Snow Fall

Wow, this month has made me into a terrible blogger. I'll stop torturing us all with the possibility of further posts after this one, and then in the New Year I'll come back with a bang (really!).

This year I am hand-making chocolate truffles for everyone in sight, and so far it's been great. I just made another batch, mixing two kinds of chocolate together with heavy cream in a big dose of deliciousness: a 52% hunk of Callebaut and Scharffen Berger of the 62% cacao solids variety. I guess that will make my truffles 58% Callescharfberg. It's snowing hard now and I'm getting ready to head to the gym, but in part of my heart I wonder if I might pull over at Mt. Auburn Cemetery on the way there, fall out of my car into the snow and watch it hit the pines, the headstones, the cold holiday lilies.

The Cemetery is also home to an increasing number of majestic Black Squirrels, which D. and I call Squanthers. There are more and more of these striking creatures in the wooded areas near our home; just recently we caught a glimpse of one as we drove along the road that edges McLean Hospital (if you're not local, you may not know that McLean houses more than just the insane; in fact, the well-designed grounds are home to lovely period buildings, a short network of welcoming country roads, and an enjoyably eerie feeling of desolation and gothic drama). He was in the apple orchard along the road, chomping on old fruit. "What's that?" I asked in shock, tapping the brake.

A cat? No. Groundhog? No. Something more majestic and kingly than that. A miniature panther? All covered in a dewy black fur, with a big black bushy tail, clearly powerful chewing muscles, and short, muscular arms. A Squanther, we realized in the same instant. A rare Squanther.

Really a sight to see. Still, I don't understand why these animals, which, though impressive, are nonetheless barrels of chub, don't get picked off by hawks. They seem a lot less disguised than their more common gray brother, who blends in with the muddy assortment of dead New England leaves and dried gray dirt. I'm not actually sure where on earth it would make sense for the Squanther to naturally evolve to a glossy black. Maybe there's some state I've never been to, like Louisiana, where the ground is a deep midnight, rampant with frisky black squirrels.

Hm, it's really blowing outside. I wonder if this is what they call "a squall." Time to go out driving!


The Good Internet

Looking for a local car garage for the ol' 60,000 mile tune-up, I just came across this incredibly cool-sounding organization: Better World, an alternative to AAA. Now you too can get 24/7 roadside assistance without supporting the evil anti-public-transportation lobbyists. Isn't that exciting?

Also, if you're websurfing, check out my new site launch today: http://www.digitaldivide.net



Gingerbread cookie dough is the best thing EVER! Maybe even better than oatmeal raisin cookie dough, which until now held first place among my favorite tastes. Joy of Cooking's gingerbread cookies, filled with molasses, ginger, cloves, cinnamon and lemon...man. SO good.

Well, it's off to the Bizarre Bazaar, one of our lovely holiday traditions. I think our last purchase there were some pickled monkey arms or something. It's enough to make you want to sing a carol.



Recommended Reading

In case you haven't been following it, my Dec. 1st entry generated a response from blogger Nikita, who strongly disagreed with my stance in favor of gay marriage (and against civic disengagement, although that was a joke, people). I wrote back, others wrote back, Nikita chimed back in with a response (in which she describes the State of Cedar, which sounds like a pretty cool place to go, yes?). My husband also had a reply, which it took me until now to post. However, I'd like to draw your attention to it because it's a well-thought-out response to common anti-gay-marriage statements that we hear a lot, and I think his voice has an added value because beyond being a thoughtful person, he is also a geneticist working on infectious disease. So, if you're at all interested in a public health professional's take on the old they-spread-AIDS argument, go check out comments 15-18 on the December 1st comments board.
The Entries That Could Have Been

Oh, man, I can't believe I have neglected this blog more this month than last month, when I was actually on hiatus. I'm sorry, blog. In my head, I have written entry after entry, if that makes it any better.

Let's see...first, there was my idea for a red state/blue state reality TV show, where one person from a blue state would spend a week with a red stater. That was inspired by a few things, especially a conversation at Thanksgiving in which an Iranian-American expressed confidence that she could connect with the most die-hard conservative and change their mind about a few key issues. I found her optimism heartwarming and potentially lucrative.

There was also the usual diatribe about dieting, and how strange it seems that, in order to lose weight, I had to give up most of my fat free, high-health foods. Most notably, yogurt for breakfast is a bad idea. Now I eat oatmeal. Sushi is also out of the picture. Basically, anything that could be remotely considered less than filling? Gone.

Oh, I also had a disappointing encounter in a small group situation, and crafted mental blog entries for days about it. It seems like in any group of three people or more, there are bound to be complex politics that can easily make it totally and completely unworkable. In this case, a fellow woman's mistreatment of me turned out to be some weird gender bias--she was cutting me out of any group decision-making that the masses of men in the group were able to share. After working against the manipulation in a series of ways, I finally had to quietly leave the dynamic altogether. It's such a bummer when women get possessive of power---but against each other.

I think that's it. See? You haven't missed much in the last nine days. At work, I'm preparing to launch a new website, which is fairly consuming. And then there's the holidays. They aren't easy this year. In any other year, the stress would drag me down, I think, but between the novel and the exercise and the work, I feel great enough that I can get pretty happy just about this being our first married Christmas. Everything else will simply have to work itself out.


The Hiatus is Over!

At long last, I can blog again. What a month! I wrote a whole novel! It was great! Too many exclamation points already! Yes, writing a novel in three weeks was a wonderful experience that I recommend to everyone. I don't know if it made me a better writer, but it certainly made me see a part of myself I didn't know existed. A strange, at times dark part, that creates sinister characters and soap operatics and tracks ten or twelve themes simultaneously throughout 50,000 words. It was about 2-4 hours a day of writing, which actually isn't so bad as long as you know you won't be doing it in December.

I also hit the gym a lot, and lost about five pounds over the course of twenty-eight chapters, which was accidentally well-timed to correspond with my visiting a Starbucks every single day for 22 days. So, that was probably my best November on record. I love November now! Oh, god, more exclamation marks.

~ Moral Values: A Parable ~

The other morning, a car accident took place directly in front of me. One driver was on the verge of cutting me off with a premature left turn from the oncoming lane, and another chose that time to run a red light and smash into the car. They both glared at each other for a moment. What did I do, as a front-and-center witness? Did I pull over, get out, and report what I saw to the cops? Did I make sure there was no one injured? No. Instead, I chose to pull my car up to the accident, and wait impatiently, in the middle of a busy intersection, for them to back their cars away from one another so that I could drive between them. After all, I was going to the gym. I was going to my spinning class. My spinning class was the most important thing to me that morning.

Later, when I thought about it, I wondered if this is what people in the Midwest freak out about when they talk about Moral Values. Am I the ultimate jaded city dweller, immune to the concerns of others in my obsessive push to lose the last five pounds of my goal? Am I the aggressive driver of my own nightmares, who doesn't care a whit (you like that?) about the needs of other people?

In some ways, yes. But then again, there's all that justification to be done: a.) Both people were in the wrong. b.) It was obvious that no one was hurt. c.) I only had ten minutes to get to spinning class.

Well, maybe not that much justification. Anyway, if I am the will and soul of the new crumbling paragon of community values, so be it. Then again, what do you say about someone who stops to help an accident victim and then votes against gay marriage? That's a whole other level of disintegration.