Monthly Archives: July 2006

gerund article noun

is the formula for a rash of paperback titles, movies, and most recently to me, blog posts. Seems as though you can manage to lure people in if you can keep this madlib handy at title time. It really lends itself well to food and cooking – I might manage to reach readership into the low two figures with a title like “Licking the beater” for an ode to brownie batter made from a mix. Stay tuned.

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Filed under Food, language, naming, Uncategorized

Did you hug your sysadmin today?

I had one onsite until I made the switch. But I did have the pleasure of co-writing a very public thank you to the systems team where I work. Make sure you thank yours today.

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Filed under sysAdmin, w3c

40 in 94 days?

Through my late 20’s, my birthday was the center of my calendar. I usually knew how many days remained until the day upon which I hoped to be lavished with gifts. And it wasn’t just the day – it was the year, too. I did cooperate with the Gregorian calendar, but always kept in mind that we were really living in, say, 27 JD, instead of 1993 AD. I reminded people – even one confused ex-boyfriend – of their actual ages based on the fact that I recalled theirs based on my own.

Well now, the tables have turned. My “much younger” husband will be 37 next week, but does not hesitate to let me know that soon, I will cross the chasm into middle age, and that he’d like me to let him know how it goes.

And you know, reading about the activities of people in my industry, I see how the men get to experience 40, whether they are fathers or childless, and I am jealous. They get to have fun – mostly, imho, because they have wives to manage the children and detritus. Some even head for marriage number 2 – getting a fresher model to handle detritus. But what about women at 40, in the tech business, but not techies? Do we get some fresher models ourselves, or do we get replaced by one? (I am reminded of remarks from a tech “notable”  about techpr women in brown lipstick and I check my purse to make sure I haven’t slid into stereotype.)

Do we arrive at 40, or do we get a new disorientation? And is it dictated at all by the washroom you use?

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Filed under 40th Birthday, aging, Birthdays, IT, lipstick, look at me, marriage, men, women

I scream, you scream, omg… it’s soycream?

Gourmet setback: Ben can no longer eat foods with milk. He can sing “Ice Cream” to just about any melody, but the real thing (along with butter and cheese) are now said to be “things we don’t need to get today.”

As an ice cream and sorbet aficonada, I found this heartbreaking. My ideal teenage breakfast was sitting down at the kitchen table with a brick of heavenly hash and a teaspoon. College brought Herrell’s chocolate pudding, and I became hooked on the good stuff.

I used to plan trips to Boston around Tosci’s, and the memory of a gorgeous ruby plum sorbet. Creamsicle in a cup with a full, tangy mango sorbet and luscious, pillowy vanilla. Whining about about the scarceness of good ice cream places in my new home (not unlike the pizza lament, though pizza is a quantity and quality issue here) left me jonesing.

When pregnant, I couldn’t even look at the aisle in the market. Too rich, too sweet, too much. Then out came Ben, and soon I was back to dreaming of a dish in December. (Ben had his first sorbet – cassis – in Denmark in July 2005 and first trip to Rancatore’s on New Year’s Eve, 2005.)

Now what? Research, of course!

We’ve tried a range of soycreams, sticking pretty much to vanilla as Ben’s’ not quite ready for chocolate, and vanilla mixes well with the more flavorful sorbets. I’ll have reviews in an upcoming post.

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Filed under boston, cambridge, dessert, Food, ice cream, MIT, mother, personal, restaurant, soy, soy cream, soy desserts, supermarket, trader joe's, whole foods

catching the hummingbird

The other day, a delivery man for the cabinet company showed up at our house with a replacement cabinet door and a 70’s style retro t (font and illustration quality) that read “I ‘heart’ birdwatching”. Seemed weird. The guy had white-guy dreads and facial piercings; I doubted he had a pocket Peterson’s with him, small-minded as that is. And the illustration wasn’t what one would expect either, hands clamped on old-tyme binoculars and bugging eyes where the lenses should have been.

I told my contractor, and he blanched. “Uhm, Janet, I think you’d be better off googling it.” So I did. Let’s say two things about what I learned. It doesn’t involve any Peterson’s guide, and judging by his appearance, the delivery man doesn’t get to do much of it.

So, I really hope this title isn’t a euphemism for something foul.

In an effort to escape the Boston-like heat and humidity we’re experiencing in Seattle, I took Ben to a mall with indoor play areas. He likes to climb and jump, and he likes to be around other children, so we made our way from the sweltering parking garage to one area where there is a foam tugboat and padded flooring.

I unbuckled Ben from the stroller, and began taking off his little sandals. (He holds onto Mama’s head to ensure his balance.) Sandals off. I raised my head to look at him, and hold him before he ran to the boat. One hand on his chest, one on his upper back. And that’s when I realized I had caught the hummingbird – it was leaping in his chest, its little pounding wings meeting my hands.

I felt my eyes go soft, and said “Let’s go!”, dropping my hands.

Ben and the hummingbird leapt together into the air, across the cool water, and into the boat.

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Filed under mother, Motherhood, personal, son, summer

the kindness of strangers

The best take on Minnesota nice made its way to me via visitors and a transplant, during a very unexpected layover last week. I had thoroughly enjoyed my short trip to Boston – company and conversations at mealtime, seeing people (!), enjoying my friends, their kids and food together.

Mom met me at Legal, thrilled I was in town and that I had a real haircut. “You look so sophisticated now, Jan!” she beamed, while handing me a big grey TJMaxx bag containing a clear plastic drum of farm animals. No ensemble is truly ensemble without a plastic cow.

Anyway, I had my usual conversation with the cabdriver on the way to Logan. Which means I let them steer, asking questions, learning, and usually freaking out other people sharing the ride. E Terminal ticketing and checkin has a scandinavian-inspired facelift (gorgeous wood everywhere), but the rest remains a grey low-ceilinged dump. A kind man struck up a conversation with me while we were in queue, and we talked about travel, Logan, work, finding vegetarian food, and family as we waited for ticketing, then the actual flight. The published delay of 15 minutes for our flight was a bad omen. (If they own up to 15 mins 2 hrs in advance, you know you’re in for it.)

And we were. Leaving 90 mins off schedule in a packed 757, we hit severe turbulence. My seatmate (a different friendly traveller) retinted the entire front face of the right leg of his pants with hot coffee. I remembered the cabdriver asking me “What if you died today?” and feeling less at peace with the notion of breaking off in a tailpiece, just some misplaced tomalley with printouts of a little blond boy in a half-melted purse.

We landed almost 2 hours late. The flight we were on was supposed to help passengers connect to 70 different flights. No such luck. What else was there none of? No personal apology; no meal or hotel voucher; no eye contact when handing a ticket with a rebooked flight a full 24 hours later, and no discount rooms left in MSP. Did I mention no basic politeness from gate agents? As some of you know, I possess a _fierce_ politeness when required, but this could not lead so much as a faceless agent to say, on the phone, that success was a remote possibility. “I’m just telling you there’s nothing there and that I won’t be able to help you.” NWA, that is not customer service.

Anyway, my original friend remembered me and found me after we landed. Were it not for his help, I would not have found the one hotel room near the airport and under 200. The price, as I understand it, is considered astronomical for the area. And no cab this time – the kindly accountant took me to the hotel, and wrote the next day to make sure I arrived safely.

There are many ways that story could have ended, but it was one of those cases where it’s the journey, the journey, the journey.Boston heat landed with me and my migraine; I got home 20 hours late to a happy little boy and a happy (if tired) husband.

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Filed under Bad Customer Service, Bloomington, boston, cambridge, Food, Mall of America, Minneapolis, Minnesota, MIT, mother, Northwest Airlines, restaurant, son, vegetarian

Worse than an affair – a trip to Boston

Boston is the 800 lbs gorilla in our household. In our marriage, it is the illicit significant other. Worse than any ex, its allure escapes my husband. Hearing its name leaves me with a wistful expression, and leaves him feeling incapable of making me happy.

Marriage requires sacrifice, compromise, and effective management (if not dismissal) of resentments. And anyone who knows me knows that I am not a fan of compromise. I choose sacrifice based on early intensive training in the “House o’ Martyrs”, where I reached at least level 7, hampered by an inability to through out righteous indignation when proclaiming a sacrifice. Above level 7, you simply look pained, not pissed.

Then, to further my romantic relationship, I relocated, and passed on to the next level of martyrdom. It wasn’t immediate, but it is my place now. Wistful expression, softening eyes, then a mad rush to change the subject.

Of all the sacrifices I have made (and I am also the sort to keep a list, bad janet), leaving Boston was the one that shook me to the core.

Not because I love dirty subway stations (although I do miss the public art on the Red line), or white cities, but because it was a place I made my own. Because it was where I learned I could talk (and stand up to) to anyone, regardless of how little our family had. And that I would be heard. Because 20+ years ago, it gave me refuge from the oppressive homesuburb, and allowed me to claim something else as home. (You figure it’s got to be bad when a catwalk at SFA feels more welcoming than homeroom.)

Over the years, I took some steps away from it, but always came back. Inhaling after getting out of Logan, I could always feel some tension slip from my shoulders. This was my city – ok, really the cambridge-somerville side of the river is what makes my heart go pitapat, but Boston and its total environs are a source of great comfort, not to mention decent pizza.

Most importantly, my friends, the most remarkable support system I know, are largely there. The women who threw not one but two bridal showers, and not one but two baby showers. The people who carried me through the melodramas of dating, and the vulnerabilities that follow the death of a loved one. The city with a coffee shop whose staff would not let me pay for coffee for MONTHS in the aftermath of a particularly ugly layoff. The city where I could not go anywhere without meeting someone on the street and hearing what was new in their lives.  In recent years, it has also been a place where I was received as a conquering hero, or maybe just Auntie Mame.

Anyway, I leave on Sunday with a full dancecard. It will be good to return to the tute and see my altogether remarkable colleagues face to face. To make them laugh in familiar and welcoming surroundings. TO EAT AT THE BLUE ROOM!!! And then, in an effort to protect my loved ones, to return to Seattle without that wistful look.

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Filed under boston, cambridge, coffee, cooking, Food, ice cream, MIT, personal, restaurant, Uncategorized