Sunday, November 16, 2014

Balloon Merlot

One of the exciting parts of having a new addition to the family is deciding what to name the baby.  Kenneth and Melinda are keeping silent on the baby's name, but we have been sending them some great ideas.

For example, before we knew the baby was a boy, we thought perhaps Janey Sue would be nice since it would be using both grandma's middle names.  Or Leroy Ira, if he is a boy?  How about Horton?  Horton Norton.  And then there's Herkimer.  And on and on.

On Saturday night, we celebrated Melinda's father's 70th birthday, and while there we were discussing some of the odd names that we have heard people name their children.  Kenneth commented that sometimes it seems as if the parents just pick a word because they happen to be looking at something.  I chimed in, "You mean like balloon?"  I was looking at Chuck's birthday balloons when I said it.

"Sure, or Merlot," answered Kenneth, holding up his wine glass.  And there we have the baby's name:  Balloon Merlot Norton.  We could call him B. M. for short . . . or not.

I can't wait to meet little Balloon and find out what his real name will be.  Until then . . . Balloon Merlot it is!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Earthquakes, Barley, and Soup

Today was one of those odd November days that do not occur very often.  As in never.  The temperature this morning was 18 with a wind chill of 1.  That is degrees fahrenheit.  Brrr.  Bravely, Kathy Dunlavy and I set out for our morning walk, and surprisingly, it was not nearly as cold as either of us had anticipated.  I wore my Russian hat from London, which was the perfect thing, and Kathy was wearing her Eskimo coat, so we looked appropriately warm.

I decided that the perfect thing to ease the cold would be to make soup for tonight's dinner.  I pulled out my soup book, which I rarely use, and found something that sounded good - Mushroom Barley.  The purple barley I purchased in Oregon has been sitting in the cabinet awaiting a good recipe, so I pulled it off the shelf to use.  What I did not realize was it needed to cook considerably longer than pearl barley - in the neighborhood of an hour longer - so the soup was a little crunchy.  The taste was good, though, and I will try it again.  Best news is that it was so filling, we did not even eat the chicken I bought.  That means I will be able to make Chicken Curry soup tomorrow night.  Yum!

While I was making the soup, I suddenly heard a large bang.  I thought someone had run into the house, but there was no sign of anyone around.  It occurred to me that it might have been an earthquake, and sure enough, it was.  The neighbors both felt shaking at their homes, but for me, it was definitely like a sonic boom.  Don says it must have been something in the house - a truss, a wall, or something else - but we have yet to find it.  I am hoping it was just an anomaly!

Then the cleaning bug hit again, and Don and I hit the refrigerator.  I am not real good about keeping the refrig clean, and this was a great opportunity to do so.  Needless to say, I have a lot of empty shelves now.  Hallelujah!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Maltese Falcon

This year's Wichita Big Read book is The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett.  Having never read it, I thought it would be a fun read.

Although the mystery itself was intriguing, I found some of the details of the book a bit too much.  Some books pass the test of time, but I am not certain this one does.

I found the first page almost unreadable.  After having read several beautifully-written books, it was hard to go back to sentence after sentence of "Samuel Spade's jaw was long and bony . . . " "His yellow-grey eyes were horizontal.  The V motif was picked up again . . . " "She was a lanky . . . "  Diana had beaten "She was . . . " "He was . . . " out of me . . . and now here is a very famous book that uses the passive tense every other sentence.

Despite that, I continued to read.  The dated nature of the book added humor to the reading.  I could have lived without the paragraphs on how to roll a cigarette, for example, but the descriptions of the office with the tapping of the typewriters and the sound of the paper coming out of it sparked memories for me.

Since Sam Spade was the first of the woman-courting, mystery-solving detectives, perhaps I need to give him some credit.  I know it was a sign of the times, but the condescending, patronizing manner in which he treated all of the women affected me.  I found myself reacting quite negatively to it, even though I know books like this are prone to hyperbole.  Still, it was a sign of the way women were viewed in the 40s and 50s . . . not a positive trait of that era.

I am looking forward to our book club discussion about The Maltese Falcon to see what the other women's reaction to it is.  One thing I know for sure:  mystery novels have improved over time!