Showing posts from February, 2013

True Tale of the Cabbage Casserole

Oh, the magpie, she wanders around some days with her head in a bag, which is a very hard posture in which to encounter the shiny.

Too many days to sum up, so I will settle with telling you the true tale of the cabbage casserole.

On Sunday, planning the food for the week I noticed that I had both unused portabellos and a whole head of cabbage. Seems like these could go together well. First thing I thought of was some sort of savory strudel, which let me tell you would be freaking delicious, but more than I want to cope with one a weeknight, so ... TO THE INNERWEBZ! Not to tip my hand too much, but this is one of the best uses of the internet. "OK, I have 15 minutes to make dinner, I have some croutons, a can of sardines and a fennel bulb ... go!" {OK, that was a gimme.} Lynne Rossetto Caspar is brilliant, and I am good at explaining to you how to think through your on-hand possibilities, but a google search is pretty fine, too. So, a 5 minutes of perusing, and I decide that …

Give in to it

Pardon my irregularity.

I suppose I have had time to do this since Thursday, but I have been in a sort of psychological hibernation these past few days, spending my time and energy on the family or on non-public projects. We had a movie night Friday - watched Robots. Z was glad for a kids' movie. It was much more clever and charming than I expected.

Saturday, I woke up at 3 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep. Whee! Z's wrist was still hurting and she was exhausted so we stayed home from orchestra, then I spent the day catching up on reading and writing stuff, and all of us went to opening night of the latest Noel Coward at the Hanna Theater. The children held up well. I did not. I have become an old lady who falls asleep during movies and plays. With the up at 3 a.m. and reading on the couch thing, too, I feel like I have become my mother. There are worse people to be.

Sunday was sleeping in and domesticity -- In the morning, we had an impromptu family meeting about scre…

Postmodern Beauty and Love

^ A reader found this blog using that as search string. I love that. I would like to make it the tagline for my little empire here.

Shiny Things: commonplace book of a magpie Postmodern Beauty and Love
Things have been tough here in my little empire this week. February continues. David's tour schedule continues. The needing to pay hundreds of dollars for a punctured gas tank continues.

Yet, all is well. Our little foursome muddles on. The kids made extra money by scrubbing grout for me last weekend, so Z took her spending money to a certain discount fashion store up the road where she had seen an absolutely fabulous cropped black and white striped jacket before her birthday. Sadly this bit of new wave wonderfulness was no longer in stock, but instead she purchased a blazer-shaped jacket made entirely of mint green lace with lilac cuffs.

Color trends confuse me sometimes. How did we arrive at the Moment of Ice Cream Pastels? Who decides this and why do I find myself drawn into it? Th…

Overwhelmed Bird

I feel overwhelmed by life, the world, finances, obligations, desires, options, constraints, a messy house, public shooting rampages, weather events, the whole of the Internet, all the books I want to to read and to write, the places I want to travel to, the person I want to be, the person I am, the people I live with, aging, wardrobe, all the back issues of the New Yorker I will never read, a longing for people gone away or dead, a longing for springtime, a longing for summer, that coat at the dry cleaners I keep forgetting to pick up, taxes, my inability to create more minutes in a day, and a deep, deep desire to have a sequestered sleep vacation.


I have read things and I have written things, many things of different sorts and for different reasons. I am overwhelmed by all that is not yet read or written. I have also been neglecting the ToT and I can hear it rattling and complaining over there on my desk.

Dinner: Monday, for President's Day, my dearie Jess and …

It's hydromatic

So, as you may have noticed, we are embarking on a new era Chez Thayer-Hansen. Z&O are old enough to begin the great indoctrination into movies and classic TV. Indoctrination programs for classic children's books, eclectic music, and live theater have already been underway and proceeding successfully, but our quest for world domination through overly enculturated offspring could not really begin in earnest until now.

Sometimes I think it really must be a burden to have us as parents.

My kids hadn't seen Star Wars until last weekend. I know, many, many of their contemporaries have been watching it for years now, but we are a bit sensitive about screen violence and not wanting to load their imagination with imagery of planets exploding, and that kind of thing. O especially has always had a hard time with even the implication of bad things happening on screen. (Scary music and the suggestion of suspense used to make him hide his face and cover his ears and make a terrible ke…

Segmented sleep (the good kind) & Punk rock love song

Having exhausted all of the permitted screen time for the day, the children and I spent the end of the evening reading together in the living room. When we got sleepy, we downloaded the next Borrowers book from the library website onto my kindle and went upstairs and read together in bed. First me to them, then all of us with our own books. O and I dozed off first Tiger purring between us and Z kept on for a while on her own before turning out the lamps and snuggling up against me. (She is rereading the Harry Potter books, on Book 2 now, determined to "know everything there is to know about Harry Potter." To that end we also downloaded an unofficial HP quiz book onto my kindle this evening.)

I woke an hour later, after "first sleep" and found myself awake enough to sit up and work. The children slept on either side of me as worked in the computer in the dark. They are both getting so big, but at moments like this I still feel like they are my babies. David came hom…

Unregenerate and Obdurate.

Found this gathered in an old journal I was leafing through. It really is as close to a personal manifesto as you are going to get from me:

"Our finest writing will certainly come from what is unregenerate in ourselves. It will come from the part the part that obdurate, unbanishable, immune to education, springing up like grass ... To love ourselves right now -- that is the transformative success. To see what is already beautiful -- that is the astonishing strength." -- Bonnie Friedman, Writing Past Dark, p 146

Unregenerate. Obdurate. What great words. Obdurate. The first two syllables are like buttocks, heavy and voluptuous, pressing roundly up against each other.

Reading: Like Wilde said, "I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train."

Writing: Yes. Looking for, reading, using/transcribing/revising/incorporating important notes from my travel journal.

Dinner: Pre-fab lemon pepper breaded haddock filets. Not bad.…

Golden key of glory (and Weller for your Valentine)

So I made Valentine's Day dinner with Sarah, our sitter, after taking Z to violin (Sarah took O to drum lesson), while David was off observing rehearsal for spring show #2. Not, perhaps, the most outstandingly romantic of evenings. (And as I said after Tuesday, we are just past the midway point of the difficult Season of the Outreach Tour.) However, it is romantic in a way, for what better expression of the love we have sustained for more than 18 years than to have everyone invested in their art. (And me? I wrote in the morning, and then I cooked.)

At violin I was thinking for the zillionth time how much I like violin pieces in D major (and there are so many of them ... the Beethoven concerto, for instance, and both the gavotte Z is working on, as well as a Bach piece her orchestra is learning) and wondering why that is. Perhaps you know music theory better than I and this is no surprise to you. But I finally went and looked it up ... all the way to Wikipedia ... and did you know…

Opening, midpoint, and new obsessions

Tuesday, I didn't see the State of the Union, because I was seeing David's show. I of course am not objective, but Double Heart is one of the best things he's written. It is in verse, as a prequel to Much Ado About Nothing, and he has managed to make that seem effortless and natural. His ensemble of actors does a fantastic job too. (Other perfs listed here: )

It opened in the Alcazar hotel in Cleveland Heights. The lobby of which is a Moorish confection. This hotel was once a hot spot for celebrities passing through town.

Thus we reach the midpoint of one of the most difficult seasons of the year - outreach tour season. More on this, perhaps, on the morrow.

Wednesday, tired and headachey from staying up too late 3 nights in a row, but also feeling very centered and full of good ideas.

Reading: On Tuesday, sat with O and read while he was doing his reading for school. We brought the gerbil cage downstairs so they co…

"You make really awesome pizzas. Just so you know."

And then there are some days when the scope of time seems to shift, and the time after school and work is generous and encompassing and people get to do more than they were counting on. Today was one of those days (even if the gerbils and the cats woke me up 3 times last night). No matter that when I left for work it was 51 degrees, and when I left to pick up Z from school it was 36 degrees and blowing hard, for it is winter still and it is Cleveland, which as Z and I established to a rousing oompa rhythm as we sang in the car: "It is warm and then cold and then warm and then cold and then warm and then warm and then warm and then cold, cold, cold, cold and then warm again, until it is cold."

Reading: Read New Moon's Arms during O's basketball practice. And I did begin the completion chapter in last night as promised. Now tonight to complete it.

Writing: 40 minutes of morning writing and a work plan for the week. Back in the saddle. Yeehaw.

Dinner: It's Monday and …

Continuing the children's education in American comedy ...

O, who is enamored with the poetry of Shel Silverstein, asked me to read "The Meehoo with and Exactlywatt"* (from Light in the Attic, scroll down for complete text) while we were snuggling up for a catnap. This cracks him up, so I told him he needed to see "Who's on First." We watched this version later in the afternoon, after getting home from the library. This totally cracked him up.

Plays for the play festival for which I am reading.
Hoping before sleep to get to the chapter on "completion" in Fearless Creating by Eric Maisel. I like this book a lot, and I have been using it piecemeal for many years. It is kind of an Artist's Way without the spiritual element. And, no, it is not at all ironic that I have been meaning to read this chapter for more than a week.

Writing: I talked more about writing than I did it. Brunch and conversation with longtime writer friends Catherine and Lee and discussion of producing a reading or suchlike event.…

Art is Everywhere! (the writers I know and love edition, #1)

I've been continuing in a state of artistic funk. Now that I do this blarg regularly, I could go back and trace the artistic funk pattern. Data, data, data. I am trying to persevere and trust that I will get back to place where I have a clear sense of purpose and productivity. In the meantime, rather than contemplate my own funky navel and bemoan my slow, slow artistic process, I thought I would try a different move to cut through fog. I will turn my attention outward and celebrate the many successes and accomplishments of my friends and associates:

My nearest and dearest friend and associate, Mr. David, has a show opening this coming Tuesday at the historic Alcazar Hotel in Cleveland Heights. Double Heart (The Courtship of Beatrice and Benedick)will then tour Northeast Ohio until March 6. (Follow the link for show times and locations.) This is an imagined prequel to Much Ado About Nothing, and it is written in iambic pentameter. I will be at the Alcazar on Tuesday. Perhaps you w…

A sight worth seeing. A vision of you.

Hey, it's Friday.

Reading: The kids and I finished Borrower's Afloat all cuddled up and cozy in bed. Z immediately said, "Now you need to get the next one," which is definitely true, as this book ends with them still on their perilous journey to the miniature village of Little Fordham.

And, be still my beating heart, I just discovered there is a recent British TV version of Borrowers in which Pod is played by Christopher Eccleston (my Doctor) and Stephen Fry appears as Mildeye.

I was going to read more but David came home earlier than expected, so we drank rye whiskey and watched Doctor Who (Smith not Eccleston).

Writing: 9 hour work day, soccer practice carpool, and a tv date = none. Here is the conundrum. People finish books while raising children and working jobs, some people even say it is better that way ... I am not despairing. I am just continuing to try to find the way to get it done. We all have this struggle, right?

The weekend is here.

Dinner: Ordered in pizz…

I don't mean maybe

This Thursday was actually OK. Exhausting, but OK.

I started the day by cutting my hair. There's a lot that goes into this experience.

I was taught how to do this by my cousin-in-law Kristen, whom I first met more than two decades ago, when she moved into the big old apartment on W. 102 and Broadway where I lived with my cousin. Kristen came on the recommendation of a mutual friend, who ended up usurping my boyfriend (in what was already a complicated and nontraditional relationship).

Kristen has always had amazing hair. It is one of her defining features. That and her love of good food. One of my foundational memories of her is of her sitting at the kitchen table dining on nothing but a bowl of roasted beets that she had bought on a whim at Fairway on her way home. She taught me how to cut my own hair a year and a half ago when we were on Nantucket baking lemon poppyseed cake for my Aunt Linda's memorial.

Reading: NYer piece on Scotch whisky made me want to go to Scotland.

Philosophy of language and eclectic overdue love songs

The interwebz have returned at my house! So it is Wednesday, what can I say?

Monday saw O hyperventilating from the stress of basketball practice (emotional and physical), but then by the time we sat down for dinner, he and his sister were having a debate about which comes first thought or language. O insisted quite emphatically and eloquently that language must come first because it is the thing which gives shape and therefore meaning to the chaos of sensory information. Z just as emphatically took the opposite stance, emphasizing the fact that thought grows associatively in the brain in ways that have nothing to do with language, and that language is merely the package we give it in order to make it known to others. I tried to stay out of the way.

Tuesday, I got to re-appreciate the other PTA mothers at O's school. I am not as involved with them this year, because Z is at a different school, so my focus is split. I feel a little homeless as a result. But, man, these are smart a…

Why no shiny?

Internet down at the Magpie Castle.

More soon.

In the meantime here's a pretty magpie picture from a quilters blog:

Like it or not, she's a pre-teen

Z's true birthday festivities, including sleepover with oldest friends, feasting, incessant viewing, Just Dancing, and a trip to a nail salon for fancy manicures, to YogurtVi for fancy yogurt (but really, what is so great about this stuff? I am not convinced), and to the pet store for a pair of gerbils. OK, enough with the birthday festivities. We have gerbils now. They are very cute.

Also, made menu plan, now making reading/writing plan.

Reading: Yes

Writing: Yes

Dinner: Ziti with smashed meatball sauce (secret ingredient: canned tomato soup. seriously. It's good. ... True story: I had a boyfriend when I was in high school who made spaghetti sauce with canned tomato soup and ground beef. Probably some sort of mid-century housewifery passed on to him by his mom. Tomato soup has a sweetness that is actually very appealing in a sauce. I would venture to say, mine, made up largely of last night's meatballs and a cup or so of rich spaghetti sauce, supplemented with a third of a …

Enormous Art

It snowed all day in Cleveland. Not blizzardy gross heavy snow, or scary violent winter storm snow, just a steady, patiently relentless stream of soft, quiet snow. The sky is white, the ground is white, the trees are white. Sometimes what was coming down looked liked fluffy chunks of cotton candy, giant conglomerations of snowflakes all stuck together. In summer this would be the kind of all-day light rain that sends me into a kind of ecstatic melancholy, so it only makes sense that I would like it in winter too. And, it is good at this latitude for winter to be winter. (Not that I would want to run in it.)

I finally, finally watched this video of Junot Diaz speaking at Google about his writing (Drown, Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, and This Is How You Lose Her) and the state of literature in general.

My friend Jane, who is not a writer but is an avid reader, sent it to me months ago. It is hard for me to find 42 minutes of uninterrupted time when I am not trying to get my own wr…

Magpies are like Blackbirds

Poor Z woke up this morning hearing me in the hallway outside her room talking about the snow and she got it in her head that she had a snow day. She and O emerged smiling and went to curl up for a family cuddle on the big bed. "We have a snow day!" she said nestling into me. She was disappointed, and probably embarrassed, nearly to tears when I told her that wasn't so.

And yet they went to school and we went to work, and Friday in general was better than Thursday.

Reading: Hmm ... pizza recipes in a magazine at lunch (none of them particularly inspiring).


OK. Another pattern is emerging. The pattern of Toni no read and write. This has something to do with my foul mood at week's end. I think of myself as a reader and writer, so when I don't do these things I get all cranky and strung out and weird. The goal for February, then, is to make a weekly PLAN, not just for writing but reading too, and to stick to it. I like plans.

Dinner: David and I went to Happ…