Friday, January 29, 2010

Darts, Cookies and Flip Flops

The Loss of But a Moment
I haven't had anything to say here about the earthquake in Haiti. I had the good sense to be held back by the fact that I don't know much about the region. And I think that my contribution to relief fundraising is to stay out of the way. But I'm not too shy to link. Here is a piece that touches on Haiti's national origin and the colonial history that have led it to its current shabby political state. I don't know that I would agree with Mintz's conclusions but I think the history of this nation of self-freed slaves should be wider known in the US. Right after we learn our own history we can branch out and take on the Caribbean.   

Edwidge Danticat wrote a one page piece in The New Yorker about finding out what happened to her friends and family in Haiti after the quake. It's quick and darted right through my heart.

I have been fascinated by this writer's name for years. It is a well-balanced mouthful. Edwidge sounds Dutch to me: dutiful, brawny and awkward. Danticat sounds like a particularly graceful Pokemon critter. Together I find the rhythm captivating: dum dah, dum ti dah. Bless her and the Haitians and the helpers.  

Cookie Time
Turning from the human loss amid natural disaster, you'll be relieved to know that my turn on the spit of cookie sales is almost done. I have to wrest the money from the remaining parents and fork it over to the regional GS moms this weekend. I'm looking forward to counting the moolah and checking the boxes. And bidding it all goodbye. I believe I have helped our troop's leader. Which brings a glow. If I do it again I'm going to invent a cocktail ritual. Perhaps that would cut down on the stress dreams.

Sweats
An excerpt from Sundry's report on her first day back at college:
(I) surreptitiously peeked at my fellow students and tried to determine if I was in fact the oldest person in the room. (Answer: maybe the second oldest, but I had cute shoes on so I win over the slovenly sweatpants-wearing 19-year-olds, right? Why isn’t there a Twibbon for these poor young people, outfitted in what amounts to a droopy Snuggie with random words emblazoned across their poop-holes and their personal body parts threatening to emerge? #PRAYERS4URASSCRACK). 
Ah yes, the slovenliness of the undergraduate. I'm there with you sister. However flipflop season has not yet returned so I will save my rants for when I see the barely shod and their often nasty* feet everywhere I go.

*And I'm not even foot phobic. There must be scads of footphobes who make sure to stay far away from college campuses and all the grubby feet. Even when those feet look neat and are pedicured to within an inch of their lives, they're often in contact with the filthy ground. Because flipflops are not shoes! Or even sandals! So much for saving that for later.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hot time

My confession: today was the day that I threw out the broth I made from the turkey carcass I roasted on Dec. 27. But I did use some fresher homemade broth to make tortilla soup for my poor throat. So I figure that my competing scores as thrifty home cook vs. wasteful slattern have equalized and I'm probably back where I started.

Lexi has strep throat again. That makes three times for her this winter. She's not been very uncomfortable and lord knows I'm good at seeing the signs now. But I'd like this to be it now. I said to the walk-in clinic doc, "So we should be tested to see if one of us is a carrier, right?" He replied, "Or maybe you just got lucky." So I'm not sure what that means. I guess I'll leave a message for our family doc and ask for guidance. I want credit for finally getting my H1N1 vaccination on Friday. No one has offered me ice cream or a temporary tattoo yet.

Going to go put one more load of laundry in before leaping like a salmon into my bed. Hot Saturday night! Oh and first I watched Deuce Bigalow with my husband. I laughed through the whole thing. I may be blushing right now.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Leverage

In early December I was talking with another parent about inviting her daughter for a sleepover. I wanted to have it on Saturday, which would give me time to make sure there were things like clean towels and foodlike substances for dinner. But that wouldn't work for them.  "With our schedule, we can't do Saturday but if you could be flexible..." That's all it took to get me to agree to Friday night instead.Yes! Yes, I want to be flexible. That's just what I want to be perceived as. What can I do to prove myself flexible? Such a deft lawerly phrase (she is an attorney). Like a little emotional crowbar. I shall try to use it on someone else soon.

"Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain" was release in the US as "Amélie" in 2001. My friend Mac told me that I was required to see the movie, that it was made for me. I remember enjoying the ads, maybe I even saw a preview? But that was the year that our first baby was born so I pretty much renounced arthouse slumming (boohoo) after autumn 2001. Later, 2004?, my mother gave me the DVD of the movie. She probably found it for cheap at TJMaxx. She'd never seen it, just heard that it was wonderful and French and she has always subsidized my francophile side. But even though I now had it in my hand I never watched it. And the longer it was the more I felt a little guilty about it. Because obviously I was hurting the DVD's feelings. So that made me put it off a bit longer. At any rate I got to it this last week. It was wonderful. Our heroine lives a small proscribed life. She has been raised by emotionally removed parents, has suffered traumatic loss and been misdiagnosed with a severe heart condition. So she does not have big adventures or throw herself into things. But she gets intense joy from small phenomena, precise actions just shy of ritual. She's neurotic but also delighted. The idea of getting so much satisfaction out of small pieces of existence seemed like a familiar bit of myself that I hadn't seen for a long time. It brought me back to a part of my personality I'd missed. So thanks Mac and Mom and director Jeunet.

I am noticing a distinct lack of bonbons at my desk this afternoon. I still want to put things in my mouth even though I consumed a salad and a piece of banana cake in addition to the lunch I brought from home. I can tell that the lack of sunshine is kicking up my sweet tooth. I'm sleepy and snacky. The forecast isn't offering much in the way of sunshine. I'll hope they're wrong. I'd better go sit in front of the full spectrum lamp tonight. Thinking fondly of the sunroom in a childhood home in the La Senda neighborhood of White Rock, New Mexico. It extended the entire southern side of the house. When winter sun was low it streamed in those big windows and the room soaked up a lot of heat and light. You could really bask out there. We had a day bed that had an old (sun faded) cover on it for contented dogs and children to lie on. At that era my mother collected geranium varieties and they wintered in the sunroom too. If you can see the sun, go out and let it fall on your face, I command it. 

Monday, January 11, 2010

From Bunnies to Nasty to Satan

Kidspeak

Katy: Do you love bunnies?
Lexi: Yes. But I don't like hopping.

The other morning I took a sip and got tea leaves in my mouth and made a face. Katy asked what was wrong. After my explanation she said "Oh, I thought it was some nasty coffee." I heard this as Nasty Coffee and then couldn't stop laughing and thinking of a potential advertising campaign. "Fill my cup with Nasty." "I like to start my day with a hot cup of Nasty Coffee." Nod suggested the poster could be a mustachioed bandit hoisting his mug. "Make mine Nasty!"

Katy called me after I had tucked her into bed. She had been coughing and asked for a drink and a lozenge. I got her those and asked if she needed anything else. "Just a good night's sleep," she replied. As though she'd been burning the candle at both ends lately writing her dissertation.

Pudding
I have made three pudding recipes in the last five days. I blame the snow days. All three were wonderful and don't you wish you had some homemade pudding? The first two were cornstarch puddings. First was caramel pudding from Smitten Kitchen. Just perfect. And I ate most of that one. Lexi asked for chocolate pudding and I found I didn't have a packet in the pantry. So next I made Chocolate Pudding from Joy of Cooking ('97). I added some chopped semisweet choc. chips and forgot the vanilla. It was excellent. Nod ate most of that one. The kids weren't very interested as it wasn't as blandly sweet as the packet kind. Today I made Pumpkin Buttermilk Pudding which was more of a custard crossed with pumpkin bread. Also JOC. The kids liked this one, especially Katy as she's a custard fan.

Further food
Made meatballs from Bee's recipe. Both because it was a food form I hadn't ever attempted before and because we sing "On Top of Spaghetti" and youngest daughter was curious. Didn't make the entire stew, just meatballs and a basic tomato sauce. It was surprisingly delicious. I have been a fervent supporter of the spaghetti sauce recipe I got from my mother but this experience taught me that I could learn to love a deviation.

Bedazzled
I remember watching this at a sleepover at the Danish's house as a teen. I couldn't remember it clearly and probably I'd been very sleepy at the first viewing so it was time for a revisit. Not recommended for children five to eight, though they were very interested in the beginning. I watched the middle by myself and then later let them watch the nuns though that didn't amuse them as much as it did me. A practically perfect movie with just a few slow moments. Peter Cook is amazing and his life story is so sad. Dudley Moore is extremely funny which bowled over my impression of him as kind of a hammy, lazy actor in Arthur and movies of that vintage.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

White

The snow started to fall just before noon. I saw it out the window and a bubble of euphoria rose up through the top of my head. I giggled a little as I went up stairs to watch it falling. It reminded me of the hit I would feel when my milk let down when I was nursing. Sometimes I giggled then and gasped a little, waiting for the rush to subside. Oxytocin is good stuff. Not sure why it's triggered by snow though. In about forty minutes I could see that the top of a street light had been skim coated. I would not mind being sent home early.

I have been reading that southern England has had a lot of snow and both major airports were canceling flights today and it's a big deal. May we all get to where we're going or at least somewhere we can wait it out.

The snowflake above is from this site and is the work of pioneer photographer Wilson Bentley. He used a combined microscope camera to photograph more than five thousand individual snow crystals from 1885 to 1931.

I finished Hiaasen's Stormy Weather before new year's day am still enjoying an Aldous Huxley quote he included: "Happiness is never grand. Being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune." Very male I think.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Steam

Yesterday I sat in a sunbeam while I ate lunch. I found a great place in front of a bank of floor to ceiling windows. While soaking up the light I ate my homemade chicken tikka masala* and looked out at the plumes from the campus steam plant. There are two smokestacks (steamstacks?) and they spewed into an absolutely clear blue sky. The steam puffed out, blew south, and rose up, melting into thinner stripes.What a good way to spend forty minutes.

*I recently harvested a Cook's Illustrated tikka recipe before throwing away the rest of the magazine. I wanted to see how it compared with this one that I had enthused about over the summer. It is very similar but uses less butter and cream and was delicious, so it wins!

Mm, that Ree just distracted me with the idea of Beef Stew with Mushrooms. I don't think anyone else at my house will eat it. But at the moment that doesn't sounds like a reason to hold back. Now I just need an itty bitty bottle of red wine. We can't even seem to finish a bottle of white wine in our house. And Nod doesn't drink red at all so I will need just enough for the stew and a glass for me. I bet I can find one of those high class mini bottles with a screwtop. Damn Kansas and its no wine in the grocery store laws.

In the Swedish police procedural novel I just read, one of the characters is a detective famous for having a limitless memory, requiring ten hours of sleep a night and being in the bathroom all the time. I was knocked back by the idea of ten hours of sleep every night. Nod laughed and told me he was sure I could manage it. And I have slept that long to recover from something, as needed. But even with my masterful sleeping prowess I don't require that much on a regular basis. Think of how much shorter your days would be. Woof.
(Sounds like The Laughing Policeman, same series, is the one I need to read. This one meandered. But I did like the description of a Swedish family summer vacation camping on an island. With nude sunbathing mom.)

I took off my sweater today at work and found out that it had linted all over my shirt. Hello, I'm covered with bits.

I have an end of the hormone cycle headache. Somehow I doubt that picking up the kids and fixing them dinner is going to help. I will be practical and take some acetaminophen to alternate with the ibuprofen and that may help. Nothing like a headache to close one's perspective down to a small circle. Just think of me peering out my coat hood like Kenny.