Eclipsnic!

Aug. 21st, 2017 08:36 pm
osprey_archer: (cheers)
I am returned from my eclipsnic! Which is a portmanteau of eclipse + picnic, and involved eclipse cookies (chocolate cookies with white chips really, but "eclipse cookies" sounds better. I may change the name permanently in my brain), and pop rocks Oreos, and little individually sized bottles of champagne that Becky brought. We had a lovely time!

We did not have eclipse glasses, but Julie made us eclipse boxes which worked quite well enough, and also a woman stopped by the park halfway through the eclipse and called out, "Want to look through this welding helmet?"

So of course we did and it was splendid and none of us have gone blind, so that seems to have gone well enough.

The park came equipped with a Little Free Library (I would like to say this was serendipity, but in fact I looked into it before), which I raided - with great success! for I found Mary Downing Hahn’s Stepping on the Cracks. I liked Hahn's ghost stories when I was a kid. This one doesn’t look like it has any ghosts, but it’s about two best friends on the American homefront during World War II, which seems Relevant to My Interests.

And in return, I left The Railway Children, which I found in a Little Free Library in Ann Arbor. So it will continue to wend its way through the libraries of the world, like a ship upon the waves.
osprey_archer: (cheers)
Aaaaaaand home! Google maps said the drive from DC would take nine hours, so of course it took about twelve (Google maps also thinks it is possible to walk from DC to Indianapolis in eight days. Maybe if you are a solar-powered automaton who needs neither food nor sleep, and has anyone looked into whether Google is constructing these potential robot overlords?) but I made it and I have unpacked my things and put them away, except for my new books, for which I will need to find homes.

I did not intend to get this many new books. They crept up on me. Where else would I find a memoir about growing up in the Oneida Community? How could I possibly turn down a picture book about Emily Dickinson illustrated by Barbara Cooney, one of my very favorite illustrators ever? And of course there was The Railway Children just waiting for me in a Little Free Library...

But I think now that I have finished reading it, I ought to pass it on through another Little Free Library, so I don't need to tidy that one away, at least.

The garden is looking - well, honestly, the garden looks as if the tomatoes are planning an assault on the house; they have taken over everything, choking out the dill and overshadowing the poor lovely snapdragons. The basil, which is in a pot and thus safe from the tomato plants' depredations, looks sad and pallid, and probably needs a bigger pot and probably some compost, poor thing.

The rosemary, also in a pot, looks good, and I should get a rotisserie chicken and make chicken salad and have a picnic. On my travels I recollected how much I enjoy picnics, and also how much I used to enjoy taking day trips to whatever sites of interest there are in the area - I did this a lot in Minnesota - so clearly I ought to pack some picnics and drag my friends along for some sight-seeing.

I have gone through my mail and paid the bills and tidied away the bank statements and set my letters aside for future perusal ([personal profile] asakiyume, your letter arrived all right!). I will attempt to read them at a rate of one per night to spread the joy, although it will be hard not to read them all in one swift gulp. It's such a treat to have so many letters!

Must make a grocery list, but that can wait until tomorrow.

I did not get quite as much writing done as I hoped (but then one never does on a trip), but I have made some pretty good progress revising Sage, (still haven't figured out a title for it, though), although part of this progress has involved deciding I need to rewrite the first 10,000 words or so... so there's still quite a bit to be done.
osprey_archer: (nature)
Micky and I swept through Cornell today, first to the art museum, where we spent most of our time on the top floor with the Asian Art - they go all across Asia, which naturally takes up quite a bit of space and time, so we were tired out by the end and didn't stop long in the rest of the museum. Well, except for a beautiful display of Tiffany glass on the landing between the second & third floors.

And then we went to the Cornell Botanical Gardens today, although it was rather hot, and had an absolutely splendid time walking around their herb garden - which was separated into themed plots, "Culinary Herbs," "Herbs for Tea," "Healing Herbs," "Herbs from Literature," and so on and so forth. (Many of the herbs were of course in more than one plot.)

I had a brief but intense interest in healing herbs when I was a kid, so it was nice to be able to see all those herbs that I'd read about in the flesh, if you will.

And also to sniff the leaves of many, many different kinds of mint, and try to pick up the non-mint undertones that are supposed to be there - apple mint, chocolate mint (yes, that's it's own plant!), mint sage... But really they all smelled like mint to me.

***

After that, being rather hot and tired, we repaired to an ice cream shop and thence to Micky's house (where I have been TRYING to do my laundry, but I fear I have become the Bane of Washing Machines - I broke the one in my apartment not too long ago, did I tell you? Well, I don't think I did anything to break it, it just broke while I was using it, but still...

In any case I have been having trouble getting the machine to work. Nothing seems to be working this afternoon: I also attempted to write a bit more of the Adventures of Harriet and Troy and alas have come up against the rocky shoals of Peter Wimsey's inimitable voice. He never sounds like himself when I write him. i suppose I could just cut him out entirely and have Troy meet Harriet all on her own, but then Wimsey can't discomfit Alleyn by calling him by his old Eton nickname (which, I have decided, should be "Allers,"), which would be too bad...

Oh well, dear. This is all lots of fun to brainstorm about, but I really can't do Peter's voice justice, and on the whole it's really more ambitious than I think I want to write. Perhaps it's just better to accept that the brainstorming will be the final product - as tormenting as that may be. Surely it's better than having nothing at all?

***

On the bright side, Micky has introduced me to The Great British Bake-Off. In fact she is at least the third friend to recommend this to me, but the first one to take the necessary step of forcing me to sit down and watch an episode, and it is just as charming and delightful as everyone has always promised.
osprey_archer: (cheers)
It's my birthday! Happy birthday to me!

The main birthday festivities are occurring tomorrow (I'm making a yellow cake with vanilla buttercream & raspberry jam in the middle), but today I celebrated by treating myself to Carol Ryrie Brinks' Two Are Better Than One, which is absolutely as delightful as I hoped and I'm glad that I managed to hold off on it until today. (I've had it since June 30th and it has been DIFFICULT TO RESIST.) It's about FRIENDSHIP and IMAGINATION (the two friends in question write the kind of ludicrously epic novel about their dolls that you can only write when you're twelve or thirteen) and also GROWING UP, but not in that way where books about growing up sometimes seem like they're about renouncing everything you actually like in favor of things that grown-up persons are supposed to be interested in.

Cordy and Chrystal keep playing with their dolls as long as they want, never mind they're just a bit too old; and when they do lose interest (realizing with a start of guilt that they've forgotten the dolls for ages) they don't shamefacedly hide the dolls away, but give them a proper send-off with a great big doll wedding. I fully expect they will write ludicrous novels together all through high school, just for the fun of it.

Fireflies

Jun. 15th, 2017 09:01 pm
osprey_archer: (nature)
The fireflies are out in force. I came back late from the bookstore the other night, and as I turned into my apartment complex, suddenly the dusk was full of tiny flitting lights.

Of course I went for a walk after to try to catch a few. They would not light up in my hands, but flew away and lit up in the grass.
osprey_archer: (friends)
I am off to Miami for a wedding + a vacation + a visit to the Everglades! I shall be back next Wednesday and I will not be taking my computer with me so probably I will be AWOL until then. Have a nice weekend, everyone!

Dunes!

May. 15th, 2017 10:09 pm
osprey_archer: (friends)
I went to the Indiana Dunes today! It was glorious and delightful and we had a picnic (the seagulls looked on menacingly, but we did not share our smoked salmon sandwiches) and hiked up a Dune and along the beach and I forgot to wear sunscreen, so now my arms are crab claw crimson.

Well, not quite that sunburnt, but nonetheless. Just try saying crab claw crimson three times fast.

It is going to be a busy week! I may not have time to post again for a bit.

Ducks

Apr. 14th, 2017 10:41 am
osprey_archer: (nature)
There is a duck nesting beneath the bush by my front door. Why has it chosen this place? There's no water nearby and not a lot of green space, either, just a thin strip of garden and then the parking lot. Perhaps the other ducks already took all the nicer places.

She is not a very attentive mother. In fact for a bit I thought she had abandoned the nest, because I never saw her anymore and it was covered over with leaves; but that must have been camouflage, because she's back, and there are more eggs than ever. Some are speckled and some not.

I could've made a duck egg omelet by now if I wanted, although of course I don't, because then there wouldn't be ducklings. Ducklings! My own personal hoard of ducklings.

I foresee a Make Way for Ducklings reprise in my future.

She flies away whenever I try to go inside - as long as I'm just standing on the stoop she doesn't mind, but when I get out my key and unlock the door, that's A Bridge Too Far and away she goes.

It's fortunate she's a duck. I'm pretty sure a goose would go for my ankles in a similar situation. A pair of geese have nested in front of a supermarket near my house; one of them sits on the eggs while the other stands vigilant in front of the automatic doors, looking as if it would happily peck to death anyone who tries to go inside.

Whither LJ?

Apr. 4th, 2017 09:54 pm
osprey_archer: (kitty)
I'm feeling pretty salty about the latest LJ TOS debacle - the fact that it's so sudden and so in-your-face (it's impossible to do anything with LJ without signing the damn thing immediately) makes it seem shady to me, although current events are so stressful in general this year that "SOUNDS SHADY" is my default response to just about everything right now so I may be overreacting.

Either way I still don't want to sign the darn thing. Fortunately I imported my journal here in January & have crossposted since, so I only stand to lose a couple months of comments (including all the comments on the How to Be a Better Dictator posts, dammit). And perhaps I'll decide to sign it later on; it will presumably still be there.

It sucks, though, LJ has been my online home for so long. Dreamwidth has most of the things I like about it - even most of the people from my flist! There are only a couple who are still LJ-only, and I know one of them has a Tumblr so leaving LJ wouldn't mean losing touch with her entirely...

But it's still not pleasant to feel that one has become unwelcome in one's online home.

Rodelinda

Feb. 4th, 2017 03:30 pm
osprey_archer: (friends)
Back from Bloomington! I went down to see the opera Rodelinda with friends; none of us had ever heard of it, so we all went in with no idea what it was about, and were pleasantly surprised by the super gothic German aesthetic that it had going on. Staircases in a bleak black stage lit with candles on each steps! All the male characters with some epic dwarf-like braiding going on! (The king in particular looked like he had stepped right out of The Hobbit. Also, the king and his most loyal servant dude were both played by women. Operas, man.) Men-at-arms clinking with chain mail, and dancing figures of Love and Fate, which honestly worried me when I saw it in the program - it sounded possibly very cheesy - but in actual fact I think they were my favorite thing in the performance.

I was especially taken with Fate's costume, with no skin showing anywhere; black slippers, black gloves, a rough black skirt and wild black hair, everything black but for the white mask sparkling over the face and white candles on the shoulders (electric of course, but positioned in melted candle wax so they looked like real flaming candles). Uncanny.

It was also suuuuper long, which seems to just be how Baroque operas roll. I do tend to prefer the svelter nineteenth-century operettas; they're made for modern people with short attention spans.

We also went to my favorite Bloomington bookstore, where I acquired a copy of The Three Musketeers (it has a helpful comics-style glossary of characters on the front flap where most books have a plot summary; I totally could have used that in The Count of Monte Cristo). Someday the Dumas adventure will continue! Someday.
osprey_archer: (food)
Last week was a good week in tips, so I decided to treat myself to something from the fancy food store next door - the place with barrels of balsamic vinegar lined up along the walls, and helpful clerks who leap at the chance to let you try as many as you want.

I had been feeling a craving for spinach salad (with bleu cheese and dried cranberries, the only way to spinach salad), so I went in with the idea of getting something that would make a good dressing for that, and walked out with a bottle of blackberry-ginger balsamic and OH MY GOD BEST SALAD DRESSING CHOICE EVER. I want to throw a dinner party solely so I can serve all my friends spinach salad for the first course so they will all be amaaaaaaazed at this vinegar.

The other thing I use balsamic vinegar for is caramelized onions (specifically, deglazing the pan at the end), and this... was less successful. I put them on little French bread pizzas and they were much too sweet & fruity & just odd.

But I didn't want to just throw them all out (do you know how long it takes to make caramelized onions? An hour. Most of it spent lying on the couch reading The Hunger Games [I JUST GOT TO THE BEGINNING OF PART 3 OMG], BUT NONETHELESS an hour, who wants to throw away an hour of work), so I thought about it for a while, and then INSPIRATION STRUCK.

And I bought of wedge of brie and made little open-faced sandwiches with brie & caramelized onions in the oven, and the brie tones down the fruitiness and basically makes everything amaaaaaazing. I had it for dinner last night and I loved it so much I had it again for lunch today.
osprey_archer: (food)
There's an artisanal cooking store next to one of the Starbucks where I work (I'm alternating between two now. They just can't get enough of me), and as I got to work a bit early today, I decided to drop by. Just to look around, you know, not to buy anything.

Famous last words! One of the clerks took possession of me the moment I arrived, which normally I don't like, but she was so enthusiastic and helpful and also so delighted to get me samples of everything that in fact I was rather charmed. I tried:

1. Habanero sugar. "It's super spicy," she warned me, so of course I had to try it, and to get my mouth to stop burnings she had to get me a little cup of water and also

2. Balsamic vinegars, multiple varieties. They have an entire wall of little vinegar barrels with spigots so you can fill vinegar bottles fresh from the source, as it were.

3. Olive oils, which she kindly mixed with the vinegars for me, so I could get an idea of what they'd taste like as a vinaigrette. I particularly liked the basil olive oil with the peach vinegar, which tasted like summer (in fact the basil olive oil was one of the few things I could easily imagine a use for; peach vinegar may be delicious, but what do you do with it?), and also a blood orange olive oil which she mixed with some vinegar, I can't remember which now, but it was the perfect vinaigrette for a fancy holiday dinner with a salad stuffed with oranges and walnuts and pomegranate seeds, all the tastes of the season.

She'd been so nice that I felt I ought to get something, and I could not in that moment imagine how to use habanero sugar, so I got a little ounce bag of raspberry sugar instead. I'm thinking of making some lemon bars & sprinkling the raspberry sugar on top. Or perhaps it would go well on top of Christmas sugar cookies - white vanilla icing and red raspberry sugar?

The habanero sugar has been on my mind though. You'd need to be careful about proportions, but I think - if you used just a very little bit of it - it might be a good addition to rich chocolate brownies, just to give them a little kick.
osprey_archer: (cheers)
It's snoooooooowing! Or rather, it was snowing earlier, and if there is one thing better than sitting inside toasty warm watching the snow fall outside the window, it is arriving home after a long drive and then being inside toasty warm watching the snow that you are no longer driving through fall.

I am back in my hometown for a doctor's appointment tomorrow, and I am planning to make chocolate muffins with peanut butter chips tonight. Back when I was in high school, I used to buy one of these at the local grocery store every Saturday - it was about a mile walk, and I would get the muffin and walk across the parking lot to the newly opened Starbucks and get a hot chocolate and eat it with my muffin.

Then the grocery store stopped selling chocolate peanut butter chip muffins, because I guess they didn't realize that that is the most perfect muffin ever and they should have sold them into perpetuity. I mourned these muffins for years before realizing that I could, in fact, make them myself - they're particularly good with the peanut butter chips studded over the top so they get just a little bit toasted in the oven.

I've also been thinking about learning how to roast my own granola, although now that I'm looking at recipes I'm no longer sure that this would, in fact, be cheaper than just buying granola at the supermarket. But on the other hand, think of all the variations you can try! Honey or maple syrup? Almonds or cashews? Almonds and cashews? And of course there are pecan possibilities for that delicious autumn flavor! (It is getting late for autumn flavor, what with the snow and all, so maybe next year for that.)
osprey_archer: (snapshots)
A couple of photos! On Thanksgiving, my dad and I drove over to the new buffalo reserve to see the buffalo... only the buffalo did not want to be seen. They couldn't be seen from any angle at the buffalo viewing area; they also couldn't be seen as we drove around the reserve. Finally, we saw another car stopped, and we also pulled up there and stood on the running board...

And there they were )

My roommate and I have been planning an herb garden for next spring. She's already got basil and rosemary (well, we'll need to replant next spring, but she's got places for them), and I wanted to add thyme - "And we could do parsley and sage too, and call it a Scarborough Fair garden," I joked.

And what should I find at Trader Joe's but... )
osprey_archer: (window)
Happy Thanksgiving for my fellow Americans! This has not been a month to inspire much spontaneous gratitude - hell, it hasn't been much of a year for inspiring gratitude - but we did have a very nice duck for dinner, and I have at last discovered a recipe that fills the hole in my heart left by the grocery store that discontinued its peanut butter chip chocolate muffin lo these many years ago, so those are two things to be thankful for I suppose.

I haven't gotten very far in The Count of Monte Cristo this week, but I did find out that the telegraphist who the Count coerced/bribed into sending a false telegraph escaped ahead of prosecution, so phew. I was worried about the poor guy.

In other news, PBS is showing a new movie version of Anne of Green Gables tonight! With Martin Sheen as Matthew, which is either terrible or brilliant, depending on whether I can resist shouting "OMG IT'S PRESIDENT BARTLET" at the screen. We'll see!

Cookies!

Nov. 13th, 2016 11:05 am
osprey_archer: (food)
Here are the Christmas cookies that I made for holiday launch:



No one could mistake them for professionally decorated cookies, but still I think they turned out nicely. I did the piping with DIY pastry bags made by snipping the corner off a Ziploc bag, which works pretty well; I got better at it as I went on. The mitten cookie off to the right with the pine tree piped onto it is one of my final efforts, and I think it shows a definite increase in control.

I enjoyed icing the cookies so much that I'm thinking I'll have a cookie decorating party with my friends as Christmas approaches. Who doesn't like making cookies look pretty? We can put on some Christmas music and really get in the spirit of things.
osprey_archer: (window)
I usually write my Wednesday Reading Meme out ahead, as I finish things, but I didn't this week and after the election results I don't have the heart for it; it seems rather pointless.

I suppose one could also argue that continuing to see the point, or hope for a point, in times of darkness is in itself pointful - this is not a very eloquent way to put it; I didn't sleep well last night - anyway. So I guess I'll do a short version of the reading meme anyway.

This last week I finished reading the newest American Girl series, which I mean to give its own separate post (still no illustrations D:, but it is an improvement over the Maryellen series), and Madeleine L'Engle's memoir A Circle of Quiet, which I actually did find inspiring, although in an introspective way - she had some things to say about self-absorption as a form of self-annihilation that I found thought-provoking, that we are most ourselves when we are least conscious of ourselves -

But I also meant to write about that at more length in its own entry. And while it is inspiring, it is not the finding-a-light-when-all-seems-dark inspiration for the moment.

I made scones this morning, and broke out the strawberry-rhubarb preserves my father brought me from Maine, and Julie and I had a breakfast tea party. I have sugar cookies in the oven to take to work for the holiday set-up this evening. I am not sure what else to do.
osprey_archer: (food)
Today was a mixed day for Reeses. In the morning I went to Dunkin Donuts, intending to get one of their Reeses doughnuts which were amaaaaaaazing, filled with peanut butter with sweet chocolate glaze on top, all in a soft yeast doughnut - but, as the past tense has no doubt warned you, they seem to have been discontinued. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Dunkin Donuts, I would have bought so many of those!!!!

But on the other hand when I was at Target later I saw Reeses cups stuffed with Reeses pieces, which I had heard about but never seen with my own eyes, so of course I had to give them a try. I was quite suspicious about it until the first bite, but actually they were good! They didn't overstuff them with Reeses pieces - I was, I must confess, envisioning a chocolate shell barely held together over a tightly-pressed cylinder of Reeses pieces - but just had a smattering of them through the peanut butter, which gave it a satisfying crunch.

While I am reviewing candy (clearly I should add a candy review feature to this blog. I have thought about doing reviews of new Starbucks food, given that I eat so much of it), I should also tip my hat to the TimTams [livejournal.com profile] littlerhymes sent me, which are like fancy melt-in-your-mouth KitKats. I approve!
osprey_archer: (cheers)
At last I have painted my wall! I have a single sky-blue accent wall in my room, which is still drying, and which I have been gazing upon with pleasure at intervals ever since I finished painting it.

I am sort of tempted to keep going, and add a darker blue sea with some sunny little sailboats and perhaps a few tufts of fleecy white clouds, but I think there are a lot of ways this could go wrong AND ALSO paint is expensive, so I won't.

And this means that I have completed all my wall plans! I hung up my calendar and my bulletin board earlier this month. It required hammering nails into the wall, which made me feel quite grown up, not so much on account of the hammering itself but because I was putting things in the wall of my apartment instead of just gumming them up with removable tape like a college student.

The bulletin board features a rotating cast of cards. It's full enough now that I have to take one down when I want to put a new one up (I think if I rearranged I could squeeze another card in there, though; hmmm) which always makes me feel bountifully supplied with friends and correspondents.

Walking

Oct. 25th, 2016 07:47 am
osprey_archer: (snapshots)
I walked to the library yesterday, which is rather a long walk and mostly alongside a busy street; but I found a couple of picturesque scenes along the way.

Like this Swing )

I also found this house, which looks like a throwback to the old days when this area must still have been farmland: here )

Mondays are my day off, so we made a rather fabulous dinner last night. For hors d'oeuvres we had slices of apples with honey and brie (I did not take a picture of these, because they were not visually very interesting, but they were delicious, highly recommended), and I also caramelized onions to put on bagel pizzas.

I caramelized only half an onion, and ended up putting all of it on the bagel pizzas. This was delicious, although it probably would have been better to caramelize a whole onion and save some for later.

The world's most loaded bagel pizza )

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