Monday, February 21, 2011

How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?

I had quite the birthday!

Dean made and frosted a cake for me, with only limited assistance. Chocolate cake with coffee buttercream icing. Quite magnificent! Dinner out at Blue Ginger, and our first in-person sighting of an Iron Chef contender.

Neither 29 nor 39 caused me a moment's pause. But 49 feels a little different. My age has always seemed to be this arbitrary number, sitting out there at some distance to myself, fairly meaningless. This feels a little more weighty. I'm not depressed or upset, I'm just mindful, for once, of what the number means (or at least what it carries with it). I wondered briefly if I should be doing anything differently (hair style? cosmetics?) but Ken and Dean voted resoundingly against my changing things up. I'm looking forward to spring and being able to get outside again, and go hiking and generally being more active.

Meanwhile, it is snowing here. Again. But lightly, and hopefully not worth more than an inch or two.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The beginning of a list

I love the music of Ottmar Liebert. I can rely on him to put out CDs that I will love from beginning to end. He is a contemporary flamenco guitarist; his music is rich, emotional, evocative, restful, joyful, restorative. I think you may love his music, too, if you give it a listen.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

A warm Valentine's wish to the two I love most, and the many in my heart.

Friday, February 11, 2011

What makes it good

Dean and his classmates put on a matinee and evening performance of Midsummer Night's Dream yesterday to deservedly thunderous applause. The kids were fantastic -- believe me, unless you'd been holding tickets to the Royal Shakespeare Company or something you wouldn't have been disappointed in anything about this production (except maybe that you couldn't have gotten a seat because the place was jammed). They might even have had something on a professional production because aside from putting on a show worthy of an adult audience, they also managed to capture the rapt attention of the rest of the children in our school (ages 5 on up). Some of the younger children loved it so much in the afternoon that they made their parents bring them back in the evening to see it again!

The things that you can really boil down to identify that made it go so well were that the kids all truly understood what they were saying (it was the real thing -- not some Shakespeare-modernized malarky), they entirely enjoyed what they were doing, and they were completely confident and comfortable. Although Dean was initially disappointed in the poor quality of the "wall" costume, he got it once he thought about the fact that the play within a play that he and his fellow *tradesmen* were putting on was supposed to be cheap and goofy.

And counter to cheap and goofy, I present rich and gooey. On the premise that adding oatmeal to anything instantly makes it good for you: oatmeal raisin chocolate chip cookies. Yum.

1/2 lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temp.
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 granulated sugar
2 eggs at room temp.
1 tablespoon (yes) vanilla
1 tablespoon water
1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 and 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup raisins
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375f. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Cream butter with both sugars. Scrape down mixing bowl, and add eggs, vanilla, and water til just combined. Add flour, soda, salt, oats and mix until all is well incorporated. Add raisins and chips, stirring in by hand.

Using an ice cream scoop or measuring cup, scoop up 1/4 cup sized mounds of dough and place 2 inches apart on parchment. Bake 16 or 17 minutes -- edges will be brown but centers will still be soft. Slide parchment off sheets and allow cookies to cool on parchment, on racks. Makes about 15 cookies.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hard to know

I always find it so hard to know how to deal with these kinds of anniversaries.

It was one year ago that my mom died, and the anniversary of my dad's death was last week.

I don't know of any -- oh, what's the word I'm looking for? -- format? tradition? for these days. I suppose if I were religious I would go to church and light a candle, but that doesn't seem right to me for either of them.

And so I go through my day, thinking my thoughts of each of them, trying to comprehend that another year has gone by, trying to understand this life "after."

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

It snowed,

it snowed, it snowed last night.

The fence around our back garden is 3 feet high (36 inches, people).

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sewing Sunday

The snow days, and the post-holidays-let's-make-stuff urge, have compelled me to do a bit of sewing. This jacket is my first experiment with pre-quilted fabric (which is a little stiff, so I hope it softens up over time). No buttons yet, although I'm not sure I want them.

And this one, which I'm calling my gingerbread jacket, made from a joyful polar fleece. I didn't have *quite* enough fabric for this pattern, so I used some aqua blue polar fleece for the facing, which you can just see peeking out at the top. I realize I've made each of these patterns three times (but with entirely different fabrics); I do like going with what works and getting my money's worth from a pattern.

Meanwhile, t's funny to me how sewing/crafting stores have all seemed to rally around Superbowl Sunday sales and events.....

Friday, February 4, 2011

The game

I don't remember how it started, or when.

Did we play it in college? Did I invent it?

Was it something from that period after college -- the early career years when I got to be friends with a great group of people at work and we'd socialize all the time on evenings and weekends?

Or did it just come to me yesterday in the doctor's office, when I wanted to help Dean pass the time in an easy, enjoyable way?

I don't know. But now Dean and I are addicted.

You start by -- NOT saying that you are about to play a game -- but by simply saying two things:

Peanut butter or jelly?


Dogs or cats?

Any two things. As you'd expect, the person to whom you've said this is initially a little bewildered. "Huh? Peanut butter or jelly? What do you mean?"

"I'm just asking: peanut butter or jelly?"

And the person responds. Maybe he picks one. Or maybe, as he did when I got to "dogs or cats?" he says something else entirely: "hamsters!"

And then maybe he says (as Dean did), "can I do that? Can I say something else?" Because now he's on to the fact that this is a game, and the game must have rules.

"You can say whatever you want."

The magic of the game is that it just starts, and it just goes. To me, the power is in the hands of the person responding. Indeed, say anything you want. Don't feel that you have to explain or justify your choice.
I will be bold and predict for you that the person you begin this with will quickly become immersed. "More!" he or she will demand, as you start to slow a little in coming up with questions.

Ocean or forest?

Good or evil?

Chocolate or vanilla?

Just as the responder has no need to defend or explain a response, so the questioner has no responsibility to explain or defend. We started this with Ken when we got home, for example, and he demanded, "context! I need context!"

My response was that it's in your hands -- it's whatever context you choose. This had come up with Dean as our game continued during our two-hour car ride back home from the doctor's (rush hour; should have taken less than an hour otherwise). I'd said, "Mexican or Chinese?" and he said, "food, right? You're talking about food?"

Whatever you want it to be, and you don't have to say.

But back to that point when you start to slow down, when it gets to be a little hard to think of things quickly. That's when you get to say, "now you ask me!"

Big or small?

London or Paris?

Today or tomorrow?

Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan?

Try it. I think it will be your new favorite thing.