Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Oh, for the good old days

Back about mid-summer of 2006, when gas prices at the pump (seemed to have) hit real highsaround three-and-a-quarter a gallonfor the first time, I distinctly remember commenting to someone filling his tank in the lane opposite mine, that "someday we will think this is a cheap price for gas." A nice guy, he went along for the laugh but it was apparent that he didn't get it, and thought I was nuts for suggesting that gas could get any more expensive. I'm here to tell you, in October of 2008, that day came just about two weeks ago, when gas in Chicago went back down to $3.25 after peaking more than a dollar higher, at $4.39 a gallon for regular.
I admit I haven't done my part to slow demand for oil in the form of jet fuel (too many trips in too short a span of time, from every perspective), but I don't use my car much. It's a VW Jetta, more than five years old, and it has just over 17,000 miles on the odometer. Of course I'm lucky, I live in a city where excellent public transportation is abundantly available, and when I do drive, most destinations aren't very far away. I can and do walk lots of places. My heart goes out to friends who live in truly rural areas, who have no options other than to use their car.

Thanks to ChicagoGasPrices.com for the historical data.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Angela pia, à la Edna Ballinger

3 eggs, separated
1/2 pint whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 TB Knox gelatin
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 oz brandy
1 oz rum

Beat yolks until light yellow, add sugar gradually and beat until creamy; add brandy and rum. Beat egg whites until stuff; beat cream until firm enough to stand in firm, shiny peaks. Add vanilla.
Meanwhile, soak gelatin in 1/4 cup hot water for 5 minutes, then stir over hot water until gelatin dissolves completely.
Stir dissolved gelatin into egg yolk mixture, fold in beaten egg whites and whipped cream. Chill. That is, chill the mixture. Eat it, and you, too, shall chill.
Pious angel indeed!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Heartful memories

I experienced the most wonderful pang of nostalgia today, so delicious I intentionally prolonged it by doing a little online searching. Serendipitously, I came across an image of Elsie the Cow, Borden milk products' long-time mascot, bringing to mind happy hours collecting Borden’s ads from my mother’s Ladies Home Journals and McCall’s in the 1950s. How I wish now those had been kept, as the artistic cartoony images, full of color, motion and frantic humorous activity, were nothing short of glorious.Elsie, ever and always sporting her necklace of fresh black-eyed Susans, her hubby Elmer the bull, and kids (calves?) Beulah, Beauregard, Larabee and Lobelia, were the very epitome of the ideal family from the 1930s at least through the 1950s when I was smitten. Elsie even had very shapely, if slightly hairy, legs.
These thoughts make me long to have in hand one those magazine pages again, to inhale its inky fragrance, touch its shiny slickness, and to revel in the lush pictures of happy bovine home life. Searching ebay for “Elsie Borden” turned up 105 hits, including many print ads that I’m tempted to buy, like a drug to soothe an old addiction, and several Elsie dolls, none of which exactly matches my memory of a similar toy I forgot I had ever had to treasure. I’m not the only one who looks back on Elsie’s hayday (no pun intended, of course) as halcyon. Memorabilia in fine condition commands a fine price in the early 21st century.
One unspeakably sad thing about having a grown-up perspective on all this is that I now know what goes in to making Elmer’s Glue-All. I wonder if Elmer knew that when he took the job as spokesbull for Borden’s glue products?

I'm sorry I can't credit the source of the image; it appears in many places on the internet.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The gift of song

You know, Natalie Dessay really belongs on this list of best-evers, too. She was the terrific eponymous soprano in Lyric Opera of Chicago's production of Massenet's Manon this season. She was an amazing Morgana in Lyric's 2000 production of Handel's Alcina as well. I think if I had it to do all over again I would come back as a coloratura soprano. Or it would be nice if I were at least able to carry a tune in my next life.

My thanks to Opera Chic for the sensational image.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Listen without the adjectives

As you hear to the narration, please try to blot out the inflammatory adjectives and focus your listening on the facts. They speak for themselves and hardly need any embellishment or commentary.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Web cam happiness

Here are two avian captures from the Henry's Fork Web cam (Island Park, Idaho); the silhouette heron is from this morning, at a time of day at a time of year when the angle of the sun makes oblivious all fine details, yet the bird is so distinct that it's identifiable, and another caught in late June of this year (the bird is most likely a starling or other member of the black bird family) when the sun reveals all the local glory in the cam's sight. Once in a while someone catches sight of a moose on the cam. I keep trying!