Category Archives: thoughts

Hey, woah.

Are we there yet? And by there, I mean here? The winter was deep, and dark, and bitter cold, and windy, and everything horrid. Now it’s May, and cold, and raining, but “at least it’s not snow.” I’m itching for warm weather, sunshine, and the right time to go plant-crazy. I’m looking at you, middle-of-May.

I feel like I’m spurred on by purpose now. Jim is all set to go to England this summer for a wedding. I am totally jelly. Last week was a whirlwind of versing myself in passports, international airlines, and London’s neighborhoods, and I really only have two months to master outlet adapters, international cellphones, the Underground, packing, wedding gifts that can survive in a carry-on, and what to wear to a summer afternoon wedding in London. The last has me turned on my head, because I have a hard enough time dressing for evening weddings here in the States. I mean, for guys it’s pretty simple, a dark suit goes a long way and I’ve hauled out the suit Jim wore for our wedding a handful of times over the last 6 years, changing it up with different ties and accessories to fit in at each new event. But I feel like something so off our usual radar deserves Something Special That Can’t Be Botched Over 3,275 Miles. Time to start scouring the internets.

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Birth and Re-Birth

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never.
A mother is something absolutely new.
Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

There’s a lot of pressure on American women these days to “go back” after having their babies. Back to work. Back to their pre-pregnancy weight. Back to “normal.”

What a lot of people don’t seem to see is that there is no “going back.” I didn’t really see it myself until I was on the “motherhood” side of the divide. I can start working again and I can lose the weight I gained during pregnancy, but I can’t “go back” to who and what I was before giving birth because that person and that place just don’t exist anymore. “Reclaim your body!” the doctor said at my six-week postpartum checkup. What he should have said was, “Claim your new body!” Yes I’ve lost the majority of the weight I gained, but my hips and spine will never be the same (curse you, back labor!), and my core muscles are all out of shape from being stretched by growing baby. Things I could do a year ago, I can’t do now.

And on the flip side, things I couldn’t do a year ago, I can do now (thanks, relaxin!). So while my yoga muscles are out of shape, my yoga joints are bendy in all new ways. I can survive on slightly less sleep. I’m getting the hang of what we call “winging it.” I’m getting the hang of the thing called “patience.”

River gasped the first time she really saw a tree. I could tell she was truly seeing it, not just registering it visually, from the look on her face and the gurgle-ah sound she made. She made the same sound at the tree that she makes when she gets ready to smile at mommy. Maybe I can get the hang of gasping at the sight of a tree, too.

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Why It’s Awesome to be a Nerd….Girl.

An open letter to Baby Violet and baby girl nerds everywhere, from Wil Wheaton:

Posted by Violet’s Mommy. Violet’s Mommy is awesome.

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Boston, you are the only, only, only

Yes, I’m singing the chorus to “Tessie” today. We were all safe at home when we heard the dual blasts about ten seconds apart. In fact, we’d just pulled in to the driveway from running errands around Q. Could smell faint smoke, maybe from the JFK fire, and could tell by the change in the noise when the FAA instituted the temporary ground stop to change the takeoff-landing pattern. Head and heart both baffled this evening.

Take a tip from the herding dogs: Stick with your loved ones today!

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Home, Grown

I made carrot cake jam today, and then I went on my social media networks and asked myself this:

“Why oh why do 6 jars of homemade jam sitting on the countertop make me so darned happy?”

Seriously, why?

Why do I feel so accomplished, like I’ve really done something, somethingsomething, when all I’ve done is shred some carrots, chop some pears, measure some spices, apply some heat, use a timer, and follow written directions?

Why are the 6 jars of carrot-cake-batter-y looking goodness sitting on the counter something to make me so pleased?

Why do I get a thrill when Jim comes up from the basement with a jar of homemade pickles?

Jim says it’s because I value “old knowledge.” Which could be the reason, because I did major in Classical Languages in college. Latin and canning — two things most people don’t know how to do anymore. He also says it could be because canning is sort of subversive, sort of cutting edge, and sort of old school all at once. And I guess because I’m sort of all those things?

Meghan and I have frequently discussed that among our generation — the late-20-somethings and early-30-somethings — there is a resurgence in home canning, bread baking, gardening, local foods, CSAs and farm shares as a result of heightened environmental awareness during our formative years. We’ve simply been exposed to it longer, and sooner, than the late-30-somethings.

The term “greenwashing” was first coined in 1986. The Slow Food Movement also began in 1986. Captain Planet ran from 1990-1992 (my ages 6 to 8). The Land at EPCOT, opened in 1982, two years before I was born, is a 2.5 million square foot facility “dedicated to human interaction with the land itself.” The Land has undergone a few facelifts in the last few decades, but the central tenet has remained the same. The “Living with the Land” attraction has remained basically the same since 1993. Twenty years! Nearly two-thirds of my life!

So what did I do before writing this post? I googled the question.

And I found “Zombies vs. The Joy of Canning: Motivation in the Productive Home” by Erica at NWEdible. Go read it, I’ll wait – she’s hilarious. She goes more in-depth in to the gardening/urban homesteading side in her discussion, but she still strikes near to what I believe is the heart of the issue. At least, for me. Especially down toward the end, which I’ll quote here if you don’t want to read her whole post:

Right now, we do have a choice – those #10 cans of tomatoes are cheap and easy to buy. Those pears from Argentina are available in June. That feedlot ground beef is on special for $2.49-a pound. McDonalds is on the way and Hot Pockets and Lean Cuisines are in the freezer section.

So why go to all that trouble? Why not run out and grab a can of crushed tomatoes and a jar of jam right alongside the Lean Cuisines and Hot Pockets?

Why?

Because I have a pantry that reflects a summer spent in relaxing work and joyful creation.

Because cooking dinner makes me proud.

Because the food is delicious.

Because this kind of work makes me happy.

That’s why. And that’s enough.

This is why I support my friend Amber at the Farm School, why I’m in love with the local apple orchard, why my Valentine’s Day present was a half-share summer CSA from a local farm. It’s why I’m excited to find a local source for my eggs at this year’s farmers market.

It’s why I want to get my own tomato plants in this year, why I planted blueberries, why there’s an old kitchen cabinet in the basement (next to the auxiliary freezer) filled to the gills with canning supplies and groaning with canned goods.

Because I can open a jar of my own early-September apples during a February blizzard. Or October cranberries in May.

Because I like knowing what’s in my food, what I’m feeding myself, my husband, and my growing little daughter, though she isn’t even HERE yet: jams, sauces, and pickles I made; animals husbanded and eggs raised by my friend; fruit and vegetables from nearby farm families.

Because this kind of work makes me happy.

That’s why. And that’s enough.

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“So, you don’t sound like you’re from around here…”

I hear that frequently up here in the Bay State, and usually because the person with whom I am conversing can’t place my accent or speech patterns. So let me try and explain.

Cali-born to two transplanted New Englanders, one of whom (the offspring of a Mainer and a Bay Stater) was born in Texas and raised in Texas and Maine, the other of whom (the offspring of a Mainer and a West Virginian) was born in Connecticut and raised in Maine and upstate New York. Super-early schooling in Louisiana and Texas, early schooling in far-north-eastern North Dakota with teachers who were from far-north Minnesota (Minnesooooda?). Plagued by middle school classmates, tamped down lingering sound of the upper Midwest during sojourn in southern Nevada. College educated in Boston. Can’t watch Fargo or a Sarah Palin interview without serious lapsus linguae.

Did that help?

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My Reads, 2012 edition

Alright…I didn’t meet my goal, but I did surpass the year before! I’m not sure how far I will get in my 100-book goal in 2013…maybe I should set a 50-book goal, and try to get as much reading as possible in before June comes?

1. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
2. The House at Tyneford: a novel (Natasha Solomons)
3. One Bad Apple (Sheila Connolly)
4. Town in a Lobster Stew (B. B. Haywood)
5. The Ionia Sanction (Gary Corby)
6. Corduroy Mansions (Alexander McCall Smith)
7. The Dog Who Came In From The Cold (Alexander McCall Smith)
8. Rotten to the Core (Sheila Connolly)
9. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal (Christopher Moore)
10. Strawberry Shortcake Murder (Joanne Fluke)

11. Red Delicious Death (Sheila Connolly)
12. Blueberry Muffin Murder (Joanne Fluke)
13. All Creatures Great and Small (James Herriot)
14. Betty Crocker’s Guide to Easy Entertaining: How to Have Guests – And Enjoy Them (Betty Crocker)
15. Mary Boleyn: Mistress of Kings (Alison Weir)
16. Lemon Meringue Pie Murder (Joanne Fluke)
17. Fudge Cupcake Murder (Joanne Fluke)
18. A Marked Man (Barbara Hamilton)
19. City of Silver: A Mystery (Annamaria Alfieri)
20. Cinnamon Roll Murder (Joanne Fluke)

21. Sup With the Devil (Barbara Hamilton)
22. Sugar Cookie Murder (Joanne Fluke)
23. Sprinkle with Murder (Jenn McKinlay)
24. Sideways on a Scooter: Life and Love in India (Miranda Kennedy)
25. Holiday Grind (Cleo Coyle)
26. Louisa and the Missing Heiress (Anna Maclean)
27. Mayflower: A Story of Community, Courage, and War (Nathaniel Philbrick)
28. Buttercream Bump-Off (Jenn McKinlay)
29. My Life in France (Julia Child, Alex Prud’homme)
30. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (Alexander McCall Smith)

31. The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection (Alexander McCall Smith)
32. Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy (Michael Baxandall)
33. Sacred Painting :: Museum (Federico Borromeo, trans. Ken Rothwell & Pam Jones)
34. Flowerbed of State (Dorothy St. James)
35. Priestess of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley, Diana L. Paxson)
36. Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams (Joseph J. Ellis)
37. Sarah (Orson Scott Card)
38. Rebekah (Orson Scott Card)
39. Rachel & Leah (Orson Scott Card)
40. Louisa and the Country Bachelor (Anna Maclean)

41. Louisa and the Crystal Gazer (Anna Maclean)
42. The Deeds of the Disturber (Elizabeth Peters)
43. The Snake, the Crocodile, and the Dog (Elizabeth Peters)
44. A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, the Mexican War and the Conquest of the American Continent (Robert W. Merry)
45. Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father (John Matteson)
46. Roast Mortem (Cleo Coyle)
47. Murder, She Meowed (Rita Mae Brown)
48. A Rare Benedictine (Ellis Peters)
49. The Hippopotamus Pool (Elizabeth Peters)
50. Seeing a Large Cat (Elizabeth Peters)

51. Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table (Molly Wizenberg)
52. Il Gigante: Michelangelo, Florence, and the David 1492-1504 (Anton Gill)
53. Key Lime Pie Murder (Joanne Fluke)
54. Carrot Cake Murder (Joanne Fluke)
55. A Killer Crop (Sheila Connolly)
56. What You Should Know About the American Flag (Earl P. Williams)
57. The Importance of Being Seven (Alexander McCall Smith)
58. Cookie Dough or Die (Virginia Lowell)
59. The Quiche of Death (M. C. Beaton)
60. Bitter Harvest (Sheila Connolly)

61. Crazy Horse and Custer: the Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors (Stephen E. Ambrose)
62. Novena for Murder (Sister Carol Anne O’Marie)
63. Entre Nous: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl (Debra Ollivier)
64. Waking Up in Eden: In Pursuit of an Impassioned Life on an Imperiled Island (Lucinda Fleeson)
65. The Ape Who Guards the Balance (Elizabeth Peters)
66. One Book in the Grave (Kate Carlisle)
67. Pawn of Prophecy (David Eddings)
68. Queen of Sorcery (David Eddings)
69. Caveat Emptor (Ruth Downie)
70. Magician’s Gambit (David Eddings)

71. 52 Loaves: One Man’s Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning, and a Perfect Crust (William Alexander)
72. Castle of Wizardry (David Eddings)
73. Enchanter’s End Game (David Eddings)
74. The Phantom Tollbooth (Norton Juster)
75. Mairelon the Magician (Patricia C. Wrede)
76. Magician’s Ward (Patricia C. Wrede)

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