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the sunday seven

the sunday seven

a sunday update list, because who’s got time to read an essay on the insurrection, right? (or write one, ugh.)

  1. i was doing yoga last night, and i caught my little toe on my mat as i was dragging my leg forward during an especially quick practice. i’ve caught the edge of my foot and toes on my mat before, and since i’ve gotten my new mat, which is especially sticky, it’s a real injury hazard. so i think i need to refrain from doing the super quick yoga, because that seems to be the time when i don’t pick my feet/legs up enough. but my toe hurts this morning, which means i did something really bad to it. i guess i’m not running today 🙁
  2. speaking of running, i bought a super expensive pair of running shorts yesterday. i still can’t believe i spent the amount of money i did on it, but they’ve got a long inseam, and they’re orange, and they’re supposedly really good. they’d better be miraculous, and i’ll do a review on them. liz said that at least people will be able see me.
  3. speaking of seeing, i bought myself a pair of reading glasses, which SUCK. my eyes aren’t that bad yet, apparently, but i thought i was getting there. my right eye is worse for up close seeing, and my left is worse for distance seeing, which i think is kind of weird. but yeah, i put those readers on and that does not work.
  4. speaking of reading, i’m reading american dirt, which got a lot of mixed reviews last january. it was a big brouhaha because the author, while she does have some puerto rican descent and is married to an undocumented immigrant, got a lot of flack about writing about the mexican migrant experience when there are many mexican authors more qualified to do so. so i avoided it when it came out, but then it got book of the year on goodreads, so has she been redeemed? i don’t know where we’re at with the drama, but i grabbed it from the library and am devouring it. sometimes you’ve just got to see what’s up from all angles and form your own opinions from actually experiencing something.
  5. speaking of “opinions,” since DT was banned from twitter, posts including disinformation went down 73%. !!!! i don’t want this to turn into an essay on insurrection, but let’s just say that i hope the arrests that have happened since jan. 6 have made some of the jan. 20 plans go in the toilet. i have no idea what’s going to happen that day, and i’m kind of scared to see what happens. but i’m looking forward to some leaders who, at the very least, i know will lie a lot less. also, if you think for some reason that it was “anti-fa(scists)” behind jan. 6, know how i know that’s not true? anti-fa would all be wearing masks and sure as heck not take selfies and videos of themselves storming the capitol. what a bunch of idiots qanon are. EDIT: here’s a good podcast on how Qanon started. really interesting – linky linky.
  6. speaking of january, i’m already accomplishing something on my resolutions list and attending an MLK thing on monday. when an email went out at work about it, i was like, a holiday seminar? like, i can sleep in and just do nothing on monday. but then i remembered my resolutions, and i remembered all the BLM protests, and i remembered that i’ve got it pretty good, so i signed up. it’s always good to learn how to be a better person.
  7. speaking of trying to be a better person, i think i’ll try to do yoga tonight, but happily, it’s a slow, stretchy flow on the docket. it’ll be good for relaxing and reflection. and definitely not any stress on the toe.
a winter moment

a winter moment

sometimes it’s nice to walk outside at night during the winter, if it’s not too cold and windless. the snow crunches, but not quite crunches more like creaks and squelches and packs all at once, under your shoes, in the crisp night that’s heavily silent otherwise. no evening insect chirps, bird song, plant rustling that you don’t notice until it’s gone. the darkness falls early, and if the moon is on the other side of the earth, the stars are scintillating pricks in the cold night sky, their brightness seemingly bigger and whiter than in the summertime. your eyes slide across the constellations, picking up the sharpness of the stars until you focus directly on them, at which point they get fuzzy, their edges elusive. and the air wicks away your breath and your warmth, so you head back to the warmth you know exists indoors.

sometimes it’s nice to notice the silence and absence and darkness and bigness while knowing that it will be replaced soon by a season that also seems elusive. for the moment.

star trek movies: a review

star trek movies: a review

 

over the new year’s weekend i decided to watch 12 star trek movies, hoo boy! i skipped the first one and started with the wrath of kahn, then went all the way through star trek beyond.

i realized that picard may be the more diplomatic captain, but kirk as captain makes for a more adventurous and better movies.

i also like how the messaging in the movies is still so current, especially movie 6, where things are changing and people are scared.

“Is it possible that we two, you and I, have grown so old and so inflexible that we have outlived our usefulness?”

“Some people think the future means the end of history. Well, we haven’t run out of history quite yet. Your father called the future ‘the undiscovered country.’ People can be very frightened of change.”

“If there is to be a brave new world, our generation is going to have the hardest time living in it.”

(movie 6, “the undiscovered country,” is my favorite.)

and since i like lists, here is a list of the 12 movies, ranked! (to note: i liked them all. but some more than others!)

12. ST: 5 – the final frontier. this one is weird, with a non-vulcan vulcan and a weird non-god search for god, but i do enjoy the humor at the beginning. “it’s a blizzard! whoosh whoosh.” “my sensors show sunny and 70º…”

11. ST: Insurrection. this one is the second of the full next generation/picard group, and it really just seems like an extra long episode more than a movie. it’s about a group of people who relocated to a planet with regenerating capabilities (extra long life), and a group wants to destroy the planet to harness it.

10. ST: Beyond. while the graphics are super awesome on this one, and i love the character of jaylah, i just couldn’t get behind the story as much as other movies. i do like the line where spock called the beastie boys classical music. and how much screentime scotty got! i have to admit, they really beefed up the “supporting” main characters in the reboot.

9. ST: Nemesis. the final show for the TNG crew, and it featured a cloned picard (tom hardy with a nose prosthesis). the interesting thing is watching all these movies and seeing how the romulans and klingons interacted, along with different time traveling ships, and how the rebooted timeline uses references to those.

8. ST: generations. i really liked the interaction between the captains in this one, and how they worked together! of course it sort of threw off the whole notion of kirk knowing he’d die alone, but when you morph from one crew to the next, it’s always a little weird. it was also interesting to note when some of the original crew’s movies were running, the TNG tv show was airing. also, we get this gem.

7: Star Trek. the reboot! a new timeline! a new crew finally coalesces! spock prime! vulcan’s destroyed! karl urban knocks it out of the park! we finally see how kirk overcame the kobiyashi maru! the timeline is canon? also, how fortuitous that kirk just happened to find the cave where spock prime is hiding out.

6. ST: voyage home. this one was just fun, having the crew time travel back to present time (1980s) to get a humpback whale to save starfleet from a probe. it’s nice to throw some levity in there after the wrath of khan and the search for spock. that was a lot of heavy stuff, so it was time to lighten it up!

5. ST: search for spock. after spock’s untimely demise in khan, bones starts acting a little funny. then we learn that there is an old, long-ago-tried method of putting the mind back in the body. so while bones is hosting spock’s head, we hear from sarek (spock’s father) that they need the body – which happens to be MISSING FROM HIS  TUBE that was shot onto the genesis planet. bum bum buummmmmm…. to top it all off, the enterprise is compromised!

4. ST: into darkness. i feel like this was the kelvin timeline movie that was enough of a throwback while also going over the top with the campy factor, which turned out to be the best kelvin film. that’s what i like about the original movies and the kelvin timeline movies – it’s cheesy action!

3. ST: first contact. the best TNG movie. there’s action, it throws back to picard’s borg days (a harrowing end-of-season cliffhanger!!), and the crew has to save the universe from the borg while ALSO preserving the history of first contact due to warp drive. this one is all action! like i said, i like some camp/cheese in my star trek movies, but first contact is a nice deviation from that among the top movies.

2. ST: the wrath of khan. the start of the trilogy within the series! we learn about the genesis project, and THEN the END trips off the next three movies.

1 ST: the undiscovered country. this movie has everything. a peace mission gone wrong, a klingon trial (complete with worf cameo!!), a mystery on board the enterprise, a mole, a shape-shifting rat, a prison sentence on a frozen planet, a forceful mindmeld, a klingon cloaked ship that can FIRE TORPEDOES WHILE CLOAKED, the crew saves the day, and best of all, an etymology lesson on the word sabotage! there is, as noted in the quotes above, a lot of talk about how change is hard and will meet resistance. a note on the new crew taking over? a nice lesson in how to be better people? i know it can relate to current times! anyway, i love this one.

“there is an old vulcan proverb: only nixon could go to china.”

so, what can we learn from star trek?

  1. if someone tells you they’re from the future, at least check it out
  2. be open to other cultures
  3. never trust anyone who claims to be able to get you out of rura penthe
books of 2020

books of 2020

every year i do the goodreads challenge, where you set a reading goal for yourself. you’d think that with a pandemic and all, it’d be easy to knock out a boatload of books this year, but i didn’t even make my challenge number, which was weeny since i set it before the pandemic (if pandemic had set in when i made my challenge, i might’ve failed hugely).

i set a goal of 55 books for the year and managed to get through 51 (a couple were rereads). but before i get all bent out of shape, i like to note that i’m a believer in the page count rather than book count. i read a lot of long books. sure, there are usually a couple shorties, but geez, a stephen king book is almost always more than 600 pages. so let’s take a look at that data first!

i really knocked it out of the park in 2016. i chalk it up to listening to audiobooks on my drives from southern mn to central mn during the four months of turbulence. oh, i also read a lot of stephen king that year.

so, what were my top books of 2020?

i have two favorites i read this year.

  1. where the crawdads sing by delia owens was my number one book this year. i inhaled this book. it was a mystery, an ode to the natural world, and just lovely. there are some dark sections (i’m ok with that). and one section that was so patronizing to couples who don’t have children (not really ok with that).  i hesitated reading this because for some reason i’m a book snob  (smut for one) and this book seemed to be super hyped up and put on every book club list. but there was a reason!
  2. the wanderers by chuck wendig was my number two book this year. totally different from crawdads, this is about preserving the human race from its annihilation in the event of a pandemic (wow, how apropos. i read this in early february!). don’t worry – this is different from “the stand”, which i also read again this year. why not read about pandemics that are SO MUCH worse when you’re amidst one? anyway, if you like some action/post-apocalyptic novel action, this book is wort the 782 (!) pages. (much shorter than the stand.)

those are my favorites this year. here’s the runners-up list.

  1. big summer by jennifer weiner. a nice beach thriller mystery read! i love her books and have read them all.
  2. book of two ways by jodi piccoult. see above about jennifer weiner – i have read all her books! this was a good book with lots of information about egyptian mythology with a weird twisty middle that made me laugh at her genius.
  3. the dead zone by stephen king. this book has entered my top five SK books! i thought it was great. it’s about a guy who gets a TBI and can see a person’s future just by touching them.
  4. leave it as it is by david gessner. gessner intertwines some biographical info about teddy roosevelt’s mission to create and bolster the national park system and his conservationist (almost) ways with his trip across the west in TR’s footsteps to several national parks. he also focuses on bears ears national park and really focuses on american indian perspective.
  5. the midnight library by matt haig. while this started off a little depressing, it turned into a lovely book of redemption with a really interesting premise of experiencing other lives you could have had.
  6. the four agreements by miguel ruiz. i picked this up because lesley fightmaster quoted 🙁 a lot from it. it’s short and small and gives guidance on how to live an authentic life. i underlined a lot in it, and i’m sure i’ll pick it up again and again.

books i expected a lot from that didn’t live up to the hype? (hmm… see i’ve just got to read hype-y books, i think.)

  1. the starless sea
  2. the ballad of songbirds and snakes (trying to give a more human background to cornelius snow just makes me hate him more)
  3. the bookish life of nina hill

i think if i want to read more books in 2021, i just need to start reading more fiction. i like to learn things, but nothing really prompts me to pick up a book like the storyline of a good piece of fiction. we’ll see how that pans out.

books i want to read in 2021?

  1. american dirt (this got a lot of good press then a lot of bad press, and now i think we’re back to good press. i’m going to borrow it from the library so i don’t give money to the author if it is back in bad press territory.)
  2. a promised land by barack obama. memoirs are as insatiable to me as fiction.
  3. we ride upon sticks – this is on my list because of a rave review of a blogger i’ve followed for 15 years.
  4. this books is anti-racist. i know this is not fiction and will probably make me learn, but it goes hand in hand with my “resolution” to do more antri-racist things
  5. in the same vein of nonfiction, i want to read something by wallace stegner.

is this the year i reread harry potter?

and when is the year i read all of stephen king in a row? (that is a huge commitment.)

hey there, 2021.

hey there, 2021.

*looks suggestively at the calendar*

even if the first half of 2021 is going to be rough, we know we’re going to climb out of the pandemic hell that was 2020 eventually, right?

i’m going to change up my “resolutions” a bit. if there were ever a year to make a change, i think 2021 is it.

  1. however, my first item has been photo related for all the time i’ve been making this list, and i think it should remain photo related. let’s take more pics. but what of…
  2. social justice, historically, has been wrought by middle aged white women. guess what. i’m a middle aged white woman. i’m going to figure out what i’m going to do this year to help the anti-racist movement. i don’t know what that is, yet. maybe my camera will be involved. maybe it’s just sharing news items like this one that the boogaloo bois, a far-right militia group, were charged with the attack on the minneapolis precinct during the george floyd protests. (some of my readers should know this. i would guess most haven’t heard this news.) sharing non-propagandaed news is one step. confronting racism with those you know is another step. but what else? i’m not sure yet.
  3. this will, of course, make me angry. so therefore, i definitely will continue yoga every day. i did yoga every day in 2019, and in 2020, i did yoga most days (maybe every 10th day i took a day off). although she’s gone physically, fightmaster yoga lives on through her youtube channel, and i will tell everyone i know to keep doing her yoga. it will help you out physically, mentally, and maybe spiritually if that’s the route you want to take yoga. the light in me recognizes and honors the light in you! let your little light shine.
  4. i will keep travel on my list, because i’m already planning a trip to new england in may, and i would like to get out to the black hills in the fall if the virus has calmed down. i would also guess that if there are protests or sit-ins or other items that need documenting, that would involve traveling. my mom also wants to see the milky way this summer, and that means another trip to the north shore! i’m not going to be mad about that. especially the rustic inn where i can get a slice of pie.
  5. RUN A RACE. i don’t care what the length is! i don’t care if we start in waves. i don’t care if it’s ragnar trail and it’s -30º and glare ice the entire trail. i don’t care if i have to roll out of bed at 4 a.m. so i can be ready to run at 5 a.m. – I AM RUNNING A RACE WITH OTHER PEOPLE THIS YEAR.
  6. convince nate to get a new job. i swear, 99% of his problems would be solved if he would get a job that’s got normal hours. and if 99% of his problems are solved, then i’d venture to say 49.5% of mine are. the other 1% of his problems would be solved if he weren’t allergic to cats. that said, i don’t know if this resolution is doable. i’ll put it down. but don’t be surprised if this has no results.
  7. welp, some excellent news we learned this year is that recycling plastic was just a big marketing campaign and doesn’t really help. so that’s just great. we still need to help out the earth. we’ve seen what happens when we pause our polluting ways. and like i’ve said before, is it wrong to want a clean earth, even if it DOESN’T stop climate change? how do we stop this plastic inundation? maybe i will start writing campaigns. use my twitter account and all 87 followers to campaign for less plastic in consumables. i have no plan for this, but the farther down the path of climate change we get, the harder it’s going to be to turn around. i’m no global leader, and i’m not a CEO of a giant corporation. i just want this on my list because it’s going to be a top-of-mind item for me this year, and i’ll figure out what to do. (i never said this was a definitive list of 100% goals… they’re more like guidelines.)
  8. can we be happy, collectively, as a people? i think once the maniac is out of the white house, that will help us breathe a sigh of relief. once the vaccine is more widely accessible, that will help. collectively, i think we’ll be happy again. but i have no doubt i will be able to be happy in 2021 amidst my crusades, because while i am definitely a cynic, i’m optimistic. smiling at little things helps: a smooth lake, a well-crafted sentence, the smell of fall, my stupid cats snoozing in one giant fuzzpuddle, tulips pushing through the dirt, the silence of a snowfall, fireworks, laughing with others.

so i didn’t change much when it came to the basics of my guidelines. change is good, but you always know who you are at your core. some things never change, but being open to adjustments is key. and who knows? minute adjustments over time eventually move mountains.

LOL 2020: a year in review

LOL 2020: a year in review

so it’s time for my year in review, which is actually really fun to do most years, but this year is doubly fun because WOW 2020.

first, let’s take a peek at what i wanted to see happen in 2020:

  1. so first on my list for years and years is take more photos. maybe instead of that as a goal, the goal should be to do something with the pics i take. like last year, an unexpected thing that happened was taking some wedding pics, but i don’t want to do that every year, yeesh. hmm. might have to think about this one.
  2. sit on my new couch. i’m sitting on it now. it’s glorious. this one will be easy.
  3. continue yoga every day. of all the things that i did in 2019, i think yoga every day was the best thing. i’ve got arm muscles, i look forward to spending at least 10 minutes on the mat, and it’s a great way to slow down, if even for 10 minutes. i highly recommend fightmaster yoga. lucky for you, she does a 30-day program at the first of the year every year, and this one is hatha yoga. check it out.
  4. travel! this has gotten easier, whether due to just more expendable cash or me just saying “olé losers” and going. luckily, my boss is super good about pushing professional development, so there’s a trip to florida in march for work. it might also be a black hills year, and i do want to go up the north shore again. it might also be a bwca year with my aunt rae and uncle greg!
  5. running goals? hmmm. earth day half is already registered for. i have a feeling we’re going to do ragnar again. and liz and i are already planning a DESTINATION RACE. destination races intrigue me to no end, so i finally sat down and looked at what destinations i would want to race at (no ultras or mountains for me, thanks). we settled on big sur in monterrey california (well, i settled on that – liz seemed to agree). the 2020 race was sold out by the time we checked it out, but we’re going to watch for registration for the 2021 11-miler, which should open in october. also, a sub-11-minute-mile 5k would be nice to hit this summer.
  6. do something interesting with nate! i actually like this one because something interesting with nate could be just a quick trip to the cities or it could be an excursion to who knows where. any time i get him out of the house means an interesting time with nate hahaha
  7. help out the earth. or rather, help out us humans who are seemingly hell bent on destructing our time on earth. like i’ve said before, is it wrong to want a clean earth, even if it DOESN’T stop climate change? seriously. so my goal this year is to really, diligently try to reduce my plastic use. that includes plastic bottles that are recyclable (plastic is a degradable recyclable, meaning it recycles into a lesser form of plastic, unlike glass or aluminum). (unfortunately, nate buys tons of drinks in plastic bottles; i don’t know if i should even try to get him to reduce his usage.) if i fail at reducing plastic, i will also try to reduce the amount of new items i buy (try to fix or buy used).
  8. perhaps in conjunction with #7, i will add on “write more” in #8. one of the things that helped me really get on the devils syrup bandwagon was to do research on it. if i research stuff about plastic use and a bunch of other keep a clean earth stuff, it would probably push me to do something about it. and while the whole “blog every day” resolution is nice, it just never works out like that. so i think just write is a better thing.
  9. be happy! i felt good about 40, and life is doing ok. let’s continue that trend!

well, it’s hard to realize your goals when there’s a global pandemic, a civil rights and justice resurgence, and a contentious, anxiety-inducing election. but rather than dive into those items, let’s review:

  1. take more photos and do something with them. well….. this sort of happened? i definitely did not take more photos than the year i hit all the state parks. i did rent a macro lens, which was glorious, and i took an awesome few pics up in the dark skies of northern mn and got the full milky way. i sold a few canvasses of said milky way pics. i didn’t do any wedding pics because there weren’t supposed to be any big gatherings this year, but that’s ok. so we’ll give this one a point. why not.
  2. i did, indeed, sit on my new couch. i am sitting on it now. point. on a related note, i am actually getting a replacement couch due to the fact that the fabric has a weird line going through it on the back. but, i am sitting on it. i like it.
  3. yoga every day. i didn’t do yoga every day, but i did do yoga quite a bit. i would say 9/10 days, i did yoga. i even bought myself a nice, cushy, expensive yoga mat. there was some sad news on my yoga mat though. my yoga teacher, lesley fightmaster, died unexpectedly about a month ago. i never met her in person, but i did see her almost every day, and it’s still a shock. her yoga teachings live on, though.
  4. travel? ha! LOL. 2020, wow. so the week before i was supposed to go to florida for my conference, the pandemic basically hit the US. i had plane tickets, hotel reservations, tickets for universal studios purchased, jane was set to come with, etc. etc. and then covid. #thankscovid #thankskim so there was no florida, no black hills. i did go to the boundary waters in august, which was super fun! went to the fake derry reunion at leech lake, and then camped at the state park in southeastern MN. other than that, there was no traveling to be had, other than visiting my parents a couple times. i haven’t even been out of state this year. #thanks2020
  5. running goals were SQUASHED. SQUASHED. #thanks2020. i was signed up for the earth day half, and it was canceled. signed up for ragnar trail, and it was canceled. planned on signing up for big sur 2021 with liz, and that was already canceled back in may. i ran NO organized races this year, which is a bummer. sure, i RAN. that was no problem. but a race is something different; the energy of other people around just makes it an exciting run. so no point on this one. not for lack of trying.
  6. the most interesting thing i did with nate this year was make him come to charlie’s 5-yr cheatin’ the reaper celebration. we stayed overnight in rochester and then headed to my parents’ house the next day. it wasn’t a fantastic adventure, but it was something different! i’ll take the point for this one.
  7. if there was one good thing that came from a lockdown from the pandemic, it was to show people how the earth recovers from people. that was good news for the environment. on a personal front, because pandemic, i did not focus on my plastic use more than usual, which is something i still need to do. however, i drove less, contributing less CO2 to the air. instead of disposable masks, i use cloth ones. i baked a crapton of bread, reducing the plastic breadbags that i purchased (flour comes in recylable/compostable paper bags). so many weird byproducts of a pandemic.
  8. i did not write more. i did not read more. you’d think with staying home and loafing around, i’d’ve found the time for that, but nope. i did do some research into environmental stuffs, but it was pretty minimal. i didn’t even manage to finish kablpomo, which was the first time i’d ever not finished it. sad. no point for me on this.
  9. this was a tough year to be happy. there was a pandemic. there was a contentious election and elected officials who don’t want to do their jobs (mcconnell…). there were fires in australia and the US and there were protests against unnecessary killings and protests against wearing masks for the public good and protests against protests, and people who you thought you knew saying hateful things against groups of people who deserve no such hate, and hypocrisy of “just comply” except when it’s inconvenient for you and the bar you like to frequent, and people who lost their jobs, and people whose jobs didn’t pay enough for their essentialness, and people juggling a job and teaching their kids, and people losing their homes, and WWIII almost happening – twice, and people making insane amounts of money while others were making none, and through all this a virus spreading and people dying in hospitals alone and people on ventilators and people with long-lasting odd symptoms of a virus, and video chats/meetings cannot replace face-to-face interaction because we are a social species, and a year that just wouldn’t quit.happiness was hard to find in 2020.but there were some good things: dolly parton donated $1million to find a covid vaccine. clinics have finally embraced the video appointment. people spent a lot of time outdoors in the trees. we baked a boatload of sourdough bread. i got an awesome tattoo. we decided to not glorify parts of history that oppressed swathes of the populace (and instead put it in a museum, as is appropriate). as noted above, the earth showed what could happen if we pulled back on pollutant output. we found ways to celebrate. cities closed streets for people to dine outdoors. india planted 250 million trees. the internet didn’t crash on us when we needed it the most. a lot of us realized that we have a lot of work to do yet on racism. i painted my kitchen cabinets with help from liz. as a country, we managed to not run out of toilet paper. and i quit facebook.

there it is, year in review 2020. it has been, simultaneously, the longest and shortest year ever. not the worst year personally, but probably the worst collectively during my rememberable lifetime. the apocalypse came, and people couldn’t even be bothered to wear a mask. 2021 resolutions to come.

happy christmastide – calling all calling birds!

happy christmastide – calling all calling birds!

what the heck IS a calling bird? aren’t all birds calling birds?

time for an etymology lesson!

turns out, the calling bird line in the 12 days of christmas song is a relatively new revelation. the line for 100+ years prior to its adoption was four COLLY birds.

the song was first published around 1780, which means it was probably a spoken poem or song long before that. and the first publications called the day four birds, colly/collie birds.

forget a calling bird – what the heck is a COLLY bird???

colly comes from old english for the cord coal – describing coal dust, the color of coal, etc. and in a 1565 translation of metamorphosis, here’s the line that described a raven:

as thou thou prating raven white by nature being bred, hadst on they fether justly late a coly colour spred.

but, where the four birds supposed to be ravens? more likely the colly bird in the song is supposed to be a blackbird.

BUT! the mystery doesn’t stop there. in the past, the line has also been four canary birds, four colored birds, and four curley birds. it’s even been a tole of birds?

good news bad news, though: in 1909, a tune was set in publication to the poem or song, and the calling birds were put in print. however, it took a while for it to catch on. it wasn’t until the mid 1900s that calling became the preferred word, and in the 1970s, it was the much more common word.

unfortunately, the calling bird is much more ambiguous than the colly bird! even the american ornithological society thinks it should be a colly bird. so let’s chalk this confusion up to frederic austin, whose musical arrangement we all now know, to not transcribing the song correctly.

and bring back the colly bird!

happy 3rd day of christmas! got your french hens?

happy 3rd day of christmas! got your french hens?

i didn’t eat any chicken today, but i did eat a lot of eggs over christmas eve and day. in general, i don’t eat a ton of eggs, but over the past week, i think i’ve gone through three dozen. if i keel over from a heart attack in the next week, we’ll know why.

exhibit a:

i made my buche de noel, in which i use eggs to make the meringue mushrooms (delicious little morsels) as well as the sponge for the swiss roll. overall, i think i used a half a dozen eggs for the yule log dessert. here’s the recipe and here’s a video of me making it!

exhibit b:

of course what is christmas without egg salad sandwiches? someone at worked asked me what was on the menu for christmas, and i said the main course was cheese, of course. which, it is. i have so much cheese now. but then i added egg salad, and she was like, what? egg salad? and i realized that christmas is basically all about grazing foods. so yes, i made a batch of egg salad with 16 eggs. yes, 16-egg egg salad. i couldn’t find festive bread, so i slathered a heaping helping on a slab of marble rye bread. xmas eve supper was basically egg salad with a side of bread, cheese, olives, and smoked oysters. then dessert from exhibit a with vanilla ice cream.

exhibit c:

christmas breakfast was eggs benedict! how glorious is homemade hollandaise?? it was delicious. the hollandaise called for 6 egg yolks, then i made eggs to go on the eggs benny (over easy fried, not annoying poached). by the way, if there is leftover hollandaise, just throw it out because it is disgusting the next day.

exhibit 1.a:

forgot this one. i made so many christmas cookies that called for eggs. the last cookie i made was a batch of macarons, which calls for a couple of egg whites. so that was in on my egg usage as well.


i still have about 10 eggs left in the fridge, along with maybe two more helpings of egg salad (that should be finished up tomorrow). on a related, side note, santa brought nate a new egg frying pan, which will be so nice to have. right now we have all stainless steel, which is great for everything but eggs. good job, santa.

christmas was ok. i had to buy stuff for my own sock, which isn’t cool. if you want to read something heartwarming and that causes holiday introspection, i implore you to take a look at this twitter thread!


on christmas day, i watched the three pirates of the carribbean movies. today and yesterday i watched the three mighty ducks movies. and i am going to watch the christian bale batman trilogy tonight and tomorrow. it’s a trilogy holiday this year, i guess.

OH and i watched soul on disney+, which i encourage everyone to watch. i would venture to guess that it’s not really a children’s movie. sure, it’s animated, but dang pixar sure knows how to turn on the emotional spigot.

in which i finally have a video of how to make a macaron

in which i finally have a video of how to make a macaron

several of my readers have benefited from my thing about trying out obscure, results-driven baking, which has included such weirdos as the buche de noel, spatchcocked turkey, and last but not least, the macaron cookie (not to be confused with the macaroon, a coconut heap).

after two or three recipes and watching a youtube video on the proper macaronage (the technique to get the feet to do their thing), i found one that worked for me. so first, the recipe, because we all know how annoying it is to read someone’s life story and 40 million food sponsor ads just to get to the recipe:

Macarons

Ingredients

  • 120 grams egg whites
  • 35 grams sugar
  • 150 grams almond flour
  • 150 grams powdered sugar
  • Sugar syrup:
  • 150 grams sugar
  • 50 grams water

Instructions

  1. Leave the egg whites out overnight. Prepare your pans by lining them with parchment paper. I use one large and one medium cookie sheet.
  2. Sift the almonds and powdered sugar.
  3. Whip 60 grams of the egg whites to soft peaks. Add the 35 grams sugar. Beat to stiff peaks.
  4. While that's beating, make the sugar syrup. Mix the sugar and water in a small saucepan and boil it to 230º F. Slowly add it to the egg whites in your mixer. Beat another 10ish mins to cool a bit.
  5. Mix the remaining 60 gram eggs whiles into the almond flour/powdered sugar mix. It will look like pasty ecru sludge.
  6. Mix the egg whites into the sludge til it comes together. At this point, add food coloring or flavorings that you want (more almond, peppermint, vanilla, etc.) then macaronage until it looks like magma when you drip it from your spatula.Macaronage by beating the batter against the side of your bowl, spreading it thing against the side.
  7. Fill a piping bag with your batter, then pipe circles onto the baking sheets. After the first couple, make sure the batter flattens out to a smooth top. If it doesn't, you need to macaronage more. Let your pans sit while your oven preheats to 320º.
  8. Bake 15-25 mins - it will depend on how big your cookies are. Check by lightly grabbing the top of your cookie to see if the foot moves with it. If yes, it's done.
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some BIG TIPS tp make your macarons better:

  1. buy a kitchen scale and weigh all your ingredients. my recipe has no measurements, just weights. (this also helps find package weights so you can buy your postage at home and stick it in the mailbox.)
  2. once you start, you’ve gotta go. boom boom boom – all things happen right after another, especially with the eggs whites beating and making the sugar syrup.
  3. you will need a thermometer to watch the temperature of your sugar syrup.
  4. if your feet suck, no biggie. still tastes the same!
  5. make sure your filling is on point. i’ve just got the recipe for the base cookie, so you can customize flavors how you wish. my favorite is adding lemon zest and extract to the cookie, then having a lemon curd and lemon cream cheese filling. my most recent batch was peppermint mocha.

on a related note, other items that have helped me in the kitchen:

  1. a good knife
  2. an electric knife sharpener
  3. a LARGE jellyroll pan. 18×24?

anyway, the technique for making macaron is basically making a meringue and then mixing it with sugar and almond flour. i tried a straight up meringue with eggs and sugar, then found that a swiss meringue (sugar syrup instead of just sugar) makes a better macaron.

one of the things that took a couple tries was figuring out the consistency of the batter. i looked at the macaronage method, which is beating the batter against the side of the bowl, and read somewhere that your batter should be the consistency of magma. once i figured those things out, i liked the results of the feet of the macaron better.

because the feet is what the macaron is mostly about! it’s this little lift in the bottom of the cookie where the air puffs out and makes a little holey base.

and i have FINALLY made a video of the process! here’s the short process, then watch the sped up video.

  1. line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. i use one large and one medium.
  2. sift flour and powdered sugar
  3. measure out egg whites and throw into mixer to come to soft peaks
  4. once there, add sugar, whisk to stiff peaks
  5. while that’s whisking, make sugar syrup
  6. pour syrup slowly into meringue while it’s whisking, then let it keep going for another 10ish mins
  7. during this time, mix the rest of your egg whites with the flour/sugar mix. it’ll look pasty beige. yum.
  8. mix/fold the meringue into the beige paste with a spatula, then add in flavorings and food coloring
  9. then macaronage until magma consistency
  10. put into a piping bag and pipe circles onto the cookie sheets
  11. let it sit while your oven comes to 320º
  12. put in oven for 10-20 mins
  13. check if done by moving the cookie around and see if the foot moves easily with the cookie
  14. let them cool, then match up two the same-ish size to make little sandwich fillings with your filling of choice!

here is a 3-minute quicklapse of macaron making!

decorating cookies

decorating cookies

i have no patience for decorating sugar cookies. i thought i would try out the outline then flood method for cookies. i also found a fantastic recipe that holds the shape of the cookie cutter. i was doing well until i got to the decorating the tree part. i should have just left them green!

i mean, these are pretty awesome for being baked! the recipe called for cornstarch instead of a rising agent.

but yeah, after the flooding of the green trees, “decorating” was not a good result.

this took forever! and i have snowflakes and stars left to do! but, lucky for you, i put together a speed video of my decorating process so you can vicariously live through my decorating moments. or minutes. hours, days, decades. i don’t know how long it took me to do these awful looking trees. gah.

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