Andy decided that he wants us to start saying "More's the pity!" as often as possible. I hope this one won't stick around any longer than the last one.
When I play games with the kids, I play as I normally would (that is, I don't throw the game*), but I do help them at the same time. For instance, I won't not Sorry! my own kid, but I'll make sure s/he sees an opportunity to Sorry! me right back. Likewise for mancala, Battleship, and so on. So, then, what to do for Pretty Pretty Princess? Well, I've discovered a few strategic guidelines even for that seemingly luck-governed game. First off, there are two squares each for the necklace, bracelet, ring, and crown, but also only two squares for a single earring (and you need a pair), so earrings are the hardest thing to get. That means you should always take an earring when you land on "Take any piece" and you should never give up an earring when you land on "Put any piece back." The flip side of that is the crown, which everyone's fighting over, so you should never take it for "Take any piece" and you should always give it up for "Put any piece back." A game of luck? I don't think so, my friends.
*The huge exception is war, which Julie would play all night and all day if I agreed, so I do throw those games as quickly as possible. Although lately she's taken to setting up the deck ahead of time and carefully choosing which cards to play based on which cards I play, so my work is done.
Pete's doing really well with his speech therapist: it appears that he can control the stuttering when he concentrates on it! Every week her reports say that he is nearly completely "fluent" the whole time he's with her playing games, reading stories, and so on. His teacher also says that when they're doing one-on-one reading time, he rarely stutters. That suggests to all of us that when he's focused on speaking smoothly, he can do it, but that he is usually so caught up in whatever he's doing that he rushes and gets "bumpy." The speech therapist always sends him home with an activity that they did (like a card game or a series of pictures that tell a story) and we do them together. I do notice that he stutters less when we're doing those things, as if he just shifts into "speech therapy mode." That's very encouraging to me. He is also still showing no sign of embarrassment or frustration about it, for which I'm very grateful.
Meanwhile, he's still an absolute string-bean. I brought home some size XS (4–5) pants for him today, and they were too big. He's going to be 7 in April! Oh, I can't wait until shorts season.
I have to say, Nigella can do no wrong in this house. I realize that I'm not really getting recipes from her so much as ideas. For instance, although I've been frying panko-crusted pork chops for ages, it would never have occurred to me to pound out lamb chops and do the same—but they're divine! And although we've roasted potatoes nearly every way imaginable, her combination of parboiling them, shaking them in a pot with a little semolina flour, and roasting them in duck fat was perfect. Well, today, we took her advice for "schmaltzy chicken." Have you ever noticed that nearly every recipe for roast chicken tells you to first remove all the fat from the cavities, but then it tells you to brush butter or oil all over the chicken? Well, Nigella suggested we put the hunks of chicken fat (schmaltz in Yiddish) in a little pan to render, then brush that all over the bird. Plus some salt. Heaven! Along with it I served peas and prosciutto à la Giada: Sauté some shallots and garlic in olive oil, add frozen peas, then stir in chopped prosciutto, parsley, salt, and pepper. What could be bad?
These "designer" zipper-seal baggies are just so cute! They have a whole bunch of different patterns (click on "Wanna Buy?"), from camouflage to smiley faces to flip-flops. They're $5 for 20 bags, so not something I'd use for the daily lunchbox, but they would make nice goodie bags for a party or something.
If you're a fan of the music of Joseph Shabalala and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, there's a Free! Exclusive! song to download at Salon. It's lovely. Unfortunately, the review says that the rest of the CD is marred by "a slew of largely unnecessary and often downright tacky guest appearances by the likes of Melissa Etheridge, Natalie Merchant and Taj Mahal." Memo to record-company executives: Hey, guys, not everyone can be Paul Simon, OK?
1. Lovers in a Dangerous Time (live) - Bruce Cockburn & Rob Wasserman
2. Exodus - Bob Marley & The Wailers
3. Top of the World (live) - Patty Griffin
4. Who Woulda Thunk It - Prudence Johnson=
5. Sailin' Shoes (live) - Little Feat
6. Monkey Man - The Specials
7. Train in the Distance (live) - Paul Simon
8. Come on in My Kitchen - Keb' Mo'
9. You've Got a Friend (live) - James Taylor
10. Carmelita (live) - Jackson Browne & Warren Zevon
Appetizer: Choose one: Popcorn, Pizza, Pretzels, Peanuts, or Pasta.
Soup: Describe your personality in terms of a particular vehicle.
She's small but she's got a lot of pep. Oy!
Salad: If you won a shopping spree, from which store would you want it to be?
Whole Foods. Double oy!
Main Course: Which television show re-runs do you enjoy watching?
only "The Simpsons" and "Seinfeld"
Dessert: If you could look into the future, how far down the road would you like to see: 10 years? 100 years? A million?
A whole year can go by and I don't set foot in a cinema for a grownup movie, so I savor every minute. I even savored the part last night where I squirted liquid butter-flavored product all over my popcorn and my shirt (a dousing of Dawn hours later and into the laundry, then—poof!—all gone!). And I even bought it hook, line, and sinker when they did that faux "Crouching Tiger" thing that turned out to be a PSA about turning off your cell phone. Fun! Here's what we saw for coming attractions, a very puzzling selection if you ask me:
"Freedomland" - First I said, "Yippee, I love Julianne Moore!" Then I said, "Oh boy, Samuel L. Jackson too!" Then I said, "Not for any money would I see a creepy movie where a four-year-old boy is kidnapped."
"Something New" - Puh-lease. "Waiting to Exhale" meets "Jungle Fever." This is the demographic they were targeting for "Brokeback Mountain"?!
"Thank You for Smoking" - This one looks like it will be a lot of fun.
I'm pretty sure there was a fourth trailer, but I can't remember it. Book group ladies, help me out?
Janice suggested that our book group go out for a chick flick for a change, so we went to see "Brokeback Mountain" (which Andy thought was a curious choice, although I don't think there was a single guy in the audience last night!). I've been just dying in anticipation of seeing it, because I so loved Annie Proulx's short story when it first appeared in The New Yorker in 1997. It's impossible for anyone now not to know that it's about "gay cowboys," but when I sat down to read the story I of course had no idea. The story just blew me away; I even read it twice (which I pretty much never do). It was so sad and poignant and real—to say it was "moving" just scratches the surface. It didn't even occur to me to think about it just—or even mostly—as a gay love story, because it was thoroughly successful just as a star-crossed lovers' story; their stars just happened to be crossed because they were gay at the wrong time and place.
All the reviewers are raving about Heath Ledger, and I have to concur. He totally nailed that character (whoops!). I don't recall ever seeing him before, but he was perfect. His pain and longing and confusion were so palpable, and his gruff, terse voice only added to it. Jake Gyllenhaal was really terrific too; he was supposed to be the more eager, idealistic, doe-eyed one, so it made sense that he was less gravelly. Here's what Annie Proulx said about them:
I thought they were magnificent, both of them. Jake Gyllenhall's Jack Twist ... wasn't the Jack Twist that I had in mind when I wrote this story. The Jack that I saw was jumpier, homely. But Gyllenhall's sensitivity and subtleness in this role is just huge. The scenes he's in have a kind of quicksilver feel to them. Heath Ledger is just almost really beyond description as far as I'm concerned. He got inside the story more deeply than I did. All that thinking about the character of Ennis that was so hard for me to get, Ledger just was there. He did indeed move inside the skin of the character, not just in the shirt but inside the person. It was remarkable.
I think that must be fascinating, to create characters and then see them come to life. She also said this:
The thing that happened while I was writing the story eight years ago is that from thinking so much about the characters and putting so much time into them, they became embedded in my consciousness. They became as real to me as real, walk-around, breathe-oxygen people. It took a long time to get these characters out of my head so I could get on with work. Then when I saw the film, they came rushing back. It was extraordinary, just wham, they were with me again.
Anyhow, I'm stewing over what I imagined was either some ambiguity at the end of the movie or a difference between the movie and the story. I went to the bookstore today, at first just hoping to reread the story there but then planning to buy the newly released book that contains the story, the screenplay, and essays by the screenwriters, but everything Brokeback was sold out. Those of you who've both read the story and seen the movie, please chime in in the Comments so we can discuss it. Those who haven't might want to skip the Comments for fear of stumbling across spoilers, but do read the story and do see the movie—you're in for quite a thought-provoking and heart-wrenching experience. (And if you worry you might be squeamish about watching gay sex, have no fear: There's nothing truly graphic in the movie; the only real sex scene is certainly suggestive but not explicit. It's no more graphic than "Six Feet Under," for heaven's sake.)
Do the dishes so the sink is empty. Wipe it down after so it's clean & dry.
Take everything out of the freezer and put it all in the sink.
Quickly wipe down the inside of the freezer with a few paper towels.
Quickly put back into the freezer the things which you know what they are and that they are still fresh.
If you have ice cube trays, empty them into an ice container and set them aside to wash them before you refill them with water.
Close the freezer door if you haven't been closing it between things all along.
Evaluate the remaining stuff in the sink. Anything freezer-burned and nasty goes in the trash. Anything completely unidentifiable goes in the trash. Anything that is over 6 months old goes in the trash.
Got anything left? Could you make a nice soup with it? Do you want to eat it? If the answer to both of those is "no". Throw the damn stuff away.
Take out the trash.
I like this sort of thing. Some of the suggestions aren't for me—I'm either already doing it (set up an area dedicated to recyclables) or I just won't (if you haven't looked at a particular book in two years, give it away)—but plenty of them are doable. How 'bout this one:
Okay, go into your closet and turn around all the hangers so the hooks are pointing towards you.
When you wear something, put it back with the hook the normal way.
In six months, I'll remind you to get rid of the things that are still wrong-way-round.
I prefer keeping my clothes in drawers, so I don't have much stuff hanging up, but Andy sure does. I'm going to try it on him.
Come on, be a Discardian with me!
Here's the recipe for Coq au Vin I made the night I got soused:
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup diced bacon
2–3 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken parts
1/3 cup Cognac or brandy
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 cups dry red wine
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
3 cups trimmed and quartered button mushrooms (I used about half button, half cremini.)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
For the beurre manié:
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat and add the butter and oil. Add the bacon and sauté until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the chicken to the hot pan and brown well on all sides. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Pour off the fat from the pan into a heatproof container and reserve.
Return the pan to medium-high heat, add the Cognac, and bring to a boil. (If the liquor ignites, let the flames die out, which they will do quickly.) Cook, scraping up the browned bits struck to the bottom of the pan, until most of the Cognac has evaporated. Return the chicken to the pan and add the garlic, bay leaf, thyme, tomato, wine, broth, and bacon. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer until the chicken feels firm and its juices run clear when pierced, about 30–40 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan, reserving the cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat the reserved bacon fat. Sauté the mushrooms until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
To make the beurre manié, cream the butter with a fork. Add the flour and combine to make smooth paste. Set aside.
Bring the liquid in the pan to a simmer and skim the surface of any visible fat. Continue to simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Whisk in the beurre manié 1 Tbsp at a time until the liquid is the consistency of light cream (you may not need all the beurre manié). Add the mushrooms and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. To serve, ladle the sauce over the chicken.
Man-oh-man, we just finished watching "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room" and I'm just steaming mad. I didn't even know the half of what was going on during the whole Enron scandal. I mainly didn't know the extent of the California power-outage situation. It is just appalling to me how many people and organizations had to have known something was going on and yet still let it all happen. These guys pocketed hundreds of millions of dollars and left thousands of workers without so much as a retirement fund to live on. I'm even more eager to see what happens when Lay and Skilling go on trial this month. What a bunch of scumbags.
Yesterday at our mother-daughter Jewish book group, we officially scraped the bottom of the Jewish-themed-(but-non-Holocaust)-books-appropriate-
for-third-graders barrel, with The Very Best Hanukkah Gift by Joanne Rocklin. It was a quick, light read with pretty much no lasting message. Nothing bad, just nothing great. So, having read pretty much every decent book in the above-described category (yes, there are plenty more Lower-East-Side-immigrant stories, but enough already!), we've decided to go secular, at least for the time being. So next up is Mandy by Julie Andrews Edwards, which I am looking forward to reading because I somehow missed it when I was growing up.
Last night when we got home from the restaurant, Brooke said that Pete had been a little upset at bedtime because he couldn't find his pajamas anywhere. I was sure they were in the laundry or under his bed or something, but we looked everywhere this morning and couldn't find them. No one could recall having seen them, but we still checked everyone's drawers and laundry hampers just in case. Finally, for no really good reason, I looked under my bed, and there they were—along with Pete's library books. "Julie, did you put Pete's pajamas and books under my bed?" "Oh, yeah, I forgot!"
We finally had our celebratory dinner last night, at Campania in Waltham (no web site, sorry). Every time I turn around, there seems to be another great restaurant in Waltham! We had an exceptional meal from start to finish. Everything was just right: the food and wine, the atmosphere, and the service. Highly recommended!
Today at Steph and Pete's skating lesson, a woman fell and hit her head on the ice, hard. The EMTs were called, and they immobilized her and strapped her to a stretcher to take her to the hospital. She never lost consciousness, but she was definitely in pain. Meanwhile, it fell upon all the moms to realize that she had a young daughter there, too, having a skating lesson. One mom found the girl, another mom got the girl's home phone number to call her dad, another mom (there with the girl's classmate) held her hand, and another mom (yours truly) tagged after the EMTs to ask them to wait a minute so she could her see her mom before they put her in the ambulance. Then, as if he had just read my recent post, a policeman appeared with a teddy bear for the little girl. My eyes filled up with tears, and I made sure my kids saw what was going on. I said, "Remember all those stuffed animals we collected for the policemen? This is why they need them!"
At our last book group meeting, Janice recommended "Before Night Falls," apropos of our discussion of Alma Guillermoprieto's memoir Dancing with Cuba. The movie is a biography of Reinaldo Arenas, a gay Cuban writer who briefly found fame before his death (suicide after battling AIDS) in 1990. Javier Bardem had the title role, and he was wonderful. We had seen him before in "The Sea Inside," and for some reason I thought he'd been in "Basquiat," but that was Jeffrey Wright. (Was Bardem originally supposed to be in "Basquiat," or am I just misremembering? I know they are both Julian Schnabel films, but I thought there was more of a connection than that.) Bardem has a remarkable screen presence, and it immediately became impossible to imagine that he wasn't Arenas. Anyhow, this was a fascinating look at a particular time and place that many of us don't know much about—much like Guillermoprieto's book. Oh, and while Googling a bit, I learned that Steven Soderbergh is directing "Che," a new movie starring (drumroll, please) Benicio Del Toro! And Bardem is in it, too. I think Bardem is a better actor, but Del Toro is hotter. OK, so I'm shallow in that way....
For no really good reason, "Before Night Falls" featured my other favorite hottie Johnny Depp in two little throw-away roles (a prison warden and a tranny inmate named Bon-Bon), as well as Sean Penn in a similarly meaningless cameo. I mention this only because it conveniently segues into a discussion of the next movie we watched, "The Assassination of Richard Nixon," starring Sean Penn. He plays—brilliantly—a total loser who is finally about to lose his mind, too. His marriage is over, his kids and dog don't care much about seeing him, his job sucks, he sees dishonesty everywhere, his small business loan application is taking forever to be processed (and is eventually, of course, denied), and Nixon is still in office. The movie is apparently based on a true story, although I don't know how much of it was fabricated for the screenplay. This movie is worth watching even if you don't end up with any kind of "lesson" learned from it; it's just a character study, after all.
1. Summer Night - Bill Morrissey
2. Lonestar (live) - Norah Jones (Meanwhile, am I the last person on earth to learn that she's the daughter of Ravi Shankar?!)
3. Missing You - Jem
4. The Harder They Come - Willie Nelson (You gotta understand, I love Willie Nelson. But this reggae CD just isn't happening for me. I'm sorry, Willie, but I still applaud your attempt.)
5. Crazy Dream - Los Lonely Boys
6. Freedom of the Road (live) - Martin Sexton
7. Oh Atlanta (live) - Little Feat
8. Trouble in the Fields - Nanci Griffith
9. Love Still Remains (live) - Kate Wolf
10. Sabu Visits the Twin Cities Alone - John Prine
Appetizer: About how many times per day do you check your email?
I don't know . . . twenty million, maybe?
Soup: If you had the money to collect something really valuable, what would it be?
Salad: Write a sentence using the letters of your favorite beverage. (Example: The egret admires.)
Water Isn't Nearly Enough!
Main Course: If you could be on a game show, which one would you want it to be?
I don't really know what game shows are on these days, so I guess I'll just say "Jeopardy." (Is that still on?!)
Dessert: Name 3 computer programs or web sites you would hate to be without.
iTunes, Typepad, Bloglines (or any other comparable RSS feed reader)
Project Smile is a nonprofit that collects new and gently used stuffed animals for police officers to give to children who are:
witnesses to a crime
experiencing a traumatic event
coping with loss
sick or injured
There are some guidelines on the web site about what kinds of stuffed animals are allowed (no battery-operated toys, no toys over 21" long, etc.). The program is currently up and running only in New England and New Jersey, but I have to believe there's something similar in other parts of the country—or maybe you could start your own chapter!
I sat my kids down in front of the ginormous bin of stuffed animals in the playroom and went through each one, asking whether anyone wanted to keep it. I ended up with two trash bags filled with stuffed animals in perfectly good condition (and another smaller trash bag filled with others that were too stained or worn out to donate). We all feel great about this organization.
I think that instead of going to see Jake Gyllenhaal in "Brokeback Mountain," I will go to Babbo and watch him bus tables for Mario Batali.
Seriously, I don't even know what to do with this kind of story.
Update: I now know that his last name is pronounced "Jill-en-hall," not "Gee-len-hall" (with a hard G, as in "guy") like I thought.
As if my Q-Tips saga couldn't get any more exciting: Today I received two separate envelopes from Unilever, each containing an identical letter expressing their apologies for the flimsy Q-Tips and assuring me that they'd continue to look into the matter, and each containing still more coupons! To wit: A free Dove two-pack (up to $3.49), a free Vaseline Intensive Care product (up to $6), and two free Suave products (up to $2.49 each). Wow, first we find out Andy doesn't have cancer, then this. 2006 is shaping up to be quite a year!
#9 is true, y'know.
We are very high on Nigella these days; we make her crispy lamb chops almost every week—I still think tzatziki is the perfect accompaniment, but Andy has been experimenting with red currant jelly, Cumberland sauce*, and a rosemary jelly I found at Whole Foods. The other night we tried her recipe for roast potatoes and were insanely pleased with the result, although we cooked them just a little too long. Here's all you do: After peeling, slicing, parboiling (about 4 minutes), and draining the potatoes, you put them back in the pot and dust them with a little bit of semolina flour. (Would any other flour work as well? I don't know.) Then you put the lid back on and shake the pot all around very vigorously. (Why? I don't know.) They can wait there for a while if you want. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 450° and put a pan full of
goose duck fat in there to get nice and hot. (I've never made a goose, but we always have plenty of duck fat in the fridge from our beloved roast duck.) Then carefully put the potatoes in the hot fat and roast for about 50–60 minutes, turning once. Prepare to be swept away by all that is good about roast potatoes. Wow.
*For Cumberland sauce, you just combine the juice and grated rind of 1 lemon, the grated rind of 1 orange, 1 Tablespoon confectioners' sugar, 1 teaspoon prepared (that is, not powder) mustard, 1/2 cup red currant jelly (melted a bit in the microwave, with a few teaspoons of water if necessary), and 1 Tablespoon port.
The name says it all, Aperol is a perfect aperitif. With a lively orange colour, it has a distinct flavour thanks to its unchanged secret recipe which is made up of an infusion of valuable prime materials such as bitter and sweet orange, china, gentian, rhubarb and many other herbs and roots mixed to perfection. In Italy the aperitif of the moment is the Aperol ‘Spritz’: prosecco, soda and a dash of Aperol. Aperol’s strong point is its light alcoholic content of only 11% and its ability to be enjoyed with friends at home or at the bar.
That sounds like a heavenly drink to me. Unfortunately, Aperol isn't (yet?) available in this country. But a friend was traveling to Milan on business (tough life!), and he said he'd look for it.Well, he did indeed see Aperol in a store there, but he just figured he'd pick some up at the duty-free shop before he flew home. You guessed it: There wasn't any at the duty-free shop, so he came home empty-handed and very apologetic. I was impressed he'd made the effort at all, and I told him he can bring some back next time. Meanwhile, Barbara and Jerry are skiing in Switzerland now; maybe I should ask them to pick me up a bottle! I'm just kicking myself that I didn't ask Jo to bring me some when she flew in from London in December.
We learned today that someone we know is having the opposite experience to Andy's recent cancer scare: This guy just found out he does indeed have cancer and is having surgery in a couple of weeks to have his prostate removed. Granted, he's probably at least 10 years older than Andy, but it's still sobering to say the least. To think that he and Andy were both getting biopsies done around the same time, and both waiting through that hellish week for the results, but then we got the all-clear signal and this guy didn't....
Meanwhile, I find that I'm still processing our whole experience. Of course we're back to "real life" for the most part—I'm back to grumbling about Andy's tangled-up gym shorts in the laundry and Andy's back to grumbling about having to get up early and go to work. But in the background there's still a strong feeling of gratefulness and of somehow getting a "second chance" and, more importantly, a new perspective on what's important. When a typically annoying thing happens (a big scratch on the dishwasher, a stunningly high bill from the plumber for what I thought would be a tiny repair, even a really lousy cold), I find I can say, "Ah well, at least it's not cancer!"—and really mean it. That's a gift. And I'm fully aware that some (most?) people have to take a much longer, harder, sadder route to get there.
I'm also feeling very grateful to have learned that I have really supportive friends and family. It was excruciating to wait for the results of Andy's biopsy, and the few people who knew about it were great about checking in on us—not that there was anything they could "do" to help, but just to say, "Hi, I'm thinking of you and hoping you get good news soon." And then, when the good news did indeed come and I found myself wanting to shout it from the rooftops, the people who hadn't known were just as great. They understood why I didn't tell them while we were going through it (either because there was never a good moment or because I just didn't feel like talking about it anymore) but expressed their ex-post-facto support: "Oh, I wish I knew! Poor you! What you must have been going through! Thank God he's alright!" And I'm still feeling stunned and overwhelmed by the warm wishes and support that came flooding in from all over the blogosphere. People I've never met came out of the woodwork to share in our joy and relief. Thanks, my friends!
My favorite song about cold weather (are there any others, really?) is "You Don't Wanna Know" by Loudon Wainwright. It makes me smile right off the bat, because he's got a marimba providing a Caribbean feel. The lyrics are very clever, too, especially if you know that it was written not long after he moved to London in the '80s, so he throws in lots of Britishisms. I'm going to adopt an HTML technique used by Kirsty (who is a Brit, so that's fitting) whereby I will underscore all the British words; when you let your mouse hover over them, the American meanings will pop up. You'll have to use your imagination for Loudon's always-great voice, and he does his own harmonies, too. This really is one of my favorite songs of his to sing along to.
It was colder than a witch's tit, colder than a polar bear's nose
Colder than the shoulder of my old flame, colder than hell, heaven knows
Not quite as cold as you think it is when the wind chill factors blow
But centigrade and fahrenheit, it felt way below zero.
The electric was cranked way up to ten, the gas fire was on full blast
When I get the bills from both of those , I don't know if the money will last.
I was fully clothed in my entire wardrobe and I still couldn't feel my toes
Then the pipes burst and we had another first: The water in the toilet bowl froze.
When the radio ordered me to stay at home, I obeyed though I was miffed
But the roads were ice, there was a ton of snow, and when the wind blows, snow will drift
I was brushing and flossing my chattering teeth and in the mirror I saw my breath
Half frozen watching the TV news, the other half of me was worried to death.
They got helicopter rescues and freezin' old ladies, and the choo-choo trains won't go
On the there's a five-mile , jack-knifing in the snow
And it's summer down under in Australia, what gets under my skin:
On the TV they show us suntanned , they're just rubbing it in.
And they're saying it's from Siberia, that Communist Arctic zone
What we got is a Russian plot to make the world their ice-cream cone
Whether we're gonna get a break, the weatherman will not say
I took my dog for a walk and she took a crap, you won't smell it until April or May.
And the same thing happened here last year, but you don't wanna know
In England people walk around wearing raincoats and running shoes in the snow
You don't wear no hat or gloves, it don't make no sense
You still think with that silly umbrella you can conquer all of the elements.
It was the coldest day on record, in the coldest week in memory
It was the coldest month in the coldest year on the coldest night in history
But don't ask me how cold it was, you don't wanna know
But centigrade and fahrenheit, it felt way below zero.
Roasted Zucchini with Thyme
3 zucchini (1 1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Preheat oven to 450°. Quarter and cut zucchini into 1 1/2-inch chunks. Thinly slice onion. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss zucchini and onion with oil, thyme, salt, and pepper. Roast 30 minutes, tossing halfway through.
When I rented "Saraband," I didn't realize that it was the sequel to "Scenes from a Marriage," which I never saw (or, possibly, saw so long ago that I don't have any recollection of it). "Saraband" was good—in a painfully honest kind of way—but it was slow and not terribly compelling. I think that's likely because I didn't know the history of the characters from before. Liv Ullmann is a pleasure to watch, regardless.
1. Are you timely or always late?
2. Do you wear a watch?
3. What is the most important event you have been late for?
I'm never late for anything important.
4. What kind of system you have for keeping track of your bills?
Um, it's like a pile thing in the desk.... I pay as many bills as possible online, and I prefer automatic payments either deducted from my bank account or charged to my credit card. I am rarely late paying a bill, but I don't really have a particular system in place. And, as I've mentioned before, when I am late, I just whine and they always cancel the penalty.
5. What is your favorite time of day?
I just signed up Pete for AAA Little League this spring. Here are the terms I agreed to:
1. I will encourage good sportsmanship by showing respect and courtesy to all individuals involved with the [City] Little League, both on and off the field of play. I will support all players, coaches, umpires and league officials at games and practices. I will not taunt, criticize, or use threatening or profane language or gestures at any time or for any reason.
2. I will not ridicule or denigrate, verbally or otherwise, any child or other participant for making a mistake or losing a competition.
3. I will not confront managers, coaches, umpires or other league officials in order to challenge their decisions or authority. I will support the notion that an unpopular decision by an umpire is simply part of the game. I will only raise such issues in an appropriate manner and at an appropriate time and place, always away from the field and after the conclusion of the game or practice.
4. I will not interfere with any game or practice and will refrain from coaching any child, in any manner, unless I am appointed and approved by the Board of Directors as an official manager or coach. I understand that such efforts on my part might, at least, subject players to confusion or at worst, a risk of harm.
Why do I feel certain that the people who actually read these things before signing (like me) are the ones who would never do that stuff anyhow, and—more importantly—vice versa?!
James turned me on to a cool (and free!) music site called Pandora. You start by plugging in the names of artists or songs you like, and they compile a streaming "radio station" just for you. It's a great way to find new music that is similar to the stuff you already like. You get to rate each song that plays, thumbs up or down, which helps them fine-tune your playlist. Fun, and a really nice interface to boot.
1. Closing Time - Tom Waits
2. Push Button - Paul Weller
3. Everybody Wants to Feel Like You - John Prine
4. James (live) - Huffamoose
5. Cronies - Greg Brown
6. Women Vs. Men - David Byrne
7. As Lovely As You - Alison Krauss & Union Station
8. La Belle Dame Sans Regrets - Sting
9. Train Fifty - Peter Keane
10. Almost Blue - Diana Krall
Yesterday Andy came home from three days in NY on business. I had started working on a nice dinner of Coq au Vin that we would eat after the kids were in bed. He came in and made us each a drink while we got caught up. We frequently have a drink or two before dinner or split a bottle of wine at dinner, so I am very aware of how much alcohol I can take—and it's a lot. I am hardly a cheap date. For a small person, I can really hold quite a bit. Anyhow, at some point, Andy topped off our drinks—again, not unheard-of. But by the time the kids were ready for bed, I discovered that I was absolutely drunk as a skunk. I can't even remember the last time I felt that way. I somehow managed to read aloud to Pete and then crawled off to my own bed, where Andy found me after he was done reading to Steph. He didn't quite know what to do, but he managed to get me back downstairs, where I again collapsed in a heap. Oh, the spins! The spins! I'd forgotten how delightful they are! Not! He got me back upstairs and put me to bed and then went down and ate his dinner all alone in front of the TV. I slept all night, waking a few times to drink some water, and was surprised to wake up feeling pretty normal this morning. I'm continuing to drink lots of water, because I recall from the "good old days" that hangovers can sometimes surprise you later in the day, from dehydration.
I plan to have the leftover Coq au Vin for lunch; if it's any good, I'll post the recipe. In the meantime, I will wonder why I suddenly can't hold my liquor. Thank heavens I wasn't out at a party or restaurant when this happened!
Appetizer: Name one chore you don't really mind doing.
Emptying the dishwasher or folding the laundry—I like finite chores that, once they're done, they're done. Unlike dusting or cleaning the bathtub, which you could always do a little more, a little better....
Soup: How many times have you moved homes in your life?
Birth–age 6: House 1
Age 6–college: House 2
College years: Various dorm rooms and apartments
After college: Apartments 1, 2, 3
When I met Andy: Condo
1993–2000: House 1
2000–present: House 2
Salad: How old were you when you had your very first kiss?
Either 12 or 13; it was a spin-the-bottle game at a Bat Mitzvah party.
Main Course: What time of day do you usually feel your best?
Dessert: Using three words or
less fewer, describe your current local weather.
Sunny and mild!
For years I've had my monthly mortgage payment automatically deducted from my bank account; that way I don't have to remember to do anything except make sure my balance will cover it. But sometime last spring, I didn't realize that my mortgage rate had been recalculated based on a new real estate tax bill (we have to pay our taxes with our mortgage; it goes into an escrow account) and the new payment amount was actually lower. So I've been inadvertently paying down my principal by $89.32 per month for the last 9 months. Which is a good thing, except that I wouldn't have minded having that $803.88 to spend on something more exciting (you know, like Go-Gurt or snowpants or one of the millions of other amazingly glamorous items I normally shop for).
Today I had a (long overdue) appointment to have my hair colored and cut. This was my second appointment with Alketa, whom I saw in October after my usual guy moved away. Alketa has the same hair as I do, and she wears it exactly the way I want mine to look. The last time I went, the cut didn't quite turn out right, but I was prepared to give her another chance, since I'm not exactly sure how to tell what went wrong. So this time there was a scheduling error and they'd allotted only enough time for a color. She asked whether I wanted to have my cut done by someone else, but I said I really didn't want to, because I really want someone to get to know my hair and figure out how it works. Luckily they were able to do some shuffling around and get the next client to come back later. Then Alketa mentioned that the person who would have cut my hair is the one who cuts her (Alketa's) hair, and I realized, "DUH! That's who you want cutting your hair! The person who cuts the hair of the person whose hair you like, not the person whose hair you like!" But it was too late. I can't yet tell whether this cut will work. She put some "product" on it that I'm not likely to use, despite the fact that I bought it. Her recommendations of a blowdryer with a diffuser also fell on deaf ears. "Lalalalalala! I can't hear you! I'm not listening! Lalalalalala!"
Not long ago, I
begged asked all my lurkers to come out of the darkness and into the light by leaving a comment. Many did, and it really made my day! Now someone named Sheryl has officially declared this National De-Lurking Week, so I'm asking again: If you are a regular reader of verbatim and have never left a comment—not even last time—please do!
As some of you have noticed from my Netflix queue in the sidebar, every now and then we rent a few episodes of "Northern Exposure" just for the pleasure of revisiting that wonderful show. We have one in the house right now, and purely by coincidence, we happened to also have a movie costarring Darren Burrows, who played Ed Chigliak all those years ago. I was stunned when I saw him! You couldn't not recognize him, but at the same time he changed a lot. I guess he just grew up. Anyhow, the movie was "Forty Shades of Blue," and he was quite good in it, as was Russian actress Dina Korzun, but it was Rip Torn who absolutely stole the show. His performance was just extraordinary, and yet I can't even think of a single other dramatic role I've ever seen him in.
Andy and I haven't gone out to dinner in ages, and we figured that his wonderful medical news was worthy of a celebratory splurge. I suggested we go back to Mistral, where we had an amazingly decadent meal for our anniversary. Andy thought that maybe Mistral was a little too special. "After all," he said, "it's not as if I found out I don't have pancreatic cancer, or one of those other really bad ones." And I laughed. That is the kind of sick humor we have in this household.