Did You Know that Food Porn comes in Paperback?

A couple of years ago, following links from one blog to another, as one does, I came upon a woman named Laura, an American living in France. At her site, I found a person who understands the funky sounds of New Jersey Neopolitan accents and knows how to pick the perfect eggplant from a market stand. I was hooked.

We’ve exchanged comments every so often, but work has sucked me further from the blogospere than I really meant to be, so when I visited recently and learned she had a book coming out, it was a surprise.

Of course I immediately ordered it.

And while it did not arrive on my birthday, it did arrive during my birthday MONTH, so I’m considering it a sort of present to myself.

The book? My Keyboard for a Cutting Board: Adventures in a French Kitchen v1.0, by Laura Pauli.

If the strawberries brazenly displayed on the cover don’t draw you in, the writing will.

Six Things

CarynSilver at LJ tagged me to share six random facts about myself. I’ve done the meme before, but I’m feeling chatty, so why not?

1) I don’t like it when someone uses a word I don’t know. Example: phrenic. Someone used this word last night, and I had to look it up this morning. Although now I’m not convinced it’s the right word because the definition (other than the obvious of having to do with specific nerves) is that it’s a sort of synonym for brainy/cerebral/intellectual.

2) I love word-games, especially Scrabble, though UpWords annoys me. (I believe that it’s fatally flawed because it does not allow the use of Q without U.) I’m also a great fan of Balderdash and a lovely conversation game called What? (What? is very simple to play, and its nature is that it can be played subtly. Basically, the goal is to eliminate the use of the word “what” from a normal conversation, including all non-English equivalents of the word, while trying to manipulate the other people involved into using the word. It’s a great game for parties and car trips.)

3) I’m craving rice pudding. I could make it, but somehow making it feels like cheating. Rice pudding is meant to be eaten from basic white restaurant bowls with cheap metal spoons, preferably in vintage diners. Raisins are optional. A sprinkling of cinnamon is a welcome addition. It should be chilled.

4) I wish there was more Shakespeare in my life. I went to Shakespeare camp a few summers, and had so much fun, and now, when it comes up in ordinary life, I get really wistful. The thing is, READING Shakespeare doesn’t cut it. It’s poetry and meant to be spoken, performed. The language is awkward when not uttered aloud.

5) I signed up for Fanfic 100 at LiveJournal. A friend had mentioned it, and I was intrigued. Fanfic is what I use as a writing warmup because playing with characters who are already established means you can jump right to scene-building and dialogue creation without having to first do major world-building. My two favorite fanfic characters were already taken, so I chose a world I’m comfortable with, and a character I’ve never really explored, because I like a challenge. No, I’m not telling who. Well, maybe if you ask.

6) I’ve started researching Florida real estate. Lennar has some great new communities that have houses in the range I’ve set as our max (around $300k), with lovely floor plans. Fuzzy wants a turret, though, and I’m not sure we can make that happen.


Stolen from Klae and Rainbowbinky at LiveJournal, because they always have cool things to steal.

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: your first pet, street name
Taffy Sylvia

2. YOUR MOVIE STAR NAME: (grandfather/grandmother on your moms side, your favorite candy)
Esterina Baci

3. YOUR “FLY GIRL/GUY” NAME: (first initial of first name, first two of your middle name)
M An (ugh, don’t like that one)

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal)
Indigo Shark

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born)
Annette Monmouth

6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first name, first 2 letters of mom’s maiden name and first 3 letters of the town you grew up in.)
Bar Meklatl, or (Kli Meklatl if I use MY maiden name, both of which seem vaguely obscene)

7. SUPERHERO NAME: (“The”, your favorite color, favorite drink)
The Indigo Macchiato

Borders and First Book

Clarissa Peterson of First Book wrote this to me, and I promised to share:

Shop at Borders Aug. 26 & 27 & share the magic of books!

August 26 and 27 are Borders National Benefits Days. First Book is handing out a coupon for 10% off at Borders on those days – and an additional 10% of purchases made with the coupon will be donated back to First Book by Borders. A good way to save money on back-to-school purchases and help First Book at the same time.


Shop at Borders & give the gift of books to children in need! Aug 26-27.

Scope for the Imagination…

Rob gives this assignment:
Psychologists Ed Diener and Martin E.P. Seligman cite 150 studies that suggest economic factors have little to do with happiness levels. For example, the Masai of Kenya, whose per capita income is under $300 a year, are as satisfied with their lives as the 400 wealthiest plutocrats in America. People living in the slums of Calcutta are slightly less filled with well-being, but not much. Your assignment, Leo, is to explore the personal implications of this. Can you get to the point where you truly feel that your ability to enjoy life has little to with how much money you have?

And then Cainer says this:
Everything you need is near you. It may not be obvious. You may have to do a little detective work and employ some ingenuity too. You may have to slightly rethink the notion of what it is you actually need. You may have to remember resources that you have not drawn on in a while or swallow your pride and request assistance from a companion. But as long as you are prepared to reach out hopefully, Jupiter insists that you will soon find something solid and reliable that you can grasp.

It’s cool when the boys are on the same general page, don’t you think?

And while I generally treat horoscopes as sort of writing prompts, I like that both are in agreement with my decision to check out of corporate America for a while.


I’m not a great fan of audiobooks, really, because they tend to take too long (I’m a fast reader), but the sinus pressure in my head and the new toy (green zen vision m (30 GB)) have combined to make me a temporary fan of the medium.

My first was a total geekfest, the Alien Voices production of Spock vs. Q, performed by Nimoy and deLancie. Definitely worth the hour and the $6.

My second, which I am barely into, is March by Geraldine Brooks, which is the story of Josephine March’s FATHER away at war, and, much like Wide Sargasso Sea was to Jane Eyre is more a companion to the original work than any sort of pastiche.

Alas the reader is not quite the voice I crave, the one I remember from late nights of listening to the KPFA Evening Reading just before sleep as a freshman in high school. He doesn’t have a bad voice. But the one I remember reading The Call of the Wild is the ultimate reading voice.

And no, I don’t know the names of either.

Still, for Alcott fans, I do recommend March, by Geraldine Brooks.


I love technology. My regular doctor being inaccessable to visit after work or on weeknds, I did web-check-in with CareNow (the local urgent care facility) because my head was so stuffed last night that I was weepy and my teeth hurt, and as A. pointed out during our mandatory workfest (which, yes, I attended), I had GREEN circles under my eyes. Like the color of bruises, but just from not sleeping, and being sick.

So I did web check in, and they verified my insurance, told me they’d call when a room was ready, and I noodled on the computer for a bit. An hour later they called. I signed in, sat down, only had to wait about eight minutes, and was seen, first by a friendly nurse, then by an extremely attractive and African-American PA, who gave me prescriptions for an antibiotic, a strong decongestant, a lot of water, and rest.

Our next stop was at Walgreens where another really attractive young man (oddly reminiscent of Mos Def as Ford Prefect in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) filled my prescription in five minutes flat.

And then I came home.
And sort of watched Uptown Girls cuz it was on tivo
And sort of watched HHG cuz it was on cable
And mostly kind of vegged because it hurts to talk, and my head’s all spinny and I can’t BREATHE, so I’m more than a little crabby.

Missed CSz last night – wanted to go help with door and watch Blue Show, but honestly bed is where I SHOULD be right now. I did remember to call and let them know.

Craving cheese enchiladas.

And tea. Must have tea.

Mostly, though, I think I’m gonna go back to sleep.
Cuz my head’s all spinny and this staying vertical thing is quite taxing just now.

Take care.

Happy Birthday (An Open Letter to Someone Dear)

Dear Almost-Birthday-Sister,

I’ve meant to send you a disc and card but have fallen into a pattern of work, sleep, work, sleep, with brief interludes of eating very quickly, in the hopes that doing so will neither take too much time from work, or boost my energy so much that sleep becomes impossible. It’s not a healthy way to live, but it’s only two more weeks. I think I can hold out that long.

I’ve thought about you all day, wishing for one of our late night IM chats, counting the moments of enlightenment and clarity you’ve helped me find, the smiles, the new experiences that are somehow related to knowing you, and the calmness wrapped in a spark of creativity that I associate with you in the chaotic place that is my mind.

Somehow, I think YOUR mind is much less chaotic. Or is chaotic in a different sense.

But differences are good, no? If we were all the same the world would be quite dreary, and there would be far less reason for art and music and words, ink and pictures and long rambling conversations that mosey along different tangents like a stream that meanders through a lush wood, along a village green, and finally bisects a beach on its way to merge with the ocean.

I hope that your day was spent surrounded by people and things who are meaningful to you, and that you smiled a lot, and enjoyed a balance of laughter and quiet reflection.

And if there was cake, that’s even better.

My almost-birthday-sister, today I salute you.
Thank you for being my friend.

Quick Update

– Birthday was good. Now own spiffy lime green ZEN VISION M thanks to Fuzzy aka Best Husband in the World.

– I have a horrible cold. And I have to work today. And tomorrow.

– Comments should work now. I managed to make them all unworky. But I think they’re fixed. Thanks to Janet for pointing out the exact error.