I never fully claimed Louisiana or Baton Rouge as my home, and I never participated in the full spectrum of Baton Rouge Mardi Gras events. These past two weeks I’ve been homesick, missing the festival spirit that consumes the entire state, even the most reclusive among my friends. You’d think the weeks and weeks of Mardi Gras spirit – preparations, build up, multiple parades in every town – would be tiring, but it’s just part of the culture, something everyone looks forward to every year. Mardi Gras in New Orleans, pshaw, that’s for the tourists. Mardi Gras everwhere else – that’s a wonderful phenomenon thatRead More →

New Year’s holiday gratitudes: 1. Deer outside. 2. Trees heavy with snow so they look like shaggy dogs. 3. A white Christmas. 4. Netflix, binge-watching television, Lillyhammer. 5. Staycations. 6. Cuddling, cuddling, cuddling. 7. Cuban bean soup. 8. Cargo space in SUVs. Thank goodness. 9. Meyer’s soap. 10. Cheap snow boots that still do the trick.   ∞Read More →

People. The people who helped me get to the Northwoods of Wisconsin this year – people who wrote letters of recommendation, proofread job application packets, and held my hand; committee members and HR staff who held a job search; family, friends, and my partner who packed and moved me here; my cats who didn’t run away. This is where I need to be and I’m grateful I got here. The realtors, bankers, and inspectors of Rhinelander who got me into a home in time for Thanksgiving. The Louisiana students who have told me this summer and fall semester that they miss me, starting from theRead More →

Why do you add flour to the oven bag when you bag baste a turkey? According to Reynolds Kitchens: to blend the fat and juices and to protect against bursting. That did not explain enough. Crowd-sourced answers say that it keeps the bag from sticking to the bird. Still not enough. Also, doesn’t make a lick of sense. Dr. Greg Blonder – physicist, inventor, scientist, entrepreneur, author, and all-around fascinating guy – did some experiments on various cooking methods that have to do with various meats and weights of wrap in pressure cookers, convection, oven bags, thermal whatevers, and blahty blahs with or without waterRead More →

Scare cam proves what everyone’s saying about us – we are all turning into a bunch of narcissistic sociopaths. Our ability to empathize is eroding daily. Most folks attribute this to desensitization from new media technology, but the blame is elsewhere. “Point and shoot” scare cams emphasize that the thing pointing doesn’t kill people, people kill people. Scare cams are a symptom of something bigger, of lost contact. You can fall in love via technology just as easily as you can bully through it; technology can mediate love as much as it can mediate bullying. So the problem isn’t technology. Maybe in the end OctaviaRead More →

homemade lip gloss

A couple of Christmases ago I decided to skip shopping, save money on presents, and make things instead. Plus, rejecting commercialized Christmas is always good. Homemade presents are more meaningful and contribute less to landfills and capitalists’ pockets. Ironically, I ended up spending lots of money; buying presents would have been cheaper. The supplies came from hobby shops with right-wing agendas and whole food grocery stores with dubious health insurance politics. I purchased obscure things like bees wax, shae butter, lavender essential oil, and rose petals. Still, I had fun sharing tea and hot chocolate with several women friends while we expressed our creativity onRead More →

My gratitudes for daddy: 1. He was a supreme raconteur; I owe every story to him. 2. Whoever thought to put pears and cheese together? Whatever odd pairings in life, I got from him. 3. The persistent belief that cats know what you’re thinking despite your best efforts otherwise. ∞Read More →

My father spent time in federal prison for seeking to overthrow the United States government pursuant to the Taft Hartley Act. In 1952, it was against the law in this country to be an officer in a labor union and affiliate with the Communist Party in any way. At the age of 28, my father resigned from the Communist Party in Denver, Colorado, and ran for an officer position in a labor union. In 1956, at the age of 32, he was named as a Communist before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. In those days, the FBI did not have to provide any materialRead More →

In the 1870s, Julia Ward Howe attempted to start a Mother’s Day for Peace. Anna Jarvis started Mother’s Day as a memorial for her mother, and did not appreciate its commercialization. My grandmother, a “right on woman,” completely agreed, but ate the candy anyway. Here is my grandmother, Anna Zuckerman, accepting an award for her service to the Susan B. Anthony branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.     We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth aRead More →