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I am very glad I baked the cranberry rolls last night. The pernil was still percolating in the oven until nearly noon. I thought the rolls turned out fairly well - they didn't bleed the filling everywhere as the orange marmalade rolls did last year. But my attempt at making a pinwheel wreath type presentation didn't work as well as I'd hoped. I think individual rolls are the way to go next time, and I will be doing these again. This batch really proved to me the enhanced no-knead dough really loses something when it is held for a week.
Today was a day of sloth. Well, sloth as I think of it: swatching, soaking, blocking lace, laundry, watching girly stuff on TV. A nice break from the usual get shit done tour. I'm still tired, more so than I want to be, because I stayed up last night watching girly stuff on my ipad. I am enjoying the utterly quiet day. My shoulder doesn't hurt. Boo sprawled on me for a while, completely relaxed and lovely. I almost feel caught up on the things I meant to do over the holiday weekends, but I won't really think about that.
The first day back at the office after a long holiday weekend is always a bit tough - that faux Monday feeling. The first day back at the office in nearly two weeks is really grueling. The saving grace is that for most of my colleagues, it is their first day back in a week as well - or at least a long holiday weekend. We can all muddle together, although it seems very odd not to have the typical Monday morning meeting on what very much feels like a Monday. We are all tentatively finding our footing in this new year.
What a day. Out of the blue, an invitation to speak at a conference. One I planned to attend, to submit a presentation abstract. Whee, a free slot! And then they encouraged me to submit my planned presentation anyway! Two slots!! Conference speaker bingo! So I asked when they needed the abstract or slides for the invited speaker slot. Imagine my absolute shock when they told me, no, you misunderstand: we're inviting you as a KEYNOTE! One of four! My first invited speaker gig is as KEYNOTE! Sorry-not-sorry for shouting. All this and tuna noodle casserole for dinner!
Driving home the first few days of the new year, I am always surprised by how many houses are already bereft of their holiday finery. The warm glow that brightened the increasingly dark night of December is gone, and I feel a little displaced, wondering, is this really where I live? what happened to the friendly twinkling lights? I know that we will be taking down our tree this weekend -hopefully before it completely falls apart- but we leave our lights up for a while. Although after last year's debacle with the snow, maybe ours won't stay up much longer.
Third time's a charm? The system has swallowed my words twice before and I no longer have any idea what I originally wrote. I remember needing knit nite. I remember being tired - mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually - after a short week at work and knowing I was going to have to travel the next week. Beyond that? Email and other sources are rather mute on anything of interest happening. And yet, I know the last time I wrote a post for this day, about a week ago, I had something. But now, two weeks later, I remember nothing worth noting.
Although I'm not entirely certain I'm enjoying the story, The Crown is certainly a beautiful cinematic piece. Layering the geography and activity of the royals over the images from our visit to London last year. Having been on The Britannia in Edinburgh, I can really see life on the Commonwealth tour. The locations are beautiful. Now I want to travel again, go back to Scotland, or spend more time in London, staying in a different neighborhood. The formality, the rules of life --for everyone-- were so different then, but its difficult to imagine being so circumscribe by convention and tradition.
After a day of heavy blowing and nearly steady snow, it is a winter wonderland morning when we wake. The sun even shines! What a change from the gloomy grey of last week. If there had simply been a day like this before Christmas, I think I would have felt the spirit. I don't have a lot of time to enjoy it, but every time I glance out the window, I want to smile. I really do enjoy a fresh snowfall in our wooded area. Particularly if I don't have to get up early and drive anywhere. < insert smiley face! >
Riding on the Metro in Washington DC, I again hear echoes of Martha Stewart's voice and speech pattern in the automated, recorded announcements in the subway cars. I know it isn't her, and I know the voice is different, but there is something, specifically in the cadence and patterns of emphasis that is so reminiscent of Martha that I am always startled by the voice. And then there's the secret smile that takes over at the idea of Martha recording the announcements - for a flat fee, or on a royalty basis? or instead of making license plates during her incarceration?
There was tiramisu at lunch. That's about the best thing I can say for the day. Let's be honest - that is really a rather special thing in my book, it is one of my favorite desserts when done well. So it did counterbalance a lot of less special things about the day. Like standing for two hours in a poster session. It is the typical crap shoot you get on business trips - fixed schedules, limited opportunity to explore and work continuing to pile up at the office. I wouldn't mind the travel so much if it weren't for the latter.
What a haywire day. The conference wireless network was shut down immediately. Renovation activities then started immediately, leaving no quiet spot to connect to my afternoon telecon. I went to Union Station, only to discover that I must dial in to telecon, I can't use my computer. I find a place to by a headset for my phone and call in to the telecon, which ends in time for me to catch a much earlier train. I learn hat LIRR is a mess because of a broken rail, expect cancellations and delays. It sure feels like some kind of retrograde.
The sudden reversal is almost ironic. After telling myself to get a voice recorder app on my smartphone (something that was native on my Palm Pilot, lo these many years ago!) I finally download one. Testing proves that it is pretty damn easy to start, with acceptable sound quality for my purposes. I am ready, prepared to capture the fleeting moment as it occurs. And then I suddenly have no ideas or inspiration for my words that need to be recorded. Poof! - all gone. Dry as a desert. Maybe it is because I'm not driving - next week may be better.
I have been knitting on Big Blue for more than a year. With some seriously concentrated knitting tonight, I realize I am finally approaching the home stretch: the ruffled edge. Of course, with over 1000 stitches in each row, knitting that ruffle may kill me. Never mind the bind off. But the brilliant blue, almost cobalt, is still magnificent, and the shawl is so light and airy but in cashmere so soft and snuggley, I cannot wait to wear it. I want it off the needles before this winter is over, so I can truly enjoy wearing this milestone knit.
We can't really resist going to open houses for the big old houses in the neighborhood. Especially when they're on the water. Today we were very disappointed to see the brick, Italianate monstrosity built so close to the property line next door. And the vinyl siding, induction range, cracked walls and the lack of privacy in the flag lot. Oh, and the bulkhead that needs to be replaced. Even if we had the money, I don't think we would have bought it. But the wood paneled living room and the view off the three-season back porch were truly magnificent.
Soups. It is winter, there's snow on the ground, and I'm jonesing - want to make and eat all the soups. Potato leek (check). Caldo verde. Tomato - either with or without an infusion of parmesan. Moroccan chickpea. Lentil. Clam chowder. Butternut squash. Chicken. Corn chowder. Split pea. Escarole and white bean. Navy bean. Italian wedding. Chili! the possibilities are endless. Upon reflection, maybe I need to go to The Bakery for lunch this week. And then figure out what soup(s) to make this weekend, and write a shopping list so that can actually make a pot or two of soup.
It has been fourteen months since I had a kitty asleep in my lap. But I think I am getting very close to having it again. After being on the wrong end of a stinkbug during the day, tonight Boo snuggled next to me on the couch, then sprawled on the lavender wool blanket. He stayed for more than half an hour, accepting love, and pets and the indignities of us playing with his toe beans and fluff. In the end, I had to jiggle him to get him to motivate on his own so I could go to bed.
It was unsettling to learn the term poison pen letter means something much nastier than I thought. I grew up thinking that they were letters of complaint that you sent as a customer to seek redress and change. My family has a long tradition of sending such letters to utilities, banks and other consumer-unfriendly institutions, particularly my father. He composed on a pad of yellow paper before typing on the IMB Selectric. I have learned to give immediate feedback at hotels in a polite, helpful manner, but recent experience drove me to send the 21st century version via email.
The webinar I've been sweating - it is now done and over. It went well, and now there's one new, hot prospect. I wrote out notes, points, just like it was a briefing. I did manage to keep tabs on the chat view, and answered some questions. I'm not sure if Bill got what he wanted, but I think there was a decent mix. It did help me feel like I've progressed to my "new" title, but I must remember to get new business cards before the conference in March. I still can't believe I will be doing a morning keynote.
I fell off the wagon this week. The words were just not there, lost in the grey mornings without sunshine and hidden by dark by the time I got home. But I did start looking at the whole seed catalog, thinking and dreaming of this year's garden. I am trying to keep in mind the lessons from last year. I will need to get seedlings started sooner than I think. I need to plant the seeds in waves, to harvest in waves. And recognize the limits of time and space. Planting peas, beans and eggplant and my beloved romanesco italia.
We are all likely writing about the same thing today, with different perspectives. I am not sure what to say, because even if Hilary had been sworn in, I would be unhappy. I think what confounds me most is the violent vilification coming from the left. Most leaders are not speaking rationally, from a sincere desire to help the American people. Most are acting like petulant kindergartners who didn't get the toy they wanted and so are trying to spoil everything for everyone else. The next four years will be difficult enough, we need to rise above him to succeed.
I spent the day being very productive, promising myself that tonight I would knit and complete the cast off Big Blue. I made honey gingerbread embossed cookies, using the rolling pin that Helene gave me for Christmas. The dough wants to stick to everything - particularly the cut outs that create the pattern. This recipe had no bake time, so the first trays were overbaked and too brown. The next trays were gently golden, so I think they were the appropriate "doneness". The cookie flavor was sort of OK, but the cookie texture was like cardboard. Crisp like a dry cracker.
I am in love with some of the properties I found. Some of them are in desperate need of love, but are priced accordingly. If we found somewhere to live where the cost is about half of where we are now... I could retire early. Like, in the next five years. I really want that. No, I really want to retire in the next three years. The problem is that I looked in the northeast, where there will be snow. And he is still hating that. But I hate the heat, even with air conditioning. What is a workable compromise?
A blank day. I don't really remember it. I missed writing on the day and trying to find traces of what happened or what I did, there's nothing really there. I didn't note anything of interest in my new phone voice memo app. I didn't post anything, or email anyone. I think we were all still in shock over the first three days of the new administration. Yes, you know there will be change with a new president, but the pace and nature of it is still surprising. I don't remember such chaos after GW Bush took over after Clinton.
Mailboxes in the neighborhood are suddenly sporting a lot of bright green bows. I'm not sure what to make of it. It is the wrong time of year (and some of the wrong houses!) to be the historic house tour. I don't know of any upcoming fundraiser cause or event. Google tells me that it might be part of non-Hodgkin lymphoma - but that still leaves me with why. I've not seen anything on the very local news media that would indicate a specific sad story. But this time of year, bright green certainly does stand out and get noticed.
Two weeks after I checked out and a full week after I email the company and the hotel directly and tweet about my less than stellar experience, including issues with the customer service provided *at* the hotel. I finally get a response from the hotel itself: an email saying absolutely nothing, just asking me to call. To me, this is the last straw in the story of customer service stupidity on the part of Marriott. Since the guy clearly took his sweet time getting back to me, I am in no hurry to follow up with him. Or the company.
Autocorrect does some odd things, but sometimes you have to wonder if this isn how God has fun in the twenty-first century (if you believed in God). My sole remaining aunt is my least favorite: Mom's half-sister. I hated, absolutely hated this woman's husband when I was growing up, but he's long dead; her daughter and granddaughter give white trash a bad name. She was diagnosed with ALS last year, I sent her an iPad in December so she and mom can talk. Today, sending my first message to her, autocorrect decides that Aunt Evie is Aunt Evil.
Big Blue is done. Finally. Seventeen months after casting on, tens of thousands of stitches (more? I didn't have the heart to count) and 124 grams later, the milestone shawl is off the needles. No ruffle on this version - not enough yarn and I think I like the cleaner look better. I hope to get it washed, dried and photo'd this weekend and you can bet your sweet patootie I'm wearing it to Knit Nite next weekend. For all my cashmere, this is the first cashmere shawl I've knit myself since Mark's dog chewed a hole in my favorite shawl.
SCORE! I found a dressmaker's form sitting on the side of the road - literally. OK, the front lawn of an antiques store, but still: on the side of the road. As we drove past, I saw this was not a typical size 8 model, but one closer to my own size. Geoffrey thought I was joking at first when I asked him to turn around and go back. She was in good shape and given the scarcity of larger sizes, the price was fairly low. I spent all my mad money stash cash, but Mathilde is now comfortable and loved.
Sundays can be highly productive days if the flow of activity is not interrupted in the middle. I will need to focus on that in the next month. I can Get. Shit. Done. That may also be a bit of a distraction away from the underlying situation. So I can bake. I can knit. Read. Garden! And the way things are shaping up now, I may have actual work to do - homework for the office. Yes, I'm trying to find the silver lining in all of this so that things don't turn sour. It should only be about a month.
The week ahead looks very long indeed. And the month ahead, well, I'm trying not to panic. But I think I am going to need a vacation. Time off in December wasn't a vacation, I was sick. July seems a very long time ago. And September is even further away in the future. I need to figure out my carrot for the next six weeks, to balance the stick that is already present. I do have help, if I can figure out what to divest myself of, and how to tell them what to do, not how to do it.
I read a book from an author I am quite familiar with. But this one left me cold, there was nothing that captured me. It actually left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I tried another book, by a literary author - maybe it isn't one of her better works, but I find myself inclined to just stop reading it. I have started my third book in as many days in the hopes that it will be good, a fun read, replaces the memory of the bad books. But I can't stay up late, this is a school night.
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