Archive for the 'Home' Category

09
Aug
16

Random Thoughts

Yes, I’m still here.

Waiting till I have something to say I guess.

And now just these:

This world is not a meritocracy. It sucks, but it’s true. Discuss.

There might be something to be said about an unforeseen problem brought on by showing your children unconditional love, as in no one feels compelled to clean the house before your return after a long absence. Creating the psychological need to “earn” love might be underrated after all.

One can definitely gauge one’s fed-up-ness with the world, that is, the state of politics and the American citizenry’s unwillingnessifnotinability to actually Face the Truth, by one’s propensity to take “Cook’s Illustrated” to bed rather than the New Yorker.

Alas.

 

 

 

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10
Nov
14

the disease of busyness

Read this.

I believe it, I agree with it.

I also feel that there is too much time spent in “pursuit” of something, and not enough time left to create. People don’t sit and stare and watch the world and think creative thoughts — what happens to our poets and playwrights, our composers and artists, when every minute to spare is spent being entertained by our phones? Parents drive their children to take more and more AP classes and to be on every academic team available and to prepare for way too many standardized tests, but don’t support their school district’s music and art programs and, as soon as the child gets “too busy,” discontinues their music lessons, even though this is probably the ONE area of the child’s life that involves personal expression, investigation, long-term discipline and artistic creativity.

I’m aware of this almost daily when I contemplate how much more financially comfortable my family could be if I were willing to work more hours and realize that I really don’t want to. That my time for yoga and reading and knitting and weaving and sitting on the couch every night with my husband watching hockey or Netflix movies or worthwhile TV series on DVDs (currently The Good Wife, although we’re almost out of discs — any recommendations?) is as or more important to my and my family’s comfort and happiness than a few hundred more dollars a month in our checking account. And then I’m SO grateful that I have that option, that I get to make that DECISION rather than being forced to work 2 or 3 minimum-wage jobs just to pay the mortgage and buy minimal groceries — a situation I know is true for many.

But many of these choices that lead to what I’m going to call Diseased Busyness ARE choices. Even Only Daughter right now has 3, 14-hour days each week because of extensive Nutcracker rehearsals. She leaves the house at 7 a.m.; is home for half an hour and then at ballet until 9 (if they let her out on time, which they rarely do), at which point she comes home and eats dinner and does her homework. She’s not getting enough sleep, she’s stressed half the time, she’s probably not eating enough, but this is just for a couple of months, so I accept it. Even though I don’t think it’s particularly good for her in a short-term sense, I believe it is in the long-term, but only because it is short term. Does that make any sense?

Anyway, I fear this lack of “down” will exact a cost on all of us, on society, ultimately on our success as PEOPLE (not automatons, not worker bees, but thinking/feeling/creative/compassionate people).

I believe it so much I’m going to do something I don’t usually do, but post this on BOTH of my blogs, and link to it on my personal AND professional Facebook pages.

Let’s start a rebellion. Let’s not over schedule. Let’s not pull out our phones when we have less than 10 minutes to wait for something. Let’s try to maintain a balance for ourselves and our children of work-, hobby-, and creative/artistic pursuits. Let’s leave our houses dirty and eat dinner together. And when we ask someone how they are, ask how their heart is — not about how many awards their child has won or how many committees they are on, but really ask — How ARE you? And then take those minutes (since you’re not going on your phone anyway, remember?) to really listen to the answer.

02
Oct
14

every single time

I flinch.

Every single time I watch this.

Please share it with everyone you know, love, everyone who owns a cell phone, everyone.

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152195912647751

04
Jun
13

a new kind of blueberry

Second Son’s birthday is today.

The tradition is that your favorite meal and favorite dessert are prepared for you as per your request.

For dessert he wanted, and I quote: “Sugary, really bad for you blueberry pie with at least a stick of butter and none of that whole wheat, organic, free-range blueberry crap.”

Can’t you just picture the little blueberries, running free, frolicking in the sunshine?

I had no idea.

11
May
13

why I don’t have a problem with mother’s day

Tomorrow is what some consider to be a Hallmark holiday. Ann Lamott hates it. Husband’s not a fan. First Son thinks it’s kind of coercive, and therefore meaningless, like being forced to apologize. Several of my friends on facebook have linked to Ann’s article disparaging it, uttering comments of agreement.

I read the article, thought about it, tried really hard to see her point, and then decided that she was kind of missing it.

Like, a lot.

Yes, mother’s day is probably difficult for women who would have liked to have had children, and for whatever reason, did not. Yes, mother’s day will probably be difficult for women who have lost their mothers (Me! Me!), or who had children and have lost them one way or another (tragic death, estranged relationships).

But is it necessarily true that honoring something that is, in fact, quite important, is dishonoring everybody else?

And just because something might be difficult for some people does that mean it should be vilified? There are tragedies and losses every day, sometimes even on national holidays; do we all avoid any possible reference to any possible reminder to any possible pain?

Husband thinks Mother’s Day is a pathetic excuse for pathetic people who treat their mothers with apathy at best and disdain at worst 364 days of the year, and palliate their consciences one day in May by buying grocery-store bouquets and offering to mow the lawn.

Are you my conscience?

Are you my conscience?

I agree, and think that all children everywhere should honor and appreciate and help their mothers at every possible opportunity.

But still.

There are a lot of people I think of as my “mothers” besides my mom. My mother-in-law for example, who has recently agreed to “adopt” me (thanks, mom!), my sisters, my best friends Jackie and Jill and Yelena and Meghan, my husband, who loves me and nurtures me and seems to always see the best possible version of me there is. I, likewise, feel that I am “mother” to many people — my friends, my husband, my students, my children.

We would all love to be honored and appreciated and thanked regularly; but we’re busy people, and we forget.

Is it really such an awful thing to thank all of those people who have loved us and nurtured us and always tried to see the best possible version of us that there is?

I don’t think so.

I imagine that all of those women out there who don’t have good relationships with their mothers, or whose mothers are no longer with them, or who have never had children, or who don’t have good relationships with their children, I imagine that all of those women have been “mothers” and “daughters” to other women, other people, would like to be honored, and thanked. Let’s broaden the definition, let’s broaden the scope.

And thank all mothers, everywhere.

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I’ll mow your lawn, if I know where you live.

 

 

05
Dec
12

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Am having a bit of a stressful ride lately, and the next 10 days see the culmination of it all. I try to focus on living in the moment, but I’m finding it particularly difficult not to just wish it were December 15.

In a nutshell, two big concerts to perform in, and one to sponsor/produce. Meanwhile, lots of people either not doing their jobs, or trying to do mine — both situations which cause a lot of extra work and/or stress for me right when I have a gazillion other things I really need to be focusing on; or should maybe just be sitting on a cushion with my palms on my thighs chanting Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti. . .

om

I did manage to clear my day today up until around 5 p.m. to stay home and regroup, so I am heading to practice soon (I will not knit. I will not knit. I will not knit.). I did start the day making my famous (infamous?) drunken Christmas cake. Actually, I started it last night, as I macerated the dried fruit in a good dose of brandy overnight. I did a fair bit of sampling of the batter as I prepared it, which means I was actually possibly maybe a tiny wee bit hammered before breakfast. I’m sure the coffee will counteract it and there should be no adverse effects.

It is a great recipe, adapted* from my very battered “Joy of Cooking” cookbook, so here it is:

Sheri’s Drunken Christmas Cake

The night before (the fruit can macerate up to 24 hours):

In a large (8-cup) mixing bowl or measuring cup mix 2 c. golden raisins, 2 c. dried currants, and 2 c. chopped dried figs. Pour 3/4 c. of brandy over and stir well. Cover. (Stir occasionally if you can — once before bed, once when you get up in the morning)

When you’re ready to make the cake:

Bring 1 c. of butter out to put on the counter while you make your coffee, assemble ingredients, etc.

Butter 8 small ! bread pans, bottom and sides.

Preheat oven to 300˚ (275˚ if it’s convection)

Put the butter into the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, and beat until smooth and creamy.
Add 2 c. packed dark brown sugar, and beat on a fairly high speed until lightened in color and texture, 3-5 minutes.

While this is beating, I mix the dry ingredients:
3 c. unbleached white flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon (I heap this one)
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground mace
1/2 tsp ground cloves
Whisk together well with an egg whisk to thoroughly blend and “sift” the flour.

To the butter/brown sugar mixture, add:
1/2 c. dark molasses
grated zest and juice of one orange
grated zest and juice of one lemon
Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.

When this has been fully incorporated, add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with 3/4 c. of brandy in 2 parts, mixing well (on low speed) after each addition. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl a couple of times so all of the flour stuff gets fully incorporated.
So: 1 c. flour mixture, mixmixmixmixmixmix, 1/2 of the brandy, mixmixmixmixmix, 1 c. of flour mixture, etc.

Now mix in the macerated fruits, and 2 c. of coarsely chopped almonds and/or hazelnuts. (I suppose, if you really felt it was necessary, you could use walnuts.*)

Divide the batter between the 8 pans (you can make this into one giant cake in a tube pan, but I like to give them as gifts, and they really serve better if you can cut up one loaf and leave the rest wrapped up until you want/need it).

Bake for 2 1/2 hours. At 1 1/4 hours rotate the pans so the ones on an upper rack get traded for the ones on a lower rack. (The JoC recipe says to bake for 3.5 hours, and to disregard the fact that the cakes look quite thoroughly done an hour earlier, but I have found these to come out a bit dry and crumbly, so I have shortened the baking time.)

Leave cakes in the pans to cool on a rack for at least an hour. At this point, if you like your Christmas cake REALLY hammered (who doesn’t?) you can drizzle (slowly) another tablespoon or two of brandy over each one.

To store: Soak a piece of cheesecloth in brandy, squeeze out the excess. Wrap the cake in cheesecloth, and then put into a sturdy freezer plastic bag. If you wrap the cake in brandy-soaked cheesecloth, you can actually age the cake up to a month. If I do this, about once a week I remove the cheesecloth and soak in a little more brandy just to keep the cake moist and discourage any molding. I’ve done this year after year, and the cake has NEVER gone bad.

Here’s how it all looked before I put them in the oven:

You know you're a good cook if your counter is really messy. And my apologies for the beat-up looking cantaloup in the background. And not sure why I got the eggs out. There are no eggs in the recipe.

You know you’re a good cook if your counter is really messy. And my apologies for the beat-up looking cantaloup in the background. And not sure why I got the eggs out. There are no eggs in the recipe.

I wish you could smell how good my house smells right now. Yum.

Yesterday I made candied citrus peel:

candiedcitruspeel

(If you click on the picture it should link to where I got the recipe.)

Okay. Enough procrastinating. Must go practice now. (I will not knit. I will not knit. I will not knit.)

p.s. Is anybody else having trouble with the updated WordPress platform? I have never had so much trouble inserting pictures and having them go into the post where I want them and not having my links disappear. Grrr. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, y’know?

*Adapted meaning brandy has been added beyond that which has been called for, and that I have omitted things I cannot abide: dates (taste like boogers), walnuts (taste like dirt), candied fruits of any sort (taste like candle wax). Don’t ask me how I know these things, I just do.

13
Nov
12

there but for the grace of music lessons go

Only Daughter had her first “orchestra concert” tonight. She actually asked me not to go. She took some violin lessons as younger youngster, and feels that the exertions of the 6th grade ensemble are, in a way, beneath her.

I went anyway.

(As a pointed aside, they’re not. Beneath her, that is. She had 5 teachers in 4 years because they kept moving away or graduating from college or taking so many out-of-town gigs she would have one lesson a month so she learned 1/4 what she should have, and absolutely nothing about how to read music much less how to understand what she was hearing.)

The orchestra did a fine job, all things considered. It was noted that there were approximately 75 musicians “on stage” and approximately 65 versions of any given note at any given time, but what’s a person to do?

One of the directors stood up at the end to thank all of the parents for going that extra mile (really? it’s “extra” now? shouldn’t it just be part of what everyone should be expected to do if they want to be a living, breathing, feeling member of the universe?) to support their children’s efforts to learn to play a musical instrument.

Okay, fine. Thanks are good. I’m fine. Really, I am.

Then he talks about the benefits — to the brain, to the person, to society, to the importance of students learning to communicate that which cannot be said in words; I start to think, okay, so he’s not a total doofus. But no, I “forgave” him too soon.

Wait for it. . .

“Maybe if more children learn to be thinking, feeling members of society, fewer of them would be flying airplanes into buildings.”

Oh. I had no idea. If only the terrorists had had music lessons.

=

 

Idiot.

 




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