Thursday, January 20, 2011

How I Spent My Snow Day

The best thing about living in the not-quite-Midwest, not-quite-the-South, anomalous Ozarks in the winter is Snow Days. There are few things in life better than waking up to a colorless, peaceful, white out and learning, snuggled under the warm covers, that your workplace is closed for the day. Unplanned holiday!

Here's I spent mine today:
  1. Wandered around the living room alone, drinking coffee and petting the animals.
  2. Warmed up leftover tortilla soup with crunchy tortilla strips, queso fresco, diced avocados, and chopped cilantro on top.
  3. Watched The Parallax View - very good, very 70s. Would make an excellent double feature with The Conversation (released the same year).
  4. Got beans soaking for tonight's chili.
  5. Pondered the state of things.
  6. Did 3/4 load of laundry.
  7. Started fire with snowy logs because I forgot to bring in firewood last night.
  8. Read the Oxford American from Winter 2006 and discovered the artist Wayne White with whom I'm now tragically obsessed. How did I miss out on him until now?
  9. Debated brownies (AND chili? Are you insane, you homebody fatso?)
  10. Made chai instead, steaming the milk and achieving that perfect, dense foam.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a quarter load of laundry to finish and a few outstanding moves in Words With Friends.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Saturday night. Home alone. When was the last time THAT happened? I actually love my time alone in my house, doing my thing. Always have. I spent a good portion of the day cleaning the LIVING DAYLIGHTS out of the kitchen and living room. Then I took a bath, used my favorite Lush soap (The Godmother), shaved my legs (!), then made a drink (vodka, ginger liqueur, grapefruit sparkling water, cranberry/pomegranate juice, squeeze of lemon) and listened to this song about twelve times in a row.

PS - Holiday weekend, y'all!

Friday, January 07, 2011

Recommitments, Not Resolutions

I've never really liked New Year's Resolutions. I feel like they set me up for failure. Plus, they're pretty much always the same. However, I do like the idea of having a fresh new year, especially after the overindulgences of the holidays, in which I can get back on track and steer myself back toward healthier patterns.

So, for what it's worth, here are my 2011 Recommitments:
  • Eat mostly plants and whole grains, using refined foods (primarily SUGAR), dairy, and meat sparingly.
  • Exercise at least 3x per week.
  • Walk the damn dogs.
  • Make quality time for my family and friends a priority over work.
  • Read. Read things printed on paper. Read only. Away from glowing screens.
  • Take a class or learn a new skill (tops on my list: knitting, dancing, pottery, Spanish language)
  • Focus on gratitude and the things that are going well.
  • Record my grandmother's stories.

I'm not superstitious about anything except for eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day. I don't know why. But this year I didn't do it. I was feeling tired and crappy and even though I was offered some from a friend and all I had to do was go pick them up, I was feeling too run down to do even that. BUT, I did make some Wednesday night. I love Hoppin' John and vary my recipe every time I make it and this did not disappoint one bit. This time I included (in addition to of course onions, garlic, and spices) carrots, celery, red pepper, canned diced tomatoes, and turkey sausage.
I was inspired by how my Brazilian students prepare their greens for feijoada, sliced so very thin (I've watched students snip them with scissors, even) so that is how I cut my collards. Then I just wilted them in a pan with nothing but their own juices used to cook them. This resulted in a very light and flavorful side to the spicy, heavier bean dish.
And corn muffins. A switch for me who usually prepares skillet cornbread. Sometimes I like to do things differently, although I DID miss the crunchy, buttery crust you get from adding the corn batter to a hot, buttered skillet.
LOTS of hot sauce and chopped cilantro on top. This had better bring on the luck because 2010 was a colossally shitty year. There I go, focusing on the negative again. RECOMMIT TO GRATITUDE, Alannah. Geez.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Went By In The Blink Of An Eye

Hello! Wasn't it December 12 like yesterday? I'm not kidding. Our term didn't end until December 23 and I had two days to finalize shopping, wrap presents, and get ready to host our family's small Christmas day gathering. All the stress before the holiday does not seem relative to the length of time we spend together as a family, just enjoying each other's company. SOMETHING IS WRONG HERE, PEOPLE!

And then I had the week between Christmas and New Year off work which is heavenly, don't get me wrong...but I tend to overschedule myself for that week, trying to spend time with family and see friends who are in town PLUS try to do things for me that I can only do during that time (stay up all night doing meaningless arts & crafts projects, pruning my Netflix queue, falling down a YouTube hole and coming out three hours later and stuck in the 70s). It's all over way too quickly and I never feel like I got to do or see everything and everyone I wanted to, but I can't dwell in regret. (yet I do, oh how I do).

I did think to take pictures for much of it. So that's something.

Here is my beloved and adorable grandmother with my equally adorable but shit-stirring dog. I am already dwelling in regret over using the term "shit-stirring" in the same sentence as my lovely grandmother. We have Christmas costumes for all the pets now. WE ARE THOSE PEOPLE. Proudly.
Chicklet the reindeer would like you all to die.

Really. DIE.
I managed one picture before we opened the gifts Christmas morning, which is more like Christmas afternoon now that there aren't young kids in the family anymore. We are super lazy and take our time, drinking coffee with Bailey's, eating brunch (trout & pesto frittatas, roasted garlic rosemary potatoes), and talking.
Just pretend that this is our 2010 holiday card. Picture D., me, and the pets all in our costumes. It never happened. But can you imagine it?
We had friends over on Christmas evening. After a few ginger champagne cocktails it was time to torture the pets one last time. You know they really loved the attention.
If this picture were in better focus (damn those ginger champagne cocktails), this would make a great holiday card too. Hi Marty and Patrick!
Because I just haven't gotten enough Marty & Patrick these past few months (hey, I've got YEARS of neglect to make up for, never having visited them in North Carolina or Ohio), we also went to visit them in Kansas City after Christmas. Because I've already documented the Nelson Atkins Museum here and here, I didn't bother with photos inside.

Stella is definitely not my little girl anymore. This picture freaks me out, but I love it and she looks beautiful.
This is the main administration building for the Kansas City Art Institute, where Marty teaches.
Behind the Kemper Art Museum. I think it is part of the Kemper? Or maybe KCAI? Marty? Help!
This huge sculpture of Lenin's head with tiny Mao on top is part of a visiting exhibit by The Gao Brothers. I'm very glad we caught it in its last days.
These portraits are part of the exhibit.
Here is Stella looking at the big manipulated photo of China as a giant bee/person hive.
See? China as a hive.
And up close...there's PEOPLE in those hives.
Stella underneath the giant spider sculpture. This is part of her exposure therapy. I am making one this big to place over her bed for the final stage of her recovery.
Stella and Marty outside the KCAI sign. Such a pretty campus and a really beautiful day. No coats!
We waited in line for ONE HOUR to eat barbecue. Were we insane? Here's the line outside Oklahoma Joe's. It's attached to a gas station (instant street cred, man) but I must say...the wait was worth it! Mmmm, there are few things in life better than really good barbecue.
Post-Barbecue food comas at Marty & Patrick's. This is Parsnip and she is wonderful.
She just doesn't get any attention at all, poor thing.
Neither does this one. Cue the Sarah McLachlan!

Hello, world. My name is Simon and I will lick the heck out of some blinds cords (see behind me). And that's just the beginning of my eccentricities.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

"...Like A Worm Getting Killed On The Way To The Top."

You know how people who live in those huge, beige, tacky McMansions often have words or phrases stenciled on their walls? Silly things like "Dreams Can Come True" or "In Vino Veritas" over the bar? Well...there are so many phrases from this interview with Udo Kier that I want stenciled on my walls. Things like:

Available. I like that word, available.

If you stay home with the candlelight and you read a book, Rilke, or whatever, or Sigmund Freud, it’s boring. But if you watch Udo Kier in a horror film and people are hunting me and trying to kill me, and there’s my love interest with big breasts and beautiful hair...that’s more interesting.

Let’s talk about Pamela Anderson please, now. I want to talk about Pamela Anderson!

I cannot answer you, because it’s totally unknown to me what you just asked me, and also very boring.

Friendship to me is, if my friends need my little finger to live, I’m going to have it cut off. I’m going to the hospital, they cut off my finger, and maybe I have a gold finger instead, and I become famous. But I still give it to my friend.

The Bible is wonderful. It’s only one book, but you can put two grams of coke on top of the Bible, and you first take a line of coke and then you open the Bible. Because then you understand.

But, you know, intellectual people, you don’t sue. It’s like a worm getting killed on the way to the top.

Also, PS - Christmas break photos and post coming soon. Lots of Stella and dogs in costumes!