Monthly Archives: January 2008

fla, here we come

We’re taking advantage of the lull in work and travel schedules to fly down to Florida. We’ll be spending time with my birth family in the north of the state, my dad in the central gulf, and friends in between. I’ll report back in about a week. In the meantime, enjoy the blogroll.

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Filed under family vacation, florida

[recipe] summer beet soup

Here’s the second of two recipes spurred by a note from a lovely former colleague and co-creator of the Daily Bedpost, but there’s nothing saucy about this concoction – though it does turn out hot pink.

And of course, the recipe itself came from another colleague, from the top of his head to the email I’ve kept for 12 years…

Cold Beet Soup

Beets are a bumper crop at the farmer’s market, but the best part about them are the oft-removed greens. Beet greens have a delicious earthy flavor, and add wonderful texture to the soup.

  • five medium sized beets (bigger than a billiards ball, smaller than a baseball), and their greens (stems and leaves)
  • one cucumber, quartered and sliced
  • two hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • one small onion, minced. Sweet onion if you have it.
  • one quart of buttermilk
  • fresh dill, chopped
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Trim the greens from the beets, wash and chop both the leaves and stems. Sauté the beets with a tsp of olive or canola oil, and some salt and pepper. Once the stems are tender, take them off the heat and set aside to cool.

Wrap the washed beets in aluminium foil and set in a baking pan. Bake beets in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until
you can pierce through the beet with a knife. Remove from oven, then unwrap the beets in a big bowl of icy cold water to cool. Once they are cool enough to handle, peel and grate the beets.

Mix the greens and beets together in a large bowl.

Add the cucumber, eggs, and onion.

Now it starts getting shocking – add the buttermilk and stir. The color will bloom into a shocking hot pink. Add the dill, but be sparing – a little goes a long way. Cover and put into the fridge to cool.

Serve the soup with small boiled potatoes, served hot.

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Filed under beets, borscht, cold soups, Recipes, soup, summer food, vegetarian

how to boil an egg

I have two posts today prompted by a lovely former colleague. She had mentioned in her status on Facebook (“the world’s smallest blog posts” as she aptly put it) that she had to google “how to boil an egg”. I wrote back, telling her I did too. I also had to look up how to boil potatoes, which is relevant for the next post.

The best instructions, even though they include a precious extra step, are from Mark Bittman, in _How to Cook Everything_. Home cooks can do well by picking up a volume for their kitchen. Mine is warped with steam, spilled liquids, and smudges of who knows what.

Boiling an egg – even a hard-boiled egg – should take no more than 15 minutes from the time you lower the egg into gently boiling water.

from _How to Cook Everything_

Boiled Eggs

There are two keys to successfully boiling an egg. The first is to poke a tiny hole in the broad end of the egg, using a pin or needle. This provides an outlet for the pressure created by the swelling and hardening eggwhite and virtually eliminates cracked shells. The second is to use medium-low heat, which keeps the egg from bouncing around in the saucepan and helps prevent overcooking. All that’s left is timing.

In each case, be sure not to crowd the saucepan, so each egg has plenty of water around it.  Increase the cooking time to the longer end of the range if you’re cookng more than one egg at a time. And finally, use a skimmer, ladle, or slotted spoon to slowly lower each egg into gently (not volcanic) boiling water.

For soft boiled: 3-4 minutes of  cooking time

For medium boiled: 5-6 minutes of cooking time

For hard boiled: 10-15 minutes (anything over 12 gives a superfirm yolk)

When time is done, rinse under cold running water (very briefly for softboiled, 30 secs for others), crack the shell and scoop out the egg.

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Filed under basic cooking, eggs, how to boil an egg, How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman

“That’s a different Janet”

We had the teevee on last night and had “Countdown” on in the background. Ben and I were getting ready for what I call the nightly negotiation. He had voted for stories over teevee (yay!) and it was potty/pajama time. Coming out of the bathroom, Ben looked down the hall and saw Gov. Janet Napolitano endorsing Obama for president. (Her opening “it’s not about race, it’s not about gender” had caused me to turn, following my ears.)

I squatted down and told Ben that the woman on TV was an important person, and that her name was Janet, too.

“The old woman?”

I paused. I don’t think she looks that old. I think we look about the same age, actually.

“Oh honey, she isn’t old, but her name is Janet, just like mommy.”

“That’s a different Janet.” Pause.  “She’s older. Her hair is short. Your hair is long, mommy,” and he reached for my mop, looking for the longest strand he could find. Bingo, he found a white silky wire and pulled it out and down for me to see. “Look! Look! It’s soooo long!”

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Filed under children, funny, how children differentiate, kids say the darnedest things, mothers, perception, tv, who are you calling old?

car seat kisses

Everyday when I buckle Ben into his carseat, I take advantage of our closeness and give him a kiss. Sometimes it’s a way to calm him as he wrestles with the straps; or maybe it’s our first – and only –  quiet exchange of the evening, when I can see evidence of the day on his little puss. But there’s something wonderful about that moment, and now I notice the same thing in other cars. There’s a father who gently kisses his daughter’s forehead as he unbuckles; another child looking up and smiling, winter hat still on, knowing mama is going to give her a little smooch.

The tiny moments of tenderness are as fleeting as sunshine in a Seattle January, but they are far more omnipresent. When things get too tense, I can look and see those moments, how love really can be that integrated into the mundane, as easy to tell someone as it is to fasten your seatbelt.

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Filed under car seats, children, father, Fathers, Love, mother, mothering, mothers, parenting

tear analysis, and the sorry state of gender in today’s media

Let’s get something straight, vis-a-vis the media overanalysis of Hillary’s verklempt moment. Women, anecdotally, are more likely to cry in FRUSTRATION than men. Anyone who doesn’t know that should offer to put a webcam on my office wastebasket for a year, and count the tissues. It doesn’t mean all of us cry, much less cry frequently, but it happens. And when it does, it’s mostly out of frustration.

We still get the job done, we still finish the project, we still clean up nicely. It’s worth noting that the moment, if it happens, is usually private – at home, or in the ladies room, or perhaps in the car. Every once in a while, you’ll get to see it. Unguarded, the tears come… and then they go. It’s just that most of us don’t do it on camera.

So, why might Hillary be frustrated? Because she watched a lead disappear? The money disappear? Any hope of a non-partisan, mature press corps disappear? (In the interest of full disclosure, I am for Edwards and Obama, in that order.) That she had worked hard, followed the script and it still wasn’t working? I could see having a teary moment, and then rearming. Could it have been planned? Maybe, but the truth of the tears of frustration is undeniable.

Which brings me to the media discomfort and attempts to find a new reason to bash Hillary in the face of the moment, and her victory – albeit relatively small in such a volatile race.

I don’t believe for a minute that race is the penultimate divide in our culture. It has been, is, and god willing for my child’s future will not be gender.  Don’t believe me? Check out any socio-economic grouping a demographer can offer, and see if men and women are granted the same status, rights, roles, expectations, wages… the gender line is drawn right down the middle. I don’t know how it works for queer-identified people, but my own anecdotal and admittedly limited experience is that gay men, particularly white gay men, seem to fare best of the bunch.

Race is not an additive – it’s a major multiplier, but let’s be honest. It all comes down to the boys v. the girls, and those who play in the broadband media space, regardless of the equipment they came with, tend to favor one team over the other. And before you get all “it’s about the money” on me, keep in mind that misogyny appears to pay its spokespeople very very well.

And yes, Chris Matthews is a raging misogynist (thanks, Rachel, for putting it out there) but he’s only one of many who continue to work unedited and unabated. His history of remarks on Hillary and her husband could fill a very spiteful, hateful book and sequel. But don’t expect him to lose his job over being called out.


Filed under bias, clintonophobes, Feminism, gender bias, media, media bias, misogyny, Politics, women

office as meditation space

My home office is transitioning into a new sort of space. The office line has been dropped with a service order, and with it the bleepaleepaleepaleep that peppered and sometimes triggered my waking hours.

I still feel the need to be seated by 9, but when I sit down to a few Webmail clients, I find far fewer messages marked “URGENT!!!”, spam or otherwise. Logically, I understand that this is an opening, a rare opportunity to slow down, recalibrate, and choose a new adventure, but this sort of silence is not what I’m used to. Before, the office was a physically isolated place, with copper and wireless lifelines. Now, the lines are quiet too. I don’t think meditation is meant to be forced.

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Filed under changes, communication, reflection, tensions, transition, work

a night at the ER, an hour under the needles

Where can a woman go for a night of therapeutic self-care apart from the demands of the household and career? What if she also has a taste for gadgets and geeking out? Well, provided she has health insurance and a legitimate health issue, and she lives in my neighborhood, she can go to the emergency room and have a leisurely 6 hours, complete with well apportioned lounges and LEC(doh! too much christmas light hangover)D video screens. And when big pharma gets her down, she’s only an hour away from relief.

That’s how I spent Thursday night, from about 8pm to 2am. Earlier that day, I had developed pain in my chest from that pesky breathing activity. Given that I’d had pneumonia before, I figured a quick call to the after hours nurse would get me in queue for a MD visit. However, the nurse had other instructions: get thee to a radiologist and get a chest X-Ray. Stat.

It ended up being a relatively stressless time. I chatted with other patients, getting a sense of the world again, and watching TV programs that made me feel more like a cultural anthropologist than a Nielsen viewer. (The murder mysteries were the most engaging, except for the fact that the victims, without fail, were always young women in peril.)

I got my own room in time for the 11o’clock news – it still exists – and had my x-ray before Dave started. The chest x-ray was really beautiful – for the shape and form hinted in shadows and lines, the clarity of my lungs (no pneumonia for you medical detectives), and the perfect fit of my heart into where my hand rests at night, across my breastbone. I have a copy of the picture on DVD, but the software is not as high-tech as one might like. Windows only.

My MD was professional, friendly, and a fan of both early, daytime Dave and Flight of the Conchords. (He quoted lyrics from “the most beautiful girl in the room” when I mentioned them.) He diagnosed my condition as viral bronchitis, and said the most important thing was to get the lungs and muscles to stop spasming. The inhaler they gave me was foul – albuterol seems somehow related to vomit – but I managed to relax into breathing with the spacer. Some mild hand jitters followed, but not enough to make a difference in driving.

At the all-night pharmacy, I was struck by the sensation of being a single woman again – driving alone after midnight on empty streets, walking through the aisles of shampoo and styling products, letting the pressing concerns of my day and future ebb into ingredient lists, until it was time to pick up the back-up medications. The overhead fluorescents came home with me, keeping me awake until about 4am. Which was when my husband woke, and my son cried in his sleep. Not so much 1997 as 2008, all of those people and experiences in the same set of pajamas.

Later that day, I went to my acupuncturist and told her about my nocturnal adventure. Fifteen needles and 30 minutes later, I was breathing with no pain, and the phlegm was finding its way out. (No pics.) It is also a single person experience, but more like slipping into a phone booth, and slipping out. No one sees what’s happening, but I come out a little warmer, a little more vibrant. And not suffering.

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Filed under acupuncture, care, David Letterman, Emergency room, Flight of the Conchords, healthcare, night out, nighttime, nighttime adventure, treating bronchitis, xrays

how ben understands petty crime

Friday night, Henrik called in late, the unmistakable sound of resignation in his voice. He had missed my call earlier in the day as a result of leaving his phone in the car, and now he went to the parking garage to find one less window and one less phone.

The race was on to get the police, get information from the garage attendants, and change any and all passwords on any and all accounts. Oh, and since it was a 4 month old blackberry without insurance, to bite the bullet and buy another phone.

I looked across the table at the little monkey, who was trying very hard to eat spaghetti with a fork and not succumb to either fingers or the driving beats of the Whole Foods Market sound system. How do I explain this one?

It ends up that Ben has both a strong sense of sympathy and righteous indignation. We spent some time understanding what happened to Daddy’s car and phone, and making sure that Daddy was ok, not hurt, and that was the most important thing. But we also talked a little bit about how this was not an accident, and sometimes people take things that are not theirs, which is not ok. (We also talked about how it was important for us to help Daddy when he got home, since he would probably be sad and a little grouchy.)

So, as we drove home, Ben went over the details, asked questions, and made confessions.

“Somebody broke Daddy’s window and took his phone? Somebody broke Daddy’s window and took his phone! Oh no, that’s not good. Maybe I should call the policeman.”

“Poor Daddy.”

“It wasn’t me, mommy. I didn’t do it. But I hope it wasn’t ‘friend a’ or ‘friend b’.”

“I am not very happy with the people who broke Daddy’s window and took his phone. I am very grouchy and mad with them!”

When I explained that it was normal to feel angry, but it wouldn’t fix the problem, he literally rattled this one off :

“Mommy, I have a plan. What if I go and find the phone and fix the window. I can do it. Does that sound like a good idea?”

He’s talking a lot about the phone, and today after nap, actually told a story of a dream he had where someone took Mommy’s phone and her little boy (him)! I held him tight, and tried to reassure him that as long as we’re together, no one will take him.

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Filed under children, damage, explaining hard things, mothering, mothers, parenting, theft

3.5 and rising

happy biker

Originally uploaded by jdaly.

Ben is officially at 3.5, very much his own person, having one hilarious and insightful language experiment after another. He is doing a lot of comparing, and so far, here’s the tally:

He’d like a baby sister, named Hayley. (His friend J has one.) He has renamed a little teddy bear to be his baby sister.

He’d like to live at his friend’s house, because he has a big bed, a lot of toys, they’re friends, and his mommy never yells at the children.

He’s very comfortable with the size of his tisseman (google danish+tisseman if you’re at a loss), telling us from time to time that he has a very big one.

As for general behaviour:

He is gentle with small children, perhaps because they aren’t coming home with us.

He’ll go anywhere if you can frame it as an adventure where he plays an important role.

His made up songs are classic – I wonder if it’s a genetic curse I’ve put upon him. We tortured Far with a rewritten Jingle Bells at Macy’s before his trip to Japan. It went like this: “Buy some pants, buy some pants, let’s go buy some pants. Daddy needs some brand new pants so let’s buy him some pa—ants!”

He thinks showers are fun, especially when he gets to hold the sprayer.

His language skills are growing – sometimes, I hear replayed phrases, which makes me wonder how much he understands. Other times, it’s clear that he is making language fit his ideas and feelings, and all you can do is sit back and nod in amazement.

Happy 1/2 birthday, Ben. Mama loves you all the time.

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Filed under birthday, children, growth, Love, mother, son, terrific threes