My mom has reached the age which is the average life span for an American woman. She's white, been financially secure since her 30s, still married to my father, has not smoked since 1986. So her life expectancy is probably 7-8 years higher than her current age.

Seven or eight years is nothing. And she's just lost an entire one of them to this bullshit pandemic. She's vaccinated now, as is my Dad, but we've been talking about the lost time. What it means for her, as she's keenly aware of how little she has left. What it means for her only grandchild who spent the first year as a teen like this. What it means for me, a person who's 50, who lost an ordinary year. Not one of the easily-numbered ones I have left. Not one of the exciting new ones.

But mostly she talks at angles about what it's like to have lost one of so few remaining years. What it's like to know all her accumulated things are of limited utility to me and my sister, no matter how much we love her or how fondly we remember them. 

When my first grandmother died, I was sitting through finals my last year of law school. There was little value in postponing them, so I did not go home. My mother and my sister cleaned out her house rather quickly, my sister looking carefully for the one thing we both wanted: a pendant she'd worn in the 70's. A large crystal fishbowl, studded with tiny goldfish. She'd hold it up to the light, pull the chain along behind it, showing us how the fish would swim.

They did not find the pendant. 


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3/23
 

It's Rancho Gordo time!

In the background: dehydrated sweet potatoes and collards.

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As in the Rancho Gordo heirloom beans people? I'd love to give them a try sometime. Which variety do you favor?
All of them? The above are Buckeye and White Navy. The Ayocote Morado are good, too, but they're out now. Of the ones available now, i recommend the Pinquito, Alubia Blanca, and Flageolet. https://www.ranchogordo.com/collections/heirloom-beans
rone 3/23
Eep.
rone 3/24
Looks lovely.
 

Yars and yars ago, I recall the more seasoned women in my family sitting around my gran's table, discussing the joy *ahem* of their cronehood: retirement, menopause, enlarged pores, wrinkles, chin hair...ya know...the good stuff.

Having been in my maidenhood at the time, these joys seemed a verrrrry long way off. 

Fast forward to what feels like exactly 4.3 seconds later, and here I am, looking in the mirror, watching my foundation as it takes up permanent residence in the ever increasing crevices that surround my eyes, thinking about the impending doom called menopause (while not even remotely close to retirement).

I find myself displeased at the notion that my next search on the google will include terms like: 'how to make one's face not look like the surface of the moon' and 'where to buy rubber bed sheets at 1 a.m.'.

But I'm not going to take this lying down (in a pool of my own sweat).

In fact, I'm going to file a formal complaint with the Home Office on behalf of females the world over. Feel free to peruse and add any additional grievances. I will amend prior to sending.

Dear Home Office:

Back fat should be illegal. Period. It is a particular sort of cruelty when one's back boobs are of a size to make their front boobs jealous.

Speaking of fat...pouches are for kangaroos. We are not kangaroos. There appears to have been some confusion regarding this distinction. Sort that out.

Apparently confusion is contagious as our head hair seems to have lost its way and ended up on our chins. Please advise it to return to its proper location. On its way northward, perhaps it can reverse the effects of gravity and pull our skin back up to its original location as well.

Wrinkles serve not a single purpose and are therefore completely superfluous. Kindly release from employment whoever designed them...they are inefficient and suck at life.

Adult acne. Seeeeeriously?! How is it possible to have acne and wrinkles at the same time? If it is an absolute requirement that you plague us with some sort of skin flaw...Freaking Pick One! You can't have both. That's just nonsense.

Which brings me to the girly parts.

We spend our lives hemorrhaging half to death like clockwork, often doubled over in excruciating pain, our favorite underwear running for their very lives.
​​​​​​​
And the offered reprieves?


Carry a bowling ball about for nine months and then push it out of a hole the size of a quarter (go on...do tell us about the stretching...and then kindly explain episiotomies hmmmm?).

Or...we may wait til we have wrinkles and back fat and then we can alternate between randomly hemorrhaging half to death, and stewing in a pool of our own juices whilst cooking from the inside out.

Shit options, those.

The engineer in charge of that entire debacle deserves a flogging. With tampons.

In short, we of all stages and ages of womanhood hereby demand a complete overhaul of your ridiculous system.

We look forward to an expedient resolution.

Thank you and fuck off.

:)

-Women





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3/22
 

Ahoy!

As usual, only time for a listo. I stink.

[] Delaware has opened up vaccines for people age 50, which means Matt is eligible, and I will be eligible in 3 weeks.  The second we heard DE was booking appointments for 50 year olds, Matt jumped online and scored an appointment waaaaaay down in Laurel, Delaware, which is a 2-hour drive from here... and worth every second.  Shot #1 is in Matt's (now sore) arm.

[] I turn 50 in 3-4 weeks, so hopefully my first shot won't be too far away.

[] On 3/31/21, Hot Breakfast! will be celebrating one year of Coffee Break Concerts.... we started this ridiculousness on 3/30/20.  These one-year anniversaries are very strange. Like, "Congratulations? I guess?"  Like, obviously I wish we didn't have this event to celebrate. But since this happened, I'm very grateful to have this event to celebrate.

[] We're headed back to NJ today (Sunday) so my dad can get his 2nd shot.  We wanted to be up there just in case he has a few days of side-effects and needs to chill, we can take care of Mom.

[] Driving in LSD (lower slower Delaware) on Thursday, I saw teeeeeeeny red tips on the tree branches, which tells me that SPRING IS HERE!!  Yippeeee!! I can't wait to feel the sunlight on my face.  It's supposed to be 63 degrees all week.

[] We were supposed to have our kitchen re-done last year, but Covid put a big stop to that... but now we've restarted the process.  Our friend is doing the work (don't worry, it's his full-time job, and it's not a favor or anything), and we'll be meeting with the cabinet lady after we get back to DE next week.  She'll take measurements and do the layout, and then it'll be up to our pal to do all the work.

[] Lume deodorant the greatest stuff in the world. It is WITCHCRAFT. You can put it on any body part, and it is impossible to stink... even during these COVID times can that sometimes feature a... more... relaxed(?) shower schedule... (*whistles quietly, looks around*)

[] Jon Batiste was interviewed by Terry Gross, and it was GLORIOUS. If you have 42 minutes and need your soul jumpstarted, I highly recommend it.  It's even better if you can listen to it without doing other things, but I know that's a huge ask.  But here's the link.  

OK, I need to get on the road. 

Love you all... hope you're all safe and seeing some of the spring's new light.

xoxo!


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If you say Lume is good, I'll try it. I was thinking about it.
Me too!
me three! i've been seeing their ads for a year now and thinking, "really???"
Jenn A 3/22
Yeaaaah for vaccines! Hoping you can get yours...they’re hard to get ahold of in PA.

Happy COVIDaversary for Coffee Breaks!

Perhaps the least talked about side effect of the plague...armpits across the world got just a little bit stinkier. 😁

Yasssss to Spring buds...saw some on the rhododendron today and mighta squealed a lil bit...like a lot a bit.

Safe travels💕
Shannie 3/21
 

Katie Couric:  "This member of the weasel family, whose name begins and ends with the letter E, is known for its white winter fur."

Me:  "Ermine!"

All the Jeopardy contestants:   <crickets chirping>

Me:  "C'mon, it's ermine!"

Wife:  "I didn't know that."

Me:  "But it's in the weasel family!"

Wife:  "Sorry, I married into the weasel family."

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I knew you'd ferret it out.
 

I know, I know. Banh mi literally means "bread" in Vietnamese. But we mostly steer clear of bread as a staple food, and we love banh mi. So I came up with this.

I've read that in Vietnam banh mi sandwiches are stuffed with all kinds of things. Even ice cream. Whereas I'm sure the usual filling, served as a salad, has a name of its own. But I don't know it, so.

Whatever, this is delicious.

Ingredients

  • 2 heads lettuce, chopped
  • 3-4 stalks of green onion, chopped
  • A chopped garlic scape (green stalk) or two, if you have 'em
  • 1 sliced carrot
  • 1 14 oz box firm tofu, cubed
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Fistful of arugula
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • Fresh basil, if you've got it
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 6 tablespoons rice vinegar (it matters)
  • 2 tablespoons Bragg's liquid aminos (or a smaller amount of soy sauce)
  • 1 date, chopped (to balance the acid; or use hoisin sauce and ditch the Bragg's)
  • A generous shake of paprika
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Toss in some sesame seeds

Combine and serve.

Rice vinegar seems to be the real "I am eating Vietnamese food" taste signal here, along with the cilantro.

Feel free to sub in actual onions, actual garlic, jalapenos, etc. according to your digestive capabilities.

The above would also be bangin' on actual baguette I'm sure, particularly with a little mayo. Also I haven't tried cucumber yet, which is definitely canonical.

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    A) This sounds ridiculously good.
    B) I miss Vietnamese food and OMG why do I not just make it?
    C) Fistful of Arugula is the name of my next album. :)
    This sounds deeeeeelish.
    YUM
    I’m jazzed about this.
    Rice vinegar is MAGIC, not just for Vietnamese recipes. It's so yummy.
    True facts.
    Also, YES CUCUMBER. Always cucumber.
    For some reason my beloved local produce store only has gigantic English cucumbers, but this dish might be the use for that.
    Thanks, Tom. This was EXACTLY what I wanted to eat today!

    I happened to have cucumber, so in it went.

    Used 2/3 regular rice vinegar and 1/3 seasoned (sweetened) rice vinegar; I have a choking trigger sometimes if things are too acidic, so I was being cautious. It's not actually dangerous, but my epiglottis SLAMS shut if something is too vinegary.

    Oh! And I didn't have any garlic scapes, so I buzzed a small clove of garlic with the date, vinegar, and Bragg's in a food processor. Chopped everything tiny and made a nice blended dressing.
    Anne Mollo 3/15edited
    Outstanding!
     

    Two weeks since I've thought about writing. I've been exhausted. I still am. But I was thinking about funerals and I wanted to write it down.

    Funerals--of the everyone arriving in a car, walking through the grass to the gravsite, someone listening to the end of something on the radio. My friend Will's a few years ago was like that. My cousin's husband's, around the same time. My gradnmother's. the year I got married. The kind with a meal in a restaurant's private room afterward. With a funeral parlor. "Sherry and small talk".

    The last two memorials I attended were at the same bar, in the same private room. It was just over a year ago I was at the last funeral I was at. It ended with a conga line of several of us, dressed in a variety of death drag--me in Gaiman Sandman. I put spouse in a Lyft with a dubious driver, went on to our more familiar local with my closests, and then made my way home later.

    I can't imagine more of the first kind in my future. Except my father. That's what he'd want. Not so my mother. She'd want no viewing (sorry, Mom, you'll get at least a family-only. I will want to say goodbye), no speeches, and absolutely no cemetary. But all the friends, when that starts, now we've come through this (assuming we have--one more friend is COVID-positive this week, but at least three more are vaccinated) will surely be the backroom of a bar, conga line, shots variety.

    I still hope mine is a garden party, with one of my besties, rolling up in a Rolls or Bentley, trunk packed with champagne and lobster.

    This is a stress valley. i hope the next climb is not too steep.

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    3/12
     

    ((waves hi!))

    I'm here, been lurking, though not as much as I would have liked.  I am all caught up on everyone's entries, but I admit I didn't read every comment. I'll peruse them as I can.

    All is good... well, as good as can be expected as we're coming up on a year of a pandemic. 

    Instead of something well-written, here's a trusty listo:

    • We played our 100th Coffee Break Concert on Wednesday, Feb 24th. A milestone!
    • Also, Matt and I marked 10 years together a week or two ago.
    • We got an estimate to get our ugly kitchen redone, and I'm excited about that.
    • I'm still not teaching, but I'm selling some courseware which is nice.  Would like to be selling more, but baby steps.
    • I have a bunch of dental work that needs to be done. I just got a form letter that says my dentist no longer participates in my dental insurance. She couldn't have made that choice 6 weeks ago when I chose my dental plan for 2021?
    • I have had pre-menpausal osteoporosis (osteopenia) since 2010 or so. My doctor told me to get another bone density scan to see how it's progressing, since it had been a while since I got one.  Insurance denied it. Why on earth would insurance deny a bone density scan? Isn't the only reason for a bone density scan is to check to see how far your osteoporosis is progressing?
    • Going to see the parents tomorrow.  Mom's mental state is getting worse due to a total lack of stimulation. The home health care workers we hired to come in 3x/week  are fine, but they aren't interesting to my mom, so they basically just do light housekeeping and that's it. They aren't able to engage with my mom... she just doesn't care.  This pandemic couldn't have happened at a worse time dementia-wise. Right before Covid hit, she was interested in hanging out at the senior center a few days per week just to make some friends, play some bingo, and use a few brain cells. So much for that.  By the time the senior center reopens, I worry she'll be too far gone. 
    • My dad got his first covid shot (didn't even feel it); his second one is in 3 weeks. Mom has not gotten hers yet.  My brother's whole family has gotten fully vaccinated, and I am absolutely delighted they're immunized; but there is a 10% "huh?" in my brain wondering why his 17 year old daughter already received her two shots yet my 78 year old mother with many comorbidities hasn't gotten her first yet.  I try not to think about this too much. We'll all get them in due time; vaccinating 350 million people ain't easy. 
    • I have a crush on Dr. Fauci. 
    • SNL has been killin' it in 2021.  I like that they're not afraid to just be surreal.  They do always have to have to the one character who has to explain the joke a bit, but it's a small price to pay.
    • Our Saturday night ritual is watching SNL on nbc/hulu, and then watching "Big Questions with The Dead Milkmen" on YouTube.  ("Big Questions" started pre-pandemic when the guys were in the studio recording their latest album. They decided they needed more content for their YouTube channel, so at each week's recording session, one of the guys would come up with a question, and each guy would answer it... and they'd follow it up with Recommendations, where they recommended something they think people would dig (a movie, book, food, cat toy, going for a walk, etc.).  It's absolutely delightful.  Once lockdown started, it became (like all things) a Zoom call.  It's really great. Some of their recommendations have been really wonderful during lockdown.

    That's the random news. 

    I hope everyone is doing well... I miss you all, and I really hope to get back on the OPW wagon.... which is what I said last time... but... yeah.

    xoxo


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    Waves hi back while coffee kicks in...
    Rog and I both got approved for vaccines in the same letter that said they are shutting down appointments temporarily due to lack of vaccines. I'm glad we both got approved, but it does suck when an out-of-work friend who happens to have a medical license got both hers a month ago. I'm glad for her, but.... BLEGH. Let's get this going already so we can move past this glaringly uneven distribution. The whole thing stinks.

    (I also am crushing on Fauci.)

    Oh, and congrats on 10 years, you guys. <3
    That's a heck of a listo. DENSE, even.

    Happy 100th CBC! Happy Mattiversary! Happy kitchen estimate! You should have a not-ugly space in which to eat popcorn dipped in Fluff.

    Boo for dental insurance badness. I might be switching dentists soon; the one I'm seeing for a consult soon doesn't accept most insurance, including mine, so... I'll go see 'em, but I don't see having to pay up front and then wait for my insurance to reimburse me as a long-term good idea. Maybe if they completely blow my mind with their competence.

    I'm sorry about your mom's state of mind. Dementia is tough and sometimes the declines can happen quickly. This past year has stolen so much from so many.

    Fauci and Psaki. My heart beats wild.
    That hole's supposed to be there, right? Okay, it could be more appropriately folded.
     

    The Kilobyte's Gambit is a lovely mashup of a chess engine in 1K of JavaScript, plus awesome CGA retro pixel art. I love it.

    Kicked my ass immediately, I’m not good at chess. A friend of mine in college used to say, regarding vegetarianism, that he wouldn’t eat anything that could beat him at chess. I found this worrisome.

    It also reminds me of this:

    Atari 2600 Video Chess! This was chess in 4K of 6502 assembly language, on a machine with only 128 bytes of RAM that was only really capable of displaying three, maybe six objects per line on the screen, and that only with tricky programming. If you look closely, you’ll see that the chess pieces are drawn on alternating lines to get around this limitation. Apparently it played decent chess.

    Before we hand the OG Atari developers the tiny-chess-program crown, though, the author of the 1K JavaScript chess engine has also written a 326-byte chess game for DOS, as well as... a 1K chess cartridge for the Atari 2600. Yes, it flickers a lot, but hey.

    So many props given. Two summers ago I wrote an AI checkers game of my own, using the minimax algorithm. It wasn't terribly good at checkers and it sure wasn't 1K of JavaScript. To be fair, it was also readable code.

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    I didn't last long either!

    I love 5K and 1K projects and then I cry when I load a webpage that's 6M and the main purpose is to direct you to a different page.
    I was just going to say, the varying lineweights were making me twitchy until I realized what they meant. Clever clever.
    Karen Kuhl 3/7edited
     

    My change included several hexagonal brass coins that were called pennies after the currency revaluation.  They had collectible reverses, including such states as Hawaii and Antigua.  I had purchased water in comically-small one-ounce bottles.  A teenaged beggar asked me for one of them.

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    "See a penny, pick it up! All day long you'll be a schmuck." — Chris Adams

    I went to Antigua once. It was a business trip that thankfully didn't pan out, the whole concept of offshore banking made my skin crawl. The intriguing things were just beyond my grasp on that trip because of the schedule and the company I was keeping. But I did see some sort of traditional British colonial judicial ritual unfold in the street. And at the airport, grasping for an authentic souvenir, I found just one: a sampler of local candy.