think about what name you’d take to become a big star, Tommy?”

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Back from our trip

It was mostly pretty fantastic. I have more pictures to share from my regular camera. But, this being October, I'm having a computer problem. It's just the RAM, probably, but I don't know yet. So I should be back to things pretty quickly, but if it's a worse problem, I'll have to text a message here and there to say I'm on forced hiatus. Sigh. I hope you're well.