Monday, January 6, 2014

Goodbye to the Cafe

With a resigned heart and a mild sense of failure I am writing to acknowledge the obvious: the Hotchpot Cafe has run out of steam. It's been ages since I posted here with any regularity, and the happy energy that used to surround the blog has dissipated.

Despite my intention to return to blogging (as variously stated over the past months), I realize now it simply isn't going to happen. This year I'm determined to resolve those parts of my life that are stuck in limbo, freeing my time and energy for what's to come.

Supporting this new period of growth is that fact that I have fallen in love with a wonderful man who shares my worldview and my passions. We plan to make a life together, one that will be filled with travel and outdoors pursuits. I have no qualms about simplifying my commitments to make more room for the happiness, excitement, and comfort of a coupled life.

Even so, I'm a little sad to renounce this electronic diary. It certainly reflects my varied experiences over the past 5 years, and I'm very proud to have written some of the posts.

Most importantly, it has been great fun to get to know the blogging community. I hope to still visit, even though I'm not posting anymore.

To my fellow bloggers, I say: I'm in awe of your creativity and insights and passions, and the interesting lives you lead. May you fare well in 2014 and always!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Orion Book Award

A new list! I'll be reading the winners and the finalists for this prize, to nurture and expand my connection with the natural world. As much as I enjoy and believe in the value of my own experience, it's also good to have guides along the way.

The Orion Book Awards (website)

2014 winner: Sightlines: A Conversation with the Natural World - Kathleen Jamie (nonfiction)
2014 winner: Maddaddam - Margaret Atwood (fiction)

2014 finalists (nonfiction):
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants - Robin Wall Kimmerer
Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth? - Alan Weisman
The Urban Bestiary: Encountering the Everyday Wild - Lyanda Lynn Haupt

2014 finalists (fiction):
All the Land to Hold Us - Rick Bass
Archipelago - Monique Roffey
The Last Animal - Abby Geni

2013 winner: Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Everending Earth - Craig Childs
2013 finalist: Flight Behavior: A Novel - Barbara Kingsolver
2013 finalist: Things That Are: Essays - Amy Leach
2013 finalist: The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot - Robert Macfarlane
2013 finalist: The Mountain and the Fathers: Growing Up on the Big Dry - Joe Wilkins
2012 winner: The View from Lazy Point - Carl Safina
2012 finalist: Fire Season - by Phillip Connors
2012 finalist: Oil on Water - Helon Habila
2012 finalist: Swamplandia! - Karen Russell
2012 finalist: Raising Elijah - Sandra Steingraber
2011 winner: Insectopedia - Hugh Raffles
2011 finalist: Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology - David Abram
2011 finalist: About a Mountain - John D’Agata
2011 finalist: The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival - John Vaillant
2011 finalist: Deep Blue Home: An Intimate Ecology of Our Wild Ocean - Julia Whitty
2010 winner: Some of the Dead Are Still Breathing: Living in the Future -Charles Bowden
2010 finalist: The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World - Wade Davis
2010 finalist: Rewilding the West: Restoration in a Prairie Landscape - Richard Manning
2010 finalist: Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing: Stories - Lydia Peelle
2010 finalist: The Barbaric Heart: Faith, Money, and the Crisis of Nature - Curtis White
2009 winner: Trespass: Living at the Edge of the Promised Land - Amy Irvine
2009 finalist: The Wild Places - Robert Macfarlane
2009 finalist: The Bridge at the Edge of the World - James Gustave Speth
2009 finalist: Inventing Niagara - Ginger Strand
2009 finalist: Finding Beauty in a Broken World - Terry Tempest Williams
2008 winner: The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story - Diane Ackerman
2008 finalist: Strange as This Weather Has Been: A Novel - Ann Pancake
2008 finalist: The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring - Richard Preston
2008 finalist: Sky Time in Gray’s River: Living for Keeps in a Forgotten Place - Robert Michael Pyle
2008 finalist: The World Without Us - Alan Weisman
2007 winner: Wild: An Elemental Journey - Jay Griffiths
2007 finalist: The Lives of Rocks: Stories - Rick Bass
2007 finalist: Inferno - Charles Bowden and Michael P. Berman
2007 finalist: Returning to Earth - Jim Harrison
2007 finalist: The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals - Michael Pollan

Friday, September 20, 2013

This Could Be Good

No-dish apple pie for crust-lovers. It's nearly flat like a frisbee and adapted by my own laziness from a recipe in the King Arthur Flour catalog. Tomorrow will tell the tale of the taste.

Oh, and: next time I berate myself for not having any willpower, I'll remember that I didn't tap into it tonight, hot from the oven. Not that I wasn't tempted. Numerous times.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

DSC Prize for South Asian Literature (Read and TBR)

Because there are never enough good lists! Especially when they are short enough to seem do-able.

I was pleasantly surprised to find some of these titles available on, which means I get them for free!  That's definitely a good use of my book swap credits.

Read more at DSC Prize for South Asian Literature.

Blue means TBR; green means I'm still on the hunt for them. Hardbacks and paperbacks are noted, in case an upgrade is needed.

2011: Home Boy - H.M. Naqvi (HB)
2012: Chinaman - Shehan Karunatilaka (HB)
2013: Narcopolis - Jeet Thayil (HB)
2014: Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer - Cyrus Mistry (HB) 
2015: The Lowland - Jhumpa Lahiri (HB)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Cloud Shark

Even rush hour has its moments. These clouds were extremely three-dimensional in a way that only "Florida's mountains" can be on a late summer afternoon, when a thunderstorm is building.

I only noticed the lurking shape to the left a bit later.