Or solitary egg, in this case.
When I was a kid, my mother used to make this dish sometimes on Sunday mornings. It’s a slow-morning kind of breakfast, and Dad’s photography business was closed on Sundays.
I haven’t had savory baked eggs since that time, and lately it’s been on my mind. So I asked my Mom for details recently and here we are. The ingredients are simple – onions, butter, salt and pepper, eggs, cheese. The end result is so simple and incredibly yummy, I’m kind of annoyed with myself for not giving this a try years ago.
Alex and Bill went skipjack fishing the other day. They brought home 12 nice-sized fish.
Alex has become a good little fisherman. Bill said he waded out up to his chest (Alex did) to be able to cast into the school of fish as they moved farther away from shore.
When they returned home, Bill gave Alex a lesson in filleting a fish.
Just before the lesson, Alex said, with a bit of a swagger, “Yep, I’m a man now.”
When he says things like that, I have to chase him around the house for a bit. Man or no, he’s a very ticklish little boy. Reminding him of that is my job.
Anyway, I was going to share all the pictures I took during the fillet lesson…but I like the one above the best, and I think it says everything that needs saying.
My niece, Natalie, and her friend, Justine, came over yesterday to cook. We made (Bill, me, and the girls – Alex and Julia were too busy playing outside to cook with us) an assortment of Chinese dishes: Cold Sesame Noodles, Homestyle Bean Curd, General Tang’s Chicken, and Egg Rolls.
The egg rolls were my favorite. I ate five. Yes, five. There, I admit it freely. Five. But they were really yummy and I was helplessly in their thrall… or just really hungry and weak of will.
Anyway, I didn’t take any pictures. I know, I’ve become the Queen of Slackerhood around here. But my camera needs repairing and until that gets taken care of, I’ve been kind of avoiding picture-taking.
But I can still tell you about the egg rolls.
We used second-harvest kale from the garden, first of all. We tend to leave our kale out in the garden through the winter, even after we’ve picked the last of the leaves. Why? Well, the first time it was because we were lazy, I think. But now, it’s because come springtime, we get a second harvest. The leaves are smaller, and they look kind of like the original stalk wants to shoot out baby kale stalks. But they’re kale, and edible, and good. So the other day Bill picked all the leaves and he and the kids (plus a friend and his two kids) used the long, curved, denuded kale stalk for a rousing game of Kaleball. Yes, the kale is the bat. It’s lots of fun. Alex hit a couple of balls over the house. I think they use whiffle balls, though. Or tennis balls. Regulation baseballs would do a number on the kale bat.
Anyway, the egg rolls began with a chiffonade of this kale. Well, that was the first part we prepped. I minced garlic and ginger, sauteed them in some oil with a little Sriracha and a drizzle of sesame oil. I let those cool, then mixed them with the kale, some scallion trimmings from the garden, and shredded sweet potato. Yes – raw shredded sweet potato. Looked like carrot. It added some crunch. Oh, and I also used up the last of our dehydrated wood ear mushrooms, which were julienned in the bag and then rehydrated before I added them to the mixture after it had cooled.
So that was the eggroll filling. And, as I said earlier, it was really good. I’ll make them again.
We had two egg roll wrappers left after all the filling was used up, so I wrapped slices of ham around two asparagus stalks from the garden, then wrapped them in the egg roll wrappers, and fried them up, too. Very tasty.
My sister came up for the meal, too, and it was such a nice evening, just hanging out and cooking and eating…
Oh, and dessert! I melted some brown sugar and butter together, brushed them onto slices of pineapple and grilled them, then I sliced them into smaller pieces, added them (still warm) to vanilla ice cream, and topped with crispy chocolate-covered Chinese noodles. Okay, the Chinese noodles are probably totally American, but they were crispy and worked really well with the other components. All the dessert plates were cleaned. Well, except Julia’s – she didn’t like the pineapple. But still – 6 out of 7 dessert bowls is still good.
That’s about all I’ve got time to write at the moment.
It’s been one thing after another. For a long time. One of those just when you think things have straightened out, something else comes along.
I know. Life’s like that.
So we’ve got a truck and a car. We use the car for longer trips because it has better gas mileage, and we use the truck for big loads of mulch or big pieces of cut-down trees because it’s a truck and that’s what trucks are for. It’s an older truck, so the gas mileage isn’t ideal, but it’s our truck and it’s paid for and we love it like family. Like hard-working family that doesn’t complain.
And it’s not like it was even complaining, really. It just…wasn’t feeling well. And we asked it to hang in there just a little bit longer and then we’d bring it to the truck doctor and take care of it.
I’m the one who’s been driving it mainly because Bill’s job is farther away and the other car is better on gas. So I’ve been the one begging the truck to hang in there and just…oh…get me to and from work this one more time, please?…thanks, hard-working-truck-that’s-like-family.
It’s been a hold-your-breath (and-overuse-hypens) kind of month. Good things on the horizon, but we’re not quite there yet…just a little bit longer…just a little bit farther…just keep going, we’re almost there…oh, and pleasepleaseplease don’t let the truck die.
Well, it didn’t die. But it went into cardiac (sorry, bad pun) arrest last Friday when it decided, when I asked it to back out of the driveway, that it couldn’t possibly do that any more. In fact, it kept rolling forward. Sigh.
So the poor, ailing truck was dragged gently up onto a tilt-bed flatbed and hauled to our mechanic. I almost took pictures, but I couldn’t. Too painful.
It’s the transmission. Of course. Which we weren’t anticipating until a week or two ago when the worst stuff started going on with the truck.
But it can be fixed, and will be fixed, and we’ll be back to both vehicles again.
But for now, we’re making do with the one. Which mostly is okay, but last night I had to work AND Alex had baseball practice that had originally been scheduled for a different day but changed. Anyway, Bill and the kids dropped me off, then headed to the field for Alex’s practice. I’d call them when I was ready to be fetched.
But then, a couple hours later, when practice was done, my husband and kids showed up. They’d brought me the car. And after a little dinner break, they left – without the car. They’d left that for me, so I wouldn’t have to call them for a ride later.
And they walked home. 2.7 miles. At dusk. In the cold. And in the crazy, extremely strong winds that were blowing all of yesterday. No hats. No gloves. No whining. No (major) complaining. An adventure, of sorts. It took them about 45 minutes.
Now, yes, it benefited them, too, because no one would have to come and get me later.
But still. It was so cold last night – a huge change from the summer-like weather we had last week.
It was such a nice thing for them to do.
I am blessed.
A few weeks ago my niece, Natalie, texted me and asked when we could cook together again.
If you’ve been reading here a while, you’ve probably seen some of my other baking/cooking with Natalie posts…we’ve made Chocolate Pound Cake, Fresh Mozzarella, Dorie Greenspan's Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrownies, and also Dorie Greenspan's Chipster Topped Brownies. (Can you see the chocolate theme that flows, river-like, through out baking adventures?) Bill and I also went down to my sister’s house and taught Natalie (and my sister) to make Chiang Mai Soup, which features Thai red curry paste. Natalie’s very adventurous in the kitchen – I’m sure she inherited that from me diagonally across the genetic pool. Or something like that.
Anyway, I figured the school break in February would be most convenient for everyone involved, and asked what she wanted to do.
We had salad for dinner last night.
All four of us.
Salad and some leftover rice Bill had made the other night.
And everybody loved the meal.
I feel like I need to say “even the kids,” except that I don’t have that problem, for the most part. My kids like their vegetables. Most of their vegetables, anyway. Enough so that if they dislike one or two, I don’t worry about it.
I know. I’m lucky.
My dad enlisted in the navy during WWII before he was old enough to be drafted and placed where he didn’t want to be.
I’ve seen pictures of him in those days – so young. A skinny, smiling, dark-haired boy, either shirtless, cigarette dangling, relaxing with shipmates, or so handsome in his dress whites that my eyes prickle with tears right now, just thinking about it.
He was a boy.
Nearly all of them were.
Ten years older than Alex is now. Not even that.
I don’t know why I haven’t made these until now. So simple, so warm and sweet and savory and yummy.
The recipe is part of a collection of family-and-friend recipes my mother put together before Bill and I were married. This one came from Bill’s mother. Actually, from his mother’s mother-in-law. And who knows where it came from before that.
Someone in Boston, presumably. Heh heh.
When I was in the first or second grade I rode the bus home from school.
I was a very shy child – I remember being terrified going to Nursery School for the first, oh, 180 days – and so when a fight broke out between two boys in the seat in front of mine on the bus that day, and the boys were hitting each other with their metal lunchboxes, I just sat quietly in my seat, you know, like you’re supposed to.
And when one of those lunchboxes (this all happened within seconds – the bus driver did, in fact, intervene, but she probably had to pull the bus over safely to the side of the road first because we didn’t have bus monitors riding shotgun back then) hit me right between the eyes, I did my very brave best not to cry and make a scene, because I didn’t want all that potential attention.
Sometimes when I’m driving around I’ll write parts of posts in my head. Or I’ll have conversations with various people, either as a rehearsal or as a “if only I’d said it THIS way” rewind kind of thing. Sometimes I have conversations with myself. Sometimes the conversations I think I’m having in my head with other people are, really, just more conversations with myself. Because, after all, the words coming from the “other” people in my head are really just me with a different voice.
Sometimes I wish they’d all – me included – shut up.
So there’s that.
About 5:30 this morning I heard a bedroom door open…then silence…and then a pair of small, bare feet scurried down the stairs.
I was still in bed. Bill was trying to be asleep for a few more minutes before getting up and ready for work.
I heard the bare feet traipse through the main floor, and then down more stairs to the basement. A few moments later, those same bare feet hurried up both flights of stairs and headed toward our bedroom door.
The doorknob turned and a little girl crept into the room.
“Mama? There aren’t any presents!”
Just want to point you all in the direction of my future niece-in-law’s blog today. She is an incredible cake- and cupcake-maker/decorator, and this weekend she competed in the National Area Cake Show Competition in DC. (Besides THAT fabulousness, she is also an inspiring and tough athlete. She’s quite awesome.)
If you’ve been reading this blog for at least a few years, you might remember the adorable cupcakes she made (and brought with her on the flight to RI) in response to this unfortunate incident at our house that same summer.
You really, really do.
I wrote the post yesterday while the kids were still at school. I wrote it out, I cried when I needed to, and then I made some rye bread. Because life has to go on. Bread needs to be baked. And, later, children get out of school. And then they have to be told.
I was dreading that.
When my sister and I were kids, we didn’t have any green clothes. I remember her giving me a rather odd look one day when I was old enough to go shopping for my own clothes. I brought home a green and white striped shirt. The horror should have been because the stripes were horizontal, but no, it’s because half the stripes were green.
Apparently my mother wouldn’t buy us green clothes because her father was Scottish and English and he wouldn’t have approved.
When my sister fell on her bike while riding over the train tracks at the other end of our street, our friend Dolores thought she was being kidnapped.
I guess Mere, my sister, must have screamed or yelled or something from just out of view, down in the dip of the road where the trains used to run, back before the town removed the tracks and made a bike path.
No, I’m not pregnant. Two is Enough in this house.
Two human charges, anyway.
But that doesn’t seem to apply to other forms of life.
We’ve got the three cats, as you know.
And Cricket-Catcher, the Cuban Knight Anole.
And a tank of assorted tetras and catfish and swordtails and other stuff down in the basement.
And we’ve had a series of Bettas (Siamese Fighting Fish) over the years. First Reddy, then ReddyII, then Bluey, and most recently (and briefly), Fire, who was overtaken by a rogue fungus of some kind. Very sad.
Well, two things have happened since I last wrote about the pets.
These are my cute, but rather shaggy children.
Or, rather, these were my cute, but rather shaggy children.
Well, they still are my children. And cute. But the shagginess is no more.
And no, I have no idea why Julia is making that face. She’s six. That’s all the explanation I’ve got.
So yesterday, after Natalie and I baked the pound cake, we trekked down to my sister’s house to return Natalie and her share of pound cake, to bring snacks to the chickens, and to tame the crazy hair on my kids’ heads.
As always, it was entertaining.
I am, of course, way far behind in sending out Christmas cards. But I’m determined to get things going in that department.
Now, in the last bunch of years, I’ve sent out those picture cards, usually with just a picture of the kids, because they’re cute, they change yearly, so it’s good for far away relatives who don’t read this blog, and, I know I’m biased, but my kids are cute. Well, they can be.
Anyway, instead of the usual photo of the kids, I was thinking it was time we had a family portrait done, and I thought we could use that for our Christmas card as well.
So, what do you think about this one?
The last time Natalie was here (not this most recent time, but the time before that), she’d found a few recipes she wanted to try, but either we didn’t have enough time or I didn’t have all the right ingredients.
Anyway, when plans were in the works to have a weekend of baking recently, Natalie asked if we could make brownies.
So we did.
When my sister and I were kids, my mom used to put us to work at various points throughout the summer helping her prep vegetables for freezing. She used to do a lot of canning, originally. Probably before we came along, or before we were big enough to help. Or before she and my father bought that really big stand-up freezer and put it in the basement. I think it maybe just became easier to pack things in the freezer in plastic containers than to can them. I don’t know.
All I know is, my sister, me, and our friend, Dolores, if she was at the house, became extremely cheap labor.
We were going to dig steamers yesterday, but with all the rain, we figured shellfishing would be closed locally, so we headed out to pick apples instead.
In the past we've always gone to orchards in the northern part of the state. This time around, Bill suggested we try the place we'd seen the signs for on Route 4. Yes, that's exactly how he put it. Didn't even know the name of the orchard - we just knew they had signs up, and that, in addition to apples, they had peaches.
So off we went....
First there was the pork-fest, and then there was the seafood extravaganza. Bill's brother, Ray, came back up for a couple of days after he and the rest of them headed down to CT to visit with Nina's part of the family late Sunday. Ray arrived Wednesday afternoon and helped with the installation of the Anniversary Toilet, and he, Bill, Alex, and Julia went out for sushi while I was taking pictures at the beach class that night.
On Thursday, while I was being tortured fearing for my life drowning in my own saliva losing feeling in my fingers from clutching the armrests so tightly having a root canal done and a new core put in, Ray, Bill and the kids went down to Galilea, to the docks, to get some lobsters for our dinner. They got 3 pound-and-a-half lobsters, 3 culls (lobsters missing a claw) and a dozen crabs, too. When they returned, I was sitting on the couch reading and slurping ice cream on the side of my face that wasn't numb.
For any of you interested, you can read my nephew's recap of swimming/biking/running this year's RI Ironman 70.3 here.
It's pretty cool to get the scoop on what was going on for him during the whole race, and he's a very informative and entertaining writer as well, so it's worth reading the whole post.
And speaking of DC Rainmaker, over at the top of the right column on my little ol' site here, there's a button to click on to help get him sent to Antarctica. The deadline for voting is September 30th, so there's still time to get your vote in. Voting doesn't take long, and I can't think of a better person to have blogging such a fabulous trip.
So go on! VOTE FOR DC RAINMAKER!!!!
(Sorry to be bossy. I have to go have a root canal in an hour and I'm stressed and cranky.)
* My brother-in-law, Ray, borrowed my camera and shot all the swimming and cycling pictures and some of the first few running pictures. I'll indicate when mine begin.
** One other thing - because my nephew, DC Rainmaker, refers to his AWESOME girlfriend as The Girl, and he has not (as of this posting) put up any pictures of her (except one of her skiing, and she's about a hundred zillion miles away and pretty much resembles a dot on skiis), I feel honor-bound to also refrain from posting photos of her here. I will just say, then, in lieu of photos, that she's an amazing athelete and tremendously inspiring. Julia, in particular, adores The Girl, and at times she refers to the two of them as "The Girl and her boyfriend," rather than "Cousin DC Rainmaker and his girlfriend."
In fact, I have to broaden the topic here and say that ALL of these triatheletes are inspiring. I was close to crying more than once as I watched these phenomenal men and women run past. I am in awe of each and every one of them.
Okay, enough talk. Time for pictures.
*And here's where I took over. Can you tell?
When I was in Junior High, there was a math teacher, Mrs. Smith, who was tiny and smart and tough. She had a steely voice, steel-gray hair, and a no-nonsense, no fooling around attitude, tempered with a sense of humor that she allowed to peek out from behind her stern facade every now and then. During class, when we'd work on problems out loud and she'd call on us for answers, if someone gave a very wrong answer, she'd kind of roll her eyes and tilt her head back a bit, like she was reeling from the awful wrongness of that student's attempted answer. And she'd say, in that grim, steely voice "Ah, you're way out in Pawtucket!" I went to school in the southern part of Rhode Island, and Pawtucket lies northeast of Providence, far, far from us. (Relatively speaking. It's Rhode Island, after all, and nothing is really THAT far from anything else.) But that was her way of telling you just how VERY wrong you were. So far off that you were way out in Pawtucket.
And that's where the family and I were the other day. Way out in Pawtucket.
Summer vacation started off with both a bang and a whimper. Actually, not so much a whimper as lots of weeping.
Last Tuesday was the last day of the school year for both my husband, the teacher, and my son, Alex, the first grader. Very exciting.
After school, our kids went across the street to play with our neighbor's/friends' son. Bill and I sat in the living room (when it hadn't yet been filled with furniture and stuff) and just hung out and talked, enjoying the relative peace and quiet. The next day would be the big Move Everything From the Second Floor day, to be followed by the whole Sanding and Polyurethaning event, so I think we were just taking this last moment to rest on comfortable chairs with our feet up before the final upheaval began.
Anyway, Bill asked if anyone had fed the lizard and I remembered that I'd asked Alex to, but then he had to go to the bathroom and he forgot, I guess, and so did I. So that would be a no.
By this point, the kids had moved from the back yard across the street to our back yard, so Bill called to Alex from a window and reminded him to get a worm or two for the lizard.
We went back to discussing the game plan for the next several days.
A few minutes later Alex came in, hand behind his back, and said glumly, "Well, no worms. The only thing we could find was this."
And out came the hand, and in it, a very young carrot he'd pulled from the garden.
I cringe, even writing about it now.
Bill told Alex that the carrot wasn't ready to be pulled, and he (Alex) needed to stop showing off in front of his friend.
You know how kids are. They behave differently with their friends around. They cross lines they know they shouldn't. They stop thinking. They walk on the wild side. They pull an underage carrot from the garden.
Bill told Alex in no uncertain terms that he'd better not do that again, and to toss the carrot onto the compost heap because it was no good to eat yet and it couldn't be replanted.
Don't mess with the garden, kids.
So we sent Alex back out to find a worm. We have PLENTY of worms out there, in gardens, in the compost bins. They practically hang from the trees. There was no reason a worm couldn't be found.
A bit later I looked out the window to check on the kids, and I noticed it looked like it was starting to rain. (We've had mostly rain here for oh, most of June, so of COURSE it was starting to rain. Again.) I went out the back door just to confirm it and yes, rain was, indeed, falling.
I called to the kids and said they needed to play inside, and as they arrived at the back steps, something made me look down.
And there, on the driveway, right next to the back steps, were two carrot stalks. No carrots. Just the long, green, distinctive stalks.
I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach as I picked them up and looked at the three little faces.
"Who did this?" I asked calmly.
Our neighbors' son said he didn't eat any of the carrots. Both boys pointed at Julia, who just stood there, her face a mask.
I flew across the yard to the corner square in our 15' x 3' raised bed. Where the carrots had been planted this year.
And I gasped as I beheld the horror. The carnage. The ugly slaughter of innocent baby carrots.
There were stalks and stalks with little remaining bits of carrot and some entire tiny carrotlings with their little ferny stalks...all of them scattered on the brick walk that surrounds the garden. There were one or two carrots still remaining, and there was a deep hole in the dirt. Oh, this was not good.
(This photo was taken several days after the carrot slaughter. After the casualties had been cleaned up and the ground evened out a bit. But you get the idea. There USED to be a lot of carrots in there.)
The three kids were still standing in the driveway, just watching. I forced my voice to sound nice as I suggested to our neighbors' son that it was time for him to go home, and to look both ways as he crossed the street.
And when I summoned my own two children, my voice was sort of strangled and choked as I planned my speech and tried to banish thoughts of Bill's reaction when he found out. At the moment, he was inside, on the phone, ordering Chinese food for dinner from the really good place up the street.
I don't even remember what I said.
Something about DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH WORK YOUR FATHER PUTS INTO THESE GARDENS? SO WE CAN GROW FOOD? THESE CARROTS AREN'T READY TO BE EATEN! WHY DID YOU DO THIS? DO YOU KNOW HOW UPSET DADDY IS GOING TO BE WHEN HE--
And then there he was, coming into the yard, still unaware of the carrot massacre, but very aware that SOMETHING was very wrong.
"WHAT HAPPENED?" he bellowed.
When he saw what they'd done, he ordered Alex and Julia into the house and up to their beds. I hollered after them to go into OUR bedroom, so they wouldn't step on the area of the floor where the patch job was. They were in enough trouble without stepping on a fresh coat of polyurethane. Julia hadn't committed her sin yet - that would happen the following day. Yeah, it was a good week.
Anyway, to say Bill was angry is to say Everest is a speed bump.
He gathered up the carrot casualties and slammed them on one of the compost piles, swearing and raging all the while.
And the thing is, this story and the Julia-stepping-on-polyurethane-after-she'd-been-told-not-to-go-upstairs episode are SO rare in our house. I'm the one more likely to yell about something. Bill doesn't yell much. So when he does, you'd better dive under the house.
Anyway, into the house he went, and up the stairs. And he gave the kids an earful about his hard work and time spent in the garden, and so on. I went around shutting windows and doors, just so we wouldn't draw a crowd.
He. Was. Angry.
After he was done, he came stomping through the house and went outside to relive the horror and slam some things around out there. I stayed out of his way.
I tiptoed to the foot of the stairs after a little while and I heard two things:
1) Alex sobbing.
2) Julia chattering away and giggling.
And this is the way it's going to be, I think. These are their personalitites, in a nutshell.
Alex takes things to heart. Raised voices are crushing to him, and it takes him a long time to get past it. He will remember this.
Julia...well, she's five, and Alex is seven, so there could be some sort of "the conscience isn't fully developed or even in existence at age five" thing in a child-rearing manual, which might account for her lack of tears. Or maybe she figured Alex was carrying around enough guilt for the both of them. Or she didn't care. Who knows.
But when I went upstairs to check on them, Alex was curled up on the edge of the bed and Julia was basically trying to get him to play with her and annoying him in the process. She wanted to know if they could get off the bed yet. She was clearly unfazed.
And I would bet my pink KitchenAid food processor that she did the majority of the carrot pulling and carrot eating.
Bill came in just about then and flew upstairs for a reprisal of his earlier lecture/tirade, just to make sure Julia, in particular, was getting the point.
Soon after that, he drove off to pick up the food, I set the table, and when he came back, the children were summoned to dinner.
Julia came down the stairs, chattering happily about the food and basically sucking up to Daddy in her very obvious way.
Alex puddled his way into the room and insisted on pulling his chair right next to mine at the table. He wasn't done crying yet.
And all the while Julia kept up a jolly little monologue of "Oh, thank you Daddy for getting this food! I love Chinese food! This all looks so yummy! I'd LOVE some soup!" and on and on and on.
It was nauseating. I am ashamed to admit it, but I glared at her a few times.
Alex stopped crying but didn't want to eat.
Eventually, though, he had a nibble of something and a nibble of something else, and realized that even though the world was about to end, his stomach was growling and the food was good, so he might as well eat.
And the rest of the night was relatively quiet. The kids went to bed early, and we moved on.
But it was not over.
It's one thing to tell your kids "this is a lot of work." It's much more effective to let them discover that for themselves.
And so, over the weekend, the children were introduced to a little thing Bill liked to call Hard Labor.
On Saturday they spent an hour in the 80+ degree heat weeding one of the gardens in the front yard. It would have been longer, but they had their final T-ball game of the season to go to, and we had to stop.
Julia kept saying she was thirsty. Bill said too bad, this is what Hard Labor feels like. You keep working EVEN WHEN you're thirsty.
(No, we didn't deprive them of hydration. Julia just kept asking every thirty seconds in a rather transparent attempt to take a break from the un-fun task at hand.)
So that was Saturday's taste of Hard Labor.
On Sunday we had no obligations, so while I made cheese and jam and bread indoors, Bill and the kids worked in the gardens outdoors.
The first thing they did was harvest the garlic. Julia and Alex took turns.
I set them on a tray on some newspapers to dry for a few days, and Bill and the kids planted new things where the garlic had been. We've now got dill seedlings there, along with bok choy seeds, scallions, lettuce, and...
After that they also helped plant flowers in the window boxes and in the shade gardens, and eventually, after about 4 hours of work (with water breaks, don't worry), they were done.
They worked hard, and I think they have a better understanding of and appreciation for how much effort goes into a square foot of carrots.
Now, there's a funny side note to all of this.
The morning of that same Tuesday when the whole Carrot Saga began, Bill was getting in his truck to go to work, and I was getting in my car to move it out of the driveway so he could leave. He stopped just before climbing in and yelled back to me "There are carrots growing in the lawn!"
I took a look after he'd left and sure enough, little baby carrot leaves were scattered through the grass, right at the edge of the driveway. Weird.
We've had things grow in odd places. We have tomatoes and cilantro that reseed themselves every year and we never know where we're going to find them. This year we've got a pumpkin plant that showed up along the front walk, amid the hostas and irises and tulips, and there are two other squash-family plants and some tomatoes that have shown up where the woodpile was on the other side of our garage. The side where we don't have a garden.
So baby carrots near the driveway? Sure, whatever.
We later found out that Alex's teacher had given all the kids carrot seeds some time ago and without telling anyone, Alex sprinkled them in the grass there.
Kind of perfect, isn't it? So in addition to planting new carrots, Bill and the kids also carefully dug up some of these tiny carrots and transplanted them to the scene of the crime.
And you know, I think they'll be pretty safe there.
No, really. I mean it. In a good way.
When I married Bill and married into his family, I gained, among other things, three more nephews and another niece.
I've mentioned Joe before, in this blog - he's the only one of them who lives nearby. The others are scattered - a nephew out in the Seattle area, one in the DC area, and the niece is in Florida.
Well, today I'm talking about the nephew in DC.
Meet DC Rainmaker.
He competes in marathons and triathelons and all sorts of other "thons" and "elons" here, there and everywhere. He also cooks, is an awesome photographer, travels extensively, and blogs about all of it.
He also does stuff like this.
Anyway, he has entered a competition sponsored by Quark Expeditions to be the official blogger on an expedition to Antarctica. The winner will be announced on September 30th, 2009, and the journey to Antarctica will take place in February 2010.
And I want him to win because A) it would be extremely cool (no pun intended), and B) he's my nephew, after all, and C) he'll do an awesome job blogging and photographing the trip, and we can all live vicariously through him for a few weeks.
All you have to do is register here (to prove you're a human being) and then log in and vote.
Quick, painless, and free.
I'd be ever so grateful.
Or ends, depending on your point of view.
My point of view is from a dark and achy tired place.
Oh, the ups and downs of the past couple of days...I'll get to them. Or some of them.
But today? Today is three things.
1. Brew day. Nothing all that new or different - we have them periodically.
2. Sand and Polyurethane the Floors Upstairs Day. The day we've been eyeing on the calendar with increasing tension and franticness and, okay, yes, occasional bad moods.
3. ........I don't remember what the third thing is. Maybe it's Begin Our Nomadic Existence Day. Except we're not nomads - we've got a place to crash - THANK YOU EM AND JOE!
But to back up a bit...
You may or may not remember what I did with Alex's bedroom, so here's a picture -
That was done using three different colors of paint, a sponge roller, little sea sponges, and of course gobs of my own special brand of artistry. (I'm tired and silly today - bear with me.)
So the question on everyone's mind, I'm sure, has been "What will she do on Julia's walls?"
So here's what I did:
And no, that tv cable taped to the window isn't part of the decor - that's to keep it off the floor while the sanding and stuff is done.
Anyway, that's Julia's room. It's not completely done - I'm still planning to have a few butterflies fluttering across the ceiling, but that can be done later. A.P. (After Polyurethane.)
I found the stencil in a book I've had for years called "Border Designs: Cut & Use Stencils." It's put out by Dover press, and I have a ton of books of theirs that I bought for quilting ideas and who knows what else.
Anyway, I'd been originally thinking of putting flowers all over her walls, but I couldn't find a stencil I liked of a rose (her middle name) and then I saw this butterfly as part of a border grouping, and that's the one I settled on. I made copies of it in various sizes and settled on these two - the small is the original size - about 4 inches long - and the big one is the original enlarged 150%.
You can see the stencils, cut out of the heavy duty paper in the book, hanging from the window. They're drying. I will need to use them again, on the ceiling and probably on a bookcase that I'll repaint in the colors of her room and then stencil some butterflies on it.
Anyway, that's Julia's room.
She loves it, by the way.
So that's one thing.
Another thing - one of the good things these past few days - is Julia is now riding her bike without benefit of training wheels OR Bill running along beside her, hanging on to her shirt collar. Yay!
Another thing...Bill and I moved nearly EVERYTHING down from the second floor. It's in our living room and our dining room, and there's very little space left.
Sorry it's out of focus. Anyway, that's our living room.
Funny story about all this. See that window? It's also got two little windows, one on each side. Those little windows open. Yesterday I'd opened them, like I'd opened many other windows around the house. And then we piled everything into the living room...and then it was time to go to bed...and the little windows were still opened.
Now, they're skinny little windows, and they face the street, so odds are no one would come along and decide to break in and steal any of our stuff. But I knew I'd lie awake much of the night if I knew they were still open.
I'm like that.
And so, while Bill was in the bathroom, I somehow (don't ask me to describe it) managed to climb over all sorts of things including the side support things from the kids' beds, and get up onto the arm of the couch and close the near little window...and then I had to get to the far window...and...I could hear one of our neighbors across the street talking to someone outside, and all I could think of was here I go, like some caged lunatic, making my way across the back of the couch, kind of pressed up against the big window, half tilted sideways, just - oh I have no idea what I looked like, but I'm sure it was not pretty at all. I managed to get to the window and close it. And then I turned around and stood there, kind of helpless, trying to figure out how to escape from my predicament without embarrassing myself further.
Bill came out of the bathroom and saw me standing there.
"Do you need help?"
I managed to get out of that predicament without injuring myself, which was pretty good, considering.
And I think I'll end this now. We've got to move mattresses and a few other things out of the bedroom and then I need to vacuum and clean the floors upstairs so they're ready to go when it's time to sand.
I'll fill you in on all the other insanity around here later. Oh...it was not pretty....
I lost internet access for about 24 hours, starting yesterday afternoon, and it's thrown me off my stride.
Speaking of strides, this morning I participated in the 20th annual MS Walk in Narragansett, RI. A 6.2 mile walk. The weather was gorgeous. I've got 3 friends who have MS. I walked with one of them, and parts of her huge family, friends, my sister - and that was just our team. Lots of people were out, either walking or biking it. Good day.
Still have a ton of pictures from yesterday's Opening Day of T-Ball to post. I'll get there.
Our nephew, Ray, will be running in the Boston Marathon on Monday. He and The Girl are staying with us this weekend. Last night there were 8 of us for dinner - me, Bill and the kids, Ray and The Girl, and Joe and Emily. Bill cooked ribs. 'Nuff said.
Joe is helping us split one bedroom (Bill's & mine) into two smaller rooms, which will become the kids' bedrooms, and Bill and I will move into the one they currently share. He (Joe) and Bill put up the framing for the dividing wall this morning while I was on the MS Walk. There's some business going on with electrical wires now. Lots of running up and down the stairs. Possible drilling through the floors may be involved. Our room is sawdusty. Next weekend will be the MAIN weekend of this project. I'll be glad when it's done. The kids are excited, and seem to have actually reached an amicable decision regarding who will get which of the two new rooms. No fights. I recognize that this is a miracle, and I am thankful for it. I am also incredibly thankful to Joe for helping us out with this project.
I think Julia has eaten 4 popsicles in the past 3 hours. It's that kind of a day.
That's it for the moment. Time to check the seedlings and water any that have dried out.
Normal (or close to it) posting should resume tomorrow.
Years ago, back when Bill first got hired as a middle school music teacher, he was told he'd be teaching band. So the summer before that first school year, he gathered an assortment of band instruments so he could familiarize himself with them enough to start teaching them to students. Then, maybe a month (if I remember correctly) before the first day of school, he was told he'd be teaching chorus instead of band. So a huge change of gears ensued and the assorted band instruments were loaned to a colleague who was teaching elementary school music in Connecticut.
Recently Bill got most of the band instruments back, and he trotted a couple of them out so the kids could see them and try to make sounds come out of them. A clarinet. A trumpet. They're both already familiar with guitars and keyboards a bit. Both of them liked the trumpet best. Julia, in particular, her little cheeks puffed out huge like Dizzy Gillespie, managed to achieve some nice, loud, clear notes.
Yesterday Bill brought home a trombone, just so the kids could see one and try to get some sound out of it....
I can't even begin to describe what our house sounded like.
Oh, and wait - there's me!
Wait. I'm upside down.
There. That's better.
So the four of us (Bill, kids, me) went up to NH for a part of this past week (school vacation week) so Bill could give his new skiis a good workout. The kids were booked for all day lessons on two days, which freed us up a bit.
We stayed right in Laconia, near Gunstock Mountain, where the skiing took place.
And what did I do?
Not a whole heck of a lot, really. I mostly hung out in the Lodge while Bill and the kids were outside. I read, I sent IM messages back and forth with my sister, and I met Bill for lunch mid-day both days. I've never skiied, and I should. I would like to take a lesson, but this past week I had trouble just finding a shoe I could put my right foot in comfortably, so ski boots weren't on my agenda.
The kids had a great time, and by the afternoon of the first day, Alex was actually riding up the lifts and skiing a couple of small beginner trails with his class. He continued doing that the second day as well. Bill skiied with him or behind him a couple of times, too. Alex said later he could ski all day. So he's definitely hooked!
Julia went down a green trail once, with her class. She was thrilled (this was on the second day) because Alex had gone the day before and she was feeling a little left out, I guess. But she got to ride up on the lift, just like big people, and snowplow down the shallow incline with the rest of her little group. She's getting the hang of it. I watched her in the little beginner practice area and she maneuvered through the little turns very well. And then, when she was supposed to slow and turn and get back in line to ride the "Wonder Carpet" back to the top, she just...kept going. Right past me (she didn't notice I was there) and for another oh, twenty feet, until she fell over.
And just stayed there. She wasn't hurt, or upset, or anything like that. She was just...hanging out. So I watched her. She rolled up into a sitting position...then leaned over and ate some snow. (That's how the little kids stay nourished through the day, I noticed. They eat snow. Must be dusted overnight with vitamins and minerals.) Then she sat up...then she flopped down and looked at the sky. She didn't even try to get up; she just moved her little body to various positions, patiently waiting for one of the instructors to come get her.
And then she noticed me.
"Mama!.........Could you help me get up?"
So I went over and picked her up, and while I was doing that, one of her instructors arrived, laughing, and reminded Julia about the whole slow-down-and-and-stop thing they'd been working on.
Julia waved bye-bye to me and headed back to class. I watched her a bit more and the next time she did just great, slowing and turning gently and taking her place in line. And then she fell over. No problem. She just waited as one of the instructors came over to help.
After the kids' all-day classes were over Bill and I would meet outside nearby and go pick the kids up together. The instructors gave us an overview of what they'd done that day and how well the kids had made out. The first day I almost laughed out loud when Julia's teacher said how well-behaved and sweet Julia had been. But I guess it's good that Julia saves all her less-desirable behavior for her parents and spares her teachers.
After getting the kids, we'd troop back to the truck and ride home, listening to the high points of the day (Alex saw a porcupine in a tree while riding up the lift!). Then, back at the hotel, we'd change into bathing suits and go hang out in the pool for a half hour or so. The pool room also housed a hot tub, which the kids grew to love. Julia took to it right away, but it took Alex a bit longer to trust that the water wasn't going to burn off any important parts of his anatomy.
Then, after pool and hot tub time, we went out to eat. All three nights we ate at the same place - Patrick's Pub & Eatery. Wonderful place - great food - especially their chicken and the Friday night Rotisserie Lamb special. The employees were all friendly, the beer and wine were good, and the atmosphere was warm and comfortable. It was close by - right across the street from where we were staying - but that wasn't the only reason we ate there. We just liked it. It became "our" place. If you're in Gilford, NH and need a place to dine, I highly recommend it.
OH - and speaking of food.
The #1 reason we stayed at B. Mae's? The waffle breakfast. Alex LOOOOVVVVVED the waffles there when he and Bill went last year, and in the days leading up to this year's trip, he kept telling us we'd love those waffles. In fact, he was looking forward more to breakfast than to skiing. So we were all pumped up for waffles.
The first morning we got up around 7, got dressed and trooped down the hall to the other end of the building where the continental breakfast was set up. The waffles were make-your-own. Two waffle irons going - and a LINE. Everyone (or mostly everyone) was there to ski, so pretty much everyone was up at the same time, trying to get their waffles before heading to the mountain. So I made the kids' waffles while Bill got us seats at one of the long, crowded tables and poured juice for the kids and coffee for us. Then Bill made his waffle and I didn't bother because the line was too long and we needed to get TO THE MOUNTAIN. I finally had a waffle on our last morning. It was...well, it was a waffle. But Alex is insanely enamored of waffles and pancakes, so I can see why it would be a way bigger thrill for him than for me.
And I think that's about it, really. Now for some pictures.
Oh, and for whatever reason, I didn't take ANY pictures until Thursday. (We arrived on a Tuesday and left on Friday.) I think I spent Wednesday alternately being mad at myself for not being able to ski and feeling wistful because even if I wanted to take a lesson, my foot wasn't going to go into a boot. Wah, wah, wah, poor me. Annoying. I got over it.
Snow began to fall - heavily - on Wednesday afternoon and continued overnight and into late the next morning. It was beautiful to watch - not so great to ski in, according to Bill. He'd been hoping for a nice, light, fluffy powder, but it was a little too warm and the snow was wetter and heavier than he liked.
Here's the view from the upper level of the Lodge:
(those are reflections of the lights inside the Lodge - not cool shots of alien spacecraft.)
I believe a total of 9 inches fell during that afternoon-to-morning time period.
The moisture layer is so heavy that you can't even see the higher peaks.
Ah - must be around 10:00 now - here come the kids in their ski classes. Julia's in that picture above. Here's a better view....
Sorry for the sloppy drawing. Anyway, Julia's the girl in the foreground - pink jacket, lavender snow pants, and a dark helmet.
That's better. They all get dropped off in that building to the left - Base Camp - and then in groups they head out to the Wonder Carpet area to practice their snowplows (pizza wedges) and turns and so forth.
And here's Alex going by...heading back to the lift. That's him with the red (rented) boots and his arms kind of reaching in each direction.
Here he is - a little later - after going down Misfire (one of the few gentle beginner slopes).
Alex absolutely LOVED skiing. Loved it. He didn't want to go home.
Oh, and while I'm standing here shooting pictures of Alex, I was also waiting for Julia to appear. I'd been way up in the lodge when I saw her little group actually head over to the lift. She was going to ski on an actual trail!! I grabbed my stuff and raced outside and then stood for oh, it seemed like an hour, waiting for her to appear SOMEWHERE. I met up with two other moms whose daughters were in the same group, and we're all there squinting up the hill looking for our own pink-clad snow bunnies.
No Julia yet, but there goes Alex, back to the lift...
Annnnnnd...here's Alex, just coming down Peepsight - one of the steeper beginner trails. Still no Julia.
Yep, there they go, back to the lift again. He's having a blast.
THERE SHE IS! She made it down Misfire. Yay! My big girl!
The teachers and kids assemble at the foot of that slope and then head back to the Wonder Carpet area. So Julia only went down one trail one time, but still, she DID it. Good for her!
Actually, yay both of them. They had a great time, they learned a lot, and Bill's already talking Olympic trials. Okay, not really about the Olympics. Still, it's hard to leave those days or even these pictures and not think (as a non-skier) - My kids are awesome!
Anyway, that was our trip - the highlights, anyway. I probably should have taken more pictures, but oh well, I didn't.
There's always next year.
Vincent is a Hermit Crab.
And that little crumb on the paper plate above is there for a reason, not just because I was too lazy to pick it off. It's a distance marker. Vincent is doing sprints.
You see, Vincent - who belongs to my niece, Natalie - is in training for the Hermit Crab Summer Olympics, which are to be held this summer in Rhode Island, of all places. Why this year? Well, they chose to hold them on odd-numbered years so as not to steal attention away from the regular ol' human Olympics.
I apologize for the blurry shots - Vincent is just way too fast for my camera.
Vincent runs sprints every morning, and then does weight training in the afternoons.
Every other day he runs a couple miles to build up his endurance.
Because he's in training, his diet is rather strict. Fortunately for him, carbs are approved.
Anyway, I hope you'll cheer him on this summer. The seats are sold out, but of course the games will be televised. Don't forget to set your DVRs!
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