Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mark your calendars!


More reminding - you must come! 

We are a joyful, newly formed band of voices, and we can't wait to sing this wondrous collection of wintry, Christmas-ish carols into the very vibrating air that YOU will be breathing, as you sit in the pews of the beautiful SFX Church.  This is kind of my singing Dream Team (don't pinch me), and the repertoire is better-than-best.

Proceeds from this concert benefit the Brooklyn Conservatory Chorale - making possible scholarships, space rental, music purchasing, soloist hiring, and much more.  Please join us - and you get to sing along with the carols at the end.  Promise.

And if you're thinking that's not enough singing for you - please come to the Messiah Sing-Along *this very Sunday* at 4pm, at St. John's Episcopal Church (139 St. John's Place @7th Ave.)... donations will be collected to benefit CHIPS, to help restore their kitchen after the recent fire.  Please come, please sing, please give (and if you have a Messiah score collecting, dust, bring that, too!)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Please imagine this photo, as taken by Tom L

Gradually, I'm finding all these photos in my phone and thinking... what if someone else had taken this?

Here are a few more, including the face of my beloved, my niece about to be shot up in the Coney Island bungee thing (yeah, no, I can't tell, either - but I was there), and this one is especially for Tom, because (well, if you've seen his photos of rocks, leaves, water, shadow... you know why).

Note to self:  learn to use the phone camera.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ball is not lost

Yes, that's the same dog.  It's the same pose, in the same park.  But look - it's a different leaf pile!  This is a very, very good time of year for leaf piles.  Leaf piles are very good for - doing that thing Bu does, in that same pose, day after day (see above).

The giant blue ball (what, you don't see it?) was a gift from a dog named Sasha, who cares only for tennis balls.  I planned to give her this awesome tennis-ball gizmo that left Bu completely indifferent... but we have never seen Sasha (or her very nice human) before or since that day, years ago, when The Precious #1 entered our lives.  It's recently been pointed out that at some point, the manufacturer might discontinue this item, and this would be a good time to stock up.  In bulk.

It's available here - and those good folks also sell a squeeze-tube for high-paced treating (in case squeeze cheese is not your thing).

No idea why Bu is blue in this picture.  And Sasha - we owe you one.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy day after

Wow, that was just all so tasty and so sweet and so affectionate and generous-hearted and kind and fun.  Cranberry sorbet, you're my new BFF!

Thanks to all our friends, neighbors, guests, and pets.  And a big shout-out to my nephew Ben, who did all kinds of helpful things, requested and unsolicited.   Who knows whether I could have done it without you?  I'm just really, really glad I didn't have to.

I know many of you are not feeling this, but:  can we all feel just a little sorry for Robert now?  I  know, he's in Costa Rica.  But it's been raining a bunch, and he's been working on a project, not (mostly) surfing, beaching, or kayaking.  And he didn't get to obsess about the food, or the wine pairings, or the proper turkey making method - and he didn't get to eat any of it.  He'll be fine, really (and he'll be home very soon).  But see how wistful he looks, in a sort of "Rembrandt painting left under the stairs a little too long" sort of way?

Miss you, RMo!  And man, you missed a swell feast, a swell after-feast, and a few weeks of the most beautiful November days ever.  Literally.  Combined.

Travel safe home, spouse-y.

Neighbors - see you in the park, same pup time, same pup channel.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Menu hints

The idea hamster that is me wants you to know everything on my mind for Thanksgiving.  But even I cannot type that fast.  Creating a glorious feast that's gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and egg-free... well, frankly, I feel a little sorry for the folks that are relying on heavy cream to bail out their efforts.

Kath is bringing A Fabulous Dessert (hey, I don't question the master - let's just stand back and give her room).  Her friend Kathleen will bring Brussels sprouts.

Sean is bringing Something Baked that will be awesome (see why I was voted "Least Likely to be Anyone's Favorite Pastry Chef"?)

Sheri will bring a green veg., kid-thrilling beverages, and cranberry sauce.

Here's what I'm most definitely making:

The turkey (duh!) - I know y'all think my husband can roast the hell out of a chicken.  Whose poultry laurels do you think he was vying for, when he learned to do that?  Salt will be involved.

Cauliflower couscous.  That's right, you hack up a bunch of cauliflower (minus the tough stems, which are for the dog), and pretend it's couscous.  Awesome.  Flavor options are endless (watch this space for the winning flavor combo).

And right around here, it starts to get blurry... here are the other dishes I want to make:

Indian pudding!  (After many grain-free months, I think corn deserves a seasonal moment.)

Cranberry sorbet... and I'm torn between making it as an adjunct to the Baked Wonders Sean & Kath will create, and doing it in a tangier version, as a frozen adjunct to the main meal.

Polenta cut in shapes (because Amy's gift of autumnal cookie cutters has been so life-altering, and I haven't even used them yet).

Smoked salmon fishcakes (great appetizer idea, right? plus, my 8yo friend Felix is a huge salmon fan).

Maple candy in shapes (see references to awesome cookie cutter references - or better, don't go back and see them, take my word for it).  You basically cook maple syrup to hard-candy stage, with a hint of cream of tartar, and pour it into leafy shapes.

And here's what even I know isn't going to happen:

I swear, I had several items for this list.  Oh, right - the butternut squash 'noodles' with the duck-liver-inflected, pomegranate-splashed, onion-y goo.  That is, oddly the one recipe I have tried, and it was awesome.  Better spend quality time in the kitchen lab tomorrow.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Et in terra pax...

Wow, another giantly musical sort of day.  Blowing big kisses to my fellow sopranos of the Chorale for turning around the mighty ship that is Bach, and sailing it in such a lovely direction.

(You are right: 'et in terra pax' isn't in the Bach; it's from the Vivaldi Gloria, in the case of this particular baroque program.  But I'm real proud that this post isn't about the Annoying Freakin' Typo in our score, in which some genius misspelled '...hominibus bonae voluntatis' repeatedly.  Way to chill out, inner control freak!  Also proud that I let "real proud" stand.)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What about the pictures?

Isn't that what you want to know?  I want to know that, too.

But today was all about music, as it turns out.  Please save the date:  Brooklyn Voices, a chamber ensemble I'm wildly excited to be singing with, will have our debut concert December 18, 5pm, Park Slope.  The performance benefits the Brooklyn Conservatory (and the Chorale), and will knock the Scrooge right out of your head with delicious carols from lots of centuries and traditions, plus gorgeous modern masterpieces of choral Christmas-ness.

Please come!  (Spoiler alert - you get to sing along with carols at the end!)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Happy Birthday, Jeremy

I wanted some stuff today:  some spices, nuts and olives, warm tights, a new sieve, parsley, kitty litter...    (all acquired); a bunch of other stuff (on notice, tempting slow cooker).

Then I read what Robert's friend Jeremy wants for his birthday, and I thought... perhaps this is what we all really want:  

As the youngest in my family, I never had a problem getting older. Since Jacob died, my relation to my birthday has changed, however: I'm another year further from when I last held my boy. But I'm very, very lucky to have the privilege to work with and support incredible people who are dedicated to helping children with cancer. Put simply, working for Hope & Heroes Children's Cancer Fund helps give meaning to my experience. 
In the end, though, I would not have made it this far without my wonderful wife and family - and all my friends. So, as my 47th birthday approaches, I'm asking you to give $47, or whatever you can afford, to Hope & Heroes.
Thanks so much!
P.S. The first five people who give $47 or more by midnight on 11/20/11 will receive a copy of my Best Of 11 CD in January - and it's been a very good year for music!
Please make a donation, and help Jeremy spread the word, and celebrate the gift that it is to give ourselves to each other, and specifically - to give away one's birthday.  And please pass it on.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Of socks, and love, and rescue

Cold hands, warm heart.

Cold feet - really scary/bad winter.

Please click and see the photo of a box of helium-lifted socks, uplifted by drafts and hope, and consider your own next move toward encouraging, heartening, or warming where needed.

Autumnal Bu amidst the ginkgo leaves

At last, a dog photo where he is not grinning wildly, upon a greeny-grass background.  Happy November, buddy...

Fear not, friends of Bucephalus - the Big Blue Ball is safe.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Two things (and then another one)

Today is Clean Your Refrigerator Day.  I started to get gung-ho, but I'll be celebrating that tomorrow - when I can put my trash bags out for the awesome Sanitation Department heroes of NYC.  Y'all can imagine how much food I've thrown out this year, since the gluten crash (not to mention the dairy disaster).  This is truly my kind of meaningless holiday.

More thrillingly, Mary met the phenom that is John 20 years ago.  That is not only exciting because their relationship is old enough to vote, or because it's inexplicable that I've known Mary longer than John has, or because 20 is a round number ending in a zero.

And another one:  I found a check on the ground in Fort Greene Park this morning.  Then I Googled the recipient's (not-so-unusual) name, and found her at work.  One search, one phone call.  She didn't even know she had lost it yet.  She asked me how I knew it was a check.  Your bonus question:  how did I know it was a check?  (You can get extra credit on this one.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Words to live by

"Rage, world, and spring/attack - I stand here and sing, in utterly certain peace."

Go on, say that in the mirror a few times before you leave the house.  Or better... sing it (~5:59):

Bach really means it.

I, for one, stand here and sing.  Please join me.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


We all have that experience where the awesome snappy comeback pops into our heads hours later.  I also sometimes have so many snappy comebacks on the tip of my tongue, I scare myself.  So, like, I'm walking my dog around the block, and a man walks by on our right, and says with deep disapproval, "Could you move your dog?"  My on-leash dog is about 8" wide (yes, I measured).  I am wider, but this is Washington Avenue.  Plenty of room for my hips, and other life forms.

So here's what I didn't say:

"What's the magic word?"

"I believe that's pronounced "EXKYOOZE ME."

"Why, yes, I could - would you like me to?"

Quite honestly, I could go on like this at ridiculous length, but I am very excited that the whole thing didn't put me out of sorts and cause me to breathe fire, so I'm stopping now.  And I'm going to sleep like a baby and never think of it again.

My dog, with his superior social skills, veered left out of Mr. Grumpy Pants's path in response to a slight hand gesture.  Mr. G.P. presumably went on to disapprove of much else in the category 'Things on Feet."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Not even 15 minutes

OK, not quite the media frenzy of my 2010 few-moments-of-fame...

Thanks to Catherine, who noticed that my orange pants are clearly visible up on the dog hill, early-ish in this NYT video homage to the Best Neighborhood Ever.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thank you for your service

Dedicating 11.11.11 to all who have served.  I heard this morning that 9 out of 10 returning Iran and Afghanistan vets have had someone thank them for their service.  Let's keep an eye out for the remaining 10%.

Special thanks to my parents.  This one's for you, Mom:

Aerographer's Mate 1st Class, Mary C. Batts
Along with her patch & ribbon, that's a NY Times article dated May 23, 1943 (Waves Write Their Own 'Chanteys').  The caption:  "High and dry, I need a guy to tie my tie" sing the Waves at their weekly broadcast called "Notes From the Lady Sailors."  The variety show is produced by Waves, Spars and Marines.

Wow, Mom looks a lot like her granddaughter Olivia... right?

And watching over Connie here is CC Coco - she earned her 'CC' designation by serving as Connie's Cat Coco in my mother's final months.  Thanks also to you, cat-who-served.  

(Hoping myself to serve by song.)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Beyond yarn-bombing

At a glance, you suppose you know why this speaks to me.  But look again, and see all the other ways in which it speaks to me.

Let me count the ways.  (1.  I knew crochet was scary, but I didn't realize it was dangerous.  Or thrilling.)

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Quote for today

Mary sent this quote.  I'm dedicating today to my dog...

I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.
~ John Muir

...because this is what his thought-bubble would say, if we let him stay out till sundown.  (Dog today looks just like this from Kath - or this from Kizz  (see 3rd, goofiest), only with fall leaves, giant blue ball, and Fort Greene Park going on.)

So thanks, Bu, for this whole day of awesome - our earliest/longest park day, your least disruption participation at my piano lesson, and everyone you fell in love with during that last stroll around the block.  (I got out some, too.)

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

What's for dinner?

Tuesday used to be my on-my-own night for dinner.  Then that got moved around, and before I got used to it, R went on his mission to be a guest-working code monkey in tropical paradise.  So I'm applying Tuesday cooking rules - extra special, but also experimental.  As some of you know, R has a rare, unnamed phobia:  he is terrified his food might not be tasty.  (I thought he was kidding, but he actually experiences the emotion 'fear' at the thought of eating something non-world-rocking.)

Some Tuesdays back, I julienned butternut squash, and added it to onions I had cooked pretty much to pieces in coconut oil, and splashed with a little pomegranate juice (which turned them a beautiful ruby color, and made them taste like magic).

It was actually better than pasta - but let's face it, I haven't had pasta since wheat tried to kill me.  No, really - it was better than pasta, because it had flavor as well as texture, and it was orange.

Tonight, I'm going to make cut the squash wider, like pappardelle, and cook them in a little of the stock I made yesterday, and slurry in some duck-liver pate.  That's right, yesterday I made a miraculous pate of duck liver, without dairy (of course), and I didn't even tell you about it.

And a salad.  (If you've ever watched me make a salad, you know what an understatement that is.  This time, pears may be involved.)

Monday, November 07, 2011

Let's get this baby off the ground

That could refer to so many things, huh?

Here's a short list:

I'm flying the house solo.  So far, so good!  Second day of dog to park, plus three walks; cats fed (yeah, they say otherwise - trust me).  There has been cooking, and taking out of trash, and laundry.  (Yea, verily - e'en unto the laundry.)

The Bach did not crash and burn at this evening's rehearsal.  I think we can, and will, achieve liftoff.

I am cruising both ends of the spring forward, fall back thing.  Up early; not in bed yet.  'Splain me that!?  This is the opposite of seasonal affective disorder (but it is disorderly, make no mistake, and I shall pay).

I could go on like this, and you know I will.  Meantime:

Dear Everyone I Know,  Please Save The Date for a Christmas concert to benefit the Brooklyn Conservatory:  December 18th, 5pm, and you get to join in for carols.

And also.. December 4th, Messiah sing-along to benefit CHIPS homeless shelter, St. John's in Park Slope.

More pictures, soon - also, more singing.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Bon voyage!

RMo flew to Costa Rica at the crack of dawn for a project - and barely made his flight, because the car service dispatcher offered the sweet airport fare to a buddy, who said he'd make the trip.  But didn't.  Meanwhile, some lower-ranking driving was sitting on his hands - by the time the 2nd-stringer was dispatched, R had waited 45 minutes.

11.6.11 is devoted to Robert, because when he gets to the airport perilously late, he gets an upgrade to first class.  That's right - you or I might have been in a strip-search situation, or subject to a punitive lecture and 12-hour layover.  It is good to be Robert - guest worker in paradise.

Miss you already, ligh-of-my-life!

Wow, runaway day!

Dedicating 11.5.11 to Joanne... great to see you!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Without a recipe

Have you ever thrown together a meal from back-of-refrigerator finds, forgotten pantry items, and whimsy, and had it turn out to be so wonderful that you wish you had written down the impromptu recipe, so you could do it again?  Or - have you looked at a recipe or two, and then done what you guessed was a better idea, and it turned out you were absolutely right - but you don't exactly remember that better idea?  I've done both of those - lots and lots of the second variety (which sounds a little like an inability to follow instructions - we're going to call that "not easily led," and make a virtue of it.  OK?).

As it turns out, the real purpose of the Internet isn't what we've been told.  Nor is the Internet made of cats (unless it is).  The Internet was created for knitting, and is now almost entirely held together by beautiful knitting.  (Sometimes tangled with cats - I'm sure you can find your own link illustrating this.)

I have barely dipped a toe into the miracle that is Ravelry - I hereby resolve that rectifying this shall be Resolution #1 of the end-of-garden-season resolutions (what, you don't make resolutions at the end of every gardening season?).  If you don't knit, or want to - you don't have to worry about that, but if you do - meet me on Ravelry.

The ingredients for this adventure were some bulky yarn I had on hand, and our Montauk vacation just when knitting season popped up, with no time to shop for the perfect project.  Seasoning (other than dog hair) was the thought - hey, it's almost Amy's birthday!

And inspiration, as so very often since I rediscovered yarn, comes from Knitty - I have obsessed over and tinkered with the amazing bounty of ideas and patterns and wisdom there, but never quite followed any pattern.  This is greatly because I am too ornery to follow patterns like to make things up as I go along.  (Once a crocheter told me that knitters don't do that, and crocheters do, I was pretty much doomed.)  And maybe because some things seem harder than I had in mind, or don't quite suit the yarn I have on hand.  In this case, I was in awe of Jeanie, but unsure whether I could pull it off (and certainly not in the bulky yarn in my suitcase)... and also not entirely over the Year of Short Rows - a knitting superpower I discovered in 2010 (I may need another resolution to move on - but short rows make knitting do non-flat, non-square things, and This Is Good).

The combination of cables, and dropped-stitch lace, and short-row shaping to make the whole thing curve had me really jazzed.  I looked at the short rows + cables miracle that is Caireen - but had set my sights on working the other, Jeanie-like direction (edge to edge, not top edge to bottom).  Oh, and I stopped doing the drop-stitch lace in the middle, so the cables cuddle together and keep the neck warm.  See how I always try to squeeze in one idea too many?

However, like Caireen, this is a scarf/shawl hybrid, and it came out much better than I deserve.  I know all sorts of things I'd do differently and better next time, if only I had done a better job writing down what I did this time.  Amy says she wears it all the time, and I say she deserves to be cozy and warm (and I wish I had a pic of her wearing it).

Dedicating 11.4.11 to my LYS (that's Local Yarn Store, you gardeners and other non-knitters), with a promise to shop there for the next experiment along these lines.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

A favorite plant for the shady kitchen garden

I know, you thought I forgot about gardening.  And plants.  But that will never, ever happen.

I'm thinking about plants waaay out ahead.

I've already sown a few dozen big, fat seeds of the plant formerly known as Smilacina racemosa (taxonomy alert: now Maianthemum racemosum).  But more is clearly better - so I'll seed these in the plant-lab tomorrow.  They'll germinate in the spring, but we won't actually see them till the year after that.  And some more years down the road, I have dreams of including juice or sauce on my (gluten-free) Thanksgiving table.

In the fullness of time, I am hoping for a beautiful, ruby-red wine from these berries.  Meantime, the plant is riddled with garden virtues - May bloom, shade tolerance, amazing transformation from flower to berries that start out green and mottle into red... oh, and edibility!

11.3.11 is dedicated to Mary, whose woods sourced so many of the False Solomon's Seal plants now in my garden, and to Ellen - my hero of winemaking (and all things plant).

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Let me introduce you to my little friend...

She's perfect, isn't she?  More on her another time (she is, of course, a rescue).  Name suggestions welcome...  11.2.11 is dedicated to Michele, who rescued Ms. Wolf.

And: did you leave this scarf/wrap here?  It's more lavender-gray than not, and light and cotton and summery.  We fear you've been missing it for a long time.

Ms. Wolf wishes to draw your attention to the button necklace she's sporting - an unexpected hybrid from the button boxes of my mother and paternal grandfather.  Pearls are nice, too.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


Holy 11-ty first of '11 - it's November!

I'm going for a month of yes-ish, positive, yea-saying kind of month. Thomas Hood felt differently... and somewhere in this house is a lovely, purple-cloth-bound Oxford edition of children's poetry to prove it. Here it is, less beautifully illustrated, via Inter-cut'n'paste:

No sun--no moon!
No morn--no noon--
No dawn--no dusk--no proper time of day--
No sky--no earthly view--
No distance looking blue--
No road--no street--no "t' other side the way"--
No end to any Row--
No indications where the Crescents go--
No top to any steeple--
No recognitions of familiar people--
No courtesies for showing 'em--
No knowing 'em!
To traveling at all--no locomotion,
No inkling of the way--no notion--
No go--by land or ocean--
No mail--no post--
No news from any foreign coast--
No park--no ring--no afternoon gentility--
No company--no nobility--
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member--
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees.
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds.

Dedicating 11.1.11 to my bro, who may or may not remember the poem (or the purple book, and also to Kizz...

And please stay tuned for more saramatopoeia all November long!

(Promise, all the rest after this will make sense. Till/unless they don't.)