Sunday, January 27, 2013

Here's an idea -- can we lock this SOB in an unheated U-Haul when it's zero degrees outside?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Did some juggling so we can go to Jeanne's calling hours in NJ on Monday, and then to the internment in Saratoga on Wednesday. Unrelated, except that it has to do with death -- today I am going to an informal memorial at Provance for a former colleague who died early this month.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Janette has posted a new painting -- isn't it gorgeous? She's really good -- and very modest. But better to be humble than conceited, I suppose. She also changed the name of her blog, which I hadn't noticed (duh).

First day of classes yesterday went well. Both toleration and the afternoon foundations class seem like good groups. I avoided Campus Center, though. Didn't feel like dealing with the throngs, need to ease back in gradually. My afternoon class is in the Lecture Centers. I haven't been down there since Spring '12, and once again was taken by surprise by changes that have taken place due to the construction work on the large fountain. Allegedly they will be finished in 2014. Here's what it looked like last April. Now the walls look almost permanent. I think they are painted with UAlbany logos etc. I'll have to take a new picture.

It continues to be SO cold...almost everywhere in the country, I guess.

A man has been arrested for abusing the pitbull puppies who were found near the railroad tracks back in September. I never thought this would happen. Good job detectives. Now if only the DA will do his job.

Sad news this morning. The mom of my sister-in-law passed away in the night. I think she was only in her late sixties. She was a really lovely person, beautiful, warm, witty. Her illness was a long one, and since Hurricane Sandy, she had been in a couple different facilities, and was only home for a few days at Christmas. RIP Jeanne.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I finished reading The Lifeboat. It was almost a page-turner, an interesting idea and compelling story. I was impressed to learn that it was a first novel for the author, and that she is...wait for it...eight years older than me! Way to go! Gives hope to us all.

I do have a criticism, though. Maybe it's not a true criticism, perhaps this was the author's intention (and if so, good job!), but I disliked the main character -- intensely.

The clock is ticking on classes. I am going to campus briefly later today, and tomorrow Winter Session grades must be a wrap.

Almost forgot -- it is SO cold. Brrrrr. I'm not really complaining, however. Something about the deep freeze suits me!

Monday, January 21, 2013

 In 1988, I left the first job I had after moving to the Capital District (at the NYS Office for Aging). I went to work as office manager and bookkeeper at an arts-in-education organization that was SUNY RF funded (if you don't count a summer job during undergrad as a student assistant at Oneonta's library, it was my first SUNY job). I worked there for just 18 months, when I started the MPA program.  I haven't written very much about that job, and probably won't, except for this. A doctoral student named Katy (or maybe Katie) who worked there as a GA gave me a plant that I eventually divided into two hanging baskets -- as I recall, she was moving from a big farmhouse in Stuyvesant Falls to a small apartment in Albany and had no choice but to shed "stuff."   

The plant wasn't anything to look at, a droopy and stemmy succulent in a dirty clay pot, but I've always liked plants, she said she'd had it a long time and didn't want to throw it away, and I must have agreed to take it because I had only been living in my house for a year, and had space. There are 17 windows in this tiny house -- perfect for plants. When it unexpectedly bloomed every year in the dead of winter I was thrilled! I knew it was a Kalanchoe, but until today when my niece posted on fb about making some terrariums and her picture of the blooms caused me to take the (low quality) picture, above, of mine and do a Google search on the plant, had no idea it was called "Flaming Katy." I wonder how old my little splash of color is now?
 The new coat I altered to fit Rosie. It's a maxi-coat!
Our usual Castleton weekend walk at Mountain View Cemetery. The dogs got to go three times this weekend! Very cold today, so Sam is wearing Sophie's old coat. I had adjusted it to fit her, and it turns out that it fits him perfectly.

Terrarims and maxi-coats, how '70s!
Winter session ends today, grades are due Wednesday, and though that is also the day the semester begins, my spring classes don't start until Thursday. I may make a brief trip to campus tomorrow for a meeting, and Wednesday, as final registration day, is sure to be hectic in email-land, so today is my final day of "freedom" for a while. LOL, so dramatic, you'd think I was going to the chair!

Still, I have been making an effort to finish the book I am reading (The Lifeboat, I am 3/4 of the way though and so far it's a good read), I made alterations to a new coat I bought for Rosie (since she's between sizes), and we watched several movies. Via roku, we saw Dear Murderer (1947 British movie, very good if you like old movies) and Words (2012, quite interesting but I think "neat" ending enthusiasts would not love it). At the theatre, yesterday we saw Silver Linings Playbook. It was great, definitely worth seeing, and I think Bradley Cooper may be a contender for winning best actor (although the competition is very tough this year, so I'm guessing the odds are against it).

Seeing enjoyable movies always makes me want to see more movies, and the reverse is also true -- horrible ones turn me off for months. Regardless, that will be the end of going to the movie theatre for a while. There is nothing else playing that either of us feels compelled to see except perhaps on the small screen (and even at that, not a lot of those), and time will be more precious with the semester in full swing.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Bob took some photos (for fb, of course) of last night's dinner:

 Quinoa & Chickpea Stuffed Sweet Potato (toss fresh basil, spinach, sprouts, chickpeas, cooked quinoa, salt, pepper, garlic, oil & vinegar and spoon in center of cooked sweet potato)
 Eggplant Caprese (prepare eggplant [peel, slice, dip in egg & bread crumbs, bake on cookie sheet]; "butter" each eggplant round with pesto, put sliced mozzarella and sliced fresh tomato in center of each "sandwich," spill canned diced tomatoes over top, heat briefly)

I also made roasted brussels sprouts (toss with olive oil, salt, pepper & garlic and roast on cookie sheet). He took a picture of them as well, but I teased him that he must keep his day job because he doesn't have a future as a food photographer! These things were all much more appetizing IRL.

He also took a picture of Rosie and one of Sam; these came out much better than mine usually do:

 Both are so precious
They were very excited about dinner! Rosie wasn't much of a veggie eater when she first came to live with us, but her tastes have matured considerably :-).

Friday, January 18, 2013

I am in pretty good shape for the end of winter session and the beginning of the spring '13 semester. It's always bittersweet when a new semester is beginning. Yes, there is excitement, the promise of starting over. However, in the summer I am wistful over the dwindling of the garden and the closing of the pool.

The break between the fall and spring semesters is filled with holidays, and although it is much shorter than the summer, it is the time of year when I devote the most attention to writing, reading, cooking, watching movies, and household projects, because there is no yard work to compete. Planting something always wins over indoor pursuits!

It's a drag to have to earn a living, isn't it? Even when the job is well-suited and rewarding, and you've spent years preparing for the profession. Even when "it's not a bad way to make a living," as my father would say.

It is a pity that Adam could not have gone straight out of Eden into a quartz-mill, in order to understand the full force of his doom to "earn his bread by the sweat of his brow." (The Writings of Mark Twain, v. 7, 1913).

Oh well.

So put away the Kindle, the frying pan, the sewing kit, the sketch pad, the roku remote for a while. Classrooms full of bright new Ashleys and Amandas, Jareds and Jeremys, Taylors and Tylers await.

Here is what the animals have been doing while I was attending to syllabi and blackboard pages:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Saturday's dinner party went smoothly, and was quite a feast! I felt, in true Mimmie-fashion, that the potato pancakes weren't my finest effort, and the jaegerschnitzel gravy could have been better. The applesauce, on the other hand, was fabulous. (One take-away message for me: crab is among my seafood allergies.)

Sam had a good time too

Now it's crunch time for getting ready for the semester! Lots to do, and little ambition. LOL. But, I will git 'r done.  Yesterday, I created a new folder for some saved email from students. I was torn between naming it "smart mouth," "r u kidding me?" "think b4 hitting send," "primadons and -donnas," "aren't u special" and "FU." Settled on just "issues." Sigh. This is life a week before the semester begins. Should be used to it by now!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Getting ready for the dinner party tonight. Decorating is done, have to put the finishing touches on the cooking, and then the least favorite part: cleaning! (Which I hate and consequently, deliberately suck at.) But I will get it done; actually, make that "we" -- Bob is not crazy about it either, but unlike me, is marvelously skilled.
Happy Birthday, Ma! 
This picture was taken in 1933.

Unrelated: WGNA chooses a town every Thursday and writes a song about it. Castleton was chosen this past Thursday. Listen here, it's pretty clever.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Advance cooking is all done, getting ready to head to S'ville. I was thinking as I cooked about the number of January birthdays there are among folks I know. My maternal grandfather's was January 2. He'd be 1139 if he was living! (He died in 1971 at age 97.) There's Bob's on January 5 (53 this year, now can that be possible...?).

I am the youngest of my siblings, and the youngest cousin on my mother's side, and the second youngest cousin on my father's; my mother's family is small (not including my brothers, sister and me, just three first cousins), but my father's is huge (without us, 19 first cousins). January 9 my youngest cousin on my father's side turned 50! That seems even harder to believe than Bob's age. January 10 was the birthday of one of my maternal first cousins., and then there is Ma's birthday tomorrow.

This isn't even including all the facebook notifications for people's birthdays I wouldn't remember otherwise (LOL seems appropriate here).

 One of those January birthdays
 Martin Eckert (Grandpa).
The back of this photo says "Uncle Mart natural as life. February 22, 1965 at my birthday 75th anniversary party old cuzzin Elwyn Squire Davis"

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Great column, as usual.

I am hosting a dinner in honor of my mother's 80th birthday on's the menu:

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

I've had jury duty this week, and have been nervously checking since the weekend to see whether I had to report. Today's message, finally: 
There are no jurors required to appear on Wednesday, January 9, 2013.

Since all scheduled trial activity has been resolved for this week, the jurors serving the January 7, 2013 term are dismissed. Jurors that were available to serve will be credited with good service and ineligible for future service for a 6 year period.

Commissioner Signoracci and her staff thank all jurors for their time, cooperation and contribution to our system of justice.

Faith formation class resumed after a three-week hiatus. We heard stories of their Christmases (travel to Ithaca to visit cousins, to the American Girl doll store in Boston, and a Kindle Fire were among the things shared), examined a print of Adoration of the Magi by Hippolyte Flandrin (1857), read from the Action Bible, examined the route on ancient and modern maps of the Middle East (also brought in a globe, which they loved), made this gifts of the Holy Spirit craft (inspired by and adapted from this), and had snack. A new girl joined the class and  declared "this is the best religion class ever!" Admittedly, this is only her third year of catechism, and snack figured prominently in her answer when we asked why, but she also said that usually stories are just read to them and they fill out worksheets. So despite wearing out the words "let's sit down now," "quiet down" (and "stop doing that") it was a pretty good night.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Bob's birthday was Saturday. We went to see Les Mis. I'd have opted out if it hadn't been his birthday. It is far from my favorite show, and when I saw it on Broadway, I hated it. However, the movie was the best adaptation of the story that I've seen. That's surprising, as I never expect a movie to be better than a play.

Bob loves Les Mis, and said it was the best movie he's seen in years. (However, he may have been saying that just to irritate me.) I'm sure Bob is right in his belief that it will mop up many awards, as Hollywood eats this stuff up. To him, it is deserved; to me, not so much. For me, the best thing about the movie was that it resulted in my understanding the story better than I have before. It's a complex and confusing narrative, and previous exposure only muddied the waters.

I expected Russell Crowe's performance to be strong, but it turns out he was one of the weaker singers, and I did not sense the intense anger I would expect in the role. Anne Hathaway, whom I regard as the flavor of the day, had a much stronger performance than I anticipated and she certainly emoted like crazy.The casting of the innkeeper and his wife (which I'm sure everyone finds wonderful) was a disappointment to me. In my mind's eye they are short, fat and middle-aged, not recycled characters from a half dozen movies these two have been in.

The actress who played the adult Cosette has eyes set so far apart she reminded me of a salmon. Cosette as a child and Fantine were not dirty enough in appearance. Yes, they had smudges on their faces and worn clothes, but they looked downright charming in comparison to the other prostitutes and street urchins.

It's a dark and brutal tale, and as portrayed on the screen, it was disgusting at times. The depressed mood it generates lingers. I've concluded that whatever the merits, I just don't like the story, and I don't identify with the characters. I can't comprehend why Javier would waste his time and municipal resources chasing a minor felon for so many years. I cannot appreciate the various personal relationships and the romance between Cosette and Marius seems trite when compared to the political uprising.

Afterwards, we ate at Bongiorno's. There are so many wonderful Italian restaurants in the Capital District that it was hard to choose, but Bob's inspiration was perfect as a counter to the assault that was Les Mis.

Here we are in 1985

Friday, January 04, 2013

Just in time for my mother's 80th birthday, I switched my Mimmie book from blurb, which was costly and slow, to amazon. Besides the speed and expense, I lost the template when my machine crased last year, so it was easier to re-create it on amazon. Finally, blurb only offered apple for e-versions, and  I wanted kindle.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Watched another movie, this time via roku, The Five Year Engagement. Except in rare instances, I am not a fan of romantic comedies, so I am not exactly the target audience and this is probably unfair -- but I can't hold back,  it sucked! The sole good thing, the scenes with university work colleagues were sometimes funny.

Otherwise, it was tedious, and at times, painful (for the characters, literally). To sum it up: This is what Hollywood thinks of Michigan. Jason Segal (sp? Don't care enough to google) is only 32? I couldn't decide whether he was playing someone older. (The maturity level personality-wise argues against it.) He looks like crap. I never much liked, and stopped watching the show he is on years ago (though I recall that he is the least annoying character on it) but he is such a TV actor. Then, the plot! I kept wishing the couple would break up and stay that way. Someone who makes $18.50 per hour (in San Francisco) has the money to fly to funerals in England? Finally, there were several rounds of dialogue that were so gratingly sexist / ageist / eighth grade vulgar.