Sunday, June 16, 2019

How to Make Moka Pot Coffee & Espresso - The BEST Way (Tutorial)

This is how I made my coffee this morning.  I had no idea, until I saw this video, that I have been doing is wrong all these years.  This will make one of the smoothest cups of coffee you have ever experienced.  And like the video says, it's not espresso, but it's very close

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Review: The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

The Long Goodbye The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Raymond Chandler, along with Dashiell Hammett and James M Cain, were the masters and founders of Noir or hard-boiled fiction. Chandler had quite the ear for dialogue and was his descriptions were on par with Hemingway. Philip Marlowe is a character that should have his place among the stalwarts of literary characters. Marlowe is not a cartoon character like many of the tough guy detectives that came later. He's well-read, smokes a pipe, and plays chess (even if only by himself). All the hard-boiled detectives that came later were mere imitations.

The story itself is complicated and doesn't exactly go from point A to point B. Savor the cadence of the writing and enjoy the ride.

The story begins with Philip Marlowe meeting Terry Lennox outside a club one night in 1949. A year later, Lennox arrives at Marlowe’s house asking for a ride to Tijuana but does not tell Marlowe details of why.

Marlowe later learns that Lennox’ wife was murdered. Investigators think Marlowe helped aid Lennox in the death. When Marlowe is released from prison, it is revealed that Lennox committed suicide and left Marlowe a note containing a portrait of Madison and money.

What follows is a story where very little is as what it seems, at least at first.

I enjoyed this story immensely. It is the third (out of seven written) that I have read. Although Vintage Books has numbered the books 1 through 7, it isn't necessary to read them in any order. They all stand alone.

View all my reviews

Saturday, May 18, 2019

The Adult Orphan Club

Logging in to Blogger I realize it's been nearly two months since I've posted anything.  Call it ennui, for want of a better term.  I am determined to write on a more regular basis.

On May 6th, my mother passed away at the age of 89.  It wasn't unexpected, really, but I'm still processing it.  She was diagnosed with dementia around six years ago, had a stroke about two years ago.  Her husband Alvin acted quickly, took her to the ER, and she eventually recovered.  Not fully, but as well as one could expect.

And then, on April 30th, she had another stroke, this one much more severe.  She was in a care facility this time and the staff did not discover it until they brought her breakfast.  Again, she was sent to the ER and then admitted.  At this point she was paralyzed on her left side, unable to speak, and would not open her right eye unless coaxed by hospital staff. I drove down the following day to be with my Mom, knowing it was probably the last time I would see her.

It was difficult to get to spend any time alone with her.  Alvin, other visitors, staff and doctors, all milling about, fussing over my Mom.  Eventually I told everyone I would like ten minutes with my Mom.  I needed to say goodbye.

I told her I loved her and that she didn't have to keep fighting, it was okay to let go.  I told her to say hello to Aunt Velma (her twin sister) and my brother,Marvin.  I took her hand, kissed her on her forehead, told her I had to go back home.  

I drove back from Carbondale to Madison on April 3rd, spent the weekend getting ready to turn around and go back.  Monday came and Mom's caregiver called to tell me she had passed away at 6:03 that morning.  I called into work, woke Valerie to tell her.  

We drove back down Wednesday, attended service on Thursday, drove back that night.  I didn't want to stay any longer.

* * * * * * * 

Eleven days later, I am set on getting my shit together.  It's hermit time once again, my studio is disheveled, and there is work to be done.  I am allowing myself to grieve.  I find I am being set off by the smallest things, but I am giving myself permission to do that.  A cartoon posted on Facebook about comedian Tim Conway (who passed away this week) meeting Harvey Korman in heaven sent me into convulsions of sorrow.

But there is work to be done.  I am not ignoring or attempting to quell the sorrow I feel but instead using it as an impetus to keep busy.

I have always been a big fan of Natalie Goldberg. Her books "Writing Down the Bones," "Wild Mind," and "Long Quiet Highway" are still a considerable influence on me, even if I don't have a daily writing practice (even though I should). The one thing that has always stuck with me is her Roshi's teaching that every day, at least once a day, make a "positive effort towards the good."

This week, I did just that, even by small actions. Wednesday, I made myself sit and draw. Thursday, I sent a press packet e-mail out for a show next month that will have my work. Yesterday was a wash, so to speak, but I accept that. This was my positive effort towards the good instead of taking "no-action."

Life is fleeting. Honor its brevity, honor the wonder that life contains. And call your mother, if you can, and tell her you love her while you still have the opportunity...

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Speaking Tree - Joy Harjo

Speaking Tree

 Joy Harjo, 1951 

I had a beautiful dream I was dancing with a tree. 
                                               —Sandra Cisneros 

Some things on this earth are unspeakable: 
Genealogy of the broken— 
A shy wind threading leaves after a massacre, 
Or the smell of coffee and no one there—  

Some humans say trees are not sentient beings, But they do not understand poetry— 

Nor can they hear the singing of trees when they are fed by 
Wind, or water music— 
Or hear their cries of anguish when they are broken and bereft— 

Now I am a woman longing to be a tree, planted in a moist, dark earth 
Between sunrise and sunset— 
I cannot walk through all realms— I carry a yearning I cannot bear alone in the dark— 

What shall I do with all this heartache? 

The deepest-rooted dream of a tree is to walk 
Even just a little ways, from the place next to the doorway— 
To the edge of the river of life, and drink— 

I have heard trees talking, long after the sun has gone down: 

Imagine what would it be like to dance close together 
In this land of water and knowledge. . . 

To drink deep what is undrinkable. 

From Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings by Joy Harjo. Copyright © 2015 by Joy Harjo.

Monday, March 4, 2019

It's Like Camus Said...

I started feeling it over the weekend, which is usually hermit time.  It was just a small itch, a nudge deep down in my brain.  I tried to brush it off, maybe it will go away, I thought. It had been a while since I had felt this.  I knew the feeling only vaguely, from years ago. I still couldn't identify it exactly, I couldn't put a name to it. What was this that I was feeling?  

I thought to myself, yeah, well, when you were younger, you were far more...gregarious. Wait, what?  No, not me...

Yep, you used to like being in a crowd.  Think back twenty-five years ago, or so, when you lived in Milwaukee.  Remember how much time you spent at Fuel Cafe?  Hours on end.

Then it hit me.  Not only was I talking to myself, I was getting stir-crazy!  Spring Fever! Shouty crackers!  I needed to get out of the apartment.

I needed a break in the day in and day out routing of waking up, going to work, coming home, going to nauseum.

So all day today, I planned it out.  I had already packed my sketch bag with sketchbook, pens, watercolor and my Kindle.  I will get off work, go home, change into jeans, grab a bite, and then head to a cafe.  I could spend a couple hours there and still get home before Valerie was finished with teaching.  It would be great.

Except, well, it didn't happen.  It's too cold to go walking around State Street, so I thought, Barrique's on the West Side.  I got back into the van and headed out, the excitement, the "I am finally doing this" feeling made the hairs on the back on my neck stand up.  I was finally going to go out and get some sketching done.


They were absolutely packed.  No seats. None.  My shoulders sagged as I walked back out and back to the van.  I thought, well, I guess I will try the Barrique's in Middleton.  I drove by and saw that it wasn't worth getting out of the van.

So, I came back home.  I made myself  a double cappuccino and decided instead to get some writing in.

Maybe I will try again tomorrow, in another area of Madison.  There are coffee places everywhere...

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Dick Cavett Interviews Edward Gorey

Edward Gorey ranks high on my list of favorite artists.  I've been a fan ever since I watched PBS Mystery! on a regular basis.  When I started watching it Vincent Price was the host!  Many fans of Mystery! are familiar with the introduction, the Victorian style animation.

To my delight there is a documentary about Gorey on the horizon, "The Last Days of Edward Gorey."
It is currently in post-production and due for release in September of 2019.  I don't need to tell you I can hardly wait!

While searching for other videos about Edward Gorey, I found this one on YouTube (where else?) and thought I would share.  It is apparently the first time Gorey was ever on television.

In case you didn't know, a biography of Gorey was recently released titled Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey, by Mark Dery. I won't give you my opinion of the book because I just started reading it. But I will let you know!