Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tomasello Anelletti 56

My BiL and SiL frequently give us tasty treats for Christmas. This year our bundle of deliciousness included these Tomasello Anelletti 56. I'm a sucker for pasta shapes (although it is really hard to beat a nice noodle) so I think the kale, sausage and cheese preparation created by the Mister was enhanced by the slightly chewy pasta loops. Thanks to BiL and SiL! Thanks to the Mister for cooking.
Of course everything in the winter (this was eaten back in February, I'm a little behind on my blogging) is enhanced by brussel sprouts and brussel sprouts are greatly enhanced by carmelized alliums and pine nuts.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's spring and sex is in the air

The pollen load on my windshield has tapered off slightly, only to be replaced by the progeny of all those little male gametophytes: seeds. Sunday afternoon all the silver maples dropped their seeds, as did the local elms. I've never encountered such a shower. Two shirts which had fallen off the clothes rack had 14 and 18 seeds on them. Millions of maple helicopters pooled on the slow side of the river to take their turn washing down the riffle in a constant stream of reproduction. Yesterday morning the maintenance man was out leaf blowing the seeds off the courthouse sidewalks. The college lawn looked "forked" with seeds. And the more fruitful box elders haven't even ripened yet.

I'm adding a "phenology" tag to some posts, as I realize I want to be one of those citizen scientists who can say with authority, "the finches are early this year," or "it was a great year for the maples," and actually have written observations to back me up.
Despite the unusually large quantities of ice and snow, it was not a particularly hard winter: my rosemary overwintered outside and my butterfly bushes did not die back at all. Our last snow was at the end of February. It was April 7 in 2009.
All of the hollies are half yellow. Do they lose their leaves in the spring? What sort of an adaptation is that?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The noodles of home? and desiccating earthworms

While I was in Kansas (a mere month ago? It feels like ages and ages. In Lawrence I sneezed all the time in the sickness that was the predecessor to the shared fever and cough inducing cold that turned into the nasty sinus infection I'm ridding myself of now.) I ate at Noodles and Company with SalSis and my MiL.
SalSis had told me about the existence of several new noodles restaurants in Lawrence. I was excited to try them and was initially disappointed when I learned that one was Noodles and Company, part of chain that I'd eaten at many times in Denver.

In the spirit of noodle exploration, we still ate there, and I am pleased to report that the noodles we sampled were all fairly priced and tasty. Nothing was extraordinary, but I'd happily go back.*

To me, the interesting thing is my reaction. When I saw the Noodles and Company sign as we approached, I almost whined, "but we go to lunch at Noodles and Company all time." Then it struck me that it had been ten years since I worked in Denver and ate lunch at Noodles and Company. I had probably not given the chain any thought since I first started eating with SalSis, nine years ago, or met the Mister, much less his mother. There's not a spaghetti and meatball Italian restaurant within 35 miles of where I live now, much less a super-fresh cosmopolitan noodle shop. I see SalSis about twice a year. We don't eat at Noodles and Company all the time.

For a moment, though, working near downtown Denver and rushing out for lunch still seemed like the norm for my life. I still felt like an 8-5 working person. Denver still felt like home.

My upcoming move has started me thinking about "home" and who I am. Even though I was not born there and haven't lived there for ten years, Colorado is my home and probably always will be. I miss "my mountain", my family and not seeing the changing of the season in our garden. But I don't belong in downtown Denver rushing to a crowded noodle shop over my lunch hour. I cringe every time I try to drive from my parent's suburban house to the nearby retail strips and wonder how I could have ever fit in there.** If I don't belong, how can it be home?

Yet sometimes I feel too hip? too urban? too yuppie? too something for my rural West Virginia town. I want to be able to buy fresh produce and have a choice of more than two kinds of sparkling wine. I'd like to be in a yoga class and recycle on my curbside. I'd like not to be the only stroller-pusher on the street. Heck, I'd like to have sidewalks so I don't have to push my stroller on the street. But I love my freedom lawn and living in a neighborhood with mostly freedom lawns. I love that having styled, highlighted, hair is not the norm. I love my walk to work and the daily changes I see in the color on the hillsides. I like that I consider the forty-plus vultures that hang out behind our house to be a wonderful sign of spring. If I had a "yard list" (serious birders have life lists, state lists, county lists and a yard list), I'd be ecstatic that I could count a pileated woodpecker on it. Many parts of me fit here. It's home. Or part of my home. But not where I belong either.

So, before I spend any more time on this (I should be grading and Neil Diamond has said it much better, before I was born***), I'll ask, what's home to you? What noodles are there?

*While Salsis was happy with her choice while it was fresh, she reports that cold leftover soba noodles lack any appeal. More precisely, "the leftover cold soba noodles remind me of large stiffening earthworks desiccating on the sidewalk."
**More about the stigma of the best high school in the country soon.
***"L.A.'s fine but it ain't home. Brooklyn's home but it ain't mine no more." I am I said, 1971.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Partial Remedy for Craziness

It's been a tough couple weeks in our household. Pink eye, fevers, congested heads, raw throats and nasty coughs have circulated through the humans, and are not over with. Student ridiculousness increased to a new level. Administrative ridiculous remains. The state is tense about mine disasters and the future of coal. I fell while wheeling the baby in the stroller around the new construction. I coughed so hard I peed-- at least once a day. Taxes! Pollen! Baby climbing stairs! Suddenly hot sleepless nights!

But it has also been fabulous.

Spring! Spring! Spring!

I walk the same route every day and can tell you that between 1 pm Wednesday and 7 pm Wednesday the buds on the dogwood on High street moved from closed to halfway open. The grape leaves came on Wednesday as well. The tulips opened Tuesday. Sycamores started leafing yesterday.

Dianthus went to his first softball game (The Mister was on base twice and ran in one run as the faculty lost to the staff) and wore appropriate big boy baseball clothes.

Mister Splashy Pants learned that Dianthus can be fun to bat at. Dianthus has not yet learned to avoid Mister Splashy Pants in these moods.

But is will happen. Things are changing fast. Thursday Dianthus's first two attempts at "finger foods" led to massive choking spit up. Tonight he "chewed" down several imitation cheerios. The Cubs and Rockies are at .500. Things are looking up.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Two Horrifying Steps for Mommy

Yesterday Dianthus climbed the first two steps of the staircase and was well on his way up higher when snatched. For those of you (my mother) concerned about such things being recorded in his still non-existent baby book, it was Tuesday, April 6, age 8 months and a week, when he first started climbing stairs.
While he had been mobile for some time, it was Thursday, March 11 (7 1/2 months) when suddenly was crawling. Fast, long-distances, and with purpose. Fortunately, my parents were here to witness it.*

A little over a week later Monday, March 22, while he was with the Mister's mother in Kansas, he perfected sitting up by himself.
In the short time since, Dianthus has learned to pull up on everything, pull over anything that might tip, and systematically pull everything off any surface he can reach while standing.
He hasn't figured out how to gracefully stop standing.
But he can climb at least a few stairs.
His mom is scared.
*My mother took this image when they were here in March.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Food Rules

My readers (or at least the few that comment) have suggested that they want to know more about Food Rules by Michael Pollan.
Here's a conversation I imagine between Michael Pollan and some editor (books i done read uses this format for reviews with great success. I do not pretend to be as clever as raych).
Editor: People seem to like your Omnivore's Dilemma book.
MP: Um, yeah.
Ed: But the problem with Omnivore's Dilemma is that it tells people all about where their food comes from, in an interesting investigative, yet personal way [MP thinks, "Is he reading from some review?"]. But our readers really want a book that tells them what to eat.
MP: Which is why I wrote In Defense of Food. To give Americans clear instructions about what they should eat and why.
Ed: Oh, yeah, it says here that that sold pretty well.
MP: Uh-huh.
Ed: But, see, In Defense of Food is complicated.
MP: [Really?]
Ed: It goes into great detail about the research concerning healthy diets. Our readers don't really want to know why they should do something. They just need something simple and short to tell them what to eat.
MP: Like "Eat food. Mostly Plants. Not too much."?
Ed: Exactly.
MP: Which is the subtitle of In Defense of Food and the subject of several short articles I've written.
Ed: But couldn't you make it into a book?
MP: Yes, I made that line into a book. It's called In Defense of Food.
Ed: You're really popular now, with Botany of Desire airing on tv and all. Ask Amy even used the phrase, "You're getting all Michael Pollan on me," as a way to shut up people who should be minding their own business about diets. You can't get much more popular than PBS and an insult on Ask Amy.
MP: Okay?
Ed: So, basically, we want a book for people who don't read.
MP: ?
Ed: Can you take the next fifteen minutes and write down everything that's in that In Defense of Food book you keep talking about, but leave off all of the narrative, all of the history, all of the research. Make us a list of your points.
MP: Like, "Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much."
Ed: Yes, that's it. But make 100 or so of them. One per page. Short, punchy. No explanation.
MP: Okay, sure. I can make a list if you really want to sell what I've already said in another book in book form for people that don't read.
Ed: Non-readers are our biggest untapped market. Now get to it.

Food Rules is the result of this discussion. One rule per page. Some are a phrase. Some require two paragraphs. Most are two sentences. Pollan admits up front that this is exactly the same information that fills In Defense of Food, just without the actual information.
The instructions are nothing new to me, but, much as I mock the form, I'll admit that I enjoyed reading (all 20 minutes of it) Food Rules far more than In Defense of Food.

Friday, April 2, 2010

"The Leek in the Toilet" is classic

Most readers of my annual April Fool's letter recognized the letter as a joke. Most thought the leek in the toilet was simply a matter of poor editing. It turns out that putting a leek in a toilet is one of two physical April Fool's pranks that I've pulled (the other being rubber-banding the squirter on the sink so that users became quickly soaked and my brother quickly blamed).
The leek in the toilet wasn't all that funny, but the putters-in (there were three of us) thought it was, particularly when the person we asked to deal with it couldn't find it and we started wondering about a leek in the u-bend.
It still makes me laugh every April first.
And, an astute reader pointed out that I've done pregnant with twins before (last year, as it happens). But, like the leek in the toilet, pregnant with twins is classic. My father told my grandmother my mother was pregnant with twins forty years ago and it turns out that my parents are soon to be grandparents to two sets of twins in one year, if the messages they received yesterday are to be believed.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Don't Believe All E-mails Sent on the First of April

I'm not pregnant with twins.
But I am moving to Oklahoma.
Of course I couldn't be caught up with my grading.