Sunday, April 27, 2014

Too Windy for Kites

As we were being sand blasted at the park, failing at swinging because of the headwind, I kept trying to think of some way to convey the winds of Weatherford, OK.
I've lived other windy places in my life.  I like wind.  The lack of wind felt eerie in West Virginia, whenever I happened to notice it.  But, it turns out, I like wind in moderation.  There were windy days in Boulder and in Lawrence and in each place I remember a particular day when it felt like one was leaning into a New Yorker cartoon every time one wandered outside.  Walking at a cartoonish angle was memorable in Colorado and Kansas.  Here, well, here it has happened three times in the last month.
Anyway, as I was trying to think of how to convey the wind-- most friends think that I am using sandblasted figuratively-- the kites came in.
There were none and then about 7 p.m. there were thirty Mississippi Kites struggling mightily to stay over the park (rather than going with the flow and summering in, say, Hays, Kansas).  Several of them hit the wrong angle and were blown sideways into flapping masses rather than regal glides.  They make an disturbing whistle and all of the other birds seemed to perk up with indignation.
The kites are the harbinger of finals here.  They arrive in mass one day in late April (yesterday, Saturday, April 26 this year, apparently) and they leave the second week of September.  According to the record on this blog, this is one day later than 2012 and four days earlier than 2013.
The kites have come.  Happy end of the school year.  I just hope that don't get blown away.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Celery Root Salad

I nearly followed the recipe for celery root remoulade (pg. 97 in Roots), just substituting Greek yogurt for the sour cream, celery leaves for the parsley, dill pickles for the cornichons, adding some chopped celery stalk and omitting the tarragon, and it was very good.
I want to try and make a celery root (Apium graveolens var. rapaceum, a.k.a. celariac) soup sometime this year.  I have a very hard time even envisioning a creamy celery root soup because the roots (swollen hypocotyls, according to wikipedia) have the flavor of the stalks with an entirely different texture.  It's a bit disconcerting to me. The stalks are from a different variety than the roots.  The species is in the Apiaceae (Umbelliferae); the parsley and carrot family.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


Buying burdock made me giggle, as it felt simultaneously foolish and rebellious to be paying for roots of a weed-- particularly one my father so hates.
Following the directions in Roots, I parboiled matchstick size pieces.
And they were still basically wood.
So I chopped them up in the food processor and made lentil miso burdock soup (inspired by, but not actually following, several different recipes in the book).  It tasted like lentil miso soup with ground up boiled toothpicks.
I might try again some time, but I'm not running out to do so.
Burdock, by the way, is the taproot of Arctium, a weed in the Asteraceae.  The hooked projections of the burrs once caught in curly dog fur are allegedly the inspiration for Velcro.  I understand that young leaves are also edible, although also not tasty, and various diets proclaim the roots to be purifying and super-healthy.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

It's the snot on the dress pants

Nobody warns you how much more you need to wash your professional clothes.
Sure, anybody conscious has heard stories about babies and their abilities to spew bodily fluids with great gusto and at odd angles. And obviously little kids and Oklahoma red dirt combine for some fantastic stains.  But nobody tells you that, by the time your kids are running around and keeping most fluids where they belong, you will still be doing extra laundry (or never ever wearing your actual professional clothes) because your kids hug you and want to be held, you won't even notice how much you've been snotted upon, and dried mucus shows up shockingly well on black pants.

I've spent a great deal of time recently noting where my time goes and thinking about all the little things that nobody knows are part of my jobs (as teacher, scientist, mother, and me).  I've enumerated many of them in blog posts in my head, from the obvious but overlooked (the paperwork) to the somewhat surprising (I recently spent an hour helping a student, neither in my class or my department, figure out what to wear for a trip to the National Academy of Sciences).  At the moment, however, this has mostly just started to make me wonder about all of the things that everyone else does that would surprise me.

Where does your time go that "wasn't exactly in the job description"?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Five days of peaches

The speed of spring is sometimes delightfully dizzying.  One moment (say, March 30) our darling dwarf peach tree barely had swollen buds, and then these were taken moments later (on April first, second and fifth).  Meanwhile, the first tulips opened on April 1, the lilacs on the east side are about to pop, we planted three kiwis yesterday and two figs last week and the whole outside smells deliciously of golden currant and hyacinths (each of which has been blooming for more than a week).

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Lek Off and Toilet Leeks

Once again, there is no Lek Off, no leeks in the toilet, no June 31 and I never did start that aphrodisiac chocolate company.

If you are here because of my annual April Fool's letter, I can assure you that I am investigating roots this year, if you scroll down you can find a way to donate to CHASA (a very real organization) and if you check back, you will see photos of the burdock roots I'm currently eating.

Oh, and it is true that running a 5K is not much fun.  I didn't make that up.