Entries in A-Ranting We Will Go (15)

Thursday
Jan172008

Gaping Maw

I struggled with depression for many, many years, but about year ago, I kicked it in the teeth and banished it from my presence for a good long time (I hoped forever).

Oh, I've had sad or frustrating days since, days in which things have gone wrong, or in which I think I'm a bad writer or mother or laundress (or all of the above), but those have been just normal dips in the ride we call life.

Depression is palpably different. Today when I wasn't looking, it came back and snuck in the back door like a mangy dog, laughing, drooling, and reminding me what a black plague it is. And I hate it, because even a whiff of it reminds me of what a constant, unwelcome companion it once was. I don't want it back in my life again.

I'm hoping it's just a hormonal thing. I hear pregnancy plays havoc with hormones (yes, my somewhat atrophied sarcasm muscles get a bit of exercise when I'm depressed).

Here's how I know it's depression, and not just temporary doldrums:

The house is full of terrific books, but I don't want to escape into a single one of them.
The house is stocked with a variety of good food, and I'm hungry, but nothing looks appealing enough to eat.
Rowing to the song stylings of the Black-Eyed Peas and Lenny Kravitz doesn't cheer me up.
A long bubble bath doesn't cheer me up.
A long snuggle with Daniel doesn't cheer me up.
A long nap doesn't cheer me up.
The idea of popping in Persuasion, Fanny & Alexander, The Magic Flute, or A Room with a View and knitting for a couple of hours doesn't cheer me up.
The prospect of dinner with my hot husband at a great restaurant for Date Night tonight doesn't cheer me up.

This is not good. Not good at all.

Monday
Jul302007

Short and Sour

The gracious and talented Anne Bradshaw (it's so silly: I always want to refer to her as 'Anne Bradstreet') tagged me for The Moaning Meme. It's just the ticket for a muggy Monday morning. Thanks, Anne! (Sorry to disappoint, but I was not annoyed.)


5 people who will be annoyed that I tagged them:


4 things that should go into Room 101 and be removed from the face of the earth:

Bratz dolls
Japanese beetles
Splenda
Gossip

3 things people do that make you want to shake them violently:
When people say 'home' when they mean 'house.'
When people say 'impact' when they mean 'affect.'
When people use 'transition' as a verb or 'reveal' as a noun.

2 things you find yourself moaning about:
In a good way: Shoulder rubs
In a bad way: Not enough shoulder rubs

1 thing the above answers tell you about yourself:

I'm so confrontation-averse that this post was harder to write than I thought it would be. It was hard enough to admit publicly the other day that Colin Firth is not first in the Mr. Darcy corner of my heart.

Friday
Jul272007

Jane and the Runaway Gerunds

What are your feelings about the new Jane Austen movie, Becoming Jane? I, for one, am torn. Should I see it as soon as possible? Wait for it to come out on DVD? Or snub it entirely? Here are a few of the thoughts I'm having surrounding this crucial dilemma:


Pros:

I haven't had a good historical romance fix in a while. I'm definitely due.

Rotten Tomatoes gives Becoming Jane a pretty high rating.

I have enjoyed favorite people being fictionalized in film before (Amadeus, A Beautiful Mind, The Pride of the Yankees, My Left Foot, The Elephant Man), fully realizing that many of the events have been dramatized.

I like all the Austen-related movies I've ever seen: BBC, A&E, Clueless, Bride & Prejudice, and all the American-made, reasonably faithful cinematic adaptations. Persuasion is my favorite, and heretic that I am, when it comes to Mr. Darcy, I prefer Matthew Macfadyen very slightly over Colin Firth (please still like me).

Cons:

I am generally prejudiced against movies with gerunds in their titles (though I love Searching for Bobby Fischer and Raising Arizona). I don't know why this is; it just is. Click here for a funny list of movies with de-gerund-ized titles.

Some trailers so horrify me with promises of undying passion in the face of all odds that I make a holy vow never to see the films they advertise. Ever. To wit: Titanic and The Bridges of Madison County (no, I will not read the book, either). Becoming Jane may fall into this category. Again, I'm not sure why. It's a visceral thing.

I have hated favorite people being fictionalized in film before (Shakespeare in Love, Out of Africa). And these films I hate are about writers.

I'm afraid of anachronisms and bad accents.

What about you? Are you planning to see it? Any advice for me? I welcome your thoughts.

Friday
Jul132007

Lucky 13

I have lots of little bits chasing themselves around in this brain o’ mine; each one could probably be a post in itself, but I’ll do an eclectic listy-type update instead.

1) Readercon was the best ever. I could rhapsodize for days about:


a) meeting and chatting with several great speculative fiction writers I admire;
b) what a rock star theoretical physicist Carl Frederick is;
c) the wit and brain tossed around with abandon at the excellent panels;
d) the quality of the writing instruction;
e) and the hours of unbroken solitude I got to spend writing in an extremely comfortable hotel room.

And the Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Prose Competition—I laughed so hard and long my gut and head hurt at the end of the evening. It alone (as always) was worth the price of admission to the conference.

2) During the discussion panels at Readercon, I got a lot of a sweater done. This is chunky fuchsia wool bought in Paris 6.5 years ago. The sweater is knit in the round, with raglan sleeves. I haven't used a pattern, just took a gauge, measured myself, and started knitting. I tried on the sleeves every once in a while to make sure my increases were properly spaced. The stash is diminishing…

3) I bought many books at Readercon—riches, I tell you. The first in my juicy to-be-read pile was In the Forest of Forgetting, by Theodora Goss. I’m not generally a fan of short stories, but this woman is extremely talented. The stories are elegant, compelling, and very slipstreamy. I hope she writes something longer soon!

4) I got an award during my sabbatical! Annette thinks I’m a Rockin’ Girl; thank you, my friend. One of the many privileges of Rockin’hood is being able to pass on the gift to five other lucky bloggers. Many of my pals have already received this award, but other key players have not (at least as far as I know)—until now.

I hereby dub Kara, Jenna, Adriana, Bubandpie, and Mental Tesserae fellow Rockin' Girls. Get out there and spread the love, ladies.

5) Eerie coincidence alert: Tuesday night, Patrick and I were at the Broadway opening of the utterly wretched new musical Xanadu. Though we cannot understand how it could possibly have merited the rave reviews it got, we are glad for Patrick’s client, the kind and uber-talented Eric Stern, who is the Music Director of the show (and let me say here that the music sounded fabulous—it’s the rest of the thing that stank).

Olivia Newton-John was in the audience. I felt bad for her, since her trademark breathy singing style and Australian accent were being lampooned right in front of her.

Just twelve hours later, I was waiting in the doctor’s office, when what blast from the past should greet my ears? None other than O N-J’s country hit “If You Love Me, Let Me Know,” which I don’t think I have ever heard on the radio. (My mom had the album, so I know that song by heart.) Crazy, I know.

6) My kids really outdid themselves on their School of Rock essays this week. After watching Footloose and Rock 'n' Roll High School, they had to discuss why some authority figures find rock music to be dangerous and subversive. They came up with some very interesting ideas and organized them nicely; I was quite pleased.

7) Christian and I saw 1408 yesterday. It’s terrific, if you like that sort of thing (and I realize that most of you don’t). The dread is so thick that it’s a little suffocating; we were holding hands through most of it.

I'll never again be able to hear Karen Carpenter sing "We've Only Just Begun" without shuddering. John Cusack was fantastic (when isn’t he?). Afterwards, Christian and I had a great discussion about the nature of self and the symbolism of redemption as portrayed in the film. Who knew living with teenagers could be so great? I'm a lucky mom.

8) My friend Melissa recently adapted a recipe to perfection, and since she doesn’t (yet) have a blog, I must post it for the public good. She took the instructions for Blueberry Breakfast Bars from Farmgirl Fare, cut the sugar in half (believe me, they are still plenty sweet), and added lemon.

These are a must. Do yourself a favor and go make some right now.

Blueberry-Lemon Breakfast Bars


Bottom Layer
2 cups old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla

Streusel Topping
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter

Filling
3-1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
the juice of half a lemon
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (1/4 tsp. if freshly ground)

For the Bottom Layer:
Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Grease a 9" x 13" pan. In a large bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the melted butter and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Press this mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan.

For the Streusel Topping:
Place the flour, brown sugar, and butter in a small bowl and combine until the mixture resembles large crumbs (some pea-sized clumps are okay). Set aside.

For the Filling:
Place the blueberries in the bowl you mixed the Bottom Layer in and toss them with the almond extract. Pour them evenly over the Bottom Layer in the pan. Combine the sugar and flour and sprinkle it evenly over the blueberries.

Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the filling. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is golden, and the edges are starting to brown. Let cool in pan on a wire rack, then cut into bars.

9) I have lost much of my vegetable garden to slugs. Here’s what has survived: a Candy Pumpkin (pie); one each Charentais and Ananas melon plant; the cucumbers; all of the tomatoes; a few of the runner beans; one set of onions, and one artichoke.

I lost the Tigger melons (sob!), the watermelons, the rhubarb, the cardoons and summer squash, and most of the herbs.

The asparagus is doing okay, and I’m going to plant more lettuce today. I must go buy beer for the slugs. That strategy has worked well for me in the past; I just didn’t get around to it quickly enough this year.

10) I was going to cut back my wildly overgrown anise hyssop, but two goldfinches have been perching in it off and on for the past couple of days. I don’t want to take away their jungle gym, so I may leave it for a bit longer.

11) We now have an HD Kung Fu channel—a whole stop on Patrick’s remote devoted to Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and their disciples. Believe me, it’s welcome respite from all of the dreck that passes for television these days. It makes a much pleasanter background to my evening reading and writing than endless reality shows.

12) I have officially surrendered in the Battle of the Muffin Papers. About a year ago, I decided that I needed to find an alternative to those little liners. We make so many batches that I was going through those little plastic containers at a rate of about two per week. First I tried the silicone muffin bakers. They worked fine, but were a pain to wash. Trying to get crumbs out of all those little accordion folds was no fun.

Then I tried stoneware muffin pans. These produced a nicely browned muffin, between each dozen, I had to wait for the pans to cool, then scrub them out, dry them, and re-butter them. This took forever. I stopped making muffins as often, and my kids complained.

My new plan is to buy the unbleached muffin papers by the case (they come in cardboard, not plastic) and use them in the stoneware pans. I made muffins this morning, and it worked great. Since the papers are unbleached, I can compost them once they’ve done their job. I realize how scintillating all of this is.

13) Tonight, we get a visit from the legendary Carmen! She’s sleeping over on her way back to London. I’m making my famous Chicken Enchiladas in her honor. Gotta go roast that chicken....

Thursday
Jun282007

Dumb and Dumber

I can't decide which skeeves me out more:

a) that I sliced the tip of my right index finger open with the lid from the cat food can last night;

or b) that the wound is now covered by a Backyardigans Band-Aid brand adhesive bandage.