Saturday, April 30, 2011

April Reads

When you are living out of a suitcase in your friend's house, without the distractions of a sewing room and art supplies, it's possible to get a lot of reading done. So this month must be some kind of record for me, at least since the turn of the century. SIX BOOKS!Laurence Sterne's A Sentimental Journey (first published 1768). Hmm ... two stars? Maybe I just didn't 'get' it? A set of short sketches that ends mid-sentence (or was my Kindle transcription truncated?) Maybe if I understood the French that was liberally sprinkled through the text I would have enjoyed it more. Or maybe I just need to dissect it in a literature class. I feel I really missed something.
Arthur Golden's Memoirs of Geisha. This was hugely popular a decade or so ago, but being a bit of pop-culture snob, I tend to eschew hugely popular books (which I why I haven't ready any Stieg Larsson). It was an easy read, somewhat interesting, but in many ways hollow. Despite all the author's research, I think it's a huge stretch for an American man to accurately speak in the first person as a Japanese woman. I also queried the character's love and acceptance of all things American -- it seems somehow self-serving on the author's part.
Gabriel's Gift by Hanif Kureishi. Another 2-star rating. It started with a good premise but really didn't live up to its potential. A year ago I read another of Kureishi's books, The Buddha of Suburbia, which fizzled out half way through. This one never got up to full steam. I am going to keep trying with Kureishi because I think he might yet delight me.
Muriel Spark's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Spark delivers tightly controlled dialogue and a narrative that hops around chronologically in a way that just adds interest to the story line. This is a well-deserved classic. And it's short. Read it!
Kitchen Confidential is another book I'm reading a decade past its prime. Am I shocked by his revelations of the dark side of commercial kitchens? A little ... but as a frugal home cook, I don't eat out much anyway. What I learned most is that I really don't want to work in a restaurant myself.
Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio is deservedly an American classic. First published in 1919, it delivers rich, complex character studies rather than a plot-driven tale. A true joy to read.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Overnight camping

Camp setupI decided to try out my birthday gifts (tent and sleeping bag, thank you Josh) with an overnight camping trip. Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is in the mountains east of San Diego. The camping area is large and shady, with helpful staff and clean restrooms.
Stonewall Peak (behind the tree)After setting up and having lunch, I was ready for a hike, and Stonewall Peak, being right across the road, called my name.
Trail up Stonewall Peak
Almost at the top
View from the topThe view was lovely. That's Lake Cuyamaca in the background.
Perfect!Back at camp, I got a fire going and cooked Grilled Tofu with Red Wine/Mushroom Sauce, accompanied by grilled asparagus and zucchini, and enjoyed it in the evening glow, before settling in for an early night.

Things I learned on my first camping trip:
1. My 2-person tent is not big enough for two people. Not unless they are very small and/or very close friends. My single airbed filled the tent all by itself. Luckily I was the sole occupant.
2. If the airbed seems to be taking way too long to fill, the air inlet is probably touching the ground. Turn it so the air can get in. Duh.
3. My fuel stove needs a wind guard.
4. My silicone pot grabbers are awkward to use. Bring a regular pot holder or two.
5. The grill on the fire pit is likely to be small and dirty. Bring my own. A big one.
6. Bring a pair of shoes that are easy to put on in the middle of the night for a bathroom visit. Hiking boots are not.
7. If the tent site has a slope, even a very slight one, orient the tent so your head is at the highest point. I lay parallel to the slope and gravity tried to roll me off my airbed several times.
8. Bring more layers/bedding than you think you'll need. Shivering all night is no fun at all. Don't rely on hot flashes to keep you warm. They might not.

So yeah, it was cold, probably high 30s (it was 43°F at 7:30 AM). And it rained all night, which I hadn't expected or prepared for. When I got up, I didn't feel like battling wet firewood to make breakfast, so decided to strike camp and head for the desert sunshine in Anza Borrego State Park.

But minor inconveniences aside, I loved camping! I'll take the lessons learned to make the next trip a little more comfortable. For there's certainly going to be a next time.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Spaceplate Update

Remember this post?

Well, this morning I received an email from Frank Manning's daughter, Carol Manning-Macris. She writes:

"Twas my Dad who did all the planetary plates and moonballs. And other stuff. FYI, the moonballs were sold through Edmunds Scientific catalog. Unfortunately I find that the majority of the items went with [Hurricane] Katrina, I know the large molds for the moonballs, heavy as they were got washed away. Anyone looking for these items might want to take that into consideration.

The plates were made in 2 sizes, about 6 inches and about 9 inches. Same as a salad and dinner plate. And most important, the plates were made by Holland Delft Blue in The Netherlands, but only samples were done. The plates were never put into "production", so they are very rare. There is also a book called "Spaceplate" which went with the plate. "Spaceplate" was what the actual plate was called by my Dad.

PS: there are family members who would love to have a "spaceplate"! Myself included."

Myself included too, Carol!

This email (and another, an hour later, from Carol's son Alex Macris, editor of Escapist Magazine) made my day. You gotta love the internet :-)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Messages to me

I was thinking that newspaper blackout poems might be fun for a new range of greeting cards, so pulled some pages of USA Today from the trash ...
Create constant experiments... to see what might be hidden in the sports pages.
Love everyoneIt's amazing what subliminal messages lurk there.
Dream of getting betterAs I finished this one, my workmate passed me a get well card for a colleague who has just had back surgery. I cut it from the page and pasted it in the card.

But then I realized ...
... that all these messages from the universe ...
... are for me too.
The heart seems

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Baby pants!

Reversible baby pants
Reversible baby pantsWell, I declare my new sewing room to be perfectly adequate. Of course, I wish it was twice the size with a large cutting table, but one can't have it all.

I'm ready to deliver 12 pairs of reversible baby pants, three receiving blankets, and six sets of burp cloths to a local baby boutique. I hope they sell!

Monday, April 11, 2011

New place

While I can't fully move into my new place for a couple of weeks, I was able to set up my sewing room/office today. The room has two doors and two windows, which limit the wall space, but I think I've made things fit without being too crowded.

The trick is to have the two tables sharing one chair. Let's see how functional it turns out to be. I have a large order of baby pants to make, so I'll be running the room through its paces over the next few evenings.

For now, I'm loving the lovely light, and the wood floors. Oh, and that everything's clean and organized. Of course it'll stay that way, right?

Time to go

Hashi and Josh
Second date, Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens, March 20, 2004.

Dear Josh, Ian and Lauren,

Well, it’s been a fun ride this past seven years. You Meltzers are pretty awesome, and you’ve taught me a lot, given me tons of laughs and helped me grow into a better person. Just because I’m not living with you now, it doesn’t mean I don’t love you heaps. You all have my phone number, so please feel free to dial it, if ever you need some Hashi-love. You know: a yummy meal, a hike, an art museum visit, an ear, a Scrabble game, a sewing lesson, help with Excel, bail … anything like that.

Ian and Lauren, I will always be your stepmother. Don’t ever think of me as an ‘ex’. Anything you need, just call or email. Any time. If Mom and Dad don’t understand, I might. And please, invite me to your performances. I would love to celebrate your successes with you. But I’m also here for your dark times. Remember that. I’m a good listener, and not prone to giving lectures. I’ve lived through some dark times myself. I might just understand.

Josh, you rock. You are gallant, kind, generous, gentle, hardworking, funny, and literate (despite not knowing how to spell ‘litter’). Thank you for being the best husband I’ve ever known. Thank you for loving me, my cat, and my kids. I am immensely sad that we are parting. You know that.

So yeah ..

In the words of the immortal Garrison Keillor: Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

I love you all.


“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”
— Buddhist proverb

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

While strolling on the bluff

California Kingsnake?I'm thinking California Kingsnake.

Next day, Snake Handler commented on my Flickr site: "Yes, a California Kingsnake, non-venomous and very acclimated to human habitations. Hope he does not run across a dumb redneck."