Friday, July 26, 2013

I have invented a refreshing summertime drink!

Yes, I invented a summer beverage and it kicks lemonade's ass! It is a frothy blend of creamy milk and spices. I call it the Whirling Dervish. You can think of it as Mony Milk. Or a lazy gal's horchata, with a Middle Eastern twist.

Here's how to make it:

In a regular drinking glass, pour in soy milk or almond milk. Sorry, cows won't work here. Dairy doesn't have the right flavor.

Add a jigger or two of pure vanilla extract AND rum flavoring. The latter is not optional.

Add reckless amounts of the following: cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper. Yes, pepper. Gives it an extra kick.

Stir, and watch the spices whirl away like a Sufi master.

Now, add several squirts of honey --at least a teaspoon, more if you prefer.

Stir again.

Finally, add several ice cubes, to make the milk extra cold, and stir a third time, to mix everything together in deep, frigid-y goodness. Note: The honey and spices tend to coagulate in places. Bonus!

Drink up ---how delightful ---and sludgy!

Alternatives: I made this so often I ran out of cardamom. I found I had a lot of pumpkin pie spice on hand, since I never make pumpkin pies, and don't know why the hell I bought it in the first place, so I used that instead. Tasted great ---almost like an egg nog.

Or you could just use a combo of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. Or get crazy and toss some marjoram in there. (Not really). 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Is it the cold that makes Finns such cool people?

Hooray for Finns! They love books and they love their libraries, and are awesomely supportive of them.


I got this image from the Designer Librarian's blog. She took a recent vacation in Finland and says when she looked through the windows of this library in Turku, she was bowled over to see scads of people inside the library in the middle of the day, JUST READING.  Ah yes, THIS is my dream land. Except for the cold.

A society where people value books and libraries and reading. Where people are visibly reading books and not just clicking their lives away like rats following a maze to win pellets. Did I mention that people there READ and place an importance on books and libraries? Am I repeating myself? Oh yes, and though they are the size of Minnesota, they have more libraries and check out more books per person than in Minnesota, which has one of the highest literacy rates in the U.S.

What is it about the cold and books and literacy? Is it all that time spent indoors? Maybe the cold makes people humble and vulnerable, and therefore more mindful of how little they know. I do think there is something about tropical climes that can lull people into a state of mind that is more idle and pleasure-seeking. You don't see Dostoyevsky on a list of books to take to the beach. I once had an English professor warn me that my moving to Miami, which I was preparing for in the fall of 1986, and which I undertook in January 1987, would be bad for me as a writer, because sunny places do not engender literary impulses. He said the arts flourish better in places like Seattle, with caliginous skies and atmospheres.

And libraries seem to flourish in places that are cold. Well, maybe not Idaho and Alaska. And I'm not sure about okay, maybe there are holes in my theory...

And maybe the Finns aren't even that cold. In the video below, from the pro-library site Finnish Libraries Now! bookworms in Finland tell why they like to read. And not one of them wearing a coat! Brrr!!! Or maybe I'm wrong about their climate too.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Cloud Appreciation Society

Undulatas Asperatus hovers over what looks like a Kansas town

 I’m not a big joiner, but I just found out about a group that should have me as a member. It’s called the Cloud Appreciation Society.  

As a teenager, I had serious intentions to move to Portland or Seattle, because of the cloud cover.  I ended up in Miami, and it was my longing for the nimbus and cirrus that inspired Roger to compose his jazz reverie, "Clouds for Mone".  I have been a true cloud appreciator for years, and as such, feel I should be granted honorary status to the Cloud Appreciation Society retroactively, to the time of the group's inception. But I'm told I have to cough up their snooty membership fee if I want the badge and certificate. Nine bucks! So elitist.            
CAS was born out of a joke. A writer who was slated to speak about clouds at a literary festival in 2004 titled his talk, “The Inaugural Lecture of the Cloud Appreciation Society”, just to drive up attendance.  Afterwards people asked to  join the society, and so the fake group became a real thing.
Today the group has 32,000 members, and they are quite active. One member, a 34-year old musician from Spain, organized a three-day event, “The First International Congress for the Observation of Clouds,” last October.  They went on cloud-spotting walks and had scientists lecturing about clouds.  Sounds like head-in-the-clouds heaven to me. 
 They are on a campaign to get a new cloud  recognized and added to the International Cloud Atlas, which is the official registry of clouds.  The Atlas has been published since 1896, and hasn’t added a new cloud for more than 50 years.
The new cloud the sky-heads want to add is called Undulatas Asperatus . That is Latin for “roughened wave.” They describe the cloud as looking like you’re underneath turbulent sea water.