Overcooked

May. 25th, 2014 11:22 pm
darkemeralds: Image of an open book whose pages are turning into wings and flying away (Winged book)
It's been a peculiarly stressful week, beginning with a short visit from my brother, who flew up from Santa Barbara for our oldest sister's milestone 60th birthday.

(First of all, oh my god how do I have a sixty year old sister?)

I both love and like my brother, and we get along well. We had a nice time together.

DarkEmeralds and her sisters, brother, nieces and mother
from left to right: DarkEm, niece, younger sister, niece, niece, Mom, niece, brother, the birthday girl

But... )
darkemeralds: Old black and white portrait of DarkEm at the age of three (Little Me)
I only met my paternal grandfather twice. The first time, I was about three. He took me for ice cream. I wanted “green” which, to my West Coast and three-year-old mind was self-evidently lime sherbet. To his East Coast sensibilities, it meant pistachio. I cried all the way home. He said, “Damn kid” and “How the hell am I supposed to know what green ice cream is?” (This is a famous family story, often repeated--I doubt whether I actually remember it directly.)

It was barely a thing. It was a toddler crying over ice cream. Boo-hoo little special snowflake. But it was also a grown man normalizing rage and contempt for a grandchild he would only meet once again in his life. I must have deserved it. I was stupid. I should have known better. People will get mad and say bad things, and maybe shake me a little, if I don’t “learn to like it.” These are the preconscious proto-reactions of a three-year-old child.

Unto the third and the fourth generation )

29/30: RUI

Jun. 29th, 2013 07:44 pm
darkemeralds: Naked woman on a bike, caption "I don't care, I'm still free" (Bike Freedom)
Here's something you don't see every day: a drunk post from [personal profile] darkemeralds.

Okay, not, like, super drunk. After the stupidly annoying Saturday I had to spend at work today (two hours that turned into seven), I rode home in the 90 degrees (dear Phoenix and Las Vegas: I'm not complaining! Really!), then had to put every garment I had on into the laundry basket, take a cold shower, and re-do myself in order to go meet my sis for dinner.

I ordered a drink when I got there. "Gin 'n' Juice" was the homey name of the delectable cocktail that tasted of lime, grapefruit, rosemary and...um...something else yummy. Then I ordered another one.

I'm a cheap date. Two drinks and I'm ridiculous. My sister, a long-recovering alcoholic with a keen eye for "problems" was probably beginning to have doubts about my being the immune family member.

But you know what? It was fun. I talked more readily about more things than I usually do, and it probably doesn't hurt me to over-share a bit with my own sister. Right?

I slowly pedaled the ten or so blocks home on traffic-free back streets. Which, okay, Riding Under the Influence. Inadvisable but not the end of the world. And I did combine the gin with positively prodigious amounts of delicious dinner.

Note to self: balance, locomotion and control are pretty much autonomic: the problem is judgment at intersections.

Home without incident. Now for an evening of dumb TV and knitting. And hydration.
darkemeralds: Screencap from Where The Hell Is Matt (joy)
My brother, Allan Gibbons, took this pastel sketch in a life drawing class in 1995 and gave it to our parents. It has passed through the houses of various family members over the years, and today it has made its way at last onto my not-black living room walls, where it looks wonderful, and joins several other Allan Gibbons originals--and some Shirley Gibbonses, too (that's my mom).

Art in the family: one of the joys of my life.

Pastel drawing of a seated woman dressed in golden yellow

Detail of a pastel drawing showing the model's face
darkemeralds: Manga-style avatar of DarkEm with caption Hee (cartoony me)
The trouble with the Daily Posting commitment is that...well, there are bound to be some posts of virtually no substance.

Ahem! First of all, I bought one of these off NoMoreRack a couple of weeks ago.

A pink USB flash charger

It was on my desk just like that a couple of days ago. Norm walked up and after observing it, asked--very hesitatingly--"Um...what is that?"

LOL. I resisted the obvious crack and said, "It's a USB flash charger." Which it is. Very handy little device. You charge it, it charges your phone. Seems like it might save the day on a long flight.

Second of all, also in technology, my 83-year-old mom just got her first smartphone and is learning how to text. This is a major breakthrough for the I Heart Bell Telephone generation. Personally, I find text messages as heartwarming and welcome as letters in the mail used to be--and I hate talking on the phone; it will be interesting to see whether they make my mom feel more connected or less.

Third of all, as a follow up to the brain-cascade and migraine events of the past couple of weeks, it has taken several days, but I'm feeling "normal" again, whatever that is.

PS: NoMoreRack is the tumblr of bargain-shopping-porn. Don't go there unless you're feeling strong.
darkemeralds: Manga-style avatar of DarkEm with caption Hee (cartoony me)
The fact that there are still memes makes me kind of happy. [personal profile] oursin was doing the "Things I'm Grateful For/Happy About Beginning With the Letter _" meme. She gave me the letter H.

Read more... )
darkemeralds: Image of an open book whose pages are turning into wings and flying away (Winged book)
Five things on a Sunday night )

Back to work tomorrow. Work is evil. I can hardly wait for the Singularity.

Deep roots

May. 14th, 2012 10:08 am
darkemeralds: Naked woman on a bike, caption "I don't care, I'm still free" (Bike Freedom)
(Crossposted to [community profile] bicycles)

Back in 1895 or so, Miss Gertrude Cone (later Gertrude Yost, and my mother's mother's mother) put on her best outdoor gear and posed with her elegant ladies' bicycle at the side of the Willamette River in Portland.

It's nice to have roots. )

Far away

Apr. 26th, 2012 02:27 pm
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
My very dear niece, the one who watched all of the X-Files and most of The West Wing with me in her earlier teenage years, is leaving us soon for a summer working stint in a wonderfully adventurous location.

Seriously, half the fun is just zooming out on this map. )
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
After the little flurry of family angst yesterday, Christmas Day turned out to be perfectly splendid. The oh-so-casual beef dinner at Xmas-Sister's house was not only delicious (seriously, the best beef I've eaten in a long time, and home-grown green beans, plus mashed Yukon gold potatoes and a really good key lime cheesecake of which I had a sliver), but entirely relaxed and enjoyable, AND attended by all available local family members.

Technical difficulties )

I was dropping off the Zipcar by 6:50, so No-Xmas Sister and I went to have a look at some pretty Christmas lights...

Pretty Christmas Lights )

...and then I came home. I found a Hacker's Diet-compliant weight-loss tracking app for Android, and have been fiddling with it happily like a happy weight-losing geek all evening.

And to top it all off, I did not overeat today one bit. \o/
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
...Happy New Year, too.

Actually, there is no darling in my life unless you count this laptop, but that's my favorite pop Christmas song (Karen Carpenter had an amazing voice), and it sprang to mind, ironically, this crack-o-dawn Christmas Eve as I find myself in the unexpected position of juggling the family.

Family. I sweartagod... )

Damn it.

Merry Christmas, darling. Happy New Year too.
darkemeralds: Manga-style avatar of DarkEm with caption Hee (cartoony me)
What a splendid birthday! )

Not exactly a party animal, I know (well, I never was), but I had a lovely, lovely day from start to finish, and I hope everybody else's birthdays will always be as nice as mine was yesterday.
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
Family.

We have this thing where we do birthdays at my sister's house. Most everyone comes, we sing happy birthday and eat cake and talk and laugh. Usually it's pretty nice.

Tonight--brother-in-law's birthday--it got to me. My oldest niece is noticeably pregnant, so there's one topic of conversation I have absolutely nothing to say about. My younger sister has a new man in her life (must be serious: he was there) whom I was meeting for the first time. Nice guy, but there's another subject I have extremely little to say about.

I had to leave, a bit more abruptly than I'm proud of, when the stress of too many people in the room made me over-react to a careless remark from that all powerful person whose careless remarks can still overthrow my commonsense, i.e., my mother.

It wasn't too terrible--I didn't storm out, I did say goodbye and happy birthday and thank you--but it didn't go unnoticed, either. There was email afterwards of the "did we offend you?" variety. Which means I probably offended them.

Gah! I knew I didn't want to go before I went, but not going would have raised at least as many questions as leaving early did. I'm way past the point of trying to explain my quirks and limitations to my family, but at moments like this I have this hellish feeling that they're coming to their own, very wrong, conclusions about what's wrong with me.

It's frustrating.
darkemeralds: Baby picture of DarkEm with title 'Interstellar Losers Club' and caption 'Proud Member' (Proud Member)
Got one of those phone calls last night that you don't really like to get: "Hi, I'm at the hospital."

My sis, [livejournal.com profile] avventura1234 took a fall while working and either bruised or broke a rib. She said, "I was being so careful, too, because I know I'm tired."

She's tired because she has to work two jobs to keep a roof over her and her kids' heads. She went to the ED at Emanuel Hospital (her birthplace, and mine, incidentally) because she was in enough pain and fear to overrule her almost complete lack of healthcare coverage.

Upshot: the rib is probably not broken. The owner of the company said he'd pay for everything, which puts her at a significant advantage over a lot of people. Her kids are self-sufficient, I live across the street, and am easily able to help out.

[livejournal.com profile] avventura1234 left her phone in the emergency room, so my 17 year old niece and I rode our bikes back over there in the drizzle at 10:30 to get it. It was actually kind of pleasant out on the empty Sunday-night streets.

Today is the first day of summer, but that fact has not been communicated to the skies over the Willamette Valley, which remain pearly gray. It is...mild. Kind of timeless-feeling. Not actually raining today, so that makes a change.

I got word this morning of a an act of solidarity and support from a friend who could little afford to offer it, and I'm feeling very grateful. My sis is much better today, and now all I have to worry about is my appearance as a witness before a grand jury on Thursday.
darkemeralds: Poster image of farm-fresh food (Eat Food)
My nephew and I made Napoleons last night. See what I did there with the subject line?

I have conquered gluten-free puff pastry, you see. I had half a batch in the fridge (the first half having gone to make little test crackers), and I wanted to use it up before it went off. So I told my nephew, who's getting to that always-hungry age, that I was going to make Napoleons, and would he like to help out and then eat them?

"What're Napoleons?"

"They are delicious stacks of puff pastry layered with rich vanilla pastry cream and topped with chocolate-striped fondant."

Nephew, being a sensible boy who has been raised on good food, a) actually knew what I was talking about in that description and b) instantly perceived its appeal.

We ran to the store for a few things, then came back and he read me the recipe and measured stuff (in between playing with his iPhone and talking to me about Halo Reach), and by and by we had these sort-of Napoleons.

The pastry cream was too thin--more of a crème anglaise, really. We could not be bothered with fondant, so settled for powdered-sugar icing. The chocolate stripes were more like little blobs ("polka dots," we decided), and the result was incredibly messy and the portion had to be served in a bowl, with more custard spooned over the top to make up for what smooshed out upon cutting.

It was not photogenic, so I didn't photograph it.

But oh sweet mother of Jesus, it was delicious. The puff pastry (made from rice and tapioca flours, mostly) was absolutely perfectly croustillant--it crackled between the teeth with the most delicious crunch, and stayed crisp even in the face of the too-thin pastry cream. The pastry cream was rich and sweet and vanilla and cold. Eating this thing was dessert heaven.

Nephew and I each had a portion, then my 17 year old niece came over and she and I split what was left. She agreed that this was one of the greater family pâtisserie achievements ever.

Then I went to bed, and oh the dreams I had. The tossing and turning. The noise of my brain. I awoke this morning with a genuine, honest-to-badness hangover from the sugar. It took me two quarts of water, two ibuprofen, and two large cups of black coffee to begin to feel like a real girl again.

It's been a long time since I sugared out like that. Makes me realize how far I've come, because I used to be in that state, like, most of the time.

So will I be making gluten free Napoleons again? Oh hell yes. But I'll make them presentable, so that I can present them to others before they kill me.
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
Today is my mom's 80th birthday. I'm one lucky Baby Boomer, because a) I have no kids and b) my still-living mother is still very much living--healthy, independent, active and in full possession of all faculties, and resident in a nice condo about a mile and half from me. (She occasionally goes to a doctor, where, when they ask her what medications she's on and she says "None," they say, "No, really, what medications are you on?" and it repeats a few times before they get it.)

We had a family birthday party this evening--flourless chocolate cake made by my sis (since I'm wheat-free) and homemade ice cream (made by me--vanilla and mocha, pretty good), same as every family birthday, because she didn't want anything special, or any gifts. We did give her a nice big bunch of tulips.

There is no way not to view these kinds of days as numbered, and I'm grateful for every one of them. Happy birthday, Mom.

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