Sunday, July 27, 2003

The Sound of Silence

Bill just took Alex down the street to Gorton's Pond. Alex has never been in the water there before. Before they left, Bill had changed Alex into his little swimming pants, which are supposed to be a leak-proof, waterproof substitute for diapers.... Anyway, Bill asked me to hold Alex so he could bring the stroller outside. I picked up Alex - "Why is he wet?" So they're not exactly leakproof....

Anyway, they just left a couple of minutes ago.

I have been trying to write, uninterrupted, this afternoon, but while I have successfully typed in some recipes from the clambake, I have also been successfully interrupted. Oh well.

It is hard to carve out time for me. And rather than blame anyone else for that, I admit (reluctantly, and after a lot of thought) that this is my own fault.

This post by Aimless and this post, which Aimless links to, by Venomous Kate are both great pieces in the vein of trying to carve out time while juggling "it all." Without feeling like I have to justify it. And without feeling guilty for it.

But anyway...

In my backwards way, I found Venomous Kate's through Aimless, and I read Kate's first. I read that one last night and it stayed with me. Exactly!!! I thought. I chewed on it for quite a while last night. I was going to excerpt sections of it, but I changed my mind - it's best read straight through. I want to say that she sounds a lot more tired, a lot more angry, a lot more pissed off than I feel at any given moment. I want to. But. There are times....

A few minutes ago I finally read Aimless's piece in response to it, and she's also given me a lot to think about. Go read that one too.

I know - this is terribly unenlightening on my part. You'll just have to link to them. Go.

Baby Buffalo Ball Sandwiches

We served these at the clambake too...

You will need:

My recipe for Buffalo Balls (see the second entry under Tuesday, April 1st...I couldn't link to it any better than this...)
Little sandwich rolls of some kind
Crumbled blue cheese

When you make the balls, form them smaller than you ordinarily would - about the size of a malted milk ball. Smaller than a walnut (in the shell) but larger than a hazelnut. Cute and little.

Brown these and then put them all in a big pot with the buffalo sauce and simmer slowly until the meatballs are cooked through.

To assemble - place 2-3 meatballs in a roll and top with some of the blue cheese crumbles.

Basil and Nasturtium Pesto Crostini with Fresh Mozzarella and Candied Cherry Tomatoes

Or maybe they're Bruschetta. They're sort of both and neither. Feel free to correct me.

Anyway. Nasturtiums are edible flowering plants that seem pretty easy to grow, based on our experience. I knew the flowers were edible (my mother used to grow them) but I didn't know the leaves were edible until this year.

Candied Cherry Tomatoes

A pint or so of cherry tomatoes
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350.

Slice the cherry tomatoes in half, pole to pole (stem end to the opposite end), and arrange, face-up, in a baking dish.

Drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Bake until the tomatoes look kind of shrunken, about 20-30 minutes, with maybe a couple of the smaller tomatoes starting to turn dark brown at the edges. The aroma will be wonderful.

Remove the pan from the oven and let the tomatoes cool in the pan. If you make these ahead of time, store the tomatoes and oil in a sealed container in the fridge. Let them come to room temp before using.

The Crostini or Bruschetta Things

3 long baguettes (yes, baguette is a French, not an Italian, word. So it's a multi-cultural appetizer.)
Olive oil
About 10-12 nice-sized cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed, more if desired

Place garlic in a small saucepan. Cover with a very generous amount of olive oil - a cup and a half to two cups is good. Place pan on a burner on low heat. You just want to warm the oil and coax the flavor from the garlic.

While the oil and garlic are warming, preheat the oven to 375. (Yes, this is really fun to do in the middle of a muggy summer!)

Slice a baguette, on an angle, about 1/4" to 1/3" thick. Arrange slices on baking sheets. Place baking sheets on racks in the oven, and bake, about 6 minutes, until the bottom side of the bread is starting to brown.

Flip all the sliced pieces over and bake again for another 6 minutes.

Remove these from the oven and flip slices over again. Brush with the garlic oil and pop them back in the oven for a couple more minutes, just to dry the bread out.

Remove from the oven and cool. Store in sealed container.

Basil and Nasturtium Pesto

To make the pesto (and this is very general - I didn't measure anything as I was making it. Just taste as you go and adjust as you wish) you'll need the following:

A BIG bunch of fresh basil. We grow basil in our garden, but I'd used a bunch of it earlier and wasn't sure I'd have enough, so I bought a bunch at the grocery store. And I mean a BIG bunch. This was wrapped in cellophane like a generous bouquet of flowers, if that gives you any indication of how much there was. Oh - here's another - the leaves, after I removed them all from the stems, pretty near filled a large salad spinner basket. There you go! That's how much you'll need.

About 20 good-sized nasturtium leaves. More if you want more peppery-ness in the pesto, less if you don't. None at all if you just want a standard pesto. (I also used a few mustard green leaves, just for fun.)

Olive oil
Pine nuts or walnuts (we had walnuts, so that's what I used) to taste (I used about half a cup
Grated parmesan cheese (about 3/4 of a cup)
Fresh garlic to taste (I used about 6 cloves)
Salt and pepper to taste

Pick all the leaves and rinse off any dirt. Pat them dry on paper towels and place in the bowl of a large food processor, a handful or two at a time. Throw in some of the walnuts and garlic to weigh down the leaves, and process. Drizzle in some olive oil if the mixture seems dry and isn't pureeing nicely. Add more leaves, walnuts, garlic, and oil, and process again. Keep repeating until everything but the cheese, salt, and peper are in the processor, and puree until smoothe. (You can leave it chunky, but for my purposes I wanted it more like a paste. Chunky is nice on pasta.)

Pour green mixture into a bowl, and stir in the cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To store, drizzle on just enough olive oil to cover the top, then seal the bowl with plastic wrap and put in the fridge. Bring to room temp before using. The olive oil on top keeps oxygen away and keeps the green from going brown.

~ Pesto also freezes nicely in ice cube trays. You still want to cover each compartment with a little drizzle of olive oil.

To Assemble It All

You'll need:

The baguette slices
The pesto
The candied tomatoes
Two balls of fresh mozzarella, each about the size of a tennis ball

Preheat the oven to 400 again.

Slice each ball of mozzarella in half, then put each half cut-side down on your cutting board and slice pieces about 1/4" thick, going the short way across. Set these aside.

Spread a generous teaspoonful or two of pesto on the oiled surface of a baguette slice. Top with one cherry tomato (cut side up) at one end of the baguette surface and a slice of mozzarella chese on the over half, with a bit of the cheese slightly overlapping the tomato. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat until the sheet is full, and bake about 5 minutes, until the cheese is starting to melt slightly. Serve.

These were pretty yummy. The nasturtiums and mustard greens give the basil a peppery kick, which is balanced nicely by the sweetness of the cherry tomato and the creamy texture and mild flavor of the cheese.

Hope you like them.

Two Scallop Recipes

I made both of these for the clambake. Did each with about a pound and a half of fresh sea scallops....

A note about searing - scallops cook rather quickly, so at most these should be on each side about two-three minutes, depending on the individual size of each scallop. Overcooked seafood is a sin.

Sea Scallops with Lime

You'll need:

A pound and a half of sea scallops
A lime (all the juice and about a teaspoon of zest)
Some oil
Some fresh chives for garnish (optional)
A pan
A pair of tongs to turn the scallops over when you sear them

First, heat some oil in a pan
Place the scallops in the oil, not too close together, and sear, first on one end, then the other. (Scallops are shaped like little cylinders, if they're not smushed.)

When you finish the second sear, pour in the lime juice and swirl it around in the pan. Stir the scallops around a bit in the lime juice as it warms up, then remove scallops, place in a bowl, pour the pan juice over them, and sprinkle with the lime zest and the chopped chives.

We served these as appetizers at the clambake, but they'd also be nice divided between two hungry people, with some rice on the side and a green salad and the cold beverage of your choice.

Blackened Sea Scallops With Sauteed Bell Peppers

This recipe was adapted from a recipe for bluefish in the book Miss Ruby's American Cooking by Ruby Adams Bronz. I was going to link to it, but apparently it's now out of print. The bluefish recipe is called "Provincetown Bluefish" - and it's very good also*. But for another party we had once, I thought I'd try it using scallops instead, and it was very popular. I've lessened the amount of heat per scallop - but if you like a lot of heat, blacken both "ends" of the scallop instead of only one as I do in the recipe.

Here goes -

A pound and a half of scallops
Two green bell peppers and two red bell peppers, seeded, julienned, and minced.
1 T paprika
1 T black pepper
1 t cayenne pepper
1/2 t dried thyme
8 T olive oil (half for the peppers, half for the scallops)
8 anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
4 t balsamic vinegar


First, combine the paprika, black and cayenne peppers, and the dried thyme. Set aside.

Pour 4 T oil in a large skillet, and sautee the bell peppers, stirring occasionally, until soft. Stir in the chopped anchovy and cook until it dissolves. Shut off the heat, and stir in the balsamic vinegar.

In another pan, heat the remaining oil. Tap one end of each scallop into the paprika/peppers/thyme mixture, and set, that side down, in the hot oil. Sear on one side, then turn over and sear on the other.

Arrange the bell pepper mixture in a large bowl, Then arrange the scallops, paprika/pepper/thyme side up, on top of them. I garnished this with a couple of dried red chili peppers, just to let people know they were spicy.

Again, we served these as appetizers, but they'd make a nice meal too.

* To make the bluefish recipe, just julienne the bell peppers, don't mince them. And substitute 2 1-lb bluefish fillets, skinned, for the scallops.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

How to Eat an Oreo, the Alex Way...and other Alex stuff...:

(His first Oreo ever, by the way...)

Hold this new edible item reverently and gaze upon it for a moment.

Look up at father, who is devouring most of the rest of the package like Cookie Monster, only taller, thinner, and not as blue. Or as furry.

Decide to proceed at a slower pace, and take a bite.


Move the broken piece of chocolate cookie around in mouth, just savoring the flavor and allowing it to melt.

Drool some of this chocolatey goodness down your chin.

Wipe chin with hand and bite off more of the cookie. This time there's some of the creamy filling in the bite, too!


Look up at parents in amazement and joy.

Continue as before, savoring, mushing, and drooling.

Repeat until cookie is gone, or can no longer be recognized as such.

Wipe mouth with other hand, too, so both hands and most of the face are chocolatey and sticky. Rub hand in hair.

Rub palms of hands on high chair tray, creating pretty black and white patterns.

Realize there are still a few uneaten cheerios still on the tray.

Pick these up, coat them thoroughly with melty chocolate.



Smile big for mommy and the camera!

Yell and cry in outrage when mommy spoils all the fun by cleaning off the tray, the chocolatey hands, the chocolatey face, neck, tummy, hair, etc.

Demand release from the chair, since obviously there will be no more cookies today.

Toddle over to the bookcase and pull 5 or 6 cookbooks off at random and dump in a heap on the floor.

Toddle into the living room, find a toy to punish, and throw it down the basement stairs.




He is babbling differently now - a lot more variety in vowel and consonant sounds. It's his jazzing, scat-singing phaze. "De do de do de do ba bee do dwee..."


He likes to help me in the kitchen by bringing pots and pans to me from the cupboard.

He brings me the smallest - with obvious pride - and I say "Thank You!" and put it on the counter.

He brings me the next-to-smallest one, still proud, and I say "Thank You!" again and put that one on the counter.

We repeat this with 3 more larger and larger pots.

He struggles with the largest one, but he is a mighty little man, and does not require assistance from a mere mommy-woman!

When I have all of them, I bring them back to him so he can do it again.

He loves this.

So do I.


Have to go now - he just woke up from a nap. Time to play!

Monday, July 21, 2003

I Wish it Was Friday Again

But it's Monday. The kind of a Monday that gives other Mondays a bad name....

Anyway, our 2nd Annual Clambake/Cookout/Homebrew Fest thing went, overall, very well. The weather was perfect, and we were pretty well organized, so we found ourselves actually sitting around, about 1:30 on Saturday (the thing was to start at 3:00) almost twiddling our thumbs in boredom.

I did a count today, on paper, and we had close to 60 people in all (including children ranging from 10+ years down to about 6 weeks). The kids were cute - the main group of kids, once they got comfortable with each other, divided naturally into "girls against the boys" and did all the usual things like chase each other around and around the house, and lock each other out of places, play hide 'n' seek, and have a contest to see how long each person could keep their arm in the icewater surrounding our rootbeer keg. (I think it was Ceileidh.)

There was way more than enough food, and I'll post the recipes at some point, but I'm not sure if it'll be in this post - it's really muggy tonight, we're supposed to be getting a storm and showers, but I'm starting to doubt's just going to stay muggy FOREVER!!!!!!

Okay. Other little bits and pieces from Saturday...

Alex had some adventures. Bill had propped a small boat (about 8') on an angle and filled the lower half with ice and water and cans and bottles of soda and beer. At one point, Alex fell into the icewater. He had been taking ice from the boat and putting it in the can that held the rootbeer keg...and he must have leaned too far and lost his balance. My sister was closest, and she grabbed him - he didn't fall all the way in, but his face and chest got wet. He let out a scream and cried a bit, but didn't seem too worried about it after a minute or so. I brought him in and changed him and he proceeded to have a lovely day.

Later on he ate about 4-5 wedges of watermelon. Or, rather, he would bite off huge chunks of watermelon, so huge his mouth barely closed, and then decide it was too much, so he'd remove smaller portions of watermelon from his mouth and drop them on my shirt. (Or Bill's - whichever one of us had him at that moment.) Then he'd chew on the rind and bite chunks off of that.

The kids loved Bill's rootbeer. Adults loved it too, but I think the kids really enjoyed the freedom they had to fill their own cups with rootbeer on tap. And, amazingly, no one squirted anyone else!

What else...

Bill and the various other diggers dug about 50-60 pounds of steamers in total.

My parents brought two vats of clam chowder and two watermelons.

My brother-in-law deep-fried two turkeys.

Someone brought stuffed portobello mushrooms that everyone said were great and I didn't even see them, never mind taste one. They went fast.

Next year we need to make sure we can cover the food - toward the end the flies had seriously crashed the party and we ended up just throwing out a ton of food.

Bill smoked up some bluefish fillets too, and that went fast, as usual.

I made two kinds of scallops, and crostini with pesto and fresh mozzarella and candied tomatoes, and my baby buffalo ball sandwiches. Everything I brought out went.

Alex really likes pesto.

I changed his diaper before I put him to bed tonight...pesto is very very green, isn't it....

My friend Julie and her husband brought their baby boy and he is just so tiny!! Hard to believe Alex was that size this time last year...

My kitchen felt like it was about 200 degrees at one point, and I also noticed that I was perfectly happy in it, even though under any other circumstance (except a bubble bath) I generally don't like being too warm.

Someone brought buffalo wings and I didn't get any of those, either.

Or the shrimp.

Or those really yummy looking cupcakes...

It was truly a wonderful experience to look around my back yard and see all sorts of family and friends gathered in groups, kids running around or playing in Alex's little pool, everyone looking happy and relaxed and content.

And I will stop there, for tonight.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Really quick post...

We are having our second annual clambake/cookout/homebrew fest on Saturday and it's been a busy week getting ready. Did a lot of food prep tonight, and tomorrow will be a half day at work with the rest of my share of the food work done after that.

Bill and some friends (Rick, Tom) dug steamers (soft shell clams) this afternoon and came home with about 25 pounds of them. Tomorrow he and my brother-in-law and John and Rick (again - thank you!) will dig again, and also try to catch more bluefish, which will be smoked on Saturday morning.

This week is a blur - but a happy one. I love to cook, and, to steal a quote directly from Jamie Oliver ("The Naked Chef") - "I love feeding people an' I love 'em to be 'appy." Sums it up for me perfectly!

I'll write more another day. Lots of food to discuss. And should be a good crowd, too!

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Grilled Shrimp

This is for my cousin, Susan, who asked for a copy of this recipe. It's one of the dishes Bill cooked for me on my birthday...It's from "Betty Crocker's Mexican Made Easy" - which, despite the "made easy" aspect of it, is actually a pretty good, authentic-ish Mexican cookbook.

Anyway - here it is:

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup tequila or lime juice
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 T lime juice
1 T ground red chilis
1/2 t salt
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
24 large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (leave tails intact)

Mix all ingredients except shrimp in shallow glass or plastic dish; stir in shrimp. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.

Remove shrimp from marinade; reserve marinade. Thread 4 shrimp on each of 6 8-inch metal skewers. Grill over medium coals, turning once, until pink, 2 to 3 minutes on each side.

Heat marinade to boiling in nonaluminum saucepan; reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered until bell pepper is tender, about 5 minutes. Serve with shrimp.

Serves 6.

(or two gluttons...)

Thursday, July 10, 2003

The Coxsackie Virus

This is what Alex has.

In case anyone was interested in further reading.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Variation on a Theme - Shrimp and Fettucine

I've got this idea of making a pesto with the leaves from our nasturtium plants. The flowers and leaves are edible, and both are kind of peppery. No, not kind of, they are peppery.

Anyway, tonight's dinner was sort of an easing into that idea. I figured I'd cut the nasturtiom peppery-ness with the traditional fresh, bright flavor of basil. So, out to the garden with my scissors....I snipped a bunch of basil and several big nasturtium leaves. Brought them inside, rinsed them off, and proceeded to make this dinner:

Couple of handfuls of frozen shrimp, thawed and peeled. (Save the shells in the freezer to make a seafood stock some time.)
Olive oil
Red pepper flakes
About 10 cloves of garlic, peeled, smashed, and minced
A handful of shelled walnuts, finely chopped big nasturtium leaves, and about 30-40 leaves of fresh basil, assorted sizes
A slug of white wine (mine was a pinot grigio/pinot bianco blend - Luna di Luna, because that is what we had in the fridge)
Freshly grated Parmeggiano-Reggiano cheese to taste
A pound of whole wheat fettucine


Start water boiling in a pot.

While that's working, put about 2 T of butter and about the same amount of olive oil in a pan and warm it to melt the butter. Add the minced garlic to soften.

While the garlic is softening, chop the walnuts. Add them to the garlic, stir, and increase the flame a tiny bit.

Chiffonade the nasturtium and basil leaves: Lay the leaves (do one kind at a time) on top of each other, roll tightly, and then finely slice. They'll be long, thin green strips. Mix the basil and nasturtium leaves together and set aside.

When the water in the pot comes to a boil, throw in some salt and then put in the fettucine.

While the pasta cooks, heat the oil/butter/garlic/walnut mixture so it's bubbling, throw in a slug of wine (probably about 3/4 of a cup) and cook to reduce and burn off some/most/all of the alcohol.

When the liquid has reduced and the mixture doesn't smell so obviously of wine, add your shrimp and coat with the mixture in the pan. Cook slowly, stirring and tossing the shrimp, until they are almost completely cooked. Add the nasturtium and basil, some salt, some red pepper flakes, toss to combine, reduce flame to the lowest setting, and cover with a lid.

Drain the pasta (when it's cooked to your taste).

Uncover the shrimp mixture, grate the cheese onto it, and serve over the pasta.

It was pretty good.

Next time, I'm making a straight pesto with mostly the nasturtiums...just to see how that is.

I'll let you know.

The "G" Word

The phone rang.

"Hey, sorry to bother you, but it's going nuts is freaking out about her delivery - did we commit to any specific dates? She says we did."

"No, I was told it was looking like the 11th or 12th, and that's what I told her. But nothing was confirmed."

"Well she's saying you told her it would be the 11th or 12th and the agent wants to deliver tomorrow and she doesn't know if she can take it."

"So she has a place? I've been waiting for her to call me back and let me know. She doesn't return phone calls. She's been difficult to work with."

"Okay, just wanted to check."

"Okay. Sorry it's nuts there and sorry I'm here."

"Don't worry about it. See you tomorrow."

"Don't worry about it."

So I immediately feel guilty about not being at work. And yet I know the place will certainly go on without me. And it is far more important that I be here, with my child, than there.

But still. I have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility.

If I could be in two (or twenty) places at once, I would.

Grrr. Just had to vent.

Home for the Afternoon

So my son has hoof and mouth disease.

No, not really. But he has a contagious virus referred to as "hand, foot and mouth disease" because those are the areas of the body that manifest symptoms.

Alex's started with white spots and little sores (or lesions, but "lesions" just sound too big and scary to inhabit my son's sweet little mouth) in his mouth and throat, and today the sharp-eyed people at daycare found a little, teeny tiny blister-like spot on his left hand. So off we went to the doctor, and yes, he has the virus.

So he's home for the rest of the week. I'm here today with him because Bill is teaching. Tomorrow and Friday Bill will be home.

And for someone with such an icky-looking mouth, Alex is in a great mood. He also had a 2 hour nap when he got home from the doctor. And since he's been up he's had 3 little bottles of juice (assorted varieties: carrot-apple, apple, and pear)...he's working on another bottle of apple with some ice cubes in it. He likes to rattle it.

And he has industriously been tossing new things down the basement stairs.


his bottle
a mini-basketball
a little plastic person
a dustpan and brush

he tried to send a book ("Goodnight, Gorilla") down, too, but as he had grabbed it by some of the middle pages, it was open and flapping and could not fit through the gate railings. It is on the floor, near the gate, waiting for him to get ambitious again.

And I made him a toy: I took the big box that his new stroller came in, cut the flaps off one end, and cut a window/door at the other end on the side. I covered all the "raw" edges with packing tape, and voila! a tunnel. He was very happy with it. Crawled in one end, out the other, back in that end, out the other, in that end again, out the other, back in again, out the other end...and on and on.

Then he decided it was too quiet in here. So he hit buttons on two of his ride-on toys and I got to listen to Mix-Master Alex's blend of happy hillbilly instrumentals mingled with the fire-fighting vehicle chant ("Hurry, hurry, to the fire, I'm the fire truck. Hurry, hurry, to the fire, I'm the fire truck!")

Over and over and over.

Gotta go now - he's growling at me.

Monday, July 07, 2003

Separation Anxiety

I couldn't fall asleep last night for an eternity. I don't know if it was the loud air conditioner in the room, or the mugginess when I shut off the A/C to get rid of the noise, or the billions of thoughts playing dodge-ball with my brain.

Among the billions were thoughts about Alex's daycare.

He has recently "transitioned" (as they say) from the infant room to the early toddler room. I believe I've mentioned this before. And I didn't initially like the woman in charge of that room. I'm gradually softening on that score, but still...I miss the old room, the old ways....I do not do change well.

We have to bring the crib sheets home on Fridays and back on Mondays in a pillowcase with our child's name on all of them. I brought in a dark green pillowcase - think nature, think masculine without being too stereotypical, think we had some spare dark green pillowcases and it was better, in my mind, than gray or pink - with "Alex" written on it in black fabric marker. His two crib sheets were to be "transitioned" over from the infant room, where they have been since September. (When your child is in the infant room, they launder the sheets for you. After that, the honeymoon is over.)

Well, last Thursday I took home a green pillowcase with stuff in it...stuff that I later discovered did not belong to Alex. So I washed some other little boy's sheet and blanky and dark green pillowcase, and spent way too much time last night being annoyed at all the confusion (sippy cups and bottles that aren't mine being returned in Alex's knapsack...things of mine - okay, Alex's - I send in for his afternoon snack served to him at's just anarchy in the early toddler room, I tell ya...) that was stemming from the change.

So this morning, ultra-organized Mommy had all the snacks and meals and beverages ready to go, along with (for water play on M,W,F) water shoes, waterproof, leakproof diaper-like thing, hat, and a towel, and two sets of spare clothes, and a plastic bag for wet clothes after water play, and the permission slip signed so the daycare staff can apply sunscreen to my son in the afternoon without fear of a lawsuit...oh, and the "tuition" check for the week.

Alex and I headed off to daycare, and I brought him in and put his cold things in the fridge, and his lunch bag with the rest of his things on the windowsill, and the backpack on a hook...had a civil chat with the woman in charge of that room, told her yes, I put sunscreen on Alex this morning...yes, it's okay if a tee shirt gets wet...and so on. Did not discuss the pillowcase issue. I forgot about it, of course.

And then I kissed Alex on the head and said bye-bye and headed for the door.

And Alex, who had been ignoring me while I talked to the woman in charge, suddenly did not want me to go.

He bawled. His nose and around his eyes turned red, as mine do when I cry. My baby boy.

I did what you're supposed to do in order to produce a well-adjusted child - I smiled reassuringly, said bye bye again in a confident, "this-is-not-anything-to-get-upset-about" tone of voice, and waved at my sobbing child as I went out of the room and shut the door.

I could still hear him yelling and crying. (When he was evaluated as a newborn, his cry was described as "lusty." It is that.)

I could hear him loud and clear as I walked down the hall and toward the front door, dropping my check in the little mailbox outside the office.

The sound of his cries ended when I closed the outside door of the building.

But not in my head. And not in my heart.

I felt horrible.

I wanted to run back in and scoop him up and take him home and stay there.

I feel like that often, but he hasn't cried like this until recently.

There have been plenty of days when I have dropped him off and have had to get his attention just to be polite and say goodbye.

"Yeah, Mom, whatever. I'm playing with this rubber ball. I'll see you later."

I have had days where I have to focus VERY HARD on something else so as not to cry when I leave Alex with other people. Those days I hate my job with a passion. I blame it for putting my son in daycare. They could have let me work from home. I could have handled it. But no. Two weeks before my maternity leave was up they finally made their decision: no. You can't. It would set a precedent. All the other moms would want to work from home, too.

I didn't have time to look for something else. We needed my paycheck. I went back.

I cried many mornings after dropping Alex off. Sometimes I barely got into my car before the tears started falling. And since work is just up the road, I didn't have a lot of time to recover. But I faked it well.

I got better as I realized that in some ways this was a good thing for Alex. I can remember being painfully shy as a nursery school student. Age four. Who knows - maybe if I'd been around other kids since infancy, I wouldn't have been so timid.

Who knows?

But in order to keep from being miserable every day, I have told myself that this is good for teaches him to socialize...he won't feel scared and shy like I used to on the first day of school...he'll be accustomed to big groups of kids his age...he'll have an easier time making's for the best.

And he was always happy to see the women and other kids at daycare. He developed relationships with them, they were additional aunts and great-aunts...and lots of little potential friends.

Plus there were a lot of toys there that he didn't have at home.

So daycare was fun. And it was okay for me to go.

But recently he has noticed me leave.

And it was the worst this morning.

He cried. And I wanted to.

I still do.

I try to remind myself that this is necessary. Ultimately this is for the best. This will teach self-reliance...independence...courage.

He will be the better for it.

It's harder, though, to convince myself that I will.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

The rest of yesterday...

Spent late afternoon/evening at my parents' house. My sister and her kids were there too (my brother-in-law had to work) and we had cheese and crackers, chips and salsa, and other "snacky" stuff...then salad and raw vegetables and dip, and chowder and clamcakes. And then lemon sponge pie (of course) and a blueberry pie for dessert.

A few snapshots:

Alex trying to play Houdini by grabbing a placemat and yanking on it. Unfortunately a plate of blueberry pie went along for the ride, flipped over mid-air, and landed face down on the carpet. Fortunately it was out on the porch, it's indoor-outdoor carpeting, and should be relatively easy to clean. I hope.

Alex and my parents' standard poodle, Rosie, playing "catch," sort of, with one of Rosie's squeaky toys. Alex is fascinated with Rosie. He calls her "dih da" - which translates as "kitty cat" - but pretty much covers any furry animal at this point in his life. Alex is a little taller than Rosie's back. But not much. She is a very tolerant dog, ignoring his over-enthusiastic "pats" on her back. Every time she walked by him and he got a chance to hit her on the back, he giggled with delight. Such a huge kitty cat....

Okay, only two little snapshots...Alex is tired of playing by himself now and is ordering me to get off the computer.

I hear. I obey.

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Chef Bill

What a lunch!

This is what Bill made for me:

Fresh guacamole.
Grilled shrimp marinated in a red pepper and chili sauce.
Quesadillas with cheese, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, poblano chilis, and cilantro.
A kick-ass margarita.

It was fabulous. As he is.

And right now, Alex is taking a nap, and so is Bill.

So I'm sitting here, finishing the last slightly watery (the ice melted) sips of my margarita (I'll publish the recipe later - it's very good - way better than any mix) while my guys sleep.

Later, we'll head down to Wakefield for the family dinner.

More good eating.

But this lunch was spectacular.

New Additions

I've added a few more links over on the right. Some (the food ones) I had up before when I had the old template and lost them when I switched templates. They're back.

And there are a few more "People to see"...and I've alphabetized them, and no, I have no idea why I keep getting a blank line right before the link to Sheila Astray...there's no blank line in my template. The blog's just messing with me, clearly.

Anyway, I thank Sheila for the link to Aimless Forest...she emailed me the link a couple of days ago and I am grateful.

I noticed Anne...straight from the hip when I first started my own blog. She was listed in Blogspot's "Blogs of Note" and I started reading her and go back every so often to see how she's doing.

The rest I have found mainly through Sheila's blog, and they are people I like to pop in and read when I have time....

Anyway, that's the latest.

Bill is making me lunch today (guacamole and chips...cheese and mushroom and cilantro quesadillas, and grilled shrimp with a red pepper and chili sauce, and a margarita. Just one - I'm on call this weekend.) and then we'll go to my parents' house for dinner with the family...chowder and clamcakes, salad, and lemon sponge pie for dessert.


I am Hestia...

No big surprise here...

Which Greek Goddess are you? take the quiz.

Lemon Sponge Pie

My mother got this recipe from a friend of hers, and for years it's been my "birthday cake" of choice. Served chilled, with some fresh whipped cream (or not) it's perfect on a hot July day.

Here it is:

You'll need to have an unbaked 10" pie crust ready in a pie plate. Use your favorite pie crust recipe, or buy a pre-made one - they're in the freezer section, with the other dessert things. Keep it in the fridge until you're ready to pour the filling in.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

You'll need:

3 T unsalted butter
1 1/4 C sugar
4 eggs, separated
3 T flour
a dash of salt
1 1/4 C milk
Grated rind of two lemons
1/3 C fresh lemon juice

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, flour, salt, milk, lemon peel and juice. Set aside.

In separate, VERY CLEAN, dry bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dried out. Fold those into the other mixture and pour into your pie shell.

Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.

Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake until golden on top, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. This will be about 45 minutes or so, depending on your oven.

Let cool on a rack, and then put it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. It can be eaten unchilled, but I think it's best cold. (Just my humble little opinion.)

And like I said earlier, it's nice with some fresh whipped cream, or you can sprinkle the top with confectioners' sugar.

One year my mother made a lime sponge pie, and that was very good too.


Oh this is just not fair.

I have been typing for the past HOUR and I just went to publish it and got a "Big Post ERROR MESSAGE" and everything I wrote is GONE.

I'm not going to write it all over again. I'm going back to bed now.

I want to hit something.

Oh, yeah, it's my birthday. I'm going to post a recipe for Lemon Sponge Pie later - it's what I have every year instead of birthday cake. It's very good.

I'm so angry.

Maybe I need to move on....

Friday, July 04, 2003

Alex update

Some new things with Alex...

He's figured out how to sit down. Not on the floor - that's old news. No, he's learned how to back up to a chair (or toy, or parent's leg) that's at the proper height for him to sit on to, and then he sits. It's adorable to watch.

And sometimes he'll decide, from halfway across the room, that he wants to sit, for instance, on Daddy's leg, since Daddy's sitting on the floor and the leg is at about the proper height. So he'll turn and back up - from across the room - carefully, (you can see the focus and concentration on his face) until he feels Bill's leg with the back of his calf, and then he'll lower his little diaper-clad tush onto his father's leg...and sit.

And smile proudly.

It's a riot.

He has also discovered that throwing things down a flight of stairs is pretty interesting.

We took the door to the basement stairs off shortly after we bought this house because we never closed the door anyway. (The litter box is down there in the boiler room, so the cat needs constant access.) And then when Alex became mobile, Bill installed a really good gate to keep Alex safe and still allow the cat access to her privy.

Alex knows he can't open the gate - he's tried. Shaking it like a prisoner demanding release doesn't work. So if he can't get down those stairs, at least he can throw his toys down them instead.

So that's what he does. First it was the little things - the little ping-pong ball sized plastic balls and pop by one they have been flung. He watches them bounce down and slam against the wall at the bottom. Then he goes and fetches another missile.

Now he's up to his plastic garden tools. The spade made it all the way to the bottom. The little rake thing landed a few stairs down and stopped.

He has a ball, about 6 or 7 inches in diameter. I watched him decide, in the living room, that this would be a good thing to throw...he took it in both hands and toddled toward the kitchen...past the gate at first, just onto the kitchen tile, then he turned around and stood at the gate...raised the ball above his head - and above the gate...and threw it. Bounce, bounce bounce thud-bounce. All the way down.

And he's so serious about it, too. He doesn't laugh or giggle or anything. It's like a science project. Something this size and of this composition will travel this far and bounce this many times when the trajectory is at this angle and the rate at which the object is thrown is this many miles per hour....

He is, obviously, brilliant.

Happy 4th!

I was awake at three this morning and almost came downstairs to write or fiddle around with the template...but I stayed put, figuring I should sleep while I have the opportunity....but maybe tomorrow morning, if it happens again, I'll get up.

Anyway, my sister Meredith sent me this link, which her friend Kate sent to her, and it's pretty cool, and appropriate for today, so I'm passing it along to the masses (haha) (or at least the few!)

Happy Independence Day!

Thursday, July 03, 2003

I'm experiencing technical difficulties...
What My Birthday Says About Me...

(My birthday is July 5th...yep, coming up a bit too soon again...)

Extraordinary taste
cultivated airs
loves anything beautiful
tends to egoism but cares for those close to it
rather modest
very ambitious
industrious uncontent lover
many friends
many foes
very reliable.

I got that from Abraca-Pocus...and I agree with some of it...actually a lot of it (I am definitely moody...not one of my more lovable traits, I admit)...I'm wondering why I have many foes, though...and also what an industrious uncontent lover is...ants spring to mind...and worker bees...(the industrious thing)...I don't know....and cultivated airs, extraordinary taste...I sound like a snob, don't I?...or that white Persian cat in the "Fancy Feast" cat food commercials...

Anyway, if you want to see what your birthday says about you, go to here.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003


Cool, I got rid of the orange title. There's no stopping me now..., what else do I want to play with....
Okay, I'm better now

After an okay night's sleep, here I am again trying to fix my mess. I had time to add back a couple of links, and I'll have to finish this project later, as my "quiet time" is about up, have to rouse Alex, get him and myself dressed, and head off into the world...

I'm not sure about the green...I like green...maybe it's the orange title...maybe I can change that, too....

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

And the font size seems HUGE.....

Okay, I'm done playing with this for tonight.

My eyeballs are drying out.

And I'm annoyed with myself.

Sort of.

And so that's it. I'll finish putting my little links back another day.




Well, I went and changed my template and I'm not sure if I like it and I lost the links (few though they were) from my old template (I think) and why did I decide to do this NOW???

I need to go to bed before I do something else have another meal.
Okay, something weird is going on with my blog...
I did 50 crunches and 10 push-ups a little while ago.'s a start.

And I seem to have some weird rash or reaction to something happening on my first, a few days ago, I thought I had been attacked in a few places by gangs of gnats. (Do gnats bite?) Itchy, but no big deal...just part of summer.

But...either I'm being attacked every night by bigger and bigger gangs of gnats, or, as Bill suggested, it's some kind of rash.

Lots and lots of tiny red itchy bumps on my legs, mostly. A couple on my left wrist.

Why just there? What's the connection? I don't get it.

Part of me wonders if it's a reaction to the antibiotic I'm on for the lyme disease...I should look it up and see if this is one of the side effects...hmmm.

During the day, at work, I don't notice it...but at night, at home, wearing shorts instead of pants...I am itchy.

And sometimes I can't stand it, and I scratch my legs fuchia.

And then I stop.

Aren't you glad to be reading all about this?

I need to get some anti-itch stuff at the store tomorrow.

Unless the gnat gangs get me tonight....