Tuesday, November 27, 2001

Today the cold version of the Santa Ana winds kicked up, at least out where I work. So it is very dry, static-y, and cold. My cat, Leo, who is sitting on my lap as I type, is keeping me warm. He likes watching the cursor move across the screen.

The news from Afghanistan (and the U.S.) is weighing heavily on me. As I type, I'm listening to The News Hour with Jim Lehrer on PBS. I feel I've not had the mental space to follow events closely; so I feel I've not been very engaged with what is happening.

I have much more I've been thinking about writing, but feel scattered. Two topics that perhaps I'll come back to: next Sunday begins the church year with Advent; and simple living.

Saturday, November 24, 2001

It is a rainy, chilly Saturday afternoon. One cat is curled up on her blanket on the couch; the other one is sleeping on the floor. The smell of cinnamon is wafting from the kitchen, where I'm cooking rice pudding. If only I had a working fireplace....Later this afternoon I'll bring in the candelabra that fits where the gas fire used to be.

I was up early to go to the Farmer's Market, which was empty of people. Besides oranges, guavas, lettuce, and cilantro, I bought a bunch of flowers, which are now in a vase next to my computer.

Then I went to Bed, Bath, & Beyond to get a present and a cookie press. I also found a red and green plaid table cloth for my card table, which complements the green plaid table cloth I'd found at a Salvation Army store a few years ago for my other table that now serves as a left-hand return for my desk. I also got matching cloth serviettes. The table linens ended up being on sale, although they weren't marked as such--a nice suprise!

Yes, I'm definitely in a home-making mood, along with much of the rest of the country according to articles I've read. But first I need to work on my final lecture, on Ezra-Nehemiah, which I give in a week and a half.

Friday, November 23, 2001

Scientific studies confirm the health benefits of cranberries: NY Times article (registration required).

Another cranberry-orange sauce recipe, from the NY Times, that doesn't require cooking the cranberries, thus preserving more of the health benefits.
I left the house at 6:15 this morning to arrive at work at 7:00. It's the first time I've driven out here without car pooling. Traffic was very light, but I saw three CHP officers who had pulled over speeding vehicles.

Most of the people who work around me doing data entry and filing are young women with small children. Some of them had already been shopping for Christmas presents at Kmart before they arrived at work at 7:30 or 8:00 this morning.

It's going to be a long, slow day. I have a big research project to start now that budgets are done. I also need to finish unpacking boxes from the move; we just got two more filing cabinets.

Thursday, November 22, 2001

Signs of the December holidays are appearing around town. I wish Southern Californians would remember they don't live in a snowy, winter wonderland. Snowmen just don't fit. On the other hand, since poinsettias are from Mexico originally, they seem a more appropriate Christmas decoration. The bleachers for the Rose Parade on New Year's Day started going up a month ago.

In Zambia, flame lilies bloom in December, a beautiful Christmas flower.

[Edited 1/22/06: Removed image and instead linked to flame lily image on James Warwick's site.]
My first turkey was a success. I used an oven bag to cook it in and put it breast-side down. I tried a sweet potato recipe with orange juice--not a success. But, thanks to my pressure cooker, I cooked yams in less than 10 minutes and mashed them with butter and a little brown sugar. The cranberry sauce turned out OK. The cranberries had been in the freezer since last year, at least, and the oranges from the supermaket weren't very juicy. (I had to miss the Farmer's Market on Saturday because I was in Denver.)

I had Thanksgiving Dinner with former neighbors who also go to my church. It was a relaxing afternoon with good food.

Now I have to think of creative ways to use 10 lbs. of turkey.

Wednesday, November 21, 2001

Some day I'll be as organized as Susie and have a whole section for my recipes, but for now I'll record my cranberry sauce recipe. It's a combination of two recipes from the LA Times Food section and from a cookbook on permanent loan from my mother, A Continual Feast: A Cookbook to Celebrate the Joys of Family and Faith Throughout the Christian Year by Evelyn Birge Vitz.

Cranberry-Orange Sauce
Make 1-3 days in advance for best flavor

1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar (I use less)
3 whole cloves
3 allspice berries
2 cinnamon sticks
1 bag (12 oz) or 3 cups cranberries
1 orange, peeled, seeded, chopped
Grated rind of one orange

Bring sugar, water, cloves, allspice and cinnamon sticks to boil in 4-quart saucepan. Cook, stirring, until syrup is clear, about 3 minutes. Add cranberries and cook just until they begin to pop, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and cool. Add chopped oranges and grated orange rind. Refrigerate 1 to 3 days before serving. Remove cloves, allspice and cinnamon sticks before serving.

Now I'll go and make the recipe. I forgot I'm suppposed to make it a few days in advance....

Tuesday, November 20, 2001

I'm back. I had a good conference in Denver--it snowed! But only a little one night. The rest of the days were brilliant blue skies. I want to write everything down--the sessions I attended; my conversations and observations; the people I met; and, of course, the books I browsed. But right now I'm tired and just want to curl up on my couch and watch Gilmore Girls when it comes on at 8:00.

As soon as I got back this afternoon, I cleaned up the bird feathers in my tub left over from my cat's feast. Somehow, while I was gone, she lost her collar with the bell and used her tactical advantage to sneak up on some poor bird.

Then I went to the grocery store where I had to park in a remote corner. I'm glad I didn't delay getting to the store. Already it was a shopping cart derby. I bought a 10 lb. fresh turkey and will try cooking my first turkey on Thursday. I think I'll follow Susie's instructions for roasting turkey. I already have a good cranberry sauce recipe.

After putting away the groceries, I washed my very dirty car, watered the lawn, and put out the rubbish bins.

Then I made dinner: mashed potatoes; pork chops seasoned with jerk sauce; steamed cauliflower; and applesauce. After eating out for four days straight, I was ready for good, plain, home-cooked food.

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

I'm in another mono-focus phase. On Wednesday I lecture on the book of Ezekiel. I'm not as panicked this time but still feel overwhelmed trying to cover 48 chapters of very figurative, imaginative writing in 1.25 hours.

Friday I leave for the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting in Denver. It's fun to rub shoulders (at least at a distance) with those who write the books and commentaries I read. And then there is the book pavilion. Every conceivable publisher of biblical or religious studies' books all with incredible deals....

Thursday, November 08, 2001

So, Norway is the number one place to live: "[M]ost Norwegians admit that in terms of uplifting ideals and earthly comforts, life in this country is as good as it gets. And this year's U.N. Human Development Report confirms that: It ranks Norway the No. 1 place in the world to live, based on a cocktail of indicators about health, wealth and social outlook." Read the story in today's Los Angeles Times.

Tuesday, November 06, 2001

Today we experimented with arriving at work by 7:00 AM so we can leave at 4:00 PM. I don't mind getting up early, but already I've hit the late afternoon trough. Today at lunch we ventured out to the one bookstore in the area. It's one of those remainders/discount book warehouses. I bought a Sunset book about growing and using herbs.

In yesterday's column by Thomas Weber in the WSJ (paid subscription needed), Mr. Weber listed some sites devoted to reviews of digital cameras. I hope I'm not breaking any copyright laws by listing the sites here. Because I'm at work, I've not yet checked any of them, but, based on Mr. Weber's word, here they are:A quote from Mr. Weber's column:
For anyone about to plunk down hundreds of dollars on photographic equipment, these sites boast must-read material.

But they aren't just great resources. These sites are also remarkable for the way they're produced. They're mostly garage businesses, put together by a handful of people working out of basements and dens.

They aren't affiliated with any big media conglomerates or established photography magazines. Instead, in the best tradition of Internet publishing, they have given individuals a global voice.

Monday, November 05, 2001

Remember, remember the Fifth of November....Link over to Susie's site to see her post about Guy Fawkes Day. I, too, grew up celebrating Guy Fawkes Day, although in the context of a former British colony. At boarding school, we'd build a big bonfire on the playground, complete with an effigy of poor Guy on top of it. At night, the headmaster would light the fire, and we'd all prance (no dancing allowed) around the bonfire in our pyjamas and dressing gowns. If fireworks were available, we'd have a fireworks show, too. We'd also light sparklers and then throw them up into a tall pine tree. It was an exciting event at our isolated boarding school wedged in the corner of Zambia between Angola and Zaire (now Congo, again). And because we celebrated Zambia's Independence Day (see Oct. 24 below) in the same way (sans the effigy), the end of October and beginning of November were highlights of the term.

Thursday, November 01, 2001

It's been a long three days since I last had a chance to post anything here. Tuesday I started grading essay exams at 7 AM. Forty-nine exams later I went to bed about 10 PM. My only break was to go for a long walk before it got dark. Wednesday I graded a few more, then typed up the notes I'd taken about each exam, reviewing each one in the process and adjusting the grade if I read it differently the second time around. Then I drove out to school for class. The professor let the class out early because it was Halloween and a full moon, too, for the first time in many years.

Today I was up early again to catch the carpool for work. At lunch we ventured out of the building to---Costco! This new office location is in the middle of tract housing, strip mall, and discount retail warehouse shopping heaven. In fact, our building is a converted warehouse. The former truck loading bays are now windows. I sit in the midst of a sea of cubicles. Since people I don't know walk by my desk all day, I don't visit many websites other than strictly work-related ones. So my posting-to-my-website-at-work phase was rather sort lived.