Sunday, December 31, 2006
In the way that things float up in one's mind just before falling asleep, something completely different popped into my head. It was the line from the Simon and Garfunkel song, Homeward Bound, "Got a ticket for my destination," which led to another song, "He's got a ticket to ride" (The Carpenters). And I found my inspiration. I bet that no one else found this theme.
Ticket to Ride happens to be a board game that my older boy (14) got for Christmas. Both my kids are inveterate gamers. The older one by disposition and the younger by interest and competitive spirit. After all what are older siblings for if not to compete with?
We played our third game this evening with my family. We range in ages from 9 to 67 (three generations) and we all enjoy the game (although the end-game today was a bit annoying for me and the other two losers). It may not be the most exciting way to spend New Year's eve but we are all happy.
I wish all my readers a Happy New Year. May the year to come bring us all peace, health and happiness.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
O.K. This is what I "really" look like. Except I ran it through Photoshop's watercolor function. I took this picture using the timer. I'm amazed I didn't chop my head off or something. By the way, I'm terribly camera-shy.
This new fountain in Chicago's Millennium Park is almost as popular as "Cloud Gate", especially among the kiddies.
By the way, I have a great time posting on these photo memes/challenges but haven't won even an honorable mention yet. It is fun trying to find a photo which meets the challenge.
Friday, December 29, 2006
End of Year Meme
This meme sounds like a lot of fun.
1) Harken back to your archives.
2) Collect the first sentence you wrote every month for the whole year.
3) Entertain us.
It is borrowed from A Snail's Eye View who is in Melbourne, Australia, who got it from Tortoise Trail in Tuscon Arizona, who got it from Somewhere in NJ, who got it from The Hawk Owl's Nest in Piscataway, New Jersey. To avoid it going on too much longer, I'll only list any remaining links in chronological order as far back as I can go.
Birds Etcetera, West Virginia
Reject Null, location unspecified
Hunting for Mr Right, Florida
Polyopia, somewhere on the East Coast, U.S.
What the hell is wrong with you?, Big Ten College Town, Midwest, US
Faux Real, West Lafayette, Indiana
So here is mine. As a bonus, I will try later today to visit each of the above sites and leave a comment. My blog only goes back to June.
June: Pretty amazing! I never thought I'd be trying a Blog myself.
July: Blogging from Kea, Greece
Blog me once shame on you, . . . .
August: Dorothy, we're not in Tuscany any more!
September: Sometimes it is a little hard to say good-bye to summer and vacation.
October: Today is one of those rare days when it is a joy to walk outside in Chicago.
November: Incidentally, this is my 50th Blog!!!--(I meant post).
December: This is a make-your-own snowflake site.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
1. A Birder's Guide to Coastal Washington, by Bob Morse
2. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
3. Rendezvous with Rama, by Arthur Clarke
4. Time Cat, by Lloyd Alexander
5. Suite Francaise, by Irene Nemirovsky
6. Academ's Fury, by Jim Butcher
7. Chez Nous, by Angie Estes
8. A Handbook on Stuttering, by Oliver Bloodstein
9. Warriors: The New Prophecy, Twilight, by Erin Hunter
10. Birds of a Feather, Jacqueline Winspear
11. Time Was Soft There, by Jeremy Mercer
12. Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology, by Eric Brende
13. The Dogs of Riga, by Henning Mankell
This is for four people. I'm not telling who is who.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
I need to tell you a little bit of personal history first. I applied to medical school in 1982. I wasn't sure I actually wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to be a "medical scientist." I wanted to do health-related research, cure cancer, have a disease named after me, that kind of thing. This dream involved applying to very competitive M.D. Ph.D. programs including one called the Medical Scientist Training Program, MSTP, which involved a scholarship from the NIH. There were only 120 or so spots in the country for MSTP's at the time I was applying.
To make my life more complicated (I am good at making my own life complicated) I was studying abroad during my senior year in college, right in the middle of interview season. Shuttling back and forth from France to the U.S. to do round after round of interviews was not something I could afford. So I tried to convince a few programs to interview me early so I did not have to return to the States after I left for France. A few programs were very gracious and did so. Some could not accommodate me so early in the interview season, and I did after all have to fly back from Paris to interview at two or three schools.
One school sent me the following letter: Dear Sarala, We do not think an interview is warranted in your case. Sincerely, ________.
Somehow the letter hurt less because the school was so arrogant as to not even bother to soften the blow--e.g. we are very sorry, but we had so many qualified applicants this year, we are sure you will find success, etc, etc. Going there after that letter would have been like joining a club that didn't admit Blacks, Jews or women.
Somehow everything worked out in the end. I got into a good school and earned the combined degrees. For more on this see this post.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Hence the rejection sensitive theme. I am petrified of submitting something. I am afraid of the rejection letter. I am afraid of the laughter I will not hear but can imagine of the person reading my submission. I am afraid that I will never write again after one or two letters or simply being ignored. I am afraid I am a narcissistic idiot for thinking anyone would want to read what I wrote.
I have had many successes in life, but I tend to remember the rejections, large and small, so much better. I remember the patients who seemed to feel they could find a better doctor elsewhere, the friends who stopped calling, the award I didn't win in high school.
One reason I started this blog was to deal with the anxiety of having my writing in the public domain. I am reaching the sixth month point for this blog and people have been very kind and supportive. Of course, this is easy to write off, just as it is easy to write off compliments from family members--you just say this because you have to/feel sorry for me/want a compliment back. I do get hung up on whether anyone reads, why I got no comments on post X, Y, or Z, or as I posted a few weeks ago, whether anyone is laughing at my attempts at poetry. My confidence in my photographs has grown, which is nice. Thanks, guys.
But this time I have made up my mind. I have one piece of short, non-fiction writing I think I can submit somewhere. I have to work out one or two logistical details first and re-read and revise but I have promised myself I will face my demons. At least if no one accepts my story, I can post it here.
Monday, December 25, 2006
So here I am waiting for lunch at Kalaloch Lodge which has a lovely view of the outlet of the Kalaloch river watching a few logs drift lazily toward the ocean when I noticed that a large raft of logs was heading upstream like a herd of surfers riding a wave.
There is something about the view of 20 or 30 logs gleefully racing upstream that spoke of awesome power to me. Nature never ceases to surprise and delight me.
I looked up the phenomenon of tidal bores on the internet and learned that they are relatively uncommon and are studied by scientists as a model for the behavior of tsunamis. All the roads around here have signs pointing out the way to flee if a tsunami should hit. I could do without this little blessing from nature.
So here is my first ever tidal bore as seen in pictures.
For more photos click on the Flickr widget on my sidebar.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
As I thought on this theme one thing that occurred to me is that the theme of social transience has been coming up a lot in my mind and in my life.
We live in a time when we connect with others across continents almost as much as we do in person. Families do not live in the same state or even country and people move often. It inhibits the social networks that we need to be supported by others. The internet is stepping into the gap. It is faster and cheaper than phone calls but also less personal. Or more, because I do not need to look you in the eye when I tell you something embarrassing.
The lack of stable social networks means no one to catch us when we fall, no extended family to serve as babysitters when couples need a night out, sometimes even no one to bury us when we die. It is sad but that came up in a conversation I had recently with someone who feels very alone in the world. Will My-Space friends pay for funeral costs? Sounds rather cynical doesn't it?
I learned in the Boomer Chronicles blog, that one of the top 10 "Boomer Trends for 2007" is faux families. My first thought was I already had one and always recommend it to the people I know who come from "dysfunctional families" or merely those that are spread out like too much butter on toast. Not speaking to relatives is a professional sport in my extended family. But I am so much better off than some people I know that I feel like I'm bragging when I say I am spending the holidays with my father and his wife.
I remember calculating when I was 16 that I had lived in 16 different homes. (No I was not the child of military people or diplomats). I had survived parental divorces (yes, the plural is intended) and step-parents, several elementary schools but only one high school and so on. No doubt this has something to do with the story I told a day or two ago about my running-way-from-home fantasy.
Now, I don't want anyone to think I am moaning as I spend my Christmas Eve stuffed on good food, playing Axis and Allies with nearly all the next-of-kin I am on speaking terms with, and sharing my life's little stories on my personal blog. Some change is a wonderful thing.
Without blogging, how else would I get to spy on Christmas displays in Paris, New York or London on a rainy day on the Pacific Northwest Coast?
Merry Christmas to those who observe it and a good night to all the rest.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
I backpacked extensively as a kid and was not afraid of wilderness. In fact, wilderness became essential to a certain healing of my soul. Sometimes, I'd dream of running to the mountains. Sometimes, I thought I'd go to the ocean. There is a lot more food there. Sea weed and mussels are easy to harvest, cook and eat.
I must have known it was not real, but I felt I needed the safety net, of being able to fend for myself. If I had decided to make a go of it, I would not have been found for quite a while.
Nowadays, when I want to run away I'd have a credit card. I'd take a plane. I would probably head for Paris, Brussels, Provence, Tuscany. Stay a few weeks and head home of my own volition. Being an adult allows options for a much more comfortable escape.
Checkerboard Mesa, Zion National Park, Utah
This is what the sign told me about the cracks in the rock:
"The horizontal lines, commonly called crossbedding, represent layers of wind-blown sand that built up into sand dunes. These dunes were then buried, and the sand grains glued together by calcite and iron oxide to form sandstone. . . . The vertical lines are less common. They are actually shallow cracks that result from stress and erosion on the rock surface. These cracks are probably caused by expansion and contraction, temperature changes, wetting/drying, or a combination of these processes.
Friday, December 22, 2006
Fortunately this is not the weather we are having here in Seattle. This was a major storm that downed several thousand trees in October in Chicago. I missed last week's storm in Seattle that did similar (or worse) damage.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
1. Sleep in.
2. Watch TV.
3. Go for walks on the beach.
4. Look for driftwood and rocks.
5. Play Amazing Labyrinth with my kids.
7. Surf the net. No water surfing for me. I’d risk frostbite.
8. Take photos.
9. Study up on using my camera.
10. Read (a lot)
11. Share with my family.
12. Eat a lot of good food.
13. Pay some bills, alas.
A few of you may remember I posted a Six Word Story post a long time ago. Well, I said I'd post yours so here they are:
A very short story. The End. Heather.
The alien ate my chocolate. Damn alien. Robin.
Another day. No sun. Another day.
Dry skin plagues me. That sucks.
Beyond mind. Across life. Through time. Self-Taught-Artist.
my epic trilogy:
1. One soda, two straws. One bed.
2. 3 am phone call. Begin again.
3. One bed. Two beds. Double plot. ren.kat
He said unmentionable. I broke his. me
But also I thought I'd steer you to a new competition. DBA Lehane had a similar idea and is hosting a 6X Short Story Competion. So check him out if you feel wordy (in an abbreviated fashion).
I’ll leap from thought to thought.
I’ll carol with Mr. Carroll,
As any poet ought.
I’ll mimsy with your momrath
Or mime without a meme,
Palaver on an unpaved path,
Drowse without a dream
Freely associate with me today.
Make merry with my melody.
Have a holistic holiday,
And relish your rhapsody.
May your nights be brillig and bright,
As you dance with all you hold dear.
Greet gifts with gimbled delight.
And Noel to a nouveau New Year.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
I did come up with a poem for Thursday Challenge tomorrow.
See you then.
And I'll get posting a few photos of Seattle as soon as it's light outside.
I wish I could share the smell of the fresh air with you too. Inhale deeply with me. . . . Must be all the rain.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
So if you are in the mood for Zucchini Parmesan latkes head on over. Sounds Italian to me.
Regarding the baby boom, apparently I do qualify as do all those born from 1946–1964. Information, as always, from Wikipedia, source of all knowledge, true or otherwise. So should I add baby boomer to the About me column on my side bar? I think it isn't necessary.
Monday, December 18, 2006
In my freshman year in college we had an ethnic dinner in my dorm. Our kitchen was truly lousy which made this harder. The Jewish RA and I got together and made latkes. We had an electric fry pan and grated on the order of 10 pounds of potatoes and a couple of pounds of onions by hand. This was pre-Cuisinart days. Let me tell you this is hard on the hands. I had skinned knuckles and smelled of onions for days afterwards but the latkes were well received. We had people in my dorm who had so little experience with Jewish people that they used to wonder what the funny crackers (Matza) that were served in the dorm around Easter (Passover) were. My college was pretty ethnically diverse and the dinner was a great hit.
Now for the recipe:
I got this recipe from The World of Jewish Cooking by Gil Marks, Simon and Schuster, 1996. I modified quantities and directions based on experience and size of the gathering last night.
6 medium russet (Idaho work well) potatoes (about 2 lbs.)--you can peel or not to taste--I didn't peel. If you use more potatoes add an extra egg and more matza meal.
1 medium yellow onion (about 1/2 cup when finely chopped)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
About 3 tablespoons matza meal or all-purpose flour
About 1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Vegetable oil for frying (I like peanut oil for this)
1. Grate the potatoes (I use the Cuisinart which makes this all so much easier). Texture should be about that of hash brown potatoes. If you choose not to hand chop the onion it works just fine tossed into the Cuisinart too.
2. Stir in onion (if not as above), matza meal or flour,eggs, salt and pepper. Exact quantities do not matter. I made a larger recipe and used more eggs and matza meal.
3. (My addition). Transfer mix to a large collander and suspend over a bowl to help drain excess liquid. In my experience, too much water in the potatoes interferes with frying.
4. Heat about 1/4 inch oil in a large skillet over medium high heat to about 360 degrees. (It is at the right temperature if a sliver of potato starts to sizzle when dropped in and is too hot if the oil starts to smoke).
5. Take a small handful of potato mix in hand and squeeze out as much liquid as possible (discard liquid) and flatten potato mix into a pancake shaped like a small hamburger patty but slightly thinner. Drop into fry pan. If seems too thick press on pancake with back of spoon or spatula. Fry until golden brown on both sides, 3 to 5 minutes per side.
6. Drain on paper towels. Latkes can be kept warm in a 200 degree oven on a baking sheet but they are best served fresh.
7. Latkes are served with applesauce, or sour cream. I like mine with both (not on the same pancake though).
There are as many ways to make Jewish cooking as there are Jewish people/mothers. Recipe variants are expected and passed down.
Two variants I like, but which are less traditional, are using sweet potatoes in place of regular potatoes and adding grated celeriac to potatoes to change the flavor a bit. Nowadays, sweet potato pancakes are expected in my family. They are a little drier and harder to make stick together than the potato kind.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
This word is forever tainted in my mind by the Carly Simon song. Anticipay-ay-shun, it's making me wait. . . . At least it preceded the catchup commercial using the song so I don't picture that condiment every time I hear the word.
Today I am anticipating the third performance of my son, who is 9 years old, in his dance school's performance of the Nutcracker. It is a wonderful performance but there has been a lot of waiting. Now I know how a stage mother feels. My little performer has to arrive one hour before each show and then I get to wait in line, hoping for a seat in the front row. The backs of a lot of heads really ruin one's photos, no matter how good the camera is.
I have lots of pictures already of the two previous performances but action shots in a dark room (no flash allowed) are challenging to take so redundancy is a good thing. The technical practice will help hone my photography skills anyway.
I am very proud of my son who is on stage for most of the first act. I asked him if he was anxious and he said not at all. I'm impressed. I used to have dreadful stage fright and only recently became able to give a lecture without visibly shaking. My shaky hands would probably still show if I needed to use a laser pointer.
I am also proud of my son for persevering in dance for the past 3 years in spite of being one of the only boys in the entire studio. He has only had one class with another boy in it. The current Nutcracker performance has 5 boys 12 and under but had to recruit older teens from another studio to play the more advanced parts. The good part about being a boy in dance is you are an automatic star among all the girls. When my son started dance, he had to work very hard to keep up with the demanding drills but now he can do sit-ups and leg-lifts with the best of them. He still needs to learn more grace but I imagine that will come with time.
The show is lovely. The older dancers are poised and highly competent. The choreography and costumes are masterful. Even the youngest dancers have stage presence.
After today's performance I can anticipate a holiday party at my house complete with the Hannukah specialty, latkes, made by yours truly. For those of you not in the know, latkes are potato pancakes. They consist of shredded potatoes, onions, bread crumbs or flour for filler, eggs, salt and pepper, fried in pancake sized patties in oil. The oil symbolizes the oil of the Hannukah lamps. Latkes are served with apple sauce or sour cream. They are greasy and fattening and good fun and I'm pretty good at making them, if I may say so myself.
So I anticipate "noshing" well and then I anticipate a hard earned, good night's rest.
What would the holiday be without the Nutcracker? This photo is from a local performance and I'm a proud mama--my son is in the production but I won't tell you who he is.
This photo is my own.
Flickrites and Bloggers are such nice people. Today harrietthespy gave me her permission to post her photos of Patrick Dougherty's work in Aspen, Colorado. She actually worked with him on the installation. I'm going to ask her more about this.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
And for those who were wondering, all photos on my site are mine unless I explicitly state otherwise. Thanks for the compliments. To see more of my photos, click on the Flickr widget on my side-bar, and you can be bored aplenty.
Self-Taught Artist steered me to the work of Andy Goldsworthy. So I decided to look over his work. I found a book a Border's that wasn't shrink-wrapped and had a look while sitting in the cafe. At first I had trouble warming up to his stuff. Some of it feels contrived to me. I recall there were pieces with petals or leaves glued together with the artist's saliva.
I did find a public domain photo of one of Goldsworthy's sculptures that does resonate with me a bit more (see photo above).
These little cairns I saw on a hike in Zion National Park. I think the park rangers take them down; I'm not sure why.
Goldsworthy's work brings to mind two other artists that I am vaguely aware of. I stumbled onto the work of Patrick Dougherty in Lacoste, Provence, France two years ago. It looked like bundles of twigs (which it is). It was an outdoor exhibit which we only glimpsed over a wall but which was so distinctive that when I saw a reference to Dougherty's work in a magazine, I recognized it instantly. I have seen Dougherty's sculptures referred to as environmental sculpture.
The third artist that came to my mind is Christo. I was rather cynical of his work (and still am to a degree) but happened to be in Paris in 1985 when the Pont Neuf was wrapped. It was a most amazing sight. The Pont is a remarkable bridge in the first place and the wrapping made it seem somehow organic. Check out this web site for photos of Le Pont Neuf Emballe.
Friday, December 15, 2006
Definitely worth a visit. In Millennium Park in downtown Chicago.
"Hanukkah (also spelled Hanukka, Chanukah, Chanukkah), is from Hebrew and means "consecration, dedication." It was first recorded in English in 1891. Hanukkah is observed somewhere between November 25 and December 26, from 25 Kislev to 2 Tevet, because the original rededication was on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev. The celebration is also called the Festival of Lights, Feast of Lights, Feast of Dedication, or Feast of the Maccabees."
Thursday, December 14, 2006
This is the first poem I've thrown out in the blogosphere (except for a silly one for an earlier Sunday Scribblings). So laugh silently please.
Tiara ought to mean
Lady Di before
Bulimia, Divorce, Death.
Amethyst crystals hidden
Within a geode,
On a sunny day,
Rime of ice
On partly frozen pond.
A quiet street,
On bare toes.
With metal key,
A monkey named Kong,
Crushing snails against stone.
They eat the plants.
Prevent heart disease.
Brisket made with catsup.
Swimming and sewing.
She’s a seamstress.
Crown of memories.
1. Size H crochet hook.
2. 3 empty film cans.
3. 4 crayola crayons.
4. 2 hard candies from Italy.
5. 2 pebbles from Zion National Park.
6. 1 seashell from San Diego, slightly broken.
7. Business card of L.A. psychiatrist I met in San Diego.
8. 2 laptop keys.
9. A list for another Thursday 13 (next week's?).
10. 2006-2007 Chicago Bulls schedule.
11. Hotel room key card from Las Vegas Hilton with picture of Barry Manilow--yes I should have returned it; honestly, officer I forgot I had it.
12. Coupon for $25 off J. Jill--dated October 4-16 (I should toss this).
13. Business card from Clic Klak, 427 Queen Street W., Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (I think I bought some used clothes there).
Is it time to clean out my purse yet?
I was so excited to see this guy yesterday I was shaking. I think it is a Cooper's Hawk and maybe a juvenile. He stayed there for at least 10 minutes (during which I had to charge my camera battery--great timing) so I could take his photo. I think he thought me most unimpressive and not very good to eat either.
We knew we had hawks visiting because we saw one eating a dove a few years ago and have seen feathers floating down through the trees after a meal but this is the first time one modeled for my camera.
Needless to say there was not another bird to be seen or heard for a wide area around me. The feeders had no customers and the aggressive squirrels were absent.
Not only is it an impressive bird, but it gives me hope for the survival of urban wildlife. There are Cooper's Hawks and Peregrine Falcons (I've never seen one) in my very urban neighborhood.