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Apr. 10th, 2012

09:13 am - Seize the Day

Last night, my parents treated me to a Broadway ticket to see Newsies with them and my sister, and I am so grateful to them, because the best I can do to describe how it was is to say, wow!

We were seated in the second to last row of the balcony, and they were actually the perfect seats, because we had a beautiful view of the amazing dance numbers, and there were many of them.

But it wasn't just the dance numbers that made it amazing. There was something so beautifully nostalgic about hearing those familiar tunes. As soon as the music kicked in, I'd feel this swell of emotion - this comforting, heartening sense of familiarity - that nearly brought tears to my eyes. Santa Fe, Carrying the Banner, Seize the Day, The World Will Know, Once and for All... all the songs I used to hear over and over. (I may be getting some of the titles wrong. But if you know Newsies, you know which songs I'm referring to.)

They changed a few things in the plot. The biggest change was that they turned the male reporter female so that they could combine her with the love interest, who was a much more minor character in the movie. I liked that change, and they even dealt with the fact that she was a female reporter in a time when such a thing was the exception to the rule. 

They added in some new songs, but they fit in with the others so well that they didn't bother me. (And one or two of them really brought a smile to my face.)

They changed some lyrics, but that didn't bother me either. 

The familiarity was still there - and also the beautiful, uplifting message - that the powerless can band together and change the world for the better. (And that's only the main message. There were other messages too.)

I especially like that it's based on a true story, because that makes the message hold that much more power. 

In today's world, with so many rights being trampled on here in the USA, it's an important, essential message. 

Broadway shows are expensive. The show has to be pretty amazing to warrant spending that much money on a ticket, even for the least expensive seats in the house. Newsies was worth it. 

Current Mood: satisfiedsatisfied

Mar. 12th, 2012

11:43 pm - In which my printer deprives me of sleep

So I decided it was time to print another draft of novel, in order to revise by hand on the printed copy. This is a good thing. This means I am ready (or nearly ready) to actually make changes rather than just planning out what changes to make.)

I was nursing a dying ink cartridge for the first 50 or so pages, and then, it stopped cooperating, so I changed the cartridge. This involved a fight with my printer, but I eventually won.

Then, on page 260 of 272, my printer ran out of paper, and I didn't catch it quickly enough. The printer then promptly decided that it was going to declare itself out of paper, even though I had refilled it, just to be contrary.

After retrying and deleting the print job a bunch of times, and shutting off the printer and turning it back on, I decided to shut down the computer.

Apparently, my file didn't save properly before I did this.

No, don't panic. The file still existed. I had exported a file from Scrivener (a program for writing things like novels) into Open Office (like Word, only free), and the file was still there. It's just that some of the formatting changes I'd made (line spacing, margins, etc) weren't.

I redid the changes.

And discovered that I had a different number of pages than the last time around.

I have no clue how this happened, but it made the simple act of printing 12 pages into the more complicated act of figuring out what pages to print.

Also, it left me wondering where those extra 13 pages appeared from. And also why some of my dialogue symbols decided to turn themselves into something that looked vaguely like Japanese.


Anyway, it's printed now. Half an hour later than it should have been. 

But still... grumble, grumble...

Current Mood: frustratedfrustrated

Mar. 11th, 2012

09:59 am - Plotting in my dreams

So I had a dream involving things like a Tardis, and traveling back and forth between two times in the same huge, complicated, hotel-like building. There was this other character I was working with, and I was pretty sure she'd end up taking a lead role, and, while dreaming, I found myself thinking that there should be tension between us before I got used to the fact that she'd be the leader, not me. 

The dream also involved running repeatedly down long, complicated corridors, ferrying items like china dishes from one time to the other. I kept thinking that, in any good story, I should succeed at this a few times, and then, I should get caught, or at least run into trouble. This made me anxious.

Apparently, my inner editor was having way too much fun critiquing my dream - but I'm not sure I mind.

Current Mood: amusedamused

Mar. 4th, 2012

06:08 pm - D'var Torah for Parshat Titzaveh

This is, more or less, the d'var Torah I gave at Hadar this past Shabbat. I say more or less because I was still revising it after Shabbat started, which is to say that the last set of revisions never made it onto the physical page, so there are probably a few lines that came out a bit differently. 

This is also the first time I've given a d'var Torah that was read from a page with 12 point font. I didn't even have time before Shabbat to print out an easier to read copy. 

Also, I write in my Hebrew by hand, so when I typed in the last set of corrections this afternoon, I put in the shorter pieces of Hebrew in italics, but not the longer pieces. For those spots, I wrote, [INSERT HEBREW HERE], but when I actually gave the d'var Torah, I had the relevant quotes written onto the page in those spots.

Anyway, here it is: 

D"var TorahCollapse )

Oct. 16th, 2011

12:53 pm - So I wrote a children's story...

As we inch closer to November, I've been spending a lot of my writing time focused on getting the next story idea ready to be turned into a novel during Nanowrimo. Sometimes, this happens naturally, and I get hooked on an idea and keep developing it in my head. Other times, I have to actively work at it. This year is one of those other times. 

Still, the idea is getting developed, slowly but surely.

In the meantime, another idea made a lot of noise in my head, an idea from this time last year, an idea for a Sukkot story.

So I wrote it. 

And I revised it.

And I revised it some more. 

And now, I have a children's story about Sukkot, and I'm ready to let folks read it, and give me feedback. Would you like to be one of those folks? You may have already responded to my facebook or g+ status. If not, feel free to reply here.

Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished

Sep. 14th, 2011

07:46 pm - CSA #6: the share that died too quickly, and what I got in #7

   Share #6 had some good things in it. Unfortunately, a number of them went bad much more quickly than I expected them to.

Here's what happened to Share #6:

The chard got used last night as a bed of greens under poached eggs. I sauteed it with garlic. 
The ears of corn got used for a small Shabbat dinner a week and a half ago. Not all of them got eaten. I got through most of the leftovers, though.
Half a summer squash got sauteed and mixed with pasta. The other one and a half died far more quickly than I expected, so I never got to eat them. I think they were picked before the hurricane, so they'd already been hanging around for the better part of a week before I got them. And that was the last of the CSA summer squash for me this year.
The tomatoes: hmm... I think one died, one got eaten raw, and one got used to make a sort of tomato sauce to put on my pasta.
The cucumbers got eaten raw, as did most of the peppers. One of the green peppers had some unexpected heat to it, which made it useless to munch on (at least for me), but I cooked with it when I made the poached eggs. (See below)
The eggplant got roasted with some zucchini from the supermarket. (Had I realized the CSA squash was on the way out, I would have used that instead.) It came out pretty yummy.

New recipes/experiments:

1. Roasted eggplant worked really well. Olive oil, salt, pepper, into the oven at 500-ish for a while.

2. Poached eggs with sauteed green pepper on a bed of chard: I got these little silicone egg holders so my poached eggs wouldn't lose half their whites in the water. I wanted to get rid of that pepper, so I sauteed it, and put it beneath the raw eggs so that it cooked into the bottom of the whites. Then, all of it went onto a bed of chard sauteed with garlic. 

Unfortunately, the chard was very much on the way out, the garlic burned, and I had too many flavors going on to really figure out what I did and didn't like.

And now for this week's share:

- 3 small carrots
- 7 small beets
- 2 jalapenos
- 3 small peppers
- 1 winter squash
- 6 leaves of collard greens
- 1 bunch of sweet potato greens
- 1 fennel
- 1 eggplant

Thing that went into the swap box (first time I swapped!): fennel
Thing that came out of the swap box: more carrots. Magic.

Thing I considered putting in there but didn't: beets. I should really learn how to do something yummy with them.

Things I'm excited to try out: collard greens and sweet potato greens

Thing I have no idea how to cook: winter squash. Should be interesting.

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Current Mood: curiousintrigued

Sep. 2nd, 2011

09:43 am - CSA #6: The share that survived Irene

So it turns out the farm out produce comes from took a hit from Irene. It did some damage. This week's share looks pretty normal, but we'll see what happens in future weeks. 

As for last week's share (my part of it), I think I actually managed to eat the entire thing, a first for me. (Well, unless you count the last two carrot sticks/part of an ear of corn left on my plate at the end of various meals...)

The corn got microwave-steamed.
The mini peppers went into egg omelets, a zucchini dish (I think), and got eaten raw with some salad dressing.
The tomato got used in an eggplant recipe (see below)
The zucchini got sauteed and also used in the same eggplant recipe
The cucumber got eaten raw
The carrot got eaten raw as carrot sticks
The eggplant got used first mixed in a sautee with zucchini (in which I discovered I should have peeled it) and then in a recipe based on one from the produce recipe book I got at the farm store in Gaithersburg. (Farm store being a produce stand located at the edge of an actual farm.):

I sauteed onion, eggplant and zucchini with salt, pepper and oregano. Then, I mixed in some tomato until the tomato got all mushed up and the other stuff turned all red. 

The first time around, it came out yummy. The second time, not as good. Not sure why.

This week's share:
- 6 stalks of chard (basically, I'm guessing one serving)
- 4 ears of corn
- 2 tiny summer squashes
- 3 small tomatoes
- 2 smallish cucumbers
- 7 small peppers
- 1 eggplant

This will be the first share that carries over into a work week, so we'll see how it goes once my lunch vegetable has to be packed into a lunch bag.

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Current Mood: awakeawake

Aug. 26th, 2011

06:34 pm - The earth moved

At the moment, most people in NYC are either freaking out over Hurricane Irene, or laughing at the people who are freaking out over Hurricane Irene. This makes Tuesday's earthquake old news, but I'm going to post about it anyway.

See, I'd never felt an earthquake before Tuesday.

Here in New York, it was a small, subtle earthquake. I wouldn't have felt it if I hadn't been sitting still, but I was, and I did.

I was sitting in my apartment, at my table. I don't remember whether I was finishing up lunch or working on a papercut. I feel like I should remember. I feel like I should know what my hands were doing when the apartment began to vibrate, but I don't. I was watching an episode of Torchwood on Netflix. That part, I remember, because at a certain point, when I began to wonder whether or not it was an earthquake, I paused the episode. Later, when I returned to it, I had to rewind, because I stopped paying attention to it even earlier.

The apartment was vibrating. The floor, the table. I put my hands down on the table and sat very still, just to be sure. I wondered if maybe it could be an earthquake, and the possibility excited me. But no, it probably wasn't. Someone was probably doing some work on our building, or somewhere else nearby.

But then, the table began to sway, and my chair was swaying too. Was it just my imagination? That was when I hit pause, and slowly, tentatively rose to my feet.

I wasn't scared. After all, I could barely feel it. Clearly, I wasn't in danger. I wasn't concerned about losing my balance. After all, I ride the subway.

Those weren't the reasons I hesitated.

I hesitated because I didn't trust it, because if I rose to my feet, maybe it wouldn't be real.

I've always wanted to know what an earthquake felt like. Not a big, scary one, but a little one, the kind that lets you know it's there, but doesn't do any major damage.

And there I was, standing in my living room (or dining room or bedroom, depending on your perspective), feeling the building sway gently beneath my feet. Wow, I thought. Just wow.

It happened at 1:51 pm. I know because the internet told me so. I didn't fully believe it until about two minutes later, when I finally found a website that listed recent earthquakes. There had been an earthquake in Virginia at 1:51, it told me. The tentative measure was 5.8. Later, they would change it to 5.9. My computer clock read 1:53.

When I looked up from my computer, my blinds were swaying from side to side. That, and the website, were the only proof I had, but they should have been proof enough.

I still wasn't ready to accept it as real, though, not quite.

Then, I opened a facebook window to post about it, and found that many of my friends had beaten me too it. A number of them reacted the way I had: with a touch of disbelief. Things along the lines of, "Did I just feel what I think I just felt?" and, "That was real, right?" And I was finally ready to say, yes. Yes, it was.

It occurred to me to wonder what brachah one says over an earthquake. (I'm guessing the same one we say for thunder.) I never actually said one, but maybe it's the thought that counts. Maybe it's the fact that one of my first thoughts immediately afterward was that there should be a brachah to say, that I felt the urge to say one.

See, the reason I had moved so slowly when I rose from the table wasn't fear, and it wasn't a lack of balance. I moved so slowly because I wanted to absorb the moment and hold it deep inside. I felt a feeling that I haven't felt in a very long time: awe.

Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative

Aug. 18th, 2011

03:43 pm - CSA #5, and how I fared with #4

So, as you some of you know, I'm in Gaithersburg, MD at the moment on vacation. A good friend picked up Share #5 for me, and we will be splittng it. 

Here's what's in the share:
- 2 ears of corn
- 3 mini peppers
- some cherry tomatoes
- 3 tomatoes
- 1 large zucchini
- 1 medium cucumber
- some basil
- 1 head of lettuce
- 2 small eggplants
- 2 carrots

I will probably be getting:
- 2 ears of corn
- some of the mini peppers
- 1 or 2 tomatoes
- half a zucchini
- 1 cucumber
- 1 small eggplant
- 1 carrot

A nice bunch of veggies - and all things I've heard of before, which makes them easier to use. On the other hand, that means I have to put in actual effort if I want to do any experimenting.

Here's what happened to Share #4:

Corn: got boiled and served as part of a Shabbat meal. There was some left over, but most of it got eaten.

Green peppers: one of them got mixed into various egg omelets (I threw some onion into both, and some jalapeno into one of them). The other one ended up coming with me to Gaithersburg, and may or may not get eaten.

Lettuce: was supposed to go into a salad, but the salad never got made. Sadly, this ended up in the trash.

Zucchini: mostly got sauteed with garlic and eaten as a side dish. Some of it went bad before I could get to it

Cucumber: not sure which cucumber I used where... some of this got eaten on its own, and the rest went into a salad with purslane

Cherry tomatoes: got put out as nosh when I had people over Shabbat afternoon. Many but not all of them got eaten. (I'm not a fan of cherry tomatoes, so I let other folks eat them.)

Basil: Got turned into pesto and is now in my freezer. I haven't had the chance to try any of it yet.

Purslane: Got put into a salad that was based on a recipe I found online: purslane leaves, jalapenocucumber, tomato (I used heirloom tomato for it), and lemon juice. I was too scared of the jalapeno, and didn't use enough of the hot part of it, so it was hard to tell it was there, but otherwise, I guess it came out okay...

So I guess I didn't do anything exciting with the last share... we'll see what happens with this week's. I bought a vegetable cook book at a farm store on Friday (we went to buy fruits before Shabbat), so maybe it will give me some interesting ideas.

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Current Mood: tiredtired

Aug. 4th, 2011

12:05 pm - Share #4, and how I actually finished off most of Share #3

 Here's what happened to the rest of last week's share:

Basil: most of it didn't get used before it started to go, but some of it was drying out, so I now have a little container of dried basil leaves. Any suggestions for dried basil?
Dill: went bad before I could use it, but there was very little of it to begin with.
Corn: all got eaten; all got steamed in the microwave due to laziness. The ear last night tasted less good, probably because it was two weeks old.
Zucchini: some of it got sauteed with garlic, as already noted. Some of it got sauteed with onion, a bit of red pepper, and Italian seasoning, and served at Shabbat dinner. (I still have a bit left over, but not very much.)
Onion: most of the massive onion got used, between the Shabbat dishes already mentioned in this post and the last one, and a little bit of it in the egg omelet I made last night. 
Lettuce: hooray! All got eaten in my usual salad, some the first Shabbat (mixed with Share #2 lettuce), some the second Shabbat, plus leftovers from both during the week. 
Fennel: I tried roasting some. It's not a flavor I like. Next time, it goes in the swap box.
Cucumbers: Some in salad, some on its own, all yummy. All gone.
Arugula: What didn't die in my fridge got sauteed with garlic and stuck into pasta with sauce and cheese. Yummy both times.

My favorite recipe/discovery from this share: arugula in pasta.
- 1 clove fresh garlic
- some arugula (not sure how much)
- elbow noodles
- tomato sauce
- cheese (in my case, muenster)

1. Sautee garlic
2. Add in arugula and sautee with garlic
3. Meanwhile, cook pasta until it's done
4. Mix pasta, tomato sauce and arugula mixture
5. Put cheese on top and melt it in the toaster oven

And now, on to this week's share. Here's what we got:

- 8 ears of corn
- 2 jalapeno peppers
- 2 smallish green field peppers
- 1/2 pound purslane (it's an edible weed, if you haven't heard of it. I hadn't either before various friends got it in last week's share.)
- 1 head of lettuce

- 2 zucchini (smaller this time)
- 1 cucumber (larger this time)
- 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
- 5 stalks of basil
Thing I need to research on: purslane
Thing I forgot to buy Tuesday night when I went to Bed Bath and Beyond: a hand mixer with a food processor attachment (or something like that) so I can make pesto out of all that basil.
Thing I may not be able to eat: jalapeno. I am open to suggestions on how to use them to add flavor without adding too much kick, since spicy doesn't work so well for me.

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