Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cooking this week...

This week I cooked last week's Chicken with Caramelized Onions and Apples, but with pork chops. Equally delicious.

I also cooked potato-leek soup, again from the Moosewood Cookbook. So simple and delicious, with russet potatoes and leeks, although I use chicken stock rather than vegetable. Next time I'll add a little bacon--sooner rather than later, since I plan to cook more such soup this week. It's finally soup weather here in the Big D, thank goodness.

7 in 7

Last day!
  1. HP laptop (and case, and cord) from My U's tech (Monday)
  2. Mac AIR loaned by my pal (plus cord) loaned as "real" laptop for summer 2010
  3. Substantial group of student-written work that I am turning into a database and archive at My U's library
  4. Humidifier a friend loaned me
  5. Library books and videos I am done with
  6. Goodwill stuff piling up for two weeks, including crockpot and vacuum
  7. Clothes I want to take to local consignment shop


October's music videos... last day!

Last one: #22, George Michael, "Faith"

Which has been a good thing for me during the last 2 weeks!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

7 in 7

  1. HP laptop (and case, and cord) from My U's tech (Monday)
  2. Mac AIR loaned by my pal (plus cord) loaned as "real" laptop for summer 2010
  3. Substantial group of student-written work that I am turning into a database and archive at My U's library
  4. Humidifier a friend loaned me
  5. Library books and videos I am done with
  6. Goodwill stuff piling up for two weeks, including crockpot and vacuum
  7. Clothes I want to take to local consignment shop

Yesterday's task not done, despite a day that started at 6:00 am and ended about 11:30, with a coffee-work date with friend, independent study class with student, meeting with chair, haircut, and play at My U last night. Long day, and yet...

October's music videos

#21, Talking Heads, "Burning Down The House" -- live version

Friday, October 29, 2010

If I were in Paris... Friday, October 29, 2010

The point of cafes is... nothing.

Well, that's a dramatic statement but in some ways very true. I am stting here, now, in a coffee spot in the Big D with a friend, and we're working. She has her laptop, her iPad, her keyboard, her Blackberry... all on. And she's listening to music (I think) through her headphones connected to said iPad.

I have my laptop, my iPod (playing Philip Glass's soundtrack for The Hours), and my phone.

I see 3 folks on laptops, with phones or headphones. Another 2 with notebooks, writing and scratching; one is doing Bible study.

Two women with children chatting... and five people in line for take-away coffee.

If I were in Paris, I might have my laptop, but more likely a book or notebook, scratching away not at "work" of any kind but... whatever. I would certainly be enjoying the people passing by or my book, but I would not be texting, or wifi-ing. I might be talking on my phone (Parisians are even more likely to be doing this, as Europeans have said "ciao!" to landlines long ago).

The "point" however is no point. Time spent... not doing nothing, which suggests wasting time, but actually putting time to good use for replenishing, considering, observing the world and the people in it, and enjoying time. Rather than rushing through it.

These are not new thoughts--even for me--because when I first returned from Paris, I was struck anew at our "cafes" (read this older post on my former blog!). But even here in the Big D there are few places one can sit and watch... let's face it: Starbucks is not exactly Paris, which is why Parisians hate the chain's invasion in their city. It is faux-Paris.

Don't get me wrong: I love me some American cafe where I can get good coffee, meet a friend, and do work. But I do not fool myself that it is the same, just different.

I miss "just" sitting. "Just" reading. "Just" people-watching. Sigh.

7 in 7

  1. HP laptop (and case, and cord) from My U's tech (Monday)
  2. Mac AIR loaned by my pal (plus cord) loaned as "real" laptop for summer 2010
  3. Substantial group of student-written work that I am turning into a database and archive at My U's library
  4. Humidifier a friend loaned me
  5. Library books and videos I am done with
  6. Goodwill stuff piling up for two weeks, including crockpot and vacuum
  7. Clothes I want to take to local consignment shop
 So far, on track.

October's music videos

#20, Wham, "Wake me up.."

Ah, the original boyz.

Nothing to add.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

7 in 7

  1. HP laptop (and case, and cord) from My U's tech (Monday)
  2. Mac AIR loaned by my pal (plus cord) loaned as "real" laptop for summer 2010
  3. Substantial group of student-written work that I am turning into a database and archive at My U's library
  4. Humidifier a friend loaned me
  5. Library books and videos I am done with
  6. Goodwill stuff piling up for two weeks, including crockpot and vacuum
  7. Clothes I want to take to local consignment shop


Express Checkout Experiment -- Week Two

Thus far, Week Two has been successful. I am not bored or feeling limited. Rather, it is one less thing I am worrying about in this two-weeek period of pressure on so many fronts. Again, because I sat down and planned my weekly wearing--oh, well, since there were only 15 pieces I planned the entire four weeks' worth of wearings! OCD, hello!--I know every morning what combination of pieces I will put on and what accessories, shoes, and jewelry I will add.

I usually do this on a weekly basis, but so much easier and quicker to plan when I am dealing with only 15 pieces.

And I feel good about what I am wearing, every day. Which is borne out by the reactions of my students and others around me.

Yesterday I wore my sweater dress for the first time. It was entirely the first time I had worn it, but as one of my 15 pieces, I had to wear it this week. I combined it with a thin black belt, black suede Maryjanes, and tights, a black tank underneath, silver bracelet and earrings, and a white scarf. Note: I did change shoes three times. I had planned to wear boots, but that look was too bold for me, right now. I changed to suede heels (they pinched!), and then to the suede Maryjanes, which I love and which were surprisingly comfy all day. The outfit is a different one for me, in that the dress is more form-fitting than I usually wear, and while casual, not "jeans and a shirt."

When I walked into my building, I met one of my students. She gave me a startled once-over as we said hi, and went to class. I was a little nervous, but when I walked into class, all the girls said, as one, "We like your dress!" Oh, how nice!

Then, I was going to my car to get something, I ran into the campus mailman, who is about 30. He gave me a "Hello" combined with a hot once-over. Well! Long time since I got one of those!

Our Big D weather is a touch too hot, still, for sweaters, so the dress and 4 sweaters I carefully added to my short list are still a little underused. Can't wait for this coming week--it's supposed to be a crisp autumn series of days.

Next week I plan to add underworn jewelry to the mix every day.

Hello, Universe, again

Yesterday I ran into a colleague with whom I had been commiserating about My U's old-fashioned and snobby attitudes about distance learning. Looks like My U is loosening up and this colleague wants me to teach a course this summer--at full pay--to "test the waters."

Best part: I have the course ready because I put it forward last summer, and it got shot down. But not for the course's content--because distance learning "is too University of Phoenix" for some folks. Yah, we aren't exactly the Harvard of the Southwest, either. And distance learning can be a challenging and provocative way to teach students using new pedagogies.

So there!

But again, Hello, Universe!

October's music videos

#19, M.C. Hammer, "You Can't Touch This"

The girls, the colors, the crazy crazy PANTS!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

7 in 7, three

Keep it goin'!

  1. HP laptop (and case, and cord) from My U's tech (Monday)
  2. Mac AIR loaned by my pal (plus cord) loaned as "real" laptop for summer 2010
  3. Substantial group of student-written work that I am turning into a database and archive at My U's library
  4. Humidifier a friend loaned me
  5. Library books and videos I am done with
  6. Goodwill stuff piling up for two weeks, including crockpot and vacuum
  7. Clothes I want to take to local consignment shop

Review: Phedre

About two weeks about I saw the rebroadcast of Phedre, the National Theatre production that was live simulcast in their new program of National Theatre Live! This was a 2009 production, but via technology we can all enjoy the performance by Helen Mirren--and others. Actually, I just came for Mirren: proof once again that she is a great actress, not just a movie star with style but a great freaking actress on stage, too.

I do want to address the program of National Theatre Live. It is a great idea, and not solely because it brings productions that I couldn't see without travelling to London regularly (which would not be a hardship in any way but financially). It is a really brave idea, because they are simulcasting some wacky stuff to theatres all over the world--throughout Britain, Europe, and the U.S.--not just "regular" theatre offerings but things by Complicite and the soon-to-come Hamlet. In other words, REAL plays and REAL theatre.

The production of Phedre is in their medium-sized theatre, the Lyttleton, and the filming is in HD--gorgeously done. My caveat is this: it is a live theatre performance filmed and edited as film as much as theatre... and therin lies the trap for actors as well as us, the audience. Some of the actors are obviously much more comfortable with the small-size event of film, while others are not. Mirren floats seamlessly between, or beyond, never even noting the cameras, or even the reality of the 21st century.

What I mean is, this is not a one-camera-focused-on-the-stage event. It is not that simple nor that naive. It is, in its own way, a documentary film of a theatre production of Phedre, without the interviews or accompanying junk of most such films surrounding it. The camera(s) move. There is editing. There are close-ups as well as full-screen views of the full stage.

By giving us this (transparent) interference with a "live" broadcast in a movie theatre, the "filmed" element seems to go away.

But it is there, influencing our viewing of this piece.

Now: let me say that this was what I consider to be "theatre" at its best. Not cinematic theatre, not a mutated version of TV, not a watery "relatable experience." But balls to the wall theatre--Racine's amazing, take no prisoners 17th-century drama.

Again caveat. The National did not do it in rhyming couplets, which is okay. It is hard for 21st century audiences to hear rhymed couplets in tragedy... and not go all Hallmark. It is also... slow... for us 21st century folks. But, like watching Shakespeare (real Shakespeare, not watery "relatable" Shakespeare), once you give yourself to it, settle in, and accept you are in the flow of Racine's great dramaturgy... you are golden.

Mirren was great. Of course, she looked great, in a series of wonderfully designed costumes meant to evoke both ancient Greece, 17th century France, tragedy as a great art, and modern sensibilities (how?): she was a queen in the throes of a desperate sexual passion for her stepson. Racine gives us a Phedre who knows this "curse" has been set upon her by Venus as a punishment, and we meet a woman who would rather die than give in to this illicit, adulterous love--even by a look or a word.

Built in to the best of 17th century heroes and heroines is the moral dilemma of personal emotion vs. society's ethics (including Judeo-Christian precepts like fidelity and chastity). They struggle with these conflicts, and rathher than give in to them quickly and deal with the consequences (like 21st century drama), much of the play is about Phedre refusing to give in to this overwhelming desire/love. When the situation changes--we all think Theseus, her husband and Hippolytus's father--is dead--she can now let go and allow herself to feel, to express her feelings, to open her heart and pour out her HUGE passion like the tsunami that it is.

The point, in 17th century drama, is the tension of not being caught between the self and society in a moral dilemma. The tension between one's two-year-old passions and the demands of the community for respect and concern for the rights of other's equal to or before one's own... is, for Racine, huge. Moliere's comic version of this--where people do give in--is equally devastating, but on the domestic scale.

No one is quite as good as Mirren in this version, although her confidente is played by Margaret Tyzack, who has the thankless role of doublecrossing everyone... she is the bad guy in Racine's version, and here plays it with the assurance of a seasoned actress. The scenes between Mirren and Tyzack are wonderful to watch.

Dominic Cooper as Hippolytus is overwhelmed by Mirren's skills; he is a nice boy, good-looking, although the notion to put him in a Don Johnson stubble and somehat grubby A-shirt seem like the choices of a music video rather than a serious theatrical costume. His pretty looks are saved by the small screen editing (close-ups) that mask the fact that he doesn't know what to do with his body: no tension, no fear, no hidden secrets or subtext. He seems to be inspired more by Brando's Stanley Kowalski than anything, and I waited for him to fall to his knees and bellow, "Aricia!!!!!! Aricia baby!!!!!!!" for his Big Moment. he wanders aimlessly on the stage, and the more experienced actors kindly cover for his youth and lack of awareness of the deep emotions running through Hippolytus: love, hatred, despair, disgust, anger. For the life of me, Racine's explanation seems apt: Venus must have cursed Phedre, otherwise why would such a woman have such a monumental crush on such a shallow boy... but ah, haven't we all been there?

Stanley Townsend as Theseus seemed like Santa Claus trying to play Big Daddy. Yoink! He yelled and strutted and gestured and bellowed and pointed his beard and big tummy around the stage like weapons... but I did not believe him as a formidable man in his middle-aged prime who was a serious force in this tragedy. Or even a very good king. We are to believe that Theseus has been the sexual bad boy of the Aegean, playing hide the salami with every woman he meets, making them swoon with his charisma... and this is one reason his son hates him and has become such a chaste boy. For me, couldn't be. Townsend might hire lapdancers or courtesans, but no way was he ever the Errol Flynn of the Greek city-states and beyond... if you get my meaning.

The set: fantastic. The costumes, as said: fantastic. The actresses in general: excellent! The younger women who played Aricia and her confident were strong, although Aricia was the weakest of the bunch. Pretty, sad, etc., the actress found strength in the character, but there was little spark.

October music videos

#18, Irene Cara, "Flashdance"

I'm a welder, I'm a ballerina... I'm a welder! I'm a stripper! Oh, the identity confusion of the early 80s!

And dig the crazy legwarmers! You know you had a pair... or three!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

7 in 7, too

The first two tasks on my list completed (after today):
  1. HP laptop (and case, and cord) from My U's tech (Monday)
  2. Mac AIR loaned by my pal (plus cord) loaned as "real" laptop for summer 2010
  3. Substantial group of student-written work that I am turning into a database and archive at My U's library
  4. Humidifier a friend loaned me
  5. Library books and videos I am done with
  6. Goodwill stuff piling up for two weeks, including crockpot and vacuum
  7. Clothes I want to take to local consignment shop

 Give it away, give it away, give it away, yeah!

October's music videos

#17, Prince, "Purple Rain" from the movie of the same name.

Iconic. Don't mess with Prince!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Summer 2010 photos

I realized that I have a lot of pictures not posted. Here's a few.

From top to bottom: the site plaque above Erik Satie's home, Montmartre; roses poking above a wall behind Sacre Coeur; the stairway leading downhill on Rue de la Bonne, Montmartre; the interior poke of I.M.Pei's pyramid in the Louvre Carrousel; the Tour Eiffel from the Tuileries; the place de la Bastille; the #14 Metro.

7 in 7

This week, I will give back everything I have that does not belong in my house or to me. Especially those things that I have been meaning to give back for some (unidentified) time.

Example: the HP laptop My U loaned me for this summer because it is against our licensing agreement with Apple for us (academics) to take our Macs out of the country.

(Sidenote: yes, this is a crazy agreement/idea, where academics given laptops to use for research/writing/communication/classroom presentations cannot take same laptops out of the US for their non-US conferences, research, classroom/teaching, and other uses. The HP laptop I could take was 5 lbs. heavier, slower, older, with smaller RAM... you name it, it was a limitation. Why, oh why did we agree to this?)

I have plenty of stuff I have been meaning to return, or stuff I planned to shift out of the house to another location (like my office), or other excuses. Here's the bulk of it. My goal = one thing/number out per day.
  1. HP laptop (and case, and cord) from My U's tech (Monday)
  2. Mac AIR loaned by my pal (plus cord) loaned as "real" laptop for summer 2010
  3. Substantial group of student-written work that I am turning into a database and archive at My U's library
  4. Humidifier a friend loaned me
  5. Library books and videos I am done with
  6. Goodwill stuff piling up for two weeks, including crockpot and vacuum
  7. Clothes I want to take to local consignment shop
By next Monday... zoomed!

October's music videos

#16, Dire Straits, "Sultans of Swing"

One of the best rock songs ever, in my opinion, especially with Knopfler on guitar. This is the live version, since the video is un-embedded.

Bonus: "Tunnel of Love" which I really liked. Great sound.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

When the Universe gives you a dope-slap upside the head....

Pay attention!

That's the lesson for this week.

Events that have piled up:
  1. By chance, met the founder and producer of a local women's theatre company in a different location of a favorite grocery store, a location I had never shopped in before and simply stopped on a whim.
  2. This same women's theatre is producing a reading of a play by a friend of mine, with whom I had lost touch.
  3. I googled her--my friend--and connected with her new blog... and in the 2 years since I saw her she's managed three blogs, a baby, and three cross-country moves... damn! She's also written a blog and a play about her experience, turning a topsy-turvy experience into wonderful stuff.
  4. I'm having drinks with former students tonight, arranged a while ago, all alums of the playwriting festival I produce... I plan to pick their brains re: new formation/energizing.
  5. I had coffee yesterday with a good friend and the outcome was a plan for positive forward movement... and world domination (as a by-product).
  6. Our "write-in" with Suzan Lori Parks was successful, where students watched a famous, award-winning playwright actually work... no glamour, no nothin' but typing... on an old orange typewriter... one page at a time.
  7. I met the chair of one of the graduate writing program and shared red wine with him recently... great connection for future plans...
More? I bet... yes.

Dope-slap upside self's head: stop whining and get to work. Set goals. Work on them daily. Stay on track, no matter what the nay-sayers, troublemakers, and high maintenance drama-queens do. Get un-stuck and stay that way. Be free. Laugh more.

October's music videos

#15, Joan Jett, "I Love Rock & Roll"

You go, girl.

I notice the music vids by women aren't protected... what's that about?

"Put another dime in the juke box, baby" -- wow!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cooking this week...

This week I took advantage of fall fruits and sales. I also caramalized 10 big white onions in my crockpot, following the directions provided by Frugal Scholar. Worked like a charm, although yes, the apartment did kind of stink for a few hours. But now I've got about 8 cups of onions frozen for onion soup or whatever I want this coming winter.

I cooked Poached Pears in Red Wine, one of my favorite easy French dishes. I used a new recipe, out of a cookbook someone gave me, Four Seasons Cooking in France by Sylvie Tardrew: never used it before. But the recipe was simple, and I halved it for 3 pears.

1. Peel 6 (or 3) pears, sprinkling with lemon as you peel.
2. Stand the pears in a pan, not touching. Cover them with 2/3 c. superfine sugar (I used 1 envelope of vanilla sugar, which seemed a lot for all three, honestly). Add 1 pinch salt and 1 bottle red Provincale wine (I used 1/2 bottle). Add the peel of 1 orange, 1 stick cinnamon, 1 peppercorn (just used all this as is).
3. Bring pears to a boil, uncovered. As soon as wine starts to boil, reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes.
4. Gently lift out the pears and set aside.
5. Boil the remaining juice to reduce by half. Cool. Pour over pears. Chill all in fridge until time to serve.


I also cooked chicken breasts with caramalized onions and apples, in a recipe from Again, I was only cooking two chicken breasts but I added a second apple, and so kept the rest of the proportions the same as the original recipe (a little less vinegar, probably only 2 tsps total). What turned out was a really tasty dish with lots more apples; since I used large breasts, I actually got 4 meals out of it. Oh, and I used Gala apples, which are tart, so the combination with the onions was perfect.

I did not use the cheese. Ugh.

The great thing about each recipe was that I already had most of the ingredients, and simply added the fruit (both on sale last week) and the caramalized onions. Even the red wine I already had on hand. Made for a "more fruit/less effort" week of eating, too.

October's music videos

#14, Blondie, "Call Me"

Including a young Richard Gere from AMERICAN GIGOLO.

We forget completely how iconic Blondie was in her look, her sound, her music. Early early music vids.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Express Checkout Challenge

Express Checkout Challenge
Express Checkout Challenge by pearl2164 featuring a pencil skirt
15 items for 4 weeks: white tshirt, black tshirt, white button shirt, blue button shirt, red silk top, purple draped pullover,black vneck pullover, black turtleneck, blue boyfriend cardigan, black shawl cardigan, black pencil skirt, black gored skirt, black trousers, jeans, black argyle sweater dress

This is close to what I am actually wearing in this line-up. Just so you know!

Express Checkout Experiment follow-up, Week #1

Well, 15 things seemed like too much, but with the weather here in Big D being all changeable and non-autumnal (after I chose the clothes, thank yew!), a couple of things happened. First, I realized more tops were better because the heat requires that I wash them more in sweaty weather, and, second, 2 tshirts were not enough. Actually fell off the wagon today because I needed a black tshirt and had to go with a non-blank one (sparkly one I bought in Paris, in fact) because everything needed washing. I live in an apartment without its own washer-dryer, so use the complex one once a week.

If the weather gets cool again next week, I am golden, but if not... same deal will arise, because 5 sweaters and 1 silk top do not equal 1 cotton shirt and 2 cotton tshirts. Oops.

Despite that, getting dressed every morning was easier because all that I have in sight in my closet and my 15 items. Everything else is pushed behind the doors. And the second closet, in my study, is not even an option. I worked accessories--scarves and jewelry, as well as shoes--all week, and enjoyed doing it. The basic black of most of my items is balanced by the few color items, but still, the scarves and earrings and necklaces were the stars of the moment. And I felt great about what I was wearing, too: surprise bonus!

Made it easier to pick out the 5 items to donate, too, which stretched into more, including 4 pairs of shoes. I already have my eye on two dresses which seemed destined for Goodwill next week.

If I were in Paris... Friday, October 22, 2010

The weather in Paris is still crisp, er, cool? 51-35 degrees Farenheit. Yikes, with a coat!

Today, I'd visit all the good museum shops in Paris so that I can be indoors. Here they are.

The top three:
Musees des Arts Decoratif: decorative arts, fashion, and the craftspeople & artists to know. Superb.
Musee d'Orsay: 19th-century Paris, in all its tremendous glory, plus the best knick-knacks and small/soft goods to take home to friends who love Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir, etc. Best jewelry and scarf selection, without hugeness of Louvre (same selection here, mostly). Good for kids, too. Fantastic bookstore.
Cathedral de Sainte-Chapelle: Medieval Paris, in all its glory. Best CDs, best gifts and postcards, least number of crazy people (for a cathedral gift shop!). Wonderful tapestries, pillows, etc. Bonus: you have to see the cathedral to shop here, which is a huge upside to any day!

What I consider the basic or middle-tier five:
Musee Carnavalet: Good bookshop with material that ranges throughout the history of Paris and from kids' books to scholarly tomes. Good tzochkas, small-change gifts and clever stuff about Paris. Good bookstore for material about Paris's history, famous people, and so forth without being academic. Very small and crowded, however, with erratic hours.
Musee Louvre: Huge, with much "stuff" from Louvre junk to academic/excellent books on the ground floor, and "gifts" on the first floor, with everything from jewelry to sculpture to prints and coasters. If in doubt, also visit the kiosk right outside for notepads, pencils, etc. or the shops in the alleyway from the Carrousel to the Louve lobby proper for postcards, notepads, pencils, and other small gift items. Why make yourself crazy in the actual shop? And the kids' shop in the alley is excellent: lots of great stuff for kids up to teens.
Musee Rodin: small, tight shop focused on Rodin and his cronies. Small but good selection of postcards and books relevant to same. Some worthwhile stuff on 19th-century.
Centre Pompidou: Modern to contemporary art, video, and digital stuff. Wide range of books, postcards, and materials. Excellent coverage for 20th-21st century art and artists.
Musee Cluny: excellent site for medieval goods. Small, hot, crowded shop... usually... which detracts from its charm. But I've found some good (overpriced) things here that I love.

Small bookstores that are only okay:
Musee de la Vie Romantique: tiny space not properly called a bookstore. But the connection to the tea garden is worth it. When they have a good book about an exhibit, it is GREAT! Ditto jewelry selection here, when it is present. Only a handful of postcards, ever.
Opera Garnier: Again, small kiosk, erratically open, but great selection of CDs, DVDs, and print material about opera and ballet: best in city. Don't go out of your way, but the location and the opportunity to visit the museum/opera itself is worth a trip. Nice selection of stuff for young girls who are ballet-mad, including jewelry.
Cathedral de Notre Dame: I find this bookstore (and the one at Sacre Coeur) annoying on several levels. The space is too small and always over-crowded, the merchandise is poorly displayed, the clerks are haphazard int heir desire to help or to sell to you. Sigh. Too many crazy people looking for a holy item--sorry, but that's not for sale here. I don't mean to be disrespectful, but the fact is what they sell are CDs, rosaries, and postcards, not the bones of St. Peter. Unfortunately, I've been elbowed by too many people who think they're fighting me over a piece of the True Cross to even waste my time here.

Finish with a hot chocolate in an outdoor cafe with heaters or the Galleries Lafayette cafe overlooking the rear of the Opera Garnier. Perfect!

October's music videos

#13, Devo, "Whip It"

Ok, not Devo... but O.M.G.

And, yes, Devo... now.

See the classic on YouTube...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

New Opportunity

As I said yesterday, it is possible that a new opportunity is presenting itself. I am being cautious only because the whole situation is still vague. That's part of my interest: can I shape this new opportunity? Maybe, if I don't wait too long.

In a way, this is something that has been coming for a long time. In another way, this is brand-new, unexpected, surprising. Which is good: nothing much has been surprising for quite some time.

Of course, change means shifts, complaints, rough edges, uncertainty, and discomfort, as well as new possibilities. Nobody likes change, especially when it forces change on them.

But, again, this is a possibility that doesn't seem like a dead end. Instead, it feels exciting and like an open door--as if it is leading somewhere, instead of nowhere. The fact is that colleagues and even my department haven't supported this key program for some time, beyond the basics. To see and feel this has been sad and frustrating, but priorities shift and programs evolve. What is hardest is to hear colleagues simply devalue students' work: I have been told about this by students, who have heard it from other professors outright in class, or, as yesterday, to be told that students' work is "painful" to watch. That's right: the one sure thing in our business is that students will be awkward, clumsy, make missteps, and sometimes look completely awful. They're in training, right? So "painful" is par for the course... admit it or not. What we're supposed to focus on is their growth, their improved skills, and their evolving artistry.

That's my opinion, and not a majority one, it seems, in terms of this particular program.

I do not want to dwell. This is an opportunity, and I want to make it even more than it seems, something really great. Something new--which I need, too, as I said. So... onto making plans.

October music videos

#12, Springsteen, "Dancing in the Dark" -- the song that made him a video celebrity

Look for Courtney Cox, at about age 15. This was the first tour I saw in person, live at the Meadowlands and Giants Stadium... 3 times in all. And isn't the Boss just so cute?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hello, Universe!

Weirdly, since I started de-cluttering opportunities have emerged. Isn't that the universe signalling something?  Could be.

In any case, to date I've met a guy who overheard (listened to) some meetings with my students and is interested in getting me to write for his blog. Which is the blog for a local yoga center. Hmm.

Today, I got what might be an opportunity to profoundly change something that is actually stifling me. Something I believe in, but which has become a huge (HUGE) burden, especially as colleagues have baled on it. I have to go home, process, and consider the great, open, shifting possiblities... and how soon I can jump into them.

And this, just an hour after I urged my students to reconsider writing assignments as opportunities to write/create something, not boxes to be checked to make me happy/satisfied. Me, too.

I feel like I want to go home and fill three MORE bags with clothes, linens, and "stuff" to open up even more of the possibilities around me.

Big D Theatre

In the last weeks, I have seen several productions around the Big D area. They demonstrated a real mix of production choices, respect/disrespect for original texts, and the annoying notion of "relevance" for audiences.

First, we produced OUR TOWN, which is arguably one of the top five plays in American theatre, worthy of being in the top 25 plays of the 20th century. All too often it is played as a sentimental/Hallmark play using "realism" as its defining production style--ugh. Wilder would (and probably does) spin in his grave. Our production, directed by one of my colleagues, was pretty dead-on in its production, eliminating the inserted "realism" of high school versions and utilizing Wilder's stylistic choices. The ensemble casting was, for the most part, strong, and Stage Manager was even one of our faculty colleagues.

My only confusion was the choice to "stage" the play as a rehearsal, or to at least play the first act as a rehearsal, moving slowly by the third act to a more conventional "staged" play. This had been done in the recent NYC production (as I understand it) as a way into Wilder's unconventional notions for the play, where he mediates between conventional performance events of the 1930s and the anti-realistic wave coming in from Europe. In the least effective choice, this meant leaving the lights up during the entire first act and trading recorded sound effects for live sounds made, distractingly, by actors in the aisles. The most effective choices were to keep the actors to miming the actions of the script (although it was clear the young actresses had too often not researched stringing beans or lighting early 20th-century stoves) and to minimize stage pieces.

All in all, it was an effective and moving night of theatre, well directed and acted. One of the best I've seen on my divisional stages for a while.

By contrast, I also saw The Big Theatre's production of HENRY IV, PARTS I & II in one of the final performances. The biggest problems here were script cutting and directing, which in turn influenced the acting. The set and costumes, too, were unfortunate.

Both plays were jammed into 2 hours and 40 minutes: Part I was the first 2 hours, and Part II was chopped into the final 40 minutes. Why? The re-cutting emphasized the story of Hal and Falstaff, virtually ignored Hotspur (I know: how can that be?), and included 'way too much swordplay. It also inserted "music" into the show: a Loudon Wainwright tune (replacing a key monologue) and Blake's C of E hymn "Jerusalem" as a cry to battle/God. Both were more than unfortunate choices, I think meant to make the play "relatable" or "relevant" to Big D spectators. Ugh. In my opinion, the result was a jangling cacophony of badly inserted materials. The Wainwright song was, simply put, embarrassing, sung in a musical comedy style that undercut Hal's character.

There was a lot of scenes in the drunken pals/pub revelry style, allowing for the comedy. Deftly played, by the way by a veteran character actor doing an interesting take on Falstaff. The Hal was not up to the task, however, and came across as hardly material for a future Henry V. Even Henry IV was reduced to a cameo role, and the complexity of the two plays and their internal story about fathers and sons, inheritance, character, and leadership was completely lost.

The costumes looked like bad rentals from a regional production of Robin Hood or King Arthur--badly fitted, overall. And the dirty faces of the actors meant I didn't even recognize one of our seniors! The scaffolding that surrounded the seating--where the bulk of the athletic swordplay went on--was jiggly and noisy with its imprecise fitting (and sounded dangerous, in fact!), distracting me from what went on onstage.

And the lights never went down (again!), so they were in my eyes, distracting, kept me from focusing, and kept me watching people's expressions across the way, in the balcony, etc.

Sigh. Is this the new thing, this "lights up" stuff? Most directors aren't good enough to get away with it--like here--so the end result is simply weak.

One strong production, one weak... better than usual, actually.

October music videos

#11, Elvis, "That's All Right, Mama" from his 1968 "comeback" special.

This reminds us why Elvis was so good as a singer, not just a hip shakin' guy.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Great Deals in Big D

Lately I've been looking for deals in my quest for New Frugality. Here are a few I've found and are taking advantage of.

Free yoga classes: Lululemon Athletica sponsors free 60-minute yoga classes around town, with teachers from various yoga studios showing their stuff. Lululemon provides space (usually in a mall) and mats (if you need them), you show up. I've been doing this for the past month, and it is great.
  • Saturdays, 9 am, Northpark Mall's open space
  • Tuesdays, 6 pm, Galleria
  • Thursdays, 6 pm, new Whole Foods (only during October!)
This has motivated me to take a weekly class as well as use my own DVDs at home.

Free coffee: Sort of. Starbucks' rewards system rapidly earns you free refills and discounts. You go online and register any or all Starbucks cards, then take said cards into store or online and buy coffee. For each purchase, you earn stars, and when you get 5, you get free refills in stores. It builds from there.

This does necessitate using your Starbucks card in-store to buy coffee, but I had $15 of loaded and unregistered cards in my apartment anyway from another incentive program. That's 7 drinks in-store, which means free refills for each purchased drink and earned stars. It'll add up to free coffee... which is a treat any more. I've stopped "buying out" because $2 was ridiculous for one cup of coffee, when I could buy a bag of ground coffee for $7. I could drop $10 in coffee costs alone, per week... and I drink regular drip stuff!

But I missed those early Saturday mornings at the Starbucks cafe where I got out of the house and wrote, religiously, for 2 hours. Now I can take those back at a reasonable price and 2 (not 1) grande drip!

And free cup o' joe on your birthday!

Note: Starbucks is also running a promotion whereby if you purchase a specially marked 12 oz. bag of coffee in grocery stores, you can redeem said (empty) bag for a tall drink... for free. I have four bags right now in my front seat, ready for redemption! I'm already buying Starbucks only when it is discounted to the same or less than Seattle's Best or other comparable brands (like for $6.99) and then saving the cost of a tall drink, too? That's another $1.75, making the actual $9.99 bag cost essentially $5.24: a nearly 50% savings.

Again, it's a treat.

(Nearly) Free restaurant dinners: OK, this one is a little less "free," but offers online discount certificates to local restaurants. For example, you can buy a $25 certificate for $10, meaning you pay 40% of the "regular" price. Now this is an eat-in/no liquor/add 12% tip deal, so one has to be careful in the restaurant not to go crazy. For 2 people, the savings is only $12.50 each, right?

Last week, I bought a $25/$10 certificate for only $3: meaning I spent $3 for $25 certificate, same rules apply. OK, I saved $7 off the initial cost. If a friend and I go out to this restaurant, spend the $35 required (yeah, a catch, but we do) and use the certificate, we each spend only $6.50 ($10 over $25 and $3 initial cost, split). $35 in this town in the restaurants on the list means 1 drink each (beer or happy hour deal), shared appetizer, individual entrees, and individual coffees.

Granted, we keep the tab running in our heads, don't buy dessert, don't have two drinks, etc.... but if we do, a nice meal can be had for diner costs. And we get to try out new restaurants. This week we ate at Mint, an Asian fusion palce in my neighborhood. Nice atmosphere, great happy hour deals, and goooooood food!

October's music videos

#10, Paula Abdul -- "Straight Up"

For those who only know Abdul from American Idol, here is why she was there, in the first place.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Life of the Mind, Mondays

Sometimes as a teacher it is hard not to be discouraged. This morning, my students all come to class--half of them what I call "just late," meaning walking in as the clock strikes 9 a.m., which is when class starts. They are slow, sleepy, hungover from their doings of the weekend... and bring no energy or vitality into the class.

We start with writing exercises meant to get their engines revving. Nothing. They lean on their hands, yawn, scribble. We read aloud, and the work is good. They get no charge from that, however, so the second bout of writing reads just as sluggishly as the first. Disconnected, sleepy bodies, turning heads to see the clock, eating breakfast they brought with them.

We read aloud again. Again, good work, but no charge for them in hearing their own work, or each other's.

We break. After break, we talk about their weekend's assignment, which had too many requirements, or didn't connect for them with the base-work writing we did last week in class to prep for it, or the format is too hard. Every answer demonstrates an "I can't" resistance. All excuses for leaving the assignment to the last minute and then doing it half-assed. "Not my fault, the assignment wasn't what I expected."

We talk about the assigned reading, from WRITING DOWN THE BONES by Goldberg. Still, they don't spark, they worry about what she means by "their voice," "having fun," "trust the process." In essence, they demonstrate that they don't trust the process, their voice, their work, and are simply fearful about where they are. Why can't it be easier? Why can't they just write without adding criteria? Why use this format, because it is too restricting? Why not use multiple voices? Again, their questions demonstrate their resistance to trust and their own possibilities.

They are the tofu Goldberg talks about: impossible to wrestle with, they are simply inert beings this morning. Everything I require, right now, is wrong--which they tell me, by sighing hugely, staring at the clock, telling they didn't get anything out of the exercise but they're sure I had a reason for assigning it--they just couldn't/didn't do it as I laid it out and if they did, it failed for them. But the thing that is wrong is the assignment, not their own resistance. They are stuck in their process, unwilling to acknowledge that they've reached a place where they must work harder to achieve success. Untrusting of their own talent or ability, so undercutting it by presenting poor work and blaming the process.

What they don't understand is that they are creating a failure trap for themselves: they'll tell themselves they fail because the assignments were "wrong" or "too hard," not because they didn't step up. Not because they slipped the criteria (because they were "hard") or because they put off the work (because they were "busy"). Their writing is not about me, but about what they bring to the assignments and to the class--which, today, was discouragingly little.

On another day, they'll be lively and fun. They'll jump in and grow. They'll stop standing betweenthemselves and the work, and they'll be fine.

But that is another day.

October's music videos

#9, Foster and Lloyd, "Texas in 1880"

This duo was great.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Express Lane Checkout, plus

Okay, adding to this--as if it wasn't enough--I challenge myself to give away 5 items of clothing (or more) per week of those things I do not wear. Already lined up this week's 5 items: one Boden dress I have worn once since I bought it two years ago, two culotte skirts, one pair red heeled sandals I "had" to have, and one pair of very cute black-and-white cutout pumps I never wore this summer.

Makes it very clear where my money is going... and not to good places.

Challenge: Express Lane Checkout -- Starting today!

Again, obsessed with my own consumerism and "stuff," I am taking up Duchesse's challenge, which comes out of the Six items or Less challenge.

From October 17 to November 14, I'll be wearing the same rotating series of pieces. To work, to social events, etc.

First, my 15 items (After all, express lanes are 15 items or less, n'est-ce pas?):
  1. straight-leg jeans (of course!)
  2. black trousers
  3. black pencil skirt
  4. black gored skirt
  5. white V-neck tshirt
  6. black V-neck tshirt
  7. white shirt
  8. blue shirt
  9. red silk tunic
  10. purple pullover tunic
  11. black V-neck pullover
  12. black turtleneck
  13. black sweater dress
  14. black open cardigan
  15. long blue cardigan
Obviously, that's a lot of black. Especially for Big D. But I wear a lot of black anyway, and this will make me focus on using my accessories--especially scarves and shoes--creatively. The tshirts are staples for me: I wear them as layering constantly, under pullovers and shirts in a climate that is always cockeyed in terms of temperatures.

One of my decluttering goals is to eliminate duplicates and extras in areas like clothing. Do I really need three red sweaters, all with different necklines or weights? Can I get along with one? Ditto blue, and turquoise, and purple, and gray, and brown, all my go-to colors.

The philosophical issue here is also key. I am someone who loves clothes, style, dressing up, experimenting with different looks--always have, from the first moment I started making clothes for my Barbies and saying a definitive "no!" to saddle shoes (had to wear them anyway, and did not like it!). But style is different than fashion, yo, and as a woman now in her mid-life, short, and battling weight, I am aware that I am not the demographic for designers. And anyway, who wants to be owned by her clothes?

When I went back to teaching after my '08 sabbatical (pardon me, research leave), I spent a semester actually living this experiment without knowing it. I wore only the following: jeans (2 pair), black pants, black pin-striped pants, black cashmere pullover, brown cashmere pullover, white tshirt, black tshirt, gray tshirt. At least four days a week I rotated these options (8 choices). I didn't even vary accessories: I wore the same two scarves, same two pairs of ankle boots, same two skinny belts, and a few pairs of earrings.

The result: No one noticed!

Or at least, no one said anything to me. Somewhere around March, I thought, "Is this a problem?" and went on. Threw out the tshirts in May and bought three duplicates (at Target). Sooooooooooooooo.... ???

My goals here:
1. to disconnect from clothes I don't wear so I can consign/Goodwill them
2. to utilize scarves and throws to the max, and discard the ones I don't wear
3. ditto earrings, necklaces, pins, and other jewelry
4. to spark creativity in a new way
5. to re-think my relationship to clothes, style, and my body
6. to save money by not spending on clothes (especially clothes I don't wear!)
7. to develop appropriate and appealing outfits for the life I live, not the life I used to live or don't live.

Reports and updates every week, probably on Friday or Saturday.

October's music videos

#8 "In the Navy" -- but this is the Muppets, not the Village People

Why? All VP videos are no available.... and this is, uh, hilarious. As itself and as a stand-in for the VP.

I highly recommend that you visit YouTube and watch the original VP videos. Late 70s: and so far ahead of their time!

Saturday, October 16, 2010


This week, I cooked very little. I had to finish off a few leftovers from the end of last week and I ate out twice.

The main dish I cooked was white beans and sausage, using three of the remaining Aidell links, in the variety of Chicken/Spinach/Feta Cheese. Using a little white wine, chicken broth, and herbes de provence, I got a simple (tres simple!) kind of cassoulet. Just shows one should always have bacon on hand: that would have added a great flavor as well as just being bacon. I am currently trying to use up all the dried beans I have on hand, as well as become a more proficient bean cook. Usually I simply open a can, but in the interests of frugality and flavor I am focusing on dried beans right now. I'm going to try this recipe again, and if it turns out a little better (more patience with beans and some bacon, less herbes de provence and more oregano) I'll document it here.

Cassoulet, real cassoulet is an all-day, multi-ingredient kind of dish that is completely worth it, but better to order in a French restaurant for me, right now. But it is a rich, hearty dsh that would be wonderful in the cooler autumn weather.

This coming week, I plan to cook Chicken, Apples, and Onions, taking advantage of seasonal offerings, as well as a different type of Pumpkin Soup. No beans this time. I would also like to use a real pumpkin,not canned, but again time is a factor. 

I also bought some great pears, and with the addition of some spice and bottle of red wine plan to make poached pears--again, a great dish in the crisper autumn weather.

October's music videos

#7 Janis Joplin "Piece of my Heart"

Not strictly a music video but a clip of Joplin on TV live.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I knew it!

As soon as I wrote it... so now I am halfway through The Sun Also Rises and loving it... again, of course, and absolutely homesick for Le Dome and Le Select and La Rotonde, walking the streets of Paris in the soft, blurred evening... breaks my heart, every time. Damned Hemingway!

If I were in Paris... Friday, October 15, 2010

Autumn is actually my favorite time of year in Paris. The heat is gone, and there is a real season to be experienced. The temperatures are dropping, the air is crisp, and sundown comes early: nights are dark and cooooool. I'd already be wearing a jacket, sweaters, scarves, maybe even gloves.

Tomorrow's temps are going to be between 60 and 44 degrees. Crisp, cool, and stimulating.

On a normal day, I'd be tripping over to Tolbiac (here's my first ever link to the library, on the old blog). Most days, I'd take the Metro #14: a quicker ride than the bus.

I know that sometime during this fall I'd be visiting the new Greek rooms at the Louvre. Two whole new galleries, according to the website. There is also an exhibition on 17th century books: Musees des papiers--L'Antiquite en livres, 1600-1800.

The Cape Town Opera is presenting Show Boat at the Theatre du Chatelet. I saw signs for this in June, and just wondered about seeing this intrinsically American musical presented by a South African company to a Parisian audience. Would be worth getting a ticket just to see. And I've never seen a reallly good version of Show Boat.

One perfect autumnal day would include a morning spent with a book, coffee, and a croissant at a cafe overlooking the backside of Notre Dame as the sun crawls up the sky, followed by a slow, soft walk along the Seine westward (an old blog entry from 10.08). I'd head over to Eglise Saint-Sulpice to see the Delacroix mural. Then to the Musee National Eugene Delacroix, which I found this summer. It is a small museum based in the artist's home, with a back garden ripe for sitting and reading. The museum is located in a small, quiet square. Delightful. As I do this, it would be great to have Delacroix's journal to read.

And around the corner is St. Germain-des-Pres, Monoprix, Repetto (ballerines), Grom (gelato), the Village Voice (English-language bookstore), and Coffee Parisien, one of my favorite "American" joints. All within walking distance, all offering wonderful diversions. Tired? An espress' at Cafe de Flore provides a second wind.

I'd really like to finish the day by finding one of those cafes overlooking a busy square (where four or five streets come together) and, grabbing a table overlooking the square, sip a glass of robust red wine and watch les Francais exit from cars, busses, and Metro. We would all enjoy the end of the day with a little wine, a kir, a coffee while the darkness of the fall night settles in. Maybe a little bit of The Sun Also Rises--or is that too cliched? I haven't read it for a long time, but like Remembrance of Things Past, I bet it is easier to read in Paris.

This is also the season to take a final day-trip to Vernon and Giverny before Monet's home is closed forthe winter. Few tourists, small crowds, and the garden in its autumn glory--a very dfferent picture than we usually see.

October's music videos

#6 Freddie Fender "Wasted Days & Wasted Nights"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Stonehenge 2010

This summer I managed to get some great pictures of the ancient site when we visited as a group. This was my fifth visit, and for the first time I actually captured the feeling of the site.

The weirdest thing is trying not to get the two streams of traffic surrounding the peaceful stones, the constant stream of visitors (us included) circling the stones and clicking away, and in general the ridiculousness of the noisy, superficial 21st century crashing up against the solid constancy of the unknowable prehistoric past.

Our students, unable to walk among the stones, to touch them or to confront them one-on-one, can only snap camera-phone pix and chatter about the same old/same old as they circle around, thru the gift shop, and back onto the bus. Somehow, even the small distance of the grass here, keeping us out of their ring, disconnects us from their magic: they seem "not real," of course, but in a surprisingly unsubstantial way. The magical facts given by the headsets don't connect us.

But the stones are beautiful, silent, patient, and there as we pass through... 

In two years, I'll be back and they be the same, except for infinitesimal loss. Can I say the same? Would I want to?

October's music videos

#5 Roy Orbison and K.D. Lang, "Crying"

Originally made for the movie Hiding Out, an 80s classic.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

This week's New Frugality: Savings and De-Clutter

I've been focusing on "frugality" for the past month. Not by not spending money, unfortunately, but by spending in a smarter way, trying to change my spending habits. The result: savings and de-cluttering.

Goals I accomplished this month:
  • Pay off two credit cards
  • Keep a record of monies saved and transfer that amount into savings account, week by week
The first goal was happily accomplished. Granted, I paid off the two smaller ones, using both monies saved from this summer's extra income and money owed me that finally arrived. This leaves me with two credit card accounts, one very large one and one not-so-large that got out of hand last spring. I plan to incorporate the $350 I was paying each month into the small accounts into the not-so-large one's payment--which means that by next March, it will be paid off completely. Then I can funnel all the payments into the largest one, and pay that off within the year. My overall goal: to eliminate the crdit card hangover debt that I have had for some time, paying dribs and drabs. Then that money can go into savings, partially for retirement and partially for emergencies.

The only downside here was that I used about half of my extra savings from the summer to pay these bills, together with the in-coming owed money. This means I will have to be more carefully budgeting through the fall to not use the rest of the savings too quickly.

The second goal was also achieved, happily. I had some lucky savings last month and I kept record of it. I dumped it all into my second, secret savings account. I keep record of my savings on a weekly basis, through savvy shopping, using coupons, and online eBates savings and Amazon sales; this is not earned money, but simply monies I save weekly by spending smart. My overall goal: save $1000, and use it to buy a new mattress and box spring. I am now $250.00 towards that goal.

Beyond that, this weekend I dropped off my October Goodwill donation: three super-size shopping bags plus extras. It included clothes, accessories and jewelry, kitchen items (including 7 kitchen towels), sheets, purses, house decor stuff, and a suitbag I hadn't used in ten years. Whew! I feel about 20 lbs lighter, which may be what the drop-off weighed. Plus, I came home and got a head start on November's dropoff with clothes, my big slow cooker, more purses (!), and videos. Photo'd each item for 2010 taxes.

I also have boxes and bags of books started for my December visit to a local used books place. I am accruing CDs, DVDs, videos, and books for that sale. This month, I sold $82 worth of same: 12 boxes and bags of old stuff. Happily, gone, gone gone with the wind!

Beyond that, I have started a consignment shop bag: the better used clothes, boots, and accessories (many actually never used) can be sold for cash, rather than donated. I also have vintage clothes I am thinking about taking to Buffalo Exchange here in town, which pays money or offers equal value exchange.

This week's goal: find a consignment shop in town to visit with these, better label clothes.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

October's music videos

#4  Madonna, "Lucky Star"

Golly, early Madonna! Where has that funky, messy girl gone to?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pumpkin Time!

Yesterday I got the crazy notion to make pumpkin soup, but not from a reipe, oh no, just something out of my own head. Turned out okay, actually. I call it Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup.

1 15-oz can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix--be careful!)
1 15-oz can black beans (or 1 c. dried black beans)
1 medium white onion, chopped coarsely
4 Tbsp. butter
1 poblano pepper, fresh, or 2-4 pieces dried poblano pepper, chopped
cayenne to taste
1 c. plain yogurt

I chopped the onion while melting 3 Tbsp. butter in a large saute pan. Then sauteed the onion, added can of beans (Note: next time I think I'll use no more than 1/c cooked beans to preserve the cheerful seasonal color of the pumpkin better) and the chopped poblano. Saute for about 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and the beans seem heated through. Take off heat but leave in pan.

I then used my blue Le Creuset pan to cook the pumpkin with the last Tbsp. of butter on low until it was heated through. In future, I might use a fresh pumpkin, but I didn't want to fuss with it yesterday since I was only experimenting. While it cooks, stir cayenne into bean mixture 1/4 tsp at a time, to taste; be careful, because it will get hotter as it ages.

When the pumpkin is ready, add the beans to it, and whisk in the yogurt. Heat slowly on low or warm, covered, checking every couple of minutes to whisk everything together and keep it from burning. Serve with crusty French bread or hearty grainy crackers.

I added the yogurt to make the soup creamier, because I didn't want to blend everything. If I hadn't put the beans in, I would indeed have simply blended it all smooth. The poblano added a smoky flavor, nice with the pumpkin's sweetness, while the cayenne gave it a little kick. Pumpkin is so incredibly healthy--full of fiber, A, C, etc--but I get tired of making pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread, as much as I love them both. This is lower in calories and higher in fiber.

In the last two weeks, I also played around with these dishes:
  • Chicken Breasts stuffed with goat cheese, red peppers, and green olives
  • Carrot Soup (my favorite! out of Moosewood Cookbook)
  • Sausages and Peppers
  • Tuna Steaks with Mango Salsa (Epicurious recipe)
  • One-Bowl Browning (recipe inside box of Baker's Baking Chocolate)

October's music videos

#3  Steve Earle, "Guitar Town"

Saturday, October 9, 2010

October's music videos

#2  The Police, "Every Breath You Take"

Creepy. A tribute to black and white.

Friday, October 8, 2010

October's music videos

Last week I saw Raul Malo in concert with a friend who was not familiar with him. To get her up to speed, I sent along videos of The Mavericks and Malo solo in concert... which reminded me about music videos of the past. The original music video is indeed a thing of the past, now that MTV and CTV and BET are more about "original programming" than music.
In the spirit of my nostalgia about my yout', I'm going to send along music videos for your (and my) enjoyment.

#1: Michael Jackson, "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough"

'Nuff said.

If I were in Paris... Friday, October 8, 2010

If I were in Paris today... how would I spend my day? Well, it's Friday, so I might, just might, give les archives a pass and do a little sightseeing, a little shopping.

Since it is autumn already in Paris, I might want to go and get myself some hot chocolate at Angelina's. On the Rue de Rivoli, across from the Tuileries, Angelina's serves the best (THE BEST) hot chocolate in Paris. Thick, rich, real l'Africain which must be diluted with cream. If you think, oh, no, too fattening! you are not thinking like a Parisian. Enjoy one cup and then take a looooooong walk through the Tuileries and along the Seine, n'est-ce pas? Pleasure in many forms.

Probably, being me, I would have stopped in to Galignari's, one of my favorite bookstores, right next door to Angelina's, and bought a new book or magazine to pass the time with while I drank my l'Africain. Galignari's is where I saw Karl Lagerfeld, big as life and fully tricked out, with his "assistant." Aside from that, an excellent site for finding new English-language books, great guides to obscure Paris, or glossy fashion or house magazines from all countries (my guilty pleasure).

Today I would probably also take myself back along the Rue de Rivoli to the Musee des Arts Decoratif (1st arr.) for their current exhibits, "Jewelry Art Deco and the Avant Garde" or "Le Belle Epoque de Jules Cheret: l'affiche au decor." The website is: This poster is one of Cheret's most famous, being Bernhardt herself advertising rice powder.

I might go along to the Centre Culturel Irlandais (5th arr.) to see one of several exhibits they have right now on Irish artists, including an exhibit of work by the sculptress Vivienne Roche, on "The Geometry of Water." Her work, focused on the sea and the beach, sounds fascinating, and it is actually very illuminating to see artists from non-French countries exhibitied in Paris. Here is the site: Below is one of Roche's scupltures: none of the ones in Paris are this grand in scale, I think. I don't look at sculpture enough: I mostly do the painting and photography route, but my trips to the Musee Zadkine for example, convinced me that I should spend more time looking at 3-D art as well.

Having walked back along the Seine to the 5th, I would probably search through a few stalls of les bookinistes (or bouquinistes), perhaps finding something delightful in an old print or used book, then sit myself down at a cafe that has a fabulous view of Notre Dame for a glass of wine or an expresso. Watch the sun set, the sky turn dark (well before 6 pm), and then wrap myself in my warm coat to hurry home on the Metro.

Tomorrow, I would head back to les archives, to Tolbiac in particular, not for research, but to hear Alain Baraton, the head gardener at Versailles, talk about the potager of Louis XIV. Ooh la la! I have visited le potager, which is open to the public but no on the grounds of the famous chateau: one must search a little bit to find this vegetable garden of the Sun King. And it is worth it! Louis loved his vegetables--artichokes, asparagus, etc., but not the common potato--and had then served in delectable variety. I have also eaten at the restaurant nearby that specializes in dishes made from the vegetables and fruits grown in this garden, all gourmet fare. The talk is free, from 11 am-12 noon, and could be followed by a delightful lunch at one of the many Asian restaurants in the vicinity of Tolbiac.

Below, a view of le potager.

 Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Buy a House? Moi?

Yes, I am indeed thinking about buying a house. I have been on and off since I moved to Big D, but am still uncertain whether it is here in the Metroplex where I will buy or, instead, move toward buying or building where I hope to retire. (A long time from now!)

I have always been a renter. When I graduated from college and moved to NYC, it was obvious that renting was the way to go. Barely. Both places I rented there were small and old, walk-ups. Hey, I was in book publishing, right?

Again, I rented all through grad school, in the small midwestern towns where I studied. The best one was the second floor of a frame house in a tiny near-by town. The first floor was a real estate office--closed at night and weekends. These were the first years I lived alone.

Since moving to Big D, I've lived near My U in a series of four different apartments. When I didn't have tenure, there was no way I could afford a house. Now... I am conflicted. Part of me would like to buy a house, especially since values are good here and rates are loooooow. Part of me says, why add hassle to my life, which is what a house brings along: yard hassles, plumbing hassles, decorating hassles, ownership hassles.

For the last couple of months, I have been looking into the house sitchew here in town. I have also been discovering my profile was a looker-buyer. For example, I do not want to live in a condo or townhouse: I actually want a house with a yard. But... a relatively small yard that I plan to transform by xeriscaping it. No grass, no mowing. Check!

Also, I do not want to commute a long way via highway. Ugh--not in this town! Which means neighborhoods that are not too far and where I can get to My U quickly by surface streets.

Three bedrooms and two baths seems a good size: my bedroom, guest bedroom, office. And yes, bath for me and one for guests. And one bath with a tub.

Mature trees that shade the roof... or room for solar panels.

A back screen/enclosed porch... or room to build one.

Good flow, which is something one knows only when seen/felt in a house.

So I am looking at houses online and, once narrowed down, seeing them in person. Mostly for reference. And reading a book on buying your first house...

Alernatively, I am very interested in modular houses, specifically those made by Rocio Romero, fabulously stunning pre-fab houses. I like the LVL series, which is a 3-bedroom, slightly larger house. I LOVE IT. Here's the link:

This would of course require buying a lot, levelling it, and adding plumbing, electrics, and various other things beyond the $42.5K kit and shipping prices (from MO). Right now, this is my dream house.