Monthly Archives: December 2009

It’s Gonna Be the Future Soon

Okay, I don’t think the big 2009 book recap is happening today. But here is the rest of the California Adventure…

Took the ferry from Larkspur (in Marin County if I am not mistaken) over to San Francisco (see, it says so on the sign) to meet a couple of friends and go to SFMoMA.

Saw this on the second floor (actually, didn’t make it past the second floor. Too much good stuff!) amongst a collection of Lost Bird fliers that the artist had found. The one reads, “LOST DUCK. Please do NOT try to catch him. He will just fly away. Please call…” Of course, I immediately thought of Davy Rothbart and FOUND Magazine, specifically this find about a lost frog.

Paul Klee, “Nearly Hit”

I saw this journal in the MoMA store. Hats off to the artist who had the idea to draw the porcupine-pincushion encounter.

Back at the ferry terminal.

Bridge. Not the Golden Gate…Bay Bridge?

Goodbye, San Francisco.

Good, clear signage. Cyclists in the Pacific Northwest are a different breed altogether. Speaking of bicycles, I went on a bike ride! I think it was yesterday, though that seems rather impossible. I went pretty slowly but the important part is that I did not fall over or get hit by a car and die, so I am counting that as a successful two-wheeled outing.

Arrived back in Larkspur in the drizzle after dark.

Happy and healthy New Year, y’all! I don’t want to taunt fate here, but I am looking forward to a decade in which no Bush will be president.


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Filed under art, elsewhere, road signs

And We Wake Up And It’s Snowing

Movies, horses, dogs; laryngitis and IHOP on Christmas Day; the 101, mountains, bicycles, a tow truck, pizza, Chinese food; a ferry, SFMoMA, signage, friends, rain, airports…yes, it has been an out-of-the-ordinary week. Last night I was in San Francisco, and this morning I flew into JFK and it was snowing! I’m too sleep-deprived to be disoriented, I think. Must remember to nap later.

On my last full day in Santa Barbara, I went to visit at the barn. This baby had been born since I was there last.

Oh hi!

The puppies came too. (Okay, they aren’t technically puppies. They are nine and six. Or ten and seven. I think.)

On Sunday I drove up the 101 with my dad and brother. My brother is twenty: he’s taller than I am, he can vote, he could enlist if he wanted to, he’s a junior in college…but I still can’t wrap my mind around the fact that he can drive a car. He can, though.

While he drove 400 miles, I took pictures out the window in the back seat. There are precious few advantages to sitting in the back, but it does allow for safe photography. You are also, according to The Rules, allowed to check out of whatever conversation the driver and front seat passenger may be having, and you have the opportunity – though, like taking pictures while driving, it is not advisable – to poke the driver in the back of his head.

It says so in The Rules!

Oh hey, a cloud that looks like a dragon. Look at that!

An old friend from summer camp drove over from Berkeley to visit me. Unfortunately our lunch plans were not meant to be…

…but, being a most excellent friend, he drove back over after dinner and we got to catch up after all.

Now I must go retrieve my laundry before this rain turns to snow. Back later with Part 2 of the California Adventure, and possibly an epic year-end book recap.

What I’m reading: The Polysyllabic Spree, Nick Hornby

What I’m listening to: Stay What You Are, Saves the Day; Stay On My Side Tonight, Jimmy Eat World; assorted Bruce Springsteen

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Sweet Potato Biscuits, Take Two

Success! For dinner a few nights ago, I made the pumpkin chestnut soup (yes, again), and tried a different recipe for sweet potato biscuits. Here is is, copied furtively from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything during a quick reconnaissance mission to Williams-Sonoma yesterday.

Sweet Potato Biscuits


2 c flour

1 tsp salt

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2-5 Tbsp cold butter (I used four; Mark says “more is better”)

3/4 c yogurt or buttermilk

1 c cooked pureed sweet potato


Peel and chop sweet potato and boil till soft, about 10 minutes. Mash with a potato masher. In a large bowl, cut cold butter into dry ingredients and mix. Add pureed sweet potato and mix; add yogurt slowly, a tablespoon at a time, just enough to form dough into a ball. Roll dough 1/2 inch thick and cut into 2″ rounds with biscuit cutter (or inverted cup). Place on ungreased sheet and bake 12-15 minutes.

Here is the last remaining biscuit, along with some sweet potato and apple casserole.

What I’m reading: Just Kids, Patti Smith

What I’m listening to: Rachmaninov, Piano Concerto No. 3; Chopin, Etudes

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Seashells by the Seashore

The Pacific.

Oh, California and your laws-of-physics-defying citizens…

A good reminder:┬áNothing is written in stone…except what is written in stone.

And now, it is time for waffles. Merry Christmas!

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A Sunny Christmas

While the rest of the country is having a snowy Christmas, out here we are having a sunny one. Here are a few pictures from my mom’s garden from Christmas Eve Day:

Cherry tomatoes on the vine. We used some of these to make Israeli salad for lunch (see below).

A spiky succulent plant.

Yellow roses.

Giant lavender plant.

Narcissus (also called paperwhites, if I am not mistaken)…like tiny white daffodils.

So much sunlight!

We turned some of the garden into lunch:

The cherry tomatoes are from the garden, the rest is from the store.

So pretty, so delicious.

Israeli Salad


3 Tomatoes*

2/3 Cucumber*

1/4 Red onion*

Olive oil, to taste

Balsamic vinegar, to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

*These are the amounts I used for two people, and we had some left over. Feel free to adjust the amounts to suit your tastes and the number of people!


Chop tomatoes, cucumber, and onion and toss in a bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar. Eat by itself, or with hummus and pita. Enjoy!

What I’m reading: Lighthousekeeping, Jeanette Winterson

What I’m listening to: Another Year on the Streets, Vol. 2 (various artists from Vagrant Records); Vienna Teng, Warm Strangers; Dave Matthews, Busted Stuff; Bob Dylan, Christmas in the Heart; The Weepies, Say I Am You; Helene Grimaud, Chopin and Rachmaninov, Piano Sonatas; Snow Patrol, Final Straw

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The Limit Does Not Exist

Will wonders never cease? Time Warner’s “damage assessment specialist” called at 6:09pm. I was digging out the car (again) and saw him from across the street as I answered. We went up to the apartment, and, consulting his notes, he asked about “the dentures…?” Closer than “damage to kitchen floor,” I suppose. I showed him the broken retainer; he photographed it. He had me recount the story – an unlikely tale, certainly, but one which I would be neither able nor inclined to invent – which he then wrote down.

And so the saga slogs on. I’m only sorry I’m unable to provide the typical flourishes and interesting details, but having a giant internet corporation AND an orthodonist AND a dentist is quite enough for me to handle, though I swear I would not be surprised if a Cyclops showed up at this point.

Tomorrow – God and American Airlines willing – I fly to California. Perhaps I will see another one of these:

Incidentally, I polled people today to see how many books they thought I ought to bring. Including travel time, I’ll be gone for eight days; numerical answers ranged from 5 to 8, with one “the limit does not exist,” and a few people who answered the question with more questions (“How big are said books? Are they dense or easy reads? Is it really a problem if you have too many?”). Someone even went so far as to invent and apply an elegant little mathematical formula, which he then revised to take an element of choice into account. I have great friends.

The More-or-Less Final List of Books I’m Taking With Me

History Lesson for Girls, Aurelie Sheehan

Making Toast: A Family Story, Roger Rosenblatt

The Ghost Map, Steven Johnson

Lighthousekeeping, Jeanette Winterson

First Light, Rebecca Stead

Run, Ann Patchett (again)

And possibly

Wise Blood, Flannery O’Connor

The Polysyllabic Spree, Nick Hornby


The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield (again)

Tell No One, Harlan Coben

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Filed under animals, books, dentist, TWC

Creative Loopholes

Most of us, I think, have trouble letting go of things. Old relationships, the edge of the cliff, socks with holes in them. (On second thought, if you are hanging on to the edge of a cliff, you might want to hang on to it a bit longer, until help comes.) These other things, though – holey socks and underwear, papers from third grade, old bits of string, used wrapping paper, calendars from 2003 – well, there’s no logical reason for this pack-rat behavior (unless you grew up during the Depression, then you have a get-out-of-jail-free card where pack-rat-ism is concerned). And we all, except maybe those folks over at Unclutterer, have some of this flotsam and jetsam lying about, and we just can’t make ourselves part with it.

For one pair of socks in particular, I decided that the time had come. Off with their heads!

Or rather, their toes.

Ta-da! I have transformed the socks into wrist warmers. These will stand in nicely for the wrist warmers I tried and failed to knit a while back, and this solution spares me the emotional trauma of having to throw out a perfectly good sock just because its mate couldn’t hack it.

The holey heel went in the trash; the other heel is now my camera case, but for obvious reasons I could not take a picture of it serving its new function.

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