Monday, February 20, 2017

Let's Get This Pie Year Started*

So the robins are back, the spirea is blooming and spring is happening apace (Ha! based on National Phenology Network Data** it is anomalous that I have had Friday field trips with temperatures in the 80s and 70s in early February-- we are somewhere 2-3 weeks early):  I should get this pie year started.

During the Year of Pie, I resolve to:
1) Bake at least 1 pie per month
2) Teach others to bake pie
3) Eat pie with conversations for peace (see post below and watch for updates)
4)  Make meat pies, hand pies, and pot pies
Thanksgiving 2016
5) Eat at least one piece of pie not baked by me each month
6) Try at least six new pies
7) Make pastry with lard, hot water crust, all butter, all shortening and cream cheese
8) Celebrate Pi Day on March 14
9) Read pie books
10) Watch pie movies and listen to pie music.

Of course, as my resolutions are group endeavors, I would be happy to hear your suggestions for books I should be reading, places I should be eating pie, and recipes I should be trying.  Off hand, I know of no pie movies, but I'm sure you can help me.

Happy ten years of themed blogging!
Pie year is started!

(Oh, bird year continues, by the way-- I haven't given up on any of my resolutions***)

*A version of "Let's get this party started" if you can't hear my puns in your head.

**The National Phenology Network records indicators of seasonal change by aggregating data from lots of individuals across a large area with a wide range of species.  Data from the network can be used, among other things, to determine if plants, migrant birds and insect pollinators are reacting to the same climate cues [they typically aren't].  Starting from individual efforts at separate universities, the coordination of the network has been supported by the United States Geological Survey, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Park Service, the National Science Foundation and the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.  Thanks to Sunflower Spinner for bringing this to my attention.

***2016 Birds
2015 Glowing
2014 Roots
2012 Acid
2011 Stars
2010 Noodles
2009 Legume
2008 Luck
2007 Rodents
2006 Fruit or spice, poorly
2005 Fruit or spice, poorly
2004 Pink
2003 Sparkling wine

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Feeling a little less like Nero

Fire and Ice Punch Groundhog Party 2017 (CLP Photo)
CLP Photo
As the political situation in the US has done its thing recently (how I hope that sometime in the future I can look back on this and really have no idea to what I am referring), I've spent far too much time reading on-line late into the evening (how I hope that I'm just getting biased fake news, but I've watched whole speeches and I've read the transcripts released by the White House and I've looked for the missing IDEA web pages and, of course, I have seen the Mauna Loa data) and have proceeded to plan a Groundhog "Fire and Ice" party, meet with a student person trainer about lifting weights, and get all excited about another hair-do for adult prom.  I've been cooking from cookbooks, planning summer travels, sledding, going to the zoo, and deciding on special foods to eat with grains of paradise on Valentine's Day.  I watched the first robins arrive (I noticed a bunch perhaps Tuesday morning? Feb. 14), the first crocus bloom (Feb. 10) and the first bulb iris (today, Feb. 19).

I've been having a good time.
Pin-the-shadow-on-the-groundhog Runner-Up

I've thought that maybe I feel like Nero, except he probably didn't rush his kids to Scouts and basketball.

Flamingos OKC Jan. 2017

But I've taken some steps to at least quit fanning the flames-- I rounded up some interest in a local school board election, promoted the Farmer's Market on Facebook and will be hosting my first pie baking workshop next week, with plans for future intergenerational interfaith discussions over baked goods at my church. Pie year: Sharing a Piece of Pie of Peace (or some similar pun).

I stand by kindness and nudges and good food.

Not sure what red dirt prairie dogs symbolize, but they make me laugh.

Friday, February 3, 2017

On Nudging

Returning from the march two weeks ago, I was somewhat struck by the power of nudges.

I'd certainly never call myself an instigator, but I know that there were eight people marching in Oklahoma City who would not have been there were it not for me.  Mind you, all I did was ask some people over lunch who was going and later picked a spot for us to meet.  It wasn't exactly a hard sell.

About the same time, a former student mentioned how I had (positively) influenced her college experience and another claimed that I changed her career entirely when I asked a question about the food supply.  Being a teacher is to be a nudger whether one knows when one is nudging or not.

I know I changed the course of the history of one small town in West Virginia when I asked The Mister if we were going to go vote in the mayoral election.  The candidate we voted for won by a single vote (something like 51 to 50 to 30 in a three way race).

I used these as examples to explain (and mostly to remind myself) that little actions matter and that sometimes people are listening.

Then the news of the last weekend came in and I felt defeated.  Nudging feels so ineffective when others are bludgeoning.

But even after I directly remind my students that they were valued in my class, regardless of when they or their families came to this country, I still had it in me to recoil in horror at some of their poor answers.  I guess I haven't been bludgeoned out of me yet.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Bird Books, Birthed Book, and Some Others

A side benefit of letting the pile of books grow before sitting down and blogging about them is that I no longer remember what I had to say about most of them.  It makes catching up quicker, if considerably less meaningful.

I read a string of books in the fall that felt like absolutely the right book at the right time.  Stork by Wendy DeSol was chopped full of bird symbolism, included unexpectedly weird mythological fantasy, and was a fun read full of modern teenage angst and Starbucks marketing. The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney had me crying about the prevalence of sexual assault while longing to re-read To Kill a Mockingbird, which is directly references. Like those two, I think I picked up The Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon because it had a bird on the cover (and the moon, making it a glow year book) but I found the pro-botanical time travel book to be remarkable, if not as light as I anticipated.

I was reluctant to read A Book About Love by Jonah Lehrer that M sent me because somehow I couldn't see what there was left to say about love/was feeling pretty good about where I stand in loving relationships/have read a lot of well-written stuff concerning research into parenting, marriage, and happiness.  But then I started reading because I love my friends and I love receiving books and suddenly this one resonated.  I'm still unsure how to decode messages God and the Universe send through the books I read, but feel fairly certain I received a message there.

Speaking about books about love, Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch was great fun, or at least as much fun as a reasonably sensitive book about being sixteen and raised by a single mother who just died can be.  The characters eat a lot in Italy, which made me like them (people go to Italy for many reasons, but there are two reasons they stay: love and gelato), and they did things that just made me feel old.  The teenage narrator reads through her mother's notebooks, and finds her mother's thoughts when she (the mother) received e-mails from admissions in study abroad programs long before the narrator was born.  I bristled at the author for such a blatant anachronism-- until I realized that the book was published this year so the dead mother was studying abroad in 1997 or so.  She certainly could have received an e-mail.  And I know she is fictional, but I still found it disturbing to be older than the now dead mother.

Speaking about gift books, Wonder by R.J. Palacio is great, if it captures 5th and 9th grade a bit too well.  I'm closing bird year out with great gifts  The Big Year and Chicken (with library books Goldfinch and The Nightingale also on the pile).

I should also shout out Birthed: Finding Grace through Infertility by Elizabeth Evans Hagan (more information here) and After the Crown by K.B. Wagers.  The books have the common trait of being very-well done and having been written by someone I know.  And not much else, but both are good.

I just remembered There Will Be Bears which I also read, despite being about bears and not birds.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

I thought I saw a pussy hat . .

"I did, I did.  I saw many hundred pussy hats."

I know that you can watch the news and see aerial photographs of the crowds today in D.C. and Chicago and L.A. and even the over 100,000 people who rallied in Denver.

Pussy hat made from old clothes during the ice storm
It's okay if it looks like unbalanced pig ears,
most of the others didn't really look like cats either.
You can't see the photos from Oklahoma City because the helicopters were not there.  But we were.  Apparently about 6,000* of us.  Enough of us that the we more than filled the entire loop route of the march-- the back of the line hadn't started moving when the front returned.  We were there. In Oklahoma City.

And on my facebook page alone, you will not only see my friends marching in D.C., NY, Chicago, and Denver, but also friends marching in Hartford, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Charleston (the capital of West Virginia), Atlanta (where the marchers high-fived the police officers as they walked by), St. Louis, Oakland, Raleigh, Augusta, Maine, Omaha, and Topeka.

We are here.  We love our country.  And our rights are not up for grabs.

And since I'm apparently posting sign slogans rather than original writing, I'll close with:
Love, not hate, is what makes American great.

*ETA 1/22/2017  Better estimates are closer to 12,000 of us!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Representing me and 25,000 other households in my demographic

In 2005, the Mister and I were a television family for a major viewership tracking rating system, but only for the Kansas City ratings, not the national numbers.  We were told that we were representing 25,000 other households in our demographic in the Kansas City area.
This floored us.
There were 25,000 other families like us?  In Kansas City?   Who knew?

When I've asked friend to join me marching on Saturday, the looks have been similarly quizzical.  "Here?  In Oklahoma?  There are feminists in Oklahoma?"

My list of why I will march is a hodgepodge of stock answers, from the importance of women's rights as human rights to the power of peaceful assembly, mixed with personal stories.

But mostly it comes down to wanting to proclaim to the world (including the officials elected to represent us) that we are here.  And to proclaim to my neighbors and students and colleagues down the hall that they are not alone.  That there are many of us here.  Yes, here.  In Oklahoma.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Poultry Fowl

Yep, "Poultry Fowl' is intended to be a pun on "party foul" but it doesn't really make sense.  It's the alternative title because I was afraid that the original, "Eating Birds" has some sexual connotation that I'm too naive to know about.

During bird year, I have eaten chicken, cornish game hens, quail, goose, duck, pheasant, and turkey at home.  Almost all of these have been roasted by The Mister, who is both a great cook and a great companion.

Cranberry walnut, pumpkin, chocolate pecan and mincemeat
Here's the turducken breast he roasted in New Mexico for our "we're going to be away so we should keep it simple" four-pie Thanksgiving meal (A traditional (??) turducken is a whole chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey. We bought a product labeled as "turducken breast" which included lots of bacon in addition to meat from the three birds.
 Also pictured are the beer can duck being roasted (after having been dried for two days) on its way to becoming Peking Duck with little Mandarin pancakes and three new radishes I bought at the Asian grocer in Denver.

Peeking at the Peking Duck
Korean radish, Chinese daikon and Yuan radish, I believe.
The middle one was pithy but the other two types excellent