Category Archives: NaBloPoMo

back from the dead

Hi. It’s been a while. Almost 6 months without a post. But after 8 straight years of blogging daily for the month of November, to let today pass without a post would have seemed like I was pronouncing this blog officially dead and buried. I never meant to kill it off, though. I guess I’ve been pretty wrapped up in things¹ for the past few months. Anyhow, I’m back. Or at least attempting to be back.

¹ For the record, I never² go into a blog post with the intention of making puns. It’s as if they make themselves sometimes.
² Or if not exactly “never,” at least not always.

I actually miss posting every day.

30 posts had November. NaBloPoMo came and went this year, and I hardly whined about posting at all. Well, there was that brief bit in the middle. And maybe I’m forgetting some whining. Mostly, though, it felt like the posts flowed.

I posted a lot of photos, both old and new, thanks in part to participating in friday foto finder. (I do love me a theme.) I got on a roll with the tomatoes, and had quicker flings with baskets and doors. (I do love me a theme.) Fall offered up a host of pretty leaves to share, and even some snow. I celebrated the 6th birthday of my blog with pants, which are always a comfy fit. I had some things to say relating to the US election, and to the Sandy recovery efforts.

I didn’t even come close to running out of things to say. I even had 2 nearly complete Themed Things Thursday posts that weren’t quite finished enough on the Thursdays for which I’d intended them, and they join the 43 other unfinished ThThTh posts that I’ve poked at now and again. (Those things take a long time to get together, what with the links and the images and the formatting and the commentary. I can whip off a list of things in a few minutes, but without the fleshing out, they aren’t as satisfying to me. But I do love me a theme)

And there are still a number of posts that have been brewing in my head for months, years even, that I’d expected to get around to. Hopefully I still will. (Plus there are all those various promissory notes I’ve left around the internets: things I said I’d post, or write more about, etc. Anyone want to call me on any of those? I respond well to external stimuli…)

This is all to say that I enjoyed the daily blogging, so I was glad I did NaBloPoMo. On the flip side, I had trouble keeping up with the blog reading, even with my much-diminished blogroll, but I’m still planning to catch up.

These are butterflies that Theo and I made one morning when Phoebe was at karate. Theo made his first, and then instructed me to make a bigger mommy butterfly using the same colors and patterns. I didn’t have any particular reason for choosing this photo for this post. Or maybe there were several vague reasons. I’m feeling rather wistful this evening, as today would have been my father’s 91st birthday. Butterflies, for me, symbolize both the ephemerality and continuity of life, especially these, given that they represent 2 generations. And Theo himself is part of that continuity. Also, we’ve had a plethora of lepidoptera, in the form of a weirdly unseasonal profusion of moths around our neighborhood. The laptop symbolizes my laptop, which is now atop my lap. It is also the means by which I post things.

But this method doesn’t work with a tomato.

It was my second year of college, in ’90 or ’91, and I sat at a desk in a classroom with maybe a dozen other students of second-year Japanese. The first year, the class had been much bigger, with a good 30 or 40 students. But the workload was heavy, and the grading tough. The enrollment had been whittled down.

The teaching methods were pretty old-school, with textbooks that were probably from the 50s. We did a lot of in-class drills.

That particular day, we were learning the expression “to use something as something else.” (“X to shite Y o tsukaimasu.”) The instructor gave us some examples. He picked up two pencils, and held them as if they were chopsticks. Hashi to shite empitsu o tsukaimasu, he intoned in his booming fluent-but-American-accented Japanese. “I use pencils as chopsticks.” Then he asked for more examples from the class using the construction.

“Use a rope as a belt,” someone might have said. “I use a book as a tray,” someone else might have offered.

I really can’t remember what examples my classmates came up with. Because as I sat there, I needed all of my concentration to contain the urge to giggle. The one sentence that popped into my head was: Nihon de wa, naihu to shite te o tsukaimasu.¹

In Japan, the hand is used like a knife.²

I’m sad to say that I was not called upon to share my example. I was relieved at the time, as I had not yet released my inner goofball. Also, it’s hard to say how the very serious instructor would have taken my contribution. Especially had it been accompanied by uncontrollable fits of giggling.

¹ Google translate helped me arrive at this:
日本 で は ナイフ として手を使います. There was once a time when I could have written this sentence without looking it up, but that day has long passed. Also, I only wrote Japanese by hand. I would have had no idea how to type any of it!
² The actual wording from the 1978 Ginsu commercial is: “In Japan, the hand can be used like a knife.”


Tonight finds me cranky. There are a number of things contributing to my crankiness. A pinch of irritating interactions that struck a nerve, a dollop of research frustrations, and some generous quantities of life things have combined to make a recipe for a simmering stew of crankiness. I am the crockpot of crankiness.¹ I’ve spent much of the last few hours trying not to boil over.

We came home last night from my in-laws’, aiming to beat the Sunday end-of-holiday-weekend traffic. (We also had some projects we needed to take care of, including something Phoebe had to do for school for Monday). That all went well, but I was up too late, my sleep was further peppered by a nagging cough I’ve had for over a week.

Today, I spent a ridiculous number of hours trying to tame the gigantic pile of art supplies, craft kits, and kids’ art projects in various stages of completion that has taken over the breakfast nook² portion of our kitchen. This is not the first time I have spent hours trying to tackle this mess, a fact which is also seasoning today’s stew of crankiness. I actually took a break from this task to do some work. And now I have to get back to it. I will tame the beast, or go down trying.³

Here are some other odds and ends that surfaced on our visit to my in-laws’. Phoebe and I had a little sewing project, and we needed to dig out a needle. This image has nothing to do with anything that I just wrote about, but I was amused that this sewing tray contained both a tomato (in the form of a tomato-shaped pin cushion) and a basket, thus handily tying together two of my recent themes. (cf. basket, basket, tomato, tomato, tomato)

¹ The crankpot?
² Really, I don’t know what to call this area. It’s the part of the kitchen where we have our table, and where we eat meals, including, but not restricted to, breakfast.
³ Should I toss the beast into the stew?⁴
⁴ Wow, this is totally not the post I thought I was starting to write. In fact, I changed the title. And then even deleted my original first paragraph. I was going to write about various things I’ve said I’d do but haven’t yet done. Which is often a source of crankiness in itself. But I won’t go there tonight. Hopefully I will have simmered down by morning.⁵
⁵ Happily, few things cheer me up more than getting carried away with a metaphor.

fruit salad with raspberries and doldrums

Some friends invited us over for a pre-Thanksgiving pot-luck feast this evening. (Well, the feast was this evening. They invited us a week ago. Really, it would be a poor plan to invite people over for a spur-of-the-moment pot-luck. You’d probably end up with a lot of crackers and cereal. Probably many fewer casseroles. Which could actually be a good thing, depending on how you feel about casseroles.)

Anyhow, since we didn’t have to go scavenging through our cupboards, and were able to plan ahead, we went with several dishes. (Dishes containing food, even.) One of these dishes was a fruit salad prepared by Phoebe. She had the idea to make one, and even mentioned this before our trip to the grocery store. She worked really hard on it, spending close to 2 hours on it. She included raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, apple, pear, clementines, grapes, banana and mango. She did almost all of the cutting herself (I helped halve and core the apple and pear, as well as pitting and peeling the mango, since they were trickier.) I was very proud of her for seeing this task through from idea to finish. And I was proud of myself for minimizing my micromanagement. I let her decide which fruits to use, and let her decide how to cut things. Mostly this hands-off approach of mine was because my own hands were busy cooking the other dishes. (Or the other food things that we put in the dishes.)

The results of all of this included a salad that was both beautiful and tasty, and a Phoebe with a sense of accomplishment.

Phoebe’s phenomenal phruit salad.

As for the doldrums, they are all mine. I was on quite a roll with the daily posting, but I seem to have fallen off my roll. Probably because I spent many hours today cooking and socializing, and now I’m tired. It got to be after 11, and I found that all my post ideas of the previous days seem to have evaporated. (Well, some haven’t evaporated, but I need more time to write them than is available before midnight.) So I went for the low-hanging fruit salad.

Stick a fork in me, I’m done.

You were probably expecting this to be a potato. I’m out of potatoes. But the reflection of the forks on the spoon caught my attention this morning as I was about to have breakfast.

Okay, looks like this makes my 30th post for November. SaYoNaRa, NaBloPoMo.

Oddly enough, I didn’t have much trouble with the daily posting this month. And it’s been a crazy month, what with the trip to California, trip to New York for Thanksgiving, and working up a study to submit to submit a paper to a conference. That deadline is today, by the way. Remarkably, the paper is almost done. And then I’ve got to barrel forward with the next phase of the study.

Thanks for all the supportive comments on my last post. You may not be surprised to learn that Phoebe was totally fine when I picked her up after school. And when I later tried to get her to explain to me what it was she was getting at in the morning, she just said “I just didn’t get a very good night’s sleep.” So I may never know what she meant with the gesturing or miming or what have you. The miming meaning remains a mystery.

The Spud Who Loved Me

James Bond: Do you expect me to chop?
Auric Goldfingerlings: No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to dice. And then panfry with some onions.

The Bond Franchise meets the fast food franchise in these lesser-known action movies. Hold on to your seats and grab your ketchup.

  • Licence to Peel
  • From Russia with Latkes
  • Octopierogi
  • Quantum of Solanaceae
  • On Her Masher’s Secret Service
  • Dumplings Are Forever
  • The Living Homefries
  • Dr. Gnocchi
  • Live and Let Fry
  • Thunderbulbes
  • The Hashbrowns Are Not Enough
  • A View Tuber Kill
  • The Man with the Golden Spud Gun
  • Moontater
  • Goldfingerlings
  • You Only Bake Twice
  • Tuber Never Dies
  • Kartoffel Royale
  • Yukon Goldeneye
  • The Spud Who Loved Me
  • Fry Another Tater
  • For Your Eyes Only

No time to include synopses this time, as I’m beat and need to get my synapses some rest. Please feel free to contribute any plot summaries in the comments.