Monday, May 30, 2011

Touring the Designer House

Last week my friends from the Lambertville Streetwalkers (a walking group, not the other sort of streetwalkers), drove to Doylestown, PA, for a tour of this year's designer house. The official details for the house tour can be found on the designer house web site:

It pains me to report that yesterday was the last day of the tour, so you can't go on it, but if you like the house it can be yours for a few million dollars. It's quite nice inside, though we weren't allowed to take pictures anywhere but on the grounds outside. The house was originally an old stone farmhouse, now greatly enlarged and modernized. I thought I'd show you a few of the pictures that artist Pat Shamy took of the grounds.

Here we all are standing in a light rain, having tramped
 appreciatively through the beautifully decorated rooms 
(each done by a different designer) until 
we were surfeited with decor.
The barn. No horses there right now, but after you buy it you can buy some horses
and hire a stablehand for a few dollars more.
Much of the decor is color-keyed to the barn.
Charming views, everywhere you look.
A great place to find a dead body, no?
Maybe I'll set a mystery novel here.
Thanks to Pat Shamy for the pictures.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bleeders! Gorks! Chinkers!

No, I don't know what that means either, but it was the screamer headline on the Trenton Times sports page this morning. Those of you who follow sports probably know what it means. For the rest of us, it looks mighty like three expletives strung together. I like those expletives. Gorks, how I like them! (I'm always on the lookout for new expletives, especially since I vowed to actually stop swearing.)

When I was a little girl my best friend Deb Snyder and I used to try to swear. Since no one ever cursed in our presence--ah, those were gentler times--we had to make up our own curse words. The most terrible expression we had was "shad an the godost." It doesn't look like much in black and white but when you shout it, with the accent on the last syllable, it has a terrible power. I still use it sometimes when I bang my finger. What does it actually mean? I guess it means, "I am displeased."

Asterisks and symbols are good for representing real curse words on the internet, but one can't always remember whether a bad word is spelled "@#%&" or !@#$". So maybe the home-grown curse words are preferable. Oh, no. It's ten after eight already. Chinkers! My gorking blog is late.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Training the Brain

I took out a one-month subscription to Lumosity, that site that promises to improve one's mental function by means of little games. God knows I can use it. My brain is a shambles. We'll see whether their program actually does me any good.

First thing they do is ask some questions about one's lifestyle. Mine is pretty dull, no smoking, no drinking, moderate-to-low amount of exercise. Okay, I sit too much, but they didn't ask me that. Then one plays a couple of their little games to get rated on various mental skills. Then they send an email with one's recommendations and ratings. All this is free, by the way, in case you feel like indulging. You have to give them your contact info first, of course, so that later on they can hound you or shame you into signing up for the paid course.

My lifestyle was okay with them except for a few things. I wasn't taking on enough new challenges to suit them, and I wasn't regularly training my brain. I can understand how that would bother them. But one thing they found fault with puzzled me:

You're drinking a moderate amount of coffee or tea. Improve this.

At first I thought, Yes! I will increase my caffeine consumption. It's bound to make me feel more alert. In the immortal words of my father, if a little is good, a lot is better. But on closer examination I discovered that they actually wanted me to stop drinking coffee.

Give up coffee, my last vice? Never! Without caffeine I would spend my whole life in a total stupor. Maybe what they say is true, though. Maybe coffee ultimately makes me stupider, the way cigarettes ultimately make a smoker more nervous, craving nicotine to calm his nerves. I might try that. In some other life. If I do I'll let you know how it works out. Don't hold your breath, though, waiting for me to stop drinking coffee. I'm pretty sure it would be bad for your brain function.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Lambertville Memoir: Blood, Bones, and Butter

We read Blood, Bones, and Butter, the Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef, for our book group this month, written by Gabriella Hamilton, famous chef and now famous writer. It's a memoir, not a crime novel, so I'm out of my officially credentialed field of expertise here, but I found it to be an excellent piece of writing and I wanted to tell you so.

First of all, if her meals are as deliciously satisfying as her sentences and paragraphs, it must be a wonderful experience to eat at her Manhattan restaurant. Reading this book will make you hungry, although there are no actual recipes included in it. You will fly to your kitchen in search of something real to cook, and you will feel dismay because, not only is there nothing real to cook, but your pots, pans, and utensils are not in the state of rigorous order and cleanliness that Gabriella Hamilton would require.

Secondly, as far as the memoir goes, she dishes without oversharing. I think this is a good thing. Most of us could paint our ex-spouses naked (as they could paint us, if they had the skill) and people would be appalled. But we draw the cloak of charity, rightly. The reader understands that her mother is sore at her father, that she herself is sore at her husband, but she never tells us precisely why. We are left with the feeling that it is the nature of women to be angry at men, or in the nature of men to irritate their women.

And thirdly, the early part of the book is a charming picture of old New Hope and Lambertville. This is why the book club ladies picked it up in the first place, for we are Lambertville women. We heard that Jimmy Hamilton, Gabrielle's father, was unhappy with the book. Mr. Hamilton is a very big frog in our little pond. He runs a restaurant of his own, right across my back fence. No longer the penniless Bohemian of Gabrielle's childhood, he has enough money to endow various public works, and enough generosity to give cooking lessons to the old folks at the geezer health club where I work out. He is a helluva nice guy. I'm not sure what he hated about the book. I like him even better, knowing he was once a penniless Bohemian with romantic visions, like the rest of us. You'll be happy to know that now and then he still roasts lamb outside over an open fire.

Anyway, read the book if you get a chance. It's good.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Malice Domestic

Home at last from another swell conference.

Sadly, I was unable to find my camera at the last minute when I was leaving for Malice Domestic early Friday morning. As a result I was not able to take any movies of the view from the Hyatt elevator as it goes up and down (one of the fun things I like to do in strange hotels with fancy glass elevators). Nor was I able to take any pictures of myself posed with any of the Big Guns of Traditional Mystery. Nor was I able to photograph my roommate, Robin Hathaway, and me in our elegant outfits for the Malice Domestic banquet on Saturday night. That was not because there was no camera, but because we never got into those outfits. They were in our hotel room at three-thirty in the afternoon when the lock on the door failed, sealing us out, sealing our possessions (including our outfits) in.

Nor was I able to take any pictures of the kindly West Indian locksmith who slaved over the lock for two and a half or three hours before digging it out (you should see the scars on the door). He replaced it with a new one just in time for us to come staggering out of the banquet, still dressed in our day clothes, our hands numb with clapping, our lips stiff with cheers for the honorees, our bellies stuffed with delicious food, and fall into bed.

It was swell. The Hyatt took serious money off the bill for our inconvenience, not all that inconvenient for us, maybe inconvenient for people who wanted to see us in our glad rags. Next day were our panels, perfectly successful. Mine was put up on Twitter by Criminal Element
@crimehq. Interesting to see that. (See how reading tweets makes your sentences shorter.)

But as I said, I'm home now, and dying to get into my own little bed. Alas, The Washington Post says that President Obama wants to speak to us all in the middle of the night, and he won't say what about. It could be a message about the end of the world for all I know. I dare not go to sleep. What if the world ended while I was sleeping?


Went to sleep anyway. Awoke to hear the joyful news that Osama Bin Laden is dead. Distressed to hear that we buried him at sea. I can understand where that would discourage the tendency of his supporters to gather at his gravesite and make trouble, but what about the ones who are going to deny that he's really dead? Couldn't we have saved his head or something? Put it on a pike in Lafayette park? Such a waste.