Thursday, December 25, 2014

Rambling: Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, folks!

I collapse after evening gluttony, which followed morning gluttony, which followed Christmas eve gluttony. And I write. Maybe.

Except first, failing to say Enough is Enough, I eat a chicken finger with onion dip. And eat a Russian tea cookie. (Without onion dip. My dietary transgressions have limits.)

There are a lot of picture-free posts down below. So I added the feline yawn over to the left. Think of the cat as representing my brain. Complete with yawn and fuzz.

I just set up my sewing machine and my serger. I can leave them up for another week and a half until I get back to work. So I might make several of the six-gore skirt mentioned in the previous post. Or I might just sleep a lot.

I bought a pair of little green boots. These are further motivation for creating the mentioned skirts, because  little boots with a long skirt that hits the boot-top seem less "too young" than little boots with a short skirt.

We watched the Doctor Who Christmas special. The Doctor Who Christmas special seems to be my grown-up festive equivalent of The Grinch or Charlie Brown. Not that I don't still like those.

Lammily arrived. The Barbie substitute with human proportions, that Lammily? There she is, relaxing with her shoes off, communing with my favorite Christmas perfume. (Bois 1920 Sushi Imperiale.)  I was going to make her a tiny Santa hat, but I got lazy.  But she does look like she needs some winter clothes. I've been wondering if photocopy-enlarging the little pattern-piece outlines on a pattern envelope might produce a usable pattern.

It does seem a little odd that I want to make doll clothes. I made 'em a lot as a kid for an adventuring Skipper (back when she was flat-chested) who travelled with a dog and an excessively large wardrobe. Lammily reminds me of her. I have a gorgeous piece of corn-yellow silk georgette that I keep imagining making into a doll dress,  even though the lost length would probably make it unusable for a garment for me.

I think that is all.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.
Second Image: Me.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Rambling: Time Off and Lazy Brain

So I've been off work for four days and haven't done any writing. What's with that? I thought that at the very least there'd be a blog post every day. Or something.


And, see, even the blog post writing isn't getting very far. I'm not sure if this is a sign that my brain is all frazzled from work and not yet recovered, or if it's a sign that my brain is getting very very relaxed and declining to actually do all that tiresome work of shuttling neurons around.

Wait, the neurons sit still and shuttle signals around, right?

Anyway. Lazy brain.

I was going to go back to the StoryADay stories. But.


Well, I haven't yet.

I was also going to do some sewing and gardening, and some of that has happened.  I started over with the six-gore skirt pattern that I had previously fitted and then re-fitted and didn't like the result of. The last time, I started with the short version of the skirt, lengthened it, and added width at the seam allowances. This time I started with the long version of the skirt, shortened it, and added width at the straight-of-grain lines. I hope that this way the important dimensions--length and the ability to fit over my hips--will be right and the side seams won't have that confusing thing where they don't quite match any more. Except that there was no "lengthen and shorten here" line, so I had to guess.

The goal is to have a bunch of longish washable skirts that I can wear in place of jeans. The flaw with that plan is that the skirts will need to be pressed. I don't like pressing things.


That is all.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Rambling: Rambling

The post lulls are getting longer. I need to write more.

Of course, Christmas vacation is coming up. I might write. I hope to write. I would say I plan to write, but I can see that plan being all weak and watery. I might even, y'know, write.  Like, toward someday maybe possibly getting something published. Rather than instantly throwing it on the blog. Or I might not.

I'm threatening to buy a bottle of perfume. I can't remember what it's called. That displays a certain lack of commitment, doesn't it?

Oh, yeah! Yosh White Flowers perfume oil. That's it. I keep thinking it's Kai, not Yosh. But it's so very powerful that I could probably make it my exclusive scent for months, based on one sample. So what would I do with a whole 8ml? I guess I could give some of it away. 

We were in Portland recently. I had fried chicken at Tilt, and fried chicken at The Imperial, and fried chicken at Pink Rose, and fried chicken skin from Nong's Khao Man Gai. We didn't get to Parish (fried chicken) or Screen Door (fried chicken) or The Original (fried chicken). But we probably will next time.

Yes, there are other things on the menus. Probably. I see them on other people's plates. Including Himself's. And sometimes I order a vegetable to add color to the plate.

Oh, and at Dime Store I had chicken salad. With greens. That was weird. It was also an error; the greens were mostly arugula and radicchio. I'll go back to the restaurant, but I think they should define it as "bitter greens", not just greens.

I didn't have any chicken wings. I might fry some.

The newlyish released movie Wild was partly filmed (OK, for one day) in Ashland. My town. Well, my town when I'm not bonding with Portland's fried chicken resources. I'll probably see it over Christmas break. Assuming it's still showing.

Himself started the first fire in the fireplace of the year. Yay!

A tree fell on our roof in the recent windstorm. Boo! At least it was a many-limbed vaselike tree, one that landed on the house in a spread-out, springy kind of way, rather than smashing through the roof. And it didn't break the stained glass window that was very close by in one direction, or the heat pump that was very close by in another direction, or any of the windows very close by in both directions. Really, we should be pleased. Relatively.


That is all.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Rambling: Bubble Realizations

I’ve been trying to spend more time writing fiction, and less time reading and posting on forums.

I’ve been unsuccessful. So far. But the process made me open to the realization that there’s a difference between what I want to write (or want to have written) and what I have to say. My fiction efforts have been focused on what I want to have written. My forum posts are what I have to say. And that’s why I keep pouring out the forum posts.

This is a new realization; my hair is still damp from the bubble bath in which I realized it. But it’s one of those realizations that is so obvious, once seen, that it’s impossible to remember what I was thinking before I realized it. How could I ever not realize that my fiction writing has to be about whatever it is that I have to say?

I suppose it's partly that I don’t like stories with conscious morals or themes. Or any intent to teach something. When that intent is detectable, I go “bleah.” When I think of fiction, I think of form and plot and characters, but not theme. I want whimsical, intricate worlds and characters, like my favorite children’s books. And I was under the mistaken impression that I could create that without actually having something to say.

But I was confusing myself. Rumer Godden’s work, for example, doesn’t have tidy little lessons. But all the same, every one of her stories speaks to me about the longing for a place in the world. I don’t think that she sat down and decided that she was going to present us with her opinions on that subject. I think it’s just that that subject was in her, and wanted to get out.

Even when the thoughts that drive a work aren’t thoughts that interest me, I suspect that they give the work a strength that it wouldn’t otherwise have. For example, the religious themes of The Chronicles of Narnia don’t speak to me at all, but all the same, the stories do.

So can I write whimsical, intricate stories about dysfunction and self-delusion and betrayal? Well, I suppose that description is not entirely a mismatch to The Princess and The Caffeine and Caveat Emptor. Maybe I can.

At least I have a clearer view to a goal.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Rambling: Rambling

If I'm going to just keep giving my posts that title, there's not much point in a title, is there? I suppose I could go with "Saturday rambling."

Have you seen the Barbie software engineer flap? Mattel produced a book, "I Can be a Computer Engineer", in which Barbie the engineer needs Steven and Brian's help not only to do her programming, but also to rescue her from a computer virus. She also has a pink heart-shaped flash drive that she wears on a necklace, because otherwise she'd be too forgetful to take backups.


While reading the stuff on various sites, such as Feminist Hacker Barbie, I also kept running into Lammily, a doll made with realistic dimensions for a 19 year old woman. She's more about body image than careers, but I think she looks like she'd write her own code, don't you? She's still a lot thinner than me, but she has room for her internal organs, which Barbie, apparently, doesn't.

One delightful detail is that apparently kids really, really like her. And it's not surprising; if you look at the photos on the website, she looks startlingly, delightfully, human. She reminded me of the fact that I always liked Skipper (back when Skipper was flat chested  and had a relatively wide waist) and the mother of the Sunshine Family better than I liked Barbie.

So I bought one. I'm weird that way.


That appears to be all.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Rambling: Rambling

So, not so much the writing. Lately. But it's Friday night, and a person should be able to write with a whole weekend in front of her, right?


Remember how I was going to give away Serge Lutens Bas de Soie? Well, it was on the shelf--waiting to be given away--and I grabbed it and sprayed some on just because, the way I do, and I fell in love. It wore it every day for three or four days. It appears that Bas de Soie is what I crave in that fall-to-winter temperature transition time when I dislike so many perfumes.

So I'm not giving it away.

I am giving other things away. Like perfume. Other perfume. I sent out a Stinky Giveaway email to a bunch of local friends, offering twenty-two bottles and eighteen decants and minis to the first takers. I'm hoping that this is just the start of an all-around mass decluttering. But whether it is or not, a dozen or so fragrances are already in Ziplocs waiting to go out the door, so it's a start.

The remaining perfume still doesn't fit in its allotted storage and display space, though.

Coke is tasting too sweet to me, the past several days. As is Thai iced tea and chocolate and hot chocolate. What's with that?

We went to Portland. I went to the new Josephine's--the fabric store that closed because the owner retired and then reopened under a new name and in a new location and under new owners.  They're good. Really good.

I'm reading Best of Food Writing 2014, edited by Holly Hughes. It's really good. Various pieces are raising various thoughts, but apparently my head hasn't cooked them enough to blog about them yet.

I bought a copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. I don't know what I think. I was most struck by her method of folding clothes, which is an odd thing to be struck by.

As I italicize the book titles above, I find myself wanting to italicize Bas de Soie, too, as if it's a story. But I refrain.

I've been wearing a little newsboy's-cap kind of hat, despite the fact that I think it looks wrong with my long hair. Judith Martin, aka Miss Manners, would tell me that I have to take off this hat indoors because it's a man-style hat, and the woman's privilege to wear hats indoors only applies to women's hats. I took a poll at lunch, and two out of three responders agree with Miss Manners, while one disagrees.

The show Mom is playing in front of me. It has Allison Janney as the Mom. You remember her from West Wing, right? She remains fabulous.

Italics again.

You notice how this blog post is going a little more free-associationish than usual. Yeah. It doesn't mean I've been drinking. Sober as a judge.  My only intoxicant is the jasmine from the bath oil from the bath that I just emerged from.

Dang. Mom is over.


OK, that's probably all. If not, I'll be back.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Rambling: Fear and Glory and Music. (Oh, My?)

I'm not writing.


Well, except for some forums.

What's the deal?

I suspect that the deal is that when I write, that seems to open up my thoughts, and worrying thoughts might creep out. Or burst out, waving axes and torches. Wearing scary masks. And howling battle cries. You know. Right?



I'm less worried now, though I'm still nervously eyeing the cracks in my brain for anything planning an escape.

Yes, I realize that the best writing probably comes from those gangs of rampaging thoughts. But, well, I don't want 'em. I want to come up with brilliance without any discomfort.

But the rampaging thoughts remain.

And after seeing the Oregon Shakespeare Festival production of Into the Woods (three times?) the soundtrack for those thoughts is Miriam Laube singing "It's the last midnight."  Beautiful glorious song of doom. I want to hear it again. The production is over. Is she going with it when the show goes to Beverly Hills? I want that song available whenever I want to hear it, but I'm afraid that listening to any recording will wipe out the memory of Miriam singing it, and that's just not acceptable.

Why do I want to listen to a "song of doom" when I'm trying to flee from stress? I don't know.

Has OSF ever considered releasing soundtracks? I must ask.

It's interesting that the OSF productions that I most urgently long to see again are musicals. The Unfortunates will be showing at ACT in San Francisco in 2015, and we will be going. I don't much like San Francisco any more; my favorite restaurant in the world isn't enough to lure me there. But The Unfortunates are. Is.


That is all.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Random Perfume Comment: Carven Le Parfum

Le Parfum is pretty, clean, and well-behaved.

I like it anyway.

What's with that?

Friday, September 26, 2014

SOTD: Sonoma Scent Studio Yin and Ylang

This one isn't weird, either. But I like it. It's a comfort scent, both woody and floral, and with a sense of creamy chewy edibleness without any actual food scent. I keep wanting a little more of one note or another--a little more oak moss, or a little more sandalwood, or a little more of that edible vibe. I tend to assume that that stretching for a little more is a sign of a well-balanced scent, because surely if I had all I wanted of a note, I would soon be tired of it.

Want. I want De Bachmakov, too. My interest in perfume may be increasing again. That could be expensive.

Review Roundup: Now Smell This and Fragrantica and Cafleurebon. And surely someone else has reviewed this?

Monday, September 22, 2014

SOTD: The Different Company De Bachmakov

(Actually, the scent of the weekend. We went to Portland Feast. We're fatter. Yay!)

It's been a while since I liked a new-to-me perfume this much. It's catering to my current preferences--I perceive it as silky, rather than fuzzy or dusty or scratchy. It's not too sweet or too sour. It announces itself proudly for several minutes after wearing, and just when I might feel a little too perfume-soaked it backs off and settles for sending out an occasional welcome puff if scent.

So what does it actually smell like? According to LuckyScent, "cedar wood, bergamot, shiso leaves, nutmeg, coriander leaves, white freesia, soft chalk accord." And they talk a lot about melting snow. According to me? Lemon, an idealized lemon that leans toward the floral. I assume that the lemon comes from the bergamot and the floral comes from, well, the flowers. I'm not sure what "soft chalk accord" is, but I think that it's what's making me feel "silky" rather than liquid.

This has me eyeing my credit cards. I've been wanting the perfect lemon for a while. Fresh Lemon Sugar has too much candy. Din Dan...well, I love Din Dan, and maybe this is just new and shiny, but I think I love it more.

My only concern is that it's not weird. It's pretty. It's feminine. It's not the least, tiniest little bit offensive on any level. This worries me a little.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

TV: Orphan Black and the Reverse Bechdel Test

I posted this on a writing forum, and it occurred to me that in six months I might wonder, "So where was it that I was talking about Orphan Black and the Bechdel test?" So I thought I'd post it here, too.

So, I've considered the Bechdel Test to be a worthwhile concept--on a statistical level--since I heard of it. But it's only after watching a series that almost fails the "reverse Bechdel test" that I really understand the test's significance. I understand why some writers protest the idea that they should somehow make their stories pass the test, but I also understand even more deeply why it's a very bad thing, statistically, that so few movies pass the test.

The Bechdel Test, just so you don't need to Google, is an evaluation of whether a work of fiction has:

1) Two named female characters
2) who have a conversation
3) about something other than a man.

It's not a test that means that a single work of fiction is "good" or "bad." A very good work can fail it. A very bad work can pass it.

I see it as a test that evaluates whether a work has a significant number of important female characters. They don't have to be female characters that are strong or powerful or feminist or intelligent; they just have to be important to the fictional work.

The TV series Orphan Black has a lot of female characters. Sarah, Beth, Kira, Cosima, Alison, Helena, Rachel, Siobhan, Delphine, Gracie, etc. And it's about those characters. About their history, about their battles, about their relationships, about their safety and their happiness and their future.

Many fictional works have the smart guy, the tough guy, the funny guy, the uptight guy, the damaged guy, and the girl. Orphan Black has the smart girl, the tough girl, the funny girl, the uptight girl, the powerful girl, the damaged girl, and so on.

Of course, many of the characters can be described with more than one characteristic--Helena is tough and funny and powerful and extremely damaged; Alison is uptight and smart and tough in some situations and maybe just a little bit psychopathic, and so on. I'm not trying to describe the characters with a bunch of simplistic adjectives. I'm trying to do the opposite--I'm pointing out that Orphan Black covers a great deal of the complex spectrum of human behavior and personality, and it does it with women, instead of with men.

Orphan Black also has men. Felix, Sarah's brother. Donnie, Alison's wife. Daniel, Rachel's monitor. Paul, Beth's boyfriend. Leekie, Rachel's guardian and colleague. Art, Beth's partner on the police force. Vic, Sarah's ex-boyfriend. And so on.

These are great characters, well-rounded and interesting. But are you seeing a pattern here? The men in Orphan Black are defined by their relationship with the women. The story is about the women. It revolves around the women. And that means that when two men are talking to each other, they're almost always talking about a woman. The male characters exist to serve the women's stories.

And it would be hard to insert conversations between those men that aren't about the women. It's hard for Orphan Black to naturally pass the reverse Bechdel test.

Conversations between the men that aren't about the women would seem weird, seem like a waste of screen time. I can only think of one male-to-male interaction that wasn't about a woman--Felix's date with Nicholas. Even that is a little dubious--their first words exchanged refer ot the trouble that they've had with the police, trouble that was about Felix's sister. And their date is interrupted, because of Felix's sister and niece.

Ah, there was that scene between Henrik and Mark about the cow, but we eventually realize that that scene is about the women, even if it's not clear when we see it.

Anyway. Orphan Black is a story about women, in a world packed full of women--strong women, weak women, good women, bad women, smart women, stupid women, women in power and women with no power. Orphan Black amost fails the reverse Bechdel test.

I think that Orphan Black is a great series. But if most movies and TV series revolved around women as totally as Orphan Black does, I suspect that a lot of men would be annoyed. A substantial percentage of movies and TV series revolve around men as totally as Orphan Black revolves around women, and I am annoyed.

The Bechdel Test, again, isn't a test of the worthiness of an individual work. It's a test of the extent to which women exist, where "exist" means that they matter and their stories matter, in the fictional world of television and movies.

Edited to add: Hmm. There's also the conversation between Felix and Tony. But discussing that in any detail would get me into spoilers, which I was trying to avoid.

Link Roundup:

I see that Luz Delfondo at Disrupting Dinner Parties made the point about failing the reverse Bechdel Test long before I did.

Slate has an interesting article, The Brilliant Misandry of Orphan Black. I don't agree with the article's dismissal of the male characters, but it's interesting all the same.

Rambling: Sewing Brain Dump

I often write about big sewing plans that I don't carry out. It occurs to me that while writing them as plans and failing to carry them out is depressing, writing them as thoughts, ideas, a general sewing brain dump, might be fun to read later.


I've been thinking about making a lightweight bathrobe, out of silk or cotton or linen or silk/linen or silk/cotton. Something drapey and not too crisp. I started out with a very conventional bathrobe pattern, but in reading reviews found it described as "slim-fitting." My hips don't like slim-fitting.

So we bought another one, Jalie 2567, which at least describes itself as loose-fitting.  I say "we" because I want to make one for Himself, too. I plan to make up a muslin the quick way (no facings, no hems) in throwaway dollar-a-yard rayon, because I'm just not sure what I want in the way of ease. Well, I want lots of it, but I don't think I can tell if the pattern will have enough or not, without actually putting it on.

However, I may end up making Himself's bathrobe(s) from the Jalie pattern and mine from a Vintage Vogue swing coat pattern, V1083.  It's designed with a whole lot of extra room; the reviews complain about it being too big. It doesn't lap nearly as much as a bathrobe does, but I'll see what I want to do about that when I've got a muslin together.

Once the pattern's right, I want an ankle-length version in something light but with a little body, and then a shorter one in the lightest possible thing, for travel. Well, at least I did before I went to the swing coat; I don't know if it will work in a short version.

Before that, I really should be making two more of the calf-length six-gore skirt for which I have a fitted pattern. I made it in black linen, and have worn it probably six times without ever getting around to adding a waistband hook--I kept using a safety pin. It's that useful and I'm that short on skirts. I have a length of brown linen and another one in a sort of subdued pumpkin, both of them preshrunk and pressed. With the serger I could have them made up fast.

Months and months ago I did cut a straight pleated skirt, very vertical, a pattern that I keep thinking would work very well for directional fabrics and prints that I don't want to break up. It interests me more than the gored skirt, even though I expect it to be harder to fit and to make. I can see it being made up in interesting rumpled fabrics with character.

To go with it, I really want a big drop-sleeved shirt, for interesting-fabric, rumpled, comfy outfits. Maybe with my little short boots. I'm finding it surprisingly difficult to find one; are drop sleeves wildly out of style?

An alternative for the big-and-rumply outfit could be the Sewing Workshop Haiku Two jacket. I discussed two years ago and never got around to making it. One advantage of this pattern is that I think that I can just cut the largest one and expect it to fit--"fit" in the sense of being able to put it on, even if I swim in it. I think. I don't remember why I think this--I suspect that I read a pattern review that indicated that even my hips wouldn't be an obstacle. Or maybe I measured the pattern. Anyway, with  the first one made up just for at-home-cardigan warmth, I can tweak it for fit.

Or I could try to trace, or rub off, or whatever you call it, my favorite ready-to-wear drop-sleeve shirt. It's really comfortable and I'm under the illusion that it's more flattering than the shape should be. It's a lightweight drapey denim -- I don't know if it will work in any other fabric or not.

I went to the Button Emporium (And Ribbonry) recently. I got (lemme count...) eleven kinds of buttons, including the ones in the picture. Aren't they beautiful? The nice lady told me that they OK, either German glass or Czechoslovakian glass; I 'm thinking the second one. Vintage. Last ones of their kind. I bought several "last ones".  Anyway, I mention them because I got several kinds of black or partly-black buttons, and two kinds of black trim, all of which would be dandy on a black jacket. Well, not all together.

While at the Button Emporium, I formed the theory that it makes sense to stash trims and buttons and other decorative notions instead of stashing fabric, because by the time you add those things to a garment, you usually know if the garment is a success. So if I'm going to overspend on something, overspending on the finishing touches seems logical. Right? Right. So I got some ribbon, too.

Ooh. It occurs to me that a black bathrobe with the hem weighted by some of the black trim that I got could be really cool. Funereal and gothic, but cool.


Plotting happily. That is all.

Image: Mine.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Type Something!

Why is it that when I haven't posted in a while, it feels harder to post? I guess it's because I know that this happened and that happened and the other thing happened and I didn't post about them, so what makes it worth posting now?

It's been two weeks, that's what.



I've been reading Women in Clothes, a newly released book that's the result of surveying hundreds of women about clothes and appearance and such. This seem to be the "munchy book" about fashion that I've been wanting. I like it a lot. But I'm less than a quarter of the way through it, so it seems a little premature to review it.

We also bought Crazy Enough by Storm Large, and Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel. And I'm in the middle of a murder mystery...whose name I can't remember. I'm reading stuff.

I'm not so much writing stuff. I have been doing a little bit of sewing prep--cutting pattern pieces apart, preshrinking fabric and pressing it, and so on. And the previously mentioned threading of the serger. But nothing's been cut out or sewn.


That seems to be all.

Monday, September 1, 2014

SOTD: Bacon. And rambling.

No, it didn't come out of a bottle. Which is a shame. Who wouldn't want a really good bacon perfume? I fried it in a pan, the traditional way. We had bacon and pancakes for Labor Day breakfast-for-dinner.

We ate whatever we darn well pleased this weekend, and last weekend, on the principle of making up for our lost vacation. We've resolved that we're going to cut that out and start eating some semblance of a decent diet next week. Though probably not Tuesday. You can't combine going back to work and going on a diet, right? Right.

I'm trying to get myself into a good slow-sewing habit, maybe half an hour every other day. This weekend my half hour was threading the serger with a new color. It's embarrassing that that takes half an hour, but there it is. As a bonus activity, I preshrunk the fabric for a pajama top, and found the pajama top pattern. Next I'll press the fabric. Tum te tum te tum. Bitty step by bitty step.

I just ordered Women in Clothes (Heti/Julavits/Shapton/associate editor Mann--I previously incorrectly attributed the whole thing to Mann), due out on Wednesday. I don't know much about it, but I really like the idea of what little I've read. I'll let you know how it is when I get it.

It occurs to me that it would be logical to add a page up there next to "new to perfume?" and "fume scout" and all that, for all these books about women and clothes that I keep reading. Maybe I will. Eventually. It could happen.


I guess that is all.

SOTD: Tauer Carillon Pour un Ange, and relinquishing the meh

(And this was really the SOTD on Wednesday. Me pre-writing posts? What's with that?)

I bought it too fast.

I loved the sample. Falling-down, won't risk it going away, love. Bought it. Didn't like the first wearing. Went into denial and put it away. A year later, I'm trying it again.


Wearing it gives me the same feeling as a glass of iced tea with too much lemon and not enough sugar. I'm not saying that there's any actual lemon--just that there's a sharpness that could be lovely and refreshing if there were enough sugar.

Maybe it's my skin chemistry.

I think that for the next attempt, I'll decant a little into a splash bottle. I tested it unsprayed, after all, so maybe...

I doubt it. The next solution is to give or swap it away, maybe with a few more just-accept-reality bottles. Swapping or selling is, of course thwarted by my Postal Regulation Phobia, so unless I coordinate with a perfume freak to meet in Portland on one of our lately-not-infrequent trips there, it's not all that workable.

I eye the collection for more of those accept-reality bottles. I'm always worried that someday I'll fall in love with something that I've given away. But there's no logic in that; it's a hoarderesque mindset. For one thing I use perfume so lightly that a 5ml decant would last me years, even in the regular rotation.

And, really, it's unlikely that I'll ever fall in love with a perfume for which my reaction is "meh." The ones worth keeping an eye on are the "Oh, my God, does it smell that way on purpose?" bottles.  Those are usually blind buys, which a light sprinkling of classics threatened by reformulation or discontinuation. (My Mitsouko, for example, and No. 5 before I started to appreciate it a little.) The blind buys were either rock-bottom-price discounter products, or things from indie houses that I respect. If I panic and buy something on the verge of discontinuation from an indie house, I figure that even if I don't like it, my money went to someone worthwhile.

Today's additions to the Out box:

Creed's Original Vetiver: Perfectly Nice. A gateway vetiver. Friendly. Nonthreatening. Cuddly. I'm past it. I might have an occasional craving, but I have four (four) (FOUR) ounces in one of those big Creed bottles from a discounter. I'll take a 5ml decant and give the rest away.

Alfred Sung's Sung: This is in the difficult "aldehydic meh" category. Someday I may learn to love aldehydes, and until that day, it's hard to predict which ones I might love. But there are a lot of likelier candidates--No. 5, Climat...OK, my mind blocks memory of aldehydes, but I know there are others. I'm going to let this one go.

Serge Lutens Bas de Soie: Pretty. Also, pretty. Perfectly Nice. And pretty. If Lutens has to produce the occasional Perfectly Pretty Pretty Nice fragrance in order to make enough money needed to bottle the weird, fine. But I'm going to let someone else appreciate it.

Lancome Mille et Une Roses: I have this because I bought that little set of classics, including the aforementioned Climat. I don't like this one, and I have never yet learned to love a rose fragrance that I didn't like at first sniff. It's odd, because I love roses, but maybe that's what makes it not-odd. It's like fried chicken; I'm so attached to the "right" fried chicken that I have no tolerance for the "wrong", the kind with too much pepper or other transgressions.

There will be more.

That is all.

(I didn't bother to link the above perfume names to the posts with the Review Roundup for the perfume. This strikes me as evidence that I am less and less a perfume blog. Is this wrong?)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

SOTD: Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle. And many off-topic remarks.

(Actually, this was the scent of this past Monday, but I didn't get to the posting part of the post until today.)

Mmm, gasoline fumes.

OK, that doesn't sound good. Does "Mmm, mothballs" sound any better? At least mothballs aren't used as a mood-altering drug. I think.

This was my first Lutens bell jar. But I didn't go to Paris and buy a full bottle in a box. I ordered it from a decanter, with the last half ounce in it. The same for my second bell jar, half an ounce of Iris Silver Mist. That's the end of my bell jars.

What's my point? I don't have one. I'm just trying a SOTD post for old times' sake.

Of course, Tubereuse Criminelle is floral as well as petroleum. I seem to recall reading about oil-bearing grasses being raised for fuel. I imagine Tubereuse Criminelle being the scent of that grass's flowers.


Luckily, I'm not among those that get a rotting meat note from this. I love the weird, the chemical, the sweaty, the skunky, even a carefully tuned bit of the fecal. Rotting meat, not so much.

I've been thinking about starting a diary. See, on the one hand there are lots of things that are either too embarrassing or too boring to post here on the blog. And I often find myself wishing that I remembered certain things about my own past life. And sometimes I think that those memories might be useful for that theoretical book or books someday.

On the other hand, I struggle with the idea of all that writing never being read by any audience. Writing, to me, is communication, and how can you communicate when no one is ever going to listen? And, equal and opposite, I worry about the diary accidentally being accessed by someone and being read. It's a thicket.

Then again, it would be good for me to get over my addiction to being read. If I'm ever going to write a book, I'm going to need to write a whole lot of words that won't be read for a very long time. I should get used to that.

No, this isn't relevant to Tubereuse Criminelle. Probably. Except that the idea of resuming SOTD posts made me think of a diary.

Of course, a diary still would't be The Whole Truth. It would occupy some middle ground between what I'm willing to publish and what happens in my head. Does anyone really tell a diary everything that can be put into words?

I just deleted a paragraph in this post, because it felt off topic--the post seems to be about Tubereuse Criminelle and SOTDs and a dairy. So I deleted a spare paragraph about jewelry. Would I do that in a diary? Would I feel the need for coherent narrative flow?

Not that this is all that coherent.

Actually, I'm going back to jewelry. You've seen me thrashing around about clothes as my current phase of Being a Girl. But the problem with clothes is that a large part of the overall package is me. My shape. My posture. My movement and position. (Does it look OK when I sit down?) My shape. My maintenance. (Did I press it well enough? Are these shoes too scuffed?) My shape.

Yeah, that shape thing is an issue.

Perfume is less of a "me" performance. Especially for me, it's largely a consumption activity--usually, I apply so little that only I can smell it. And even when that's not true, I don't need to perform--I just make a choice in private, and the perfume performs independently.

Jewelry is a sort of middle ground. It's visible, so it's not all about personal consumption. But there's not much performance involved. Unless you have a pendant flirting with your cleavage or some such thing, the jewelry is mostly performing independently, like the perfume. My contribution, again, happens in private, when I make a choice.

Maybe that's why I'm moving on to jewelry--to challenge myself with choices. I'm no longer nervous about going out in public smelling like gasoline or mushrooms or a garage floor. But I am nervous about wearing those rhinestones with that Oxford shirt. Does it work? What do you think? It's a decision. It's a mild expression of taste. But still one that keeps me at a comfortable distance.

It occurs to me that I was more comfortable with "performance" decisions--clothes--in winter. Hmm. I guess wool tends to make one's shape feel less exposed.

Anyway. With perfume, I love the whacky. Now I'm trying to edge toward the whacky with jewelry. And someday I hope to get there with clothes.

Now, "the whacky" doesn't mean "Oh, my God, what is that thing crossing the street? Is it human?" It just means a step or two away from the completely safe standard. Ideally, the kind of thing that makes you turn your head and say, "Hmm. That's an idea."

That is all.

First Image: By Christine Matthews. Wikimedia Commons.
Second Image: Mine

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Beauty: Fragility versus Strength

So a while ago I wrote this post, about a single standard of feminine beauty.

I also wrote a post on a sewing forum that I may migrate over here, about a discussion on yet another forum in which a man expressed how appealing he found to see a woman clopping around in high heels, because she looked so vulnerable.  And I read a post about body image on The Beheld, in which the line that struck me most was about the men who kept complimenting the writer for being "tiny".

All if which made me realize that our current feminine beauty ideal seems to be about delicacy, fragility, vulnerability, tininess--anything but strength.

And so when I recently caught a video clip of the Orphan Black character Alison Hendrix doing a workout routine, I was struck with her appearance of strength and power, and how rare it is, compared to the countless images of the fragile.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Whine: Whine.

We went away on a long-planned week's vacation.

He got sick.

I got maybe-sick.

We went home. Days early.

He got sicker.

I got definitely sick.

We're in the living room watching home improvement shows.

At least the cold medicine is working.


Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Rambling: Rambling

Well, it's been a while. So I randomly ramble.

About something. 

Something or other.


I've been trying to write fiction more, whether I'm inspired or not and whether it's good or not. 

I also sent off for a magazine of short stories and essays, to see what they publish, on the theory that maybe perhaps possibly I might start submitting pieces. Eventually. Before the next ice age. 

It's a magazine well out of my league, but I figure I may as well start the submitting with a publication well out of my league, and then work my way down the ladder. Maybe. The flaw with that plan is that if I make a fool of myself, I'll actually care if anyone remembers.

It's a thicket.

Inspiration is also a thicket. I've always preached against the concept of writer's block, preached that you can always write. But while you can always write, there's still a big difference between writing while inspired and writing while not. 

I think.

I'm uncertain about all my conclusions in this post, aren't I?

The reason I say "I think" is that sometimes I write something in the uninspired way, laboriously carving all the words and sticking them together with chewing-gum, and then when I read it again it feels as if I was kinda inspired. And sometimes I have that inspired feeling, with the words bubbling up and arranging themselves effortlessly, and the result looks like junk.

So maybe inspiration is just about how much fun it is, and not how good it is.

That's actually rather depressing. Because I was hoping that I'd eventually find a way to get inspiration to come...well, not on call, but at least more often than once in a blue moon, and that writing fiction would be more fun at those times. Maybe it's going to always be about chewing-gum.


That seems to be all.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Rambling: Thump. Thump. Thump.

Sometimes my brain is just busy. Like a washer on spin cycle. It's not really happy, but it's not all that unhappy either. It just spins, madly.

Sometimes my brain spins like a washer on spin cycle that's been loaded with just one really big heavy beach towel and starts to make that THUMP THUMP THUMP sound that makes you leap out of your chair from across the house and rush in to adjust the load before the washer sprouts legs and crashes through a wall and gets into a battle with King Kong.

Today is one of those times. So was yesterday. I don't have big hopes for  tomorrow either. During those times I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not qualified to think. Well, that is, I'm not qualified to evaluate worries. Or risks. Or probabilities. I need to establish a mindset that can eat buttered popcorn while the world ends, because I can't make the world stop looking like it's ending.

Mmm, butter.

And naps.


Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Short: Missed the Briefing

(My response to a short story prompt about the Bechdel Test. Partly inspired by the Hathor Legacy post Why film schools teach screenwriters not to pass the Bechdel Test

“Professor West?”

The professor looked up from her desk. “Jane! Good morning. How is your boyfriend?”

Jane blinked. “Um. I’m not actually in a relationship right now.”

“Oh, dear. Your father, then?”

Another blink. “He's...fine. I didn't realize that you and he had met?"

"We haven't."

A cautious nod, and then Jane asked, "Do you think we could talk about what you explained in class about friction and chatter? I’ve been reading about phonon modes and…well, I’m lost.”

“Ah. I spoke to James about that just last week—James Simpson, he’s in the other lab section. Perhaps you could ask him."

Jane said, “Well, but you're the professor--I mean, if you’re too busy, I could talk to one of the TAs.”

Professor West shook her head. “I’m afraid that Henry is out of town this week--a death in the family."

“Right, but I just saw Mary down the hall--I can ask her.”

“Jane.” The syllable was firm, flat, and disapproving.

Jane waited. Then waited some more. Finally, "Yes?"

"You know the rules."

Jane shook her head, "What rules? Why would--"

"That's quite enough." The stern tone gave way to a bright chirp as she continued, "By the way, did you see my husband's new car?"

Blink. Blink. And yet another blink. Jane moved toward the door. "Excuse me. Nice to talk to you."

"Do remember me to your father."


"So I was just trying to ask Professor West about friction and chatter, and she was...I guess really busy, but she didn't seem to think I should talk to you. Are you really busy?"

Mary shook her head. "No, it's fine. She just has a little trouble working around the rules--the older generation, you know. I was just telling my boyfriend that. Keith, I mean."

Jane frowned. "Yeah, she was--what rules?"

"He got home really late last night, and had the worst hangover this morning. Keith, I mean. So what were you trying to ask her about?"

"The whole controversy about phonon modes and...well, I can't even remember the other theory. Chatter, slip-stick, coefficient of friction. I understand how to use the formulas, but the actual mechanism--"

Mary interrupted. "Yes, it's messy. I'll email you some articles, and a picture of Keith."

Jane blinked some more, and nodded. Slowly. "Thank you. Um. I mean, for the articles. But why the picture?"

Mary took a breath. Voice lowered, "Jane. Look. If you won't follow the spirit, at least follow the letter. You may not care about being written out, but I do." Louder, "Oh, and he just got a haircut. Keith, I mean. My boyfriend."


Mary turned back to her computer and brought a browser window forward. In louder, cheerful tones, "So what did you think of Obama's speech?"

"Um...I didn't see it. There was a thing about Michelle--"

"Jane, I think that it's best if you speak to Henry next time."

"What the--"



Jane pointed to a plastic-wrapped hunk of banana bread. Loudly, over the cafeteria din, "Is it gluten free?"

The cashier picked up the package and peered at the label over her glasses, "It's my husband's favorite thing, banana bread."

"Um. That's nice, but is it gluten free?"

"My son always likes it, too."

Jane nodded. "Good. I'm glad. And your daughter?"

The cashier dropped the banana bread. "Excuse me. This register is closed. David will check you out."


"Oh, that's great--you got the spot out. You really are the best cleaners. What's your secret?"

The clerk pushed her glasses up. "I bet your boyfriend likes you in this shirt."

Jane extended a twenty, then slowly pulled the hand back. A pause. Then, "Did you launder it or dry clean it?"

The clerk asked, "Are you going out with him tonight?"

Jane folded her arms, money still clutched in one hand. "Do you have different techniques for different kinds of spots?"

The clerk smiled. Stiffly. "What does he do for a living?"

Jane smiled back, even less convincingly. "What would you do for a grease spot?"

And still more smiling from the clerk. "You go to the university, huh? How does your father feel about that?"

Again, "What would you do for a grease spot?"

"Do you take after him? Your father, I mean?"

"What would you do for a grease spot?"

The clerk extended the shirt toward Jane. "On the house. I hope your boyfriend likes you in it."

"What. Would. You. Do. For a grease spot?"

"Please go."

Jane stared, brows furrowed, and finally put the bill down on the counter. She shouldered her purse, took the shirt, and muttered, "Keep the change," as she headed for the door.

The clerk's smile remained ever so bright. Loudly, "That's very generous of you. Your husband must make a good living!"

Jane looked back, nodding vaguely, and shook her head as she started to cross the street. She never even saw the car.


The cop tucked her notebook away, shaking her head as she studied Jane's body. "Hit and run. Her poor father."

The medical examiner nodded as she packed away her instruments. "So what are you and Joe doing this weekend?"

Image: By Stylianos Karavias. Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Vignette: Fourth wall? There was a fourth wall?

Emily threaded her way through the diner, and stopped at the corner booth. "So."

Henry looked up from his phone. "So?"

"So she wants to start writing scenes, instead of just the dialogue things. You know how that silly picnic thing didn't have any action or setting or dialogue tags and we didn't even know who was saying what? She's realized that she can't write a whole novel that way. So we're in a place this time. You know, a visible one. With walls."

Henry said, "We were in a place that time. With grass. Possibly with a picnic table. I didn't really think it was all that silly. I was just annoyed that we didn't get to eat the tuna salad."


Henry gestured at the bench on the other side of the booth. "Sit. Sit. If we've got props, let's use 'em. It was a burger at the end. It was tuna salad in the first draft."

"That thing had drafts?"

He shrugged.

Emily settled into the bench and rummaged through her purse. "Are you sure about the tuna salad? She doesn't even like tuna. I mean, not the canned stuff. She likes it raw."

"She doesn't. I do."

"Eew. Did she decide that or are you just being contrary?" She found her own phone and extracted it from the purse.

Henry said, "If I were being contrary, I'd hate fried chicken."

"No. That's like matter-antimatter. The whole fictional world would explode."

Henry tilted his head, eyebrows rising.

"No." Firmly. Emily shook her head, as she extracted a menu from between the napkin holder and the ketchup. "That is not a valid strategy for your break-into-the-real-world plan." She studied the menu, and then the plate in front of Henry. "Tuna melt?"

He picked up one of the triangular halves. "Yep."

"Eew. Was that here before I got here or did it just appear?"

Mouth full, Henry answered, "Just appeared. I think. Nice and hot."

"That's just creepy."

"It's dinner. Don't knock it." He took another bite.

"What if I just imagined something?"

"Try it."

She looked firmly at the table in front of her. "Caviar and blini, please."

They both waited, Henry munching his way down the other side of the sandwich half. Finally he concluded, "Nope. Maybe it has to be something you'd be able to get in a diner."

"Or something she thinks is funny."

"Don't think about pies. Whatever you do, don't think about cream pies."

Emily picked up one of her chicken wings. "I don't want dessert... dammit!"

"What? You like chicken wings."

"No, I don't. Chicken wings have to be torn apart, and they try to shoot greasy bits on your clothes. I like chicken fingers. She likes chicken wings. Anyway, that's not the point. The point is that they weren't here, and now they are. I didn't even see them appear. They're just a fact."

Henry shrugged. "Chicken's chicken."

She put the wing down and reached across for the second half of his sandwich.

He unsuccessfuly tried to grab it back. "Hey!"

"Oh, stop it. It's not as if you paid for it."

He asked, "How do you know? The money might have disappeared from my wallet at the same time it appeared."

"How much did you tip?"

"Very funny."

Emily took a bite from the sandwich, then wrinkled her nose and put the remains back on his plate. "I was sort of hoping it'd be chicken salad when I grabbed it."

"Hot chicken salad?"

"Better than hot tuna."

"You know, it's not as if she's never written scenes. That first thing where you destroyed the marzipan dog, that was a scene. And the spanikopita thing."

"Yeah, but it's been a while. You better grab a dialogue tag there."

Henry shrugged. "Or a beat. So why do we both have phones, if we're not going to do anything with 'em?"

Emily stood, phone in one hand, purse in another. "Don't know. Don't care. I'm going offscreen to find some decent food. You coming with me?"

"Sure." Henry rummaged for his wallet, then pulled the menu over. He ran his finger down the entries.

"Are you seriously going to pay for this?"

"Yep. Yours, too. And tip."

She tucked her phone into her purse and set the purse down, the better to fold her arms disapprovingly. "Why? You don't even believe this universe exists."

He stood, put down a twenty, then put down another one. "The curse for undertipping transcends all universes."

Emily picked up her purse with one hand and grabbed his arm with the other. And pulled him toward the door. "Just don't think about the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man, OK?"

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Vignette: Nonsense

"Let's sit over there."

"On the grass?"

"You did say a picnic."

"A picnic doesn't have to be on grass. It can be on a picnic table."

"It's not a picnic if it's on a table."

"A meal on a picnic table isn't a picnic?"


"Did you miss the name?"

"It's not my problem if they mislabel a piece of furniture. A picnic requires that you sit on a flat surface. Preferably with a blanket. A meal eaten on one of those tripping hazards is a cookout."

"Tripping hazards?"

"You have to climb over that support thing when you sit at a picnic table. I always trip."

"After how many beers?"

"None. Your burger's getting cold."

"They could use that as a sobriety test."

"I have to be back at work in an hour."

"The cops stop you, the breathalyzer's out of batteries, they pull the portable picnic table out of the trunk."

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Rambling: Rambling Rambling

OK, so the daily blogging thing kind of fell down.

I got busy.

Then I caught a cold.

Which is still present.

So I'm feeling whiney.

Those three lines seem vaguely haiku-like.

Now that I've re-read everything by Josephine Tey, I'm starting over with Ngaio Marsh.


That appears to be all.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Television: Halt and Catch Fire

I wanted to like this. I really did. AMC's advertising tried to tie it emotionally to Mad Men, and I think that was a mistake. Because Mad Men has the alien vibe of being truly in the past. People think and do things that seem inconceivable or unforgivable ("Do you belong to someone else?") but we're convinced. And we even like those people. Eventually.

Sure, I've only seen two episodes of Halt and Catch Fire. But it doesn't have that feel of a foreign country, of alien beings built from the inside out. There's a self-conscious awareness of the contrast between the past and the present. The outrageous statements seem to know they're outrageous. The predictions of the future are far too accurate. The pretty characters choose clothes that we could wear today, while the unpretty ones look as if they dressed out of their own parents' closets.

I wondered if I was being unfair, demanding too much. But Mad Men isn't the only recent-past period drama that works. The original British Life on Mars, for example,  was entirely convincing, despite having a character who knows all about our present right in the middle of it.

Maybe it'll get better.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Daily Ramble: Uh.

Also, uh.

My brain is not particularly operational today. But it's not as if it's depressed or sleepy or tired. It's just sort of empty.

I seem to vaguely kinda recall this emptiness, in the past, preceding a creative period. Maybe. Like a sort of prodrome. So maybe I'm going to create something.



Maybe not.

I might just eat chicken.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Daily Ramble: Portland Carbs

St. Cupcake is back.

Blue Star has a new location that isn't going to do the close-when-they-run-out-of-dough thing.

We're going to be spending a fair number of weekends in Portland. That's not cause and effect, it's just an additional fact.

Increased roundness looms.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Daily Ramble

Have you heard the actor who plays Orphan Black's Felix speaking in his real-world American accent? It's surreal.

Helena remains my favorite character. ("White Russian?" "Pork rind?")

Since I cut out Coke, I keep having a kinda-sorta-almost migraine. I'm tempted to cut out all caffeine and blast music while staring into a spotlight just to get the bleeping thing to come and go.

I read that migraines are often preceded with food cravings. Is that the reason for, well, the food cravings? Or is it just normal chicken gluttony?

Mmm, chicken.

That seems to be all.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Rambling. Poetry. Reading update. Gluttony. Stuff like that.

Why don't I write poems?
I like to write conversation, and it's much the same.
He said, she said, new line, new line.
In my narrative, they say, I have too many new lines.
Destroys the impact, they say, too many new lines.

Too many new lines.

Why don't I write poems?

OK, I'm not sure if that counts as a poem. I prefer my foot Haiku.

I've been reading:

In This House of Brede, by Rumer Godden.
Blue Plate Special, by Kate Christensen.
I'm still working on American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. I like it a lot, but for some reason I keep reading a few pages and then putting it down for a while.
The Blood Royal, by Barbara Cleverly.

I'm also reading Peopleware, by DeMarco and Lister.  It's unusual for me to find a "business" or technical book this engaging.  It's making me all opinionated about programming and corporate policies.

There are more chicken wings in the kitchen.

You may recall my determination to stop eating out of worry.  I do seem to be successfully worrying less, though in a "Meh; if I'm doomed, I'm doomed, no point in worrying about it" sort of way. The difficulty is that I'm also worrying less about what I eat. Oops.

I have maintained my no-Coke-drinking progress, but there's a lot of butter getting consumed. And an occasional doughnut. And when we spend Saturday in the park the candy store with the toffee is really nearby. I ate all these things in a cheerful and worry-free manner. This was not the plan.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Slacking! I'm slacking!

On the daily blogging, that is. I'm thinking of making a rule that if I haven't posted by, oh, 10pm every night, I have to click the "new post" button and type something.


Something something something.

Did I mention that I don't believe in writer's block? Doesn't exist, right? Right.

I'm frying chicken wings. Yum.

I've been reading a lot of feminist blogs. Somehow their bookmarks got mixed up with the bookmarks for the fashion blogs, which can be a bit of a jolt. Of course, some of the fashion blogs are also feminist--that's how they got mixed up--but all the same.

I've also been reading a lot of books by female authors in which they write about their writing.

I ate the chicken wings.

I'm fatter now.

That is all.

Image: By Peter G. Trimming. Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Rambling: Wheels and Smoke

I have a busy brain. This is not a good thing.

I don't mean busy in the sense that it sensibly and productively runs around getting things done. I mean busy in the sense of thrashing around randomly. Usually worrying about things, sometimes pleasantly planning things, but always busy busy busy.

The times when my brain is at peace are rare. Rare enough that I have, for example, a very clear memory of the time that I was watching a James Bond movie and my brain, inexplicably and uncharacteristically, just shut up and let me watch the thing. It wasn't running alternative plots. It wasn't thinking about the last movie I saw or the next one I was going to see. It wasn't worrying about whether I'd gotten popcorn butter on my shirt. It wasn't thinking about work. I just watched. the. movie.

It was a fascinating experience. It was over a year ago and it hasn't happened since.

That is, the experience of being entirely healthy and intelligent and still having a peaceful brain hasn't happened. I do find that when I'm sick, my brain does seem to quiet down, but then I wouldn't call it peaceful, I would call it stupid. It reaches out little thought tentacles, then collapses with an exhausted, "Oh, never mind." But it never stays collapsed.

It is, all the same, a bit more relaxing. I mention this because I feel as if I'm catching a cold, and my brain is looking around, sleepy-eyed, prodding halfheartedly at things. It's pleasantly restful.

That is all.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Random thoughts: Chicken and children's books

The local grocery had fried chicken in the lunchtime hot bar. Yay.

I need to read the rest of Rumer Godden's work. She's my favorite author, but I don't think I've read even half of her books, I suspect because the older I get, the more I perceive the sadness in them. Poor Mr. Plantaganet in  The Dolls' House makes me want to cry now.

I was realizing recently that the best children's books often are sad, in  a way that haunts me more than adult books. Where the Wild Things Are. Peter Pan. A Wrinkle in Time. The Light Princess. Stuart Little and the rest of E.B. White's books. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. A Little Princess. The Velveteen Rabbit. Harriet the Spy. Hitty. Ruth M. Arthur's books. And more and more. For some reason, even the ones with happy endings still leave me with a flavor of sad.

I went Googling for a reminder of what titles make me think this, and found an article about Anne Carroll Moore's work in introducing children's books to libraries. Well, and then it goes on to some controversy. It's an interesting article.

I want a copy of Ruth M. Arthur's The Saracen Lamp. It seems to be extra out of print. Not in the sense of being unavailable, just in the sense of expensive.

I used to check out Ruth M. Arthur's books from the library shelf across from Rumer Godden's books and a few feet down. I spent a lot of time in the children's room. My brain has a hard time accepting that those books are no longer on those shelves, waiting for me.

My favorite book on building dollhouses was upstairs in the adult room, down in the second rank of shelves, roughly in the middle. They rearranged and moved it once. I was dismayed. I own a copy of that one, now. With the correct dust jacket. The correct dust jacket is an important part of the experience of that Mine Mine All Mine I've Got My Own Copy Now Ha! experience.

That is all.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Chicken Index: Screen Door, Portland

(The first real post of the Chicken Index, introduced here.)

I mentioned Screen Door yesterday. (Though I added a stray "the" to the name.) I've always been puzzled by brunch restaurants that have lines out the door and down the block, week after week after week. Is it something addictive about the location? Is it a meditative interval in a too-busy life? You show up, enter your name on the list of those who hope to be worthy, and hang around for an hour, perhaps two, chatting absently with friends and strangers, waiting for an opportunity to leap, catlike, at an open waiting-area bench seat, and now and then reading the menu one more time. Dedication is required--if you wander off for an hour of an anticipated two-hour wait, you'll find that roll was called and your name removed.

For some of these restaurants, I can't even praise the food. That's not true of Screen Door; they're worth the trip and the money, though I may have doubts about the wait. (We were, I admit, told that the two-hour wait this Sunday was unusual.) The waitstaff are good, too--sharp and friendly and fast. The wait wrangler is stern, but no sterner than the desperate crowds of would-be brunchers require.

The chicken portion of the event was chicken and waffles. The chicken is a very fine version of the crispy-peppery-batter  boneless-white-meat sort. Unfortunately, that's not my favorite sort, so I can't judge the flavor--me reviewing black-pepper-seasoned fried chicken is rather like me trying to review an aldehyde-focused perfume. I'm similarly handicapped in reviewing chicken and waffles; I don't understand the chicken and waffle phenomenon, despite several childhood years in the South. It's like I'm trying to review a fougere and its compliance with the classic elements--given that I don't even know the classic elements without looking them up.

I can tell you that the chicken was well-cooked and well-textured and moist, and that the batter was a very nice texture, reliably crisp, not the slightest hint of sogginess or detaching. Very good crunch. There was a lot of pepper by my wimpy standards; I needed some side honey to reach an enjoyable balance of flavors.

But I've decided that my dish at The Screen Door is the praline bacon, bacon heaped with nuts and sugar spicy; I forget the menu description. (Image here.) It's hard to see it as bacon; I referred to it, when a nearby table asked about it, as candy that happens to involve pork.

Screen Door: White meat, crisp black-pepper-seasoned batter, deep fried. Offered as chicken and waffles. Every aspect of quality that I can judge is admirable; I can't appreciate substantial pepper, no matter how good the chicken. Recommended, with pepper caution. Side notes: Praline bacon. Get some.

Review Roundup: The Joyful Table and Breakfast in Bridgetown and Yelp and Portland Monthly and Eater PDX (about the lines, not the chicken).

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Random: Weekend Rambling

Well, that daily blogging thing fell down. But it was an extended holiday weekend--I've been off since Wednesday. That's different, right? Right? Sure it is!

We went to Portland. We ate food. We looked nervously at the notices telling us what to do about the boil-water notice. Then we ate more food. Then we cheered at the news that the boil-water notice was over, and the fact that we could now reliably get ice in our beverages. Then we ate more food.

Some of the food, such as the cured salmon at Paragon, was reasonably diet-appropriate. Some of it, such as the doughnuts at Blue Star and the biscuits at the Pine State cart, was (were?) emphatically not. The fried chicken at Screen Door was not appropriate for any normal diet, but since my diet is currently focused on sugar reduction, it was just fine. Except that they brought me honey for it. Which I used. Oh, and except for the cookie that I bought from Waves of Grain while waiting for a table at Screen Door.

Yes. Yes, I did. I walked to another business and purchased a snack to carry me through the wait between signing in at a restaurant, and sitting down. Did you ever see the Portlandia episode about the brunch line? I assume that it was based on the Screen Door. Except that the Screen Door doesn't have a cult leader kidnapping people to punish them for violations of line protocol. I assume.

You need to see their chicken and waffles. See this photo. From this post on The Joyful Table. Yes, it is customarily shared. And everyone leaving the restaurant seems to be carrying a box.

That is all.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Random: Randomness

Helena is by far my favorite character on Orphan Black.

Perhaps this should worry me.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Chicken Index: The Chicken Index

So, when I first created this blog, I thought that there would be some chicken involved. That is, fried chicken. But aside from the kinda-recipe in the very first post, there's been very little chicken talk.

I've been thinking for some time that the blog really needs an index of places that serve fried chicken.  Actually, the world needs an index of places that serve fried chicken. Because there's a lot of variation in fried chicken--bone-in or otherwise, skin on or otherwise, battered or dusted or crumbed, flavored or just chicken-flavored, and the classic question of pan-fried or deep-fried. So just knowing if a restaurant is, in general, good or not, doesn't tell you much about the chicken. A very fine restaurant that sells peppery battered chicken is not my chicken place, though it might be someone else's.

Now, classic fried chicken, in my view, is bone in, skin on, dusted/dredged with flour and not too much pepper, and pan fried. But that doesn't mean that there isn't plenty of other very fine chicken out there, some of it where you wouldn't expect. For example, who would have thought that the Medford Food4Less would have some pretty good chicken? How could you know, if you're not told, that the crust on the skinless "put a bird on it" chicken at The Original in Portland has some weird magical ingredient that makes it taste rather as if it isn't skinless? And how would you know that their evening fried chicken entree, while quite good, is an altogether different fried chicken?

The public has a right to know.

I've been debating just how to present the information, though. A chart, so you can scan across and check out just the (for example) bone-in entries? Just reviews, like perfume reviews? A cross between the two?

I'm thinking of the cross between the two--an index, and if I get around to writing a full review, I'd link to it. The index would have entries like:

Smithfield's: Chicken pieces, bone in, skin on, light breading, no excess added flavorings, incredibly moist white meat, and you can get chicken as a side! Recommended.

Tot: Wings, bone in, skin on, no breading, medium spicy sauce, juicy meat. If you crave plain fried wings, they can leave off the sauce. Recommended. Use caution if you're a spice wimp like me.

Does that work? What else does a chicken addict want to know?

Hungry now.

Image: By Douglas Paul Perkins. Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Rambling: Dieting again


No, the image has nothing to do with the post. Sometimes you just need something fuzzy.

So, I'm trying to diet again. As mentioned, no Coke. And I suppressed urgent doughnut and chocolate milk cravings today. And got the duck potstickers and wokked broccoli for lunch, instead of the Fried Chicken Bits. (I don't remember what they're called.)

Actually, the fried chicken wouldn't have been forbidden on the current step of my (self-declared) diet, because it's currently all about reducing sugar, to be followed by reducing simple carbohydrates. Fried meat will come later. Reducing buttered vegetables might never happen, because, really, there's only so much butter that can cling to a piece of cauliflower, unless you carve the vegetable and use it as a spoon. Or increase the butter's clinging potential by beating it into a nice hollandaise. I'm eagerly leaping on the Oops, Maybe Fat Wasn't That Bad After All bandwagon.  Partly because I believe it, and partly because I want to believe it.

I'm anxious. I use food to counter anxiety. Every time I go on a diet, something makes me nervous, and I eat in order to knock down the anxiety in order to deal with the something. I only recently realized that this adds up, in the end, to valuing every single one of those worries over my health.  I'm not young enough to do that any more. It's time to find anxiety management that doesn't involve chocolate milk or doughnuts. Being unemployed, or broke, or looking stupid, or any of the zillion silly things I worry about, are all still better than being dead.

Now,  I can tell myself that the deadness isn't that likely anytime soon, but neither are the other things. And the deadness is going to come someday (barring download of my brain into a Cylon body), and what I do now does presumably have a statistically plausible impact on how far away "someday" is.

But I still really want a chocolate croissant.

Image: By Fir002/flagstafffotos. Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Rambling: Longing for bubbles and syrup

So my daily posts are demonstrating a distinctly fluffball nature.  Is this because I'm blogging every day? Am I diluting my thoughts to the point that there won't be anything solid? Or is it just that the solid thoughts aren't going to come any more frequently?

We'll find out. I'm going for the second interpretation. Back when I was doing pretty reliable Scent Of The Day posts, some of them were solid and some of them were fluff.

I also wrote most of them while adequately caffeinated.

I want a Coke and I want it now.

OK, I'm stopping at fluffball here.

Rambling: Random Thoughts

Weeeekend! Ha!

The roses are going crazy, weeks early.

I'm thinking of learning iOS programming.

I still haven't fitted the perfect shirt pattern.

I have fitted a perfectly nice pattern that would be great for summer skirts. Why aren't I sewing them?

I haven't had a Coke in a week. This is a resumption of the sugar-cutting.

I want a different pair of walking skirt shoes. I bought a perfectly nice pair of Danskos, but the round toes make me look like I'm a six-year-old dressed for Sunday school.

We seem to have just skipped spring this year. So I'm having spring cleaning thoughts in summer weather.

I want chicken.

If I can't have Coke, I want chicken.

Did I mention the chicken?

Tomorrow I should fry something.

That is all.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Blogging: Books and books

Dang. Missed two days. Oh, well.

I’ve been reading The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish, by Linda Przybyszewski. My favorite quote so far is “I may be the only historical to lecture the Supreme Court in a suit that won a blue ribbon at a country fair.” That’s from the author herself, not from any of the historical subjects that she discusses. I'm barely two chapters in, but I'm enjoying it. And I'll leave it at that until I'm further along.

I've also been re-reading Service Included, by Phoebe Damrosch, about her time working at a waiter at Per Se. Well, and about other things. Also enjoyable.

I'm also about a third of the way through American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. Also good.

I'm halfway through each of two books about software.

I should really finish something.

That is all.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Blogging: Um.

So I'm trying to do that daily blogging thing.

So I'm sitting in front of a blank screen.

And no thoughts are coming out.


It's not that I'm not having thoughts. All sorts of thoughts happened today. We were busy and active and did all sorts of things. Ending with eating lots of Chinese food.

It's just that none of them are coming out worth posting.


This would be a great time for a nice cat picture, but that won't work, because I have yet to figure out how to add a picture when blogging on the iPad, and the Mac isn't handy. That's also why the post below has the wrong font.

OK, I'm going to try again tomorrow.

Rambling: A Wrinkle in Time (on paper, on stage, and in my head)

(I wrote this yesterday. Then I got sleepy and forgot to hit Publish. So I'm calling it yesterday's post. Yep.) 

 The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is showing a production of A Wrinkle in Time, adapted for the stage by Tracy Young. You should all go see it. Run along and order your tickets. I'll wait till you get back. I can tell you where to eat in Ashland, too.

But that's not mostly the point of this post. Part of the point of this post is that the play made me cry. That's no big deal, in general: plays often want to do that. But...

OK, digression. Really, this is going to be relevant. My mother has a story about my brother as a baby, eating creamed spinach. I think it was spinach; anyway, it was something he didn't like the taste of. He would willingly open his mouth for a spoonful, experience the taste, and cry. And then he'd open his mouth again. He utterly failed to make the connection between accepting the spoon, and his crying.

I have a similar disconnect with what's making me cry when I see this play. Or think about this play. Or talk about this play. I get a few words in, and off go all those wanna-cry body parts. (Not that I'm saying I don't like the taste of the play. Did I mention that you should go see it?)

But the wanna-cry isn't associated with identifiable thoughts. Or feelings. Or images. Or characters. There's no, "Oh, poor Meg," or Charles Wallace, or Calvin, or any of those. I'm burbling "Yeah, they did a really good job of carrying out the spirit of the book without slavishly sticking to elements that wouldn't work onstage, and the thing they did with the viewfoils...dagnabbit, why am I crying again?!"

I feel as if I'm standing outside myself getting exasperated as I crash, like an unstable computer. But there's no core dump, nothing to analyze.

Well, no feelings to analyze, but that leads to the second part of this post, where I realize that I'm seeing a metaphor in the play that I think was there all along in the book, and wondering how I could possibly have missed it, and wondering if I made it up. But, see, I can talk about that metaphor all day and it doesn't make me cry. So it doesn't solve the puzzle.

Anyway. This is going to be a spoiler. Spoiler. Not the final spoiler in the story, but a spoiler, so stop reading if you want to read (or see--bought those tickets yet?) A Wrinkle In Time without being influenced by my interpretation.

You remember the room, the metaphorical "cloven pine" and Mr. Murray (Meg's father) and Meg with Mrs. Who's glasses? Yes? Mr. Murray's trapped in the room, a prison with transparent walls. He can't see, and no one can get in to help him, or even communicate with him, no matter how loud they shout or how hard they pound on the walls. All they can do is watch him suffer.

But when Meg puts on Mrs. Who's glasses, she can walk through the cold transparent walls. She gives the glasses to her father--puts them on him herself, I think, against his "that won't work" protests--and he can see. He can see, and he can get through the walls, though now she's blind. He scoops her up and walks out of his prison, carrying her.

Are you seeing what I'm seeing? Was this obvious to everyone but me?

Is there a child of disordered parents who has not, at times, wanted nothing on earth more than the ability to make their parents see, and to empower them to escape from the prison of their own making? And also to give up their own self-imposed responsibility and become a child, finally cared for, rescued, by that parent?

Suddenly that's what I get from that scene, in the book or the play. Suddenly IT, and Camazotz, are all metaphor. They're Mr. Murray. The mind imprisoning and controlling him is his own mind. The mind that tried but failed to destroy his children is his own mind. I don't know if Madeline l'Engle meant that, consciously or unconsciously, but there it is all the same.

But I can discuss that, and write it, and nothing wants to cry. So there's got to be something else in there.

Or I just need a clean reinstall.