Thursday, January 31, 2013

Once In A While ...

... a whole lot of color and pretty can be had for 54 cents.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Highlighter Perch ...

Once upon a time, back when computers had to be controlled with mouses and keys, I sometimes reviewed software. Fun software, educational software, often software for kids. One of the vendors had produced a game that featured cute farm characters and at a trade show, they offered said cute farm characters as the booth's takeaway. We were allowed to take one. Just one. They were very clear.

I, of course, chose a rooster. And back at the office, I stuck him on top of a highlighter, because he fit perfectly and because I could keep him in my pencil mug that way, instead of cluttering up my desk.

I don't have much call in life for a highlighter these days, so he's been perched, ever since, on that same highlighter, corralled among my letter opener and assorted pencils and too many pens.

Until today. When I grabbed him to highlight some sentences in a book. And looked at him and thought, "You're today's picture."

It's nice to see him again. I like having animals on the ends of writing implements. I have a camel on the cap of a black pen in my car. Why else do you think little plastic animals have holes in them?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Pale Green Carnation On A Grey Day ...

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Do what you must today, winter. I have created a blueberry-muffin buffer.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Thoughts On Lip Syncing ...

This morning, the news that Beyonce lip synced her performance of the national anthem yesterday caused a bit of a kerfuffle.

Twitter was abuzz, no surprise in our celebrity-driven culture.

I saw it first as a rumor. I gave her the benefit of the doubt, figuring it was just another case of one person trying to tear another person down.

Then I saw it confirmed, and I have to say, I was disappointed.

Now, I think I understand Beyonce's motivations. It was a very important moment. As an artist, I'm sure she wanted to deliver the best possible rendition of our anthem for the president. I admire that.

But a taped performance isn't a true performance. In the studio, if you flub a phrase, you simply punch in a new take of that phrase and no one is ever the wiser. That's the beauty of production.

Hell, the president flubbed his oath. He swallowed a word. In a moment so filled with emotion, I'm surprised his voice was as steady as it was. Grace under pressure, that's for sure. But then, grace under pressure defines his entire presidency. But I digress.

Lip syncing is dishonest. It's not the "not singing" that bothers me so much as the "pretending to sing." To stand in front of an audience and let them believe that they're hearing you perform a song live when you're really just standing there mouthing the words but letting them believe that they're hearing you live bothers me. And mind you, I feel the same about any artist who lip syncs. This is not Beyonce-specific.

Fast forward to tonight.

Donna Brazile – whom I love, love, love – retweeted a comment from Terry McMillian: "I don't care that Beyonce lip-synced. We know she sounded just like herself on stage. And that's a fact."

I replied to ask a question: "Curious: What might your reaction have been if she had been introduced with 'Here to lip sync the nation anthem, Beyonce'?"

Ms. McMillan responded: "Oh, please."

I replied: "No, really. It's one thing to sing live, it's another to lip sync. Why not tell people it's not live? Because it matters."

In the meantime, she had written again: "Why don't you call Beyonce's people and complain? Or find something else to worry about."

So I replied: "I'm just commenting on your tweet. No need to get snarky."

And she wrote: "Go back and read your tweet."

To which I replied: "It was a sincere question. Twitter doesn't allow inflection. I honestly wonder if folks would be OK knowing it was taped."

At which point another tweeter chimed in: "Oh. baby Jeebus on a pogo stick. Is this really a big deal to you? Really? #whitewomensproblems"

Really?

I replied: "I'm just asking a question. No need to insert my race into it."

And my question stands: If lip syncing isn't a big deal, why not tell an audience up front that what they're about to hear is pre-recorded?

I presume the answer for most people is because they don't want to hear a recorded take of an artist, they want to experience a performance live.

When I go to a concert, it's not to listen to songs that I can listen to at home on a CD. It's to participate in an experience with the artist. He or she is creating music in real time. I am experiencing that music in real time. It's communal.

It's not about me just getting to get a glimpse of a famous person. I don't care about that. I care about the experience. (Ever been to a Springsteen show? That's an experience.)

Even as I write this, another tweeter has chimed in: "worry about those crows feet around your eyes sis"

My reply? "Charming."

Very enlightening, this brief exchange.

And I should know better than to hope for a substantive conversation on Twitter.

(By the by, there was a bit of "Did she or didn't she?" swirling about. Did she use a prerecorded track for only part of the song? From the Washington Post: "Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Gregory Wolf said that because there was no opportunity for Beyonce to rehearse with the Marine Band, it was determined that a live performance by the band was ill advised. Instead they used a pre-recorded track for the band’s portion of the song." But tonight, in the Post: "Update 5:29 p.m: The U.S. Marine Band has stated that Beyonce did indeed lip sync to a pre-recorded version of the national anthem.")

And the "crow's feet" snarker replied: "what? I thought you would like to know that you arent aging well...no?"

Like I said: Charming.

Oh, and the tweeter of "#whitewomensproblems" came back with: "And yet, you didn't respond to my question - just my apt hashtag. Nuff sed, sugar!"

To which I wrote: "I thought 'I'm just asking a question' sufficed. No, it's not a big deal to me, sugar."

It seemed like the best way to end a fruitless exchange.

I was asking a question about lip syncing. It's fascinating to me that some turned it into an issue of race and age.

Fascinating.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Chocolate Snickerdoodles ...

I was skeptical of this recipe when I ran across it yesterday. I'm a bit of a snickerdoodle purist, yet I like the combination of cinnamon and chocolate. So today, I made half a batch. And I made them on the small side. And I must report that they are delightful. They contain just a hint of cinnamon and they'll be a pleasure to dunk into a glass of milk. Give 'em a try.

Update: When I reported, above, that these are delightful, I was referring to the flavor. That they needed to be dunked into a glass of milk was because they were dry. And I recently figured out why: The recipe, as written in the original book, calls for 8 large cookies, not many little ones. But the baking time is the same in the book and in the post, despite the size of the cookies changing. Clearly, if you make smaller cookies, you need to bake them for less time. Ultimately, I adapted my own snickerdoodle recipe to incorporate cocoa. They were better, but still not great. At the end of the day, let snickerdoodles be snickerdoodles and get your chocolate fix another way.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saturday ...

There is sun. There are flowers. So far, so good.

Thanks, Mom!



Friday, January 18, 2013

Good Times, January Edition ...

The January cookie installment for the angelo:HOME blog features Goat Cheese Cheesecake Cookies because, as I've said to Angelo, "Cheese-filled baked goods are the best of all baked goods!" Don't you agree?


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Whither Sunlight? ...

This morning, I was happy to wake up to the sun.

I'm a big fan of grey days but I have my limits. Really, I'd prefer them on demand. Maybe if I lived in a virtual world, I could dial up the weather of my choice. But no, here I am, stuck in what passes for reality. It's hard to tell sometimes, what with the crap I see on TV.

But it was bright today, the sun doing its solar thing, providing energy if not to my body than at least to my mind.

I took a shower in my windowless bathroom. And then, deciding that a shower could not be my principle accomplishment for the day, I headed into my office's closet to continue this past weekend's productivity and then sat at my desk to shred. Paper. Not myself. Nor a guitar.

Upon leaving my office, I glanced to my left, through the dining-room window to the world outside.

And I said, "Ooh, big grey time."

Ooh, big grey time?

What my brain was thinking was, "Oh, it has gotten quite overcast."

What my brain told my mouth to say, for some reason, was, "Ooh, big grey time."

I swear English is not my second language.

Not in this lifetime, anyway.

I hope that the sun returns tomorrow. Well, no, really, I hope that the clouds depart.

This winter is already feeling too long. I need less big grey time.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Moon, With Zoom, Through Double-Pane Glass ...



Sunday, January 13, 2013

In The Closet ...

It was one of those days.

The kind in which one seemingly benign act is in fact not at all benign but rather the spark that lights a fuse that you hadn't at all intended to light.

I stepped into the closet off of my office to put my camera away – I keep it stashed in a certain drawer so I always know where to find it, because with a life as scintillating as mine, one never knows when one will need to grab the camera and snap off a few shots; hell, some days, I even leave the house – and so it began. I left my closet only to accomplish things that could not be accomplished inside the closet, but were all closet-centric at their core.

I stared at the array of wine bottles that covered the table just inside the door. I'd grouped them by vintner first, then varietal, not because it made sense to do that but because my obsessive need for order saw no reason not to arrange them that way. I had started saving them some years ago, with designs of using some of them to recreate a chandelier I'd seen in a Pottery Barn catalog and with designs of toting others to a glass shop and having the necks cut off on an angle and the rims polished smooth to turn them into water carafes like I'd seen online. Perhaps I'd give them away as hostess gifts. Perhaps I'd start a shop on Etsy. But I never did. And yesterday, I finally admitted to myself that I never would. And so I made several trips out to my large recycling bin and set them free.

My recycling man is going to think that I am a massive drunk. Which I am not. I probably poured out as much wine as I drank, maybe more. But even if I were a massive drunk, at least I could comfort myself in the knowledge that I am also environmentally minded. I'm sure all those bottles will end up being recycled into something lovely.

It felt very freeing, though, to clear that surface of all those bottles, to clear my mind of the "I really should do that someday"-ness that they represented. Perhaps I should. But I won't. The end. And anyway, my most recent wine purchase involves a spigot.

And from there, I set about organizing other parts of my closet. I pulled in a chair and grabbed a bag of rubber bands and plopped myself down in front of the two boxes of rolls of wrapping paper that had gotten out of hand. Christmas paper had migrated into the non-Christmas paper box. Rolls were jammed in at all angles. It was quite the bad scene. So I tidied and sorted and now everything is in its place and I can admit that I have no business buying wrapping paper until at least 2017.

I went through my boxes of Christmas and birthday cards, not cards sent but received, and divvied them up into piles to keep and to shred. The shred pile was far larger than the keep pile. And my shredder now sparkles with glitter. Why, why, why must there be so much glitter in the world? I dislike crunchy glitter cards. Please, send them to "Twilight" fans instead.

I organized my secondary ribbon and trim drawer. Well, really, it's my primary ribbon and trim drawer because the drawer above it is solely devoted to ribbon and the drawer below it, the drawer I was organizing, holds overflow spools of similar ribbon along with other kinds of ribbon and tags and more paper and twine. I stand ready to adorn packages or tie up tomato plants, whichever need should arise first.

I organized some piles of old statements that I have to keep around for seven years. I grouped my office supplies more logically. I moved my stash of voiceover stuff from one shelf to another, well aware that that is something I should get rid of but my psyche isn't ready to throw in the towel on that one just yet. I spent a few minutes getting adhesive off of the bottom of a wooden bowl. What the hell is that adhesive made out of? An asteroid could plow into the earth but I bet it wouldn't be able to smudge that adhesive off of that wooden bowl without an extra bit of effort.

I removed shipping boxes from Christmas now that I know that nothing has to go back. I fastened electrical cords with twist ties. Almost nothing in that closet went unmoved or untouched.

And now when I walk into it, I feel a sense of relief, not a sense of claustrophobia. Which is a good thing, in this first month of a new year. A fresh start.

There is still more to do. (It's time to get rid of that subwoofer that I've never taken out of the box.) But it was a good day's effort.

And then I left the closet and watched "The Bridges of Madison County" because I love that movie. I love that Meryl Streep was so fantastically awesome and entirely believable as an Italian housewife in Iowa and I love remembering that Clint Eastwood was rugged and gentle and handsome and not the crazy old man who will now forever be known for grousing at a chair.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Chipper ...

Today is grey. Just grey. The rain moved out overnight but it left behind a thick blanket of clouds. Or possibly lint.

Yesterday, more pleasantly, was National Bittersweet Chocolate Day, which called for chocolate chip cookies in my book. But as I was presently chipless, cookies would have to wait until after I went to the store.

Or until today, as it turned out.

I don't have a chocolate chip recipe that I love. I always default to the Nestle Toll House recipe, aka Nestlé Toulouse. (Oh, I love that episode of "Friends.") But then I remembered a post of Angelo's from some years back and if anyone can be counted on to know a better-than-decent chocolate chip cookie recipe, it's him. So that's the one I decided to try.

Look at these stunners:

Photo credit: Angelo Surmelis

Perfect, perfect, perfect.

I'm a big fan of perfect. Ladies and gentlemen, the man can bake.

So, butter softened and ingredients gathered, I set about making his recipe (or whomever's recipe it is), which isn't radically different from the Toulouse version but which boasts a bit more brown sugar (and a bit less white) and a bit more vanilla.

I use Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Premium Baking Chips ("cacao" is forever funny to me thanks to "Portlandia"), which are really more like discs than chips and they melt into the cookie more whereas Toll House chips hold their shape. I also put toasted walnuts into my chocolate cookies, which are delicious but which make for a cookie that looks, well, lumpy, somewhat unpleasantly so.

Which is fine, because Angelo's image is so lovely there was zero reason for me to attempt to take an attractive picture of an unattractive cookie on a grey day.

My house, though, smells wonderful and I have a fresh carton of milk on hand. As well as, as you know, wine.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

It Is Not The Best Of Wines, It Is Not The Worst Of Wines ...

It all comes of not being enough of a lush, I suppose.

I would buy a bottle of wine. I would open a bottle of wine. I would drink a glass or two from a bottle of wine. And then I wouldn't want any more.

So I'd add a stopper and pump-pump-pump out a bit of air and then, invariably, several days later, I'd remove the stopper and pour the wine down the drain.

Sad.

So yesterday, at a store, when I thought, "Ooh! Wine!", I then remembered my regrettable record with it.

So today, at a store, when I thought, "Ooh! Wine!", I headed right for the end of the aisle ... where the boxes reside.

I've had boxed wine before, from Trader Joe's. It was perfectly drinkable for what it was: I-want-a-glass-of-wine-tonight wine, not I'm-having-a-lovely-dinner-party wine.

As I was not in a Trader Joe's at the moment today, I was not looking at Trader Joe's wine. But I'd heard someone somewhere say something good about Black Box wines, so I thought "Why not?"

So I bought it and brought it home and set it on the counter and went about my day until a respectable wine-drinking hour arrived, which was about an hour ago, and I dispensed a glass of wine and took a sip and do you know what?

It's perfectly drinkable I-want-a-glass-of-wine-tonight wine.

As Cabernets go, no, it's not the biggest red I've ever had. But it's tasty and sippable and if I get a few more glasses out of the box, I'll be money ahead compared to the wine I would have otherwise poured down the drain.

Three cheers for the alleviation of wine-wasting guilt!

Also, I love the little "juice box" size, which would be right handy for a picnic.


Wednesday, January 09, 2013

I May Have Bread On My Mind ...

Baking Like No Other ...


There is a series of videos that I've just begun to view.

I am very grateful to Liza for producing these glimpses into the lives of people who are doing what I would love to do, who have preceded me on this particular path.

I came to know Liza's work through Gail.

I came to know Gail through David.

I do not remember how I came to know David. Kismet, I suppose.

Cookies, as you know, are kind of my thing.

But this morning, I watched this video about bread.

Oh, bread.

There is nothing more soulful to bake.

Cakes and pies and cookies and tarts and muffins and scones are all lovely. They can be earthy or artful or both.

But bread is different.

Bread participates in its creation. Bread responds.

Bread requires a different level of caring.

I have not strayed far from my bread-baking beginnings. My go-to loaves are still the bread I learned to bake when I was 8.

I have dabbled in other types – Greek bread (I love sesame seeds) and focaccia and rye and bagels – but most often I bake the bread that I know so well.

It makes lovely toast, dense enough to stand up to a good amount of butter and jam but light enough to offer a nice contrast to the crust.

It is also perfectly welcome just as it is, or smeared with a notable amount of soft butter.

But the making of it is the most fulfilling.

I use a mixer for most of the effort but then turn it out before it's done.

I am a firm believer that proper bread requires the use of my hands. The tactile experience of baking bread is part of the magic. And while dough is very forgiving in a lot of ways – all is not lost with the addition of too much liquid or too much flour; balance can usually be restored – communing with the dough tells me all I need to know.

Bread teaches me to be more patient. Bread takes its time and does its work deliberately.

Bread also reminds me to appreciate simple things. A year or so ago, on a snowy day, before I slid two loaves into the oven, I called my mom to invite her over to chat while it baked. We sat in my living room, by the glow of my Christmas tree, and talked while the aroma of baking bread filled my home. Can you imagine a better day?

I encourage people to bake bread, to not let it daunt them, but I understand those who are perfectly happy to visit a bakery instead.

The next time I'm in New York, I will surely have to visit Judith's Silver Moon Bakery. There are many offerings, but I'm most interested in the breads.

She has a bread calendar. I am in heaven and in awe.


Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Popcorn For Squirrels ...

I had gotten on a popcorn-eating jag.

I never eat it at the theater. I don't eat anything during a movie. It's just not my thing.

But at home, I like to make it. On the stove. In a pan. With a bit of oil. The way it should be made. Salt sticks to it nicely that way. And a little melted butter never hurts.

Not sure what to have for dinner? Popcorn!

Settling in with a DVD after a long day? Popcorn!

But then I got to thinking about whether it was good for me, and really, popcorn hulls are little shards moving through our digestive tracts, and that can't be good for us. Not to mention that corn isn't a vegetable, it's a grain, and I'm trying to cut grains out of my diet.

So I resolved to pitch my popcorn, which I keep in the freezer because it seems to pop up better from that state. White popcorn, not yellow, because it's prettier.

And then I thought about the squirrels who root around in my back yard for food, and I wondered if squirrels ate popcorn. So I Googled it – of course – and yup, squirrels and popcorn are A-OK.

I'd had friends tell me about popping popcorn in the microwave, no oil needed, no nothing, just a bag. So I scooped 1/4 cup of popcorn into a lunch bag, folded the top over twice and creased it good, put it in the microwave and set the timer for two and a half and hit Start.

I watched the turntable spin around, half expecting the bag to burst into flames. But nope, I heard a pop. And then another. Just like microwave popcorn. Because it was microwave popcorn, minus all the worrisome crap.

I listened to the popping and hit Stop maybe a bit prematurely. But there's little worse than the smell of burnt popcorn, so I erred on the side of caution.

And I retrieved the bag and opened it up and holy crap, it was lovely!

I tasted a kernel. Tasted fine. A bit bland what with its lack of oil and salt but fine.

I opened my office window and dumped it on top of my covered air conditioner.

I think the squirrels can get up there.

I hope so. I'd hate to think I was taunting them.

Maybe I buy them their own little bowl and set a batch on the ground.


Sunday, January 06, 2013

Well, That Was Weird ...

I often remember my dreams.

They usually linger for a few moments after I wake up and if I focus on them, review them in my mind, I sort of cement them into place.

As was the case with last night's.

I was dreaming about a man who looked quite a bit like Roger Daltrey but who was known to us as Roger Waters. My subconscious merged musical icons named Roger, it seems.

I was in a large room that had a subterranean feel to it, but we weren't in a basement. It was just a dark room, like music studios often are. Except it wasn't a music studio, per se.

A lot of people were in the room, and a musician friend walked in, too. He shouldn't have been there, really, as he's a professional musician and all the rest of us schlubs were just there in an amateur sense, but hey, who wouldn't want to hang out with Roger Daltrey-Waters, right?

Roger arrived and asked us to sing for him, but not a song. Just notes. Some little piece that was somehow significant to him, like he'd written it for a movie or something. But he didn't want us to sing it perfectly. He wanted us to interpret it, to let it come out however we thought would be best.

I sang it very straightforwardly. Go figure. Even in my subconscious, I won't take a risk.

Roger decided to work with the Musician – quelle surprise! – and while some folks remained in the strange, basement-like space, they ceased to be noticeable in the dream.

Roger sat at an upright piano. Musician sat on the edge of a bed, which was stripped down to its mattress pad, very bare. I was lying across it – fully clothed; move along, nothing to see here – and there were stacks of blankets on it. I have no idea why. Roger and Musician started to work on a piece together, at which point I said something, and Roger said, "Wipe that."

I'd just screwed up a recording.

Whoops.

Then, since dreams don't have tidy transitions in them like movies do, I was at the home of some woman who reminded me of my long-ago voice teacher but who wasn't her. She lived in an amazing home with a very wide, very long foyer/hallway that led to her living space. She wasn't home when I was there, but she knew I was going to be stopping by to pick up spinach, feta, and phyllo pies – in my dream, they weren't spanakopita – and they were wrapped for me in a large piece of parchment paper and still a bit warm.

Before I left, though, she appeared with Roger, and he and I got to chatting. She disappeared somewhere in the house and Roger was standing in a little nook, and as we talked, we got closer and closer until we were kissing, which seemed perfectly expected on both our parts. But then I had to go.

So I left through the long foyer hallway, and turned left when I got outside and walked past the most amazing, huge old trees, and got to high stone wall at the edge of her property where there was a very tall aluminum ladder that I was meant to take home. I couldn't possibly fit it in my car or even safely on the roof, so I hauled it back to her house and rested it against a wall, out of the way, then walked back down the hallway to tell her what I'd done and that I'd be back later to pick it up in my dad's truck.

She and Roger were playing cards.

He seemed glad that I had come back.

But I left again, and now found myself in a shopping mall, but not the expansive kind of mall that most of us think of today, but rather a more compact space with stores off of wending hallways with low-ish ceilings. Roger appeared beside me, there to pick something up from a merchant. For me.

He retrieved the package and handed it to me. They were meant to be earrings. Very large earrings, with post backs, but they were figures molded out of modeling compound or clay, styled and painted to look like ...

him.

To remember him by.

One was quite a rather good likeness of him.

The other one was clearly made by another artist and was larger and looked a bit more deformed. He was upset about that, but he was glad that at least one had come out well.

And then my brain went on to some other dream or I woke up, because that's where it ends in my head.

Ooookay.

And no, I didn't eat anything strange before bed last night.

I'm still waiting for folks to come up with the technology that will allow us to record our dreams. I'd love to be able to watch them.


Saturday, January 05, 2013

Poignancy In An Unexpected Place ...

The other day, in need of some get-me-goin' music, I wandered over to my CDs (yes, I still own CDs) and randomly pulled one off the shelf.

A collection of Madonna's greatest hits. GHV2. The second one.

OK. Madonna's good for some pep.

I popped it in and got about my getting.

And this morning, I hit Play on it again and dialed up "The Power of Goodbye."

The song has resonated with me from the first time that I heard it. But today, I heard parts of it differently. And I heard a word in the lyrics that I'd never noticed before. Or perhaps I had, but I'd forgotten.

The full lyrics of the song are:

Your heart is not open so I must go
The spell has been broken, I loved you so
Freedom comes when you learn to let go
Creation comes when you learn to say no

You were my lesson I had to learn
I was your fortress you had to burn
Pain is a warning that something's wrong
I pray to God that it won't be long
Do ya wanna go higher?

[Chorus:]

There's nothing left to try
There's no place left to hide
There's no greater power
Than the power of good-bye

Your heart is not open so I must go
The spell has been broken, I loved you so
You were my lesson I had to learn
I was your fortress

[Chorus 2:]

There's nothing left to lose
There's no more heart to bruise
There's no greater power
Than the power of good-bye

Learn to say good-bye
I yearn to say good-bye


I'm fascinated that I've listened to it so many times but my brain heard parts of it differently today. Or parts of it stood out to me differently today.

Creation comes when you learn to say no ...
Ain't that the truth? I had devoted so much energy to something so fruitless, when I finally put an end to it, all sorts of things shifted in my life.

Pain is a warning that something's wrong ...
Which we all know. But I had so thoroughly convinced myself that the pain of saying goodbye would be too much to bear that I was opting for the pain of the present instead. It turned out, the pain of the present was worse. Saying goodbye was difficult, but in the end, it was a relief.

There's no more heart to bruise ...
I still have my heart, fully and intact. But I had reached the end of what I was willing to justify as OK. In that situation, there was nothing more I was willing to let go on. Other than an ending.

But the word that I don't remember having heard before?

Yearn.

I yearn to say goodbye.

Oh, did I. Many times. But I couldn't bring myself to do it until the day that I finally did. And it wasn't easy. I was literally shaking. But then it was done.

All of which is to say that in this beginning of a new year, if there is something you've been wanting to do – needing to do – but you haven't yet done it for fear of the pain or the change or any other reason we are all so exquisitely good at conjuring in order to justify staying stuck, may I encourage you to take a step?

I think women struggle more with this than men. Men are conditioned to pursue what they want, to take what they want. Women are conditioned to provide, to give, to lift others up, to put themselves last. Men are the aggressors. Women are the pacifiers. It's all very primal.

But I think we could all do well to move toward the middle.

Paradigm shift aside, take a step toward shifting that thing in your life that is woefully out of balance. Ask for what you need. Do the thing you yearn to do.

I'll join you. Let's go higher.


Friday, January 04, 2013

What Is The Why? ...

The other day on Facebook (and maybe on Twitter, too), my friend Michele – who is awesome and thinky and who calls me "sugar," which I love – posted a link to this: The Future of You.

It was posted without prejudice, without commentary, just with the suggestion that we may want to read it and post a comment about what it made us think.

This is what it made me think: "Oh dear. That post simultaneously gave me hives and made me want to live at Walden Pond. If that's the future and the definition of success, I'll opt for failure in the past."

That was my comment on her page.

If you haven't yet clicked through to read The Future of You and if you're wondering why it gave me hives, allow me to share with you the author's three main themes, in his own words:

— "Self-branding is about being a signal in the noise of human capital."

— "Entrepreneurship is about adding value to society by disrupting it and improving the order of things: it is turning the present into the past by creating a better future."

— "Hyperconnectivity is about being a signal in the sea of data and making and shaping the waves of social knowledge."

Ack! I'm in business-speak, buzzword, gobbledygook hell.

"... it is turning the present into the past by creating a better future"?

What the hell does that even mean?

The present becomes the past whether we create a better future or not. It's called time. (We could get into a discussion here about whether time is linear or not, but we won't.)

"... a signal in the noise of human capital"? Is that what Kim Kardashian does? Because if it is, no-freakin'-thank you.

And hyperconnectivity?

I feel tired just seeing that word.

Sometime before Christmas, Michele and I were chatting and she asked me the most exquisitely simple question: "Why do you bake?"

Why do I bake?

Well, that's obvious. I bake because ... .

[ Crickets ]

Why do I bake?

Huh. Yes. Why do I bake?

There are immediate answers that spring to mind:

I bake because it makes people happy.

I bake because it's an outlet for my creativity.

I bake because I'm good at it and I like to feel expert at things.

But in thinking about it in terms of whether I should do it for a living, as so many of my friends and family very kindly and continually encourage me to do?

That was her point. That the Whys behind things lead us to understand the Hows.

I loved that conversation.

And when she weighed in on Mr. Buzzword Business-speak, she brought up the same notion: that he didn't explain why we should do these things. And without the why, well, there's really no point in doing anything, is there?

So that's what I'm pondering as the new year begins:

my whys.


Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Oh, This Color ...

Oh, this color. I need to live in this color, somewhere, somehow.

Benjamin Moore, you can do no wrong in my world. And I love your historic colors most of all.