I Got A Nikon Camera

I never dreamed that I would love taking pictures so much.  In fact, I have been camera-phobic my whole life.  I didn’t want to take pictures, and I didn’t particularly want them taken of me.  I’m not entirely sure why this was so, but I suspect that it had to do in part with the fact that stopping the action to take pictures took me away from the present moment.  I can understand the desire that people have to preserve memories and create records but trading off the now for a future experience wasn’t usually a trade-off I wanted to make.  Plus I never quite believed that all of those smiling faces were necessarily attached to happy people.  The disconnect bothered me.

The family I grew up in was not into pictures.  In fact I have no idea what I looked like as a baby because there are literally no shots of me  until I was about a year old.  I was a second child so we know how that can go.  That being said my father took enough pictures to record our family’s life and he could get particularly enthusiastic when on vacation.  In later years and once the grandchildren came along everyone was more excited about taking pictures.  Between my father, father-in-law and ex-husband we filled plenty of albums of  us and the kids and I’m glad to have them.  But I was never behind the camera.

When I decided to start this blog I knew I needed to supplement what I wanted to say with some pictures so off I went to Costco, and here’s what I bought:

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Coolpix.  Very cool indeed.  Since I haven’t owned a camera since, oh, 1975, I didn’t want too many bells and whistles.   I’m definitely a point and shoot kind of gal.  But oh my, things have really improved since the kodak instamatic with the little square flash bulbs!  Happily for me, this camera came with a very slim instruction booklet and it took just minutes before I morphed into Lisa, amateur photographer.

Time for my Close-Up

Each time I pick up the camera I’m learning how to use its features to capture the shots I want.  I’ve been really pleased with the results so far.  But today, as I was planning a different post about my garden (zucchini! tomatoes!) and a heroic little succulent I have indoors when I ran into this:

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And this:

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and this:

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Oops.  My very smart camera had been taking super clear pictures on auto-focus but when I was zooming in (which today’s post needed) it wasn’t working out.  Back to the slim manual.  Today I learned about the “macro” setting which adjusts the autofocus for close-ups. Simple enough.  So here we go…

We have tomatoes!  They are small and still green but it was a thrill to see them, especially in focus:

 

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Wow!  You will not be seeing any close-ups of me using the macro setting, that’s for sure 🙂

Next up, our budding zucchini plant:

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Ah yes, there it is!  Ratatouille anyone??

And finally there’s this:

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This leaf is attached to this very unique succulent:

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My friend Steven gave us this plant when he visited last year.  It had much more growth at the time and it was supposed to flower but over the course of a few months all the leaves fell off and there was only the stem.  I felt terrible about this and tucked it away in the corner of my dining room and tried not to feel guilty.  I haven’t touched it for at least six months.  Imagine my surprise when it started to sprout both from the top and down at the bottom.  Amazing example of the power of benign neglect! I’m excited to see what happens next, and I will provide close-ups on the blog.

I’m a Photographer?

Well, yes, I believe I am.  And as I write that I am in touch with the degree to which this blog is not only about literary expression, but about the sharing of my design aesthetic.  It’s thrilling to engage with a whole new artistic medium, and I’m looking forward to exploring all the possibilities.  My readers, of course, will see all of this unfold on my blog.

For now though I leave you with my last close-up of the day:

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Blueberry sour cream crumb cake.  Looks good enough to eat.  I think I will…

 

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If At First…

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Hurrah!  It is done.  And many thanks to those of you who encouraged me to fix it.  I’m so glad I decided not to give up.

For the sewists out there, the fix included undoing part of the hem and neck binding (I didn’t need to take the whole thing off!), taking out the button band top stitching and unpicking the band to detach it from the body,  cutting the new band and, well you know the rest.

And…voila!!

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I’m smiling not only because I like the blouse but because I set up the tripod and learned how to use the timer on my camera.

Score!

 

Do You See?

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It’s almost June which means that here in Tucson we are entering a dry, dry season.  I expect that we won’t see another drop of rain until the monsoons start, usually in July some time.  As you can see in the photo above it’s pretty crisp out there;  the canyon that was full of color a month ago has become a classic desert landscape.  That being said the desert is still full of unexpected delights, but it’s very easy to miss them if you’re not paying attention.

Getting My “Kid Mind” On

Yesterday during our walk we saw lots of families.  The weather was perfect and it was a little later than we usually go so this wasn’t surprising.  We were tooling along when we heard the excited voice of a 7 or 8 year old boy.  He had noticed this

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and was calling to his mother who was grimly walking along ahead of him pushing a baby stroller up a hill.  He caught up with his mother and shared the wonder of his discovery (“it must have been an animal that did that!!!”), and his mother responded in some way that effectively ended the conversation.  While I wish that this boy’s mother could have joined with him in his wonder,  I started thinking about all that we don’t see because we are too preoccupied to look.  It’s virtually impossible to grow into adulthood and not have our childlike way of perceiving the world disappear.  But I fervently believe that we can reconnect with that “kid mind” and really start seeing.

Today I took my camera along on our walk with the intention of getting a shot of the cactus with the hole in it that so delighted the young boy.  Along the way I saw some incredible things.

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Amid all the brown on this hillside I caught a glimpse of the yellow/orange blooms of a cactus that (if I remember previous years) blooms later than most.  I zoomed in for a closer shot:

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These blooms aren’t quite as vivid as I remember but that bit of color was quite a treat.  The saguaros are also past their peak and most of them look like this:

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A few of the flowers are hanging on but many have wilted.  But this was an unexpected sight:

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At first I thought it was a pink flower but upon closer inspection:

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It appeared to be a fruit!  And just in case I wasn’t completely sure:

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This guy clearly dove in head-first!  Good for him.  Hopefully he will not be using our pool for a bird bath!

Finally on the road home we caught a glimpse of this:

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With the zoom lens…

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And last but not least:

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Beauty is everywhere even when it doesn’t seem like there’s very much to see. Or hear. Or taste. Or smell. Or feel.

We just need to open up and let it in.

 

In Search of a Better Burger (Recipe)

I love to bake, and I really get a kick out of posting photos of delectable desserts on this blog.  Not only do baked goods taste great, but they photograph really well.

I enjoy having a bite of something sweet after a meal but I’m pretty determined to not overdo it when eating desserts.  It infuriates my son, Sam, that I can eat half a cookie and “save the rest for later”.  So as much as baking is great fun I’m always searching for savory dishes to make that are both tasty and healthy.  David and I don’t believe in depriving ourselves of any particular foods (except those with gluten) although we actively avoid anything “processed”.  We use organic ingredients whenever we can and do most of our cooking at home.  Every so often, usually on a weekend, we can get ambitious and tackle an all-day sort of recipe.

Last fall we conjured our inner “Julias” and “Inas” and made this gorgeous Boeuf Bourguignon  for David’s office holiday party:

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It was divine.  A more recent undertaking was this traditional Greek moussaka.  We were trying to recreate a delicious dish that was served at our wedding in November:

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This was my first time making a béchamel sauce and I wasn’t sure how the gluten-free flour would do but it came out great.  We are already thinking about a veggie version using portabello mushrooms.

But day in and day out we keep it simple–roast chicken, steaks on the grill, salmon and lots of quinoa dishes, rice and veggies.  And we both love a good burger.  While David has pretty much mastered hamburgers on the grill (and we have a great Cat Cora lamb burger recipe as well), we were itching to try some new ingredients and mix it up a little.  Not as easy as I thought it would be…

Visual “A”, Taste “B”, Consistency “F”

First up was a recipe for turkey burgers.  I can’t really explain my past aversion to these things.  Over the years I substituted  ground turkey for beef in meatballs and chili and enjoyed them both, but biting into a turkey burger just never appealed to me.  David orders them out on occasion and he really enjoys them so I thought I’d give them a try.  The recipe I chose was for a spicyish version.  Ingredients included jalapeño, lime juice, cumin, red onion, sharp cheddar cheese and cilantro.  Per the recipe instructions we grilled them for 5 minutes or so on each side and here’s how they came out:

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Don’t they look great?  Definitely an “A” for visual appeal.  Unfortunately these babies had nothing on hockey pucks-very dense.  The flavor was nice enough.  Our meal consisted of finding ways to add moisture to the burger (slather on the avocado, dip in the salad dressing) and my musing about what went wrong.  White meat non-fat turkey?  Uh, probably not a good idea.  Too little liquid?  Actually there was a teaspoon of lime juice. Too long on the grill?  But doesn’t turkey need to be cooked all the way through?

Hmmm.  I have a few ideas for making a better turkey burger but this one was a disappointment.

Going Veggie

We had delicious veggie burgers yesterday in Tubac–spicy black bean with a bit of corn.  Admittedly they looked suspiciously like the Southwest Garden Burgers I used to buy frozen but with the cheese and fried onions it was still pretty great.  So we decided to try our hand at making from-scratch black bean burgers for dinner last night.

Since David was helping me I decided to give food blogging a shot and take pictures of the cooking steps.  The ingredients for these were pretty simple-quinoa, black beans, cilantro (again!), sautéed shallot and red pepper, cumin, red pepper flakes and smoky paprika.  Everything goes into the food processor.  First the beans and veggies:

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then the quinoa and cilantro:

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Pulse, pulse until you get this:

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I couldn’t shake the thought that this looked a bit like chopped liver (which I can’t stand the sight of).  Uh oh…

The mixture gets formed into patties:

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coated with panko bread crumbs and pan fried:

 

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I clearly do not  have a future as a food blogger because I stopped taking photos at this point.  I got side-tracked because of the non-sear of my pan fry and I was unhappily anticipating another disappointing dinner.  BUT, we added more oil, turned up the heat and managed to get a nice  crust on the outside.  Actually by the time we served them up they looked quite a bit like “real” burgers.  Not bad.

I struggled with these texturally because there was no “bite” to the bite.  After the crust the inside was totally soft.  The flavor was good though.  Throughout this meal I kept feeling like this mixture, rolled into balls and fried in more oil (kind of like falafel) would be quite good.  Alternatively, we could just make them thinner to shift the soft to crunch ratio.  David really liked these because he’s less bothered by the texture thing, but I’m pretty sure I can tweak this recipe and have something we will both enjoy.

Loosening up in the Kitchen

As I am writing this I realize that I may be creating an impression that I have an easy way with improvisation in the kitchen.  Add this, adjust that!  Actually I really don’t.  In fact another reason I love to bake is that precision is key.  I am rewarded for following the recipe exactly. 

When it comes to trying out recipes for savory dishes I always start with the recipe “as written”.  I don’t know about you but it drives me nuts when reviewers of recipes on line post a review after changing nearly all the ingredients!  Aside from adjusting salt and pepper seasoning I can get a little paralyzed if a dish doesn’t work out the first time and I’m more likely to scrap it and find another recipe.  I guess that’s not the worst approach considering there’s always another recipe to be found on the internet.  But I do think that it would behoove me to loosen up a little and play a little more in the kitchen.  Since these recipes were “close but not quite there” I think I will take my budding improvisational self out for a spin and try to make them work.  I will report back with the results.

In the meantime I welcome any and all tips, suggestions or favorite recipes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun in Tubac

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David and I are incredible homebodies.  We set our life up so that we have so much of what we love in our home and the surrounding area in Tucson-hiking,  gardening and doing our creative stuff.   And we seldom need to go in search of better weather.  That being said, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed traveling together when we’ve carved out the time to do it.  Last year we spent a week hiking in Sedona and another beaching it at a spa resort in Cancun.  Plus we take at least a few trips a year to see our children wherever they may be.  On long weekends though we enjoy checking out smaller towns outside of Tucson that we can visit in a day.  Today we decided to head to Tubac.

Tubac is an artists’ colony type place about an hour south of Tucson.  We actually went there once before when the town was hosting an annual art and craft show.  Plopped down in what seemed like the middle of nowhere were hundreds of artists and artisans set up in exhibit tents winding around the streets of tiny Tubac.  We enjoyed that day and could see some of the charm of Tubac but we were interested in going back and seeing the permanent galleries during a quieter time.   So off we went.

When we arrived at 11:00 we headed right to lunch.  Since David and I get up at around 4:00 a.m. we are definitely “early birds” when we eat out.  We headed to the charming Shelby’s, a cafe that Arizona Highways Magazine named one of the “25 best places to grab a bite in Arizona”.  So here I am relaxing after that very yummy bite:

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I had the veggie burger, not the fish and chips, but I was charmed by this sign nonetheless:

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After lunch we meandered around the small “downtown”, visited the galleries and chatted with the gallery owners.  Many of the owners also use their gallery spaces as studios and we could see some works in progress.  Most folks were happy to chat with us because this is a slow season for them.  We didn’t buy anything; in fact, our own creative juices got sparked instead.  Can we make a copper water sculpture?  How about those beaded necklaces?

Mostly we enjoyed being in such a lovely place on a lovely day.  You can see the beautiful rolling mountains that form the backdrop to the town in this photo:

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After we had seen and visited most of the shops and galleries we came upon a shop called  “Untamed Confections”.  Well really, who could pass that up?  So in we went and we came out with this:

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I am glad it was called “Midnight Gold” and it looks really big in this picture because it was the most expensive candy bar I have EVER purchased.   In fact, on our way out of town, David was bemoaning the high cost of gas off the highway and I reminded him that we had just spent $15.00 (yes you read that right!) on a candy bar.  Okay, the candy was pretty divine and is rich enough to last us a week but still…

We had a terrific time in Tubac.  And now we’re back home.

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Ahhhhh.  Hope you’re enjoying your long weekend!

Nips, (Pin) Tucks, and Disaster

Funny that this particular sewing title should contain the word “nip”.  While not the intended use of the word originally, at the moment I am thinking about this sort of “nip”.

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And if it wasn’t eleven o’clock in the morning I would seriously consider it.  Here’s what happened…

I have been away from sewing for a bit, mostly because I was paralyzed by an overabundance of possible projects.  Plus this blog has diverted some of my creative energies from sewing to writing.  I had been wanting to get back into the sewing room, and since I was feeling a little rusty I decided to keep it simple and casual and make an everyday blouse.   I have made of bunch of these already so I chose something that required enough new technique to make things interesting.  Here’s what I picked:

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At this point I would expect any reader with any taste to say “ugh”!  I’m not sure who the pattern manufacturer was targeting.  I’d venture to say certainly not a 50-something or anyone with style.  That being said, I consulted my trusty Patternreview.com website and found that  a number of sewists had made this in modern fabric and made it look good.  I figured that view D wasn’t too objectionable and it had pin tucks ( like on a tuxedo shirt) which I had never sewn before.  Plus I thought it would look good in this fabric which has been in my stash (official sewing/knitting term) since last year:

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I’d been taking my time with this project-tracing the pattern, cutting it out and marking it over several days to minimize the tedium of the pre-sewing steps.  Yesterday I got to it in earnest and this morning I was determined to completely finish it and post it proudly on the blog.  I was even going to trot out the tripod and learn how to do a “selfie”.

So in order to not lose myself entirely in the downer of the morning I will point out the positives of this project.   First it is really cute:

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I loved how the fabric worked with the pattern and I could picture wearing it with white or denim. Second, I learned how to sew pin tucks:

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My buttonholes were pretty stellar too, and that’s not often the case.  Finally, I learned how to sew a french seam.  This is a method of enclosing a seam “into itself” so that edges don’t show through to the front of the garment in a sheer fabric.  It looks like this on the inside:

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So I was tooling along opening up my buttonholes and thinking that I might even wear this shirt today when this happened:

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Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

I was horrified but it was over in a flash.  My super-sharp seam ripper that I use to open the buttonholes somehow managed to miss the pin that was inserted at the top of the hole to avoid just. this. sort. of. thing.  And this is one of those mistakes that impacts so many pieces of the project that there is no option to fix it.  Such a bummer.

At this moment I am supremely grateful that I can process this unfortunate experience on my blog.  The alternative would have been polishing off what’s left of our strawberry cake and moving onto something even more heinous.  I am also grateful for this:

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After I publish this post I am going outside to commune with the gardening gods who have been much more gentle with me today than the sewing gods.

It’s good to have multiple hobbies.

I’m Impressed!

I’ve alluded in many of my posts so far to David’s woodshop and woodworking.  Over the past month or so he doubled the size of our backyard storage shed to use for his shop.  While I don’t have a “before” shot of the shed here’s the “after”:

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That entire front section used to be a covered porch.  He framed it out,  put down a sturdier floor, moved the window, relocated the door and sided the whole thing.  Here’s what the addition looks like inside:

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and here’s the other side:

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I know.  Some pretty intense-looking pieces of  equipment.  And notice how neat this space is (after an afternoon of David working in there)!  I shudder to think of anyone walking into my sewing room and taking pictures.

While all of the construction was going on, David was also planning to learn how to do woodturning.  He took a class at our local Woodcraft store several weeks ago and has been assembling the necessary equipment to get started.  Plus he’s been poring over videos online to learn as much as possible before engaging with this:

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This is a woodturning lathe, and the idea is that a piece of wood is affixed to a spinner (a FAST spinner) and as it spins around a variety of sharp tools are used to shape it.  This is a mallet for the shop that David made during his class:

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So after all this preparation (you have no idea how much prep time went into setting up the lathe itself!) David finally had some time this afternoon to start noodling around in his shop.  He planned on using some of this mesquite wood that the tree guy set aside when our trees were trimmed:

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You can imagine my surprise and delight when he came into the house carrying this:

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Wow!  Pretty impressive for the very first project. While this bowl is still unfinished (i.e. oiled, etc.)  you can see how the turning process accentuates the beauty of the wood grain.  The small dark area on the right side is a knot in the wood that actually creates an opening in the bowl.  I think it’s just beautiful.

It’s really fun to have a partner who shares my love of  “making things”.  I understand when David disappears for hours in the shop because I can relate to the wonderful feeling of being in the creative flow.  I know that it can be hard for men, who traditionally work long hours outside of the home to then sequester themselves and take even more time away from their partners and families.   It’s really all good with  me, and maybe in the not too distant future I’ll have some beautiful decorative bowls for this space:

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Definitely a win-win 🙂

Read To Me

My Love Affair with Audiobooks 

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I’m just going to jump right in here and share my unabashed love for audiobooks. I am an adult, and I get to be read to!  I can knit while I’m being read to.  I can sew while I’m being read to.  I can drive while I’m being read to.  I can work out while I’m being read to.  It makes me giddy with delight.  And I usually have several books going at once-one in the car and several others in different rooms in the house.

I don’t remember being read to much when I was young, although  I was an early reader and I always enjoyed a good book.  What I do remember though was Miss Castellucio, my sixth grade teacher, reading novels to our class every day after lunch and recess.  I would put my head down on the desk and lose myself in the stories.  Those stories were often the highlight of my day.  Once I got into junior high the reading pretty much stopped, and I didn’t reengage with reading aloud until my own children were born.

I always read to my kids and I can say that I found as much delight in the picture books, chapter books and novels that we read as they did.   Anne was an early reader like me and she pretty much read to herself from a young age even as she went to sleep to books being read aloud on the cassette  player.  My boys were later readers which just meant I had more years to enjoy reading aloud to them.  We didn’t fully stop that bedtime routine until we ran out of Harry Potter books.

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Audiobooks made an appearance in our family after we maxed out on kid music and broadway show music for the car.  “Cheaper by the Dozen”,  “The Great Brain” series and “Redwall” are still widely quoted in our family.  And I remember vividly sitting in the car and sobbing (my embarrassed children nowhere to be seen) at the end of “Where the Red Fern Grows”.

I first started listening to adult books in the car when I lived in Phoenix, although I can’t remember what made me pick one up in the first place. I know that I missed the variety of talk radio that had been available in New Jersey and I never could get into NPR.  Whatever they were talking about, it wasn’t what I was interested in.  I remember some early selections- an Anna Quindlen novel,  Harlan Coben mysteries, and John Grisham books when I could get my hands on them.  But then I listened to this:

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And I was hooked. This was pure audiobook magic.  A thrilling read combined with a gifted reader.   In a class by itself.

Until recently, I got all of my audiobooks from the public library and I was pretty much at the mercy of what was in circulation and actually available. Consequently,  I listened to all kinds of things- trade fiction, historical fiction, romance novels, thrillers and plenty of non-fiction (Joan Didion’s two memoirs were beautiful and she read them herself).  I discovered that in the hands of a good reader a mediocre book could be elevated to something memorable, and  a novel poorly read or edited could detract from an otherwise promising story.

In addition there are many books that I listened to and loved that I simply did not enjoy reading myself.  Two examples of these were “Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese, and “Island Beneath the Sea” by Isabel Allende.  These novels in book form felt too dense and historically detailed and I just couldn’t get into them.  It’s amazing how the details I would have skimmed over in the novel didn’t bother me in the least when I was listening.

When I recommend a book that I have listened to rather than read I always state that it was a “good listen” rather than a “good read” because audiobooks and regular books are really very different animals, and engaging with one or the other provides a very different experience.  Listening for me is a much more leisurely ride, and it took me a while to get used to the readers not reading at my usual break-neck speed.  Characters that I hang around with sometimes for weeks remain with me for a long time after the audiobook is over.  And that brings me to this special shout-out:

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I finished listening to “Shantaram” close to three years ago and I still feel a swell of emotion writing about it.  I listened to this book, all 35 CDs in fits and starts over the course of a full year.  I was transitioning to a new life post-divorce and driving back and forth between Scottsdale and Tucson.  This book was a constant companion.  It was read by the author, an Australian ex-convict who escaped from prison and started a new life in India. It was an autobiographical novel that moved me in so many ways.  It was gritty and poignant and I will never forget it.

If you haven’t tried audiobooks I recommend you give them a try.  If you’re a seasoned listener I’d love for you to share some of your favorites.

Happy Listening!

 

 

 

 

This and That

I had a busy few days because all three of my children were home.  My daughter needed some R & R and she arrived on Wednesday.  Her brothers drove down separately, (Sam on Wednesday and Michael on Friday) to visit.  It was a weekend full of chatter, reconnecting, lots of good eating (that lemon pound cake got polished off!) and a special cameo appearance by my granddog, Deacon.

Anne posing with Deacon:

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Sam posing with Deacon:

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And yes, the power beard is real.  Am I the only one thinking about the Popeye comics?

Michael wasn’t here yet but he would not have posed with Deacon and respectfully requested that I not take pictures of him.  OK, I can do that.  But I love having dog energy and exuberance in the house.  Reminds me why I love dogs and don’t want to own one again 🙂

Hanging around with grown-up kids is for the most part a lot of fun.  Some highlights of the weekend included:

1) Watching Deacon bark at our fake owl with the spin-around head in the yard.  Apparently he is the only creature to be bothered by Mr. Owl as far as we know.  He’s pretty scary..

 

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2) Anne taking over in the kitchen to make the rice pilaf for our steak dinner.

Here it is (on day 3 now. Oops!)

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Trust me, it was yummy.

3) Shopping for yarn with Anne so I can finally make her something.

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As you can see I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this gorgeous yarn.  Fingers crossed that it will fit!

4) Talking psychology, philosophy and spirituality with Michael.  I introduced him to my psychotherapy god, Irvin Yalom.  Can’t wait to talk with him about the books I lent him.  Would love to have a photo (of Mike, not the books) but sigh, alas, no.

5) Watching “Frozen” with David and Anne.  I know I’m a little late to the party on this one.  LET IT GOOOOO!

6) Being hit with a horrendous bout of laryngitis on Saturday.  I literally could. not. talk.  (and I still can’t). Universe speaking anyone?  Clearly it was time for me to listen.

Everyone left yesterday and except for the bummer of the laryngitis David and I had a chill Sunday with a morning hike, him working in the woodshop and me catching up on paperwork and knitting.  And then I had a big urge to bake so I made this:

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That’s the smitten kitchen summer strawberry cake (thanks Anne for the recommendation)–gluten-free version!  A sweet way to end a sweet weekend.

Hope yours was something special too.

Form, Function and the Right Tools

I’ve had tools on the brain lately, owing in part to the fact that David has just built himself a new workshop and we’ve had a steady stream of power and hand tools arriving at our house.  David and I are both avid hobbyists and outfitting ourselves with the requisite “tools of the trade” is something that we spend a lot of time thinking about, researching and discussing.  This kind of engagement with material “stuff” is a big departure for me as I’ve always had an aversion to anything that smacked of “the next”, “the newest”, or, god forbid, “the best”.  Plus I recently sold a house and donated tons of “stuff” I neither used nor wanted.

So how to explain my love affair with this:

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or this:

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or this?

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Well, let’s just say it’s been a process.

In the beginning there were these:

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and this:

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These bowls, however artfully displayed for this photo are a set of pyrex nesting bowls from Walmart.  Fifteen dollars and  pure functional perfection.  Believe it or not, I lived my entire adult life, raised a family, cooked holiday meals for twenty people and did not own a set of mixing bowls until three years ago.  Ditto for the (flour-covered) apron which is something I use nearly every day.  Its toile fabric makes me smile every time I put it on.  Form and function.

As I think about all the stuff that I donated, aside from boxes and boxes of books (I swore off ever buying another hardcover!) I never even used half of it.  Baccarat bowls and vases,  decorative pitchers and plates, Judaica, oversized serving platters, urns and tureens, Lladro figurines, and on and on.  The thing is, I never personally selected any of them- they were all gifts.  And at the risk of sounding like a horrible ingrate I couldn’t wait to unload them all.  I let myself be surrounded by stuff that was in no way reflective of my taste or lifestyle.

During this “unloading period”  I felt great when I was able to give my children the items that they needed or wanted.  After all these things were a part of their family home and their history.  I assumed that they might feel differently about them than I did. My daughter, for instance, was delighted with the Judaica since she is more observant than I am.  My son, Michael, always coveted some depression glass bowls that had belonged to his great-grandmother. I imagine he uses and enjoys them.  Sam inherited a leather recliner that I never, ever sat on.

When David and I started living together, first in a three bedroom apartment and then in our current home we started pretty much from scratch. Like me, David had taken little from his family home post-divorce.  At first we carefully and judiciously outfitted our kitchen with things we needed and were reflective of our healthy lifestyle–good quality cookware, sturdy utensils and basic dishes and platters .  Little by little our lifestyle started to directly dictate what we wanted to buy instead of the other way around.  If we couldn’t use it, we didn’t want it.  Even the beautiful Le Creuset Dutch Oven (which was a Valentine’s Day gift for me) and the nifty fire-engine red Kitchenaid mix-master are supremely functional as well as beautiful.  Cooking has never been such a satisfying experience.

This approach to acquiring just about everything has prevailed.  We are lucky that as our children have begun supporting themselves we have more disposable income to spend on higher quality items for ourselves.  This includes the Bernina serger pictured above and many of David’s power tools.   We have found that in sewing and woodworking as in cooking,  higher quality or the “right” tools are an integral part of creating a quality product.

Even as I have gotten more comfortable with having good quality things, I am still extremely cautious about filling my life  with clutter and stuff that is not congruent with who I am.  For now, this means some empty rooms, empty shelves, empty wall space and a living room that looks like this:

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Tournament starts at 7 🙂

 

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