Friday, March 29, 2013

Dinner at home

We invited friends over for dinner last weekend. It was a sort of combination dinner/dog play date, although the reality is that the dogs ignore each other more than play (which is just fine with me, because the dogs seems to only have three interaction modes: play, ignore, and fight). 
I suggested making Mexican, and it turned out that one of them had returned from Mexico last week, bringing a suitcase of fresh tortillas home with her. suggested making Mexican, and it turned out that one of them had returned from Mexico last week, bringing a suitcase of fresh tortillas home with her.

Since it was a casual evening, I didn't do a lot of cooking. I keep ready-to-eat beans in the freezer. In this case, I had beans cooked with salsa, onions, and summer squash, which I reheated and we ate on top of the tortillas. The tortillas were, indeed, the best tortillas I've ever eaten. And I'll have to savor that memory, because Mexican food is pretty rare in Miami.
As always, we were reminded that dogs are scavengers, and the hopeful eyes are everpresent at dinner.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


I'm normally quite wary of using exclamation points - I think they tend to be an overused form of punctuation. But in the case of this post's title, an exclamation point is apt. We had delicious coffee, made from beans that Andrew roasted this weekend. Here's the process:

We can roast up to a half pound at once, using a stove top popcorn maker. The process does produce some smoke, but not as much as when I deep fry.
Once the beans are roasted the right amount, you quickly take them outside and pour them between two strainers. This helps them cool quickly, and allows the chaff to blow away.

Brew and drink. To further your enjoyment, listen to the coffee song.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


The Baltimore trip was so much fun that I decided to do it again. That is, I truly had a wonderful time catching up with my friends, and it also just so happens that I'm flying to DC again today. As it turns out, I am extremely grateful to have two trips scheduled back-to-back at the same location, because I accidentally left my cell phone with a friend in Maryland. Since I was coming back in three days, I decided that they wouldn't have to worry about mailing it - I could just pick it up when I returned. Going without my phone for three days has showed me how much I rely on it - I make grocery lists and check my calendar daily. But I also happen to have set up a google voice account, synced with my cell phone contact list, and that has made this all much more bearable. I have all my contact numbers, I can check my voice mail using another phone, and I can make phone calls when I have Internet access. I'm not sure I'd want this to be a permanent arrangement, but it's working well as a backup plan.

Friday, March 15, 2013


I'm off to Baltimore today, for a weekend of fun work things and fun friend things. I'll be presenting a workshop, which I find far less stressful than giving a talk. (For those of you not in academia, the difference is: In a talk, you talk. In a workshop, you help other people engage in activities to learn. I much prefer when I don't have to do the talking.)

The conference I'm attending, which is about physics high school teachers, is attached to a bigger conference. Most physicists go to one of two major conferences that are held yearly in March and April. Imaginatively, they are called the March Meeting and the April Meeting. The March meeting is in Baltimore, and since some of my friends (along with 8000 other physicists) are attending it. We'll be having dinner, along with friends who are still in DC, which makes it a partial reunion of the Star Trek club. So I'm seeing people that I see every week, but this weekend I get to see them in person instead of on the video screen.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Passed down through the generations

One of the unexpected benefits of dressing in vintage is that people give you clothing. I keep meeting women who have inherited clothing from their mothers or aunts or mother-in-laws. These women don't want to wear the clothing (because it's clearly of a different era) or they can't wear it (because almost everyone was smaller then). So they give it to me, since they know that I will appreciate it.

This is a particularly beautiful sweater that I was recently gifted. It has fine blue beadwork all over the front and back, and it is in beautiful condition.

Saturday, March 09, 2013


Our dog received her very first package addressed directly to her. I wonder if my sister-in-law has an unused budget for gifts for her nieces and nephews. Since we don't have any children, our pets profit instead.

My brother's family got Ada a Christmas chew toy which lost its squeak almost immediately. These gifts are to replace that broken one. From the smell, Ada could tell right away that was a dog cookie, not a people cookie. That hopeful look was rewarded soon after this photo.

Friday, March 08, 2013


It's been cold in Miami this week. That is, it's been cold by Miami standards, which means 60s in the day and 50s at night (10-15C). When you've come here from points north, it's amusing to see people wearing parkas or big boots on days like this. I can remember a time not too long ago when I thought a winter day in the 60s was a rare treat. But I also have some sympathy. I don't know of any buildings that have heaters here; when it's cold, the most you can do is turn off the air conditioner. Most houses are poorly insulated, and lots of people don't have very warm clothing. (I've put all my winter clothes in storage, for example.)

In a weird way, I'm grateful that I'm so cold right now. This is a sign that I've acclimated to Miami temperatures, and I'd much prefer to be consistently comfortable in the 90F heat (32 C) and shiver a bit when it gets cool. But I'll still smile a bit when I'm leaving a concert and see parents pick up their children, wrap them in blankets, and carry them to the car to keep them from getting too cold when it's 55F degrees.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Church tea

I attended a tea on Saturday, put on as a fundraiser by a committee in my church. Everyone came dressed up in hats and long skirts because the theme was the Victorian era. Somehow I missed that part of the announcement, though, so I came dressed in a circle skirt and crinolines, in my typical mid-century style (and thus missed the mark by 60 years). I still had a great time, pouring tea for people and nibbling cheese sandwiches. They also presented a program, including some early twentieth-century songs and some historical pieces on women who were leaders in the congregation in the past.

While I sat there, I thought how nice it is that some things don't change very much. I do a lot of work that couldn't have been done 50 years ago, like analyzing video and writing emails. Moreover, I wouldn't have been able to work as a scientist or researcher 50 years ago, because women didn't do that. But community programs, with the little sound snafus, slightly-too-long lectures, and trays of homemade goodies, have been almost exactly the same for a long time. That's kind of comforting.