Gum Wrappers & Silver Linings

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There are banks of giant Maxfield Parrish clouds blowing up just now, while we have a pause in the rain. Like most Californians, we are doubly grateful for the precipitation which clear away the last of the smoke. The fires were ghastly and not just for those who lost loved ones and property. For those of us breathing the smoke hours away, it produced some of the same anxious restlessness as the oppressive heat wave; trapped indoors, we checked the news upon waking each morning, hoping for some change, and for news from dear friends in the North Bay. (Everyone is well – even those for whom the fire damage stopped seventy-five feet away from their front door, which is miraculous when so many lost so much.)

To make an anxious situation more fraught, T was diagnosed that week with multiple overlapping autoimmune disorders. What was thought to be a wildly early onset of osteoarthritis turned out to be something we’d never even heard of – too many consonants, most of them with the same -myositis suffixes. The symptoms list was long and horrible. For a while, the smoke in the sky seemed to match the smoke in our minds, as we struggled to see past the moment. But, smoke clears, as it always does.

The premise of the fairly stupid but beautifully named Silver Linings Playbook (it was a novel, and then a film, and apologies if it’s your adored favorite) was that a man who had come away from a stint in a mental institution was going to focus himself on the positives in the world, in order to avoid a relapse. Adjacent to the secondary and tertiary plotline nonsense, this seems like a reasonable goal – to accentuate the positive. It actually becomes easier when one does this on purpose. T remembers working as program co-director for a Youth Director at summer camp, and always having on hand during campfire programs wads of the horrible Bazooka Joe bubble gum, so she could handily unwrap a piece and insert the cement-hard, sugary sweetness between his teeth, to remind him inaudibly to keep his jaws clenched if he couldn’t say anything nice. The bad jokes and cartoons in the wrappers are still a favorite of hers to this day.

Deliberate, mindful silver-lining seeking.

The stairs in this new house are a bit steep, with risers a crucial three-quarters-inch higher than the US standard 7 inches vertical. Both T and D remarked on how dire that extra lift could be, when one is tired or in a hurry, but both quickly became accustomed to the extra lift, and even fond of the clatter of uncarpeted stairs. While racing isn’t possible every day, it is now an automatic mindfulness to be thankful on the trips when it doesn’t hurt.

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Sometimes it takes a lot to remember to be grateful for everything.

While there is nothing to cure autoimmune disorders, there is management. Several of the drugs under consideration are immune suppressants – possibly some of the same ones T’s sister is on after her kidney transplant at eighteen. Some of the drugs have mind-boggling side effects, and we are struck with extra compassion for our little sister, who is making the best of a bad lot of medications. We have more options than she does – including the option to delay medication altogether until there’s proof of irreparable harm – and so see our increased empathy as a silver lining, too. The girl is a trooper.

And finally, probably the funniest silver lining is that with these various autoimmune diseases, the body produces copious amounts of …collagen, that building-block protein of connective tissue which is prominent in skin and bones. It’s also what gives us hair and nails… and right now, T, whose horrible nails have always split and peeled, and which she has kept short her entire life – right now, she has the longest, hardest nails she’s ever had. Mind you, she can’t pick things up reliably – she’s as graceful with them as an 8th grader wearing ’80’s era Lee Press-On nails, but she’s delighting in buying ridiculous nail polish and tarting herself up each week like a dance hall floozy. Polka dots! Stripes! Questionable color combinations! She’s looking forward to amazing hair next – of course, Prednisone, one of the drug options, also makes it fall out… but we’ll enjoy it while we can.

Silver linings, friends. Silver linings edging the clouds in these dark days. Diwali, the South Asian festival of lights, was timely this week. May we all remember light triumphs over darkness, every time.

Happy Weekend!

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Most of us studied, if only briefly, the poetry of Emily Dickinson of Amherst, Massachusetts. Born 1830, we know she wrote poetry in the imported-from-England-and-Isaac-Watts hymn meter; we know that any of her poems can be sung to the tune of The Yellow Rose of Texas or the theme to Gilligan’s Island, because hymn meter is a constant, rhythmic form. We know Emily Dickinson was sent to Mt. Holyoke Seminary, a very respectable, very religious ladies college. We know that Mt. Holyoke was all the organized education she ever received.

What we aren’t told in school is that, despite the Dickinson’s Puritan background and Emily’s lifelong habit of writing poetry that was spiritual in nature, her time at Mt. Holyoke didn’t “take.” She was categorized as a “no-hoper” at the school. At Mt. Holyoke, during the Second Great Awakening religious revival in American history, when Emily attended, the women were counseled,then categorized. They were divided up into three categories: those who were “established Christians,” those who “expressed hope,” of becoming so, and those who were “without hope.” They were met with continually for counsel, and Emily could find no objection — nor any interest, either, in joining a church. Emily Dickinson worried about this a great deal, but finished her first year in the “without hope” category, and never went back to school.

Our society is never very kind to those whose decisions take them out of step with the majority. Emily Dickinson chose not to marry, so she was isolated. She could not believe as others did, so chose not to join a church, limiting the already narrow circle of 19th century women’s interactions within her community to her parent’s home, where she helped her father after her mother’s nervous breakdown. And yet, she wrote:

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church – (236)

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church –
I keep it, staying at Home –
With a Bobolink for a Chorister –
And an Orchard, for a Dome –

Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice –
I, just wear my Wings –
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
Our little Sexton – sings.

God preaches, a noted Clergyman –
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to Heaven, at last –
I’m going, all along.

There is a sort of ease to her words, even as she sat out Sunday mornings, alone in the woods, while miles away, her brothers, sister, and father sat in the family pew, seeing and being seen. She’s not in step with the world, but she’s finding what she needs where she is. Being raised in faith, and attending church frequently, and having our community be largely church-y, possibly as church-y as the Dickinson’s lives in the 19th century, I can imagine that taking a step… away from all of that made Emily a different, different person. And yet, she was no rogue godless rebel, but a person who found her spirit fed by other means.

Our poetry group played with hymn meter this past week, and I won’t bore everyone with iambic tetrameter discussions (if you’re actually interested, they’re on the project post), but just for fun, I’m sharing a tribute to Emily’s 236:

Keeping Emily’s Sabbath

cathedral light abounds
through old growth canopy
as crows produce a raucous sound, as fog’s damp surges all around
and we breathe Autumn’s ease, in redwood panoply.

(no sermon, no sexton. birdsong, from every direction
the quail’s quiet sageness is truth for the ages, and never is service too long)

leaf-fall means death. Rejoice
in every dying tree
for Autumn leads to Winter’s choice. Then, ending, Winter gives Spring voice
and brings the honeybee, renewal’s guarantee.

(no chalice, no cantor: listen to the blue jay’s banter
the woodpecker’s rapping, its beats overlapping, and never is service too long)

scythe down, like Autumn’s weeds
what binds you to the pew
no dome nor chorister a need, that “all are loved,” be that the creed
which Sabbath-hearts pursue; may Light be found in you.

No vestments, no hymn book. Take to the woods. Change your outlook.
Your body will thank you – the dogma will keep – and the sermon won’t put you to sleep.

Bonus fact: you can sing this to the tune of one of Isaac Watts’ (I shan’t tell you which – guess) hymns, too. Because it’s a modified short meter, however, with an added refrain, it doesn’t work with The Yellow Rose of Texas OR that other earworm song which shall not be mentioned.
This, I count a victory.

May you find yourself, if not in the woods, by an estuary, near a reservoir, around a stand of willows — somewhere that there’s no internet connection, you can turn off the news, and try to recenter. There is good in the world, kind hearts and truth… but you won’t find it via newscasters and talking heads on TV. Get out.

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Muir Woods, unidentified pink wildflower

All Over The Place

Things have been a bit quiet, here at Hobbits. T. has been writing, D. has been continuing his various wee contracts … and also looking for something a bit more than just wee contracts. After much casting about, many false starts (we’re looking at you, Washington State), and lots of places that just weren’t right for whatever reason, D. has taken a position with Revance Therapeutics as “Senior Technical Lead, Enterprise Applications” to start the end of this month.

Which means, The Hobbits are leaving Hobbiton and moving to … well, somewhere not that far outside of The Shire, and not anyplace truly distant, but it’s far enough that we thought Rivendell would be an appropriate name for it. IRL, we’re moving to Newark (no – not New jersey – there’s one right near Silicon Valley). D. will have a 2-minute commute, unless he decides to walk, in which case he might have a 15-minute walk to work – we’ll see whether there’s proper pedestrian access along the way, or if he’ll need to cycle instead.

So, next week, the movers come, and we’re off on another sort-of-adventure!


While things have been quiet here, though, they haven’t been idle

Fresh Turmeric

We ran across some fresh turmeric in the grocery store and thought, “hey, we made a South-Asian kind of Sauerkraut once – let’s use this for it!” So, we duly shredded all the things (cabbage, carrots, turmeric) and added all the spices and salt, packed it into the fermentation crock, and waited a few weeks. Then we found out we were moving, so decided to pull it out to taste, and maybe to give away … and, wow, fresh turmeric Takes Over ALL the things. We ended up throwing the whole batch out, it’s so incredibly not-tasty. All we can conclude is that we used about 10 times too much fresh turmeric, and that you don’t really get a feeling for how it penetrates just by tasting it fresh and raw – turmeric was all we could taste, other than maybe a hint of pickle and some salt. Boo.

Spice Mix 2

We also made up a nice wee spice blend, using spices from our local bulk herb company plus some orange peels we’d harvested and dried (peel your orange with a vegetable peeler before peeling it to eat & let the peels dry somewhere). Truly yummy spice blend, though we’ll add a bit more black pepper next time, so our spiced tea (aka chai) is a bit spicier. It’s a great all-purpose blend that we end up mixing into banana bread or zucchini bread – very yummy, and handy to have.

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In the past few weeks we had company, so of course broke out the touristy trips. Among other places, we dropped by the Cornerstone Garden Center on our way to visit Sonoma itself – it’s often overlooked (we overlooked it for years) but it’s definitely worth visiting along the way, if only for a wee break. Try it in early spring when everything is gray – even then, beauty. Some imaginative sculpture, a few restaurants, ponds, and of course places to sell you expensive things that you don’t need and would hate yourself for buying (we saw a distressed lawn chair for $450 – not kidding, and that wasn’t a typo, that was four hundred and fifty United States Dollars for a broken-down-looking wooden chair). Aside from the things to trick tourists out of their money, it’s a great place to spend a half hour or so.

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We also made a pilgrimage out to Santa Rosa, to the Charles M. Schulz Museum (a.k.a. the Snoopy Museum). It’s on the smaller size, for museums, but also has a bunch of comics for those who are fans of Snoopy. Definitely worth spending an hour or so, seeing some of the history behind the comics and behind Schulz himself. He was a local resident, there in Santa Rosa, and there’s a fair bit about his life as part of the community. The Empire Ice Arena is across the way with its own mini-museum (Schultz was an avid ice hockey player, and played there for years), and a fab way to pass a sticky summer afternoon is pretending you can figure skate.

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Finally, we visited Vallejo’s Petaluma Adobe. For those who don’t know, Vallejo was an early governor of California, when California was still part of Mexico. We’d driven past Petaluma Adobe literally hundreds of times – every time we came from Santa Rosa to the East Bay area, we drove past it. We’d never stopped in, though, and since we were in the area and had read it was a primo state park and once the home of General Vallejo, we figured we should check it out.

The Adobe itself is basically a mud-brick building in the shape of a squared C, with the only doors being on the inside of the C. The entire structure, on the ground floor, is an extended series of workshops, with looms, a saddlery, food storage and preparation, etc. The structure, on the second floor, is a series of living and sleeping quarters. This is basically an outpost, where people would come for a particular purpose (cattle slaughter, meat and hide preparation) for part of the year only. This is the early-California version of a meat-packing plant / factory except that it operated for months at a time and nobody could leave. What must it have smelled like? The park ranger said that the packed dirt floors were described as being “spotless,” so there were a lot of hands making the place work.

Petaluma Adobe is a California State Park and is in need of visitors. If any of you out there are teachers, they also do an overnight environmental living program for fourth-graders.

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And now, we must be off to take care of the irritating things like electronics recycling, which have been put off for too long.

-D & T

Well, that was briefly interesting.

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Life is nothing if not full of surprises. A week ago we’d thought we were going to Washington. Now, though … nope, we’re staying put for the time being. In the interest of not burning any bridges, we’ll just say it was a misunderstanding of monumental proportion. Suffice it to say, though, that we very narrowly escaped moving two states away, only to end up frustratated and angry. Let this be today’s lesson: always read the fine print. Carefully.

We were bummed on the weekend, and we’re still certainly a bit confused, as we’re sure you all are as well. On the positive side, we helped out a few college students furnish their first apartment via Freecycle, and cleaned out and sorted many of our possessions, so we’re well on our way to only hanging on to the things we honestly use or care about. Nothing is really lost, except a bit of time, and we had some to spare.

Maybe we’ll take a wee holiday, somewhere warm and sunny dreich and rainy (Scotland, we’re looking at you, with maybe a diversion to Reykjavik along the way), because once work begins again – officially – wherever that will be, holidays will be a bit scarce at first.


In the meantime, having made our way through the last of the fantastic fermented salsa we made in early February (!), we’re off to the Mexican market to see if we can find some more manzano peppers, and to begin the cycle of fermentation again. Next time we think we’re moving, we won’t be letting the batches run this low – or giving any away until we’re absolutely, positively, entirely sure.

Fermented Salsa 2.1

Lesson – this and so many others – learned.

Yes – we did make all that salsa back in early February, and it’s all gone as of maybe 2 weeks ago. We shared a pint of the finishing sauce with friends, but we managed to make it through basically two quarts of salsa in about 6 weeks. And it wasn’t hot enough! Back to the market…

-D & T

Santa Barbara … Nope.

Well, that was one of the stranger interview experiences I’ve ever had! Long story short: I’ll not be taking that job in Santa Barbara!

So, I went down to Santa Barbara to interview with this company after having had a few phone interviews, including a technical interview. Before going down it had seemed like things were really going well, like we were a great fit (albeit with a few things I’d have to get used to). I get to the interview at 11:00, we chit chat, go out to lunch, and then settle in for interviews. At this point, I’m expecting to meet people, talk with people – basically, to see what things are like and have them sell me on what a great company they are and how much of a nice place it is. Hahahaha, Nope!

Instead of selling me on them, they proceed to ask me tricky programming questions. Which, OK, fine, yes, people do this. They usually do it earlier in the process, but whatever, I can roll with it. The questions are usually idiotic, so that’s not unusual, even though I thought we were past this point, but hey, not getting hung up on that. Did I expect each of the three different interviewers to demonstrate odd personality traits that I would find distasteful to work with? No, certainly not. Did I expect to be pushed to answer when I had stated that I did not know the answer? Nope. Did I expect someone to mimic my body language? Like, I was fiddling with an earring while thinking about a coding question and the guy goes and tugs on his earlobe? Oh, no, I did not expect this. Nor did I expect them to be rude to other employees (a lady asked to change the thermostat in the conference room, since it was freezing in their space outside the conference room, to which the interviewer responded that he didn’t care).

After this strange day, wherein I sell myself to them and straight up do not respond to complete rudeness, I go back to the hotel basically exhausted and play some mindless games on the phone (frozen bubble is fabulous for not having to think, by the way). As I’m playing, I’m thinking over all the little things, and I’m adding them all up, and I’m reaching the conclusion that these are not nice people, and this is not going to be a nice place to work.

So, we drive home, and I talk it all out with T, and I write the recruiter a politely worded response to say that I don’t think it’s going to be a good fit.

And then I get a call from the hiring manager, wanting to talk it over.

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The hiring manager tells me that these behaviors were intentional. They had intentionally done these things to see how I would react.

Let that sink in for a minute.

A potential employer essentially conducted psychological experimentation with a candidate. Over the course of 6 hours, and by 3 different people, they attempted to see whether I would react negatively to their behavior.

Here’s a little secret, people trying to hire: if you act like someone with whom the candidate would not want to work, that candidate is going to decide that they do not want to work with you. If you later try to tell them it was all a test? Well, that says that you felt entitled to know how the candidate would respond to stressful situations … which says that you intend to subject them to those types of situations, else why subject them to the test? If you do not intend to treat them poorly, why would you need to know how they will react to being treated poorly?

I don’t think there can be any ethical justification of such a test.

In talking with the hiring manager I told him that maybe, if he’d told me what they’d been doing before I left the interview, I might have reached a different decision. Thinking it through, though, I do not think so; I think that even knowing it was a test I would be offended because, again, If you do not intend to treat me that way, Why do you need to know how I will react?

I think I find this especially frustrating because I feel like it was a lie: that I wasted my time going down there because they were not being honest about the purpose of the meeting. Whatever they learned, I hope that they learned that some people react to macho BS by being polite and then removing themselves from the situation as quickly as possible.


I have a few more interviews lined up for the coming weeks, one of which I think looks like it could be quite interesting, the other of which is more “let’s talk more and see what kind of a company you really are.” We’ll see.

-D

truth

And if sun comes

How shall we greet him?

Shall we not dread him,

Shall we not fear him

After so lengthy a

Session with shade?

Though we have wept for him,

Though we have prayed

All through the night-years—

What if we wake one shimmering morning to

Hear the fierce hammering

Of his firm knuckles

Hard on the door?

Shall we not shudder?—

Shall we not flee

Into the shelter, the dear thick shelter

Of the familiar

Propitious haze?

Sweet is it, sweet is it

To sleep in the coolness

Of snug unawareness.

The dark hangs heavily

Over the eyes.

      – gwendolyn brooks

Hearth & Home

As Thanksgiving approaches, that “homey”est of all American holidays, with its Norman Rockwell-esque focus on food and cozy family scenes, it’s impossible not to think of “home.” We’ve spoken quite a bit about home as a concept – and that home has become something that’s not fixed in a particular place, for us. This goes against what people expect, with having a place to call “home.” You expect that, even if you move from one house to another, there will be some one place – where your family lives, perhaps, or where you regularly attend church, where you have the largest collection of “stuff” – that is “home” to you. For us, this stopped being the case, probably after three years of living in Glasgow, and while we’re happy to be back with friends and family members, we’ve struggled with the transition, and have been mentally homeless ever since.

Glasgow West End 17

Our recent trip to Glasgow put us in the basic area that was home almost a year and a half ago. Going back to visit was … oddly like and unlike coming home. We spent time and had meals with as many of our friends as were in the city, and knew where we were going when we were wandering about. While we warmly reminisced, enjoyed the odd pockets of free time and all the city had to offer, we realized early on that Glasgow isn’t quite “home” any more – it is merely a place where many friends happen to live, and which we know well in our memories. We missed seeing a few dear friends, because their work took them to Belfast or London — which, for too many of our friends, is the reality; a life split in between their homes, and their jobs. Had we stayed in the UK, this likely would have been the way things were for us, in order to keep afloat financially. Missing these friends confirmed again for us that we were right in not trying to make Glasgow “home.” Having no flat there anymore, and no job, it now is merely a beloved piece of our history… But, now what?

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After Glasgow, we stayed for a few days in Iceland during this trip, which has never been home to us, though we’ve spent good days there. D. had a tenuous possibility of a job there, though, so this time we considered the place from the point of view of homesteaders — to decide if we’d be able to dig in and make Iceland our home. We truly love it there, severe, volcano-blasted countryside, treeless tundra and all – but looking through the eyes of those who would be learning a new language and getting along without much of a vegetarian community, we’ve concluded that it’s more of a place to visit than to stay. Being flexible and resourceful, we could settle in, and would probably find ourselves making it home eventually, but we’re not content to settle… and so the mental flailing about continues.

So much of the concept of home is wrapped up in people, and activities, more than simply the place those happen to take place. Attending the chapel concerts, singing with the shape note group, drifting through parks and museums and having coffee with choir members reminded us again that for someplace to be a home, we need to be part of a vibrant artistic community – to engage in making beauty in a variety of ways, especially with our hands and with our voices as part of a group. Just with that small piece of the puzzle in hand, we know what’s missing from our lives in California — and we know what we’ll be looking for as we turn our thoughts toward home in the future.

In the meantime, we’ve confirmed that where we are right now is the best choice for us in the present, where we can save comfortably and pay down those school bills, and plan ahead for what’s next. It’s hard not to leap up and head for the next adventure, but with the idea that adventure is what where we find it, we’re keeping our eyes open.


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Meanwhile, holiday baking has started up its long cold engines. We began with the easy stuff — nuts. We’ve rhapsodized before about the loveliness of having Dixon nearby with all of its almonds, but now we have a friend with a beau who has his own walnut orchard – score! This past weekend, we picked a leisurely nine pounds of walnuts and brought them home to freeze in preparation for nut brittle.

We’ve gleefully embraced the opportunity to commemorate the Hanukkah holiday with Thanksgiving, the holiday combo that apparently comes around only once every 77,000 years, and we’re looking forward to our sweet potato and carrot latkes our cranberry apple sauce, and reprising some favorites like mac and cheese kugel and sweet potato custard. T’s mum is attempting challah – vegan challah, which will be interesting, since the base recipe is like brioche, which is an egg bread. The cardamom apple almond cake will be a snap, though, since it’s just a matter of adding a new spiece. Our pumpkin pies may have caraway and rye in the crust! We’re going to also attempt a cardamom coconut milk pudding, but that’s still in the works… Lots of experimental food going on, which is what it’s all about.

For those who celebrate, Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah. May gathering with your family ground you in what really matters, and may you have a taste of home this week.

( Recipes (if anything turns out) to follow!)

-D & T

Sweet Potato Custard 1

One Year Past, Chaos

delayed

Sometimes, looking back upon the past 14 months, we feel as if our lives have been delayed or misrouted somehow. We’ve moved from our Scottish flat with views of sheep, to temporary housing in a quaint little village, and then back to the United States. We stayed with friends near San Francisco for a few months, briefly considered moving to Puerto Rico, looked for houses in Palm Springs, and moved back up to the Bay Area. We’ve been in the same house since September of last year, but D. has changed jobs from working for a Scottish company, to working for a Bay Area Biotech company, to working for a finance company, and now is going back to another biotech company … for which he worked way back in 1997-99. Fortunately, he’s able to commute there fairly easily, and it’s a much better position for him overall. But oy!, the chaos! The quick-shifts. The ridiculous bouts of homesickness for a place and time that truly no longer exists. It’s a strange thing, to go from the life of a student to Real Life again.

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In order to fit into the financial world, D. had to tone down his wardrobe to something resembling business formal, or at least not business casual. Shopping has never been his favorite, of course, so he dragged his feet until he’d gotten heartily sick of wearing the same few pairs of trousers … and now he’s headed back to the land of t-shirts and shorts. And heat, of course – Vacaville is brassy blue and bright hot, long into summer and early autumn.

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On the plus side, D no longer has to worry about “looking right,” and he won’t have to worry about finding a “designated expressive activity area” away from the sensitive souls in the Finance industry.

We’re finding that it’s oddly constraining, having only work and no University to discuss, here – particularly when this site is out in the public, and visible to whomever. Can we talk about D’s work? Probably not. T’s never one to talk about what she’s doing, as her life is always in revision – and with our choral duties at end, and our foodie-ness devolving into mere fuel-efficiency cooking and eating (and losing quite a few pounds, incidentally. Yay! Can’t complain about that), we’re finding that we’re quieter online these days. But, that will change – as soon as we get settled again…

We’ll likely be relocating up to Vacaville in the next few months, giving us yet another upheaval in our lives, but it’s nice, going back to a truly good company – D’s remained in contact and has gone back to this company for a few short-term contracts over the years. He’s determined to stay with them for longer this time – they’re part of pharmaceutical giant Roche, now, so there’s the possibility of quite a bit of work internationally.

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For now, though, he’s enjoying the counter-commute, and the smooth drive into work, with no stop-and-go traffic.

-D & T

Camping Out in Our Heads

Good Eats 3.1

For D’s birthday this year, one of his sisters-in-law gave him a cookbook from his favorite chef, Alton Brown. Because he was taught about books by the librarians at his junior-high school, the first thing he did was to open the book in the middle and spread it wide, to crack the spine (this is necessary so that the book won’t be lopsided, and should be followed by dividing each half and spreading the book wide again, and then each quarter, etc., until the book is fully “open”).

Upon opening the book, he was confronted with … The Parsnip.

It’s an amusing memory that early in our sojourn to Scotland, we were confronted with these things, and tried to eat them like carrots.

In a word, “NO.”

Steamed and buttered? To T., they tasted like licorice with salt, and as she is not a fan of licorice, she was really not a fan of this. D. found that they removed the enamel from his teeth, but otherwise thought they were reasonable. Mind you, at that time, we had a farm box from the local organic people, and we had what seemed to be a metric ton of the things. We had no idea what to do with them, and ended up turning them into cookies (“biscuits”), because, is there anything you can’t make into a good cookie? (Answer: no. Stay tuned for the lentil cookies we’re going to be making. No, seriously. It’s an Alton Brown recipe.)

Good Eats 3.2

We made far too many parsnip biscuits, and shared them out with our reluctant neighbors (the guys who lived on our left told us that they didn’t even like sweets, the second time we knocked on their door. They thought we were SO ODD) and the balance went to the neighborhood pharmacy, where the ladies, who were on foot for a lot of the day, were very happy indeed to take them for tea. (The cookies were worth enough good karma to get our prescriptions hand-delivered and discounted, which was a bit of a shock, but a nice one). Will we be trying parsnips again this autumn? Er… maybe if we’re really, really missing Glasgow… but we’re not sure we’ll ever miss it THAT much…


Meanwhile, the gift of a woolen plaid blanket – meant to remind us of Scotland – devolved into hilarity, as we admired the little piper on the tag, and read the name. “BUCA YÜNE Scotch Battaniye,” T sounded out, frowning. “What?” TURKÇE, my dears. The blanket is from Scotland, by way of Turkey. Apparently we’re not the only ones having recently taken long, strange trips!

Despite the number of possessions filling our home – thank God for good thrift-shoppers – we’re waiting – still – for the shipment of our possessions! Clearly, the “we’re here” bits of our brain aren’t entirely online, since the other day D. thought to walk to Grassroots (the Scottish equivalent of Whole Paycheck Foods), which he was thinking was just around the corner. Just getting on with things and living is still cuing thoughts of Scotland for us, but we’re feeling a bit less crazed these days.

The FILTHY OVEN OF DOOM has been cleaned (Better Living Through Chemistry means a lifetime supply of Easy Off. UGH.), the strip of lawn – about three feet wide – still hasn’t been mown in the back, and there’s a persistent orange tabby we’re gently but firmly encouraging to dig and deposit elsewhere; the near daily routing of spiders (And T’s requests of, “Um, D.? Could you …?”) has given way to the hourly pings and sighs as the old house settles around new residents. We are looking forward to a number of baking and cooking experiences, and are eying the butternut from community member Judy’s garden with undisguised glee.

So, the process continues. We’ll be back to what passes as normal shortly.

-D & T