30 March 2007

3 + 1: A Hodgepodge

Three = the number of nights Miss M. has slept in undiepants! Three nights ago, she announced "I'm not going to wear diapers anymore, I'm going to sleep in undiepants". And that was that. She's been day trained for months, and pretty much night trained - although she was sleeping in a diaper, it was nearly always dry. But every time I'd suggested ditching the night diaper, she'd resisted. I kept suggesting, gently, and I guess it sank in. I'm so happy to never have to buy diapers again!!!

One = the number of cholecystectomies allowed per my insurance company's authorization for surgery. That's a good thing, since I only have one gall bladder. By this afternoon, I will have no gall bladder.

29 March 2007

This Woman Needs An Isis

Today's Times had a heartbreaking little AP story:

A severed leg washed up yesterday on the Long Island Sound estate of James L. Dolan, the billionaire chairman of Cablevision and Madison Square Garden, the police said, speculating that the limb was linked to a torso discovered in a suitcase three weeks ago on a Westchester County beach. The police were also investigating whether a leg and foot discovered by a fisherman on Tuesday night in Cold Spring Harbor were also related to the Westchester County remains. The legs were found a little more than three weeks after a suitcase with a torso inside floated onto the beach in Mamaroneck. The police say the victim was a Hispanic or black woman, 5 foot 6 at most, weighing 180 to 200 pounds, with a tattoo of two red cherries on a green stem above her right breast.

I was partially struck by the pathos, and whimsy, in the detail of the tattoo. But I was also struck by the body parts scattered hither and yon around Long Island Sound. My boss has been cogitating a ballet on the myth of Isis, who had to collect her murdered brother's body parts from whence they had been dispersed. I thought, this poor woman needs an Isis to put her back together again, so that she may rest in peace.

28 March 2007


Not only did I not change my name when I got married - after all, it's been mine for a very long time (and we got married when I was 34) and I don't believe all that patriarchal shit and yes you can poke holes in my argument given that it was my father's name - but our one and only pre-nuptial agreement was that if we had children, boys would get his name and girls would get mine. Hence, our only child, a girl, Miss M., has my last name. The clerk at the hospital who was typing up the birth certificate actually called my room to ask me if that was really what I wanted. If everyone did what we did, that patronymic thing would be history.

I just needed to say that.

I rarely run into issues with this, but recently we were at the neighbors' house for dinner, and I was referred to at one point as "Mrs. HisLastName". They are a family that thinks that kids should speak to grownups formally, that is, no first names. I'm generally pretty indifferent to, if not actually against, honorifics like "Mrs.", but I'm not going to step on someone's toes about it. But there I was, having to explain that I didn't use W.'s last name, and it was curiously awkward because we don't know them all that well - they moved in about six months ago, and we've not spent a lot of social time together. I can't quite identify the awkwardness, but it may stem from the fact that they are right-leaning churchgoers. But why on earth would I care about being judged by right-leaning churchgoers?

27 March 2007

Lurex and Crystals

A couple of weeks ago, I was on the subway heading down to jury duty, when a man caught my eye. He was an ordinary looking older guy, probably in his 60s, wearing a dark suit with a white shirt and an orange tie, black dress shoes, a trench coat and a fedora. But the part that I couldn't stop glancing at? Around his neck he wore a dark fuchsia chenille scarf with lurex sparkles woven through it. Something a girly girl would wear. And I think he was a lawyer. He got off at the same stop that I did, and preceded me up the street to the courthouse, where he went through security a few steps ahead of me. I almost got off the elevator with him, to see where he was going. But I headed off to my own courtroom instead.

And today, I saw another guy; also older, also soberly dressed. This one was wearing glasses. Ordinary looking glasses. With a string around his neck, one of those glasses keepers. But it was covered in mauve crystal beads. Again, girly girl.

I think maybe they're both cross-dressers in private, but they like a little bling in their daily lives, to remind themselves of their other selves.

26 March 2007

Anyone for dessert?

Herewith, a thing of great beauty, the Periodic Table of Dessert.

25 March 2007

David Eyre's Pancake, Redux

I feel so prescient. Just over a week ago, I posted about a childhood favorite recipe, David Eyre's Pancake. Today, Amanda Hesser has it in the New York Times Magazine, Recipe Redux, with this comment:

Forty years later, readers are still making that pancake (with less butter but no less bliss). It appears on a dozen blogs, embellished with family stories and photos and new-and-improved versions of the recipe.
You think she's talking about me?

24 March 2007

An Eccentric Grocery List

The other day, I looked at the grocery list by the back door and noticed that the only two items on the list were garlic and tonic. I said to W., "we need more groceries ending in IC". He said aspic. We put out the call for more. Here’s what we’ve got so far, thanks to wordy family members:

Picnic ham
Ethnic food
Alcoholic beverages
Boric acid
Acetic acid
Gum arabic
Vlasic pickles
Balsamic vinegar

And one piece of "cooking" equipment: alembic

And someone noted: “If you eat too much garlic, aspic and tonic, you might need a colonic. Or an emetic.”

Got any more?

23 March 2007

Bad Poetry Friday

I took a lot of notes while I was on jury duty. Most of those notes were stuff about the trial as it was going on. But in the interstices, like during the frequent sidebars at the bench or the fiddling with the AV equipment, I jotted down observances, homonyms, grocery lists, and the following two lines:

My daughter has a uniform.
She wears it every day.

I thought "it's the start of a poem"! So I gave to W., a once-upon-a-time poet, and said "finish this". Without batting an eyelash, he spouted out:

My daughter has a uniform.
She wears it every day.
This is lousy doggerel,
What else can I say?

I was impressed with the speed of his inanity.

Oh, and the kid? She does have a uniform. She wears the same denim overall dress day in and day out, including to bed. Yeah, she changes her shirt and tights/leggings, or her pajamas. But the dress? The dress is a constant. It's all I can do to get it off to be washed occasionally.

22 March 2007

I think therefore I blog? Or is it, I blog therefore I think?

I am pleased and flattered that Eva of Antropologa chose me for the Thinking Blog award.

And the award means that I need to pass the baton to five others, five other bloggers who make me think. I scratched my head about this for a while, and decided that the appropriate choices were bloggers who let me into their worlds so that I can think about living a life not mine. They offer a window through which I can daydream.

I'm never going to be a pastry chef like Eggbeater, even though I love to bake and made my own wedding cake. I certainly won't ever be a NICU doctor like Neonatal Doc, but I like reading about medical issues and I once set foot in a NICU (when my sister's Tiny was born, healthy but early and little). And I'm not going to be a stay-at-home-dad (wrong gender!) to three kids, two of whom are twins (I'm too old!), but Looky, Daddy is and writes about it with humor and insight. While I love books and have a little kid, I'm not a children's librarian, but Mother Reader is and gives me a peek at a whole world of kids literature (and other kid-lit bloggers) and lots of ideas for my Amazon wishlist. To round things out is PinkNest - a young woman who's eating her way through Manhattan with gusto and great photos - and reminds me that it's fun to go out to dinner all the time (but I have that pesky 3 year old and no longer live in Manhattan).

20 March 2007

Unmitigated Gall

As of next Friday, I will have unmitigated gall. That is, my gall will no longer be mitigated on its progress from my liver to my intestines, as the mitigating gall bladder will have been removed.

I had a sonogram yesterday. Besides confirming that I have stones and sludge, the radiologist told me that I have a "phyrigian cap" - an anatomical variant of my gall bladder. See that nice Greek bust? He has a Phrygian cap too.


The other day, I told Miss M. that she'd be going over to see her grandmother. She said "I don't have a grandmother, she's my grandma. Grandmothers have long sandy hair." Um, okay. We're not quite sure where that one came from.

19 March 2007

Pasta with Salad and Sausage

Thanks to Midlife Mama, I stumbled on a really good, really simple, recipe last week - which we had for dinner last night. It's basically a green salad, generously dressed with olive oil and lemon juice, and tossed with sausage and hot pasta. Yes, the greens wilt some, but not completely, though I suspect the greens would make for nasty leftovers.

The recipe is originally from Epicurious; I tweaked it a little:

Pasta with Salad and Sausage
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 pound sausage*
About 12 cups of loosely packed greens (a salad's worth)**
1 pound pasta***
Parmesan cheese, shaved into strips

  1. Whisk oil, lemon juice and garlic in small bowl to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Cook sausages over medium heat until browned and cooked through, turning frequently, about 20 minutes. Using tongs, transfer sausages to paper towels and drain; cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Combine sausage rounds and greens in large bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain well.
  4. Add hot pasta to bowl with sausage rounds and greens; toss until greens begin to wilt. Mix in dressing to coat. Divide pasta among bowls. Top with cheese and serve.

* I used a chicken sausage that was in the freezer, but sweet or hot Italian would work too.
** I used half romaine and half arugula, both of which stood up to the heat of the pasta well - other greens, like spinach or leaf lettuce, would be fine too, but would wilt more.
*** The recipe called for spaghetti, but next time, I'll use a short pasta like rotini or wheels - I hate eating spaghetti!

I set aside a handful of slices of the cooked sausage, and a portion of the cooked plain pasta. Miss M. had the sausage alongside pasta with butter and parmesan for dinner.

18 March 2007

I Hate Double Pointed Needles

But I finished another hat. It's a good thing that the yarn is SO fuzzy; I think the top is riddled with errors. The knitting kept falling off the DPNs as I was trying to decrease. I think I picked it all up, but who knows. Fuzz hides all sins. Fuzz also makes ripping out nearly impossible, so I just plowed ahead, sins be damned.

I've got another hat nearly done, but it's time to switch to the DPNs, and so I am procrastinating.

17 March 2007

Barbie and Bratz and My Baby Girl

Judith Warner often makes me nuts, but her column today was spot on (sorry, it's Times Select). I worry about the daughter that we are raising in a very upscale materialistic town, and I hope that we'll be able to do right by her and counter some of those outside influences towards "Bling-Bling Barbies and pouty-lipped Bratz". It's already a struggle against the Disney princesses, and I suspect it will only get worse. But I have my fingers crossed. Today she told us "I like dumptrucks".

David Eyre's Pancake

David Eyre's Pancake was a staple weekend breakfast when I was a kid, and it continues to be. It was one of the first things that I taught W. to make. My sister recently confessed that she'd made three of them for dinner one night when her husband wasn't home - one for her and one for each of her two bigger children - so she wouldn't have to share!

It's a great recipe. I usually skip the sugar/lemon finish and just eat it with jam. W. likes to eat his with maple syrup - he seems to think that all "pancakes" need syrup. The recipe also scales up to 3 eggs or down to 1 pretty well – pick an appropriately sized pan, and just keep the proportions to 1 egg + 1/4 c flour + 1/4 cup milk.

Josh Friedland wrote about it in The Food Section awhile ago. He's got some comments from Claiborne about the pancake and the original article, and his own nostalgia about growing up eating it.

In essence, it's yorkshire pudding without the beef drippings (and the roast beef!).

15 March 2007

Needless Nursing Nonsense

Thanks to the Gurgling Cod, I learned about a sublimely ridiculous new "necessity" for a nursing mother: Milk Bands. Words fail me. I suppose I was in an exhausted haze during those early days with Miss M., but it wasn't tricky to remember things like when the baby last nursed and which side. But having to deal with another little thing, like flipping over a bracelet and moving pegs around like a game of cribbage? Nope. Maybe it would be a good thing for some Type A Sanctimommy, but not me.

14 March 2007

Per Se Another Day

So instead of going to Per Se for dinner tonight, I am going to see a surgeon in a little while to discuss the removal of my gall bladder. Under the circumstances, a rich foie gras and butter laced dinner seemed like a bad idea.

I've known that I have a bad gall bladder since I was pregnant. But it has been largely quiescent since then, until a month or so ago. In the past few weeks, I've had a couple of nasty acute attacks, the most recent of which involved fainting from the pain. So it's time to address the problem.

I had a bad gall bladder attack when I was 21w pregnant - it was the first time my gall bladder had acted up. I landed in the hospital (on the L&D floor) for several days. They sent me down to the hospital radiology department for a sonogram of my gall bladder. The doctor doing it asked if some college students who were interning could watch - I said, sure, if you give me a picture of the baby. So after he was done with the real work of looking at my diseased bits, he did a recreational scan of my baby. It was great. And the students were tickled. Especially because he said they got very few pregnant women in there at all (OB scans were done elsewhere by the maternal/fetal people). And after all that, HE FORGOT THE PICTURES! Argh.

13 March 2007

Books Books Books - A Meme

Here's a book meme I came across at Awesome Mom. I enjoyed the chance to think about books this way. Interestingly though, it kind of misses the point in some ways, in that I don't think it really gets at what kind of books I do read and keep and love.

Hardback or trade paperback or mass market paperback? Depends. Hardcover if I want to keep it. Hardcover for cookbooks. Trade paperback if I'm buying it. But mass market paperback - never! They are too small, and generally things published in that format aren't things I want to read.

Amazon or brick and mortar? Amazon or half.com or addall.com or Paperback Swap or the public library. Though sometimes I buy books at a store - like Books of Wonder, which is a great kids bookstore near my office in the city, or the independent bookstore in my town.

Barnes & Noble or Borders? Barnes & Noble is closer to the office, but usually neither - I buy online or go to the library.

Bookmark or dog ear? Bookmark. And I don't write in my books either.

Alphabetize by author or alphabetize by title or random? Alpha by author for fiction. Otherwise, shelved by category. Of course, right now, the lion's share of our books are still in boxes in the cellar, even the dictionary. Luckily the cookbooks are accessible.

Keep, throw away, or sell? Depends. Do I want to keep it? Otherwise, sell or give away or list on Paperback Swap. I find it unseemly to even think about throwing books away.

Keep dust jacket or toss it? Keep.

Read with dust jacket or remove it? Read without, replace when done. And a rant: why do little kid's books have dust jackets? They just get torn or misplaced. I've taken to removing the dust jackets from my daughter's books and stuffing them in a box before they even make it to her room. I just don't see the point of dust jackets on kid's books, especially when the cover is redundantly printed with the same illustration/text as the dust jacket!

Short story or novel? Yes. Or non-fiction.

Collection (short stories by same author) or anthology (short stories by different authors)? Collection. Anthologies seem too ongepotchket for me.

Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket? Well, I've never read Lemony Snicket, and I did read the first three Harry Potter books in a weekend, so, Harry it is.

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks? Tired. Or it's time to get off the train.

Buy or Borrow? Both. Either. Depends. I love the library, and I can reserve books and they call me when they come in. Paperback Swap is almost like the library. But I buy too, especially for things I want for a while or forever. Like cookbooks. And Ferber and Weissbluth. Though I've turned those last two over to my sister, who needs them more than we do right now.

New or used? Either. If I'm buying, probably used because I'm cheap. Or thrifty. Or both.

Buying choice: book reviews, recommendation or browse? All of the above.

Tidy ending or cliffhanger? Tidy ending.

Morning reading, afternoon reading or nighttime reading? On the train on the way home from work, and before turning out the light at night.

Stand-alone or series? Stand-alone, though I did like reading those first three Harry Potter's all in a row!

Favorite children's book? The Phantom Tollbooth. I can't wait 'til my daughter is ready for it.

Favorite book of which nobody else has heard? Mistress Masham's Repose. Wait, maybe that's my favorite children's book!

Favorite books read last year? I haven't any idea. So far this year? Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma.

Favorite books of all time? Wow. I don't know. Most of my books are still in the aforementioned boxes from when we moved two and a half years ago, so I can't even peruse the bookshelves and find a favorite.

Least favorite book you finished last year? I found Snow to be an awful slog. While it had moments of grace and lucidity and humor, it just didn't hang together for me.

What are you reading right now? See my Library Thing sidebar!

What are you reading next? Two things from the next pile: An Episode of Sparrows and Decca: The Letters of Jessica Mitford.

Lux Redux

Today's Times has a column* about the Poetry In Motion project, mostly because it's the 100th anniversary of Auden's birth this year, and so he will get a subway poster, soon.

The end of the column touches on Thomas Lux, who'd written the poem I posted last week. As you might expect, he wrote the poem following the birth of his daughter, who's now 19.

Until she noticed the poem while riding the subway and told him about it, he didn’t know he had been chosen.

Don’t take everything about it literally, Mr. Lux said. “Only some of that stuff came true — about cretins and dolts and sweet talkers on their way to jail,” he said.

Just give her time, we said unhelpfully.

“Yeah,” Mr. Lux said with a laugh, “give her time.”


*It's in Times Select, so you may or may not be able to access the whole thing.

11 March 2007

The Sunday Adventure

Today's whimsy was a trip to Wingdale for barbecue. Big W's had been on the list of road food places to eat in the general vicinity, and got bumped up because they got another mention in the Times the other day, so today we headed north for some meat. Smoked meat. Lovely falling off the bone smoked meat. And sides of beans (full of porky goodness), rice, macaroni and cheese, and a nice coleslaw palate cleanser. And leftovers. We got a half chicken and a pulled pork sandwich for there, and some ribs and brisket to take home. Yum.

We went north to go south to get home, which took us through Millbrook and past an amazing falling down abandoned school. Truly astonishing building, beautiful in its desuetude. We didn't take any pictures, but I found some online, including the whole series in the link. And the website in that link is fascinating - it's a whole mess of photography of abandoned buildings, mostly institutions, like defunct mental hospitals.

10 March 2007

Daylight Three Card Monte

What is this nonsense about moving Daylight Savings Time around? We'll still get the same number of hours of daylight - that's never going to change - but now we'll be getting up in the DARK again. Who needs that? And how does it save energy? People have to turn on lights in the morning instead of the evening - same lights, same energy use. And they'll likely use more gas, as they head out in the evening to do some retail shopping.

For more grousing, see what she said.

And for yet more, see this interview with Michael Downing, author of Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time, which title pretty much sums it up.

09 March 2007

Poetry Friday

I saw this on the subway yesterday. It broke my heart a little; someday my daughter will grow up too.

A Little Tooth
by Thomas Lux

Your baby grows a tooth, then two,
and four, and five, then she wants some meat
directly from the bone. It's all

over: she'll learn some words, she'll fall
in love with cretins, dolts, a sweet
talker on his way to jail. And you,

your wife, get old, flyblown, and rue
nothing. You did, you loved, your feet
are sore. It's dusk. Your daughter's tall.

From New and Selected Poems, 1975-1995, published by Houghton Mifflin, 1997. Copyright © 1990 by Thomas Lux. All rights reserved.

08 March 2007

Thursday Thirteen Things

I got tagged for that "six things" meme, but some how it turned into more, so now it's Thirteen things about me, for Thursday Thirteen:

  1. I was about 40 when I had my first professional haircut.
  2. I have an MA in ethnomusicology.
  3. I don’t eat fish, with the exception of mussels.
  4. I can’t remember the last time I wore make-up.
  5. I nursed my daughter until the night before she turned 3.
  6. I can’t go to sleep unless the closet door is shut.
  7. I have my grandfather’s bladder stone in a baby food jar in my desk drawer.
  8. I cross my sevens.
  9. I can’t wear sunglasses on top of my head; my head is the wrong shape.
  10. I think mushrooms taste like dirt.
  11. I prefer aspirin to acetaminophen, but I think neither really helps a headache.
  12. I make my own granola.
  13. I drive a stick shift.

07 March 2007

Free At Last

Me, that is, as jury duty is over. The defendant? We found him guilty.

The trial was interesting - white collar criminal case in Federal court - a Russian diplomat at the UN accused of conspiracy to commit money laundering. The US Attorneys were terrific, the star witness was excellent on the stand, the defense counsel were obfuscating bumblers, and the sole witness for the defense did far more harm than good. The judge was also wonderful - focused, smart, prepared, and on the ball.

The whole thing lasted 4 and a half days. Opening statements and the prosecution took the first three days, the defense and the closing statements took day four, and the judge's charge to the jury and the subsequent deliberations took the last half day. Actually, the judge's charge took 50 minutes, as she read and read and read her instructions to us, along with the definitions of the crimes and the relevant pieces of the law. And the deliberations? There was no discussion. It was almost shocking. The foreman took us through a series of questions, everyone said yes yes yes, and we were done. There was more discussion AFTER we reached the verdict than before.

So, done.

06 March 2007

Notes to Self

This is funny. It's a secret list of hiding places I had in my room. The small piece of paper lived folded up inside a wooden Camembert box that was pinned on the bulletin board through its bottom so that the top was still removable. The lady in red is still kicking around. She's a doll wearing an elaborate flamenco dress, and had been my mother's - so she's probably from the 40s. Today, I don't think I could make such a concise guide to my "stuff".

05 March 2007

Accuracy At All Times

"Accuracy at all times" is one of those catch-phrases in our house - you use it when you correct someone else's grammar, or usage, or pronunciation, or such like, to deflect the irritation of the correction.

Miss M. is showing signs of being a stickler. We have a nice little copy of Five Little Monkeys by Eileen Christelow, which we read at bedtime a lot. Monkey #3 takes her tumble, and Miss M. now says "not her head, her CHIN". Yup, the illustration has the monkey landing on her chin. I may have to take a Sharpie to the book. In the meantime, I've just done a crude Photoshop edit.

04 March 2007

New Pink Shoes

Spam Headers We Don't Like

Irritatingly, I've been getting more and more spam at home. I'm used to getting 50-100 a day in the office, but it is frustrating at home, and all the more so when the subject line reads "jumble embryo". It offends the sensibility of an infertile woman.

03 March 2007

How to Cook Bacon

This looks like a third grade science essay - how matter changes with temperature. But bacon! Toast! Melted butter! Toast for breakfast was an illicit treat, at least on school days. Normally, we had cold cereal for breakfast, with brown sugar. We only got toast if everyone was running late.

02 March 2007

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

For Dr. Seuss's birthday, Mother Reader offers this up:

If you haven’t heard it yet, you may want to try out Dylan Hears A Who for a bit of the surreal in your life.
It rather made my day.

Wallowing in Self Pity

Strep Throat.



01 March 2007

The Wheels of Justice Have A Flat Tire

I woke up sick this morning, running a fever and with a wretched sore throat. I called the Courtroom Deputy* at 7:30 and told him that I had a temperature of 101°. He told me to make a cup of tea and he'd call me right back. Twenty minutes later, he called and told me that the trial had been postponed for two days, and that I should report back on Monday. Single-handedly, I have stopped the wheels of justice. Huh.

* the man in charge of the care and feeding of the jury - and yes, feeding includes bagels.