mirabile: (Angels in America)
([personal profile] mirabile Jul. 20th, 2017 05:57 pm)
I am so glad to be home, sitting quietly. It was too big a day, again.

I was a tad late to Mother's because Webster and I were on hold with his GP's office while they tried to find his file so they could tell us why they left a voicemail for him yesterday. Finally they asked to call back, but I just had to leave for Mother's so Webster told them to tell me, and I left.

To my surprise, when I got there Mother was gone. I asked the floor nurse where she was and he said, BINGO. Bingo? But she's blind? Well, someone is helping her. I was thrilled, though pretty surprised, but I went back to the room to start arranging the flowers I'd brought her.

My sister called then and she also marveled at BINGO? I don't think Mother's ever played a game of Bingo in her life! At that moment a therapist rolled Mother back in: turns out she was at her first occupational therapy session. They did an assessment, checked the X-Ray, and the diagnosis is de Quervains tenosynovitis, and you say that five times fast! It's a sort of tendonitis, very similar to carpal tunnel, and they think her wheelchair is too high so she has to push with her hands too much. They are going to lower her chair a big, plus do therapy, and I had to buy her a right-handed thumb spica splint. So not a fracture, thank goodness, and now maybe she'll start recovering a bit.

No Bingo, though :)

After we talked for a while, I took her to Olive Garden for a gin and tonic and a bowl of her favorite soup, zuppa toscana. She only ate about half the bowl, which worries me, but she had eaten a couple of the cookies I'd brought her, plus some candy my sister had sent from Hawaii, so presumably she got enough calories. I hope.

When we were back in her apartment, I discovered I had missed a call from the GP's office, so I called back while I was with her and sat chatting until someone finally came on. The conversation was very distressing and, imo, almost incoherent. This wasn't a doctor, I think she was a clerk? But she didn't really identify herself. At any rate, if I understood her, Webster is in trouble because his bloodwork showed he did NOT have any demerol in him.

I explained (why is this not obvious?) that he only takes the demerol when all his other migraine drugs don't work. She said (I think she said) that the instructions are to take them everyday, so he isn't following the instructions. The implication being he must be abusing them? Selling them?

Foolishly I tried to discuss this with her but quickly realized she was both 1) ignorant and 2) hostile, so what the hell. I told her that, per the doctor's instructions, Webster had an appointment this Monday with a neurologist that the doc had recommended and another appointment with the doc in ten days to follow-up. She sounded bored.

Well, you can imagine how I felt, so double or triple that and you can imagine how Webster took the news. NOT WELL. He has drafted a letter to the doc and will continue to work on it, but I dunno. When he last saw the doctor, he was told that the doctor had received a letter from the DEA saying that he, the doctor, wasn't permitted to prescribe anymore narcotics. Today we hear something completely different.

I know the DEA is being extremely heavy-handed about narcotics, so maybe the doctor is just CYAing?

Anyway, we were worried enough about meeting the new neurologist (we have seen so many over the years), and now he's extra worried. Perfect migraine recipe! My god, do I miss Kaiser Permanente in California.

Okay, enough droning on about my weird day. When I got home, I had a glass of wine, made potato soup and vanilla pudding, and now I'm going to take a long cool shower and read.

Oh, a link! I haven't spent a lot of time with this, but it looks fun: the most iconic book set in every country. You have to scroll down a bit but they really do mean every country. I think a better title would be "the most iconic book IN ENGLISH in every country," though.
mirabile: (Saguaro Sunset)
([personal profile] mirabile Jul. 19th, 2017 07:55 pm)
Another busy day, but not nearly as busy as yesterday and certainly not as upsetting. I was up before six to get to the lap pool so I would be ready at 7:30 when our contractor returned. Yes, a return to the mess! But this is just a little job. We went with him to Lowes' and purchased the material for the shelves we want installed in the closet, and to decide on a door that will separate the master bedroom from the master bath. DONE. He will start work on next Thursday.

After we came home and had a brief rest, we headed out for our dental appointments. Webster has some issues so after a lot of searching, we found a highly recommended dentist but she is way the hell out in Scottsdale. But she turned out to be just as good as we'd heard and he feels comfortable in her hands, so it's worth the drive. Plus it was a beautiful day with enormous billows of clouds, and on the way home we saw virga and rain.

Speaking of rain here, that big rain we had a few days ago included a microburst over Phoenix, and someone photographed it from a helicopter; check it out here (scroll down a bit). I'm so glad that wasn't over our house!

Today is Hyacinth-sky747's birthday. Remember her? My god, what a writer. Wherever she is, I hope she is happy and healthy and having a wonderful day.

This essay isn't for everyone, so click with care, but it's written by a journalist with a brain tumor, the same kind that John McCain was just diagnosed with: Going out like fireworks: A reporter investigates his own illness -- brain cancer. Really powerful.

Also, I've never been a fan of McCain, but holy shit. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. And his enmity with Tr*mp has proved really helpful, so for very selfish reasons I want him well and in the Senate. Dang.

My hat, but I want some chocolate. Alas, I don't have any in the house except one frozen Pret a Manger brownie that I'm saving for a really, really bad day.
Selected Poems, by William Carlos Williams: Holy shit, it has to be noted—and I did not do this on purpose—but it took me five years exactly to read this book. I started reading it on July 11, 2012, and finished it on July 11, 2017.

That's exactly how slow going it was.

To my disappointment, not everything William Carlos Williams wrote is as accessible as "The Red Wheelbarrow" and "This is Just to Say," two of his most famous poems. Instead, there's a mix of transparent and opaque.

And then there's Paterson, which he's also known for, a five-volume epic poem that here is presented in extracts, taking up about forty pages instead of its usual three hundred, and seems to be about a grasshopper, a park, geography, some text from a medical journal, a personal letter, and a history lesson. I don't know if it would have made more sense if I had read it in its entirety, but I'm not interested in finding out.

Williams liked to experiment with white space and sentence fragments—he's a contemporary of e e cummings and T. S. Eliot—but his white space lacks the energy and enthusiasm of cummings, or, later, of Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Mostly it just looks jumbled, or unnecessarily spread out, staggered like the teeth of a zipper. The chopped up, incomplete sentences were coarse and seemed to impede meaning rather than free it. I didn't feel like I was discovering or feeling something; I felt like I was tripping over it.

For such a long volume, my notes with my favorite poems and lines don't even take up a whole index card, and I was definitely experiencing William Carlos Williams fatigue by the end. The book collects selected poems from 1914 to 1962, and I found Charles Tomlinson's introduction to be wordy and almost breathless in tone but informative about Williams and his poetry style, though more useful after I'd read the book than before.

My favorite discovery has to be the complete Pictures from Brueghel series. I'd read parts of it before, but didn't realize there was more to it. It's ten poems based on works by Brueghel the Elder, who I encounter quite often in poetry. There's something about his paintings that draws poets to him. It's probably the level of detail, all the little stories going on in these huge lush landscapes full of color and people and animals. The poems I've read have all evoked such clear images, even if I'm unfamiliar with the paintings themselves, and Williams's work is no exception. Though, as always, in order to enjoy Williams's "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus" to its fullest, you benefit by knowing the joke behind Brueghel's "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus" and the tiny splash Icarus makes down in the corner of the painting where no one is even looking. Just his leg sticking out of the water. Williams captures the humor and sadness of that image, still giving it only slightly more attention than Brueghel did.

It seems I like Williams best when he's being simple and transparent. His complicated, fractured works don't appeal to me as much, and it feels like this collection is more geared toward the latter. But could be it only felt like it.

Contains: rape, classism, and racist language and attitudes.
mirabile: (Jack Fuckin' Daniels)
([personal profile] mirabile Jul. 18th, 2017 06:37 pm)
Oh my god, what a day. My alarm went off at 5:45 so I could be ready for the sprinkler repairman who came at 6:30. To no one's surprise, we needed a new controller but he had everything required and I was pleased with the price. He showed me how to use it and left a manual, and I'll try tomorrow to make sure I remember how. He also showed me a few more things about the system, like how to turn the water off if there's a leak, and of course the most important thing: how to run some valves manually.

He left around 8, and I left around 8:30 to swing by Safeway and buy Mother a bouquet. They had a really nice one -- usually I buy a bunch of mums or carnations, not a pre-made bouquet, but this was lovely and even my nearly-blind mother really liked it. I also brought her more cookies and two of the cinnamon rolls I made yesterday. She ate those right away! So I will make a larger batch and freeze them. Maybe tomorrow or Friday.

We had a nice visit. My sister called as usual, but Mother's AIM person (Aging in Motion) came a little early so she took Mother down to the gym to start her workout and I talked, in private, about what's going on and what's worrying me. You already know it all: how prevalent my late uncle and aunt are in Mother's conversation, how short her memory is, and an issue with her right wrist. Then I went down to hang out in the gym and cheer Mother on. She is in remarkably good physical shape for a 93 year old, and she loves her AIM person. One of the PTs caught me to let me know that Mother's doctor has prescribed some occupational therapy for her -- OT is for the hands.

I was a little puzzled and talked to the director of PT. He explained that Mother's nurses had noticed that she had trouble transferring herself. That irritated me: yes, because of her right wrist, which I have reported and complained about for two weeks. We talked (with Mother) and the plan is they will do an assessment of her wrist. He will also check that it's been x-rayed (Mother thinks it has, but you know her memory). If it hasn't been, he'll arrange for it to be (they have a portable x-ray so they just do it in her room). If there's no fracture, they'll start OT for a week and then re-assess what's going on. I know where his office is so I can catch him and get information.

After I left Mother I also talked to the nurse on her wing, a really nice guy I've come to know and appreciate, and told him the story. He said he and the director of PT had already talked and he felt they were on the same page. So let's hope.

The good news is that's lots of people coming to see Mother: the AIM person, regular PT they have for all the residents twice a week, and now OT. Plus me, of course, and my sister's calls.

After I left, I hit Costco and then finally home. Webster came out to greet me and help me carry stuff in; when he saw me he said: Have you been crying? Are you all right? Well, I hadn't been crying but I was so exhausted and a little frustrated. I called my sister again and brought her up to speed, and of course he listened in so he knows what's going on. My sister advised me to have a drink, and I would have except then the a/c guy came by to check on a freon leak and instead of a five-minute check he just left, after two hours. So still no drink for me! I think I'll open a bottle of wine :)

But I did have a pleasant afternoon with Webster, once I'd settled down, and it looks as though we might have another storm tonight, yay! More rain would be lovely, even though the humidity + heat is pretty rough.

Oh, I found two cool videos on Jason Kottke's site:

Y40 jump: Guillaume Néry explores the deepest pool in the world. Only two minutes but my hat, what a video. What a pool! This is at a hotel in Italy, and I want to stay there and swim in the pool. No free diving, though.

Awaken, a documentary full of arresting imagery: This is the trailer for a movie coming out next year. Some of the images brought tears to my eyes. Also not very long but so beautiful. "Arresting imagery" is exactly right.

Now, what about that drink?
mirabile: (Saguaro Sunset)
([personal profile] mirabile Jul. 17th, 2017 07:16 pm)
I drove my car for five different errands today. None of them were walkable -- well, two of them would have been but it's too hot. So: to the lap pool, to the pool store to have the water tested, to the dermatologist so Webster's treated basal cell cancer can be looked at (it's healing very well; they are pleased); to my ukulele lesson; to the car repair place to pick up the Jeep. My hat, but that is too much driving on a day off.

But my swim was great, and it's good to have the Jeep back, though they're sending us a list of things that will eventually need repair (well, it's twenty-six years old, so even though we take excellent care of it, things happen, especially in this horrible heat). My ukulele lesson was a little different but a lot of fun -- I have an excellent teacher, I think. I'd like to get good enough to take my uke to Mother's so we could sing along with it, but I'm not there yet.

I made bread today, from the levain I prepared last night. Normally it makes two loaves, but I made one loaf and then two pans of rolls: one just regular sourdough rolls but the other I turned into cinnamon raisin rolls. Webster says they're like candy, so I think Mother will enjoy them. I also made chili for dinner which turned out really tasty, even though I had to ad lib the recipe.

I see Mother tomorrow but don't have anything planned. I'll bring her homemade cookies and a couple of the cinnamon raisin rolls, but I'm not sure what else to do. I think I'll leave home a little early and swing by Safeway to pick up a fresh bouquet of flowers. If it isn't too hot we can sit in the garden for a while. She's lucky because her assisted living area has a beautifully landscaped garden with two fountains. I love sitting there; it's just the heat that keeps me from spending more time there.

I have to get up super early tomorrow because at 6:30 a gentleman is coming to look at the controller for the drip system. I've done as much testing as I could but I need someone with more knowledge than the owner's manual. He came recommended by our handyman, who promised he wouldn't sell us a new system unless we really need one. My feeling is we need a new controller, but we'll see. Maybe I just need to learn how to use it.

We heard from our contractor and on Wednesday he'll be out so we can go together to Lowes' and buy the stuff he needs to build shelves in a closet. This is the last job for a while so I'm anxious to get it done: put a door in between the master bedroom and the attached bathroom (I know! why no door there???) and shelves in the closet. Maybe two days of building and then it's done. At least I hope so. It's been lovely not having people wandering around the house.

I'm pooped. I think I'll call it a day. Good night!
mirabile: made just for me (Default)
([personal profile] mirabile Jul. 16th, 2017 09:26 pm)
So a new Doctor Who! Now that Moffat has moved on, I think I'll give the thirteenth doctor a try. Besides, thirteen has always been my lucky number.

Had a nice, relaxing day. Slept later than usual, swam, then backwashed the pool. Webster and I grocery shopped, and then I made chicken and dumplings, his favorite meal (he's re-heating some right now). I also started a levain for bread tomorrow and fed my sourdough starter. I made another batch of buttermilk panna cotta but something went wrong and it isn't setting up. I guess we'll drink it? Practiced ukulele, but not enough. Oh well. My lesson is tomorrow at three, so I have some time.

There's a storm outside: lots of wind and lightning, but so far no thunder or rain. We keep peeking out the front door and back windows to watch the weather. Heh, I can hear Webster looking out the front door again. I wish we'd get some rain, but at least we've had some clouds. All of a sudden it's really humid, though; today while working on the pool the sweat literally poured down my face. I got in the pool a couple of times just to cool down, but I was very happy when I finished and could come into the air conditioned house. I honestly don't know how humans lived here before a/c. Webster points out that the rivers actually flowed back then and they would spend the hottest part of the day in the water. Sounds good to me.

Anybody read The Essex Serpent? I started it today; not sure how I feel about the characters yet. Guess I'll find out.

Good night!
Gluten-Free Sweet Treats: Cakes, Brownies, Cookies and More, by Emma Goss-Custard: First, this book is British and, as an American, parts of it made no sense to me. The "gluten-free storecupboard" section at the back goes through various ingredients and where to find them but failed to address my many questions. Mixed spice? Stem ginger in syrup? Damsons?? Turns out those're plums. I know this because I can use Google, but I had to go out of my way for it, and I feel like I'd have to go out of my way to find many of these ingredients, which is an obstacle. The other problem is cultural. I'm never going to make spotted dick because the name makes me want to gag.

Still, the cookbook is adorable and has many good qualities, and there are even a few recipes I'd like to try, but at a certain point I gave up because too many of the ingredients aren't things I keep around. Lyle's Golden Syrup and Lemon Oil amongst them. I continued to flip through and look at the nice pictures, but with less of an expectation I'd find something I could make out of my cupboard.

The good news is that every recipe stands on its own. The book doesn't require a custom flour blend. It uses a lot of polenta, ground nuts and seeds, and very little rice flour. It doesn't address flour substitutions, though. There's an emphasis on fresh fruits, as well as different levels of cream (clotted, double, fraîche). Weirdly a lot of the chocolate recipes call for dark and milk chocolate. Not something I see a lot.

The book itself has cute graphics and a colorful layout. I love that each recipe has an info box that tells the size/number of items it makes, baking time, and if/where/how long it can be stored. The introduction to each recipe sometimes suggests flavor variations but only rarely describes the taste and texture of the item. Add that to the fact it only has colored pictures for a third of the recipes, and that means I only have the ingredient list to go by when judging what the final product is going to be like, and in gluten-free baking it's basically impossible to guess the outcome of throwing together a bunch of nut flours and cornstarch. The British call cornstarch "cornflour" by the way. No way that can end badly.

The recipes give amounts in volume and weight (ounces and grams), and there's a helpful index and an abbreviated introduction to gluten-free baking.

Not something I'm going to come back to, but might be a great cookbook if you're gluten-free and in the UK or have gastronomical ties to the region.
mirabile: (Peggy Carter)
([personal profile] mirabile Jul. 15th, 2017 10:11 pm)
Just finished re-watching the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie. My hat, but I laughed a lot. I enjoy a lot of the MCU, but I think Guardians is my favorite. But when I re-watch Doctor Strange, that'll probably be my favorite, and wow, am I looking forward to Black Panther, which will probably then be my favorite. When does that come out, anyway? Oh dang, IMDB says it won't be released till next year. *sulks*

Saturday is Mother's day, but we kind of mixed this up. I drove out and spent a couple of hours with her, during which my sister and her wife called. Then I brought Mother back to the house so she could see the remodeling (she keeps forgetting that she's already seen the changes), and then Webster, she, and I had lunch at Red Lobster. She ate everything on her plate + two biscuits, so that made me happy.

During all this, I got an email from my sister-in-law asking if I would pick up a bouquet of roses for a friend of hers who was going into hospice at Mother's assisted living facility. Across the street from the Red Lobster is an AJ's Fine Foods, which is an upscale grocery store, kind of a local Whole Foods, so I left Mother and Webster in the car with the a/c running and had a bundle of white roses and alstroemeria put together, with a card I signed for my s-i-l. We dropped it off when we took Mother home. I've had texts and emails from my sister and her wife thanking us for doing that -- apparently the flowers were one of the last things her friend saw before she passed away. I'm so glad we were in a position to do something like that. It kind of shook us up, as you can imagine.

So we kissed Mother goodbye and came home and collapsed. I swam a little bit but a storm was threatening and I could see lightning in the distance, so I didn't stay long. Came in and started watching Guardians, and now it's time to sleep.

Oh! Someone on Tumblr linked to this brilliant MCU vid, Glitter and Gold, by djcprod and Grable424. Awesome, awesome stuff, and one of my favorite songs that I like to bellow when I'm cleaning house. Now I want to re-watch all the MCU movies.
mirabile: (Whoa Kitty!)
([personal profile] mirabile Jul. 14th, 2017 08:15 pm)
Hello, hello, I had a lovely quiet day. Swam, took the Jeep in for a tune-up, chose new "coach lights" for either side of the garage door, came home, and mostly listened to the latest My Favorite Murder and a Josephine Tey novel. Played piano, practiced some ukulele (I have a lesson on Monday), and hung out with darling Webster. There's a chance of thunderstorms tonight, which I find extremely unlikely, but I did sit in the back yard for a bit and the air does smell unusually sweet, so maybe. We can hope.

Tomorrow is another's Mother's day, though I don't have any plans. If it isn't too awfully hot maybe we'll have lunch in the garden, or maybe I'll take her to Olive Garden for a gin and tonic and a bowl of soup. We'll see. I expect I'll hear a lot more about Uncle Russ so I will sit there smiling while my heart breaks, but, as my dear departed friend Leo used to tell me, it is what it is. If my deceased uncle Russ visited Mother recently, that's cool.

Webster has gone two consecutive days without a prodrome, let alone a migraine, so we are both very happy about that.

I found this article about the history of cats in LA, which I enjoyed: The history of domesticated cats in LA. You're on the internet, therefore you love cats, right? Well, I certainly do and I'm fascinated by the history of LA. If time machines were real, I'd want to go back to early LA, back when it was El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río Porciúncula, and also to right after WWII (when my parents moved there). That there would be cats is just a big ol' plus.
And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie: From Christie's author's note: "I wrote the book after a tremendous amount of planning, and I was pleased with what I had made of it. It was clear, straightforward, baffling, and yet had a perfectly reasonable explanation; in fact it had to have an epilogue in order to explain it."

It was so perfectly explainable that she had to add an extra bit to the story to explain it. Yes, that makes perfect sense. I often find my own writing to be so straightforward it requires an epilogue to explain.

This is only my second Agatha Christie book, and the only thing I remember about the first one is that it had a million characters and maybe some Siamese cats? I figured this one would at least have fewer characters. I read it because I recently finished Yukito Ayatsuji's The Decagon House Murders, which references this book in both the text and the premise, and I wanted to see how closely the two were related. Ayatsuji borrows a lot from Christie, and adds his own interesting twist on the murderer.

As for Christie, I didn't care much about the characters, and the writing is awkward thanks to a disjointed dialogue style that depends heavily on adverbs, like:

She said grimly:

"This woman was poisoned. Possibly by a toxic amount of -ly adverbs."

He said doubtfully:

"Surely that's not possible?"

She said grimlyer:

"Oh, it's totally possible."

And, as previously complained, the mystery had to be explained in an epilogue. Which isn't how I like my mysteries to be solved.

Contains: antisemitism, colonialism, racism.
mirabile: made just for me (Default)
([personal profile] mirabile Jul. 13th, 2017 08:41 pm)
I am so happy to be home and in bed; it was a long day. Not a bad day, but long. I took Mother for a mani-pedi, and had one myself, and then to Baskin-Robbins for ice cream. It was very nice, but her memory was so bad that she couldn't always remember where she was or why. And then I thought she was going to fall out of the chair where she had her pedi; she simply wouldn't stay in it till my pedicure was done and I ended up smearing the polish on my toes trying to keep her from falling out of it. But everything ended well and she settled safely in her recliner for a nap and I went on home to collapse with a glass of wine.

And I do like my manicure and pedicure! I chose a pale pale pink this time; Mother chose her usual orangey-red.

A little while ago I got off the phone with one of the friends I went to London with, my former professor. It was lovely to hear from her. She is a little ditzy but has the sweetest heart.

Tomorrow we take the Jeep in for a tune-up, but have nothing else planned and I'm looking forward to seeing how little I can do. Plus it's Friday! Even though I'm retired, I still get a thrill from Friday.
runpunkrun: dana scully reading jose chung's From Outer Space, text: read (reading)
([personal profile] runpunkrun Jul. 13th, 2017 02:53 pm)
Tor.com has this eBook of the Month Club where every month they give away an ebook for a week, and then for the rest of the month there are discussion posts and whatnot. Because it's Tor, the books are always DRM-free, and you can get them in mobi or epub—though only if you live in the US or Canada; sorry, everyone else.

This month, Tor's giving away Kushiel's Dart, by Jacqueline Carey, and I know fandom's got a thing about this series, so I'm passing it along. I think the only reason I know about it in the first place is because of fandom and the crossover/fusion fics that borrow its premise. Which, to quote from that Fanlore article, is:
The books take place in an alternate-Europe during the Renaissance; the primary setting is a country called Terre d'Ange, which is a France-analogue. Its people practice an invented religion whose primary tenet is "Love as thou wilt" - as a result all forms of lovemaking are sacred, and in canon most characters are assumed to be bisexual and there are multiple examples of relationships involving BDSM and polyamory.
So go sign up if this sounds like your sort of thing. You'll get Tor's newsletter, but I honestly enjoy having it pop up in my inbox. Tor.com has interesting articles about science fiction and fantasy, and really great free short fiction, and the newsletter gives you little blurbs about them maybe once a week.

Legal stuff: Kushiel's Dart will be available from July 13th-19th. Download before 11:59 PM ET July 19th, 2017.
runpunkrun: dana scully reading jose chung's From Outer Space, text: read (reading)
([personal profile] runpunkrun Jul. 13th, 2017 01:37 pm)
Gluten-Free Cookies: From Shortbreads to Snickerdoodles, Brownies to Biscotti: 50 Recipes for Cookies You Crave, by Luane Kohnke: Did I take a star off this rating (on Goodreads) because the author used the phrase "yummy-in-the-tummy" (in quotation marks no less?!) in one of the introductions to a recipe? No, but I wanted to. I wanted to so much.

Instead, I will ignore that, and focus on the positives, because there are so many of them. To start with: This book does not require a custom flour mix! Each recipe tells you exactly what you need to make it. The measurements are by volume only, though, which I find to be a bummer in gluten-free cooking. I'm going to try the ginger molasses cookies first, and maybe fool around with converting the measurements to weight using an online calculator or chart. If I can find two that agree.

Most of these cookies are made with brown rice flour and almond flour, along with tapioca and potato starch. The recipes call for xanthan gum, but Kohnke says you can substitute guar gum straight across, which goes against everything I've read, but I guess you can experiment with that if it's your thing. Some of the cookies call for vegetable shortening, which I don't cook with, but I've had good results using ghee or clarified butter in place of Crisco, so I'll try that here. The book has an introduction that goes over ingredients, cooking techniques, and tools for those people who are just starting out, but it doesn't get into substitutions much so you're on your own there. And while these recipes don't require a custom flour blend, they are based on Kohnke's own mix. She says you can use it in your favorite wheat flour-based recipes, too, and provides a handy chart to convert a cup of wheat flour to a cup of her blend with all the individual ingredients listed, so you still don't have to mix up a batch of it and have it hanging around.

The recipes cover a lot of the basics: chocolate chip, gingerbread, jam thumbprint, oatmeal, snickerdoodle, shortbread, biscotti, flourless peanut butter. There are sections on kids' cookies (for kids and/or to make with kids), bar cookies and brownies, holiday cookies, and meringues. One of these things is not like the others.

Each recipe has an introduction that describes the cookie's flavor and texture, and at the bottom it tells you how to store them and how long they'll last. There are lovely color photos for each cookie, and a useful index that is sorted by recipe and ingredients. So you can look for "ginger molasses cookie" or "molasses" and find it in both places. This is definitely a book I'll come back to.
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([personal profile] mirabile Jul. 12th, 2017 08:05 pm)
A bit of a day off today. Swam, fixed a big breakfast for Webster who was recovering from a migraine the night before, then made vanilla pudding (excellent: a Smitten Kitchen recipe), and practiced piano and ukulele. In the early afternoon I visited Lowes to price shelves for a closet, bought Jimmy John's for lunch, and came home to hang out with Webster. For dinner I grilled cod.

I like retirement. I never thought I'd have a retirement like this, I have to admit.

This evening I finished the fourth "Josephine Tey" mystery by Nicola Upson -- this one had Alfred Hitchcock and Alma Reville as major characters! I enjoyed it quite a bit and will read the last two. I do wish they'd stuck with the original narrator, though. Wanda McCaddon is a fine narrator, but I just loved Davina Porter's voices. Oh well. I see Davina has narrated many, many other books so when I finish this series, I'll try looking there.

And now I'm in bed and ready to sleep. I hope you all had a lovely day.

Oh, nearly forgot! There's an eclipse coming on August 21 and most of us in north America will be able to see it. If you go here and put in the name of your city, you'll get a graphic representation of what the eclipse will look like for you. Folks in Washington, Oregon, and Wyoming will have something closer to a total eclipse. Remember not to look directly at the sun!
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, by Mackenzi Lee: Henry "Monty" Montague is off to the continent for his Grand Tour with his best friend Percy and, unfortunately, Monty's little sister and a chaperone. But Monty's dad, The Duke of Whatever, is totally fed up with Monty's rake-like behavior and sets down some strict rules Monty has to follow if he wants to learn how to run the estate when he comes back. Uh, spoiler, he doesn't he follow them.

Elsewhere, I described this as a romp, and I stand by it. It's rompy. It's queer. Monty seemingly goes all ways, and in fact reminds me a lot of some James T. Kirks I've encountered in fanfic—rough childhood, convinced of his own awesomeness (as a defense mechanism), will kiss anything with a mouth, and totally, deeply in love with his best friend who has dark skin and can't eat with the family when company comes. This metaphor is breaking down, but Percy is mixed race, and while Monty might be totally oblivious to what this means for Percy, Percy is more than aware of it, and even if Monty doesn't notice, the story does, which I appreciated a lot.

I couldn't help but like Monty even though he's a self-absorbed little shit. He's loveable and slappable in equal measure. Percy adores him, so there has to be something about him we didn't get to see since we apparently meet him at his worst. In keeping with this, Monty's quest was totally dumb, and if he'd listened to ANYONE even ONCE in his LIFE then NONE of this would have HAPPENED, but then you don't have a book, or a guy who can learn from his mistakes. Which I'm not sure he ever does, but whatever. He cries a lot, too, which I dig.

Good hurt/comfort, friends-to-lovers with lots of sweet snuggling and intimate non-sexual contact, in addition to some brief sexual contact. And a kick-ass sister. Fun, super queer, and a happy (if unrealistic) ending.

Contains: violence, child abuse, suicidal thoughts, racism, homophobia, upsetting attitudes towards chronic illness/disability.
mirabile: made just for me (Default)
([personal profile] mirabile Jul. 11th, 2017 09:44 pm)
Ha, today was Amazon Prime day and I didn't buy one single thing. I'm very proud of myself because my god, was I bombarded by ads and emails from them. Jason Kottke posted this: You laugh at me calling this a holiday, but someday Prime Day will be a bank holiday and members will have the day off. As my pal Matt Webb tweeted recently: "It's 2047. Amazon Prime membership is now paid as a percentage of your income and includes healthcare". Actually, it would be cool if it did include healthcare, given the political situation here in the US. WHICH LET'S NOT TALK ABOUT.

Spent several hours with Mother as usual. There were clouds and it wasn't quite as hot so we were able to stay in the garden a bit longer. She loves that, and I don't blame her. It's beautifully landscaped, with two very different fountains. On the way home, I made an appointment for a mani-pedi on Thursday for us, and did some grocery shopping.

Webster is still having a rugged time re migraines. He saw his GP this morning and learned that, per a letter from the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) he (the doctor) has to stop writing prescriptions for narcotics. Fortunately we already have an appointment with a neurologist the GP recommended, so maybe she'll have something that will help? Anyway, the news has left us both rattled.

I fiddled around with the valves for the drip system that doesn't appear to be working and they're fine, so it's the controller that is the problem. We put in a new battery just in case so maybe that will help. In the meantime, we're watering by hand until the drip guy can come out next Tuesday to figure out what's wrong. I think the worst will be we need a new controller; I googled them and they aren't too terribly expensive.

I'm so sleepy. Time for bed. Sleep well, all!
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
([personal profile] synecdochic Jul. 11th, 2017 05:02 pm)
holy shit

Last night I was like, nah, you're seeing things, wishful thinking, etc, but after treatment #2? The cords really ARE shrinking, dramatically so.

"Stops progressing" would have been a good outcome. Actual reversal happens in a minority of cases, almost always in patients who treat it very early. I'm SO FUCKING GLAD I insisted on going as aggressive as possible. Even if I wind up with more chronic pain out of it, I'll keep use of my hands for a fuck of a lot longer, thank ANYTHING THAT WAS LISTENING
runpunkrun: illustration of numbered sheep jumping over a sleeping figure, text: runpunkrun (and then she woke up)
([personal profile] runpunkrun Jul. 11th, 2017 09:51 am)
  • I know
  • you don't hear from me for like
  • a month
  • and then it's a blast of
  • 100% BOOK REVIEWS
  • I got a little behind
  • and had a health thing
  • a year from now
  • I won't be able to tell which
  • "health thing" I meant there
  • as it's really more of a plural situation
  • just to give you an idea
  • of how things are going
  • with me
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
([personal profile] synecdochic Jul. 11th, 2017 01:25 am)
First dose of radiation done, out of five (once per day this week). Aside from 20 minutes of "shitting cockgoblin fuckmuppet" pain levels just now, which did die down to just a slightly elevated from normal "ow ow ow ow ow", it was fairly uneventful! Holding the position required for the treatment is worse than the actual treatment, which is basically "the machine goes click whirr for 45 seconds".

So curious to see what happens in six weeks. The way this works, you see, is by activating all the dormant spots so the second round can nuke them in 12 weeks...
mirabile: made just for me (Default)
([personal profile] mirabile Jul. 10th, 2017 08:19 pm)
Thank you to everyone who read, and to those who commented, on my post about Mother yesterday. I've decided to try harder not to correct her when she remembers, for example, my (deceased) uncle Russ at a dinner party. When I remember what she was like before all this happened -- she owned two businesses, traveled the world, gave parties, gardened, golfed, played cards, volunteered -- and now she's in a (very nice) small room. Goddammit.

Anyway. Thank you.

Today I swam, then spent most of the day reading. I'm re-reading an old favorite of mine, Margaret Drabble's The Radiant Way trilogy. My paperbacks are pretty battered because I've read them so often, and it's her incisive political analysis that I love almost as much as her characters -- who seem like RL friends to me now after so many readings. So that's a recommendation.

I also made another batch of King Arthur's sourdough sandwich bread. That recipe makes really good bread; not as sour as the sourdough I normally prefer, but excellent in its own way. I find a lot of comfort in making bread. I like knowing that I'm following a tradition that stretches back millennia.

Plus I had to call my poor handyman, who is on vacation at his daughter's in Ohio and won't be back till mid-August, to ask him who I can call about the drip system which isn't dripping on some of the trees, so we have to water by hand. You wouldn't think that's a big deal except it's fucking hot out there. We only noticed because they started to look really brown, poor things. And I'm worried how much the repair will cost.

Did you read the Mother Jones breaking news about Trump, Jr? How a Music Publicist Connected Trump’s Inner Circle to a Russian Lawyer Peddling Clinton Dirt. My god, those people are disgusting. Some days I think I just can't bear it anymore, but what choice do we have?

One reason my day was so quiet is Webster is down with a migraine. His meds just didn't work this time so he had a bad afternoon. There's really not much I can do for him when he's like this, other than make sure he stays hydrated, so I just read and drank tea. Poor fella.

Time for a little glass of wine and then bed. Ooh, almost a third of July over already! My hat, but time really does fugit.
.

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