Thursday, December 26, 2019

Only the trees work...

The dies for the cookie press in the handy stand my father
made to hold them.
Spritz cookies have been a Christmas tradition in my house as long as I can remember, pressed out of a bronze-colored cookie press. I loved looking at the dies when I was young, wondering what shapes each would make. My mother always made Christmas trees and wreaths, but what I wanted to try was the camel.

"No," she would say, "the camel doesn't work. Trees and wreaths." And so we made wreaths with cinnamon holly berries and  trees sprinkled with green sugar and colorful nonpareils as ornaments. (In those days a silver dragée star was placed on top of the trees, but the combination of  my more minimalist Christmas tendencies and the end of the semester exhaustion has led me to abandon that part of the tradition.)

Before we sold my parents' house this summer, we packed up what people wanted from the kitchen. What did I want? Not the Kitchen Aid mixer, but the camel die for the cookie press!  Because I was going to make those camels I'd desired all these years. So I put the handy stand my dad had made to hold the dies (a miniature version of what he used to hold his radial arm saw blades) in one of the boxes I was shipping home

Fast forward to Christmas Eve morning. Crash was arriving from DC and was down for cookie baking, spritz on the list. I made the dough and dug out the cookie press, put the camel die in and...a shapeless blob of dough appeared on the sheet. Three tries later... Ok, maybe using my mother's press was sweet and nostalgic, but not practical. Switched the die and loaded my cookie press. Nope, nope nope. Maybe I should chill the dough. No go. Different cookie sheet? No. Cookie sheet too warm? too cold? Is this sounding like a Bon Appetit video? Finally, I tried the tree. Boom, two dozen trees appeared on the tray.

The camel doesn't work.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Johnny Mathis' cover of "It's the most wonderful time of the year!" was playing and I was trying so hard not to laugh lest I bite the poor dentist filling my mouth with local anesthetic.

"It's the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you be of good cheer
It's the most wonderful time of the year..."

The irony of an emergency root canal (the result of a cracked tooth) on the day before Christmas Eve juxtaposed against that song made us all crack up. I wasn't particularly cheery about it all.

So I'm eating yogurt and pudding and swallowing antibiotics and lots of ibuprofen. Still, jingle belling seems right out.

I'm grateful that not only was the dental office open, but my dentist and his top team were in. I'll take that as a Christmas gift!

Monday, December 16, 2019

In the susurrations of trees

I love to listen to the wind in the trees, in any season. I can remember the birch tree outside my childhood bedroom window, shivering in a bitter Illinois winter breeze. The wind stirring the oak tree outside my study. The sound of the wind in the pines in my neighbor’s yard, creaking like a bed of charcoal in the fireplace.

A couple of weeks ago I listened to a piece on the BBC about the sussuration of trees, the sounds trees make when their leaves move in the wind. Those with discerning ears can identify a tree by its rustling.

This morning I looked out my office window to see the trees in the plaza outside the building sporting leaves...of paper. I braved the cold to find out what was up. Each of the pieces of paper had a poem on it, some familiar (e.e. cummings), some not. A gift of another way to listen to leaves on a tree from a first year Balch seminar. And so I met a new poet, Joy Harjo, whose words rustled in my mind tonight as I cleared up the dishes.

“To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can’t see, can’t hear;
Can’t know except in moments...”

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Schrödinger's email

Not Schrödinger's cat. Not in a box. But you get the idea.
“I feel like my email is Schrödinger’s cat in the box,” I told Math Man. “I open my email never knowing what's inside and there’s always a crisis in it.”

“No, it’s not,” he reassured me. “In Schrödinger’s thought experiment, it’s only a disaster for the cat half the time. There’s no uncertainty about what's in your inbox at all.”

#truth #quantumHumor

Saturday, December 07, 2019

285 hz

“In 1988, Biochemist Glen Rein, Phd, converted and recorded Solfeggio scale Gregorian chants to scalar audio waves. The results were played to test tubes containing DNA. By measuring UV light absorption, Rein could document the effect of the music on DNA. He also compared the chants with other forms of music, including rock. While rock music had little or no influence, the chants caused a marked increase of light absorption, up to nine percent, leading Rein to conclude that Solfeggio scale sound frequencies cause resonance in DNA, and may have healing properties.”  — from Gaia

It was like being inside the resonant cavity of a guitar. My study rang with the high pitched noise of my neighbor’s leaf blower. It would build up to a great whine, wound like an old watch spring tighter and tighter, until with a whoosh it would stop, and I could feel all the tension melt away. This went all on afternoon. I could understand the necessity that drove this. The leaves needed to be cleared to the curb before the expected rainstorm. It was the weekend. The weather was temperate. But it was relentless, and I am working hard to finish a manuscript.

I finally pulled out my decibel measuring app, trying to figure out if it was the sheer noise level or a particular frequency.  The app showed the dominant frequency was 285 hz (and the level a reasonable 70 or so decibels). It was too sharp for a C#, too flat for a D, so it felt off pitch to me. I was curious if it was a particularly obnoxious frequency, so did a quick search, to find that 285 hz is one of the Solfeggio frequencies. One with apparent healing powers.
285 Hz – This tone is useful when treating wounds, cuts, burns or any other form of damaged tissue. 285 Hz Solfeggio Frequency is said to be directly connected to our body´s, mind and soul´s blueprint for optimal health and physical wellbeing, due to its amazing ability to remember what should be and to return cells to its original form. It influences energy fields sending them message to restructure damaged organ. 285 Hz is about remembering and healing you, your internal organs and your energy.”
LOL. This frequency seemed directly connection to my brain all right, but healing was not what I was getting from it. I dug out my over-the-ear headphones and cued up some Star Trek engine noise. Now that was healing....