Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I don't get it. Really I don't.

I may have mentioned before that I don't really see eye to eye with many of my neighbors. Not in the sense of not getting along with them but in the sense that I don't understand them.

I went to an open house for the family of one of Sean's friends - they were moving away. I dropped in just for a bit to visit and then to collect my son who'd been there all day. Several people had brought along goodies to share and we were awaiting the pizza that was anticipated at any moment. My next door neighbor wandered by with a plate that looked tasty and I asked him what it was - eggplant casserole. Yum. Never mind the pizza - just let me have some of that.

I was enjoying it and another neighbor from down the street, whom I had been chatting with, was also digging in, when she commented that it was extremely difficult to make, it just took hours. I was startled and made some comment to the effect that I really didn't think so. I hadn't made it for a while, but it wasn't that hard. She was rather offended (why? she didn't make it, I knew that) and started explaining just how it was made and how complicated it was. I nodded along and when she was through, mentioned a variation that I liked to make with it. This apparently was sufficient to feel that I wasn't belittling the dish and she soothed her feathers and we talked of other things.

I hadn't made it for a while and I do like it and the eggplant looked good at the store today and I'd cheese left over from the weekend, so I made it this afternoon.

2 eggplants (the larger ones, fresh and not woody)
bread crumbs
romano cheese
mozzarella cheese (asiago cheese, parmesan cheese, as available)
1 can tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce

Peel the eggplants. Slice into 1/4-3/8 inch slices. Dip in milk. Dip in bread crumbs mixed with grated romano cheese. Saute in oil. (Eggplant drink oil. Use a nonstick pan, but they are going to drink the oil up). Blot on paper towels.

Blend the tomato sauce and tomatoes in a blender. Grate the cheese(s) (about 3/4 cup grated cheese).

Layer eggplant slices, tomato sauce and grated cheese in a casserole dish, beginning with eggplant and ending with cheese. Bake at 350 F for approximately 45 minutes or until lightly brown on top and bubbling at the endges. A fork should go in easily.

It took 35 minutes from start of the peeling to putting it in the oven, and another 45 minutes to bake.

I just don't get the 'it's really hard and complicated' thing.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Children's books

The answer to Devorah's question is that of course Dr. Seuss's books are on the eternally wonderful list. My personal favorites are And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street, Happy Birthday to You and Horton Hatches the Egg. oh, and The Butter Battle. and the Grinch. and The Sleep Book. Ok, so almost anything he wrote. But those are the top three. Umm, six.

Other children's books - for the younger set I like the Sandra Boynton books, which were not out when I was young but which my children adored. Also Piggy in the Puddle by Charlotte Pomerantz, and the Jan Brett books with their wonderful panelled illustrations. The school library in Asmara had a number of the Snipp, Snapp, Snurr books by Maj Lindman and I was most disappointed to not be able to find them in libraries stateside when we got back. Amazon seems to list them so it looks like they've been reprinted. My sister had some of the Noddy books by Enid Blyton and I found some of the Mr. Twiddle books by the same author which my son thinks are wonderful. These also seem to be being reprinted and I need to look into this.

For older children: My all time list has to include Diane Duane (So you want to be a wizard, etc) and Tamora Pierce, Andre Norton, and the Narnia books. The Hed books by Patricia McKillip are wonderful. And Robin McKinley, particularly The Blue Sword, The Hero and the Crown, and Beauty.
Various comments:
  1. It's quiet this morning. After three days of wind roaring through the trees, the wind has finally died down to a faint breeze. All the leaves that were on the ground in the woods now seem to be either on the fence line around the dog's yard or in a swirl around the front steps. The wind has sounded like a freight train for three solid days (which leads me to wonder what people compared it to before trains? Actually a freight train sounds like a gale running through the bare limbs of the winter trees.)
  2. Somehow I didn't get the memo that the offspring don't have school tomorrow. I don't think I would have scheduled my annual poke and prod for tomorrow if I had. Maybe I can sneak in a trip to Robin's farm afterwards?
  3. K is a genuine 1st soprano. This amazes me - I could never reach higher than an F on a good day - she soars to A without a stop and in an argument with her brother over who could go higher (she or his trumpet) she managed to hit an even higher C# with barely a wobble. Vocal lessons have given her the discipline and support she really needed. (He was annoyed - his highest on the trumpet was only B flat).
  4. Falling downstairs is not all it's cracked up to be. The visible bruises are starting to fade and the whack on my head is almost back to normal.
  5. It's a sunny day (though cold) and I want to go for a walk. Better find a new book on tape though. Hmmm. Maybe a trip to the library had best come first.
  6. Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin is a fascinating book. I have to get hold of another of her books (Thinking in Pictures). Her world view is very interesting and she pulls together an incredible number of different fields in this book. I got the book out of the library because people on the dog training list were discussing it and differing from some of her opinions on dogs and I see where they were coming from, but I also see (and they acknowledged) that she has a lot of really interesting material in this book on how autistic people think and how that relates to understanding the behavior of animals.
  7. The red cat has developed a habit of prowling the house when everyone else has gone. Then, having checked the perimeter, he comes in and stretches up as high as he can reach and carefully inserts his claws in my leg. Having gotten my attention, he awaits being picked up and settles himself carefully up over my chest and shoulder. One hand of mine is expected to support his rear and the other is expected to begin the patting. This doesn't leave me many hands available for typing.
  8. I got an A in my latest class. I am happy.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The weather has been very... changeable. This weekend it was warm and sunny. And rainy. And sunny. And warm. We went for a hike in the woods where it was muddy. We decided to hike back along the road where it wasn't muddy, instead of retracing our steps. Some mud was (reasonably) fun, but lots would have been overkill.

Then, on Monday, it thundered and poured. It was windy and rainy. Just before sunset, the clouds broke in the west and we had the first sunshine all day.
Today is much of the same, wild winds followed by much precipitation, only it's now about 30 degrees colder and the precipitation is snow. No thunder at the moment, but we are promised more.

New spindle
I've admired these spindles at Gaustad studio for some time. I never asked questions about them; the blurb mentioned "designed for flax" and I gave a mental sigh of relief. I have no interest in flax, I don't want to spin it, don't need that spindle. Then Sylvia mentioned them in conjuction with "silk". Ok, silk. I'm paying attention now.

I have the silky oak one mentioned as "good for cotton or fine silk". It is doing just fine with tussah silk. The bottom whorl slides off and you can spin with it either way. I had to take the bottom whorl off to learn to spin on it, but now that I have the trick down, it works like a charm with or without the bottom whorl. Stephenie gave me a few tips and tricks with it which helped, but the single biggest thing after "roll it up (or down) your thigh" that makes a difference is rolling it up my thigh with just the tip end, rather than the side of the shaft. This is not how I spin other thigh rollers, but makes a big difference in the wobble factor on this one. It isn't yet habit to do it with this one so I always have a moment of "what? Oh yeah" when I start spinning with it.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The striped one is making good progress. I find it amazing how different kinds of light make this particular piece look so different. The first picture available earlier was under artificial light on a cloudy day. The second picture was in bright sunlight. This picture today is under the Ott light and had to be lightened, though the flash did not feel impelled to go off.

It's now about 13 inches wide and moving along smartly. The Ott light separates the colors and make the different ones look very stark, fading out the intervening blending shades. The previous picture is much more true to what I see in person. I'll try again on a sunny day.

The Wizard of London by Mercedes Lackey was a decent book and one I will buy eventually, but not as good as some others in this series. Possibly my disappointment in it stems from the fact that I read the short stories that were incorporated in it some years ago and skimmed through those parts rather hastily. That meant that my reading was somewhat jerky, which might be why I felt the book moved in fits and starts. It might not have been the book, just me. The best book in this series by Lackey is still The Serpent's Shadow or The Fire Rose, which latter book is set in the same fantasy world although not formally grouped with the more recent books. She's done a good job of retelling fairy tales within a particular world-view context and since I love fairy tales...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Sylvia tagged me for the book meme. I will always talk about books.

1: Name five of your [many] favorite books Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein, Gilliane by Roberta Gellis, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Dear and Glorious Physician by Taylor Caldwell. These I read and reread and never tire of.
2: What was the last book you bought? For myself? America Knits by Melanie Falick, a book I read several years ago from the library and wanted for myself but not at hardback prices. In paperback now and the last thing I bought with the gift card my daughter gave me for Christmas. For the kids, more recently, I bought Messenger by Lois Lowry for K (related to two other books she had read and liked) and Dragon's Blood by Jane Yolen for S.
3: What was the last book you read? The last book I read... As in finished? Ummm - I'm in the middle of Martin the Warrior, reading it to S, and I started New Rules by Bill Maher and Why is the Foul Pole Fair by Vince Staten after picking them up at the library yesterday, and the Road to Underfall by Mike Jefferies as a bedtime story, but the one I finished most recently must be Desiree by Roberta Gellis which was my most recent bedtime story.
4: List five books or authors that have been particularly meaningful to you (in no particular order). Andre Norton got me into science fiction and then into fantasy and for years I read everything she wrote. Robert Heinlein was another I read everything by and has always been extremely thought provoking. Stephen Jay Gould has been my hero for explaining things in science in terms even a casual lay person could understand, particularly in putting science in its historical context. Roberta Gellis and Georgette Heyer are my favorite romance authors, in their different ways, because the serious research that underlies both their bodies of work shines through.
5: Name some books you’ve been dying to read but just haven’t yet. I dunno about this one. Most of the books that I really want to read but haven't yet aren't published yet. The last Harry Potter book comes to mind. The next Magdalene la Batarde book by Roberta Gellis, Chains of Folly. The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde, which is apparently out now (as I look into this) and which I need to get from the library since I laughed myself sick over his earlier books.

The 50 book challenge was something I ran into on Jarret's blog last year and had to go figure out. Technically, it seems to be a challenge to read 50 books in a year. Phah, child's play. I chose to interpret this as a challenge to read 50 new books in a year, not counting those I reread for old times sake, which adds up to many more than 50 and which were cluttering up the list. I'm doing this because I like to read, and because I like to share the books that I read with others, and because I've been losing track of some of the titles that I've read and having a list in one place wouldn't be a bad thing.

(Memory is a funny thing. I generally remember the written word. But if my mind is convinced I have another way to remember something, it cuts out duplication. What was the name of the book of cowboy short stories I read which was always on the middle shelf at eye level in the third stack back on the right in the Howard County main library before they built a new main library in downtown Columbia and shifted all the books around? I still don't know. But the stories were really good, particularly the one about the guy who had a store and could get anything you needed and another guy tried to stump him and eventually ordered a wife. Or the science fiction book that was in the center section (on the other side) of the end of children's fiction in the same library- that one I eventually tracked down mentally (The Secret of the Marauder Satellite by Ted White which sounds very Hardy Boys-ish but was pretty interesting) but so far the cowboy stories is a lost cause. So having a list of book names might not be a bad idea.)

Should I give a blurb on each as I finish them?