Category Archives: Up to Stuff

ruby heists, parmesan rinds, and book titles

San Francisco has this annual bonanza of bookishness called LitQuake. It’s a 9 day series of readings and signings and workshops and literary shenanigans jam packed into a week.

Because I have the stamina of a couch oriented granny, I can usually only make it to one or two things, even though there’s something fantistic every evening and all throughout the weekend times.
Last year, we made it to only one, an outdoor Midsummer Night’s Dream-themed reading of The Great Night.

The novel sounded interesting, but I never read it.

Possibly because I fell hopelessly in love with the comedic stylings of Andrew Sean Greer and Daniel Handler, who took the stage after the reading.

They played an accordian and a ukelele and sang a song, full of double entendres, about the fairies in Buena Vista park.

I am delighted and smitten. A year passes and I get distracted by other sundries.

And then!

What to my wondering eyes should appear?

They were teaming up at LitQuake again this year!

Inside, this time, they sat in a little living room vignette and asked one another questions drawn from a fishbowl.

And man, those are some funny guys. I ha-ha’ed with gusto and wished ferverently to make them my friends.

Somehow, I failed to achieve this goal later when I was getting some books signed, but I am confident that my adoration and charm will eventually win them (or at least one of them) over.

This other guy did a lovely job of telling about the evening and got some great pictures, so if you’d like to get a better idea, read his blog. But better if you can see either of these guys in person to experience the crushing for yourself.

And or! Read their books!

Daniel Handler (or sometimes Lemony Snicket)
Andrew Sean Greer


Filed under Book crave

Prego! (not pregnant)

I went to Italy!

Too many days have passed since I got back (on Sunday) and I’ve been swept away in a sea of the things I need to catch up on at work. But before it all fizzles away completely…

After spending 3 days in England with The David’s family, we flew to Rome and then spent 9 days visiting Venice, Florence and various spots in Tuscany.

This is the view, with moon, from the balcony in our Roman hotel room.


This is some food that I ate at some point. Totally not indicative of the quantities of past and gelato I ate.


We took a tour of the Vatican and of all the things I didn’t take a picture of, here’s a picture of an old map with a Sabatini lake. (Sabatini is my mom’s maiden name.)


St Paul’s cathedral.


Seated at a table right next to the guy making pizzas.


Costumed Venetian boat people.



Venice from on high.


Venetian cat, who would not respond to my “psss psss” noises. I had to say it in Italian.


We did not do a gondola ride, but they sure were neat to look at. I think Venice was my favorite. So pretty and charming.


David, being pretty and charming.


Our hotel room in Florence had an adorable little balcony and green glass windows.


Florence’s cathedral, the Duomo. We did not go see the actual The David in Florence, but we did see several of the reproductions. He (the statue) was impressively big, but his willy was concerningly small.



The view of Florence.


More hotel room views, this time from Siena.



We spent our last day having a picnic in the woods on Mount Amiato. It was like a fairytale forrest.



From the top of Amiato.






On the road in Tuscany.



Filed under Up to Stuff

a gala!

You know how the people on tv are always going to charity events?  They get all super swank dressed up and then drama ensues!

Those shows are really all the experience I’ve had in the realm of charity events, so I couldn’t help but expect it to kind of be like that.

But when I attended the 40th Anniversary Gala for Curry Senior Center, there was no Mischa Barton and no Blake Lively.  No tuxedos.  There was an auction, but the prizes were not bachelors.

Mostly, it was like a wedding reception, one in which you don’t really know the people and that no one does any cheesy line dancing.

fundraising gala!












There was cheese and there was fizzy wine, so it definitely met the basic maggie requirements.

I had a little table, full of my own people.

David and Nina













And there were very, very nice views.

Downtown SF and the Bay Bridge












North Beach and the Golden Gate












I’ve never coughed up any significant funding to a charity before and I’ve certainly never attended anyone’s “gala” before.  The experience probably won’t ever inspire a show on the CW, but it was alright.

And like I said, there was cheese….


Filed under Up to Stuff

old people

Senior adults is currently the fastest growing segment of the world population.  For the first time in history, there are more people aged 65 or older than there are people aged 5 or younger.

And while many seniors have the financial or familial means to care for themselves into their old age, there is still a need to support and to care for those who don’t have those resources.

Certainly, there are many, many different populations of people who need help from those of us who can offer it, and as individuals, we can’t donate time or money to everyone.

Senior support services are often overlooked when it comes to charitable giving.  Possibly in some part because old people aren’t as cute as babies.

Oh really?  These guys are pretty darned cute in my book.

So my little PSA for the day is to urge you to consider a charity that services the elderly when you’re thinking about the kinds of organizations you want to support.  They are always in need of volunteers and donations.

If you’re local to the Bay Area, check out my friends at Curry Senior Center, which provides all kinds of essential services to seniors in the Tenderloin district of SF.  They’re having a 40th anniversary fundraising gala at the Fairmont next Friday, April 27.  Like them on Facebook and get a chance to win two tickets to the gala, or pony up and buy a pair of tickets for $300 – money that will go towards meals, medical care, housing and bingo.

Thanks for reading and I will post something more ridiculous tomorrow.

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Filed under these are the days of my lives, Up to Stuff


I can only tolerate so much buzz before I must read the book.  Even if the buzz is erotic buzz.

You know where this is going.

I read Fifty Shades of Grey and it’s subsequent cohorts.  It’s the Twilight fan fiction that, instead of being all eye-rollingly chaste, is eye-rollingly porny!

The dynamic between Christian and Anastasia is uncannily Edward and Bella-like, except that instead of wanting to murderfy her, Christian wants to hog-tie virginal Ana up and beat her senseless with whackers and then do the sexing.  He’s bossy, unreasonably wealthy, super hot (no sparkle, though), and into BDSM.  Gasp.

I couldn’t stop reading it, in spite of the absolutely awfulness of the writing.  No shocker there.  I’ve gotten totally hooked on crap before, including the actual Twilight series.

A huge part of the suspense was waiting to find out just exactly what sort of kinky business Christian is into.
And will Ana consent to it?
And will she like it?

And I’ma tell you now, so stop reading if you don’t want it spoiled for you:

-Not that kinky.
-Yes, she goes for it.
-Yes, she likes everything.

So once it’s clear that yes, Ana is a secret horndog, there are new plot elements, like bad guys out to get her and miscommunications resulting in pending break-up, to keep the story line going.  Always peppered with graphic sex scenes throughout.

It was all just so unrealistic, it pissed me off.  The over the top, adolescent, vomitrocious, can’t-live-without-you love.  From two people who have never actually experienced romantic love before.  How everything just works out so nice and perfect in every way, getting everything they want.  And you can now add to that list:  being constantly and instantly in the mood for business and ALWAYS having simultaneous happy endings, every time, multiple times a day.



Filed under Book crave

permission to be rad

On Saturday, I attended Girl Crush San Francisco, a project dreamed up by Danielle of The Jealous Curator and hosted by the talented artist/illustrator/collector Lisa Congdon in her studio space.

I wasn’t sure what I was in for when I signed up for this, and it’s a little hard to describe what actually happened, but it was a day of loving-it.  There was something magical in the art, or the baked goods, or the people themselves, that I inhaled in happy gulps.

There were 12 ladies, of varying pursuits and backgrounds, but all of equal neato, plus Danielle and Lisa, and the very helpful Taylor.  There was copious coffee and scones.  And there were stories.

Lisa told us her tale of professional artist-ness… how she had other sorts of un-artsy jobs and how all the lines and dots of her universe came together, without ever having gone to art school, and formed a career that she palpably loves.  Lisa’s grin when she talks about her job is the facial equivalent of a joyful “Whoop!”  Totally infections and inspiring.

And Danielle told us about her passion for curating art and how her blog came to be.  She told us about her insecurities about her own art.  Faced with the prospect of beginning a new painting, she was afraid to mar the perfect, blank canvases she had piled up.  And then how she got herself some nice sketchbooks to use instead.  But how even their nice-ness was daunting and kept her from going.  And then how she bought an old 50¢ cookbook, painted over its pages and was free to start working.
She sweetly wanted to share this freedom to fantastically mess-up and gave everyone their own cookbooks to take home.

Faced with other people’s amazing accomplishments, I’m so often inclined towards “Oh, I could never.”  But this was a dreamy, beautiful snow globe filled with “Oh yes, you fucking could.”

We all told a bit of our own stories and shared small secrets of jealousy and hang-up.  There were whiffs of self-help wafting through at times, but in a gentle way that kept my cynicism from baring any fangs.  In fact, somehow in the spirit of the thing, I got a little bit weepy just thinking about the things I would write down to myself in defiance of my inner critic (a homework assignment for later.)  *You are a special little snowflake, Margaret Edith!*

There was a lunch of wonderful nibbles and salads and sandwiches, all full of vegetables and chick peas and quinoa.  Perfect nourishing fodder for a time of being kind and open and ready for greatness.

There was a tour of some local art galleries, where I imagined being a person who could gracefully spend a thousand dollars on a wonderful piece of art.

There was tea in a collection of fancy, floral tea cups.  There were some gifts of art from Lisa, who seems to never stop giving away something… her space, her book, her enthusiasm for what’s possible.

I am holding on to the message:  Just Try.  And Be Patient.

So I’m still figuring out what exactly it is I’m trying to do.  But I will try anyway.

If you want a prod to go try something yourself, go to Girl Crush.  They’ll be in New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, Portland, Minneapolis, Austin and Philadelphia.  If you have geography in your favor (although there was a lady at ours from West Virginia!) I would insist that you go.

Or just tell me about what it is you’re afraid to try and I’ll be prod-ful.  I shouldn’t be the only one to benefit from this wave of of good.


Lisa in her studio



Filed under Up to Stuff

sunday crafternoon

On Sunday, I had a bunch of my local lady friends over for a “crafternoon.”  The intent was to give everyone a few hours to dedicate to a craft project of their choosing or to just learn something new.

As is my way, I was worried about how it would turn out, but it was great!  There was a good combination of people who just worked on their own thing, people who wanted to learn something new, and people who were both.

I had a few Smitten Kitchen nibbles prepared for the occasion.  Deb’s cheese straws get my highest encouraging recommendation for your next social occasion.

Here are some crafty visuals:

Painting wood cross-sections with chalkboard paint while wearing a necklace of felted wool beads.

Little blocks of paint and pages of text and collage-y bits culminating in adorable, whimsical little pieces of art.


Needle point.

Wrapping bangles with fabric.

I had been wanting to try out the felted beads for ages, so having an afternoon set aside for this express purpose was really satisfying.  And it’s just so much funner to try out new things with someone else, isn’t it?


Filed under Family, Friends and other Humans, Nifty things, Up to Stuff

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore

Watch this incredibly charming animated short film about a young man who gets whisked away to be the care taker in a home full of magical books while you can….

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris LessMore

[Edited on March 2, 2012… the free full version of the film is no longer available.  You can see a little trailer for it here, though.  And you can buy it from iTunes for $1.99.]


Filed under Big screen, little screen, Book crave, the interwebs

need a fix before season 3 starts?

if you were loving Downton Abbey and need a little more WWI era British aristoacracy in your life

then try The House at Riverton by Kate Morton.

I know, I know. Television ≠ books.  But still.  You gotta take it where you can get it.


Filed under Big screen, little screen, Book crave

what’s a solo, but not single, girl to do?

My valentine is going to be in Argentina this year.  Without me.  That is not a location I anticipate being in on February 14.

After too many years of sad, sad singleton-ness in my days of yore, I like a little Valentine’s hoopty.  Not a lot.  But a nod of gratitude to having, when I am well familiar with the wallowing of have not.

I fear that I might succumb to a small amount of irrational wallowing next Tuesday, despite actually *having* a Valentine, so I’ve cultivated a plan to celebrate solo.

1.  I’m going to light candles around a framed portrait of The David, drink a bottle of wine, and sing Muffin Top.

Just kidding.

1.  Hour long massage and foot reflexology treatment.

2.  St Agur cheese.

3.  Pyjama pants and television programming intended for females aged 18 to 24.

I’m pretty sure that is going to feel like some really good hoopty to me.

Getting a massage pretty much trumps anything, but going to see The Vow by myself with a popcorn companion was a close alternative.

Anything tempting on your agenda?



Filed under Holidays, Up to Stuff