August 21, 2009: A Literary Repast

While on vacation in Scotland, I've been reading American chef Julia Child's memoir, My Life in France. I admit the hype about the recently-opened film "Julie & Julia" influenced my selection at Borders in the Philadelphia airport. I was only about twelve when Mastering the Art of French Cooking was published, and I've only seen clips of her PBS show "The French Chef."

So interesting are Julia's reminiscences about discovering France and French food, about finding her passion in cooking, about writing an in-depth, all-encompassing book on a single subject, and about learning to teach classes on television that I dozed little on my flight over the Atlantic.

As someone who also found my passion in working with my hands, who also spent years writing an in-depth how-to book, in my case Quilter's Complete Guide, and who also learned to demonstrate step-by-step techniques to a television camera, I found myself relating to Julia on almost every page.

Julia's love of France, especially Provence, her intelligent, self-effacing manner, and her obvious affection for her husband Paul made me an instant Julia Child fan.

I have only about 40 pages of My Life in France left, and I'm torn between a desire to gobble it up and a desire to wait and savor it later. In a way, I'm seated before a plate of Julia's sole meuniere—satisfied, but saving room for a little mousse chocolat.

Today's Fortune Cookie Fortune:
You will discover a new hero.

Posted on Sunday, August 23, 2009 by Registered CommenterMarianne Fons | CommentsPost a Comment | References2 References

August 20, 2009: I'm a L'il Twirler

In my youth I briefly possessed a baton. I can't remember if I twirled in grade school or junior high, but I can still see my instrument—rubber crutch tips on each end, shiny, spiraled metal between.

If the various tricks had names they're forgotten too, but I could spin my baton from left to right hand, twirl it individually through each finger, toss it up, then turn around and catch it behind me as it came back down. There my baton skills ended and my baton career stopped.

Last evening, in Il Positano, an Italian restaurant just up the street from our B & B here in Edinburgh, Scotland, my husband Mark taught me how to twirl the spaghetti of my spaghetti carbonara with fork against tablespoon to create perfect, bite-sized portions—so easy, so delicious, so not-slurpy.

Today, at one of the scores of kiltmakers along the Royal Mile, I inquired about a custom-made ladies' kilt in my maiden-name tartan, Graham. Whether I'll go for it or not remains to be seen, with the dollar so weak against the pound, but I can see myself striding down a US city street, the wind twirling my Scottish plaid pleats. 



Today's Fortune Cookie Fortune:
You will have fun learning to do something new.

Posted on Thursday, August 20, 2009 by Registered CommenterMarianne Fons | CommentsPost a Comment | References2 References

August 19, 2009: Napping the World

My husband Mark and I are in Edinburgh, Scotland, in place to attend the famous Military Tattoo drum and bagpipe exhibition tomorrow night amid a crowd of 10,000. We've been up and down The Royal Mile, discovered an old monument to Robert Burns in a seemingly abandoned cemetery, and lunched at The Beehive pub near Edinburgh Castle.

Today, while enjoying paintings by Scots and others at the Royal Museum, we took a seat on a tufted velvet sofa in a ground floor gallery to give our legs a short rest. Other tourists were milling about, and Museum guards stood at their posts.

Still a bit jeg-lagged, I felt my eyelids close. Able to sleep deeply while sitting stock-still, I power napped, returning to consciousness after only five minutes or so. "Where am I?" I wondered, casting about until my eyes caught the plaid pants of a burly guard. "Oh, right, Edinburgh."

With pleasure, I recalled a short snooze I enjoyed in front of Sargent's "Madam X" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art a couple of years ago, and another on a beautiful June day sitting at a table in the Tuileries near the Louvre in Paris. Perhaps I should start a checklist of world cities where I'd like to doze impromptu.

I was probably in my 30s when I bought a pair of silvery earrings bearing "New York, Paris, Milan" in artsy script along the sides. My joy was great when I ran across them some years later, having visited, as I hoped I would, each city.

Today's Fortune Cookie Fortune:
You will relax away from home.


Posted on Wednesday, August 19, 2009 by Registered CommenterMarianne Fons | CommentsPost a Comment | References2 References

July 20, 2009: Sixty Pluses

In the months, weeks, and days leading up to my sixtieth birthday in late June, I felt depressed. "Where has the time gone?" I kept asking myself. I chafed at the image of myself as a truly older lady.

I spent the actual event among colleagues at an advisory board meeting for the International Quilt Study Center in Lincoln, Nebraska, so I was in wonderful company. The weather, as usual in high June, was lovely, and we dined outdoors.

Now that I've crossed into my sixties I find I love my age! Sixty is the beginning of a new decade for me, so much more interesting than the end of an old one. Yoga practice has made me more agile and strong than I remember from younger years. Sixty seems more stylish than that dumpy 59.

Two books were torchbearers as I made this little transition, Somewhere Towards the End by Diana Athill, and I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron. Athill, an editor who worked for a London publishing firm through age 70 and began writing after that, published this particular volume at 91, and had all sorts of pithy British things to say about aging. New Yorker Ephron wrote her witty essays on hair and nail maintenance and other women's issues at 60 and is now 70 and as classy as ever.

Less than a month into my sixth decade of life, I find myself quite happy, grateful, and looking forward to 70, which seems way cooler than 60, certainly better than 69.

Today's Fortune Cookie Fortune:
You will age gracefully.


Posted on Monday, July 20, 2009 by Registered CommenterMarianne Fons | CommentsPost a Comment | References2 References

July 15, 2009: Just How Dumb . . . ?

Often, as I dump junk email into the Junk Email folder on my computer, I wonder about the subject lines I see.

Much like snake-oil salesman of yore hawking their wares under a tent at the local fair, cybermarketers are determined to fleece the public. We all know there's a sucker born every minute, and we're on guard to prevent being the latest foolish babe.

Two aspects of these unsolicited missives interest me: 1) poor syntax and 2) gullibility categories.

As to the quality of language, I assume the writers did not complete grade school or English is a second (or third) language. Here are some examples:

Your friend has made you and greeding card

Read or your gay

Increasing Seemen And Orgamss

Arouse in secs

Mentally, these remind me of bumper stickers placed crookedly on cars. I retort, "If you want me to vote for your candidate or cause, you're not doing him/her/it any favors by displaying a lack of attention to detail, aesthetic weakness, unfamiliarity with common practises, and general sloppiness." Credibility is key to effective marketing, at least for me.

However, when discussing spam with my youngest daughter recently, she suggested some misspellings of certain words are intentional (like "secs") in order to slip past spam blocking software. Oh, Brother.

As to gullibility, recurring product types seem to say a lot about the insecurities of the computer-owning public. Do the uneducated really think they can Get a degree with no problems? Do the overweight believe they can Lose weight without starving? Do fashionista wannabes think Less Expensive Repilica Watches Can be as Good as Original Watches?

Caveat emptor, everyone!

Today's Fortune Cookie Fortune:
You will not be interested in online gambling.


Posted on Thursday, July 16, 2009 by Registered CommenterMarianne Fons | Comments1 Comment | References8 References