Sunday, January 27, 2013

Miss Tattman's Year in Review Pt II- in which we meet the gentlemen....

 Part I here.

From left to right; Mr. Cushing (the Dreadful Cousin, hereafter referred to as the D.C.), Mr. Tumbusch, Mr. Ramsey, and the Doctor
Portrait by Toni Tumbusch. 

August 23, 181—

My Dearest Emily,

My Aunt and Uncle Downward and I have arrived safely in New York, where my uncle informs us we shall spend nearly a month before returning (all without the D.C., thank goodness, but more on that later). I was sorry to spend so little time in your part of the country, but it was most cheerfully spent for all that!

Uncle Downward. 
Portrait by Stephen Jacobson.

I was so pleased to finally observe all those dear folk whom you had written to me about in their natural habitat, as it were. Mr. and Mrs. Hedgewood are just as you have made them out, and it is clear that Mr. H. especially regards you as his own dear child. As for Mister Ramsey, he is as dear and kind as I fully expected, and you were right about his delightful wit!  

Mr. Ramsey immortalized.

My cousin is everything and nothing I expected. I was surprised to find you so well acquainted. I must say, it is rather a hard thing to find one’s ally and one’s intended foe at parley before one arrives on the field! He was exceedingly attentive to me during my entire stay- despite my repeated assurances that such devotion to familial duty was not necessary. He met me promptly upon my arrival, and insisted upon repairing to lodgings he had reserved that I might rest, then poured more tea into my poor stomach than I believe I had room for. I am surprised it was not running out my ears. The entire journey to Nashville I swear his gaze scarcely left me - a most vigilant jailor, I must say!

At the ball I actually had to remind the man that proper manners dictate I dance with more than just the one partner. Luckily Mister Ramsey was there to rescue me for a dance, and we enjoyed ourselves immensely. I suppose one might find the D.C.s attention charming, had it not been predetermined that the man is Dreadful. However under the circumstances I must say it vexed me very much!

The Dreadful Cousin....being annoyingly affable and charming...

For all that I will admit the man has a keen and sensitive mind, which did provide some relief and give us things to talk of. He is a great reader, and supplied me with many books. A most peculiar man, all in all.

There was one last person whom I was most pleased to finally make an acquaintance with. Your Doctor has finally materialized off the pages of your letters and proven himself to be just as handsome and  and dignified in reality as you made him out to be. I must say, my dear, that he pleased me very much. He was a fine dancer, and a most enjoyable conversation partner. In particular, he seemed keen to hear stories of our lives growing up, and was, I believe, most happy for all intelligence I could be prevailed upon to provide about my dear Emily. 

The Doctor enjoys a civilized respite after his labors. 
Portrait by Toni Tumbusch 

My cousin informs me that the Doctor is well liked among all those whom he serves with and attends upon, though of late the he has been of a strange and taciturn mood......... yet he did not seem so afflicted when we were all met together. I have taken a keen interest in him, and shall be most  interested to see how the matter sits when I return from New York next month........

Until then I remain,

Your Faithful Eliza

N.B. My Aunt and Uncle send their love, as does Mrs. Collier via post. 

I'm ok. Really.

So last night I went to a lovely ball with my handsome man and some of our friends. And they are our friends, a small corps of folks whom I have gotten to know over the last few months, plus my dear Maggie and her beloved. During the evening, several of these lovely folks came up and asked me how I was doing. In a very serious, lovely way, clearly saying 'Seriously, how are you doing? you're not betraying our friend if you are freaked to shit, it's cool, we still love you." I really appreciated it, but it was kind of hard to explain how really o.k. I actually am.

I know it seems like I should be pretty overwhelmed. There was one moment in the middle of the night about two weeks ago, where it just hit me 'holy shit, my whole life is 2300 miles away!". Not in a panic way so much as just "like, whoa.....". But otherwise, really, seriously, truly- it's fine. All in all, it really just feels like I moved to a new town. One with tons of cool brick buildings, because you can do that in a place where they aren't gonna fall down.

It doesn't really seem like it's all so far away. It's partly just Facebook, etc- I mean, I'm still in contact with everyone like 24/7. Also, really, it's not like I used to get out that much anyway. Especially this last semester, I really was kind of a hermit. Here, I get to live with my best friend and partner. And I love every minute.

This was the right time in my life to do this. I just finished my master's degree, this was a perfect transition point. In the weeks before I left, I kept looking around at my life; I loved where I lived, my snug little attic in the Haight. But what if I had stayed? What would I be doing right now? Probably sitting up there, desperately searching for some kind of job, adrift, doing nothing. Here, I have actually started my teaching career. And living somewhere new and building a new life feels good.

This is progress. This is my life moving forward, and it really does feel good. So, do I miss everyone like crazy? Of course I do. But I am good.

Really. I promise :-)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Potato, Mushroom and Kale Soup

So it's been some time since I actually posted anything cooking related, but here we go. I have made this soup before, and I really like the combination of things. I also added rice for the first time this time, and like it.

All ingredient portions are estimates, you can add as much or as little as you want! I also tend to go insane and make a GIANT pot of soup- you may wish to exercise more restraint ;-)

1 yellow onion- I really wanted to use a leek, but I couldn't find a store that would sell me just one, and there is no way I will use three leeks before they go bad. Grumble, grumble...
2 big portabella mushrooms, or most of a pack of small ones.
2-4 regular brown potatoes, depending on size and preference.
1 bunch of kale
1/2 cup rice
10 cups water - most recipes for soup tend to say 4-6 or some tiny ass amount, but I want more soup than that, and this is America, DAMNIT!
olive oil- enough to coat the bottom of your pot to saute the mushrooms and onions, and maybe springle a bit on top.
thyme- lots
oregano- some
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste- I usually put in a moderate amount and figure people can add however much they want. It's harder to take it out than put it in.

Chop the onions and mushrooms to desired size, and saute them in the bottom of your soup pot with the olive oil. The olive oil will form your broth base, so don't be stingy. I throw the mushrooms and onions in together instead of the onions first because the mushrooms take awhile and I like onions to still have some substance. If you were so lucky as to obtain a single goddmaned leek to use,  you might want to give that a little while first before adding mushrooms.

Make sure the mushrooms are cooked through before you add the rest of the ingredients, because they will not cook well just by simmering. If they aren't done before you add the water, it will be very hard to get them done.

All of this should create a nice, juicy pile of deliciousness while you chop the potatoes and pull the kale off the stalks. You can add the salt and pepper here, then the water,rice and potatoes, and other spices and bring to a boil then simmer. This should take about 15-20 minutes to simmer.

Nom nom, kale...

Add the kale 5-7 minutes before you want to be done- it doesn't need to cook nearly as long, and you don't want to totally kill it, it tastes better fresher. To prepare it, just rip it off the hard stalks in the center and rip into medium sized piece, then drop them on in. It will look like a lot before you cook it, but just remember it will cook down a bit.

This tasted good last night, though the broth was even better today.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Miss Tattman's Year in Review - Part I

A selection of Miss Tattman's letters to Miss Waterman in the preceding months....

Photo by Judy Potter

April 30, 181--
My dearest Emily, 

I write to you with what you will assume to be a heavy heart, but one which I must assure you has been lightened immensely. The long-ill engagement is now officially dead. I shall never be Mrs. John Harrington, and for that I must say I heave a sigh of great relief! What is more, I have been bought off, and handsomely at that! I have a healthy sum all of my own, plus a respectable annuity. I feel as though I have gone through a great trial and come out clean. I am to have the best of both worlds- the independent fortune of a widow, without ever having to go through the pains of marriage. May I live and die an old maid from here on out, I shall be quite a happy one. Indeed, I think I can safely promise you never again to fall in love.

                                Ever your faithful friend,

                                                                Elizabeth Tattman

Miss Waterman corresponds with Miss Tattman.
Photo by Toni Tumbusch.

June 5, 181--


It is all settled, I am to come and join my dear girl in the wilds of America! Father has finally consented to the trip........... Until then, I am so ready to be done with Bristol, where my finally broken engagement is such a story of interest, that I have applied to Miss Jessica to allow me refuge with her in Surrey once more.

I shall take your advice about love under consideration, but I am afraid you may find me a hopeless case. I am too fond of my newly found freedom to even think of another entanglement. And you must remember that by now I am quite an old maid, and settled in my contrary ways.

Of course, I do not expect my friends to live by the same creed. I think, in fact, that I may safely assume that my dear Emily will not be following Beatrice and I to the gates of Hell....And yet neither do I fear losing her to some wild American…… Or perhaps I am merely indulging in fancy, since I have not had the ability to see you with my own eyes for so long. In either case, I know you will forgive your dear Eliza.

Your loving friend,


P.S. There is one proviso attached to my American Adventure- I am to have my third cousin, Mr. Cushing, serve as my escort once I land. He settled there last year after his ship was dry docked or some such calamity. 

I confess I approach the arrangement with a certain dread. The last time I saw him I was a mere twelve and he fourteen, and I certainly felt he used my would-be girlish devotion most cruelly. However I shall endeavor not to let it ruin my spirits, and I believe with your help we may devise several schemes for eluding and outwitting my would-be jailor. 

Don't blink, you'll miss it....

Life moves so fast. Cleaning through my text message inbox, I realize it was less than two months ago that Alis, Alison and I were taking our comps. All those intense months of studying, coming down to four hours of incredibly intense writing. At one point just to break the tension I reached over and poked Alison, silently doing our impression of the 'Sphere of Domesticity'. Silent laughter ensued, followed by more intense writing. After that, we headed out for beers and Chinese food in West Portal, free with the knowledge that we had done our part and it was behind us.

And then began the waiting for the call. I had been silently, secretly hoping to get distinction, even though I knew Europeanists rarely did. It is totally meaningless, mind you- doesn't go on your transcript or let you graduate with honors, but when the call finally came and it turned out I had actually done it, it was incredibly satisfying.

I really loved my graduate work, even though in the beginning it seemed overwhelming, and new, and like I would never get to where I wanted to be. And then there I was, finishing on top, and with a job to boot.This is the second time I have graduated with a job, and this time it is actually 'what I want to do', teaching at a community college. This is what I went to school to do, and I am doing it. Mind you, I am only an adjunct, teaching one section, so the pay is well, hysterical. However it is still deeply satisfying. After my first class, I actually had a student come up and say to me 'I never liked history before, but this is interesting!".

There is still so much more to do and figure out- I need a second part time job, I need to decide what further educational goals I want to pursue. However for right now it's enough to stop and take a moment to truly appreciate what I have done. I am extremely satisfied and proud of myself. These moments in life are rare, and I mean to enjoy it :-)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Ask and I shall receive!

Wow, from 14 to 20 followers in two days- thanks guys! I do post things here that don't get put up on facebook- book reviews, recipes, random ramblings, etc, so do check back.

And if you aren't too familiar with Blogger, that redheaded stepchild of the Google family, remember you can set up a Google Reader page to see updates from all the blogs you are following, or if you have a blogger account, your homepage should do it. Otherwise a good old fashioned bookmark will do :-)

Also, if you are NOT already following this blog, please take a minute to go over to the blue button over to the right here ----------->>>>> The one that says 'Join this site", right above the pictures of the charming folks who have already done so, and join up. Thanks!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Home Stretch

Ok, so, where were we- right, New Mexico! We woke up in the morning to a beautiful blanket of snow.

This was also the joyous occasion of 'Amy's first snow brushing experience' :-p
Also, the back window was especially cranky about pushing its way up against all the stuff shoved in the back in the cold that morning. 

From there, we headed into Texas. Now, I am very ready to believe that it is probably unfair to judge a state solely by what you see by the interstate. Goodness knows if anyone only saw California by I-5, they would walk away with a pretty miserable opinion of the place. Alls I'm gonna say is, we have never in our lives seen so many abandoned structures and vehicles as littered the sides of 40 going through that place. 

I think somewhere in there we stopped in Oklahoma for some Subway and a bottle of champagne, this being New Years Eve (more on that later). Which brings up an important aspect of this trip;

Food- Now, it's pretty bad when for three days, your 'healthy' option for food has been Subway. I don't think either of us ever wants to eat there again as long as we live. I think I also had more McDonald's hashbrowns over this trip than in the last year. All supplemented by apples, cup noodles and pb&j; basically all the highlights of a second grader's bag lunch menu.


When we finally got back late on the following day, drained of all energy, and finished unloading the car, we still somehow still found the energy to go out and get some vegetables for a goddamn salad. It was the most delicious thing I have ever tasted in my life. 

New Year's Eve evening found us in Missouri. It took us awhile to realize that we were in Missouri, because it turns out Missouri doesn't want you to know. Seriously. Every other state has a huge welcome sign. "Arizona welcomes YOU!" "Welcome to Texas, have a gun!" etc. I think Oklahoma's was a little run down, but it was still there, and gosh darn it, I appreciated the sentiment!  Not Missouri. We only finally realized we were there when we looked down and saw the mile markers had started over. There isn't actually a visitors center until you are literally about halfway through the state. It also took us forever to even find a motel, but eventually we did find yet another offbrand cheap awesome place in a mega truckstop-type town. 

And there my beloved and I settled in to ring in the New Year together. With this

It was labeled 'Fine California Sparkling Wine', and cost like a dollar less than Korbel. So very many lessons were learned that night, like, who knew 'champagne' could be that color? Or have that taste? Most important lesson of all, when in doubt, JUST GET THE DAMN KORBEL.

Other New Year's Eve highlights included....

We found this emergency plan especially amusing since this was the first floor, and the door just opened out onto the parking lot. ie, 'Open this door and leave. Done'.

This is a painting and ship's wheel Maggie left with me two years ago. Theoretically I was going to ship them to her, but I was always a little worried about doing it safely and within budget. Finally found another solution :-) 
They came in with us to decorate the room on New Year's. 

It was a lovely New Year's, spent with my amazing, beloved partner and companion. It certainly wasn't part of The Plan, but I wouldn't have wanted to ring in 2013 any other way.

The next day, we packed up, drove through Illinois and Indiana, and finally, at long last, on into Kentucky, to our lovely new home. Pictures to follow as soon as we can get it mildly presentable. For now, think of it kind of like this

(No, not with the kids!  we've only been gone for like three weeks ;-) )

What I'm Reading

A biography of Charlotte Charke, famed cross dressing actress of the eighteenth century stage in London. The book has lots of great information about theater at the time- how the companies worked, what kinds of pieces they staged, the drama between actors and their employers. Many of these people were HUGE celebrities in their day. There's also some great information about theater booths at St. Bartholomew's Fair every year.
The author does take a great deal of literary license filling in the gaps in her subjects life, but she does weave a wonderful narrative in the process, taking you through the filthy streets of London into the magic of the dark and filthy playhouses and their shining stars.

Thoroughly recommendable!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Vote for Maggie!!

Just in case you somehow missed me putting this up all over facebook and Google +, here is an easy way to help the incredible Maggie Waterman and Albert Roberts with their big day

It's a contest from David's Bridal- whichever couple gets the most votes wins $2500 cash to spend on their wedding. You will have to like their page, but you can unlike it when you are done. This is a very easy way to help them out, and if any community can come together to make it happen, I think it should be ours!

Thank you!!

Day Two- The Southwest

Day 2 began in Arizona- really, incredibly beautiful. And like nothing either of us had ever seen before. Red desert with brush in all different hues of lovely earth tones, with incredible rock formations in all kinds of gorgeous hues. Interestingly, this was actually where we started seeing snow. Seeing patches of it dotted along this incredible desert was like some kind of fantasy alien landscape in Dr. Who. Incredible. 

Not my pic, but yeah, like that. Only actually awesome-er in person. 

Arizona was also where we saw the most traditional, kitchy, Route 66 roadside stuff (40 picks up the old Route 66 in places and runs close and parallel in others). Some of it was falling apart and kind of lovely in a gothic, oh look at that relic of a bygone era, kind of way. Some of it was alive and well....and downright mind boggling. 

Like this

This is advertised ahead by a big sign saying 'Pottery! Made by INDIANS!" 
The T-rex is just like a free gift with purchase I guess. 

Look closely. No, your eyes are not deceiving you. A little known use of the tee-pee, despite supporting a nomadic lifestyle, which I'm not altogether certain was actually practiced by tribes in the Southwest, was protection from indigenous predators. Like tee-pee sized dinosaurs. Learn something new everyday, right?

Day two ended somewhere in New Mexico late at night after Amy's First Snow Driving Experience (tm). This involved me parking my ass behind a truck going 40 miles an hour so I could follow his headlights with my blinkers on, looking over at Brian every few minutes and repeating "Thank you for not making fun of me." Gods bless the man, he never once acknowledged there might be anything to make fun of. 

I had really wanted to make it to Texas that night, but by 10 when the snow was starting again, we gave up and found the second awesome off brand motel (by then we had realized that the trick is to look for the Best Western or whatever that is big enough to advertise, then pull over and find the little guy down the block hanging onto its coat tails). Which gets us to your first actual picture, taken by us, of the trip

Soothing, restorative, booze!

Stay tuned for: Texas! and Missouri does *not* welcome you!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Escape from California- or,The Trip, part deux

Let's see, when last we left our hacking heroes, I believe we were hacking and wheezing in the safe warm refuge of Casa de Collier, deciding that just maybe trying to start a cross country trip wasn't exactly the best idea in the world. So instead the day involved moving very, very slowly (we felt kind of like this...only more pathetic) back to the City, and to the post office again, to mail yet one more box, then having a very late lunch with Jocelyn and Gilein, and finally crawling back to the Colliers to lie on the couch, blow our noses and stare at each other.

Actually, it was pretty nice and cozy. Nephie (the kitty) even came and kept us company. Therese always says there is something awfully romantic about that first sick together, and oh boy, was this it. We had packed a box of booze for the trip, and a great portion was consumed in hot toddies that evening. Bob and Sharon, we sincerely apologize for the great dent made in the Kleenex stash while we were there. We slept early and long. 

I tried typing 'hot toddy' into google images, but accidentally hit enter to soon. Apparently this is 'Hot Todd', a Disk Jockey from Norway. 
We probably could have used him when we were loading the car. 

Which brings us to Day 1, of The Trip proper. Now, according to Google maps, this was supposed to be a 36 hour drive. So I'm thinking, great, 12 hours of driving a day, three days. Easy. Done. We are still on The Plan (remember that? yeah, start chuckling....), it's just a day off. 

The Plan now was to get up, get out the door, drop off a few things to lighten the car with folks in the area, and hit the road by 10! Of course, there was a small hitch, when we couldn't find the keys....for an hour. But no matter, eventually they were located, under the purse I had emptied three times looking for them. Sigghhhh... but still, eventually, hit the road we did!

There was the usual trip down south- waving at Casa, stopping in Lost Hills, etc. I was extremely pleased that I had already been able to show Brian some of the wonderful beauties of our state...since this drive does not really do that. When we had to head East through Bakersfield to get to 40 I believe he described it as 'the most desolate slice of the Earth's surface' he had ever seen. Can't really argue....

It was a lot prettier once we hit 40. Talk about your dark desert highways, it really felt like driving through Hotel California, with a really beautiful nearly full moon overhead. Though the soundtrack inside the car was pretty much a chorus of coughing and nose blowing. 

Oh, and apparently the closer you get to the Arizona border, the more California tries to JACK YOU on gas. First stop on lonely road in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night, $3.99. Ok, 4 gallons later, we go on trying to make it to the next place. $4 motherfucking 32!. Yeah. Not only that, but the pump took forever. Like, I went in, visited the powder room, got one of those Starbucks things you only buy in gas stations on road trips, came out, and Brian has succeeded in pumping an entire 2 gallons of gas. Yeah. It took so long, someone came by and told us Arizona was only 25 miles away, so we decided to go for it with about 4 gallons. Cross the boarder to AZ, $2.99!! Thanks for letting the screen door hit me in the ass on the way out, oh state of my birth. 

Anyhow, we made it across the boarder, where amazing rock formations loomed large in the moonlight, found the first of several cheap offbrand motels, and just poured the remaining scotch into a mug. I think we'd given up on dayquil or any such nonsense at this point. The old ways really are the best. 

Dewars, you beautiful bastard. 

So there you go, that was Day One. We didn't actually take any pictures, since we had forgotten to put batteries in the camera, and by the time we hit anywhere pretty it was dark. But Hot Todd ought to keep you going for awhile ;-)

Edit: I'll give you a little preview of Day Two- there are Dinosaurs. And 'Indians!'.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

On the Road...or desperately trying to be.....

So, here I am, in KY. Feels like I should have done something to document this epic adventure, but at the time we were mostly just trying to get through it. But I suppose a quick longish recap is in order.

Our original goal had been to take off by the morning of Dec 27th, get back here by the 30th, drop our stuff, spend a night in our own place, then head to our friends' place in Ohio for their legendary New Year's festivities. And what a lovely plan it was. You may now laugh accordingly at our hubris :-P 

First of all, it soon became clear that taking off on the 28th would allow for more packing and cleaning time. We were also pushing off family xmas festivities at Chateau Marmoset since The Sick (tm) had already begun taking its nasty toll. As luck would have it, it hit the Empress and myself first. This was in fact very lucky, because while I spent Christmas, boxing day and the 27th in a feverish haze (ok, xmas was a feverish/drunk haze....), Brian was actually able to get the car loaded. I truly wish we had thought to take a picture. It was a freakin' masterpiece of boy brain tetris-y goodness. 

Now, according to The Plan (tm), we should have been done with SF at that point, except that by evening there was still stuff we were gonna have to mail, the attic hadn't been swept, and Mr. Cushing was clearly beginning to descend into his own unfed/sick haze. 

That night we were given soothing restorative booze and noms by the Empress and Consort. We went and slept down at the Colliers since leaving a car full of all my worldly belongings in the upper Haight overnight didn't exactly seem like the *best* of all possible ideas.... The Plan (tm- you may now be addding your own laughtrack everytime you come across this term) was to wake up ungodly early, dash *back* up to SF for the last of my stuff and some cleaning, have a quick brunch with Jocelyn back in RWC, hit the road by noon, and Arizona by midnight!

Go on, laugh all you want, we deserve it. I'll just wait. 

You good? you sure? ok then. 

Next Morning: grooooannnn, *hack*....*crackle of joints*...

"Honey......... I don't think we should drive across the country today...."



Anyhow, this post has already become very long and has included absolutely no fun pictures of any kind. Because we were too tired and harried to take any. So instead I'll just leave you with this picture I recently dug up from the Liebert/Waterman Apartment days of me and the Awkward Turtle. Because yeah. 

To be continued....unless I get bored, distracted, or sleepy....