Wednesday, April 27, 2016

On Blogs and the Human Race

The other day I asked myself, and Sean, why nobody blogs anymore.  Do you feel this is true? It used to be such a huge THING back in the day, 10-some odd years ago.  And now it's sort of fizzled out. Of course they're still out there but it's not like it used to be.  I then started to wonder why my blog seems to have fizzled out.   Not that it's ever been remotely popular. But it's the general feeling I get. Which is fine. I never did set out for any particular goal other than to just put myself out there.  But why?   I have some possible answers:

1. People just aren't interested in reading lengthy tomes of rambling thoughts anymore. We need sectioned off ideas, attention-grabbers, visuals to entice, emboldened statements to tell us what is important so we don't have to filter it out ourselves. Words adapted to enable my growing attention deficit. 

2. Social media. I don't really fully understand the societal implications because I, on the whole, put my hand in the face of the new technology that greets me at every corner.  The platforms I use are Facebook (warily and on my own specific terms), Instagram, and that is it.  No one even emails anymore which will forever make me sad. I love to email. I love to compose, construct, and send things along the electronic wire. And it usually takes more than a few lines and a picture for me to make anything meaningful. But then, i have always been wordy.  I don't believe any of these things, by themselves, are particularly horrible but I'm afraid for what they're training my brain to do, what to look for. How to process or internalize. 

3. I've moved away from someplace cool and interesting to another place that's, well, not as much so. Of course I had secret hopes of garnering some kind of readership, that there might be more people in the world other than myself to hear what i had to say on things. To share an interest in the weird stuff that comes out of my head.  So I wrote about a wide variety of things. I was never an authority on NY anyway.  And I just have to believe that New York isn't what makes me interesting, though I did always feel like I was in the cool club for living there.  Really I was just a long term guest, an outsider with a peek in.   But maybe it's what people want? I don't blame 'em.   So many cool and funny people back in the day had funny blogs and then they started having babies and it changed the tone of their blog. Which is totally fine. But maybe that's what I've done to mine?

Whatever the case, I still have things I want to say to the world and as an archivist and auto-documentarian, blogging has always been a wonderful way for me to do it. Since I've been mulling this over for days, earlier this morning Sean came down and handed me a random quote he read about blogging, in reference to the art world.  First some background:

Apparently Damien Hirst, (shark in tank, diamond skull-- one of Sean's favorites of his, titled For the Love of God)  is having an identical art show of dot paintings in multiple art galleries around the world.  I haven't seen terribly much of his stuff but he always struck me as a shockist (shock artist-- a term I'm going to pretend I made up but probably didn't) with a sort of in your face gluttonous quality to it.  But here's what Sean gave to me:

The dealer and the artist made waves together in 2012 when all of Gagosian's locations worldwide (a paltry eleven at the time) showcased Hirst's spot paintings.  That show, naturally, made a huge splash, but not everyone loved it.  ArtFCity's Will Brand posted this scathing assessment:

"There is, we recognize, a historical danger here.  Someday, the record of this exhibition might be dug up by a young art historian, or perhaps a blogger like us, or perhaps some sort of future blogger who does things with brainwaves.  They'll see that there was a massive show spread across every location of the most successful gallery of the time, entirely comprised of one of the most successful artists of the time, and that it was supported by some of the most illustrious voices money could buy.  So I'm going to lay this down, just to clarify, so that nobody from the future gets confused:  we hate this sh**.  Everyone hates this sh**.  These spots reflect nothing about how we live, see, or think, they're just some weird meme for the impossibly rich that nobody knows how to stop."
 Ha ha! Nothing better than a good zingy art critique.  But I particularly love those last lines.  How much do we really know how people live, see, and think.  Social Media truncates life. Through it it is screened and depersonalized.   Nothing's better than sitting with a person and talking with them face-to-face, but the most inciteful, most impacting contributions historically are the gathered first-hand accounts, the words written down at the time, from a person who was there with a time stamp. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Science Lesson

The other day I overheard a conversation between Julian and Sean:
JULIAN: What's inside a black hole?

SEAN: A singularity. 
JULIAN: What's that?

Jen quietly listens in, as she does whenever Julian asks Sean science questions, so as to gain some insight, as the answer is given in such a way that a 6-year-old might understand. 

SEAN: A tiny place that weighs a lot.

And that's sort of where it ended.  We both still have a lot of questions. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Things I Eat 2016

Well, it's almost been two years since the last one and I thought I'd see what my eating habits are like these days compared to then. What I should do is do this in a different season and see how that compares. Maybe next time.  So let's go, and here's the link to the last one because it's just as exciting to read as the first time.


1. The smoothies are still a staple for me. Same recipe as well except I've since added chia seeds and some turmeric when I'm feeling a little inflamed and like I want to gag myself because it is guh-ross. I'll mostly just mix it into my own private smoothie because others shouldn't suffer so needlessly 

Additionally, I realized that if I run out of spinach or it goes bad I can use canned pumpkin as my vegetable. I learned that this past fall when i had a surplus of cans of the stuff and couldn't make another pie or batch of cookies. (One thing i did make was pumpkin pudding and it was fab. Or maybe Sean made it? I honestly can't remember. Let's face it, it was probably Sean, but I know i found the recipe. So i did that at least.)

The problem with the smoothie is, of course, once again, my flighty friend the banana never sticks around very long and if I don't have any ready for a smoothie I don't make one at all. It's the only way i want to sweeten it. My dream is to start up a banana delivery business and you can choose how many you want and from which phase of ripeness. I'll create a scale and come up with clever names for each phase.  The ultimate ripe phase could be called "Save Me From Myself,"  for instance. Or, "Banana's Last Breath" or "Bake Me Into Something Now."   The super unripe phase will be "Backburner Banana."   I'm going to have to think more about this but I'm liking this so far.

2. Also toast is fine. An occasional English muffin. But I don't necessarily eat it daily. I have a ton of bread products in the freezer these days and I find that I sleep better knowing I don't have to eat the entire loaf in 3 days.

3. I alternate smoothies with eggs. The incredible edible egg.  Love the eggs. I mostly do poached, sometimes scrambled. Maybe in the middle of toast. Lately Sean has been mastering the crispy egg which is tasty but I can't do myself.  Also, I've lately begun buying bags of peeled boiled eggs because I am a lazy old man and it's awesome.  I do have egg goals though and one is to start trying soft-boiled eggs and eat them in an egg cup. Dream of dreams!

4. For about a year now I've been drinking some hot honey lemon tea every morning. I kept reading things about people doing this and all the benefits it gives and so i tried it and guess what, it's true. It is great. I think the citrus is doing crazy good stuff for me like cancer-prevention (none so far!) as well as with my skin and other things. I do it for my digestion-gets things rolling, a quality I always like in food. And I think it just generally calms my entire digestive tract down.  I can't sing its praises enough, really. I read that you should drink it as hot as you can, first thing in the morn. Food is medicine and I take this one religiously.

5. I also love the pancakes, as mentioned.  

6. Another beloved food item and on the medicinal list? Oatmeal. Ohh bless it.  It's so good for me. My body cheers every time I eat it and my stomach is satisfied for ages.  And you can eat it in so many ways and variations. Oatmeal 4-ever. I usually eat it plain with apple sauce. Unless I'm eating it for dinner (that's right!), which you can read about in a minute...


1. Same as 2014, i guess. Veggies and fruits. Scraps. And, of course, fruit and cheese. Though I don't eat nearly as much cheese as I used to. These days I have learned that it's not just the foods that make me feel a certain way but the combos in which I eat them.  Like if i eat cheese as the same time as vegetables, i do so much better. It's so amazing to me! If i could I would go back and major in food science and tell my future self to listen up.  But I love stuff like this. Often I will gear up for eating trash by stuffing a bucket of sugar snap peas into my gullet. Purely for medicinal reasons. 

2. I'll also eat some cashews or a packet of trail mix nuts. Maybe a boiled egg.

3. Also tuna on crackers but this is rare. 

Lunch is sort of the weak link for me. But it's very low pressure which I can handle. The worst is...


Newsflash, dinner still sucks as hard as ever.  When I moved to the 'burbs I was like, "now i'll learn to cook! I'll just cook, like everyone else! Do what the people do, you know?"  WRONG. I still hate it. And it's even worse now because i don't have delicious takeout to turn to. It's so depressing. We still eat out or go pick up some burritos but it is NOT...cannot emphasize this enough.. NOT the same.

Also: Julian has entered a fun phase called Not Liking Anything, But I Mean AN-Y-THING.  Boo. 

But for the list's sake, here's our week's dinners so far:

1. In order to bond more and also get myself to actually make real dinners, we started making my pal Brooke a dinner once a week.  This was in the wintertime so it was mostly soups. While several things were good (beef and broccoli, thai curry soup) the outlier is the crockpot tortilla soup with the magic ingredient: The pasilla pepper. OH it's so good.  I've never actually made it in the crockpot as the recipe is too big for our tiny two-man pot. But we make this almost weekly with cornbread on the side.  Julian and I could both eat a pan of cornbread in one sitting. I'm always torn between making him first eat soup before cornbread and letting him immediately have it because it's best piping hot. I compromise by giving him a tiny square of hot bread and then hoards of it after the soup. 

 2. Trader Joe's has an awesome frozen orange chicken that we try to keep handy. And other TJ's frozen things.

3. Turkey burgers.

4. Of course tacos.  I love mexican food because it's all the same food just presented differently!  Want some meat and rice and beans and veggies and a lot of it? Wrap it in a tortilla and it's a burrito.  Want the exact same thing but not so much of it? Put it in a tiny tortilla and it's a taco!  Want a saucy burrito baked in an oven? Enchilada!  No tortilla but extra lettuce? Taco salad! In water and chicken broth? SOUP!   Honestly, I could eat a Mexican variant every day of the week. 

5.  OATMEAL FOR DINNER.  I discovered this a couple of weeks ago when there wasn't much time, i was desperate to just find something we would ALL (*cough* Julian) eat and i had a revelation. Oatmeal bar.  Little bowls set out filled with tiny diced up fruits, bottled peaches, apple sauce, cinnamon, sliced almonds, whatever dried thing you have in your pantry.  Everyone has a good time and once again, the health benefits rule all.  Lately i've been reading about savory oatmeal and i've yet to try it but I'm very intrigued.  

6. Trying to get us invited to friends' houses.  Yesterday a friend told us they had made taco meat but realized they had no toppings whatsoever and wondered if we had any they could use. When i replied we did she then invited us over for dinner because that was the determinant. HAHA!  Brilliant!  So funny.  We brought tomatoes, avocados, chips, whatever else and their pork taco meat was great and it was such a good trade. So fun.  

7. Food trucks!  They come in the warmer months to a park just down the street and we are aghast at how close they are and how few the people are. What the hey? We still don't understand but it's so great. Some are better than others but there are some seriously quality trucks. We get a hodgepodge and eat on a blanket on the grass and nothing makes me happier than a parknic. Then Sean and I play catch with our adolescent-sized mitts and Julian runs around and all is happy and right in the world. The trucks are back now and i plan my week around them.  

8. Bagged salad. All these new-fangled salad kits are such a great invention.  I will never make a salad again unless it means opening bags and dumping.  


Brownie in a mug is a frequent friend. Or just plain hot chocolate. I don't have so much ice cream these days, for no reason at all.   But I'll eat anything for dessert, the most important meal of the day.

One thing worth mentioning is I recently found a recipe for custard that I use for everything and it is now my specialty. I feel so culinary too because it's apparently tricky and yet i can do it! i know! You just have to stand and stir for a while. I set out all my ingredients so I can keep stirring while adding and then i can my custard thickening meditation.   But I've perfected the banana cream pie and it's basically the only pie I make now.  Here it is:

1. layer of graham cracker crust (no sugar added! Don't do it!)
2. thin layer of ganache.
3. layer of custard
4. bananas
5. more custard.

and voila.  I've made this pie about 7 or 8 times since last fall and there's no stopping me.    


Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Random Quotes & Thoughts

I've got a lot of quotes or thoughts jotted down that I have enjoyed in recent days so let's put them all together in a hodgepodge quote fest. 

We were discussing dessert toppings and Sean said to me,  "It's what I thought about it even as a kid: 

Whipped cream: the big disappointment that looks like ice cream but isn't. Like, what is this sweet fluff?? Where's the ice cream?"

Obviously he's crazy because whipped cream is the dessert topping of the gods but still, I see what he's saying, and it makes me laugh. Picturing nerdy child Sean is always a good time.

I wrote this quote down but I don't know where it came from:

Peanut Butter: an unpalatable American curiosity. 

 I confess,  this is basically how I feel.  I feel like I can see why people like it, and yet I don't, really, and I can't explain why. I don't hate peanut butter, by any means. I can even find that I enjoy it, in a way, from time to time. It mystifies because I have even had an intense PB phase or two, but none since the last time. But ultimately I just can't get into it in the way i feel i ought.

Sean quotes related to the house:

1. When he was replacing the toilet flusher and other things:   

Oh, this [new flusher] is spring loaded. Might be a really pleasant flush feel.   

ha! Flush feel.

2. Getting bills is such a drag. We're such a clichee.  But here's Sean's quote:

It's like getting homework in the mail.

Other Sean quotes:

There are the Super People out there like Alicia Keys and Elan Musk and then there's the rest of us.
Jack Johnson: How does he know when he's written a new song?

WORD. They all sound the same. Which isn't the worst thing, but probably not the greatest. Jack. Just kidding. If I were a songwriter all of mine would sound the same. I have but one style.

Julian likes to speak in riddles to confuse us all.  Here's a question he asked me during dinner one night that made my brain die:

What would you look like if I existed and you were alive on Earth?
It took too long to reply, ""

Another Julian question:

Mom, what's the pool really about?

Sean's persnickety, snobby opinion on a potluck:

 Oh, we're having a potluck, so I can eat my own stuff.

Which is silly because we really don't know how to cook.

The other day the three of us were eating at a restaurant that overlooked a river and we were seated next to the window. We decided to play Eye Spy but with a twist: We had to provide clues using a poem.  I was delighted.  Here's my first one:

I am sometimes naked
I am sometimes clothed

It depends on if it's warm

Or if it is cold.

Sean and Julian took turns guessing. The answer: A tree.

Here is one of Julian's:

I am big and I am tall.
I have no face
and I am heavy too.

HA.  I think this was a light post? I can't remember but that poem is solid.

Here's another one of Julian's:

I am a cylinder.
There is another one
Very close to me.
And it sticks straight up.

Haha!  It was quite clever and took Sean a long time to guess:   his cup with a straw in it. 

The following are two Julian spoonerisms that both happen to be about the cat:

I thought I heard the hitty kissing.
I put a killow in pity's face.    

It'll be a pity when he killows him once and for all. Spoonerisms are the best. One day i'll type that word NOT this way: spoonderism. One day...

 This next one was from some random Netflix show I watched with Maggie Smith, who said:
Very few people realize they don't know what they feel until they're at least forty.

The show was a solid C+ B-, but I loved this quote.  

Sean and I were chatting deeply about art and religion one day and he said this:

Most of what I do creatively is a reaction to what I see.

And i liked it.  I don't know if that's the origin of my creativity. I think it comes from the magical well of goo my brain swims merrily around in.

In our house we have a love/hate relationship with Costco.  I hate it, and I love to never ever go there.   It sux.   Sean doesn't feel the hate quite so much and therefore is more likely to comply to go but he still doesn't have the time of his life.  We just don't live the Costco kind of lifestyle. Like Walmart, it's soul-sucking. Anyway, this exchange took place. Also, it should be known that for Christmas Sean received an automatic M&M dispenser and it's the best invention of all humankind (get it here). I only like the mint M&Ms though and was pestering Sean about it:
JEN: Did you find mint M&M's at Costco?

SEAN: No. Even if I did it would be a 10-pack of pound bags.

heh heh.  Makes me chuckle.  10-pack of pound bags...   I just like the sound of it.
One day I complained a bit about the kitchen, expressing a desire to leave it, and Sean thoughtfully remarked:

I always thought that the kitchen was some kind of machine you have to plug yourself into to make it go.  And everyone has their station... like the Flintstone car.

I have so many quotes. I need to just publish this before it gets massive. Before I do, this came from earlier today. Julian and I were snacking (in the kitchen) and I said to him, "let's talk about Julian."  I told him how we had decided on his name (it's a cute story: it was the ONLY boy name both of us liked. But right from the beginning. "Julian?"  "I love Julian."  "Yeah, me too."  *every baby name conversation thereafter unnecessary*)  

I told him how I'd called him T-Rex before he was born because he would roll around in my belly and was probably snarling too.  He then explained:

Yeah, sorry about that.  I was just playing bowling and made myself into a bowling ball.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

A Weekend

Some-odd weekends ago, a lot happened. And I was like, I've taken a lot of random weird pictures of these weekend events. How's about I blog about them.  And then time passed, days passed, I actually did get it all ready and then somehow none of my work was saved which was disheartening, so I abandoned it.  Anyway, what i'm trying to say is this all happened a number of weekends ago and I have long since lost track of which one. But the events were real, they happened. And they're nonetheless important and necessitate documentation.

First: I went to a Jazz game with Brooke.  Brooke scored some sweet tickets at work.  Brooke is always winning things.  She used to call in to radio shows and ALWAYS win the prize.  Once in Jr. High there was a drawing and who won out of the whole school? BROOKE.  Anyway, it's crazy. I need her to buy me a lottery ticket. We were on row 15 which was pretty fun. On the way there we had to hurry up and get into basketball.  Back in the day, we were super into it.   We could not name one player now but in the car Brooke said, "Now, who's on the team? Stockton? Malone? B. Russ? Ostertaag? Jeff Hornaceck?"  As all these familiar names came flooding back to me of the glory days of the 90's, I could also feel plaid and oversized denim jeans creep onto my skin.   Too funny.

It was really fun to be there.  We made comments like, "wow, these guys are... good! Look how FAST they pass the ball! WOW!"  like a bunch of nerds.  A player on the other team had an enormously bushy beard and we thought how unpleasant it must be to have Sweaty Beard.  We wondered how long it would take to grow one like that, assuming you are a quick facial hair grower. We really didn't know, so I asked the fellow next to me and he then proceeded to talk to us about beards for the rest of the time there.  Which i didn't really mind.  Yes, tell me more.  He explained if you shave then you have to keep shaving, because it grows in more coarse--PFFF, as if I didn't already know that. I then said if I DID have a beard, I would have a future beard.  Really, it was not an unpleasant conversation.

I'm pretty bad at taking group selfies. Here's my attempt. My caption for this was "Brooke let me come to the Jazz game if I sat a few seats away from her."   And it's funny to think that she'd make me take the picture as well. "you take it, but mostly of me. Nope, less of you. Leeeess....."

Also, Sean's birthday happened. Julian and I decided to make approximately one trillion birthday cards for him. We also got his relatives to send us bday  messages. But we worked and worked and honestly, we had at least 50 cards on display for him.  Saying things like, "Dear Dad, I love you more than money and our house."   "Dear Dad, I love you more than oceans."  "Dear Dad, you are good at reading. Happy birthday."  PRECIOUS.  Julian loooves writing cards and he loves birthdays. He is the perfect birthday buddy and doing the cards was my favorite.

Here we are at birthday breakfast at a diner:

We visited a Mormon temple openhouse which was lovely and I laughed at our backdrop picture:


we entertain ourselves. 

We also made a banner for Sean.  Julian wondered what the theme of this birthday was so we decided on Eye of Sauron.  You can see it on the banner, amongst also a hot air balloon, funny faces, an abstract sculpture, cakes, etc.  

Here is Julian explaining the banner:


Later we had some cake with the standard birthday mustaches:


Friday we took our rackets and went to a nearby park for some tennis.  It was glorious and also shameful. So rusty.  But felt great. I love tennis running. Other sports-running like soccer or basketball are too much. Not like i've ever played soccer once in my life.  But tennis running is great. You run and work up crazy amounts of sweat but you stop short so much that it doesn't really feel like running. And anything that might resemble running but isn't, at least distances, sign me up.

We then went over to the playground and swung on the swings. I gaped at Julian for a hundred seconds at his apparent ability to PUMP HIMSELF. WHAT. WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN.  All of a sudden, 5 years of pushing this squirt on the swings of a million different swingsets flashed and then died before my very eyes.  He no longer needs me to push him.  I mean i tell swinging stories of times and swing sets when people were arriving after us and leaving, and this many more times and he's STILL on the swings.  

Jen on a swing:

Saturday was one of those crazy days where you don't do anything super exciting but get a million things accomplished and so it is the best Saturday in the world.  Or you tell yourself that.  Like you accomplished and conquered or achieved Saturday as it was meant to be in its natural state.  We also went for a walk to another playground, and remembered grass.  That initial moment, when all the snow has melted. You see it, and vague memories of radical things start to come back to you of it being green, sitting on it, picnicking, and so forth. Since it was a family walk, we took the cat as well.

Here is Pepper having the time of his life.  Cats just love the swings. See his face?

Julian finding spring on our walk:

Speaking of Pepper, here was one of my weekend chores. It's odious, so I do it in spurts here and there:

 Weekend brownie in a mug:

Look how dark that thing is! Valrhona 4-ever! So good. 

Miscellaneous weekend pictures:


Thus, let history show, that was the weekend.