Monday, October 30, 2006

artichoke epiphany

i loves artichokes. but i hate the prep work: getting the stem trimmed is no problem, but trimming the tops requires something like a hacksaw, and then there's prying the little central hairs out.

so this evening, i tried a new solution. i trimmed the stems, and then boiled 'em whole. when ready, i took them out, sliced them in half - much easier with more tender cooked leaves - and then it was easier to scoop out the hairy centers. also, they look a bit more elegant, and would make a great presentation with some kind of stuffing.

Friday, October 27, 2006

a book!!

i picked up douglas coupland's jPod, um, because it was on the recent books shelf and the cover looked interesting. i haven't read coupland before, despite being in 'that age group.' i'm liking it quite a bit, in fact waking up in the middle of the night to read more. first thing that's clicked for me in a while.

in other lit fronts, orycon - the annual oregon scifi convention - is coming in a few weeks with featured guest cory doctorow. YIPPEEE I'M HAVIN A GEEK ATTACK!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

more funky dreams

the night before last, i dreamed that i kept getting stuck in places because of my belly. i'd try to get out of an aisle, or around some chairs, or past some obstacle and my belly would just get stuck.

last night, i dreamed that i had taken boo to a home depot for something (although it looked more like a furniture store) and realized the next day that i had left my purse there. i must have had my keys in my pocket so i could drive home. when we looked around the store we found the bag where i had left it, but it was disheveled and i found that my wallet had been stripped of cash, license and cards. i freaked out and tried to get a sales associate to help me but about five of them listened to half a sentence and walked away. i was getting more and more hysterical. i didn't notice that i was frightening boo and he ran off. eventually i went to customer service for help - by that point doubly hysterical because i saw that boo wasn't with me anymore - and they let me use their phone to call the issuing banks for the cards and the DMV. (the customer service desk looked more like a bank teller's counter.) my husband dropped by to ask what was taking so long, and i told him to find nathan. meanwhile, a woman with about 5 kids was next to me and her kids kept climbing on me and interrupting the calls i was trying to make. i gave up when i asked them to please stop interferring and the mom's reply was 'so what?'. i went to sit in a lobby area and make the calls from my cell phone, but the kids followed me and continued to climb on me. i was just about resigned to staying at wit's end. husband came back with boo. i left and went home with them.

i woke up feeling so lousy that in my dream, i had placed more emphasis on the stupid bank cards than on my son.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


about a week ago i bought a yogurt maker. i'm a sucker for kitchen appliances - bread machine, check; ice cream maker, check; rice cooker, check; various crock pots, blenders, choppers - check. (no fancy kitchen aid mixer yet, but that's probably more of a matter of no counter or storage space.)

right now i'm making my third batch of yogurt. what i like about this system is that it makes up little reusable single-serve containers, which was always my downfall about getting plain yogurt in the past. i'd have very good nutritional intentions and buy a large carton of plain yogurt, and it would sit ignored in my fridge until it had to get remandered to the science experiment pile. so i'd get the small containers of flavored stuff, and then feel guilty about all those containers if they weren't recyclable. (in manassas, they recycle plastics #1 and #2, but here in portland they do curbside recycling for "plastic containers that have a neck" and the yogurt tubs have to go elsewhere. portland recycles a lot of materials but not everything goes curbside.)

anyway, i've been enjoying the results, even if the machine is only capable of making plain yogurt. i've tried with 2% milk and whole milk and can't say i've noticed much difference. part of me wants to try with goat milk but that's probably something better left until after the pregnancy. or maybe not, since the milk needs to be heated first. it is an exercise in patience, as it takes nine hours in the machine after setting it up and another 3 hours or so in the fridge - boo's curiousity about the process waned significantly when he realized how long it takes, and how the visuals aren't so exciting. but he has been eating more yogurt, as have i. so i'm guessing this machine will pay for itself in.... let's see, 8 yogurts per homemade batch versus a buck a pop for storebought - two more batches! (not figuring in the cost of milk because we buy 2-3 gallons a week as it is.) not bad at all.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

all the wrong things

today i took a break from helping at boo's school. when i first got home i napped for a couple of hours. then, instead of doing the two things i needed to do today - clearing out the upstairs bedroom for the crib and dresser arriving tomorrow afternoon, and practicing my sarangi before tomorrow morning's lesson - i cleaned out the very junky junk drawer in my kitchen, and started reorganizing stuff in my basement. which means, it's into the evening and i still need to practice and to clear out the bedroom. the bedroom is inhabited by the remains of my jewelry-making stuff, most of which went into a secretary desk in the living room, and my computer/office stuff, which really has no place to go - hence the mental block in getting it cleared out, because i simply don't know what to do with it other than shove it in a closet, which just means i'll have to move it again in the future. i was hoping we'd get our basement finished by now - which would have included at least a desk's worth of space for me - but my husband is pretty much refusing to spend any time/effort/money on it.

on the bright side, i have hired a cleaning service, and they start next week - but now i'm facing that pressure to clean the house top-to-bottom before they get here.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006


in an attempt to find some way of masking the traffic noise that starts around 5 am on our busy street....

er, scratch that.

using road noise as an excuse to try these little hipster electronic toys, i ordered two buddha machines. there's a website that barely explains them at, and they're available through forced exposure. basically, they randomly drone through nine ambient loops. why two? because i'm not quite as cool as brian eno, and he's got 8 or 9 of them.

i've got them set up and next to each other. they're very simple to operate - put in batteries, click on volume wheel, and if you want to switch loops there's a little button on the side. one is nice; two creates a nice complementary soundscape. not the best sound quality in the world - there are headphone ports but i can't imagine wanting to hear it that way. there's also a DC 4.5v input, although no cords were included. they come in a bunch of colors and forced exposure sent me a red and a raspberry one. (they don't offer a color choice.) boo has already claimed the raspberry one for himself and thinks we should get two more.

the fm3 site doesn't show the box these come in, which is kind of a shame because they're delightful. they're powder blue with pink lotuses all over them. they look like large asian candy boxes. i don't know if i'll eventually unscrew one to see if there really is a little buddha figure inside, as the website's diagram shows.

i wonder if the baby would find these restful for naptime. wonder if this means the kid will grow up makin' music for airports.

i should've figured this out

i spent the past 2 mornings helping in the kindergarten classroom, as the usual assistant has been out. yesterday was particularly, erm, eventful as it was me and a substitute for the morning. i wound up sending a kindergartener to the principal's office, but it turns out they're quite familiar with this student's behavior crapola already.

i've started being a little too busy for coffee on tuesday mornings because i don't want to be around all the negativity projected by DM. well, that and being affronted by the 'you have no clue' attitude she hands out. i mentioned that particular conversation to the teacher, because i fear that DM's trying to rile people up during these coffee mornings and i just want no part of it any more. and it turns out.... all those 'we should have this and this in the classroom, and do this activity, yadda yadda' that she throws at the teacher.... the teacher tells her to go ahead and implement it, and DM doesn't follow through on it. and apparently, DM is now picking on the cafeteria staff, despite the fact that her kids don't eat cafeteria food. and frankly, they're doing a fairly difficult job on the budget they're provided and yet they're offering a salad bar and not a bad selection of stuff.

today i'm helping with library time, and after that i'm stopping by the principal's office to express support for the teacher.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

fifteen years later

yesterday, before i left for work, boodad said the one thing i'd never thought he'd say.

"want to go to india next year? like, in december?"

he's never expressed any desire to go, in fact quite the opposite. but, at long last, he's back in correspondence with his father and his dad wants to see the grandkids.

sure, there are logistical funpoints like.... 20+ hours of travel with 2 kids, one of which will be almost a year old, and erm, not potty-trained so how do they deal with that in india anyway, and the closest airport is not serviced by airlines that i'd choose to fly on, but heck. i'm excited enough that i was researching airlines while it was quiet at the desk yesterday.

it's been 15 years since i was in india.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

slacka mom

(title in honor of my r-droppin' new england background)

so there's a group of the kindergarten moms who tend to hang out after drop-off in the mornings, go to the playground with the kiddies after school, and get coffee once a week. i'm happy to be in that group, as i know few people around here. but prospect of this morning's coffee meet was filling me with dread.


one of the moms has made it her mission to express deep dissastifaction with how things are going at the school. and saying that you're actually okay with things, as i am, warrants you a "but i'm an educator and you're not so of course you have no idea." quite literally.

well, i have been paying close attention to what my kid asks about after school and on the weekends, and his inquiries are becoming more sophisticated. he's writing more words independently, whereas before he was confident in writing his name on his own but wanted our guidance on all other words. he's bringing home worksheets that show good processing of some basic math and literacy concepts, and he's repeating rhythm structures and written notes (something that i never did in public school music classes OR in 8 years in a well-regarded chorus) from music class. and this is after one month in a school with a new K-6 population, a new magent curriculum, and 27 K students of abilties ranging from can't-write-a-letter to egads-my-handwriting-doesn't-look-like-a-grownup's. i think things are going well.

dissastisfied mom (DM) thinks that the kids are not getting enough hands-on science. the point of the program at this point, however, is more literacy-based, and the science will be coming in future months. DM asks why they can't do 'simple' things like bring in a pumpkin and ask the kids to guess how much it weighs. oh yeah? ever ask a little kid how old they think you are? or how tall or heavy someone is? this is not a concept that kids at that age have any grasp on, and bringing in something like this without a contextual unit on weights and measurements just makes it a very random guessing game. my feeling is that the kids need to learn to process things like, say, how to read and write numbers before measurements mean much to them.

DM is also unhappy with how the teacher (and the principal) deals with the small group of kids with repeated behavior issues. basically, they are given a warning, then they are removed from the group until they calm down, and if that doesn't work they are sent to the 1-2 grade class next door (the first and second graders share a class because there are so few of them). any work they miss due to misbehavior is done while the rest of the class has 'choosing' - a free period to work on puzzles, building, arts or other activities. DM and another of the moms think that these kids need more warmth and attention. problem was, when DM and other moms stayed in the classroom, the behavior issues got worse because these kids essentially got rewarded for being disruptive. i know that the intentions are good - the behavior issues are going hand-in-hand with socioeconomic and non-involved parent stereotypes and so it's hard not to feel for the lack of warmth these kids are getting on the homefront - but i agree with the teacher that it does these kids no favor to have an inconsistent message about classroom expectations. "but she could use more of a carrot with them," DM argues. having choosing time restored is a carrot. and what about the kids who are not having problems? should they essentially be punished because they're getting only standard treatment for appropriate behavior instead of extra pats on the head for meeting basic expectations? doesn't this teach this handful of kids that just doing what everyone is supposed to do is spectacular for them, and nothing else is really expected of them?

but, you know, my master's is in library science, so i have no fuckin' clue what i'm talking about. right.

Monday, October 09, 2006

oh well

this was about to be a post about how i finally have a day off, but it looks like that's not happening. got called for a shift this afternoon/evening, but husband isn't sure he can pick kid up at 5:30. gargh. so now i'm waiting for him to call me back so i can call work back....

some notes and thoughts accumulated since last post:

do you think we could learn from the amish? last week's incident was as horrible as it gets, and yet they're not angry. there is no talk to retribution, or changing their ways, and 30 members of the community showed up at the gunman's funeral. most of us would be wrapping our schools in barbed wire and metal detectors and boiling with the urge for revenge.

can anyone in portland make decent challah? the loaf i got from new seasons (not baked by them) was just plain foul, and another loaf i tried from a bakery on hawthorne was sweet but too cakeishly heavy.

i'm in a reading slump, at least for books. it's magazine time. recently picked up an issue of brain, child ( and am liking it immensely - smart parenting without the preachiness found in mothering. i've also started a subscription to good magazine ( because it looks so darn well-intentioned, and the subscription price is being donated to a charity of my choice. my only fear is how many magazines i've subscribed to in the past that have folded - rescue, george, mirabella, new eden... i feel like a publisher's kiss of death.

more on magazines: i got the kid subscriptions to your big backyard (published by national wildlife foundation, available at it's the younger version of ranger rick.), spider and click (both published by carus, available at; spider is literary and click is science-based). boo always gets a bit upset when the mail isn't for him, and all three of the magazines i've subscribed to for him are commercial-free and right on his reading level. (readers with younger kids: both carus and the nwf have magazines for even younger kids, too.) it's nice to see that the publishers have started to accomodate kids of various reading levels. i don't remember there being younger versions of ranger rick or cricket when i was a kid. one magazine i do remember was a consumers' union publication called zillions, which aimed to teach grade-schoolers how to use their money wisely and how to avoid being scammed by marketing. so badly needed now, but it hasn't been around for years.

weirdest thing i've been asked lately: at doctors office for sinus problems - "are you sexually active?," to which i pointed to my rather rotund middle and said, "um, yeahhh...".

husband called back, has meeting too late this afternoon to make a kid-pickup possible. he's not convinced that i'm not upset about this. however, i am completely happy to have a day off, as i've had shifts the past three days and was clinging on to the hope of having nothing responsible to accomplish today.

so today's tasks are: book airline tickets home for thanksgiving, call cleaning services for estimates, watch tony takitani before returning it to library, practice sarangi, drink pot of tea (check) and play with cats.