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Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Public Service Announcement: Forming Bread Loaves

Just in case someone happens by....The other day, I was chatting with my son and he mentioned that he had made kimchee. i asked him where he got the recipe and he said "From ye olde Frugalscholar blog." How I miss blogging. Or rather, how I miss the way blogging used to feel.

One reason I left my blog up, mouldering though it may be, is that there's a lot of good stuff there. Just today, I looked for a recipe. It was locked on the NYT--even though I have a subscription. But there it was on my blog! Sausage and bread soup from Mark Bittman! And there were comments from my old blog buddies!

Then I remembered that my son posted a video of my dear husband, baker of more than 40 years, forming bread loaves. I'm sure there are others. But here it is, a blast from the past:

Sadly, I can't figure out how to put the video here. Oh well...ELEVEN YEARS AGO.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Ironic "old lady" or "rich lady" fashion: use what you have

When I started this blog many years ago, I was passionate about sharing my tips for frugality.  My motivation came, in part, from R, friend of both son and daughter. Well! R is now a psychiatrist (I helped him with his med school essay) stationed abroad.

I loved reading other frugality/personal finance blogs. These have generally disappeared or morphed into commercial sites hawking credit cards and other unsavory products.

As has been usual in my life, I got off track and began sampling middle-aged woman sites and got especially sidetracked by ones exploring style for that age group. Of course, most of those have gone the way of the frugality blogs.

And the OTHER blogs that attracted my attention were the decluttering sites. Because...I have a problem. Thrift stores both giveth (to frugality/keeping spending under control) and taketh away (as even a few extra purchases a month  at $3 can add to the clutter in no time flat).

I have been going through my closets, amazed at all the nice things I have. Thanks be  to thrift store gods. In that process, I find a number of unworn items: these are my "old lady"/"rich lady" things.

I keep meaning to wear them, thinking they are "ironic" or will appear to be so. Then it occurred to me that at 66, I have probably passed the age of irony in that department.

And, of course, it is NOT frugal not to  use things. So herewith I vow to wear the following (most not from thrift stores btw).

--the Burberry raincoat, worn ONCE. This was bought by my parents on a trip to London in the  late 70s?/early 80s? when the pound was par with the dollar. My mother outgrew it.  Wore once to a funeral of a person who was not very nice to me. My DH wore the matching one my father outgrew. We got many compliments.

--the authentic LV mono bag (style is Looping, no longer made) This was a gift from my sister-in-law to my mother. My mother placed it in her Goodwill donation bag upon receipt. I happened to see it. I retrieved it. Worn never.

--the vintage Gucci bag I got at a thrift store. This has the disintegrating lining characteristic of the real thing. Has the GG monograms and the stripe. Worn once when I had to go into a snooty store for some reason.

--the alligator bag that belonged to my grandmother. I need to get the handle reattached. My grandmother was very chic but unable to really live her aesthetic because she lost most of her money fleeing Europe in 1938. She worked at a fancy store in Boston. The bag has a label from another fancy Boston store. Worn never.

--the LV mono card case also from my grandmother--see above. Used never. (I believe with Marcel Proust that objects retain something of the person who owned them, so I can never relinquish these items. They give me pleasure just to behold them and touch them.)

--Bally croc patterned bucket bag from thrift.  Used never.

--Gucci loafers from thrift store. A bit big. Want to get inserts. Otherwise, must say good-bye.

Use what you have!

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Notes on the Magic Mountain

On at least my seventh attempt to read this book. Even though I am only about 1/3 through, I think I shall make it this time. I am sorely feeling my lack of German--the native language of my grandparents, which I heard spoken my whole life.  I could read the segments in French--in the Walspurgisnacht chapter.

I feel that I have hardly time to experiment with books. Masterpieces--a vexed term, of course--urge me on. My very smart colleague Z said that she read MM many years ago and that "it wasn't worth" the labor. It is worth my labor. Perhaps another instance of needing to wait for the right time to read a book (similar feelings about Bronte's "Villette").

'I just realized that I have adopted the posture of the "horizontals" in my reading. They are on balconies in Davos, swaddled in camel hair and fur  against the cold. I am in my drafty house (in the Deep South! humid as opposed to the dry winters of Davos). So I have taken to reading in my bed, with the heating pad at my feet.

I sorely miss being a student of a good teacher. I was lucky to have more than a handful. Unlike my students--who scarcely read anything now and depend on internet analyses to write their papers and provide relevant passages from primary and secondary texts--I do not find Sparknotes and the like particular helpful.

BUT I did find a one hour lecture given by a University of Chicago professor for "Humanities Week." Meant for non-specialists--that would be me--he provided a framework for the book. I am writing this for me, but in case a reader is on a similar quest:

The rest cure on the balconies becomes an occasion for reading (chapter called Research) and, even more, for intense daydreaming. I have always been  (too) prone to that. Even more than usual, I lay the book on my chest and drift off.

Perhaps internet meanderings are a form of day dreaming. While meandering about other works by the UC professor, I learned that he is, or perhaps was, married to someone I knew slightly in college, a woman I am sure would have no recollection of me. And that led to a memory, which came out of nowhere.

The woman was very friendly with the daughter of an old-style Hollywood star, though we were all too cool to ever mention it. I was slightly friendly with the daughter. One night I was invited to a small gathering at the home of one in their crowd. Also attending--a charismatic and smart and heavy drinking fellow who later married the daughter of the star. They were all incredibly heavy drinkers. I left early. I could not keep up. One is now a physician, one an attorney....

How strange...

Sunday, January 26, 2020

on commence....trois

Little pieces of paper with notes everywhere

From December 2019: student finishing up final exam at a desk outside my office. "C's hands trembling. Heartbreaking." Test anxiety PLUS he acknowledged that he had skipped some of the reading.

The real heartbreaker is that I can't remember the student, though I probably could if I looked at my roll from last semester, which now is on-line complete with photos.

Coming to end of teaching one way or another. The title of Jan Kott's famous essay reverberates: "King Lear or Endgame."

Starting new semester with a schedule  (worst of career) so frighteningly difficult that two of my acquaintance asked if the department head was trying to get me to retire. I don't think so. But see the academic classic "Stoner," where a chair uses a schedule as a weapon.

Picked up a long-neglected copy of Walter Benjamin's "Illuminations" in my office. Folded inside was the first page of a paper I wrote for a comparative lyric course in 1978. Before theory! Title: "'Time's trans-shifting' and the Lyric Imagination." It was on the subjunctive in poems by Spenser, Ronsard, and ????. The paper was written for Frank Warnke (who was a guest teacher in summer 1978), of esteemed and beloved memory. It received an A+. Two of my friends/frenemies asked me how I did and when I said "fine," their eyes sparkled. So I knew that FJW had sprinkled many A+s throughout the class--so there I and D! Both became quite famous, especially D in the field of literacy studies.

The paper came complete with an epigraph from Wallace Stevens. The title came from a poem by Robert Herrick.

The whole production is sooooooo 1978.

"The Argument of his Book" from Hesperides.

I sing of brooks, of blossoms, birds, and bowers, 
Of April, May, of June, and July flowers. 
I sing of May-poles, hock-carts, wassails, wakes, 
Of bridegrooms, brides, and of their bridal-cakes. 
I write of youth, of love, and have access 
By these to sing of cleanly wantonness. 
I sing of dews, of rains, and piece by piece 
Of balm, of oil, of spice, and ambergris. 
I sing of Time's trans-shifting; and I write 
How roses first came red, and lilies white. 
I write of groves, of twilights, and I sing 
The court of Mab, and of the fairy king. 
I write of Hell; I sing (and ever shall) 
Of Heaven, and hope to have it after all. 

Frank J. Warnke, a former chairman of the department of comparative literature at the University of Georgia, died Monday of injuries suffered when he was struck by an automobile in Antwerp, Belgium. He was 62 years old.
Dr. Warnke, who was still on the University of Georgia faculty, was teaching at the University of Antwerp in an exchange program.
He leaves his wife, Janice; two sisters, Ruth Lancetti of Alexandria, Va., and Margaret Macdonald of Washington, and a brother, Paul, also of Washington, a specialist on disarmament.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

On commence....encore

--Oof--forgot I went to Venice! I started to cry as I stepped out of the train station. More beautiful than I had imagined. When I got home, I re-read Death in Venice, Wings of the Dove and the American (both H James, natch).

--Also--almost two years since I spent a little time in Bloomington. Reconnected with G and J, one of whose daughters--whom I babysat for--had just died at 36, 8 years after a tragic accident. Also saw C, my first friend in Bloomington, always intimidated by her. I did a terrible thing. She and her 3rd husband (the only good one) died of a brain tumor. We met him when they visited New Orleans. I was afraid to email C.  She emailed an obituary. That was in the somewhat early days of email--and I  had read that one should NOT send a condolence via email. So I procrastinated. G and J assured me that--after the death of their daughter--they had no idea who had sent a condolence note.

C came to their door. The first thing she said was "You never sent me a note about Gerry." I started to cry and said "Can you ever forgive me?" I have no recollection of the rest, but apparently we walked arm in arm the rest of the visit. i am grateful for her forgiveness.

i wonder if I will ever return. Also met a friend of J's whose much younger friend had worked under my dissertation director. The friend expected me to badmouth my director, but all I said was "Working with JA was the great honor of my life." Wow. I should have called JA.

--Even further back--I meant to write about the fancy family I followed in the art museum in Berlin. Private guide--rumpled, handsome, elegant., earnest.  He was talking to mom--tall blond--40's--wearing short cutoffs and a GIANT Birkin bag. He said "One must understand Caspar David Friedrich to understand the German character." She showed him her phone and said something about her renovation. Perhaps he was an art consultant. The rest of the family: two teens giggling, not looking at anything. Dad aloof--short--looking like a Renaissance nobleman in profile--looking bored and contemptuous. Aggressively not looking at anything or listening to the guide. I tried to follow but lost them.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Things I've been Meaning to Write About

a list in no order

--The beautiful paintings I saw in San Diego--who knew there were such treasures in the small museums in Balboa Park? And the French woman in one of the museums--I admired her scarf and she unfurled it to show me an orange Savana Dance.

--My thoughts about retirement that cannot be "published" till after I retire. Coming soon.

--All the Bronte novels I've been reading--the two by Anne Bronte, trying to read Villette--Lucy Snowe, who wants to be seen/not seen

--Country Girls Trilogy--only really liked the first one.

--Northanger Abbey as a sorbet between the Bronte books.

--my encounter with Patti Smith in the Verona train station last summer. I am embarrassed in retrospect--since I tend to ignore famous people and try to pay attention to people who get little notice, much less adulation.

--roasting grapes!

--a few emotional encounters with former students (MB, D, DS, DR)

--my connection with a young European rabbi who is married to a descendant of the great-uncle who died before I was born--a link to finding out something more--the postcard still in Vienna

--how we coped with the heat wave in Paris--frozen bottles of water in front of a fan in the apartment, many outings to the Petit Palais  (free!) to listen to concerts on antique pianos (also free!).

--Florence! Rome (too short--we missed out flight b/c of storms...and lost a lot of money....), Verona, Milan (the park/school near our house--with a ruined aviary etc)

OK:  pour moi
on commence

Monday, August 19, 2019

Summer Reading: The Line of Beauty

I had wanted to read this for a while. Forgot about it. Then saw a library copy at my daughter's house. I picked it up and she said that she didn't like people starting books she was in the middle of reading.

Forgot again. Then I came upon a copy during the closing days of the wonderful Friends of Library building a short walk away. The building has since been torn down. The land had become very valuable and a little book sale was a relic from another time.

As it happened, I was not very engaged by the book, which is set in the early 80s in London. The main character is a young gay man, supposedly working on a thesis on Henry James (several of whose books I reread this summer). He is living in the home of a very wealthy power couple, the parents of a college chum.

Percolating through the book is the advent of AIDS--and I remember those days well, though from a distance. Since the book was not engaging, I did what I have started to do: jumped to the end.

The main character has been kicked out of the house and is preparing to get another test for AIDS. He imagines that the results will be positive.

The time had come, and they learned the news in the room they were in, at a certain moment in their planned and continuing day. They woke the next morning, and after a while it came back to them. Nick searched their faces as they explored their feelings. He seemed to fade pretty quickly.He found himself yearning to know of their affairs, their successes, the novels and the new ideas that the few who remembered him might say he never knew, he never lived to find out.

This passage got me back to read the whole book that I was about to abandon. I thought of the Alumni Bulletin (one) sent by my college, perhaps in the late 90s or early 00s. As I read through the names, I saw many Ls and Ds. L was for LOST. D was for DEAD.

Nearly all the Ds of the years around my graduation were the gay guys. I remembered a few: Marty B, with his pony tail and smile. He went into advertising in San Francisco. Steve J, who had a crush on me for a while and then confessed that he hitchhiked and had sex for money with the men who picked him up, Bob C, who was so smart and confident. He became a dancer in Boston. He wrote his thesis on Richard Crashaw.

I could not find any mention of them via the internet. I thought of all they had missed.