Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Josie Back at the Library

Monday it was cold and rainy, but Meema picked me up from school and we went to the library! The big bunnies at the library were dressed like people and I asked Meema to take my picture with Mrs. Bunny.

We picked out a lot of books. Meema told me to be sure to put them back in the right place, and I told her that I have a library at school, and I know all about what to do in a library.

I also spent time playing with all the fun things--I made a HUGE tower at the Lego table.

There is a pretend car that I used to like to drive when I was little. I am probably too old for it now.

I did a puppet show for Meema. It was about Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf.

Grandma, what big ears you have! (I know all the words.)

After the show, I colored with another kid. Finally, Meema said it was almost 4:30 and we had to go home. It was raining still and Meema got a little fussy while she was standing in the rain, waiting for me to get my jacket off and get in my booster seat.

Josie, hurry up! she said and I said, You're not the boss of me and she said, Oh, yes, I am. I am your grandmother and the driver of this car, and I am standing in the rain, and I say get in that seat NOW!.

She was really fussy so I got into my booster seat right away.  Well, I told her, you're not the boss of my feelings and she said that was right and we went home.


Monday, December 5, 2022

Never Let Me Go


I am seriously late to this fine and disturbing book, published in 2005, just when I was writing under deadline and not reading anything new.

I haven't seen the film, but I'd heard enough to have some idea of what the book was about. It was the Audible edition that I listened to (an excellent narrator) and I can highly recommend it.

Dystopian fiction at its best. Like the scenario I envisioned a few days ago with Universal Auto-Correct, the premise in both cases is bizarre and far-fetched, but the idea at the core invites the reader to look around them for similar situations.

I can't say it better than these paragraphs from a review in The Guardian (full review HERE):

"Perhaps the most sinister aspect of the novel is the way it reflects ourselves back at us. In this world, the cost of a world free from cancer and diseases is, in human terms, catastrophic, but, as one character asks, how can we go back to a world where these diseases cause so much suffering and indignity? In the same way, our trade off for the luxury of development and the necessity of ending poverty seems to be locking us into a cycle of dependency on fossil fuels. Let alone the thought of where our cheap clothes, technology – and the raw materials which build them – come from. I’ve never quite encountered such a well-written fictional account of cognitive bias – the way we modify our beliefs or our behaviour to avert the guilt or discomfort at holding two self-contradictory beliefs in our mind at once – at society’s level. This alone makes this a precious book indeed. The spike in anti-migrant and anti-Muslim hate crime in a post-Brexit Britain, not to mention the rise of Donald Trump in the US or the far right in Europe, has been a salutary reminder of the need to always avoid ‘othering’ human beings; this book is full of such compassion for humanity it must surely be a worthy antidote. The idea of letting the technological or medical genie out of the bottle without considering the full moral, social and environmental implications is as relevant and haunting today as it has ever been."

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Let There Be Lights!

We don't rush into Christmas. But once it's December, I put away the Autumn decor and bring out the red and green. 

And the lights! Yesterday was so dark and gloomy that the lights were a wonderful addition. Slowly we are inching toward full Christmas glory--John plans to get a tree on Saturday and Justin, Claui, and Josie will help us decorate it on Sunday.


Saturday, December 3, 2022

Univeral Auto-Correct


Once the entire populace had been chipped, installing UAC (Universal AutoCorrect) was possible. Of course, there were fierce debates—the utility of social lying (Oh, no, it’s delicious--I’m just not very hungry or Of course you look good in yoga pants) as a lubricant for interactions was so obvious—but the damage done by the larger lies (I was working late; I never saw that man before; they invaded us; I won the election; what climate change?) was impossible to overlook.  

It was so simple. If one spoke an untruth--whether knowingly or from ignorance, the chip would override the original statement and the speaker would hear themself saying, "No, that's wrong. Actually . . ." and going on to correct the statement.

Quis ipsos custodies custodiet? you ask. The custodians were carefully programed bots—of course, it was humans who did the programming, to begin with, but once the parameters of Truth had been laid down, the bots were perfectly capable of amazing feats of extrapolation.

As a safety measure, a quarterly review was instituted—on the ninth day of January, April, July, and October, UAC would be disabled for 24 hours, during which time a re-assessment of its reliability and its social utility would be performed. For the first years, this review was carried out by social scientists, religious leaders, and politicians, but when a series of particularly horrendous accidents removed a number of the review panelists, the few that remained withdrew, leaving the work of assessment to the bots.

Life with UAC has run smoothly ever since the bots enabled the chips with a shock feature. The general population has learned to think carefully before speaking or, indeed, before asking difficult questions. Political rallies have ceased altogether, ever since the debacle which saw a certain carefully arranged blond comb-over stand on end and finally, as the mouth under the comb-over continued to speak untruths, despite the increasing strength of the warning shocks, the comb-over, now rippling like prairie grass, caught fire.

UAC was an especially difficult challenge for the legal profession. Courts were still needed to assign punishment for confessed crimes. But many once prosperous lawyers simply resigned rather than work under the constraints of UAC. Some went mad first.

Particularly interesting was the phenomenon of people waiting till the quarterly review days to propose marriage or to enter into business arrangement . . .

I have no idea where this is going or if there will be more.  It's an intriguing thought, though.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Every Other Night

For some time now we've been going meatless every other night--for several reasons--health, environmental concerns, and, not least of all, economy.  Yesterday when I was grocery shopping, I was delighted to see they had Tuscan kale and pounced on it. Now I had to find what to do with it. As usual, I began by setting out likely ingredients and sautéing some onions in olive oil. I also put some water to heat for pasta (farfalle.)

I'd thought to cook together onions, mushrooms, the kale, and some garbanzos, but I began to think that the garbanzos might overpower the rest of the ingredients and so I put them away and stirred in some roasted cherry tomatoes I had in the freezer.

A bit of salt, some granulated garlic, red pepper flakes, and oregano. Once it was cooked, a bit of the pasta water added to the skillet made the mélange a bit more like a sauce. Glopped onto the pasta and topped with parmesan, it was excellent. 

We are really enjoying these meatless meals--it doesn't feel at all like a sacrifice.


Tuesday, November 29, 2022

A Day

Early morning--heavy clouds--not very promising...

But there, over yon, there's some sunshine.

As the day goes on, the sun has asserted itself, the sky is Carolina blue, and the clouds are puffy white cumulus,

Late afternoon--the sun has disappeared behind the mountain at out back, throwing our place into shadow which will creep inexorably east. But, oh, those distant horizons!


Sunday, November 27, 2022

Braiding Sweetgrass


I'd been hearing about this book for some while, but you know how it is--so many books, so little time. Then a friend came to visit and put the book in my hands. 'You'll like this," he said, and oh, I do, I do!

Kimmerer is a botanist and a college professor. But braided in with these two strands is her heritage as a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and the acknowledgement of the interconnectedness of humans and the rest of the natural world.

And her writing! It's lyrical as well as wise. Here she talks of the indigenous gardening style in which the Three Sisters--corn, beans, and squash--are planted together for their mutual benefit:

"At the height of the summer, when the days are long and bright, and the thunderers come to soak the ground, the lessons of reciprocity are written clearly in a Three Sisters garden. Together their stems inscribe what looks to me like a blueprint for the world, a map of balance and harmony. The corn stands eight feet tall, rippling green ribbons of leaf curl away from the stem in every direction to catch the sun. No leaf sits directly over the next, so that each can gather light without shading the others. The bean twines around the corn stalk, weaving itself between the leaves of corn, never interfering with their work. In the spaces where corn leaves are not, buds appear on the vining bean and expand into outstretched leaves and clusters of fragrant flowers. The bean leaves droop and are held close to the stem of the corn. Spread around the feet of the corn and beans is a carpet of big broad squash leaves that intercept the light that falls among the pillars of corn. Their layered spacing uses the light, a gift from the sun, efficiently, with no waste. The organic symmetry of forms belongs together; the placement of every leaf, the harmony of shapes speak their message. Respect one another, support one another, bring your gift to the world and receive the gifts of others, and there will be enough for all.

It's a lesson too many of us have forgotten. This wise and beautiful book is a much-needed reminder.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Beware Hackers

 I received an email from PayPal regarding suspicious activity with my account. Someone was requesting a considerable amount. There was a phone number to call to request a refund and, alas, I called it.

Don't do that. I ended up with someone who purported to be helping me, but the call went on and on and finally I got uneasy and ended it.

Back on the PayPal page, there was a way of dealing with this problem and, indeed, a warning about this very thing.

So, with passwords changed and bank account blocked for the time being, that's how I spent afternoon. Fingers crossed all will be well.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving!

                 With grateful thanks for Mother Earth's bounty.


Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Re-Arranging Perceptions


There was a small kerfuffle on a Facebook group I follow. Someone wondered why in the world people would use paper plates for a Thanksgiving feast and, rather promptly, other people told her--disability, rather spend time with family than washing dishes, etc. After major pushback the original poster amended her post to apologize and to say that now she understood.

It reminded me of something I wrote maybe twenty years ago...


It’s the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and I’m at the grocery store.  The weather is cold and snowy, and I’ve skipped painting class to get ready for Thursday.  My shopping cart is piled high with raw ingredients – a 20-pound turkey, celery, onions, kale, cranberries, butter, whipping cream – okay, there are two bags of cornbread stuffing and several cans of pumpkin puree and chicken broth, but in my mind, these are raw ingredients.

            In the checkout line, I study the tabloids; I have only the vaguest idea who Jen and Brad are so I turn my attention to the shopping cart ahead of me – paper plates, plastic cups, pre-made pie crusts, a can of lemon meringue filling (I mentally taste the artificial flavoring and my worst fears are confirmed as six jars of pale brown gravy slide down the belt.)  There are two large bags of frozen broccoli florets and I silently congratulate the benighted shopper for not having succumbed to the lure of the canned green bean, mushroom soup, and canned fried onion casserole.  But I am inwardly appalled at the idea of a Thanksgiving dinner with such uninspired ingredients.  Then the cashier says to the tired-looking woman, whose groceries these are, “Big family Thanksgiving?” 

                 A beautiful smile illuminates the weary shopper’s face.  “Yes, we’ll all be together,” she replies softly, as though caressing each word.

                     Her happiness is transcendent and suddenly my perceptions swing around in a dizzying 180-degree shift.  It’s not always about the food.                                                                        


Monday, November 21, 2022

Cookbooks Worth Reading

A visiting friend and I got to talking about cooking and cookbooks. I showed him my latest darling--a Gullah-Geechee cookbook that, aside from tempting recipes, offers a glimpse into that particular Low Country culture.  And then I realized how much I love cookbooks that present a culture or way of life through food.

I've read and re-read Rick Bragg's book and blogged about it HERE.

Edna Lewis's lyrical prose takes us back to the rural Black community of her childhood, with menus and dishes suited to the seasons and their celebrations.

I inherited these two from my mother--who made good use of both. Clementine in the kitchen is full of classic French recipes, suitable for the American kitchen. It's also the story of the Beck family in France, pre-WWII, their amazing cook Clementine, and her adjustment to America and its food when she accompanied the family back to New England.

Cross Creek Cookery is a glimpse at old Florida before it was ruint by The Mouse and way too many people. Hushpuppies and tangerine sherbet and all manner of good things to eat.

And one more good un HERE.


Saturday, November 19, 2022

More From Grumpy's Workshop

Suitable for hanging on a tree or can stand alone.

Tiny birdhouse ornament, figured maple and black walnut.

Black walnut box with turquoise resin inset.

Pencil holder of ash with blue resin inset.

Another black walnut box with resin inset. If any of these look like holiday gifts to you, pm me for prices.