Sunday, February 15, 2015


The word "mocktail" tends to bring about an involuntary shudder.  Hey guys, don't worry about not drinking - you can enjoy a syrupy, grenadine filled, sugary mess.  Still, TOH and I enjoy cocktail hour - we play a bit of backgammon, read, put something on the record player, and enjoy whatever we've learned to make recently.  Of late, it's been a Sazerac, a decidedly alcoholic beverage off limits for February.

My wariness was mislaid, however, when it came to the Mellow Yellow from the ever reliable Tasting Table.  Despite the unpromising name, it was tangy, refreshing, not at all sweet, and echoed the complexity one gets with a well made cocktail.  And its tastiness was worth the reward of going through ones usual cocktail rituals - our beautiful, boxy red coupe glasses chilled in the freezer, the cocktail thoroughly shaken in an art deco inspired cocktail shaker.

Of course, conversation led to which spirit would go best in the drink.  I thought a bourbon, but TOH's suggestion of mezcal seemed even better.  We'll let you know but, for now, this works beautifully.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Drybruary VI

This year sees me embark on year SIX of No Booze in February (TM).  As per usual, I am looking forward to it providing me with a chance to explore other sources of entertainment during the month.  This year I am hoping to make it to the members' preview of the Kehinde Wiley exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, Into the Woods, and my new favourite thing that I discovered last year - seeing the Oscar-nominated Animated Shorts and Documentary Shorts, which I'll be doing in a mega evening this upcoming Friday. 

Otherwise, it's a chance to catch up sleep, reading, tv, and do a lot of cooking.  Not much more exciting than that, but that's part of the point - a calm, slow month in which I hunker down and take advantage of the excuse to say no to going out, no to socialising, and yes to recovering some energy and zest for the rest of the year.  With six weddings, significant family birthdays, and other traveling obligations, it will hopefully carry me through those with a little more pep.

Monday, January 26, 2015


Tomorrow (Tuesday 27) is a snow day here in NYC - schools closed, public transport shut down tonight, and the office closed tomorrow.  I have plenty to do on my day at home.  Nonetheless, it is nice to be able to enjoy a respite, a pause, if not a complete stopping of work. 

With the pause, I can reflect on what I have planned to achieve and move toward this year.  

First, READING.  Last year I set myself the target of reading 60 books, which I achieved, but at the expense of tilting the balance of what I read far closer to the lightweight end of the range.  And while I am a big and unashamed fan of light reading (and I'm in very good company there), I was neglecting the factual and more literary end of the spectrum.  My initial goal for reading was even more books, but I realised that a better goal would be to read fewer books, but an improved balance of those books.  So my aim is 50, but alternating between a "serious" book and a more frivolous one.  I have just finished the Lydia Davis translation of Madame Bovary; I was inspired by this article the new translation lived up to its potential, completely and utterly - I finally understood what the fuss was about, although of course it was about a very different book, given the difference in translation.  I have subsequently moved onto a young adult fantasy fiction book, as is my wont (and, as is typical, recommended by the aforementioned Jenny Davidson's Light Reading blog).  Next up after this will be The Rebellious Life of Rosa Parks, and then... something else YA/Crime/Sci-Fi/Fantasy.  Not that those cannot be literary, but they generally will not count toward the "serious" one.  That requires non-fiction or literary fiction, I'm afraid. 

Second, EATING.  I am resurrecting the old Something Green Every Day resolution.  Last year was fantastic for eating - we learned a lot of new recipes, used our slow cooker a lot, and generally ate very well, and yet I still strayed into not eating something green every day, particularly if I did not get some in at lunch, because although I do enjoy my greens, I can be super lazy about eating them for lunch, and it's often really easy to just grab some delicious arepas or Thai.  One of the best ways to ensure I get something in is to keep broccoli in the freezer at work, which means that whatever I eat - leftovers, takeout, a baked sweet potato - I can have broccoli with it.  It's a start. 

Third, MOVIES.  Looking back at those 2012 resolutions, the movie one is something I would like to try a little more successfully this year.  We have been to see Birdman, which was utterly ludicrous, but I was enchanted by it.  With February coming up - and the annual No Booze in February festivities - there should be ample opportunities to see another then.  I'm hoping for Selma, I have to say, but there are others, I'm sure, worth the trip.  I'll also be off to see the short documentaries and animations - last year the documentaries were utterly gut-wrenching, and this year it appears that they're not much more fun.  Joy!

Finally, BLOGGING.  I've let this go, but I would like to make an effort to post more often, even if just to discuss the books or movies or recipes I've embraced as a result of these resolutions.  (And I am calling them resolutions, because "goals" or something else is me trying to kid myself that I'm not making resolutions). 

Wednesday, September 03, 2014


Winston (the Wu):
Destroyer of Mint

Devourer of Roses

Guardian of shoes and socks and dry washing

Filler of sinks

Slipper Wearer

Loudest Purrer
Walrus in Feline Form
Lover, not a fighter
Mr. Longpaws Brooklyn 2009-2014 (and Washington Heights March 2007-July 2009)
Lover of boxes, bags, and cases - whatever the size

Lover of Plastic Bags
Hugger of ipads, legs, whatever was going, really

Loving and Beloved Brother



If you were lucky, he would hang out under the sheets with you - or help you change them

Comforter extraordinaire

Cat in Space

Drinker of Bathwater
Tyrannical in his pursuit of affection
Licker of Armpits and Biter of Watches
He was my (far too) early morning alarm; the first face I saw when I got home as he ran, excitedly, with that big belly swinging, to greet me.
Destroyer of Rugs and Print Media.
Vanquisher of Butterflies, but not Mockingbirds.
A fan of dirt, sunbeams, and sitting underneath things.
He would lie on your back, your front, your legs or your head - whatever he could find.
For seven years he brought joy, affection, and a lot of hair to our lives.
He was very much loved, and he will be missed.

Monday, September 01, 2014


For various reasons, this summer has not been as light, airy, and filled with outdoor fun as ones in previous years. 

Yet on Saturday, as the season draws to a close, we managed to find a walk that fit our needs perfectly: breathtaking views (both because of the actual view and because of the ascent to the vista); fresh air and nature (a deer, a salamander, and millipedes galore - alive and being recycled by the local insect population); and, finally, a place to properly swim.*  There was a rather steep ascent for the first ten minutes, which leveled off.  We were rewarded with views over the freshwater pond below and, after stopping for a breather, headed down to the water side.  We reveled in the fresh water, which was a perfect temperature - not too hot, not too cold - and had not too much pond weed.  After scrambling out and discovering that Dr. TOH had kept the potential presence of water snakes from me, we then dried off with another couple of hours hiking.  

 The pond
The pond and, it appears, already changing leaves on the trees.
The highlight occurred as we ascended once more, scoffing some well-deserved firecracker chocolate at the top of Eagle Cliff, and taking a long look at the glorious scenery.  No eagles, though.  The only fauna during the walk was a rather startled but relatively brave deer, who stared at us before deciding munching some plants was more important, an eastern red spotted newt, a delightful little orange fellow whose brethren I've spotted before but not remembered to find out what they are, and many, many millipedes.  Seriously, I have never seen as many.  Remarkable little creatures - that flurry of legs is amazing to behold.

Eagle Cliff

 The view from the cliff

Then home for tea and medals.  On the drive home we crossed Bear Mountain Bridge and were stunned by ten or so birds of prey circling right next to the structure, making up for the lack of them at Eagle Cliff.  By then my hamstrings and glutes were complaining, a lot, and every part of me had that physical exhaustion that feels wonderful because you genuinely worked for it, and it came through being outside.  Nonetheless, we rallied for supper.  We even managed a full 45 minutes of The Grand Budapest Hotel before conking out on the sofa.  (We finished it last night - delightful, is my assessment.  Not as good as Moonrise Kingdom, but still one of Anderson's better films, I think).

* For various reasons, including strong lobbying by my lawyering kin, swimming in ponds/lakes in New York State is virtually impossible if you want to swim any kind of distance and not just plod around a small, roped off area.  This otherwise supportive and helpful piece about swimming holes in Harriman State Park is great, if you can get through the weird bit at the beginning, which may be actual disclaimers or merely a joke.  My favourite of the "Facts": "It is just as easy to refresh yourself by wading in a lake as swimming in it.  Wade, don’t swim." Right.