heads up to loyal readers

Shit’s about to get dark.

I’m participating in a one-month project centered around writing and grief. I’ll be using this blog as the repository for my writing so it can be easily accessed by my project group.

Things are going to be heavier and even more self-centered for a bit. Feel free to unsubscribe or mute me — I take no offense, and commend you on choosing the media diet that feeds you best.

If you choose to stick around, please feel no obligation to comment or comfort — no offense, but for the purposes of this project, I’m not writing to please an audience (not even you dears) or score any points. I’m just trying to see things from a more focused perspective for a bit and figure out a better way to think, and perhaps, to write.



Weekly Links

My humblebrag excuse for 2013

Thanks for saying it, W. Somerset Maugham. And thanks for posting it, thisisnthappiness.com.


Nigella’s Clementine Cake — For my family’s Christmas dinner dessert, I needed a dessert that was gluten-free (for me), dairy-free (for seester), chocolate-free (for dad), and relatively low-carb (for mom). I used a couple of tangelos instead of the clementines — we’re not Rockefellers, jeez! — but it still worked perfectly and was dead easy.

Cranberry Cake with Warm Butter Glaze — I haven’t gotten around to making this yet because I can’t stop saying “Warm butter glaze. Warm. Butter. Glaze.” over and over in my head.

Pimento Cheese Twice-Baked Potatoes — Sorry, no link because I made it up, but they were awesome with a pressure-cooked mushroom-garlic gravy pork roast and sexy broccoli.

Food for Thought

Shipment of 18 human heads found at Chicago’s O’Hare airport — If I were the Customs agent bureaucrat who intercepted this shipment, it would have been the best day of my life. The next day, I would retire, because I know I would never be able to top this. NEVER.

Suds for Drugs — Speaking of weird news, I’d seen mentions of Tide thefts in the local media. This piece helped explain why.

The Right to Die is the Right to Live — I’m starting to really appreciate some of Vice’s profiles of people who are sick (see also “Zak Loves Mandy,” from a few months ago). Coverage with no trace of treacle and no flinching from the weird shit that is being human and sick.

The Truth about Phones on Airplanes — This struck a chord because I’ve had cause/obligation to fly…4 times?…in the last year or two, after a blissful 10-year hiatus.

I find it infuriating that I have to turn off my electronic distraction exactly when I need it most. And especially after receiving the full TSA treatment last month, wherein the TSA agent, during my patdown, felt the need to comment on my “heavy-duty” bra and then to opine that [my] big boobs are a “good thing” and make for the most pleasant overall body shape.

But it’s the weekend!

Happy time. It’s sunny here for the first time in a week or two, and my flu is over.

Pinned Image
I don’t care if they’re venomous freaks of nature. They could be MY venomous freaks of nature.

What have you found this week that was worth keeping?

Link us up.

National Health Blog Post Month recap (NHBPM 30)


Given the health focus, I guess it’d be insensitive to call it a “post-mortem.”

If you’ve been keeping track, and bless you, I made it until about day 26 before all home improvement hell broke loose and blogging was rapidly deprioritized in favor of demolition, installation, and sleep. Sweet, sweet sleep.

I appreciate your patience as readers for putting up with a such a monotonous project. My goal was quantity, not quality, and I did better than I ever have with a time-limited creation goal (don’t see also: Sept 2012 30-day Photo Challenge and NaNoWriMo 2011). 27 out of 30 is almost in the 90 percents — a solid A-, so I’m satisfied.

I think it was also good to vomit out a few parts of my health story and then beat it to death. It’s not something I normally write about for shits and giggles (I leave that to the Crohn’s crews). But MS is a part of my life story, a part of who I am, and a big part of what made me into the grown-up I am today, for better and for worse.

Looking forward, December will be crazy, with more looming home improvement projects that have to be completed before international family come to visit, and then going to visit some other international family right after Christmas. I’m also starting a new work project that promises to be both a fun challenge and a great work-life fit for us.

Where will blogging fit in? Where is always has, in my decompression chamber and bully pulpit and kitchen laboratory. I hope your next month is as rich and wild as ours. Let’s keep in touch, okay?

For the future historians’ convenience, here are the NHBPM posts I did get written:

Thanks again for reading.

Some things I bookmarked this week #4

  • This column will change your life: consumer options |  The Guardian – “Might it not make sense, then, to comparison-proof your own life? This is one good argument for pursuing a long-held eccentric career ambition over something more conventional: if nobody else you know is a gherkin wholesaler, or a goat farmer, you’re much less likely to feel gnawed by the sense of not measuring up.”

KK is addicted to these green tomato pickles, but they’re tough to track down locally and cost about $7 a jar. I’m hoping I can use this recipe to make some smaller batches of our own. (I also got 4 books from the library on canning and preserving.)

What have you found this week that was worth keeping?

Writing about others (NHBPM 8)

Write about how you choose to write about others in your blog.

What others?! This is MY blog, so I get to write about MEEEEEEE!

That’s the overly simplified version, but there is some truth in it. “Your liberty ends where the liberty of another commences” sounds lovely in theory, but when it comes to the exercise of public privacy, things can get complicated fast. I try to keep it simple so as not to mess up too much.

For the people closest to me (the ones most likely to show up in my adventures), I use nicknames or initials.

  • It’s fair. Just because I want to tell the world about our exploits doesn’t necessarily mean THEY feel the same compulsion.
  • It’s expedient. I don’t  have to ask permission to mention them in a more identifiable way, they don’t have to mull it over, I don’t have to wait for their response, zzzzz…
  • It’s deviously strategic. Savvy Southern waitresses call every customer honey, baby, sugar, or darlin’. When my friends and I are old and gray and have forgotten the details about our earlier adventures, I will be able to claim that “The Very Best Friend in the Whole World Ever” refers to whichever friend I’m talking to at the time.

For the people who interact with me as part of their professional duties — doctors, nurses, bail bondsmen — I use their title or a gentle fabricated epithet.

  • While my friends can choose to hang out with me or not, the people who are just doing their jobs are obligated to interact with me. I appreciate them too much to exploit that vulnerability.
  • Also unlike my friends, these professionals are the people who regularly see me naked and come at me with needles. I want them to stay happy with me and not exploit MY vulnerability.

For public figures who have been publicly named in public elsewhere, I’ll just use their public name. Dullsville.

It’s so tempting to dash off a good rant now and then, using colorful made-up NSFW names, but real problems need to be addressed in real life first. Writ(h)ing about it here would just make things worse: first they pissed me off, and then they didn’t even read my blog about it?!

Yes, best for everyone that we keep it simple. Or as they say in KK’s favorite movie, “Two words, Mr. President: plausible deniability.”

How do you decide to write about others?

Some things I bookmarked this week #3

  • 27 Gluten-Free Recipe Substitutions | Greatist – This list included several subs I haven’t considered before. Onward!
  • New Taste Journal – Lots of whole foods dish ideas.
  • Walnut-Raisin Baked Apples – Love the idea of mixing a bit of orange marmalade into the filling.
  • Cabbage and Raisin Slaw – I am always looking for good slaw recipes. We’re big cabbage eaters.
  • Creamy Potato Salad – Very much like my friend’s a-may-zing potato salad recipe, which she printed out for me and I lost and am too embarrassed to re-request. I do remember that you’d want to double this recipe for a potluck-sized bowl. omit the dairy products. and add 1/2t of celery seed and a handful of chopped parsley.
  • Spicy Parmesan Green Beans and Kale – I’m thinking this bad boy’s going to make an appearance at our Thanksgiving table: one pan as written for the dairy eaters, and maybe one pan, with sourdough breadcrumbs instead of parmesan, for the non-dairy folks?
  • Orange Kissed Almond Cookies (Gluten and Dairy Free) – I always want to buy the almond paste when it goes on sale after the holidays, but I don’t have a good reason to…until now!
  • Brussels Sprouts with Pecans – This recipe introduced me the possibility of slicing and sautéing brussels sprouts, instead of just steaming them. The extra slicing gives them the loveliest frilly texture. It takes longer to prepare but is totally worth it when you have good fresh sprouts.
  • Eggnog Mousse
  • Baby Cardigan Onesie Tutorial – I want to make some for our friends’ with the baby, but I’m having the damnedest time finding onesies that are cheap, long-sleeved, not pink, not zippered, and don’t have a giant applique across 3/4 of the front.
  • Magic Cupboard | Helen Musselwhite – I want to make one of these and change it every season BECAUSE I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH PROJECTS.

To whit: a picture of my dining room craftermath taken the weekend before Halloween, annotated with (most of) the visible projects and the “Percent Complete” indicated in parentheses.


Not labeled: salt shaker, because we used to eat here.

The rest of my favorite links are here.

Why all these health-related posts all of a sudden?

So, I just realized that I tweeted about my involvement with NHBPM but didn’t mention it here. Where it would actually be happening.

Before we get any farther into the month, allow me to back up and properly introduce it.

What is NHBPM?

National Health Blog Post Month is a blog carnival project organized by WEGO Health each November. Like National Blog Post Month (NaBloPoMo), also in November, NHBPM encourages you to write a daily post, but with the added spin of writing around health-related topics. 30 days, 30 posts about health.


Since I have plenty of first-hand experience with health (good and ill), I thought NHBPM would be easier to “win” than NaBloPoMo or (shudder) NaNoWriMo. (Although it’s too early to rule out the possibility of participating in Script Frenzy next April.)

Also, mostly because WEGO thoughtfully provided prompts and I am a busy person, as I am simultaneously working on my secret video project to submit to the Neuro Film Festival in January. Secretly.

What if I don’t want to read about your neurological navel-gazing all month?

It’s your call. Send yourself a reminder to check back in on December 1. I won’t be hurt…much.


Some things I bookmarked this week #2

Found a great line from Margaret Atwood, to be tucked away for the lost and confusing times.

Recipes some things I’m likely to cook in the next few weeks.

I’m also gearing up to redo much of the front bathroom (previously peeped in the Poop Stool post). This will include my first foray into hanging wallpaper. I do not want to fuck up.

Is it ever too early to start thinking of Christmas? We’re not going to be able to afford much in the way of presents this year, so I figure they should at least look extra good.

I have a cool filing cart that I half spraypainted bright orange and abandoned last year. I’d done a similar one bright blue for KK’s office, and it looked great, especially with her repro vintage Orangina poster. I thought a different bright color would perk up my own workspace, but after doing half, it just looked like the kind of filing cart a safety-conscious hunter would roll into the woods.

We’ve been busy turning our de-landscaped front yard into a lush emerald paradise. This will have its own post soon.

Is it ever too early to start thinking about growing things next spring? (Yes.) Will that stop me from doing so? (I think we all know the answer to that.)

Can you really turn turtleneck (or crewneck) sweaters into wearable cardigans? I hope so! I can’t wear turtlenecks because they make me feel like I’m being garroted by an elderly python. And I see cashmere ones all the time in KK’s size, but she can’t wear turtlenecks “because.”

The rest of my favorite links are here. What have you found this week that was worth keeping?

Spam Surfing

I just hauled in my first spam harvest of the season, and it’s a bumper crop.

Well, I don’t want to toot my own horn, but if you insist, I’d be rude to deny it. Next lesson in the great internet education: spelling.
Aw, stop it! Now you’re just embarrassing me!
You granodmther is a wise woman, Yordan.
But Yordan is bringing me a cake! Do you KNOW how many calories are in a spam cake? I can’t even count that high.
“Chgunigg?” Is that you, Cthulhu?
Who told you about my chugging?! Dammit, Cthulhu!
HA! Direct hit. The info nerd in me loved this too much.
I didn’t think it could get any better than that last one! Real readers, beware – the spambots are eating your comment cake.
Now you’ve gone too far. I”m not THAT KIND of nerd, but I’ll give you 5 points for unexpected use of metaphor.
I know the internet is good for finding your niche, but this just comes across as kind of threatening, like unstable thunderstorm weather. Are these two big groups of moms ever in danger of starting a rumble or something?

That was fun! Way better than the fake viagra and cheap watches email spam I get. Seen any good spam lately?