Saturday, December 30, 2006

Sunday, December 24, 2006

David Bowie & Bing Crosby - Little Drummer Boy

Could not resist.

(I don't have cable, so please excuse me if this video is shown somewhere every ten minutes or so. I hadn't seen it in years.)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Be warned: not a pre-dinner post.




Yesterday I brought no sustenance along with me for my long day of finals week, so I broke down and hit the vending machine. I thought, "Hmmm, licorice sounds fine and reasonably harmless for brunch," and purchased me some Chewbilee Chew Goodies.

I suddenly became aware of this habit that I have: if I buy a package of something from a vending machine, I open the package, take a bite of whatever, and then read the ingredients. While I'm chewing. This, it turns out, is not the wisest order of progression.

So, as I'm swallowing my first and only Chewbilee Chew Goodie, I get to the part of the ingredients where shellac is listed. SHELLAC. The shellac is right before the beeswax and right after the glyceryl monostearate. Other fine nutrients.

I know that shellac, when not being consumed as part of a balanced diet, is usually used for coating furniture and whatnot, but I have to admit that I didn't know what it was, exactly. The kind librarian decided to research shellac to help calm me. She looked at me apprehensively, knowing I would not be so calmed by her results. Shellac, it turns out, is a beetle secretion.

eeeeeeeeeeeeeeooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

There's something to be said for ignorant bliss. Last semester, one of my vegetarian students wished she had remained thusly ignorant when she finished her vending machine carrot cake and then found it to contain "beef fat".

And now that I am reading every ingredient of everything, I both sincerely do and sincerely don't want clarification on what exactly the "tree nuts" in the 70% cacao Lindt bar I've been saving are.

I don't want to become one of those people who obsesses over the perfect quality of her food. I just want my food to be made of...food.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Call the Travel Agent.


Sometimes when I procrastinate while I should be grading large stacks of paper, it is fruitful. At least in my mind. Yesterday afternoon, I decided to research the little village everybody with my last name is supposed to be from, and there it is in the upper left quadrant of the map: Ciszewo. (The "z" was removed from our name so it would be, you know, easier. )

This is in the northeast part of Poland, a couple hours up from Warsaw, near Belarus.




It turns out that Biebrza National Park is the largest reserve in Europe. The parts that are green on the map are "primeval forests" that look like this:









And much of the rest is marshland about which I found this:

"Why not to come to Poland birdwatching?"
"Spring brings to north-east Poland an explosion of nature. Forests, meadows, ponds and pastures are once again alive with bird life. The rich and diverse habitats of Biebrza Marshes and Białowieża Primeval Forest make these two places, Poland's most internationally important bird refuges.
Many species that breed or stop over here are extinct or endangered elsewhere in Europe. Lesser Spotted, Greater Spotted and White Tailed Eagle, Great Snipe, Aquatic Warbler, White-winged Tern Eagle Owl, Pygmy and Tengmalm's Owl, Montagu's Harrier, Black Stork, Black Grouse, Corn Crake, Ruff, White-backed and Three-toed Woodpecker, Red-backed and Great Grey Shrike, Collared Flycatcher can still be found, amongst others. Some of them are numerous and easy to discover here."

In fact, you can take this 8 day trip!

Now, I know when I talk I might sound like this to some folks: "Birds birds birds. Polish Polish Polish. Blah blah blah..." That's why I put this info on my weblog, where it's easy to stop reading, instead of accosting everyone I know one by one and rambling on about it.
But you know I'm saving for this trip now. And I can't help but find it fascinating that this whole bird dealio of mine could be argued to be simply in my blood.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

See, Mom? I Wasn't the only Santa-phobe!

When I was a tot, my mother brought me to Gamble's Department Store to sit on Santa's lap. We waited for...God knows...two hours? in a hot, dark hallway that reeked of urine (this queue was such a commitment that children were not allowed to lose their place to reinforce potty training skills, evidently) to get to the front of the line. And when we did, and when we saw Santa up on a throne on a stage just waiting for me me meee, I threw a holy freakout and couldn't be dragged (and people tried) toward him.

That's why I was so glad when my pal Kate had a version of this
Scared of Santa Gallery on her weblog. Enjoy!

Monday, December 11, 2006

'Tis the Season, Momentarily

1. Saturday night P and I went to a really nice Christmas party for which I got to play dress up like a grown lady: pointy heels and beige fishnets and a pleated, crinoline lined skirt. That was fun. But later that evening, P sat in with a rootsy/jam band that was in town from Atlanta, so I got to go to a hippy-filled blues bar in my fancy costume! THAT was hilarious. Tie-dyed types were looking at me sideways like I had a mohawk. Actually, if I still had a mohawk I'd have stood out less there. I wanted so badly to circulate with a tray in my hand, saying things like, "I'm so glad you could make it! Are you having a nice time?" and "Can I freshen your drink, darling?"

2. Sunday we got up early and headed to a neighborhood church bake sale to buy pierogis. Apple and cabbage (2 separate kinds, not combo). My sister and I are making potato and cheese (2 separate kinds) next week. Later, we picked out our tree from the farmers' market.

3. With the extra branches we had to clip from the tree base, I figured out how to fashion a wreath out of a wire hanger and garbage bag twist ties. Seriously. It is awesome.

Monday, December 04, 2006