Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Bracing for the storm



Not cooking. Not cooking at all. It was my turn to host family dinner on Sunday night and we ordered pizza and watched my sister’s children (small, excitable) decorate the Christmas tree while my children (big, blase) occasionally glanced up from their phones when asked to place an ornament on a high branch. I didn’t even make a salad. I just haven’t been tuned in to the cookbook and cooking channel since Thanksgiving. Not enough bandwidth. 

Did I just mix metaphors? Are channels and bandwidth compatible? I don’t know! Who cares.

Here's what's been up:

-Work. Lots of work, the kind of writing work that never seems to end and may in fact never end, as opposed to magazine articles and blog posts which end quickly and with a satisfying snap. 
-Worrying. About the “storm of the decade” which was supposed to hit 26 minutes ago. School is closed tomorrow on account of this storm and I might have looked forward to a cozy day at home with the kids, popcorn, fire, et cetera, had we not removed all the blackberry vines and their stabilizing roots from the hill above our house last month, leading my father to send a concerned email yesterday that included the word “mudslide.” 
-Reading. Meghan Daum’s new essay collection The Unspeakable is as smart and polished as Lena Dunham’s memoir was smart and underbaked. I compare them only because they’re both by female authors who write unflinchingly about the zeitgeist and themselves. Topics Daum covers in her engrossing, entertaining book: Why, though straight, she dresses butch. Her mother’s death. A dinner party at Nora Ephron’s house. Joni Mitchell. Dogs. Choosing not to have children. 
-Seeing movies. I really, really liked, maybe even loved, The Homesman. It’s a Western starring Tommy Lee Jones and Hilary Swank and while I’d heard it was tedious, I found it witty, poetic, ribald, sad, dark, and more thought-provoking than Theory of Everything, Birdman, and The Imitation Game combined. 

That's all I've got tonight, friends. I'm quite tense right now, probably because of this stupid storm and our deforested hill. Back soon. I hope.

51 comments:

  1. Thanks for the links, it sounds as though your plate is very full. Work is good, no? But maybe not at this time of the year with so many other demands. I will be thinking good thoughts for you and yours during the storm. I hope it passes with little damage. You will get back to cooking when you get back to it. I find your posts engaging no matter the subject matter.

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  2. I have wanted to read "The Unspeakable" and am glad you enjoyed it. I will look for it. Best of luck with the storm--hopefully it's been oversold.

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  3. I hope you're weathering the deluge. I just did a quick check to see the latest weather report, and it looks really wet with lashing winds. And to echo beckster, I'm not here for the cookbook reports (although I feel well-informed and more culturally literate for having read them). I love your wit and style. Best wishes.

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  4. You are situated on bedrock my dear! Even the 1989 earthquake couldn't shake up that lot. Although when El Nino hit in 1998 we did cover the lower lot with a huge blue tarp. Don't think that went unnoticed by my niece's Tam High friends. They spread panic that we were sliding down the hill. Pretty funny but it saved us.
    I, too, love everything you care to post.

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  6. Hope you and yours will be safe during the storm.

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  7. Thanks for the review of The Homesman. It caught my eye, too, and now I'd definitely like to see it.

    I hope you weather the storm and come out unscathed! We could use some of that rain over here in Arizona. Supposedly tomorrow...but I'm not holding my breath.

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  8. Have you read Maria Semple's Where'd You Go, Bernadette? If not, read it AFTER the deluge.

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  9. Hi! Hope you're safe. Sounds to me like you could use some down-time (rest/sleep). Try super hard to take care of yourself. I love your writing, no matter what the topic. You have a real gift. And, an admirable work ethic(obviously). The latter makes it possible for the in-born genius to shine! Wishing you all the best!

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  10. Hope everything's OK with you! And thank you for introducing me to http://www.brainpickings.org. Before ten minutes had passed I had bookmarked a dozen articles I want to read there.

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  11. At least the kids were willing! Yesterday I had a Christmas miracle. Usually, I spend a disgruntled hour or two at Home Depot unbundling noble firs and standing them up and turning them around until I find a good one, then tying to car, driving home on freeway, unloading from car, hefting to porch. Too exhausted to attempt the pruning until the next day. Finally spend two hours removing extraneous branches. Too tired to think about stringing lights until tomorrow. Pine sap on hands and clothes. Procrastinate a couple of days. String lights, which takes at least two hours. Possibly three. Try to get other people to hang ornaments. End up doing most of it myself, especially the back of the tree. Admire tree. But yesterday, we went to our local CVS tree lot for the first time, where the trees were all on stands and easy to see. I found a good one, tied it to the car, drove it home and unloaded it--all in about twenty minutes. The microwave, into which I had put a casserole to defrost before we left, was still running when we got back. I pruned and lit the tree in a record three or four hours, and the kids all couldn't wait to hang ornaments--and they did a great job! Even the back! The whole tree job was done in half a day.

    (This still may sound like a lot of hours. But I come from a family of Christmas tree over-thinkers. My dad would always ask me to come with him to buy a tree, and we would often visit four or five lots trying to meet his exacting standards. Then my dad would prune his tree to within an inch of its life. He would grumble about how crooked the trunk was, and bemoan the gaps in its fullness. He even regularly frankensteined a trimmed-off branch into another empty spot by drilling a hole in the bole, sticking the branch in the hole, and wiring the branch in place. Basically Christmas tree prosthesis. But his tree always looked damned good, and it set a standard.)

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  12. The longer I hear nothing, the more worried I get. How are y'all?

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  13. FYI, checking multiple times a day for an update....Best, Ida

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  14. Hey, yes, we love you and hope to hear from you.

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  15. Jennifer, wishing you all the best! When you can, please let us know how you're doing--I hope things are okay. The image of a mudslide, which you presented in your post, is haunting. I know that I don't know you personally, yet I want you to know that I love your writing, your sassy opinions, and your brave, adventurous spirit--and reading your posts is something I look forward to.

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  16. I think I'm giving up on this blog. It's too infrequent to keep my attention. I love your writing and wish you were able to post more. Thanks.

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  17. Last Anonymous, I wonder if you are manually checking the site daily and that is one reason why you're disappointed. Over to the bottom right, you can subscribe to email updates. Then there's the RSS option: http://www.tipsybaker.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss
    That way Jennifer's new posts will come to you.

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