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Friday, June 30, 2017

Weaving Magic by Chris Ofili, National Gallery, London

 I loved the National Gallery, and will post more things that I saw there in the future.  This is a really beautiful tapestry that is the first time that I have seen a weaving that has a watercolor like quality to the finished work.  At first I thought it was a watercolor, that it represented an enormous sketch of the final product, a cartoon to guide the weaver in their work.  But no, this is the final product, something that is both vibrant and soft at the same time.
The weaver has won a prize that I was unfamiliar with, which is the Turner Prize.  It was created in 1984 and is awarded to innovative artists who push the envelope in their work.  It is named for William Turner, a man who obsessively portrayed light in a new and at the time, completely unappreciated way, but who went on to become one of Britain's most beloved painters.  I can see why Ofili would garner such an honor, and I hope to see more fiber arts showcased in major museums.  It is so pleasurable to be exposed to such works of art.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Comedian (2016)

I watched this on a cross country flight, and it was very diversionary.  Not as good as you would expect given the cast of characters, and definitely not at all funny, despite the title.  The problem is that the movie never builds enough momentum, emotional or narrative, to get the viewer on its side. I don't mind when the plot doesn't make sense, but I need it to have some direction.
Robert De Niro plays Jackie Burke, an aging comic at a career impasse. Jackie is thin skinned and foul mouthed, and he doesn’t do such a good job of coping when, one night at a sparsely attended gig, he discovers that a couple of hecklers are razzing him not just for the hell of it, but to provide fodder for their vanity YouTube series. Jackie head-butts the guy in indignation and winds up battling an assault charge. During his community service (the battle didn’t go his way; he also ended up doing thirty days) he finds himself serving at a food kitchen alongside Mann’s Harmony, the troubled daughter of a one-time mobster played by Keitel. The two strike up a friendship that one desperately hopes against hope does not blossom into a romance, while Jackie juggles money troubles, opportunities for gigs, and other challenges in a way that suggest that he thrives on making fun of his self-defeat.  It is better than I am describing, with an excellent aging cast, but don't enter into it thinking you will be uplifted.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Stoner by John Williams (1965)

My sister-in-law recommended this book to me, because it was recommended to her by Anna Quinlan, who she had gone to see speak.  She said this book had a great deal of influence on her as a writer.
Here is the story.  Stoner is a man who grew up on a farm to uneducated parents in Missouri, who is literally the first generation of his family to go to college.  His parents hire a farm hand in order to run the farm in his absence, so while they are not educated, they put some value on education.  They do, however, expect him to return to the farm, and early in his college career he realizes that is not going to happen.  He does not enlist in the military in WWI and instead pursues a PhD and becomes a professor.  After that he has an unexceptional life.  He marries a woman he doesn't have a friendship with, and so there is no real love.  They have a daughter that he adores, but there is a bad outcome there as well.  His home life is unsatisfactory, and his academic life is equally lackluster.  the strength of the story is not in it's broad scope but in its attention to the details of a life that you might otherwise have overlooked.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Buffalo Shrimp

This is super easy and very fast.  You can use your favorite bottled blue cheese dressing and add some chunky blue cheese to it rather than going from scratch to make it even faster.

  1. For blue cheese dip:
    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • 1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
    • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (2 ounces)
    • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
    • 1 1/2 teaspoon milk
  2. For shrimp:
    • 2 pounds peeled shrimp
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
    • 1/4 cup hot sauce such as Frank's RedHot
    • 1/2 bunch celery, cut into 4-inch sticks
  1. Make dip:
    1. Stir together ingredients, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  2. Make shrimp:
    1. Toss shrimp with oil and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add butter to saute pan, and when melted, add shrimp, and cook until just done, about 3-4 minutes. Add hot sauce and shrimp in a bowl and toss until coated. Serve shrimp with dip and celery.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Ceramics at the Victoria and Albert Museum

I could literally spend a week here and not get tired, or have given the things i like about it enough attention.  I would probably want to carry a camera around while doing so, but that would be really be so that I could relive it all later, not because the photos are going to be of interest to anyone else, or that they will be the best quality.
It is hard to articulate how I feel about ceramics in general and dinnerware in particular.  Much like my relationship with fabric, I just cannot say what it is that I love about it, but merely that it is so.  I say that I quilt so that I have a reason for all the fabric I buy.  I would buy it regardless, and quilting allows for the flow to be manageable.  The same is true of dinner ware.  I just love to look at it.  I have people over to justify my accumulation of things to serve them with.  So imagine just how wonderful a museum with thousands of dishes is to a woman such as myself.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London, England

This is a two Michelin star restaurant that if they ask me, I will recommend the stars be kept.  The restaurant is in a hotel which gives it certain advantages.  Like when we arrived out of the pouring rain our wet gear was lifted off of us, and returned hours later completely dry.  They have facilities in a hotel that a restaurant just doesn't have.
The food here is exceptional.  We chose the luncheon menu, which had few choices but all of them good, and at a considerably lower price.  We were amongst the few around us who were going for "the deal", but were very happy with it.  The theater of the restaurant is around the food being prepared from age old recipes.  Some several hundred years old.  One has to assume that the presentation has been updated, and the recipe re-interpreted, but it was fun to eat things that could have been eaten (by the well to do) in the same location years before.  This is a really great dining experience, and lunch is a very good deal.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Asian Style Crab Cakes

This recipe veers a bit away from the Maryland Crab Cake, but is very good.  I served it with a sriracha sauce. 

  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon wasabi paste or mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoons seasoned rice vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 pound fresh jumbo lump crabmeat, drained and picked
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten 
  • 1/4-1/2 cup panko 
Mix the  first eight ingredients together and add crab.  Stir, then add egg and panko crumbs.  Fry in a saute pan until brown on one side, then flip and brown on the other.  Serve immediately.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Finally, A Hair Problem

Now that chemotherapy is stopped, at least for the time being, I have started to have some hair, and soon enough, I will be faced with the dilemma of what to do with it.  I had hair last summer, for reasons that escape me, because I was still on hair removing chemotherapy, but it came back.  Only for a few months, though, and not long enough for me to really have to make any decisions about what to do with it.  This is a very minor issue in the big picture, but it is one as new to be as having a fatal illness.  I really never do anything what so ever with my hair.  I just let it be in it's natural state and do not give it a second thought.  I suspect, after a lifetime of that, I will indeed return to that state, but in the meantime I am pretty sure I am going to have to look presentable and that is going to take some doing.  Or not.  I have always thought of my hair as super easy, but almost no hair is certainly easier still.  Time will tell.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Breakfast Sausage

We have often gotten a pig from someone local to us over the years that I have lived in Iowa, and this year was no different.  Oddly, we haven't done a lot of sausage but last weekend we had an unexpected brunch that we hosted (all the family home and it was Father's Day, so no room at the local eateries for those with a big party).
Here is the sausage that we made:
  • 2 pounds ground pork
Combine all the ingredients and chill for 1 hour. Use within 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months. For immediate use, saute patties over medium-low heat in a non-stick pan. Saute until brown and cooked through, approximatel

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer Solstice

I love the long days this time of year.  The longest day of the year!  While the day is, technically speaking, an astronomical occasion, its historical and cultural significance extends far beyond the relative length of the daylight. The word solstice itself comes from the Latin, from sol (sun) and stare or sistere (to stand or stop), and its celebration dates back to ancient pre-Christian tradition. For the Greeks, it would, according to some calendars, mark the start of the new year—and the month-long countdown toward the Olympics. It was, too, often the annual occasion for the festival of Kronia, to honor the god Cronus, the patron of agriculture. The day was marked not only by the typical feasts and games, but by an even more remarkable occurrence: for once, slaves could participate in the festivities along with the freemen, joined in equality for a single day.
For the Romans, the solstice was the occasion for another unique exception to everyday life: on the first day of the festival of Vestalia, married women could, for one day only, enter the temples of the vestal virgins. There, they would be allowed to make offerings to Vesta, the goddess of hearth and home.
Many Native American tribes celebrated the longest day of the year with a Sun Dance, while the Mayas and Aztecs used the day as a marker by which to build many of their central structures, so that the buildings would align perfectly with the shadows of the two solstices, summer and winter. In many European pagan traditions, the solstice was called Litha, a day to balance the elements of fire and water, while for the druids, it was, simply, midsummer, a night and day with properties like no other. According to tradition, certain plants—St. John’s wort, roses, rue, verbena, and the like—acquired properties on the year’s shortest night that they wouldn’t have if picked at any other time. And on this evening, if you were very lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of faeries, who favored midsummer to reveal themselves to the common folk.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

It's Time For Local

Last weekend I made a dish that used only things that we had either canned from our CSA last year or had gotten that week from them.  It was just a good feeling to know that what we were eating was supporting people who lived in our community.
One of the things that I love about our CSA is that they partner with other farmers in the area and offer a range of things that are grown in our neighborhood.  I like everything about that.  I like staying a bit away from factory farming.  I like the one stop shopping aspect of it.  For about half the year I really do not shop much because in addition to vegetables, we get eggs, fruit, chicken and pork through our CSA.  We could even get coffee this year!  Okay, that is roasted locally, not grown here, but there is something about buying food outside that is appealing.  We go to the Farmer's Market mostly because we love the atmosphere.  We do get some things that we don't get enough of from our CSA, like melons.  In any case, it is just nice this time of year.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

The short story is that if you are a fan of Tim Burton movies you will enjoy this movie.  It has all of the essential elements that he brings to the table, which for me is that a very creepy story is told with a certain combination of flair and humor so as to lessen the creepiness and augment the elegance in a way that is charming.  The costuming is up to his usual standards, which is outstanding, and the set design and sound are spectacular.  Miss Peregrine alone is just astounding to behold.  Her dresses match her demeanor and her physical presence to a tee.  The problem is that the story is long and convoluted and so if you cannot wait to get to the plot points upon which the story turns, you will definitely find this to be a slog of a movie.  I watch this sort of movie for the diversionary entertainment of it all, and so I was in no way disappointed, and I believe it can be that way for others.  

Sunday, June 18, 2017


Raising children is something that you really learn to do on the fly.  I had a much younger sibling growing up and I babysat a lot, so I definitely had a reasonable idea about the logistics of caring for a baby and young children.  What none of that prepared me for was the decision making aspect of parenthood.   And it turns out, that is the part that really matters.  My spouse and I have had some agonizing decisions to make over the last almost three decades of parenthood, and it is almost like we are starting from scratch each time.  So much of what we do as parents is largely without a play book, and it requires a partnership that is rock solid to manage to stay together, stay balanced, and hopefully do right by your family.  So I really appreciate everything about raising kids with my husband, and one day a year, give him a shout out.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Sixty Years of Marriage

Today marks my son's fifth wedding anniversary and we are celebrating my parents sixtieth.  My spouse and I have three decades under our belts.  It is something that we apparently do for quite some time in my family, and while I think that while in almost every way the celebration of a marriage is really up to the two people who participate in it, the ability to stay together as a couple over hard times and good ones is something that we as a society should indeed take note of and support.  For one thing, it makes family gatherings relatively uncomplicated.  Or at least less complicated.  There is always the tension between your family and mine, but on a number of occasions we have successfully brought both sides of the family together, and that works well.  The other is that humans need people they can count on, and long term relationships lend that kind of stability to us.  I happen to know quite well that when the going gets rough, quite a few people get going, and you are left with the few who matter.  Handling adversity is all part of the life we lead.  So raise a toast to those who manage to do it.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Rosewater (2014)

This movie, which is based on a book about a journalist who was detained in Iran after a contested election, is exactly the sort of story that Jon Stewart would have highlighted when he was the host of the Daily Show.  He took a leave from the Daily Show in order to write and direct the movie.
Maziar Bahari was a journalist and filmmaker who returned to his native Iran in 2009 in anticipation of upcoming elections.  The hard-line sitting president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is opposed by  his popular reformist challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi.  As Bahari sees, Mousavi has strong support among young, educated and urban Iranians, while Ahmadinejad, in addition to appealing more to the poor and unlettered, has bolstered his support with massive government hand-outs. Though Mousavi has been leading in the polls, there are ominous signs on several fronts, and he loses in a tainted election.
While he’s covering the election before being arrested, Bahari (played by Gael Garcia Bernal) gives an interview to one of Stewart’s colleagues in which he jokes about being a spy.  After violence erupts after the election, Bahari is arrested.   Later, in prison, he will try to explain to his brutal interrogator, a man he nicknames Rosewater for the cologne he wears, that this was all a joke and "The Daily Show" is satire, not news.
The concept of spy talk being offered up for laughs, though, is obviously one that Rosewater can’t grasp. And no wonder: it’s entirely outside the frame of reference of a pious torturer whose life is dedicated to the defense of Iran’s theocracy and its Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. In one sense, the two mindsets we see colliding in that interrogation room–one medieval, one modern–form the crux not only of “Rosewater”s drama, but also of Iran’s ongoing struggle over its identity and place in the world.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Martinez Gin Coctail

Here is another gin cocktail made with Hendrick's gin.  This is an excellent trend that we have been on, that is what I have to say about our post-England cocktails.
Bitter , Herbal
Skill Level:
2 Parts Hendrick's Gin
1 1/2 Parts Sweet Vermouth
1/5 Part Maraschino Liqueur
Dash Angostura Bitters
Dash Orange Bitters.
Combine all ingredients in cocktail shaker and shake hard over ice. Strain into martini glass and garnish with orange zest.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Sheridan Inn, Sheridan, Wyoming

Sheridan, Wyoming is the site of many a pitched battle between the US Army and the Sioux, the Crow, and the Cherokee around the time of the Civil War.  George Custer was famously killed just north of the city, and the old Fort McKenzie is now a VA hospital.
The Sheridan Inn, one of the great historic hotels in the United States, has been renovated and yet maintains it's nineteenth century charm.  As one of the original Sheridan,  hotels, constructed in 1892, the Sheridan Inn was conceptualized and developed by William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody. As part owner, “Buffalo Bill” directed hotel management, and even auditioned new members for his touring company show from the front porch.
Each of the twenty-two rooms have been revitalized to reflect on “Buffalo Bill” and twenty-one other key characters in his life.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Receiving Blanket Mania

There are some things that are very satisfying to do, and one of them is to turn out a highly useful product in a short period of time for a low cost.
Here is the story.  I have been in a number of quilt stores in different cities.  That is a really nice side effect of having gotten back to quilting about a quilt a month (on average) for the last year, leading to my sense that once again I am indeed a quilter.
A very real part of quilting is the community of people who share the obsession with fabric.  We have local shops and we support them, of course, but when we are out and about we check out what other shops have and there is always something designed by somebody local and there are favorite patterns that my own shop doesn't have, and there are fabrics that I can't resist and haven't seen at home.  So it is really just a side effect of all that that I went down the rabbit hole of making oodles of receiving blankets.  I saw them in two different places, asked about the pattern, got a mini-tutorial at the Quilter's Fix in Sheridan, Wyoming and came home to make enough to have a stand at the farmer's market should I choose to.  Feels pretty good!

Monday, June 12, 2017


I am living this life.  Or at least an approximation of it.  I am not going to have routine scans, but it is not because of the anxiety they might cause, but because they are not really indicated,.  However, my cancer does have tumor markers, so I am now getting those every three months.  For some reason, I did not really dread them when I was getting them every four weeks over the last year and a half.  Intellectually, I knew that about 25% of people with my kind of cancer do not respond to treatment, and then another percentage relapse early, and those two things are associated with a very poor outcome.  Somehow I more or less dodged that anxiety.  My tumor markers dropped into the normal range early in treatment and have stayed low since, and that is a very good thing, but as of March, I am no longer getting chemotherapy, so it is literally a waiting game.  I am patient with some things but not many, and tolerating the anxiety related to doing nothing is something that is a bit of a work in progress for me.  So wish me luck with that.  And with everything else as well.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Pouch Making

The really great thing about taking a class is that you can garner enthusiasm for something that you really never thought that you would want to make.  I have been on a class-a-month binge for about the last year plus, and it has been really quite good for both my project completion rate (which was ok in the past, but has really come pretty close to 100% for all started projects, and definitely 100% for completing at least one of the things that were learned in a class.  It has also stretched my sewing skills.  Admittedly, I started at about zero there because I have made only a handful of things over the past 40 years so it is not an exaggeration to say that I did not really know how to use the zipper foot or where to change the needle position on my sewing machine.  So making these pouches was really quite fun and also pretty fast.  They are functional as well as beautiful, and I hope to make some for holiday presents.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Harder they Fall

Oh my gosh.  I took a tumble this week that shook me up, both emotionally and physically.  And when I say tumble, I mean I fell hard, putting one of my front teeth right through my lip and if that hadn't been such a disaster I would have focused more on just how badly I injured my knee.  After much bleeding I was able to get my lip more or less under control but I did not feel any better.  I was pretty badly shaken up by just how quickly I went from jauntily approaching my car after a truly wonderful trip to Montana and Wyoming to being splattered out all over the pavement, dripping blood and being pretty sure that an ER visit was in my very near future.  Such is the shock that one is getting old.  That my reflexes are diminishing at a faster rate than I care to acknowledge and that I really do need to be pretty cautious when I am laden down with luggage.  It took the jaunt right out of my step.  So while an ENT surgeon and 12 stitches could make a vast improvement in my smile, my spirit is taking longer to mend.

Friday, June 9, 2017

About Time (2013)

This is a playful movie about time travel.  Tim is updated on his super power of being able to go back in time by his father, very charmingly played by Bill Nye, on his 21st birthday.  He uses the skill to essentially learn from his mistakes.  His efforts to woo a girl are subject to a number of do overs until he gets it right (which could come off as creepy but manages to be fairly charming), and avoiding embarrassing moments.  I can definitely see the appeal of this.  For example, I would definitely do my approach to my car, when I ended up flat on the ground, bleeding profusely, having put my front tooth straight through my lip.  In the do over, I see the place where my shoe got stuck and I go around it.  Problem solved.  So it goes with Tim, up until the time when he discovers that sometimes there is no good option, and how is he going to move forward.  The movie is both light and serious, deals with love, family, work, and meaning in life.  What's not to like about that?

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Two Crabs by Van Gogh

This painting is in the National Gallery in London, and should definitely not be missed if one is nearby it.  And the museum is free, so no excuses.
This was likely painted in 1889.  Van Gogh had spent the last months of 1888 living and working with fellow Post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin. He had hopes of founding a utopian artists’ collective, but his health and relationship with Gauguin quickly deteriorated. In December, he was taken to the Arles hospital after a self mutilation.  It is thought that Van Gogh painted Two Crabs right after his release from this hospital. He’d gone through a traumatic experience, but, as he explained in a letter to his brother Theo, he was ready to “get back into the habit of painting.”

It’s this transition period that Two Crabs captures so well. Its composition is made up of vibrant hatching brushstrokes called “taches.” The crabs’ crisp edges and van Gogh’s juxtaposition of complementary colors make it seem like the scene could move. The green, sea-like background undulates while the upper crab flails its legs. With the ground tipped almost vertically, the crabs look like they could tumble out of the painting at any second. Whether intentional or not, van Gogh was in effect illustrating his own tumultuous and uncertain situation at the time.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Baby Bloomers!

I am not much when it comes to sewing, and this is most certainly not false modesty.  I was forced by a college friend to figure out why I feel that so passionately.  I am really pretty much of a dilettante when it comes to crafts in general and I have made very few things that anyone would actually wear.  But I have made well over a 100 quilts of various difficulty and sizes, and while I am not fantastic at it, I am definitely good enough.  So what, I wondered, really was the difference, and then it dawned on me.  It is that quilts are meant to lie flat.  They are 2-dimensional by their very nature, whereas clothing is meant to function in three dimensions.  I know tricks to get stuff to lay flat, not to drape beautifully.  So when I was encouraged to try to make some baby bloomers for my upcoming grandchild, I was somewhat trepidatious.  But it turns out I totally over reacted.  These go together like a breeze (seriously, three pairs an hour is a very attainable pace) and they look adorable.  So if you are looking for baby gifts to make, this pattern is spectacular.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Dr. Strange (2016)

Ok, anything with Benedict Cumberbatch in it is at least worth considering watching.  I have watched all of the Marvel based movies (or at least I think that I have), but that is less out of fandom and more out of the fact that I have four sons and I want to stay somewhere within their movie watching sphere.  Even though we are more spread out than we have been for awhile, we still see each other with some frequency and we are in touch in other ways as well.  I found Dr. Strange, well, strange.  It was not your usual Marvel story (well, except for the brilliant gifted scientist who suddenly looses his mortal abilities and then acquires super hero ones to replace them).
Strange never grows much as a character but Cumberbatch appears to haveconsiderable fun with the role. I couldn't get past the fact that “Doctor Strange” is essentially the story of a white man who travels to an Asian land, whose culture and people he doesn’t quite get yet somehow he manages to realize he’s a natural at magic, with occasional flashes of humor.  Like when he points out that really, the downside of the spell should come at the beginning with a warning, rather than after you have tried it.  Bring on the special effects, world saved, come back for more later.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Blue Venice by Manet

There are, to be sure, many better photos of this painting, but it is the photo that I took, so I am featuring it.
James Tissot, a painter, and also a great collector, owned this painting first.  Tissot and Manet travelled to Venice together in the fall of 1874, and Tissot bought Manet’s Blue Venice on March 24, 1875 for 2,500 francs.  Manet badly needed the income.  Tissot hung the painting in his home in St. John’s Wood, London, and did his best to interest English dealers in Manet’s work.  Manet died on April 30, 1883; in 1884, while Tissot owned it, Blue Venice was included in a retrospective exhibition of Manet’s work, organized as a tribute, in Paris.  By August 25, 1891, Tissot sold the picture to contemporary art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel (1831 – 1922), and in 1895, Durand-Ruel sold it as Vue de Venise (View of Venice) to Mr. and Mrs. Henry O. Havemeyer, New York, for $12,000.  A prominent art collector, Mrs. Havemeyer (1855 – 1929) named the painting Blue Venice.  After the deaths of the Havemeyers, their youngest child, Electra Havemeyer Webb (1888-1960), owned Blue Venice from 1929 until her death.  She had founded The Shelburne Museum in Vermont in 1947, and Manet’s painting entered the collection there in 1960, where it remains today.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Black Sheep Bistro, Vergennes Vermont

Wow, we really had a great meal here, which is saying something because it is a relatively small place that was packed and we were a medium sized group and the combination can be hard to pull off.  We spent the extended Memorial Day weekend in the historic Basin Harbor resort, located at the bottom of Lake Champlain on the Vermont side, with gorgeous water views and the Adirondack Mountains.  The one drawback is that it is pretty far from some of my favorite places to eat in Vermont, and none of us were up for extended drives after dinner.  This gem of a restaurant is an easy drive from there and while the menu is not extensive, everything that I tasted on it was delicious and well prepared.  The restaurant also serves fresh made bread, flavorful butter, creamy mashed potatoes, and french fries with aioli in an unlimited quantity to the table.  So if you crave good carbs, or at least appreciate them, this is your place.  And the salads are good too.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Dr. Thorne (2016)

The combination of a Trollope story and Julian Fellows is just too much to pass up, and while it was no Downton Abby, it really is quite enjoyable, and streams on Amazon Prime.
Trollope is the master of creating complicated characters who reside within entirely believable dilemmas that are partly of society's doing (he was a Victorian, after all), and contributed to by their own shortcomings.  Fellows loves to bring such stories to life, and I can only hope that this is a revival of this sort of story coming to life in the mini-series format.
Doctor Thorne is a well respected physician in the community that he lives in, and he is raising his brother's daughter.  What we find out in short order is that she is born out of wedlock, has a peerage parent who has abandoned her and that her father was killed by her uncle.  That is a lot of scandal to survive under but the dear Dr. Thorne shields her from much of that growing up, and she is a perfectly lovely young woman by the time the story begins.  There is love, family, and above all the power of money, all wrapped up in a well costumed period setting. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Corpse Reviver (A Gin Cocktail)

I had some wonderful Hendrick's gin cocktails when I was in England.  The thing about associating your national heritage with a particular type of liquor is that you can really explore that as a visitor.   For example, when you order a gin and tonic, the question is not just what gin you want but which tonic.  There are many of them and you may have a favorite amongst them.  Here is our first attempt to recapture some of that fun.
Bitter , Herbal
Skill Level:
1 Part Hendrick's Gin
1 Part Cointreau
1 Part Lillet
1 Part Lemon Juice
Dash Absinthe
Combine all ingredients in cocktail shaker and shake briskly over cubed ice. Double strain into cocktail glass. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

This is a highly respected novel in what has come to be known as the Neapolitan Quartet.  Everyone I know who has read it loved it, and I was given the whole set of them while I was in the throws of pretty intense chemotherapy, and just was not able to get into it.  I thought at first that it was me, that my frame of mind was just not right,  It took me several starts to read this first book and as I reflect on it, I think that it is because it is just a very messy book.  The lives of the young women involved are very complicated and it is a variety of things that make that true.  The first is the oppressive patriarchal community that they grow up in.  It is almost suffocating to read about, and yet that is a reality for many girls around the globe, even in the first world, and truly in the third world.  The second is that it is very easy to be overwhelmed with the privilege that one has in growing up in the late 20th century.  The opportunities are not what they could be, but they are far superior to what they have historically been.  Then there is the struggle to find one's voice and purpose.  I finished this book while on an idyllic walk through the Cotswolds and have been thinking about it ever since.  It is that kind of book.