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Rainy Memorial Day weekend

The kind where you can stay in pajamas as long as you like.

I woke up at 6:00, and really didn’t want to be awake, but knew that it was supposed to turn rainy, and thought I should get out for a walk. Laziness took over though, and reflecting that I had gone for two shortish bike rides and an hour walk – to Sundance to see Mad Max, and back – yesterday, and I stayed in bed until almost 7:30.

Then I got up and made these scuffins – I used wheat germ instead of ground flaxseed, so they’re a little LESS healthy. The wheat germ was in the back of the fridge, and the expiry date was 2013 – it smelled a little funny but tasted OK. Half are peach and half are black raspberry, American Spoon jam. And I made pie dough – going to make blueberry pie, also an attempt to use up old stuff – blueberries frozen last year – and then tomorrow I am going to defrost the freezer. Anyways, my hands still smell nice and buttery as I type, especially the left.


Choice of peach – the ones where it looks like no jam, because the peach preserves blended in – or black raspberry

For our Memorial Day festivities, I’m planning the blueberry pie, as above, and burgers – like the Bru Burger I ate in Indianapolis, when I was there for DPLA – with Taleggio cheese, caramelized onions, tomato jam (more American Spoon) and bacon. I think I’ll make a bunch of bacon, to eat with the scuffins, for breakfast, and save out enough for the burgers. Also something with potatoes – salad or roasted or grilled – and asparagus. I’m trying to be conservative, because there aren’t many of us. A few kids are around, still sleeping – John & Megan came to Madison, but Al’s still in Chicago. Hannah and Corey are sacked out in the basement, but I don’t think they’re eating with us.

We got word that John & Al’s grandma, Jeff’s mom Bette, died yesterday morning. She was 92. Pretty much everyone agreed that she was jast about the annoying-est woman they’d ever known, so it’s really odd to feel that annoyingness gone from the universe.

And more life passages – Last night when we got home from the movie, I was goofing around on the Internetz, trying to find old artist friends from Pittsburgh. There was a houseful of artists who lived across the street from me, when I lived in the student apartment that my father liked the least, because it was me and 5 boys, on College Ave. in the Shadyside neighborhood in Pittsburgh. Which is looking to be an odd combo of falling down and gentrified at the moment – the house we lived in was pretty much falling down in the late ’70s, and nothing historic about it. While I was still living there, the process began to build a high speed busway – Ellsworth Avenue, the commercial street that College dead-ended at, that dead-ended itself in a weird way, or just didn’t connect up because of old railroad tracks in the way, and the dread Penn Circle, failed 1960s urban renewal, in East Liberty, was closed. While Ellsworth was under construction, city buses were rerouted on narrow College Ave., which was alarming, to say the least. Across the street there was Bruce, who was a painter studying at Carnegie Mellon, and Chris, also studying at Carnegie Mellon, more of a conceptual artist, played music, did sculpture, and did a tiled ceiling in one of the campus buildings, and Marian Monk, called Chipper – older than the rest of us, and who I most admired, and stayed friendly with for the longest. Even though I slept with Chris, albeit briefly.

So it was pretty chilling to find that Chipper died in 2008, although I couldn’t find much more than this picture.

Marian Anita Monk, 1948 - 2008, © 2006-2015 CJBiller on Find A Grave

Marian Anita Monk, 1948 – 2008, courtesy CJ Biller on Find A Grave

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A looong week

A long ass week, as John might say, or might’ve said when he was in high school.

Sunday: I went to Library School graduation, and Mark went up to the Twins to watch his son graduate. After the SLIS graduation, I biked to the Capitol Square for the WORT block party, and got rained on. I stayed pretty dry at the block party, in doorways and under tents, but I decided to bike home probably 15 minutes too soon – I was caught in a heavy downpour on State St., and by the time I got to my house, it was sunny.

I had taken an apple and a kind bar to eat in my office after the ceremony, so I wouldn’t end up eating sheet cake and black coffee for breakfast, but I still got home soaked and starving. I had a ham sandwich, and then I made chicken shwarma and rhubarb sauce, both for eating later.

I drove to Willy West and Target to get cat litter and lemons, then I went back down town to see an MFA show, and a performance – Clocks in Motion (who also performed at the block party, but they were on when I was sitting on the stage at the graduation), an original percussion piece that involved smashing a lot of dishes.

I came home and watched the Mad Men season finale – finished the mocha macchiato ice cream – and picked up Rach at the airport.

On Monday we went for a walk before work. I finished the majority of grading, and we had chicken shwarma for supper – Rach had hers on greens, and I had mine  on rice. I also took cat pictures.


On Tuesday, I roasted the two pounds of asparagus I bought at the Saturday market, and we had pasta – Costco cheese tortellini – with herb butter and the asparagus and a big salad. Mark got home from Minneapolis in time for supper. I made lemon curd, and cookie dough, for lemon curd sandwich cookies to take to a meeting on Thursday – the high level administrator who was scheduled to visit is fond of lemon curd. Won’t fix the budget, but can’t hurt.


On Wednesday, I had to be at the Teaching & Learning Symposium by 8:00, and stay until 1:00 to facilitate the lunch, then dash back to the library school for another meeting reviewing student e-portfolios. But I was home by 4:00 and got the little cookies baked. I think the cutter I have must be for Easter – I think it’s supposed to be an egg. We went to see Iris at Sundance – what a great movie. It opens with the sound of her jewelery clinking – reminded me of my mom and Rach of her grandma. We ate at the dumpling place and wandered and looked at shoes at Cornblooms and Morgan’s and clothes at Title 9 till the movie started.

When we gt home I had time to sandwich up the cookies before the David Letterman grand finale – which I think I liked even better than the Mad Men finale – and I liked the Mad Men finale. I think Don wrote the Coke commercial – that makes it a kind of happy, kind of cynical, really pretty funny ending. Just right.



On Thursday, it was more meetings, including the one the cookies were for. I got my first CSA box of the season – picked up by bike, and I see I’m going to have to traverse construction zones to get to the pickup spot, in someone’s garage in the Vilas neighborhood. A nice spring box: rhubarb, asparagus, green garlic, bunches of arugula and spinach – the spinach has really long stems – a bunch of radishes with nice greens, and a big bunch of leaf lettuce, too. And a bag of wintered over potatoes. Rach had the brilliant idea to walk after work, so we went out after I put the box contents away – and it was just gorgeous. I made another batch of roasted vegetables, carrots and potatoes – not the ones from my box though, some nice little golden ones from the market last week, also last years – and asparagus. I made rice pudding, too, with rice leftover from Monday, which was delicious with the rhubarb sauce from Sunday. 



No Letterman, but I wanted to watch a recorded Ripper Street and the cats could not settle. Kahn kept whining and clawing at the door to the upstairs because he knows there’s another cat up there. I kept having to get up and squirt him to get him away from the door. Rach started calling me Debra Shapiro, MLS, CW – cat wrangler. Finally, Kahn perched on the back of the red couch like the Sphinx, Hammie was in my lap, and my cats had given up in disgust and retired to the bedroom.

Friday was a day of no-meetings-bliss, but I wanted to tame email and finish a syllabus and online course space.

Hammie decided to reorganize my t-shirt drawer while we were out walking.


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Rhubarb custard tart – still my Waterloo

I’ve always said that rhubarb custard tart is my Waterloo, the recipe I can never get right. A few days ago, I thought I found a recipe that would work. I baked it last night, and even though this is definitely my best ever, I still had a few problems. I had too much custard, it wouldn’t all fit in the shell; I tried not to over fill, but it ran over just a bit.

A custard tart is one of those things that you need to eat right away, so I decided to take it to work, where there’re more eaters. I cut it in half and left a slice for Mark at home, then I packed it into my metal 13 x 9 x 2 pan with the snap-on lid. I carried it out to the garage and tried 3 or 4 different ways of attaching t to my bike, and of course I dropped it  in between the last two.

Here’s the (suitably adapted) recipe.

Rhubarb tart, overflow

Rhubarb tart, overflow

fresh out of the oven, Thursday night

fresh out of the oven, Thursday night

After being dropped, while trying to bunge the pan to my bike rack

After being dropped, while trying to bunge the pan to my bike rack

Trimmed up

Trimmed up

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The Monday after Mothers Day


Almond cake with sticks of rhubarb on top


I ate that last piece of leftover bacon and single slice of pizza before I walked to the movie


I had a pretty good Mother’s Day. The only one of my kids who was here was my “daughter in law”, John’s girlfriend, Megan. But both John and Al called, and my first foster daughter, Kaylah, posted a really nice mom’s day message on Facebook.

I worked till about 9:30 on Saturday night, grading in one of my online courses, so I wouldn’t have to do any work work on Sunday – and I really kept it to a few emails and reading John’s thesis paper.

We had bacon and egg pizza and rhubarb almond coffee cake and berries for breakfast. Putting sticks of rhubarb on top of the cake looks good, but they get a little thready, and they slide off when you cut into the cake with your fork.

I did laundry, but I haven’t folded any of it yet. I went for a little bike ride and bought fizzy water. I got a new pannier last week, so I’m still kind of checking it out, throwing heavy things, like six packs of fizzy or beer, into it. On Saturday we went to the farmers’ market and my rear tire went flat on the way home. I made it home, just. It was actually probably my comeuppance for being a really bad girlfriend. Mark got me a new iPhone 6 for early Mothers Day – we went an picked it on Friday afternoon. Right before my tire went flat, I said, “You know I love the iPhone and thanks so much, but what I really wanted for Mothers Day was for you to clean the chain on my bike, and adjust the derailleurs”. “Oh just take it in”, he said, in exasperation. I thought, since I’d made it home, I might be able to make it to the bike shop, so I pumped up the tire, but only got two blocks by the time it was flat. I walked my bike home, and shoved it in the car, and took it to be repaired. A couple of hours and $21.50 and it was smooth riding again, no crunchy gears, and Mark didn’t have to do it. Although when I went out Sunday I kept hallucinating the tire going flat again, but I think it was just bumpy roads.

Marked down, and I bought it with my REI patronage rebate - so free. I had to pay shipping, because they wouldn't do in-store pickup for this - but it still cost less than $35 even with the shipping added

Marked down, and I bought it with my REI patronage rebate – so free. I had to pay shipping, because they wouldn’t do in-store pickup for this – but it still cost less than $35 even with the shipping added

I walked to Union South to see Paddington Bear, which was really quite fun. Lots of 19th century mechanized contraptions. And bleeding hearts (above) on the way there.

When I got home, I settled I to watch TV. I drank 2 bottles of porter, and about 2 fingers of whiskey, and watched Game of Thrones, Mad Men, and the first episode of Grace and Frankie.

I woke up on Monday realizing that I’d left a load of laundry in the dryer – it was OK – and I hadn’t paid bills – and I just felt kind of cruddy, maybe because of drinking my dinner. Or because my seemingly perpetual sinus infection or allergies, or whatever is making my head hurt so much. I was going to go out for a walk but it was cold and rainy. I paid bills instead, and puttered, and then by the time I was ready to leave it was so rainy I took the bus.

I took a midday break and went to look for myself in Occupy Discovery – an art installation where one of the UW Art faculty, Faisal Abdu’Allah, had photographed people – or had them send in their own images – holding up 11×17 sheets of paper with the slogans of their choice. I found myself but it only added to my general malaise of the day. I thought I was having a good hair day when I got my picture taken back in April, and I tried to compose my features, not clamp my lips together. But I still looked pained, old lady grooves around my mouth, droopy and pouchy. He printed the photos B&W which didn’t help me, either – I think I still have good color, but that was taken out in the B&W. I tried to make up for it by practicing selfies. I’m still really bad at it.

Bathroom with backdrop of drying clothes

Bathroom with backdrop of drying clothes – those old lady grooves around the mouth are showing

Me in the kitchen on Tuesday morning

Me in the kitchen (happier?) on Tuesday morning

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Not a good way to start, Random observations, too meta for me

I’m having a terrible time with this post.

I wanted to write something quick about the sucky start my day had had on Wednesday. But I didn’t finish and kept on writing on Thursday and Friday, and Saturday, and got caught up in trying to record things that happened later, that seemed related, that I observed – and of course, the food. Topped off by trying to edit on Saturday AM, on my new iPhone 6, where the Word Press app doesn’t work quite the same as I’m used to.

And now I see that I didn’t even get in watching Tina Fey and Ray Romano on some of Letterman’s last shows – but I’m sure there’ll be plenty of blog writers on that – and what I thought about an incredibly scatological commercial I saw, and the new toilet paper in the bathrooms at work. And the Sesame Street top-10 list. Network TV, that I’ve been oblivious to – Letterman made fun of JC Penny’s slogan, “When it fits, you feel it.” which evidently has been around for over a year.

The original title was “not a good way to start”, then I crossed that out and re-titled to “random observations”. The iPhone 6 Word Press took out the html strike-through code, by the way.

So, the original title has become perfectly meta.

I also got sidetracked by seeing a brief Facebook post by a friend, about how her day had started off sucky, and through the kindness of strangers, got better. I wanted the same feeling from some Friday morning blossom shots – see below.

Roasted Green Beans & Potatoes with Shallots

Wednesday dinner: Roasted Green Beans & Potatoes with Shallots

I generally try to be polite – online snark has such a way of blowing back on you – but …

On Wednesday, I stayed in bed a little late and checked email on my phone. There were a bunch of messages related to the budget discussion for an organization I’m co-chairing, including a request from my co-chair to take the conversation off email to the phone. Which makes me feel like a scolded teenager.

Mark’s cat came and got back in bed with me – nice – but just then the heat came on. We’d opened windows and forgotten to turn it off; it was pretty warm outside overnight, but it got below the 68° that the thermostat was set at.

I remembered I’d forgotten to reply to an especially clueless student – although, actually, some other stuff I found out today turned that delay into a good thing.

The cleaners had been here on Tuesday, and that night I washed all the rugs, getting rid of winter grit, and replaced them with clean ones. Wednesday morning, I came downstairs and fed the cats, and the black one immediately puked up her breakfast onto the counter – not usual for her. I noticed other small puddles of cat froth in the back hall, and realized that somebody had frothed on the corner of one of new clean rugs. Already.

I was planning to bike, I had a pan of gluten-free brownies for a work party, internship students graduation thing, and I was going to go to the library and pick up a prescription, after work – all much easier by bike. It wasn’t raining when I was puttering around the kitchen, but just when I decided to go out, our 20% chance of showers started coming down. I had a new pannier and I got that installed, and then I went back in and ate a banana and read for a few minutes. Naturally, Hammie decided it’d be fun to jump in my lap, and flop her tail across my banana. But it was still raining pretty hard after all that, and 9:14, so I decided I better walk.

I had to juggle the ALA conference bag with the brownies in it, and my regular Hermione green bag , and my umbrella – and because I had on my slippery raincoat the straps kept sliding off. And of course by the time I got to work, it was almost sunny. Although it did rain some more, after I was inside.

Despite the rocky start, it was an OK day. The work party was surprisingly fun. I left the last of the gluten free brownies in the SLIS library for students and headed home. I left my work laptop at work. I made roasted potatoes & green beans, with some of the wintered over shallots I bought at the 2nd farmers market sliced in. I ate them with garbanzo beans on top of lettuce. I munched up a bunch of other stuff while I waited for the potatoes & beans to get done as I recall. And this was after having a sandwich for lunch, 1 1/2 slices of that no-knead bread, a few thin slices of aged Gouda, an egg, and I ate the extra half with peanut butter and jelly.

And oh yeah, I made rhubarb bars. My 9-inch baking pan was still at the library with the last of gluten free brownies in it, so it seemed like a good idea, Wednesday evening, to go out and buy a foil pan for the rhubarb bars. And pick up that prescription I didn’t get in the morning, by bike.

The grocery store didn’t have any 9-inch foil pans, so I bought a pack of two shallow 12 inchers. Which turned out to be a good size for the bars – except – the foil pan had kind of scalloped edges, to which the bars stuck. And I was worried about transporting the floppy foil pan by bike – the bars would crumble. I ended up cutting off the edges to make nice square bars, and packing them into a plastic container. I should of used my metal 13 x 9 x 2 pan, that has the snap-on plastic lid, that I can bunge cord to my bike rack. Oh, well. To fill the bars, I used the rhubarb jam/puree I made on Sunday, according to the recipe from this rhubarb & cheese-filled coffee cake. I had also chopped up and macerated some of the rhubarb in sugar, a la this recipe, but this (fibery) rhubarb didn’t soften – it stayed hard and green. I threw that in, too, and was worried that it would not get thoroughly cooked in the bars. And it still didn’t seem like enough filling, so I threw in the jar of jam that had the strawberry, cherry, and apricot jam solids, leftover from filling the spoon cookies. The bars were praised at the meeting I took them to Thursday, and again I took what was left over to the SLIS library.

Foil pan - note scalloped edges

Foil pan – note scalloped edges

Thursday started with Hammie on top of the frigermator – so that was kind of fun.


The rest of Thursday, was a blur of meetings – I had 11 draft personnel policies to read before the first meeting – and trying to grade, and emails to try to get students placed in internships this summer. I thawed out hamburger meat, flour tortillas, and veggie broth, to make beef enchiladas, but when I got home I just wasn’t that hungry. One of the meetings included lunch. Union catering box lunch – plastic clamshell with a turkey & cheese sandwich on a soggy bun, salad: mixed greens in a little cup with a pouch of dressing, bag of chips – that I took and left on the goodie table at the SLIS library with the leftover bars – and a chocolate chip cookie that I took one bite of and decided I best save the calories for the rhubarb-cherry-strawberry bars. After work, I spent almost an hour and a half writing up my notes from meeting with the candidates for Dean of the Graduate School, since feedback was due May 8th. Then I had bar edges and ice cream for dinner, and watched Ripper Street. Don’t know what they’re going to do with Inspector Reid, now that he’s killed someone – although, we are watching this a year late –  I just checked the episode list, and now have an idea <grin>.


On Friday, I woke up and couldn’t decide why I hadn’t elected to work at home. Maybe it was because I had a 2-hour block of exit interview slots with graduating students from 9:00 to 11:00 – but only one student signed up, for a 9:00 – 9:30 appointment, and it was a phone call. My other timed things for the day were a lunch at noon at Union South, and a phone call with my co-chair regarding the budget, continuing the conversation that started Wednesday. And we had tickets for the symphony, last of the season.

I biked in, and took pictures of blooming trees on the way there and on the way back. Did the interview with the student, came home, and ate bar edges for breakfast. I set up my computer on the kitchen counter, and worked, though just more administrivia – I still have not done a significant amount of grading. I biked to the lunch, another Union-catered affair, same sandwiches as Thursday, so I elected to have salad and a cookie. Much better cookies this time, same salad, better dressing, NOT in a pouch, in a bowl with a dipper. Naturally, I dripped salad dressing on my skirt. Came home, worked some more, had the dread phone call, which was surprisingly not terrible – until my co-chair found it necessary to scold me. Sigh.

Mark took me to the Apple Store to get my iPhone 6. When we got back at around 5:30, it seemed more important to play with the iPhone until it was time to go to the symphony, than to make the enchiladas. To transfer all my stuff from the old phone, since I had not been backing up to the cloud, I had to back it up to my computer. Then, when I connected the new phone, turned out that my old iPhone 4 had a higher iOS then what they were shipping on the 6s – so that was an hour+ download. The uncertainty of getting all my stuff to transfer to the new phone required stress eating, so I had leftover potato salad and fried rice and two graham crackers with Nutella. I wasn’t able to turn the new 6 into my own phone until after the symphony. Now I think I like the iPhone 6 OK, but I’m not sure. I’m still in the missing the way my old phone worked mode, and getting used to the change. Mostly, it’s too big. The off button is in the wrong place, too.

Here’s all the blooms from Friday morning – enjoy:

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A “normal” Sunday

I’ve been trying to have a real Sunday – with somewhat mixed success.

Instead of going for a walk first thing, I puttered around, and did some work – finished grading an assignment in one of my online courses – and washed my hair. And I baked a loaf of bread – less spongy (and more whole wheat) than last week’s (The recipe is 2 cups white & 1 ww flour – usually I reverse that – but this loaf is the greater amount of white). But it meant we didn’t eat until like 12:45.


Good brunch, though – scrambled eggs with scallions and Parmesan & aged Gouda – using up some small containers of pre-grated cheese that had been lurking in the fridge; bacon – and I didn’t burn it this time; and rhubarb cream-cheese filled coffee cake.

Rhbrab & cream cheese filled coffeecake, pretty much this recipe, except I used pecans, and made it in the mixer instead of food processor.

Rhubarb & cream cheese filled coffeecake, pretty much this recipe, except I used pecans, and made it in the mixer instead of food processor.

Then we went out for a walk – Mark to Starbucks, and I just did the loop and came back home. The flowering trees are still gorgeous, but spring is progressing – it was too hot for walking for the first time this year, and had to take my ring off as my fingers swelled.

I did some more grading, and email clean up, and quit at about 4:00.

I made picnic potato salad – I like that you can see little pink bits that are the shallots.


I actually read most of the Sunday NYT, too.

I think I’ll make the rest of the rhubarb into puree, then just laze in front of TV. Wolf Hall, Game of Thrones, Mad Men. Ha, my “Sunday morning” tag on this post just reminded me of Nico & the Velvet Underground.

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What did I do all week?

Let’s see … on Sunday I baked cinnamon rolls & pecan sticky buns. And a loaf of long-rise bread that came out spongy, but good.

I mis-timed the bread a little bit – I started it on Saturday around noon, so got up at about 6:30 – waaay too early for a Sunday – to  shape the loaf and let it rise, after the recommended 8 – 18 hours of rising. The dough was a little too wet; think that’s why it came out spongy. I set the oven on timer with the cast iron casserole I was going to put the bread in, and went back to bed for a bit. Baked the rolls, started laundry, biked over to Whole Foods for milk, and the green beans called for in this: Vegetable Toad-in-the-Hole. I didn’t have all the herbs – just used thyme that I had in the freezer – and used the garlic butter I made from the sprouty garlic a few weeks back, to cook the vegetables in, instead of slicing and peeling more cloves. And, I didn’t add the extra teaspoon of whole grain mustard – the recipe said 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon.

We ate the sweet rolls, and the Toad-in-the-Hole, and strawberries and a banana and a kiwi, and bacon, for breakfast.

Then I worked for a while, did more laundry, and we walked to Sundance to see While We’re Young (this New Yorker review also covers White God, that I saw at the film fest).

On Monday, I took a plastic container of the sweet rolls to work, and had some of each for breakfast.


But before that, I had an 8:00 AM dentist appointment. My dentist, who I’ve been seeing for like 30 years, not counting the 5 years I was in Chicago, is retiring. My mom and my kids all went to her, too. The people at my dentist’s office were all very sweet – they called me a few days before my appointment, to let me know that Dr. Kelly was retiring, and her replacement was going to be able to take more kinds of insurance, including mine. I’d been self-paying for years. Anyways, after I got cleaned, Dr. Kelly came in to check my teeth, then brought in her replacement Dr. Christianson, so I could meet him. She used to take a month off in the spring and go do dental care for kids in Haiti – but I guess she broke her hip last year, and is thinking maybe not this year. And that she can find kids who need dental care, closer than Haiti.

Dr. Kathleen Kelly

Dr. Kathleen Kelly

Came home after work, and we went to see Rhiannon Giddens. I’ve been kind of obsessed with the Another Day, Another Time concert that T-Bone Burnett put together, after the Inside Llewyn Davis movie. Giddens does what I always liked about the Grateful Dead – researching and interpreting traditional songs. And in fact they do some of the [sorta] same ones, like Sugaree, that’s Jerry Garcia’s version; Giddens does it more like Elizabeth Cotten. All around this world – or Hang me, oh Hang me, as Dave van Ronk called it, is in the Llewyn Davis movie.

Tuesday, Mark got up at 5:00 and went back to Chicago – I just went to work – meetings, both online and face-to-face. I got home at a decent hour, and thought I’d make turkey club sandwiches on that spongy bread. I had to open the online meeting room for some students at 8:00, so I thought I had time to read John’s paper, but I burned the bacon. Well, not really burned, but dark and crunchy. The way Oma liked her bacon. Megan and I ate it in the sandwiches anyway.

The rest of the week was basically the same – off to work, or maybe a walk early – and then staying late. Not much time for cooking, although of course I still ate.

Wednesday I walked first thing – got coffee at Colectivo on Monroe – because I had to drive to work, in order to go out to Sun Prairie for a site visit. Rounds of meetings, although I did sneak out for a walk after the 9:45 to 10:15 meeting – I had a check to deposit, and went up to the square, to the farther away credit union. At 5:30, there was a poster session, for internship students, so I was at that until about 7:00. I bought pad thai on the way home, which I gobbled before opening an online meeting for some students. This group had more technical glitches than usual, and it took almost an hour to get them set, and I need to login and open the room so they can practice more on Sunday afternoon. I made banana muffins, after the practice session, from the Sarabeth’s Bakery book. More buttery than usually do, and sour cream. And the bananas sliced instead of mashed.

Thursday, it was Teaching Academy new fellows induction, and home for class at 7:00. Leftover cold pad thai, and vegetable toad in hole, for supper. The sungold tomatoes in the toad in hole were particularly tasty as a leftover. I wanted to watch Ripper Street on Netflix, but it wouldn’t load. I ate great handfuls of chocolate chips and mini marshmallows, either in frustration or tiredness, and went off to bed feeling a little queasy.

chocolate chips and marshmallows

chocolate chips and marshmallows

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Saturday supper

I made pork tenderloin roasted in a salt crust. I wanted to use the leftover ball of salt & flour playdough I’d made, since I’d only needed abut half the batch of dough to sculpt my repose for the book fest.


I thought I might get trouts at the farmer’s market this morning, but when we passed by the booth, it was cold and uninspiring. Instead, I walked over to the Conscious Carnivore, a local and organic meat place, and got a little piece of pork tenderloin, just under 2#. I thought I might do beef, but they didn’t have any.

I kind of used this Alton Brown recipe, but using my playdough instead of a new batch of dough, and for a much smaller piece of meat, and pork not beef. I think I had too much moisture inside the dough – maybe the ice crystals on the frozen rosemary I scattered on the bottom of the dough package. I certainly didn’t slice one end and pull the meat out – I just kind of cut in on the side where juices had leaked out, like they do with other kinds of rolls, like strudels, when they cook, and pulled the meat out with a fork. But the meat was really good – moist, a tiny bit pink as we have come to decide is OK for pork.

We ate it with a few roasted potatoes, and a big salad – greens from the market, and the potatoes, were, too – last year’s wintered over.

Pictures? um, no – but the potatoes looked a lot like this:

Roasted potatoes with thyme

Roasted potatoes with thyme


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My week

If you think the week starts on Sunday, then mine started back in Indianapolis. I got up and made a pot of coffee in the room, wrote a blog post, and then got packed and dressed. I checked out and put my stuff in the car, although to find the car, I had to walk up and down a few levels in the parking ramp under the Pan Am Plaza – which seemed kind of desolate to me, and just realized that because they closed the ice skating rinks there last summer.

I found the closest ATM – not the greatest experience – the plastic door of the money dispenser was cracked and loose, and 2 of my $20s blew away, although I got them back. I went to the expensive Starbucks again, and got an iced coffee for the road.

If you think the week starts on Monday, then mine started in Chicago. I got up and made coffee, with my pour over cup top Melita filter holder, and then had two online meetings with students. I had a peanut butter & chocolate Kind bar for breakfast, and then I went to meet John. The plan was get coffee, and we ended up at Le Pain Quotidian. We each got a pot of their coffee, which was better than the cafe au lait’s I had drunk there before – hotter and stronger. John ordered a ham & cheese croissant that was good; I got a carrot muffin that was heavy and doughy.

I drove back to Madison, and got home at about 3:30, 4:00ish. I dropped my bags at home, and then took the car back to the UW Fleet Lot, behind the bike shop and Mickie D’s on Regent St. Walked home on the bike path, and got unpacked. While I was on I-90 in Illinois, the gas gauge on UW Fleet hybrid seemed to be dropping precipitously – so, although I was trying to hold out for Belvidere, I stopped for gas at the exit before, where there’s a giant truck stop. Depressing dark bathrooms, where the stall dividers hang crooked, really crummy paneling and ceilings, in the kind of cheaply built in the ’70s or ’80s structure that can only be knocked down and start over, but the owners can’t afford to. I bought a pack of Reese’s, but then I still stopped at Starbucks at Belvidere, and got a cookie, thus using up just about all my calories for the day. Regardless, I still felt hungry at dinner time, and heated up a serving of the matzoh spinach cheese pie, and ate it with Pasqual’s corn chips. I plugged in my work computer in the kitchen and tried to clean up email, and then re-watched Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones.

On Tuesday after work I took the bus to the Sequoya Library, and then walked home from there. I had this big idea that I’d put the chicken Spanish rice I’d been planning on making into the oven, then go grocery shopping while it cooked. But I didn’t get home till 6:15. I still made the rice, using up the chicken thigh meat I’d frozen since Passover, when the bones were the shank bones on my seder plate, and some veggie broth that didn’t get into the matzoh ball soup, and a small can of V-8 lurking in the back of the fridge, and two hunks of cheese, where I pared off the mold and grated what was left. Oh, yea, and the end of a jar of salsa.

I went out for groceries after dinner, and tried to get just enough to last till the weekend – yogurts, and bananas, and some broccoli slaw.

Lunches on Tuesday and Wednesday were the slightly soft strawberries from Mark’s fridge that he asked us to eat up, with honey & pecans, and a bagel on Tuesday, and a carton of yogurt on Wednesday after I shopped.

Wednesday night, I had two online class meetings, one at 6:00 and the other at 7:30. I had Tricuits with spreadin’ cheese when I got home before the first class, then microwave s’mores on cinnamon graham crackers during my unexpected almost hour-long break between the two classes. After class, I needed ice cream. I scraped off the icey parts of the gallon plastic bucket of Schoep’s that had been in the freezer for too long, and ate what was left with diced candied ginger and maple syrup.

Schoep's bucket, waiting on top of the fridge, to get added to my collection. They used to be 5 qt. buckets, now they're only a gallon

Schoep’s bucket, waiting on top of the fridge, to get added to my collection. They used to be 5 qt. buckets, now they’re only a gallon

Thursday I had meetings all day, both phone and f2f, and the one that went 11:00 – 1:00 included lunch. After my first phoner,  I walked up State St. to get a card to send to John’s former assistant coach, from back when he played rec hockey, in 8th and 9th grade. The coach’s wife, who’s a year younger than me, died earlier this month, from some kind of dementia. I hate it when people younger than me die.

A few of us from last meeting of the day, which got out at 5:15, a mere 45 minutes late, adjourned to the Union and split a pitcher of beer and some fried cheese curds. Thursday was cold, but sunny, so I biked. When I got home, I asked Mark which leftovers he wanted – matzoh spinach cheese pie, or Spanish rice. I heated up the last of the spinach cheese pie, and we ate it with coleslaw. I think I went to bed early.

On Friday, I worked at home, trying to get all the emails sent for student practicum placements this summer. I didn’t make it – still have 5 or 6 left to do. We just ate whatever for dinner – I had Jarlsberg melted on ends of bread, with tomato jam and coleslaw. Mark bought tickets for the Barber of Seville, and we went off to that. It was a long show – we didn’t get home until after 11:00. One of the singers, playing Dr. Bartolo, I think realized that his long black robe and flat curled hat made him look a bit like Marilyn Manson, or maybe Jack White – and he camped it up. We had hot chocolate and went to bed.

Post-opera hot chocolate. I don't think Mark finished his - dumped it down the sink when he thought I wasn't looking.

Post-opera hot chocolate. I don’t think Mark finished his – dumped it down the sink when he thought I wasn’t looking.

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Digital Libraries in Indy


Last year I went to Indianapolis for the Public Library Association Conference – this year it was DPLAFest – the Digital Public Library of America.

I got a university fleet car, and drove down on Friday morning.

The random travel thing was at my first pit stop, I almost crashed into a guy on my way out of the ladies room, while he was on his way into the men’s. By the  time I got back outside with my bottle of water, he was leaning against a post by my UW car, having a smoke. He asked if I was from Madison, said his band had opened for Tedeschi-Trucks there. The Sharrows, they’re from Madison, too. He asked if I’d like a copy of the band’s CD. They were going to Nashville for a gig – I think I was talking to the keyboard player.

I planned to leave Madison at about 8:00 AM, and thought I’d be there, easy, by 1:00 or 1:30 – Google said it was 5 hours and 23 minutes. So I’d be at the conference for the last session at 3:00. Well, I didn’t get out until more like 8:15, and there was traffic, and I forgot that Indianapolis is on Eastern time. So I arrived at the conference more like 3:45, since it was a 25 minute walk from the hotel – and only made the last 20 minutes of the session.

But I was there in time for the reception.

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My friend Martin had a poster, about the Biodiversity Heritage Library, from the  Smithsonian. They’re a DPLA hub and my favorite source of cool images for iPhone wallpaper and all kinds of stuff. I got introduced to the executive director of Europeana – although I didn’t know that’s who she was until the next morning – just thought she was an interesting woman with a British accent. We chatted about image rights.

Martin was too tired to go to dinner. I was rooming with one of my students, Hannah, and we decided to go back to the hotel, and dump our stuff, and catch up on email, and then think about food.

At the reception, some of the programmer types were talking about a brew pub called Twodeep – so we went there, left the hotel at about 7:00. We got beers, but they didn’t have any food – just a pierogi truck out front. We decided to try a burger place called Bru Burger. We put our names in, and it was an hour wait, so we went across to the this divey bar, called the Old Point, where I’d had chili for lunch my last trip to Indianapolis. We sat at the bar, and were pretty immediately accosted by this totally trashed guy, who bought us shots with pickle backs, and a basket of chips. Introduced us to his wife, who was equally trashed. Said the bartender was his (chubby, gay) cousin. We escaped and went back to Bru Burger, and got our table pretty quickly. I had the Bru burger, Taleggio cheese, bacon and tomato jam. One review I read didn’t agree, but I thought the Taleggio was pleasantly melty and sharp, and a little stinky, even against all the other burger flavors. And we split a side of their very crunchy onion rings.


Saturday was all conference all day. I got coffee at the Starbucks closest to the hotel. Seemed like airport prices, $4.14 for my latte, even in my own cup.

There were bagels at the conference when we got there, and box lunches – I had chicken salad. It was all OK – the biggest problem was that the sessions were in the Indiana State Library, and the Historical Society – right across the street – but also at the Library at IUPUI, a 10-minute walk. And if you did not stay within the thematic tracks, there wasn’t enough commute time. I got lost trying to get to Lily Library and missed the first 20 minutes of a session, and it was almost 80°, so not much fun to be lost, and traipsing across parks in downtown Indianapolis, with all the other Saturday tourists.


Dan Cohen gave the closing remarks, and said, “like last night, you’ll self-organize for drinks and dinner”. Which meant, since I’m not one of the cool kids, and Hannah had headed back to Ohio, and I was  too shy to ask the Europeana director what her dinner plans were, that I had a bag of chips and an apple I snagged from the box lunches, eaten over my computer, for dinner. I went out for frozen yogurt, after.

Frozen yogurt in Indianapolis - salted pretzel, and double chocolate, topped with coco puffs

Frozen yogurt in Indianapolis – salted pretzel, and double chocolate, topped with coco puffs

I got back to the hotel at about 7:30. It’s an old train station. One side has working trains, while what the desk clerk called the quiet side, when he checked me in, has dry-docked trains that they rent for parties. So there was a loud party – I think a wedding; people singing along to Don’t Stop Believin’. But I could hardly complain about noise at 8:30 on a Saturday. And, to the hotel’s credit, the noise ended precisely at midnight, and the place was silent by 12:15.

I got up and drove to Chicago on Sunday morning. Mark git us tickets to see Carousel at the Chicago Opera House – ooh la la for a Sunday afternoon. Despite the fact that Rodgers & Hammerstein played constantly at my house when I was a kid, much beloved by my voice-major-at-Bennington mother, I didn’t know that Bonnie Raitt’s dad, John Raitt, was the original Billy Bigelow on Broadway in 1945. And I completely forgot that You’ll Never Walk Alone is from carousel. When we came out, it was pouring, and we decided to walk as fast  as we could to go eat at Shaw’s Crab House. The entrees came while we sere still eating our salads – an utterly gigantic wedge salad that we split – but we were too hungry to care, and just had the waiter pile it on. We had filet mignon & scallops and shrimp, and Mark subbed a crab cake for his scallops. And mashed potatoes.

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