Oldest Son tells me that calling your mom on Mother’s Day to tell her thank you and that you love her is pathetic. That you should thank your mom and tell her you love her just because.
I agree, but I still like it when he calls me on Mother’s Day.
Giving thanks on Thanksgiving is also kind of pathetic — every day should be greeted with thankfulness. As I used to tell my dad when he would complain about getting old: it beats the alternative.
So in yoga we thank our feet for carrying us through our days, and we thank our hamstrings (Hello, hamstrings!) and our aching backs and our hands for what they carry, and our hearts, for what they carry too.
And when we clean our floors we try to remember to thank the floors and the walls and the roof for keeping us from having to live in the dirt, in the rain.
And when we burn the pumpkin soup (just a little), we try to be thankful for all of the delicious ingredients in that pumpkin soup, and that we have good Calphalon pans so we know they’ll get clean again.
And when our children tease and spar and take 45 minutes to do the dishes we are thankful for their health and spirit, and that they are doing the dishes.
On the day after Thanksgiving 7 years ago I drove with my family to my brother’s for an extended family meal, not having yet told our children that their father and I were going to be divorcing.
Six years ago I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for my children and my almost-ex-husband in some kind of weird (pathetic?) attempt to manufacture for my children some weird version of family, which felt to me more like a completely phony and unsatisfying version of “family”; and a few hours after they left I was curled up on the bed in a fetal position, mourning all of the mistakes I had made and how, despite my best efforts, I did not have the relationship I wanted with my children, much less with myself.
So now what am I thankful for?
Well, that the dark days are over.
That we’ve crossed over to the other side.
That everyone’s fine.
That my back hurts, again, but seems to be getting better, and in a little more than a week we’ll have a new hot tub on our back deck (thanks, mom), and that will hopefully help my back problems, and Husband’s knee problems, besides being a wonderful addition to a life that’s being fully and gratefully lived.
For a life that’s being fully and gratefully lived.
For the physical, mental, intellectual, and emotional health of my friends and family.
For jobs that support us, working for and with people who respect our contributions, for food and shelter and kindness.
For a marriage with a man who is thoughtful, and sensitive, and supportive, and who likes, and loves, me as I do him.
He’s going to be embarrassed that I wrote this. But he is the thing I am most grateful for. And, for whatever weird (pathetic?) reason, I want you all to know.
I have it all.
I am the luckiest person I know.
Kristin Howterton posted recently on the underlying tension of gender roles in the pursuit of an egalitarian marriage. You can read it here.
The underlying premise is that, despite our (meaning, mostly women’s) efforts to find equality in both the home and the workplace, many women still feel guilty getting home to see their husbands cooking dinner with a crying toddler on his hip or wonder whether it’s fair to expect that men should PROBABLY contribute to the household chores if their wives are working outside the home.
I know, right?
Maybe there’s something wrong with me, but this kind of thing does not make me feel guilty.
I responded at length, including replies to other commenters.
I think we all learned the lessons of our childhood, and watching our parents, and have to struggle with these lessons, maybe just a little. But when I read these two sentences:
“When I walk though the door and see him cooking dinner with a crying toddler on this hip, I get a gut check that says, ‘Oh dear. I should be doing that.’”
“I think people our age have wised up to the idea that if a woman works, then the husband should probably step it up and help with some of the domestic duties as well.”
I just want to weep.
You think you should be doing that, but he shouldn’t? And the husband should PROBABLY step up? Ugh.
It’s his household as much as yours, his children as much as yours; and even if they’re not “his” children, but, say, maybe even “only” his stepchildren, his marriage to you makes him an equal partner in domestic needs if he wants to be an equal partner in domestic bliss.
I think there are ways people can balance things. I knew a couple once where the mom stayed at home, so the “housework” was her job, but when he was home, the childrearing was shared. That seemed fair. I guess you could do a proportional thing: he works 40 hours per week to her 30 so she does 60% of the housework. I guess you could even divide it proportionally to reflect the amount of money brought in, but I think that’s a terrible idea and think I shouldn’t even suggest it. (The jury will disregard the last statement.) My husband make 50% more money than I do, but my scheduled work time far exceeds his, so he does most of the cooking, laundry, and shopping. I clean when I can get to it. It works for us.
No shoulds, no probablys about it.
Fortuitously, Anne-Marie Slaughter writes in the issue of The Atlantic about “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.”
It’s a very good article. It’s long, but worth it. Some of the best stuff is at the end.
Her arguments could be summarized thusly:
Women can have it all, but only if there is a radical paradigm shift, including if men start demanding the right to have it all, too. Meaning that it’s not a sign of unprofessionalism or a lack of commitment for ANYONE to want to take time to take care of their children, their aging/ailing parents, or even, GASP, themselves.
The idea that women who take a different track so as to raise their own children are NOT less ambitious; the realization that one of the biggest challenges is that the hours of a school day continue not to coincide with the hours of a work day (we won’t even talk about the havoc wreaked by snow days and 2-hour delays); the fact that women have to make trade-offs that men do not — these are realizations that can and should trigger real change, change that requires an effort by the majority of us out there, male AND female, or they won’t.
Ms. Slaughter ends with a goal, if not a challenge:
I continually push the young women in my classes to speak more. They must gain the confidence to value their own insights and questions, and to present them readily. My husband agrees, but he actually tries to get the young men in his classes to act more like the women–to speak less and listen more. If women are ever to achieve real equality as leaders, then we have to stop accepting male behavior and male choices as the default and the ideal. We must insist on changing social policies and bending career tracks to accommodate our choices, too. We have the power to do it if we decide to, and we have many men standing besides us.
We’ll create a better society in the process, for all women. We may need to put a woman in the White House before we are able to change the conditions of the women working at Walmart. But when we do, we will stop talking about whether women can have it all. We will properly focus on how we can help all Americans have healthy, happy, productive lives, valuing the people they love as much as the success they seek.
That’s the ticket.
Where do I sign?
You can spend a lifetime surrounded by busy-ness and noise and people and feel completely alone.
Husband left yesterday (with the cappuccino machine, which just seems to me to be the Last Straw) and I won’t see him until Friday.
I have so much to do, and I’m busy busy busy doing it, but I know, every minute, that he is 160 miles and 5 days away. Some part of me knows.
Your absence goes through me
like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with is color.
(Merwin, not me. I wish.)
Second Son is in the basement playing his guitar, Only Daughter is at her father’s until tomorrow night, Dexter the Dancing dog is in his “house” for the evening.
I watched Juno and cried, in the usual spot. Can’t find a clip. You’ll have to watch it and see if you can figure out where.
He always just seems to get it, exactly.
Through all of youth I was looking for you
without knowing what I was looking for
or what to call you I think I did not
even know I was looking how would I
have known you when I saw you as I did
time after time when you appeared to me
as you did naked offering yourself
entirely at that moment and you let
me breathe you touch you taste you knowing
no more than I did and only when I
began to think of losing you did I
recognize you when you were already
part memory part distance remaining
mine in the ways that I learn to miss you
from what we cannot hold the stars are made
The left wing bowed graciously,
after the plane caught its pocket of air
and nonchalantly dropped the LaGuardia runway into its wake
(an hour and a half behind schedule,
not that anyone’s counting,)
and New York City gleamed as if gilded in gold,
the Avenues wearing their red and white stripes
of cars going this way,
and that way;
Central Park all darkness,
the pedicabs and ice skaters long gone home.
The stewardess fills up my water glass
for the fourth time, then sneaks me a bottle of merlot
minutes after turbulence shakes us all like
dice in a Yahtzee cup.
I am 38 minutes away from you,
that “you the singer sings to,*”
according to The Flight Deck,
and despite that promise I make to myself
time and time again,
You know–that promise
not to wish my life away;
It cannot pass quickly enough.
There. It’s 36 minutes now.
Not that anyone’s counting.
the car dances awkwardly with the wind
ducking and grunting and protecting its head
at tops of hills
as I eye the fallen pines on either
side of the road
wreckage from last week’s snow storm
somebody said to me, just the other day,
that they felt they were
peering into the future
and saw bleakness and gray
(like Debussy’s Des pas sur la neige
so I played it in church yesterday morning
each sixteenth-eighth pattern the scuff
of your heel into the snow
the melody your thoughts,
as I explained to Dennis, after)
and I said no
one can see the future
I thought I saw it once
and told myself how I would feel
but now I am your star-struck girl,
with no need to knuckle down
I love the particular quiet
of a deeply snowy day
and that the swirl you met
at the top of the driveway
kept you home today
so that when I awoke you
were just returning to bed
and we lounged there until
almost 10, you snoring
while I read my book
(you know, the one I like
but wish I could have edited)
and Hannah came to the
door occasionally to see
if we were going to ever
We made apple cinnamon crepes
and bacon and drank cups and
cups of cappuccino
and then went back to bed
knees to knees, forehead to forehead
and slept some more
until I snuck out in my thick socks
and drove to get the oil changed
in my car.
I only slid a little at the bottom
of the driveway, and then navigated
down slushed roads as trees dropped
snowballs on me in their passive-agressive
way and the dog in the Kia waved
its tail at me as I passed.
I sit, now, in the “quiet” room,
waiting for new oil and something
called a PCV valve
and ponder the important questions:
whether I can take another nap when I get home,
what I should do with the next twenty
years of my professional life,
what to make for dinner.
there’s a picture you hung in
our bedroom the day I knew you would move in
a black and white drawing
and I always felt that it was us
lovers entwined, not clear
which parts of which body was whose
dark shadows and random letters
and people and shapes in the background
the world around us but us in it
not waving our arms to keep it away
but better because we are in it together
what will you do when you
turn around one day and find us
off our pedestal
feet dirty, asses sore from
when we hit the ground?
I think you want to live a life
and I don’t think you can
but that you should try only to
regret that which
you thought about and decided
there was just no other way
life’s a nuisance and a pain and
maybe you’re right and we
would be happier if we could just
live hiding under the bed
but we can’t
and we don’t
so what then?
A poem by Margaret Atwood.
Seems so obvious, when she puts it like that.
What is to be done, then,
when we have said what
to be said
and, after saying these things,
know not what
One or both
afraid of the cracks
not-love might cast
a looming shadow
x, not loving
not grow, then,
Once this fabric
is it weaker
like a flaw,
And why do these
always reveal how
despite my brave
words and brave
in direct light,
wishing I could
I’ve tired less
First, make Husband an eggnog.
Shake 1 egg, 2 T. sugar, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg and 4 or 5 ice cubes together in a jar. Add 2 c. milk. Shake again. Put 5 ice cubes in a tall glass. Add a shot of brandy. Fill with egg mixture.
Now make yourself a Manhattan.
Put 5 ice cubes in a glass. Shake Angostora bitters over the ice. Add a generous shot of Crown Royal and a 1/2 shot of sweet vermouth. Add 2 maraschino cherries and pour in a bit of the cherry juice. Sip slowly. This is serious stuff.
Put 1 c. of faro in a saucepan, add 3 c. water. Bring the water to a boil, and then turn down as low as you can so it doesn’t boil all over and make a mess on your stove. Cover and simmer (carefully! carefully!) for 15 minutes. Drain the extra water off, cover, and let sit until you’re ready to eat.
Meanwhile, mix 2 T. of black sesame seeds and 2 T. of white sesame seeds in a flat dish. Coat 3 or 4 tuna steaks with sesame seeds. If Husband realizes that there aren’t enough sesame seeds in dish, quickly add more.
Peel and finely chop (slice it one way, then slice it the other way, then chop it against the “grains” you’ve just created) a 2″ piece of ginger that you dug out of the back of the freezer.
Cut 1/2-1 lb of broccolini into 2″ pieces.
Open the package of edamame so it’s ready to roll.
Mix 2 T. canola oil, 2 T. rice vinegar (unseasoned!), 1 T. soy sauce in a bowl or 1 c. liquid measuring cup.
Find out when the 1st period of the hockey game is ending so you can time the rest of the dinner preparations accordingly.
When the 1st period of the hockey game is about to be over, put a wok on the 2nd-largest burner, because Husband will need the largest burner for the tuna steaks.
Add 2 T. dark sesame oil to the hot wok. When the oil is almost smoking, add the chopped ginger.
Throw in the broccolini and edamame and ask Husband to start the tuna steaks.
(He should brown them in hot canola oil in a non-stick skillet, 1 minute on each side.)
Keep stirring the vegetables until they start to brown, Pour in the oil/rice vinegar/soy sauce mixture. When it starts to bubble, add 1/2 c. cashews. Stir for 30 seconds or so until everything’s hot, then turn off the heat.
When the tuna steaks are done (no more than one minute per side!), put them on a board and cut them into strips.
Make a bed of arugula in one corner of a large dinner plate. Top with the vegetables, then the strips of tuna. Serve the faro on the side. Spoon out some of the sauce from the pan and drizzle over the tuna.
Serve with a good sparkling white, dry “champagne” of your choice.
Watch the rest of the hockey game.
Toast 2012, and each other, and your children, and your life.
It’s all good.
I turn 47 tomorrow.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m none too excited about this. None of my previous birthdays have really bothered me — no problem turning 30, or 40, or even 45 for that matter, and I find myself in a happier place personally than I’ve been for any of those landmarks, so what’supwiththat?
As I’ve also mentioned before, 47 seems a lot closer to 50 than 46 did, so I don’t think that’s helping.
Why does this matter?
We’re all getting older, and it certainly beats the alternative, but are we all, no matter how sensible or philosophical, susceptible to the clichés of marking our progress professionally, personally, at the decade increments? What’s the difference really between turning 47 and turning 50? Maybe I should just continue as I have been, and get all the angst out of the way now — if I really don’t like turning 47, and admit that freely to myself, will that make it that much easier when I actually turn 50? Is that even it?
I know I imagined myself at 47 in a different place professionally than I find myself now, but that was true for 46, and 45, and 40, so so what?
I’m discouraged sometimes by life: my children sometimes seem to lack the characteristics of discipline, nobility, responsibility, thoughtfulness, which I had hoped to instill in them, (but they’re relatively young yet, so maybe it’s not hopeless); the professional world seems to be filled with people riddled by insecurity or pettiness or hubris; politics grind on as usual while many seem unable or unwilling to see the big picture and actual societal progress continues to be thwarted by selfish self-interest, religious narrow-mindedness, and/or apathy; students don’t really seem to care, even a fraction, as much as I do, or as much as I think they should. But do any of these things have anything to do with how I feel about how old I am?
It does seem to me that every single day is too short. So many things to do — delicious meals to cook and great wines to savor and books to read and projects to knit and friends to talk to and puppies to train and random crap to rant about on my blog and poems to write and movies to watch on the couch with my wonderful husband — and there never seems to be enough time to do them all. I guess I wouldn’t have it any other way: a full life is a life well-lived; but I want to pay attention to all of it while at the same time wishing I had time to take a nap.
And so it flies by.
Happy Birthday to me.
For finding my way through the darkness,
For flashes of insight and joy,
For sadness, and hope from unexpected places.
For strength and struggle, disappointment and pain,
For the reprieves of sunsets,
and beautiful meals and that perfect unoaked Chardonnay.
For the people who enrich my life,
for being heard, and being known.
For yesterday, and today, and,
as far as I know,
I bought my house in July of 2007. Came back from my summer camp job for one night (stayed at a friend’s), signed the papers the next day, collected my keys, and drove back to camp without even going to the house (I didn’t have time). When I did come “home,” 3 weeks later, it appeared that a tree had fallen across the road and some mysterious fallen-tree-removing elves had come and cleaned it up. I waited for months for the bill.
Anyway. This was a big deal for me. I had separated from Former Husband about 8 months earlier, a man I married while in graduate school, and this was probably the first actual adult thing I had done by myself.
Of course this was right before the mortgage crisis really hit. If the bank had looked past my stellar credit rating (I was told it was in the top .1 of the top 99 percentile) at my laughably meager income they wouldn’t have loaned me quarters for the parking meter. But they did. And here I, and Husband, live happily with Only Daughter, Sophie the cat, Bear the snake, and (someone should really name the fish) the goldfish (I don’t name them because I usually kill them. Accidentally of course. This one, interestingly, has lived for a year and a half, and is still nameless). Oh, and maybe-to-be-named-Dexter the puppy who comes home a week from today. (So much for the rule of never having more pets than you have children.)
When I bought the house, I was granted the wonderful interest rate of 6.5% Seemed like a good deal at the time.
Now it’s 3.5%, so we’re refinancing.
And putting Husband’s name on the mortgage too.
These are both good things.
But I feel kind of strange about it.
I “found” the bank guy, but my schedule’s crazy plus I have to keep all this time free to write on my blog, so Husband is doing the follow-up.
He’s been asked for pay stubs and W2s, but it isn’t clear if mine are needed, too, so right now he’s sending his.
I know that this doesn’t really mean anything. He makes enough money to qualify for the tiny little mortgage on this tiny little house, and we will make sure that both of our names are on the mortgage, but a part of me feels irrelevant, marginalized. Not because of anything anyone is doing or saying, mind you, just because.
For the past three years I’ve been trying to convince Husband that this is His House Too, even if his name wasn’t on the mortgage, but I don’t think he ever really felt that way. And now I kind of understand. Because there’s this tiny little voice that’s saying to me, “But it’s your house.” And I can’t figure out where that voice is coming from.
Maybe because it is, really, the only thing of value that I own. My retirement fund is laughable. I do own a Baldwin grand piano that’s 111 years old. And a Prius. But that’s it.
Maybe that’s all it is.
I joke that Husband actually married me for my money, and this is all just of his diabolical scheme to get his grubby paws on my dough.
But I think it’s more “feminist” than that. He makes more money than I do, he has a lot more saved for retirement than I do; maybe subconsciously my ownership of the house helps level the inequality a little. I guess I could ask to have my name put on his retirement account (guess I just did), but I don’t think that can be done, and that’s not something I’m worrying about anyway.
Is this a reaction to something that is purely symbolic? Or does it represent something more significant, more important?
In a related story he, laughingly (I found out later; I thought he was serious) suggested we roll in enough to put a hot tub on the deck. I’m angling for a heated driveway so I can get my little Toyota up the hill and into the garage all winter. Shall I open it up for discussion?
As far as I can remember (being too lazy to walk into the other room and get “the book” in order to cite it directly) women go through various “brain” stages, almost entirely dependent upon hormonal changes. (I know, right? So much for thinking we’re “making decisions” or “finding ourselves.” Apparently we’re all just victims of estrogen and/or testosterone and/or progestogens; oh, that’s funny, at first I typed protestogens — Dyslexics of the world, untie! – is that Freudian?)
So teenage years are rebellious, as burgeoning women fight for freedom and independence and search for sexual identity. (Again, I’m not quoting, I’m “remembering,” and probably citing as much from personal experience/memory as from anything any psychiatrist or sociologist said.)
The twenties are dominated by an ambitious tendency, gradually ceding into “mommy brain.”
In her thirties, a woman is wrapped up in nurturing her children, while perhaps trying to hang on to (by her fingernails, probably, if the first priority is any priority at all) her professional identity.
In her forties a woman begins to look beyond all of the people she has been taking care of and starts to think about taking care of herself.
In her fifties (supposedly, I am despitewhatyouallmightthink NOT THERE YET), a woman becomes quite “selfish” — looking to have HER needs met, and a last sprint/gasp professionally, so to speak, before the retirement years set in.
I don’t even want to think about what might happen in the sixties. I’m having a hard enough time with the fact that I’m going to be 47 in a few weeks, which is a helluva lot closer to 50 than it is to 40 and actually seems a helluva lot older than 46. Just sayin’.
Anyway, I find I’m belying the 50s expectations in that my professional ambitions are waning. Yes, there’s a part of me that is kind of tired of being “mom” (sorry, Hannah) and ready to move on — looking forward to years with Husband and travel and beautiful meals together without anyone wrinkling up his or her nose and asking if it’s “spicy” or why we can’t eat hamburgers like normal people. (At the same time I would likeitverymuch if Only Daughter stopped trying to figure out how to be 18 and was just 10 for at least a little while longer.) But I’m finding that I just kind of want to do my job, be respected and paid fairly for it, and then come home and take a nap on my couch or knit or beat OD at Rummikub or get a dog or something.
Speaking of which, we might be getting a dog.
I’ve found a breeder that I know of and therefore trust who has a new litter of Coton’s — hypoallergenic, good temperament, small, and local, so I can visit and become acquainted with the puppy rather than adopt from a rescue (enough of that, have been on that emotional roller coaster for several weeks now) or buy from someone in another state and have the pup shipped sight unseen.
I’d post a picture, but the breeders aren’t very “techie” so there aren’t any available. Am hoping to visit next Thursday, so will keep you all posted.
Here’s a “generic” Coton”
ANYWAY, see? I can’t even keep my mind on my “work.”
I’m supposed to be planning Friday’s seminar right now.
Instead I’m drinking way better Scotch than I can afford (thank you, Husband dear) and wondering if there are 30 Rock reruns on cable.
So much for professional ambitions.
And the funny thing is, I don’t really care.
Although maybe that’s the scotch.
the starlings swarmed and swooshed
around their favorite overpass
and the fog drifted in waves across the road
like from a machine on a dark and windy stage,
while leaves flung themselves from branches
and danced around the car
I drove you to the airport Thursday
morning and sometime around this afternoon
tired of the company of my own silence
on my way to dinner with a friend
the moon slipped through a snip in the fabric of the
pale-blue metal of the sky,
the sun having laid its ribbon of pink
along the horizon
and that big oak on the right side
of the road shone with its black shadow light
as a single handful of rain slapped against
I used to long to be alone
and now you are always here
glowing like a coal at the center of me
when I put my steak into the pan last night
on its bed of salt and pepper
the flame caught a drip of fat or
a grain of salt, and
seared a thread of my sweater,
I noticed it from the corner of my mind
and then it was gone;
is the edge always, just, right there?
Have to go to a conference tomorrow, so won’t be making soup, and won’t have time to post any recipes. Thought I’d post today’s instead.
But first — our day. Husband and I went and bought a couch:
Cuz the one we have is squishy and poorly made and falling apart, and this one was $200 off and we decided that if you only spend $300 on a couch you don’t mind if somebody’s (ahem) piano students climb all over it and stuff.
I really wanted red or purple, but they only had it in “espresso,” so we bought 4 throw pillows, in various colours and embroideries, which cost $90 altogether. Not sure this ends up being a good deal, but you can’t just have a brown couch.
Then we bought groceries. Grocery shopping has been fun since Second Son, a.k.a. Eating Boy, has gone off to college and is eating his money’s worth of (room and) board. We have been spending under $200 every week, even last week, when we bought $96 of wine that would have cost $192 if not on “special”. We call this “saving money.”
This week our groceries added up to almost $300. Maybe partially because we spent/bought so little last week, but we also bought $20 worth of lobster tails and $25 worth of tuna steaks because they were having this aMAzing seafood sale (see? “saving money”); and $12 worth of pistachios because I love pistachios and have decided not to eat gluten for a few weeks to see if I feel better (hypothyroid; it sucks) and am trying not to eat potato chips. We also splurged and bought $7 worth of pine nuts — about a half a cup. Why are these so expensive? And where do these pine nuts come from? Are we negotiating with some really hard-core squirrel unions or something? Are they that hard to grow? I’m going to sauté green beans in garlic-y olive oil and lemon juice, and then sprinkle 7 pine nuts on top for “flavor.” I’ll let you know if it’s worth it. (It totally was.)
(Do you ever get the feeling that pretty much everything I do, personally and/or professionally, revolves around what I’m going to eat and/or drink next?)(Yeah, me, too.)
Then we came home and raked some more leaves. We live in the forest, and there are a lot of leaves, and there are still a lot of leaves in the trees, but if we wait until they all fall there are too many to rake, so we did what we call stage 1. (Although I did stage .5 yesterday when I raked them all off the driveway so my poor little Prius could make it up the hill without slipping. Wet leaves = snow when you live on a hill.) Husband and Stepson did the front yard, and I did the sidewalk (for the second time today) and the deck and the back path to the compost pile. It was quite windy, so leaves were swirling around me in great wooshes of golden light, and the air is just cold enough to feel crisp and fresh without being so cold to need a coat. Especially when you’re working hard raking. It was lovely. Except for the fact that it felt like I was throwing a half a ton of leaves over the fence onto the compost pile, it was fun. (It probably wasn’t quite that many, but it was a lot. And I’m allergic. And I have a bad back because First Son weighed 10 lbs. 10 ozs. when he was born I’mnotmakingthatup and 30 lbs. when he was a year old but he still wasn’t walking because he couldn’t get his girth off the floor so I carried him around on one hip and walked like someone who has one leg 3″ longer than the other one for a really long time. So yeah, there were a lot of leaves. And I’m a big baby. I like to say “I’m a delicate flower” but Husband usually just snorts before he remembers that he thinks so too. Anyway.)
I have Husband’s permission to post our salmon recipe. This may actually be, basically, why I married him (see two paragraphs above; NOW the secret’s really out!!!) That and his mushroom risotto. And, well, never mind.
The Best (some call it Only) Salmon Recipe Ever
For a 1 1/2 – 2 lb piece of salmon filet:
Chop 1/2 – 3/4 c. olive-packed sun dried tomatoes (the more natural, the better; we do our own; I know, we might be psychopaths)
Chop 1 bunch curly parsley really really fine.
Sprinkle 10 cloves of garlic with a generous amount coarse salt and chop fine.
Mix these three things together and drizzle with olive oil until it kind of holds together.
Stir and cover and let sit for AT LEAST 2 hours.
Put the salmon skin-side down on a piece of foil with the edges of the foil folded up to make sides. Cut through the salmon flesh without cutting through the skin — make a cut down the middle lengthwise, and then slashes every 2-3″ crosswise. Stuff the slits with the tomato/parsley/garlic mixture, and then pack the rest of the stuff along the top of the salmon. (Don’t put this on the portion Stepson will eat, because he will just scrape it all over into a pile in the corner of his plate, and you can’t just throw that away, it’s like $7 worth of sun-dried tomatoes.)
Cook on the foil over red-hot coals (close the lid of the grill) until salmon is thoroughly cooked — 15-20 minutes probably, depending on the thickness of the flesh.
Serve with brown rice (we like organic short-grain) and a lightly-chilled chardonnay.
Apologize to everyone you sit next to the next day because of the garlic aura with which you are surrounded.
It’s totally worth it.
For dessert we’re having Pomegranate Gelato
Mix the seeds from one Pomegranate with a cup of water and simmer over low low low heat until the seeds are pale and soft. (Or you could be a little less of a psycho, and buy the POM stuff.)
Mix 2 c. whole milk with 1/2 c. sugar and 1 1/2 T. of cornstarch. Whisk until foamy. Heat over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until bubbly and foamy (don’t boil it over).
Remove from heat. Drain the juice off the pomegranate seeds into the milk mixture.
We were pouring brandy off of raspberries after 6 weeks, so we squeezed 3 c. of raspberries through a cheesecloth to get the brandy and raspberry juice, and added that to the milk mixture. If you don’t happen to have some of that handy (ha!), add 1/2 c. of raspberry, cranberry, or cherry juice.
Process in an ice-cream maker until frozen.
Put into a plastic bowl, cover, and then put in freezer ~ 1 hr. before serving.
Drove to a wedding over the weekend — 452 miles there on Saturday, 452 miles back on Sunday. The wedding was lovely, the food was delicious (the filet was like buddah), the bride and groom radiant, and not just because the wedding was outside, in 78˚ sunshine. Unlike our miraculous border experiences on the way there (driving from Michigan to upstate New York through Ontario is the most direct route), the border crossing on the return, at 8:00 p.m. Sunday, was tedious — apparently the 50-minute backup was caused by Ontarionian Buffalo Bills fans returning home. We think this kind of thing shouldn’t be allowed. When you cross into either country you are asked the reason for your visit. If you are going to a Buffalo Bills game you should have to drive around. Or swim. Who knew there were so many football fans in Canada anyway?
Anyway, here is a log of some of my observations from/during the trip:
I trust no other driver — to stay in their lane, to use their turn signal, not to cut me off. Is this good defensive driving, or paranoia?
I wanted to pull the guy over in the Hummer, with the “Proud of my Son Who’s a Soldier in Iraq” rear-window sticker, and ask if he was being ironic. (Please don’t get me wrong, I have nothing but gratitude and respect for everyone fighting in support of our country; I don’t necessarily have that same respect for the people who sent them there
to protect our access to Iraqi oil under false pretenses.)
Husband refuses to eat a single peanut M&M. He can’t get past the iridescence of the shell-coating (“that color does not exist in nature”) to the chocolate/peanutty goodness inside. There might be something wrong with him.
Some bloggers will state that they aren’t really writing a blog to “get readers.” If that were the case, wouldn’t you just be writing in your diary?
Flint is just sad. It was sad in the 80s, and it’s sad now. I had a roommate in college from Flint with a Flint-sized chip on her shoulder. Wonder how she’s doing now.
I comment on how much I enjoy the little “ping” of the pin on the GPS which shows us where we are. Husband asks: If you move the pin with your finger do we get there faster?
Who thought of knitting?
Me, observing highway signs: “Does every highway in Canada actually lead to Toronto?” Husband: “Torontonians think so.”
How strong are the rails on the bridges that lead to and from Grand Island? They look like they were made from reclaimed barn wood. Would they actually stop the car if you hit them, or just slow you down enough so as to more enjoy the fall?
And who named “Grand Island?” A misnomer if there ever was one.
There can also be few “sucks to be you” moments to equal the poor schmuck whose car broke down in the right-lane of the bridge to said Island. 2-lanes of road + 5,000 Buffalo Bills fans is not equal to “smooth sailing.”
We stopped at a rest area just past Buffalo (there is, as far as I can tell, one rest area in Ontario. Apparently Canadians don’t have to pee when taking road trips.) There was a fruit stand with locally grown peaches, plums, and apples. I thought this was a really good idea, and could enjoy my plums even more because I felt so self-righteous for eating them rather than french fries or Tim Horton’s
fat globules muffins.
with different distance designations. I don’t suppose they discuss this with the deer? “So, how far do you think you’ll be wandering this fall?” I especially like this one:
Can you just picture them standing there, waiting for the light to blink?
Driving 900 miles in 39 hours is not fun. That tic in your left eye is probably just fatigue, and not a sign of some looming neurological disaster. My husband drove all of it, and gave me equal billing for navigating. He’s my hero.
Lovely wedding, saw some good friends, and it’s very good to be home.
Just tracked this down to write in a wedding card
Wish I had had it on our wedding day. I can think of no better vows — just change the “you” to “we.”
The Master Speed
By Robert Frost
No speed of wind or water rushing by
But you have a speed far greater. You can climb
Back up a stream of radiance to the sky,
And back through history up the stream of time.
And you were given this swiftness, not for haste
Nor chiefly that you may go where you will.
But in the rush of everything to waste,
That you may have the power of standing still—
Off any still or moving thing you say.
Two such as you with a master speed
Cannot be parted nor be swept away
From one another once you are agreed
That life is only life forevermore
Together wing to wing and oar to oar.
So, in the past week I have had about a 4-day midlife crisis, followed by the discovery of Amanda Palmer’s “In My Mind” song and video, which triggered 2 days of feeling pretty goddamn good about myself; a feeling which involved various vows and “realizations” such as “If you want to weigh less you just need to exercise more and eat fewer potato chips” and “It’s really all up to you, and what you do or don’t do is actually a choice in any particular direction.”
So I tackled the piles of crap on my table and did all of my grading and cleaned off my dresser (okay, I was looking for an iPod cord that I still haven’t found, but I did clean off the dresser; I’m really tired of being “someone who loses things”) and captured all of the dust bunnies in the living room and dug out my list of topics I’ve wanted to blog about, including:
an NPR report on the adverse effects on children’s attention spans from watching SpongeBob SquarePants (who knew?) and the benefit of watching shows like Sesame Street (which my more-than-the-average-boy-ADD son could not tolerate) and Caillou (whiny bald child; helicopter and apparently-unemployed parents)
there’s some activity in the direction of taxing sugar in sugary drinks and snacks in an effort to turn back the trend which points toward 1 in 3 children being diabetic and 1 in 2 adults being obese by the year 2030 (how about we also get rid of all the excess sugar in even the most minimally-processed foods like yogurt and “healthy” cereals and granola bars, and spaghetti sauce; while we’re at it, how about NO MSG ANYWHERE!!!???!!!)
how great it felt to do yoga this morning, including side planks and a pretty long headstand (against the wall, but still) and a kick-ass Pincha Mayurasana preparation pose that I love, where you’re on your forearms with your heels against the wall and you walk your feet up the wall until your body makes an upside-down L and you stay there feeling abdominal and arm muscles you had forgotten you had
(someday I will do this, just like that, without the wall and everything!)
there’s evidence that, contrary to popular (and my occasional) opinion, adolescent brains aren’t actually “damaged,” they just evaluate risk against benefit differently, and because the “benefits” they are evaluating are relatively elusive and/or unimportant to most adults, this evaluation still ends up leading to what looks an awful lot like risky behavior.
I even have a probably-not-that-profound-or-unusual revelation that I should stop evaluating my successes and/or failures in terms of what I have or have not accomplished, but in the fact that I have never stopped wanting to learn and challenge myself and grow — that life might actually be more in the seeking than it is in the finding (I know, duh, right?)
And then I go try on clothes to wear to a wedding we’re going to this weekend. And not one of my “dressy dresses” fits.
Of course everything in my husband’s closet still fits — he has suits he bought in the 80s, that, if you overlook the excessive shoulder padding and plethora of pleats, (ah, the 80s), still look pretty darn good. And, they fit him. This isn’t fair. Yeah, he eats way more healthfully than I do, and he exercises vigorously and regularly, and drinks gallons of water every day, and all of this only makes me feel worse because I know what I need to do and I still don’t do it. Okay, so maybe it is fair.
I’ll spare you all the saga of weight lost and found again, and a recounting of each outfit tried on and rejected, although maintaining a certain level of stress, or living and working outside in cold climates (fishermen, Norway) can produce “brown fat,” which reputedly increases metabolic rates. Don’t think I haven’t considered it.
The discussion about the “shapewear” I was hoping would help was amusing, basically Husband asking me “Is this ‘Spanx’?” and me answering (in between gasps as I tried to breathe while being suffocated by my underwear), “Yeah, but it doesn’t seem to be working very well.”
It is interesting to me what a blathering idiot we can turn into when we feel, as I put it, “old and lumpy.”
I’m also trying to spare myself the 5-year plans, and to remember that not only must we live in the moment (there isn’t really any other option), but that the bitterest irony of all is to look back and realize the person you weren’t happy with being was actually the best version of you you could be at the time.
So, let’s keep it simple: more time on the treadmill, more yoga, more water, fewer potato chips.
A couple of questions, though:
Is it bad to decide to feel good about how you look because the person you love the best loves how you look? Isn’t this supposed to come from yourself first?
Would I look ridiculous if I got a tattoo? I want a little swoosh of stars around my ankle. Maybe something like this.
But I never, ever, want to look ridiculous.
Oh, and tomorrow, I might be shopping for a dress.
it doesn’t seem to matter
how late I come to bed
or how deeply asleep you are
but when I lay down beside you
you roll to me
and the whole world is there
between your hand and my skin
Last night Husband and I found ourselves home, alone, for the first time in weeks, and we spent the next two hours, yup, you guessed it, unwrapping marvels of modern engineering and setting them up on the counter. There were no passionate embraces, no shedding of garments, no fevered groping amid piles of cardboard detritus and bubble wrap.
Why, you ask? Is this an indication of a loss of passion? Are the flames of love dwindling? Have we grown tired of each other, bored, listless about what was once, not all that long ago, the driving force of our existence?
Well no, not really; at least I don’t think so.
Rather, the phenomenon can be explained by this single act:
Husband just bought a new espresso machine and coffee grinder.
They are very nice, and very pretty, and very intimidating, and I hope I don’t set the darn things on fire or run the boiler dry accidentally or forget to temperature surf before making my next shots of espresso. (Don’t ask.) (Okay, if you must know):
ANYWAY, these “marvels of modern engineering” (I was corrected, firmly, a couple days ago after calling them “contraptions”) came via FedEx yesterday. This was a relief, as the monitoring of the check-in points along the shipping route and the logistics of making sure someone would be home at the pivotal moment was taking up most of our free time.
They are, according to Husband, the best machines available at a comparably reasonable price, with 237 grinding options (I’m not making this up) available on the Baratza Vario grinder and solid stainless steel construction plus some other features I don’t understand well enough to list here on the Rancilio Silvia (we will call her Silvia for short) espresso maker. (Husband actually launched into a long explanation last night, but all I heard was “Wuh wah wah waaah” like when the teacher talks on Charlie Brown.)
Last night, after the lesson on tamping pressure using a glass and the bathroom scale (I still don’t tamp hard enough, as my espresso comes out in under 15 seconds, and we’re aiming for a leisurely 25), and my ignored Dance of the Seven Veils, I fell asleep while Husband read the instruction manual.
He did wake me at 7:15 this morning. . .
with an expertly foamed cappuccino, followed by a lesson on appropriate grinding (!), brewing, and foaming technique.
He is very cute when he’s all professorial, and it was important that I learn how to run the MoME while home without him here as my barista.
I’m now working on my 5th and 6th shots of espresso, this time with milk that I actually foamed (last time it just got really really hot.)
I’m very proud.
I think they send the 2 lbs of coffee for “free” because they know you’ll use up one of them on Day 1 just practicing. Maybe they should include some tranquilizers to counter the effect of AlL tHaT cAfFeInE!!!!
I’ve just finished reading Say Her Name, a rambling but effective book written by Francisco Goldman shortly after his wife, Aura, dies while body surfing in Mexico. I found the book, the story, to be incredibly sad.
A photo from their wedding
was included in both of the reviews of the book I encountered, in which they look so incredibly happy, and so completely surprised to be so happy. I get this surprise, though. I feel it too. I went through about the first forty years of my life “making” the decisions I was expected to make, and realizing more and more that I felt like I was walking through water, and now keep wondering when somebody is going to pinch me.
I was thinking, as I was reading Goldman’s book, about how many of these tributes are written after the object of the author’s love has died, and I wonder why no one’s writing them earlier. Maybe the difficulty is the one I fear, the hearts and flowers syndrome, or that no one will want to read it without the empathy-generating tragedy. I guess we all feel a stronger connection to stories that recount stories of sadness and loss; tragedy draws us all closer, hence the interest in trapped-miner and teenagers-in-tragic-car-accident and couple-on-the-way-to-their-honeymoon-when-the-plane-crashes stories. There’s a pull, that could be me, a rush of sympathy, a quiet little guilty thrill that we’re still safe at home with our children in the next room and our husband making us coffee, that this person has suffered unimaginable and irretrievable loss, but at least it’s not me.
Was in the middle of a long post about the latest Pew Research study, which evaluates 7 recent trends: more unmarried couples raising children, more gay and lesbian couples raising children, more single women having children without a male partner to “help”* them (never mind that this question was not also worded in reverse, nor that the reasons for these absent males were not questioned), more people living together without being married, more mothers of young children working outside the home, more people of different races marrying each other, and more women (again, not men?) not ever having children; and whether people think these trends are good for society.
Have lost interest.
Big surprise: Women are blamed (even, inherently, in the wording of the questions), the question of single fathers or men choosing not to have children is completely ignored, as are the prejudices of society and judges in the juvenile system, imbalances of economic reality for working women, and policies which regiment inadequate child-support; the real questions, reasons, etc., seem to be avoided.
Besides, isn’t it possible that the question itself is self-referential, and therefore moot? If our definition of society includes an expectation of families made up of one man and one woman, married to each other, and 2.3 children, then, by definition, a family made up differently would be “bad,” and a single-parent family is the most different.
Anyway, I had a rant going when I heard this on the radio yesterday, but it seems to have fizzled out. Wonder why. . .maybe I’m just tired of women taking all the blame and beginning to feel that there’s nothing that can be done to change it.
*I hate the word “help” when it comes to men’s contributions to the work of the home — as if the work of childrearing, cleaning, cooking, laundry, etc., is the work of women, and men “help.” Who do I help?
Apparently there is a new beverage market out there among twenty-somethings for a drink that mixes alcohol and caffeine and is sold in brightly-colored cans reminiscent of Red Bull.
This is considered to be particularly dangerous because a) it is targeted towards young (barely-of-age) drinkers and b) the effects of the caffeine mask the effects of the alcohol, causing those partaking to be unable to recognize how “drunk” they actually are.
According to the story, one twenty-something was admitted to the hospital and found to have a blood alcohol level of .40.
Yikes. That can’t be good.
This does bring to mind a persistent question I have: why is it that it is legal in this country to get married (that is, decide you are ready to decide who you want to spend the rest of your life with, raise children with, etc., etc.) and join the Army (kill! kill! blood and guts and veins in your teeth [blame Arlo Guthrie, not me]) at the age of 18, but aren’t considered responsible enough to consume alcohol until you’re 21.
Just wondering. Maybe it’s just me.
Does it matter that I scoured my kitchen sink out twice and scrubbed the shower this morning? Probably not as much as it matters that I missed my husband so much tonight that I was impatient with my daughter. It probably matters that I worked really hard this past year and have been frugal enough to have set enough money aside that I can afford not to work again until mid-July, but probably not as much as it matters that there are probably people on my street tonight who don’t know how they’re going to pay their mortgage.
My daughter’s Korean, and has faced discrimination from her classmates who tell her she’s “fat” (she’s 4 feet tall and weighs 45 lbs soaking wet) or that she can’t play their sister game because her skin isn’t the right color. That matters. But no one’s telling her she can’t come to their school, or sit in those seats on their bus; no one’s telling her that she has to have clitoral circumcision or be sold into marriage, or that girls aren’t smart enough to be veterinarians. That would definitely matter.
My sons don’t always want to talk to me, or listen to me, but as far as I know they aren’t using illegal drugs and haven’t gotten anyone pregnant. That matters. Does it matter that my oldest isn’t working as hard as I wish he would so he wouldn’t have to borrow so much money for college, or that my 16-year-old gets straight As while barely cracking a book and refusing to take a single AP course because he doesn’t want to work that hard? This is the same boy who would rather eat cereal for dinner than boil tortellini and heat up jarred sauce for dinner because the latter constitutes “too much work.”
I have a mole on the back of my hand that I swear wasn’t there yesterday. Does that matter? Or is it maybe just a burn or a blood blister or a bug bite that I don’t remember “earning”?
I left my house twice today with doors wide open. Does that matter?
In my former marriage life, I was a completely self-sufficient, independent, capable person. Now when my husband’s away for more than 24 hours, especially if he’s doing something more interesting than I am, I continue to function as a productive member of my family and of society, but I feel like a child.
I guess it matters to me. Does that mean it Matters?
My husband (7 years older, a fair bit grayer than me, and NOT Tony Randall), my daughter (9), and I are at Lowe’s looking at tile for our kitchen floor. We’re also looking at wood for floors in adjacent rooms, so there’s a fair bit of traveling back and forth between 2 aisles. I’ve laid out several tiles that we like, and G has turned to go to the wood-flooring aisle to select even more differently-colored samples (we apparently do not have enough already) so that we can line them up against the tile and see how well they “go.” Meanwhile, a young man (30?) approaches, pushing his adorable little girl (3? 2 1/2?) in the cart. (Sorry about the number thing; it’s important to the story.)
She watches G walk away, and with a look of grave concern in her eyes turns to me and says, “Your dad went away.”
Now, I enjoy this just a little, repeat it to G when he returns, have a good laugh, etc. etc. (Okay, I’m not proud of it, but it was funny.)
What I realize (much) later is that his apparent departure was probably a source of great distress to her. She’s at the store with her dad, I must be at the store with my dad; if he goes away, she is/I am alone and vulnerable and that’s a scary thing to a child of her age. Instead of laughing I should have reassured her; “It’s okay; he’ll be right back.”
I’ve been thinking about this in terms of our dependence and vulnerability, or at least our perceptions of these things, as we move through childhood and into adulthood. Babies “know” they need something, somebody (if they can be said to “know” anything). Preschool age children want all kinds of independence until you ask them to put on their own shoes or put away their toys, at which point they “can’t do it” and “need help,” but even the most self-reliant are not able to get a job, drive, nor can they cook for themselves as they are not yet allowed to use the stove.
Does this dependence/independence change that much in adolescence? My teenager can drive, but he’s still not comfortable driving on the highway; he’s allowed to use the stove but has certainly never asked if he is “allowed” to pay into the grocery kitty; he doesn’t want me even to talk to him unless he wants to talk to me. Then, even if I’m in the middle of: writing a paragraph, planning a class, a sentence, and can’t acknowledge him immediately, he’s so offended from being “overlooked” that he stomps away in a huff muttering “nobody likes me.” (Maybe it’s a middle-child thing.) You’ve probably all heard of the book, Get Out of My Life But First Can You Drive Me to the Mall? He knows he needs us still, and it probably, at least partially, makes him crazy.
My 20-year old held me at arm’s length for 9 years. He now, fairly regularly, seeks out, and seems to respect, my advice.
Would I not be as sad, as lost, if G “went away” as this girl would be at the loss of her father? Are we all just on a perpetual cycle from one type of dependence to another, the only difference being that as adults we recognize its worth, and call it interdependence? Maybe interdependence is just another word for dependence without vulnerability.
Then again, maybe “dependence” isn’t the right word at all: I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself, even if I do find my whole day feels much better when my husband wakes me by brushing my back with his fingers, makes the coffee (he does make much better coffee than I do don’ttellhimIsaidso) and poaches my egg. I don’t rely on him for my survival (although sometimes it feels that I do); I would know that even without him I could support myself, drive, use the stove; but I’d be alone.
From the September 23, 2002 issue of the New Yorker, in a review of the poet W. H. Auden by Adam Gopnik:
“Being everywhere at once while going nowhere in particular is what poets do, and Auden did it. Where journalists write about what people are arguing about in public, and novelists about what they are talking about in private, only poets seem able to show that what people argue about in public is identical to what they talk about in private, that what we are arguing about is the sum of our own guilts, fears, anxieties, hopes. And only a handful of poets show that what people are talking about in public and what they are talking about in private is always a variant of what they say to themselves when they are alone, and that, Auden knew, is simply ‘I wish I were not.’”
She knew this, that wee little girl in the cart at Lowe’s. And she was only 3.