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!

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.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

This Moment


Today, September 11th, is my generation's Where Were You moment. Other generations have Pearl Harbor, or JFK's assassination, or maybe Bobby Thomson's home run. We have this.

I'm proud to say that although we were a long way from New York and Washington, and didn't have any apparent disaster plan, at the solo law firm where I worked, the boss got it exactly right.

He made a practice of taking uninterrupted time in the mornings, until 11:00, and our instructions were not to disturb him unless the building was actually on fire. On this morning he emerged around 9:30 and called us all together, saying, "I only want to have to say this once." He told us about the planes. He then asked one of the staff to drive him to the local Best Buy, where he purchased a large t.v. He set it up in the conference room, and we watched the morning's events.

About 11:30, when the scope of the thing finally sank in, he sent us home for the day. I returned a few phone calls before I left, and remember discussing an overdue bill with a vendor. Both of us remarked that the missing $75 payment suddenly didn't seem all that darn important anymore. Our perspective had already shifted.

There are a lot of stories of courage that day, not only from police and firefighters, but from ordinary citizens who rose to the occasion, some of them losing their lives in the process. Here's one example, by the excellent Florida writer Michael Grunwald: Tower of Courage, about lawyer Rick Rescorla.

These people and their stories are on my mind today. Because of my work and my mindset, I spend a lot of time feeling that we as humans fall short of the mark: in how we treat each other, in how we engage in our professions, in how we live in and care for this beautiful world. We are selfish. We are cruel. We are corrupt. We exploit anything and everything and everyone for our selfish goals.

September 11th doesn't change that. In some ways it highlights it more than ever. But it also reminds me that among us are many - sometimes unnoticed - who shine like the sun in the right circumstances, which are often the worst circumstances. That's the lesson I choose to take from today.

Blessings upon those who act with courage and generosity when the times demand it. May we all be among them.