big site update

I’ve discovered that it wasn’t just last week’s circumstances (Daddo’s visit, first week of classes, coughing) that made me so tired. Yesterday I came home after class, and I was ready to get in bed and go to sleep, from the moment I stepped in the door. I think it’s the dancing and the rush hour traffic combined. Meks me tired.

Today was nice, though; I had breakfast with my cohort, a hearty meal of two fried eggs and steel-cut oatmeal with raisins, sliced almonds, and Mommy’s spiced pickled peaches. (The oatmeal I brought from home; the eggs were cooked to order at a campus cafe.) Then we had class, which was interesting because we had had to read a horrible book and we all had strong opinions about it. I did what I could to soothe ruffled feathers by bringing chocolate biscotti to class. I think it helped a little.

Oh, speaking of feathers: during break we all went outdoors to enjoy the sunshine, and we saw a hawk eating a squirrel–a live squirrel–way up in a tree. I only saw the hawk’s back tail feathers and a furry squirrel tail sticking out next to them, then I stopped looking. Everyone else assured me it was disgusting.

After class we had lunch together, then I hung around with Jason and Christen and Patrick because it was so beautiful and sunny outside I wanted to play instead of going home and working. So we went to the bookstore and picked up next week’s reading, then we sat outside and checked people out for an hour or so. That was really, really fun. I haven’t people-watched outdoors with friends since Berkeley, and since Patrick’s a fellow Golden Bear, we had extra Berkeley karma. It was funny because we all got really into trying to figure out which guys and girls were everyone else’s “type”… ah, it was just a lovely way to spend an afternoon. I could have sat there all day.

Then I went to the post office to mail out my taxes, and to Amoeba to return a boring Bartók CD (I know, boring Bartók?! It’s a crime). I enjoyed Amoeba because with my store credit from returning the CD, I bought another CD, and when the girl saw I had my own Amoeba bag to take the CD home in, she gave me a coupon for $1 off my next purchase. Sweet. I bought the Nat King Cole Trio, music from 1940-41. I tried to find a better Bartók but it wasn’t happening, and then I spotted Nat King Cole and remembered the Trio. Kerwin played “Sweet Lorraine” for us last year in class, and I loved the sound. I had been looking for music by the trio (and not just NKC by himself) since then, but there’s not much out there to download, and I never managed to remember when I was at a record store. So I was happy to find this CD, and it actually has “Sweet Lorraine” on it. Yay! I’ve been listening to it since I got home. (Keep reading, or scroll down, to bottom of entry to hear “Sweet Lorraine” and read my stream-of-consciousness explanation for why it’s at the end of the entry instead of here.)

I was still feeling sunned and happy when I got home, and I thought I’d spend a few hours and just write, either fiction or in my journal, since I hadn’t set aside blocks of writing time since last quarter. Then I also thought it would be nice to do a big update on my site, so I ended up devoting the few hours to that instead. So the thoughtful journal entry will have to wait (yet again) for another time. But enjoy the site update! [site no longer online] I’ve made changes to the About Me page, and added to the Links and Art pages. It may not look like much, but it did take three hours! Maintaining a website takes so much more time than I’d realized when I started, but I love it.

Now it’s time for dinner. Leftover eggplant from my dinner with Jason on Monday, plus really cool rice I made yesterday. Here, I’ll even give you the recipe. Let me put the eggplant and rice in the micro to cook, and I’ll type the recipe up for you in the meantime. Be right back. (Ha, not that you can tell.)

Parsi Pullao
Parsi Rice with Cloves and Cinnamon

an Indian recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian
serves 4-6

2c basmati rice
1 1/2T sugar
1/4c peanut or canola oil
8 cloves
2″ piece of cinnamon
1 medium onion, cut in half lengthwise and then into very fine half rings
1t salt

Wash rice in several changes of water. Drain. Cover well with water and leave to soak for 30 minutes. Drain well.

Put sugar in a small, heavy pan and set over medium-low heat. Allow sugar to melt, caramelize, and brown without stirring. Now pour in 1c of water. Be careful, as it will bubble. Stir. Pour into a measuring jug. Add more water to make 2 2/3c and set aside.

Put oil in a heavy pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the cloves and cinnamon. Stir once or twice and put in onion. Stir and fry until onion has browned. Now put in rice and salt. Stir gently to coat all the rice grains with oil.

Now pour in caramel water and bring to a boil. Cover, turn heat down to very low, and cook gently for 25 minutes.

Remove cloves and cinnamon before serving.

This rice comes out just slightly sweet and spiced, not nearly as strong as you might think. It’s a lovely accompaniment to Indian food or probably anything else, and I ate a bunch of it last night all by itself too. Oh, and I didn’t have basmati rice, so I just used plain long-grain. It worked fine.

You know, I think my recent experience with lectures and teaching is making me neurotically passionate about sharing information. I wrote and delivered a lecture to my cohort last quarter, and did research for a professor to help her plan her own lectures for a course, and now I’m grading for that class and attending the lectures, so I get to see how the information I found makes its way into the lectures she gives. I’m becoming so obsessive that I’m now going to spend valuable dinner time ripping “Sweet Lorraine” from my new CD so you can hear what it sounds like. This is going to take a while because I haven’t done this in a while and I forgot which software I use. I don’t even know if I have it on this computer. Hang on.

I am so nuts. I didn’t have the software, so I downloaded it and now I’m ripping the tracks. I’m doing this all because I don’t think anyone will care about my new Nat King Cole Trio CD or my story about it if they don’t know what the music sounds like, is that correct? So I’m showing you, to give you better understanding. That’s all I want in the world! More understanding! All I can do to help foster it, for tonight anyway, is rip a song for you, so I’m doing my part. Is grad school making me crazy or what?

I guess, in the interest of even fuller understanding, I should tell you what’s so cool about Nat King Cole singing “Sweet Lorraine”: he changed the line “eyes bluer than the summer skies” to “eyes brighter than the summer skies,” something all his listeners would have noticed since they would have been familiar with the song. So here was this good-looking young black man, singing a line that’s supposed to be about a white girl, and he changes the crucial word so that it’s not obviously about a white girl anymore. But by making the change, he calls attention to it, and the well-heeled white audiences who listened to him would surely notice. Sexy and insidious stuff for a quiet little song.

So here you are, after all that to-do:
Sweet Lorraine. [link broken, but here’s a very similar version]

And, just because I love it so, another wonderful Nat King Cole Trio song:
There I’ve Said It Again. [link broken, but this is it]

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at]