Things that are neither here nor there.

I loved making friendship bracelets as a kid. Time for a revival.

There’s something wonderfully sincere about them. Receiving one is a delight, who doesn’t want a small physical thing that ties you to another actual person in this world, that has taken time and care. It’s a little talisman of someone’s consideration for you. And it’s a joy to make the bracelet. They take almost no time, can be as complicated as simple as you feel you’re up for in that moment. The knotting is rhythmic, takes the mind somewhere else.

The most recent one I made was a thin black braid with a tiny shell from a holiday. That stayed on my wrist for a few months – sure I can make myself friendship bracelets, self care is the bees knees. I smashed the shell in to a thousand million pieces when I tried to kill a bug on the kitchen table (that’s what you get for mindless violence).

When I couldn’t sleep last night and was a little hungry, I watched a video of Samin Nosrat making a confit tuna sandwich. Terrible idea, it took forever to get to sleep after that, but the sandwich looked really excellent. It’s kind of a Niçoise salad on great bread. I made a “poor woman’s” version of that sandwich today for lunch, and it was fantastic.


Fancy-ish tuna sandwich

Based on Samin Nosrat’s confit tuna sandwich. Serves 2.

Thinly slice 1 red onion. Place the onion in a small bowl with a good pinch of sugar and a good pinch of salt. Cover about two-thirds of the way with white wine vinegar, then add a bit of cold water so that they’re just barely submerged. Stir and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine 1 small garlic clove, finely minced, and about 2 T mayonnaise. Set aside.

Drain 1 can of skipjack tuna chunks in olive oil in to a medium bowl, reserving the olive oil in another bowl. Whisk a small amount of salt in to the olive oil and set aside.

Finely chop a small handful of pitted green olives and a small handful of brined capers. Place in the bowl with the tuna.

Slice about ¼ cucumber in roughly 3mm rounds (you want about 4-5 cucumber pieces per sandwich; feel free to peel it a bit before slicing) and place in the bowl with the tuna.

Add about 2 T mayonnaise to the tuna mixture and combine by hand. Add some of the onion vinegar or more mayo if needed.

Slice a crusty baguette in to appropriate sandwich-sized portions and then slice the portions in half. Coat the bottom bread half with the garlicky mayo and lightly coat the top half with the seasoned olive oil. Top with the tuna mixture, then a decent amount of pickled onions.


I have *no doubt* that the proper confit tuna version is better and totally worthwhile, but it’s not something that I can really make based on my local resources and the timing of my day-to-day life. This version is pretty heavily simplified, but it gets the most critical flavours and textures in there. There were leftovers of a few of the ingredients, particularly the onion, so I’ll probably make more of these sandwiches again later this week.

I’ve been ill on and off for three months now. It’s not so bad, I’m not completely out of commission, haven’t had to go to A&E. But it’s bad enough.

It has a weird effect. The symptoms aren’t always there, thank goodness. And I’m getting better at handling it when things go south, I’ve learned how to alleviate pain quickly.

The more difficult element to cope with is the psychological brittleness. The feeling that I cannot rely on myself. I’m reluctant to make plans because I’d rather not make them than break them again. That can get pretty isolating.

It’s particularly weird when it comes to work. If I were working as part of a larger team I’d talk to my manager, or HR. But the only people I answer to are my collaborators and clients. They’re very understanding (it helps a *lot* that I don’t work totally solo), but still. It’s a bit of a weird conversation, one I’ve avoided for the most part.

It will probably be another month until things are “settled”. The powers that be are sorting it out, I think. And I’m staying busy. Practically, I don’t want to fall behind. Emotionally, I need the distraction. Distraction from the larger distraction.

Grandpa showed me the album of his WWII photos and postcards when I got to see him at Christmas. I didn’t know it existed.

Grandpa couldn’t bring his camera with him when he was deployed, it would have been confiscated during inspection. Luckily his friend Renee Neuman brought his box camera when he came back from leave, so Grandpa got to borrow that sometimes. They developed the photos in soup bowls. He said that Neuman unfortunately passed about 5 years after returning from the war. I asked about the cause, but he said he wasn’t sure.

The photos here are all positioned in order on a single page captioned “Diving for movie film in 40 ft of water”. Grandpa laughed when describing it.

Their LST ran aground in Pearl Harbor, so they had to stay there for repairs. While there, another ship came along and they exchanged 35mm films. Unfortunately the film from the other ship fell in to the harbour. It wasn’t financially valuable, but very valuable in terms of morale so they asked tower to send a diver to recover the movie. The diver wasn’t happy, he had been at a party, but he did recover the film.

Most of the photos in the album are of Grandpa and the others from his ship doing jobs here and there or “just horsing around” as he said. There was a lot of down time. There are a few landscapes of Hawaii, Guam, the Kwajalein Atoll, and the Enewetak Atoll. Some are in the aftermath of a tsunami. There were also some intense images towards the end of the album, hard to tell if they were photos or postcards. Some would be pretty gruesome for postcards, others were of the signing of the Japanese surrender on the USS Missouri. At any rate, Grandpa said he hadn’t taken those final album images. He developed a bunch of negatives for other people, so if these weren’t postcards then they may have been copies of others’ photographs.

There were two photos of a large cemetery in Guam with many small Christian grave markers. Grandpa had gone to school with one of the men buried there, he and Grandma had gone to senior prom with this boy and his date. After graduation, he went in to the marines and was killed. Grandpa took photos of the grave for the man’s family.

Grandpa carried a pocket-sized spiral bound photo album with him throughout WWII filled with photos of family and friends, but mostly of Grandma. It’s very worn apart now. The sleeve with the photo of Grandma and him in his uniform also includes a pressed four leaf clover and a Japanese stamp.

In the back of the main album, there was originally a college photo of Grandma with a gardenia behind her ear. That’s on the wall of his apartment now, with other family photos.

Over the holidays, Grandpa showed me Effie Bradley’s daily memoranda. Effie was his grandma on his mother’s side, so my great-great grandmother. I asked if Effie was short for anything, he wasn’t sure. It may have been Euphemia, but maybe Effie wasn’t a nickname.

The relative that typed up the memoranda was June Bradley Piper, Grandpa’s double cousin. Double cousins are related via both parents (two brothers partnering with two sisters). I’d never heard of that before. I think June was named after Grandpa’s paternal grandfather June Piper. I didn’t know June was used as a male name. Via Wikipedia: “As a boy’s name, June reached a peak in 1922 at 697th, but then also declined and left the top 1000 list in 1939.”

Read Effie Bradley’s January 1902 memoranda