Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Sometimes Compromise

I've blogged about how I love my corner drugstore where they know me by name and all that good hometown stuff but comes a time when we have to embrace the big e-commerce monster with both arms. I have a great doctor who loaded me up with samples of a couple of meds before my insurance expired but there was some stuff they didn't have and I was looking at a troublesome March. Then I discovered drugstore.com. What with the samples I still have and the outstandingly low pirces they had for what I needed on refills.... I'm laying out less than what I normally pay on insurance co-pays.

Where there is a will there is a way. And when I am again in Jobland I'll go back to friendly family pharmacy. Had a job interview today. Thoughts, prayers, chants, incense, candles... all are welcomed.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Dinner in The Garret

Being the single gal with a good job, I had gotten used to swinging by the grocery store on the way home for something fast and easy, hot soup already prepared - FarmFresh has a great She Crab Soup - or a big old salad from the in-store salad bar. I'm not a person to grocery shop once a week or fix dinner after work. And hauling a week's worth of stuff up the stairs would probably totally destroy my back.

But with unemployment and attendant reduction in circumstances, I find myself back in the kitchen. I got a great bargain on a honking big thing of hamburger meat. I picked up a load of pouched noodle & rice side dishes for a dollar apiece. I make casseroles in the microwave. I have a large jar full of rice. 5 for $5 frozen Swanson dinners are in the freezer. A bag of potatoes and a bag of onions are on top of the fridge. The ramen I hoard is only for the direst of circumstances.

Not the most nutritious fare but it beats Chef-Boy-Ar-Sodium. What I want to know is why I can get 5 for $2 on cans of some processed crap but it costs me $3.50+ or more to put together a dinner of fresh dark leafy greens with all their goodness intact & little skinless chicken breast mixed in? And leafy greens do not include iceberg lettuce. That is a travesty of a non-food engineered to serve only as a vehicle for ranch dressing.

Cooking for one is a pisser. You either eat what you made for three days running or it goes bad. Buying milk is worse. Some noodle package flavors call for milk and who knows? I may someday possibly want to bake something....As if. I nabbed the only two three-packs of aseptic packaged shelf-stable milk in all of FarmFresh today. It was hidden among the juices. But FarmFresh has great employees who knew exactly where it was. Useful stuff in 8 oz individual packages. Not like buying a quart where for a single person half of it will likely go bad unless they really like to drink milk.

Why hasn't aseptic packaged milk taken off her in the USofA? When I first encountered it back in 1982 and doing a semester in London is was suitable weirded out. But it makes sense for the singular.

In other matters, many congratulations to Canada for winning the gold in curling at the Olympics. Couldn't happen to a nicer group of folks. And yay for the Bronze Boys from Bemidji.

Well time to turn off the lights in the garret for another day. My landlord doesn't want to renew my lease which expires on April 1. I don't know why. I've lived here eight years. I have to speak seriously with him next week. Do you think I could persuade him with some hamburger, picante sauce, and rice casserole?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Browsing the Bookracks

Over at M.G.'s blog a conversation linking several other conversations is going on. Interesting stuff that got me thinking..about bookstores and their stocking/categorizing practices.

I'm a history buff. One of my favorite dates in history is May 23, 1618. Because it's just such a damned bizzare way to mark the start of what might well have been the first "total war".... long before Sherman's slash and burn campaign to the sea. I wanted to read more. I had an idea for a novel, about the effects of such a total war on a very small place that history forgot, a nowhere what represented all the depredations of war, the loss and horror and the ultimate futility of fighting over different interpretations of the same God.

I went to the local B&N. I went to the history section. I found nothing in this category that didn't seem to project that the particular region sprang full grown from the head of Zeus on June 28th 1914.

There were histories aplenty about Celts, Scots, Renaissance Italians, Henry's eight wives, Ancient Greece and Rome, ad infinitum. There wasn't anything I was looking for. There was the Hundred Years War, The War of The Roses, The Spanish American War, the Battle of Bannockburn, ad nauseum. Couldn't find anything there either.

So far as B&N was concerned The Thirty Years war never happened, and Germany began with Franz Ferdinand's assination in Sarajevo and progressed from there to Jackboots where the books were stacked high and deep. I had to go to Amazon and really scour for accessable material.

And even then there is stuff I cannot use in the novel. For one my originally intended frontspiece poem by Andreas Gryphius. Go read. click on the titles and there are translations of the poems. You'll know the one I cannot use even though it is about the full horrors of war. Read all three of the poems. The WWI trench poets have nothing on Gryphius.

Go read. It's the stuff way before the other stuff. It's about people. German people. They (include me on on this one, my mom's paternal grandparents were from Bremen) have hearts too.

But if the novel sees the light of day, I won't use Tranen as a frontspiece, no matter how powerful a poem it is. I would just hope and pray that my writing could do the spirit of the poem justice.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Now Read This

Tribe, a great literary e-zine has just gotten bunionized! And thus M.G. begins our nefarious plans for word domination. It's a great story by a great writer and a great friend. Yay M.G.!




Plowing Under

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Things We Can Learn as Kids

I've been reading a lot lately about various nefarious publishing schemes, bogus agents, vanity and subsidy presses, and the like. Thinking to educate myself I suppose, when it occurred to me that almost possibly everything I needed to learn about publishing I learned on The Waltons.

It was in an episode titled The Book,wherein young John-boy gets bilked by a vanity press. It taught a fantastic lesson about "too good to be true" to an eleven year old. So in high school when a friend said her poetry had been "selected" for inclusion in some anthology or another I was quietly congratulatory and inwardly cringing.

And now? Suffice to say I am well aware that there are no short-cuts that don't end in dead-ends, and that writing takes a crap-load of work, intestinal fortitude, and a hide thicker than a rhino's.

And I miss television that was as good as The Waltons.

Monday, February 13, 2006

How They Used To Sell It

Inspired to post this by a comment M.G. made on the link about perfume copyright in my previous post. The article contained a picture that showed a contemporary perfume advertisment with an unclad but no-vital-bits-visible model.

In my opinion a whole lot hotter than any perfume ads out there right now.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Rather Random

Taking a break from the writing for a moment.

Dick Cheney. What more is there to say about Mr. Birdshot that hasn't been said?

Called a younger sister today. She's in Massachusetts. They got whumped today which is no news to all y'all up there. Someone picked up the phone, I thought it was her. I just about fell out of my seat when the person on the other end identified herself as my niece. Not surprised that she was home, but that her voice was so different. She sounded just like her mom, my sister. I then realized that my niece was twelve. I've not seen her since she was nine, the last time I went home for a visit. Years fly.

I've another sister who now lives in Paris (the real Paris for real) and her eldest is...nineteen? I remember holding this niece when she was only two days old. Remember so clearly playing peek-a-boo and making her laugh or rocking her to sleep.

A house full of women. I've another sister also. At one point in my childhood the household was comprised of Mom & Dad, my maternal grandmother, my maternal grandmother's sister, four girl children, two female cats, and a parakeet of indeterminate gender. Among the humans the birth years ranged from 1884 to 1969.

I can't do platelet apheresis for a while. Seems I maxed out my Red Blood Cell allowable loss and can't go again until next week, nevermind that my hemocrit is a consistent 41. But last time I donated I got a very cool cordura nylon briefcase thing for doing 10 donations since November. I shall accompany me to any job interviews I may yet get. If for nothing more than to state that I am a fine corporate citizen. Five more donations and I get a cool jacket. I think they give you a gas card at 20 donations. All very useful stuff indeed.

And in matters perhaps slightly marginally tangentally writerly, it seems that the French have decided that one Can copywrite a perfume. With the advent of GCMS (Gas Chromatograph and Mass Spectrometer) analysis it's no guessing game. So what is the future of designer knockoffs? Something that will surely keep me awake and pondering tonight.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Apropos of Nothing

You may have already seen it, but everyone needs Viking Kittens

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change

I felt joy today to read this news coming out of Indonesia.

There is something about knowing that someplace somewhere there is a place untouched by time, by fear, by greed. That there are places that have never been walked in anger. A place where God's creation is unmarred by the hands of two legged beasties. Someplace that does not know CocaCola or Dupont or Exxon.

Yes, a few two legged beasties went there. I think they mean well. I hope that the valley is left unmolested. I hope that there is another valley over another mountain that no mortal has yet seen and never will. That we'll always have wonders.

The title of my post is from my favorite poem and my first thought when reading the story:

Pied Beauty

GLORY be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89).

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Ranch Dressing - The fifth food group?

It is. When "the big game" snack displays in the supermarket feature Ranch Dressing prominently among their offerings, it has reached the amorphous "Fifth Food Group", dethroning dehydrated onion soup mix and sour cream as the comestable of couch-potatoes everywhere.

I don't use Ranch Dressing unless backed into a corner because the supermarket is out of Caesar Dressing. Part of this is sense memory I suppose. In days of old when knights were bold, I was married. To a barbarian.

We lived in a small house with a small backyard that held a small kitchen garden. It was wonderful in summer to go out and pick dinner. Some roma tomatoes, green bell peppers, ominpresent zucchini, leeks, and my herbs - basil, oregano, thyme, a little dill, some chives. Boil some tricolor pasta and add the veggies and herbs with some olive oil - the good stuff, not the stuff you cook with, and a splash or two of red-wine vinegar. What could be better on a miserably humid summer evening.

"Gee, this would be better if you made it with Ranch Dressing" Said ex-husband as he dumped it back into the bowl. Just the thought of molesting lovely organically grown vegetables like that. I didn't divorce him then. I should have.

Bubba the Barbarian had lovely children from his first wife Sheena the Jungle Woman. They were lovely after they realised that I would leave the table if they did not exhibit civil table manners. Having salad in these younglings mind (the female youngling in any respect) consisted of three leaves of iceberg lettuce and half a bottle of.... Ranch Dressing. The male youngling would eat nothing but hotdogs and pizza - sans anything but pepperoni, cheese, and sauce.

By the time I waved farewell to Bubba the Barbarian he was no closer to being civilised, but I could take my lovely steplings to the best restaurants with no fear of receiving the hairy eyeball from anyone in the place.

Kids are better at picking up languages they say. Perhaps it's the same with manners.

But to this day....there is something about Ranch Dressing that keeps it for only the most extreme of exegencies.

Yeah, and if either of my step-kidlings who are now grown adults ever find this blog...post a hello.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Odds and Ends

Thanks to James Goodman's post today, I now know what the "lava" in a "lava lamp" consists of. That is what I learned today.

I'm working on Ennui this evening - reworking the second chapter because it was to much a cooking lesson and not enough funny. And the story isn't about food. It's about perfume - a topic that gives me much amusement as I research the subject. I'm learning about the inner workings and business of the whole thing and that's not so easy to find. It's still a fairly closed loop with very few people saying anything about how a perfume goes from idea to bottle. Exception being Chandler Burr who writes about perfume for the NY Times.

In a complete 180 degree turn from the above, I had another job interview today for a biz with three positions open. I am so craving one of the positions. It's with a team building a trade-lane from the ground up, the start of something new. I'm loving the challenge it presents. I felt the adrenaline buzz start in the interview.

It's addictive, the logistics business. Some people start and are gone in a year or two for something a little more quiet. But those who stick around for a few years, they tend to become lifers. I knew at least five people where I interviewed today, from previous positions or because I'd worked with their spouse at another company. And a couple more because I had phone contact with them on a regular basis at some time in my career. It was like "old home week". I left the interviews with a smile and feeling connected.