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I’m in San Francisco for a computer conference, and the sessions are packed with good stuff I want to learn more about.  But this morning on the way to the conference center I walked past three museums on the same block that I am dying to go to:  The Cartoon Art Museum, the Museum of the African Diaspora, and the SFMOMA.

All my siblings and I can quote old New Yorker cartoons to each other (“Milk’s boiling over!”, “Watch out, Fred, here it comes again!”, “Guess what? I’m barefoot”, etc.). We read our parents cartoon books (This Petty Pace, the New Yorker Book of Cartoons 1925-1950, George Price and Helen Hokinson anthologies, and more) over and over again. I’ve only ever been to one other cartoon museum.  So I have to go.

Then on a much darker note, our forebears were intimately and powerfully involved in the African diaspora as slave traders.  So I have to go to that museum too.

As for the SFMOMA, well, I just like that stuff.

These are all just one block over from the convention center.  Maybe I can go in dribbles.

Sadie

We got a new dog today.  Sadie was hit by a car around Christmas, on a bitter cold day.  Her pelvis was broken in three places, and her owner couldn’t afford to pay for surgery.  He asked for her to be put to sleep.  This sounds harsh, but it’s not – she was in terrible shape.  The vets were all set to do it, but then they decided she was meant to live.  She’d lain outside all day long and survived.  So she’s got a pelvis full of metal, and she walks very strangely, at least for now.

She’ll be high maintenance for a while, because she has to go outside on a leash, and we have to support her when she goes up and down the steps.  Right now she’s in her crate.  I put her there so she’d get the idea that it’s her place.  A and Buster are outside.  Sadie is NOT happy.  She’s whining and moaning. I’m going to free her in a minute.

So far Buster has behaved pretty well. He took over her crate when we all got home, but other than that seems not very interested. Fine with us at this point, because she can’t horse around too much yet.

Yellow lab

Sadie

dog looking out window

The main person and the main dog have gone outside. Woe!

Man patting dog

That shaved back probably itches. You can see who she likes best already.

man and dog entering dog crate

Let's see if we can all get in here.

Man and dog by dog crate, smaller dog inside

That white stripe inside the crate is Buster's Bentley - the white dividing line down the middle of his head.

man and dog lying down

It's been exhausting!

Winter grey

I would like it very much if the sun would come out and stay out for a while.  A week would be nice. I think we used to have sun once in a while in Kansas.

Update, 2 hours later:  I went downstairs to do yoga.  I lay in corpse pose, eyes closed, thinking about how gloomy this post was and how I should remove it.  Opening my eyes, I saw sun sparkling over the snow.  All righty!  All we have to do is ask.

Some bragging

This weekend A and I traveled to Chicago to hear B give his capstone paper in cultural studies at Columbia College.  The title of the paper is “Going Where the Action Is:  The Action Film Hero in the Era of Neo-Liberalism.” I’m not going to give a synopsis here.  It’s too complicated.  Those of you who know him can ask him yourselves.

Of course the parents are always biased, but his presentation was the best out of eight.  Really!  B has always been an excellent public speaker, and is very comfortable in front of a crowd.  He breathed in the right places, looked at the audience, and generally made his research understandable and interesting.

His professors spoke about him in glowing terms.  One of them said he was the best student he’d ever had.  They love him and are very proud of him, just like us.

Here’s a question:  What’s the right way to respond to praise of your child, particularly your adult child?  It’s weird to say “Thank you,” as though we are totally responsible.  We probably are responsible for a bit of who he is, but not too much.  You can’t make someone intelligent or funny.  I think you can make someone misanthropic but I’m not sure you can make someone charming, thoughtful, and pleasant to be around.  He pretty much came into the world with the brains and personality he has now.

When a professor says “B is the cream of our crop.  We think he is just wonderful,” I said “Thank you, we think so too.” Sometimes I said “I’m so glad you think so.”

I’m happy to brag about him, because I think he is wonderful too.  I just want to brag in an aren’t-we-lucky kind of way rather than an aren’t-we great-parents way.  We are lucky.

Eccles cakes

I’m making Eccles cakes today.  I first had these when I worked at a dry cleaner’s in Providence in my late teens.  My boss brought them in from a Portuguese bakery near her house.  I always thought they were Portuguese in spite of the English-sounding name, but they’re not.

A and B love these sweet and flaky little currant pies. A high school friend of B’s came in the house when the Eccles cakes were cooling one afternoon.  B offered him one.  He took it, examined it closely, asked what was in it, and then took a tentative bite. Then he handed it back to B.  “You can have the rest, dude.” Fine, more for us.

After you make the dough, you’re supposed to wrap it in plastic and put it in the fridge for a while, like pie dough. I ran out of plastic wrap some time ago and haven’t bought more, and goodness knows I don’t want to waste a plastic bag on something that makes the inside buttery, so I put the dough in a Pyrex container with a lid. Well! That works just fine.

Eccles Cakes

Dough

4 c. flour
1 t. salt
2 sticks butter
1/2 c. cold water

Filling

2 boxes currants (more or less 28 oz. of currants total)
1 t. ground allspice
1/2 c. sugar (Original recipe, wherever it came from, called for 1 cup sugar.  Do what you like.)
water

  1. Combine flour and salt.
  2. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly and resembles coarse cornmeal.
  3. Add water slowly until mixture clings together.
  4. Divide dough in half, and shape each half into a roll about 12 inches long.  Chill rolls for 30 minutes.
  5. Mix filling ingredients together, adding only enough water to help the mixture hold together somewhat, about 1/3 cup.
  6. Cut each roll into 12 pieces.
  7. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, and butter a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper.

For each cake:

  1. Roll a piece of dough into a 6 inch round.
  2. Place a heaping spoonful of filling (or two) on the round.
  3. Gather up the dough and pinch together on top securely.
  4. Place on cookie sheet gathered side down. Gently press down with your palm until the filling begins to show through the pastry.
  5. Make 2 cross cuts through the top with a sharp knife.

Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Eccles cakes.  Yum yum.

Eccles cakes. Yum yum.

Maira Kalman

Maira Kalman produces one post a month on the blog she does for the New York Times.  I can’t say she “writes” it, because it’s a combination of drawings, photos (sometimes) and writing. She has written children’s books that I remember reading to B when he was little.

I’m delighted when she puts up a new post, and you will be too.  Check it out.

Tonight’s plastic

Oh, we had a great dinner tonight, a repeat I had with my friend Egghead Jr. on Sunday.  Fresh pasta with the last batch of cherry tomatoes from the garden, olives, garlic (also from the garden), olive oil, and parmesan.  AND one giant shiitake mushroom from the log I gave A for Christmas last year.  In about March we got 4 mushrooms from it, and then none until now.  I made a salad of arugula, peppers, and cuke, all from our garden or our neighbors.  Bread from Wheatfields, our spectacular local bakery.  Wine. Homemade brownies

I am very happy the meal was largely local.  Is it possible to have a plastic-free meal?

  • The bread comes in a plastic bag. I reuse these over and over.
  • The pasta comes in a non-recyclable, non-reusable plastic box. This is the most annoying item.
  • I put the leftovers in a plastic Glad container.  I have had these for years, but someday they’ll break and be thrown away.
  • I made the brownies yesterday and froze half of them in plastic bags.  The remainder are stored in a Rubbermaid container.

It’s going to get harder as we move into winter.  I froze lots of garden produce in various forms.  All stored in plastic.

I wonder how many plastic bags have ever been made.  Wouldn’t it be good if that number were made public, along with the information that they are all still around and will be for thousands of years?

The mushroom was my favorite part.