Friday, March 13, 2015

Sea Cake

I finally used the octopus cake pan I bought at a yard sale ... in 2013? Right before the oven died, I guess, which was August 2013. Time flies. Anyway: it seems I need this product I've never tried. The company that makes the pan suggests a oil-and-flour-in-one spray in place of shortening and flour, which didn't work well.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Virginia is Beautiful

According to this, freezing fog brought the stunning sights on today's drive to Winchester. I gave a fraction of a second's thought to taking my camera with me: but who brings a camera to a funeral? On the other hand, it is a pretty drive. No; you've seen it before. The internal discussion having ended there, I give you grainy pictures from the cheap-ass phone.

College friends moved to West Virginia a couple of years ago; sadly the only time we'd met up in person was at reunion last year. Several speakers at the memorial service recalled Sandy's determination to attend it, cancer be damned. It claimed her last week, and so there I was driving through mists and light rains until the hills began to appear. At the higher elevation, some of the trees were gorgeously frosted. Route 17 by Delaplane is stupid-gorgeous normally; with misty fog icing the trees ... well, I just had to pull over. I stopped at the state park: breath-takingly cold after the warm car; quiet except for chunks of ice falling off branches. I trotted to the bathroom -- first state park visit in flats and my dress coat! -- and back to the car. The cold, gray, quiet cleared my head.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Saturday, September 20, 2014


Last spring, someone asked me to attend what I thought would be a committee meeting about an event at Camp as part of the local Girl Scout council's 100th anniversary celebrations. It turned out to be the whole 100th anniversary committee sitting around the conference table. I did not feel I had much to contribute, until someone said, What's going on with the highway markers? Some personnel had changed and some things were unclear. The project to nominate two state highway markers in honor of local Girl Scouting seemed likely to be let go, so I spoke up perhaps for the first time: Oh, that shouldn't be too hard; I can do that for you.

Well, collecting the appropriate 19-teens documents for troop 1, Highland Springs, Va., did not go well, but by the time a faculty member moved from Chicago to Richmond in the 1930s and asked to keep her daughter's Girl Scout experience going in their new town, bureaucracy existed. And that was a good thing: we could mark the first African American Girl Scout troop in the South. I found minutes and other useful things on file in the Council's archive at Virginia Commonwealth University, and so today at Virginia Union University, we unveiled a marker celebrating troop 34.

The celebration went like many a formal Girl Scout program: welcoming remarks, flag ceremony, the national anthem (sung beautifully by a young man in his first year at Virginia Union), Girl Scout promise, and various speakers. Two animated Ambassador Girl Scouts served as mistresses of ceremonies. A VUU vice president spoke not only of his Boy Scout and Girl Scout family members, but also noted the coincidence of troop 34 and a 1960s VUU group arrested for "disturbing the peace" at a sit-in downtown: they were the Richmond 34. The daughter-in-law of one of the adult founders of the troop remembered her mother-in-law, a tireless community activist. A surprise speaker was Gloria Scott, GSUSA's national president in the 1970s, the first African-American to hold that job. She talked about being a newly-appointed dean at a college in Texas and having someone -- from the local council? GSUSA? -- say, Look,we're starting this Campus Girl Scout thing and we need you to get that going on your campus. It echoed Juliette Gordon Low's oft-described tact of just telling people what they could do rather than asking "could you maybe help with this?" I appreciated seeing another pattern of history. Many of the phrases in the 1930s council minutes sounded familiar, such as wishing National would let the local council take care of things in its own way.  However tricky the road, we got there, and because of Girl Scouts, I have all kinds of women as my sisters.

I must also pause to remember my brother Girl Scout (as it were), the late Reggie Tupponce, who led me to my first marker project.

Monday, August 25, 2014


Puzzle mania spilled from home to work, and back to home again. Here's a birthday present puzzle I just finished! Mega Puzzle -- Sri Mariamman Temple.

Monday, July 14, 2014


short version

A la Pintester, I present this pink lemonade bar from a recipe I found on Pinterest. The original photo made it seem like it would be way thicker! Also, my powdered sugar keeps sinking in. Now that I look again, I see it's a super close-up shot. There's a spoon in my picture for a bit of scale. The crust is very crumbly, but that may well be because I threw on all the ingredients at once, rather than creaming butter and sugar together first. I'm on the fence: crumbly crust, too sticky to eat with fingers, but maybe those flaws are my fault and I need to try again before declaring it a bust?

Saturday, July 05, 2014


As a life-long Girl Scout -- and professional staff member for seven years -- I frequently have to hear about someone's terrible experience with a bad troop leader, an un-fun camp. Seemed like one of the many ways librarianship would be a refreshing change is that people wouldn't have bad things to share, but they do. Like this tubmlr's tale, I find myself wondering if I should come out and say "geez, sorry your town's library is terrible."

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


As you know, I've been thinking about fandom lately. I read this item today; it's about a proposed television version of Lev Grossman's outstanding book The Magicians. In it, Sarah Arboleda proposes that as a book about fandoms -- fandoms of fantasy worlds that it turns out are real -- with in-real-life fans, it could be successful if it really appealed and worked for those people enthusiastic about the book already; in which case it would lose the coveted (still?) Average Viewer. And of course if it worked for the average viewer, it probably wouldn't be anything that outstanding or lasting.

Even as I write, I've brought to mind the latest Criticism of YA Books That Shall Not Be Named. This gist of the Slate editorial was that adults should be ashamed of themselves for indulging in teen books; adults read literary fiction. A glance at a bestseller list, or a day of readers' advisory at a public library tells another tale entirely. Adults read James Patterson and Debbie Macomber and Nikki Turner. Maybe it would be okay if a T.V. version of The Magicians turned out merely pretty good? I keep telling myself that much of the BBC's Merlin is fair-to-kinda bad. Yet I watched all the way to the end; I saw another Arthur off to Avalon. Like versions of Alice, I seem to have a hierarchy of versions of Camelot stories. Nicely acted, with gorgeous sets and generally-good costumes, Merlin's not as low as Disney's Sword in the Stone or Excalibur.

Well, I digress, as fans do, and I drag myself back to the Arboleda article: if there's a "divide between 'normals' and 'fans'," which side do I fall on? I keep thinking I'm not ... something enough to really be a fan. I'm not back-and-forth with others on tumblr or blogs or whatever. I tear through something, think about it a bit -- and these days reinforce it looking at Pinterest. Maybe I am a quiet fan.

Friday, April 04, 2014


The other day, I rewatched the 1999 Alice in Wonderland TV production, and still keep it at the top of my favs list. Watching a bizarre 1966 TV version this winter made me want to check in again on my leading choice. For the record: Disney is a big NO, and Tim Burton disappointed greatly.

My disappointment in Burton was underscored by comparison to the 1999 telling: much of its look I might have called Burton-esque, or Pee Wee-esque. Details that make me think of Burton include the splendid way the Red Queen, in particular, looks like a playing card -- down to the "drawn" black lines of her hair; or the checkerboards of grass that curve dreamily in backgrounds and transition scenes.

This Alice follows the books closely enough to please an avid reader. We get "why is a raven like a writing desk," we get the treacle well, we get the Cheshire cat checking on whether Alice said "pig" or "fig." Tina Majorino makes a spot-on Alice (looked into it real quick: looks like she's gone on to a strong career in things that I don't watch). Gene Wilder captures the Mock Turtle; and -- omg! that's the Queen from "Black Adder"! (Miranda Richardson). Brilliant.

Before urging this version above all other on someone, I might mention that it starts off a little slow -- there's no need for the Caucus Race to be that long a scene -- but it is the one I would suggest, above all.

See also: my Alice pins.