Tuesday, September 30, 2008

myriad ramblings

Well, Jupiter is asleep. She didn't have school today, but she got to visit kindergarten with Mimi. She got to go to recess and do kindergarten math. I have heard that she is very good at kindergarten math. This doesn't surprise me. As focused as she is on having at least as much as everybody else, an understandable perspective, counting is a vital skill. Then we went to the playground, but the tired hungry monster was trying its best to take over. Jupiter was doing her best not to let it take over, but I still heard a lot of "Jupiter did....." from her friend G. So we left the playground early so it would still be on a positive note.
We've been going to the Town Office playground once or twice a week lately. There has been an informal play group for several months now with lots of Moms, a few Dads on occasion, lots of brothers and sisters. Sometimes I call it the playground village. It's here that I first had hope, in the spring of last year when Jupiter was struggling mightily to get along at school, but could play nicely the majority of the time with her friends at the playground. I've learned that even when I'm dragging on a Thursday as the end of the week approaches, going to the playground village for an hour or two will revive me, even if I yawn nonstop for the first 20 minutes. It's here that Jupiter had learned a bit of what it is like to have a younger brother or sister as we borrow interactions from some of the younger siblings. It's here that Jupiter has actually seen how one can pay attention to and play games with a baby, and as a result she has allowed me to play some of those games with her as we try to fill in that developmental hole. It's here that, despite my inherent shyness, I have seen the benefits of being a part of a group where we all support one another. Some of the other kids play with me. Jupiter interacts with other adults besides me. I will miss it when the playground shuts down for winter.
Tonight Jupiter said "I hate you." Tonight I don't even think she said it to be mean. Or more accurately, she didn't toss it out in a fit of anger. It was more of a "lets see if I can get in trouble" deal. Sort of like putting the gravel in G's hair, throwing G's soccer ball over the playground fence, spilling a bunch of water out of the bathtub onto the already wet carpet. I didn't respond to her, just let her go to her room, closed the door, and went to wash the dishes and waited for her to make the first move. Which took awhile. Finally she called me, and I went in and she had decided to go to sleep, and said "Can you please (asking with respect!) close my shades, turn on my music, put it on repeat, and close my door tight." I just looked at her; and she asked again, more impatiently. I suggested that I might be waiting to hear something. She said sorry, and I asked her what she was sorry for. Sometimes she forgets by the time we get to the apology, or can't figure out which particular thing we're working on at the moment. She said "saying hate." I informed her that we can't say "I hate you" because it makes people feel sad in their hearts. We talk about feelings a lot this way; how we feel in our hearts. Sometimes she disconnects from her feelings in the same way she can't always feel what her body needs. Then, after this discussion, we finally got around to brushing our teeth.
But she didn't get to go right to bed. We had some rocking chair time first. Jupiter generally fights rocking chair time with a passion. Even if she truely wanted to be held, she would deny the fact vehemently. Sometimes I think the harder she fights, the more she needs to be held. Tonight was a token battle I think, she submitted fairly quickly to being held and rocked, although she did ask every two minutes when she could go in her bed. Sometimes we actually get to the sharing conversation we're supposed to have during rocking chair time. My goal is always to get her to fall asleep while we're rocking. That's pretty rare, but we're working on it.

We have a new cat. We got her on Saturday. Jupiter is excited about the cat. The cat is less excited about Jupiter, but has been amazingly tolerant so far. Tonight Jupiter was trying to poke the cat, who was sensibly hiding under the kitchen table, with her foam sword. But the cat let Jupiter pat her before she went to bed, and Jupiter came up to me with the big smile that means she's really really happy in her heart. I love that smile. On the way home from getting the cat, Jupiter said "Mom, I think we should name the kitty Autumn Leaf." So our Maine Coon cat is named "Autumn Leaf." Sometimes Jupiter amazes me with her ability to see beauty and verbalize it. Or choose a very poetic name for her cat.

The place of employment has blocked me from reading blogs. I wondered how long it would take before they did that. Now I have to read my favorite blogs (aside from Haleine's, who as the partner of an internet genius has a website which is not connected to a social networking site.) at home. So MimiX, I am still reading your blog, but I can't read it everyday like I used too. Same to FaerieM (who I doubt reads my blog, but hers is awesome. she is an amazing writer who evokes tears in me about every other post.http://creatingmyownlittlenirvana.blogspot.com/). And apart from this, it will make it harder to post my own blog, because I have to use "awake while Jupiter is asleep" time to read other blogs and catch up on FRUA happenings before I can post to my blog. But I'll try to do better.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Staff Selection Process

My job is going to New Jersey. It's something my area suspected for awhile, a long while in fact, which didn't stop anybody from being upset the fine summer Friday when they called up our boss and said to come down to the meeting room immediately. For the most part, we are very attached to our job function. We try to keep people from taking money that is not theirs, or from withdrawing money which doesn't exist in the first place. A lot of times, I only figure it out after it starts and we lose money anyway, which drives me nuts. It's been my job for almost six years, I'm very good at it, and I take a lot of pride in it. Most of us have been doing it for a long time. About a year from now, I'm going to be doing something else. I am not thrilled about that.
The official procedure, once it's been determined that your job in its current form will no longer exist at some point, is the staff selection process. It's changed back and forth a few times. We get some input. Which doesn't change the fact that I still want my job in its current form. But preferably with more pay. It doesn't pay well, and considerably less when I figure that gas has gone up about $3 a gallon since I started the job back in 2002. So I'm trying to transfer to an office closer to my house. Right now I'm waiting to see what, if anything, I will be assigned to when my current position is at an end. I hate the uncertainty, and the waiting. Although waiting to see what I will do next is somewhat better than waiting to find out if I'm going to be doing something else or not. And where I will be doing it. Right now the only certainty is the when. Meanwhile I keep looking for the bad checks. I will miss doing that when it's done. I just have to hope that the next thing is even better.

joys of home ownership

I would have blogged earlier tonight, but I had to paint my bathroom ceiling. Jupiter has a tenatively scheduled play date on Sunday afternoon, and I would like them to come again. Hence, the preperation. Any time I clean, of course, Jupiter asks me who is coming over. She got into the habit of asking during bi-annual to annual cleaning I did before post placement visits. Except for the last one, I guess since it was the last one. So anyway, looking at my bathroom through a visitor's eye, I decided the bathroom ceiling needed to be painted. Which it did. Now the walls need to be painted. I didn't necessarily have the proper tools for painting a ceiling, so I tried using a regular sponge. So there are a lot of drips on the walls. That's okay, the walls needed paint too. And there are drips on the rug.
Yes, I have a rug in my bathroom. Berber carpet, actually. It came with the house. My house came with a lot of great neat things. Some very old things, which I will blog about in a later post. And some unusual things, like a years supply of ziploc bags, and three plungers. It also has carpet in the bathroom. Great in the winter if you don't want to slip on a cold wet tile floor. But sometimes, not so great. The carpet doesn't need to be painted. It needs to be removed and replaced with tile. Jupiter is not always careful about keeping water IN the tub when she takes a bath. So, the carpet is wet, and growing icky stuff in spots. I dream of tile.
The tile, though isn't the problem. My tub/shower leaks. I recaulked it, so it's not quite so bad, but besides the leaky part, it's salmon colored. Absolutely stylish. About six years ago, a delivery company accidentally delivered a tub/shower and a toilet to my house. Left them in my driveway right in front of my garage door one day while I was in the shower. Before I could figure out how to get them in the house, the person who was supposed to receive said bathroom fixtures drove by and claimed them. Bummer. I could use a new toilet and tub/shower about now.
Speaking of the toilet, it's running. Constantly. Finally last night it dawned on me to turn the water off at the valve and just turn the water on to flush. I'm a little afraid of my water bill next month. I went to Walmart (under protest) this afternoon to buy a new flapper thing in hopes of being able to fix my own toilet. Nope. Bought the wrong thing, of course. In all honesty, I want a new toilet. (It's colored salmon too.) But why install a new toilet before a new tub and new tile? Other than to get everything at one time is expensive, especially given the price of heating oil.
Okay, I admit it, I cheated tonight when we came home. I turned the heat up to 64 degrees when we got home just to take the chill off. I've turned it back down to the bottom of the thermostat. I'll try again tomorrow to be good. Heating pads are wonderful things, btw. You can be warm even if the air in your house is Arctic.
So, the bathroom. I need a new toilet, new bathtub/shower, a new vanity top (it's not salmon. It's gold sparkle. The basin, however, is salmon.) And tile. Probably some subfloor too. Why not? May as well do your fantasy bathroom up right when you dream up your fantasy all expense paid trip to Lowe's.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

CommonGround Fair

Yesterday, we went to the Common Ground Fair. The fair is about an hour and 45 minutes away, and everytime I go there, something happens. The first time I went was a field trip in 8th grade, back in 198 whatever it was. 1985 or 1986. It's past my bedtime, and I can't do math. Anyway, we took two school buses, and somewhere north of Augusta on Interstate 95, our bus broke down. Dead as a doornail, on the highway, broke down. The bus driver tries in vain for a good long time to contact the bus garage by radio for another bus, but the short range radio is way out of its range. So the happy bus that was still running proceeded on to the fair, called the bus garage on the phone, and an hour after that another bus showed up to take us to the fair. We spent about 20 minutes at the fair, long enough to find a bathroom and get back on the bus to go back to school. When I told Jupiter this story yesterday, she very astutely announced "That sounds like a boring field trip." She was right. It was. It was very exciting on Monday when my regular bus came to pick us up for school and it reeked of rotting octopus because some enterprising field trip person shoved some in the bus heater on the way back from Unity. It's a long ride home from the fair. Remember this later in the post.

The next time I went to the fair, Jupiter was not quite three years old. We went by ourselves, and it rained. It rained and rained the entire time, until we were walking back through the muddy field to go back to the car. We did learn about apples and saw some animals, and Jupiter's favorite, the Native American drumming and dancing. They were inside a big tent. The Native American drumming was a very popular place. But not being one to enjoy being cold and wet, I didn't enjoy myself very much.

Yesterday, we got in the car a little after 9am. Maybe 9:15. Two minutes later, we stop for gas. We drive north to Augusta. The directions I printed out from the fair website have suggested getting off the interstate in Augusta, taking Route 3 east, then taking some state route back roads to the fair. So I try it. Mostly because I want to drive over the new big bridge over the Kennebec river. Which we do. Then we drive some more, and I try to turn left into a non existent road. This seems to me an odd place to put a left turn arrow. Here you can turn left to...two trucks loaded with firewood. Which I do actually want, but that's another post. I go straight and find the left turn I'm supposed to make and follow that road for a good long while, then ask Elmo, who is in charge of reading the directions to me, where I'm supposed to turn next. We're supposed to be on route 137, and we are, and we drive through a four way intersection that goes by very quickly, then suddenly it appears that we're still on Route 137, but we're amazingly driving West instead of East, even though I have been going straight on the same road the entire time. Then we're in Winslow. Winslow is not on the directions. A little while later I see a sign for Waterville. This is not good. I don't want to be in Waterville. Had I just kept driving north on the Interstate, we would have been in Waterville about 12 minutes after we left Augusta. Well, maybe 18 minutes. Certainly not the 35 minutes it just took us to drive it. Then I got lost in downtown Waterville for awhile, then Jupiter as to go to the bathroom. So do I. So we stop at McDonalds in Waterville. Jupiter wants a hamburger. I can't blame her; I'm hungry too. So much for local, organically grown food for lunch. So I get her a hamburger. Ketchup and pickles, no mustard.
Then we get back on 95 north. Now I tell Elmo to read the directions from Fairfield. He starts embellishing the directions, saying things like "drive over the bridge in Fairfield to nowhere, then past the cow field." He's being a very good sport about the fair trip. His first wish was to go to NYC and see Yankee Stadium for the last time. Instead he's spent all morning in the car being Jupiter's paper ripper, going to a fair that is a "celebration of rural living." Kind of a far cry from the Bronx.

This time, we don't get lost. We sit in the line of traffic waiting to park for a good long time. A very long time. Long enough to make me remember why the last time I came to the fair, I swore I wouldn't come back. We park in a hayfield with 5000 other cars and hike another 1/2 mile to the fair gate. A sign proclaims "Cell phones do not work here. Make other plans." The signs are accurate. Cell phones do not work here.

The Common Ground fair, besides being intensely focused on locally grown and organic foods, seems like an old time fair. There's no midway, no carnival rides, and no cotton candy. I love it. It reminds me of every spring, when I break out my Birkenstocks and wear them to work every day in a minor dress code violation. I love wearing my Birkenstocks. Maybe I'm supposed to be a granola in California. Or even just a farmer. But I love this fair. So does Jupiter.

We go to the childrens area. Jupiter enjoys part of a magic and juggling show, which is saying a lot. She had some specific plans for the fair, and none of them included watching a magic and juggling show. To spend her time on that without worrying that she wasn't going to do all the things she planned too, well, that's nothing short of amazing to me. So we watch Randy juggle and do tricks. He's good, he makes us all laugh. He makes the lady next to me who I don't know talk a lot about how good he is. I've met Randy before, but never seen him perform. The lady next to me is right, he's good. I"m impressed. After the magic show, Jupiter gets her face painted, which was on her list of must do's. She jumps into a big pile of hay. She checks out the other activities in the children's area, but opts to go see the Native American drumming. She has remembered going to this fair from two years ago and wants to see this again. This year, in the beautiful sunny weather, the drums are outside, and we watch for awhile while I eat a veggie quesedilla and Jupiter sips a strawberry smoothie. Then, while Elmo goes off to explore and find his own lunch, we go see animals. We see chickens, rabbits, cows and horses. Jupiter pats a baby donkey. Elmo comes back. He loves this fair. We see some oxen
pulling. We find a woman who is willing to let small children hold her baby angora rabbits. Jupiter loves this.
She uses very gentle hands with the bunny. Sometimes Jupiter struggles with gentle hands. the rabbit woman is very friendly and invites us back tomorrow to hold bunnies. Then we head back to the children's area. Jupiter pounds nails into a log with a hammer. She makes a hay bear. Actually I make a hay bear. It is not artistic. She does some clay art. She jumps into the hay pile some more. All of this stuff is so simple, and the kids LOVE it. And it's all free. Kids don't even pay admission for this fair. And all the activites are free. Then, as Jupiter is exploring the woods and lean to shelters, she needs to take a break, while vehemently denying her need to pee. If she's into something, the pee could be running down her leg and she would deny her need to pee. A brief battle ensues. Elmo promises she can come back to the woods. So we go pee, determining that portapotties are gross, and that little thing on the side is because boys can pee standing up. I can't imagine what people in the neighboring portapotties think of this conversation.
While we're actually paying attention to what our body wants, I make Jupiter eat something. It's been a long time since the hamburger. She eats a slice of pizza. She runs around the giant sundial, and I"m relaxed enough at this fair to let her get more than five feet away from me and run around the giant sundial. Then we must go back to the woods and the fairy houses. We stay in the kids area until 5pm when it closes, jumping in the hay a few more times. Jupiter wants maple ice cream (something else she remembers from two years ago) but the line is huge. Elmo takes her to the fire truck test your strength while I run through the farmers market. Jupiter is done with farmers markets. No ducks pond, no farmers market. I buy two heads of russian garlic to winter plant in my garden, and contemplate some blueberries, and ignore the headache that wants to take over my life. When I find Elmo and Jupiter, they have ice cream, but didn't get any for me, so while they eat their ice cream I go stand in the ice cream line, just in time to see them erase maple from the flavor list. Rats. I get mint instead. Maple would have been better. But Jupiter is quite willing to eat it for me when I get back, and we have to physically drag her out of the fair, which is closing anyway. But she had such a good time, and totally doesn't want to leave. I'm glad she did, and want to come back again.
More traffic. Lots of traffic. All the way back to Fairfield. In Fairfield my headache is so bad I am convinced that I will either die or throw up all over the car. Possibly both. I surrender the drivers seat to Elmo. Jupiter sits in the back seat, bangs her head against the back seat repetitively, and chants. She's tired. This is what she does when she's tired. Or stressed. I can live with the head banging, but beg her not to chant. I swear that I am never going to the CommonGround fair again. Finally she falls asleep somewhere south of Augusta. I tell myself it's only 70 more miles, but mercifully, I fall alseep too until we get back to Gray. We get home and Jupiter and I both go to bed.
This morning, Jupiter's face is red. As I recall, her face paint butterfly was not red, but purple. Turns out she wanted to be a swan and colored her face with red marker on the way home while my head was exploding. I don't panic, because I thought it was a washable marker. Nope. Not so washable. But God bless the people at church, all of them tell her how pretty (or stylish, if they've been prepped by me beforehand) she is in her fushia dress, purple and blue shirt, and purple and white tights, and fake pearls. No one mentions the red marker face.
Will we go to the fair next year? Too early to say. Maybe..

Battling Mr. Tivo

We have a Tivo in my house. Most of the time I love the Tivo..even if occasionally I get mixed up and tell Jupiter to put on her TIVO's, and check the TEVA for a new Charlie and Lola episode. It really is convenient, and I don't even remember the last time I taped something on the VCR. Jupiter is now quite profecient at making the show go backwards and forwards and pausing it, and watching it again, and saving it for later. Sometimes she tries to save shows at Mimi's house for later, which doesn't work.

But then come the days the TIVO makes me nuts. Like last Monday. I think it was Monday, might have been Tuesday. Anyway, at work I read my sister Haliene's blog and couldn't see the SNL skit with Hilary and Sarah Palin, but I knew it was on the TIVO. Or I hoped it still was. Sometimes the TIVO erases things it has already taped to tape things like the Weather Channel. I do like the Weather Channel, but I really wanted to see the SNL skit. So I roared down the turnpike at 2pm, dashed to the living room, and rescued the SNL recording from the "this show may be deleted at any moment" exclamation point so I could watch it later. Then I tried to save some other shows, but the TIVO was very protective of it's free space and kept telling me there wasn't enough room to keep a half hour show for two more days. I was forced to delete some Jane and the Dragons, Charlie and Lolas, and the Olympics closing ceremonies, before it would let me keep my other shows. It's very bossy.

At 6pm, I was putting Jupiter to bed, so I left the tv on channel six so after she went to sleep, I could watch the news and find out how cold it was going to be that night. When Jupiter finally went to sleep (she wanted me to lay down with her until she fell asleep, which is nice, even if sometimes I have to wake myself up to go to bed. Long gone are the days when I could lay awake for a half hour and ponder the meaning of life before I fell asleep.) I went back out to watch tv, but I could only rewind the live tv for a half hour, so I got to see the "after weather forecast commercial." So I put on the Weather channel, and went to the kitchen to wash dishes and make the next days lunch while I waited for the local forecast. When I was almost done with the dishes, I looked at the clock and realized it was after 7pm. Quick dash back to the living room. The TIVO has changed the channel to record 2 1/2 Men. Yet again, I have missed the weather. I cancel the recording of 2 1/2 Men, and put it back on the Weather Channel. Then I run around the house looking for the floor, putting away laundry, and finishing lunch. Back to the living room. Jeopardy. I admit defeat to the TIVO and watch Jeopardy to the end, then turn back to the Weather Channel, which I watch without leaving the room. TIVO wins.

Monday, September 15, 2008


We've made the last trip to Farmers Market for the summer. Jupiter actually calls it the supermarket, which I think is funny. Last Saturday, we found the Bags of Basil. At the end of summer, some farmers will sell basil in a larger amount than a little sprig of it. It took some searching, and I thought it was going to be yet another week, but then I saw a huge paper bag at Snell's stand. They wanted $18 for that, and it was a little too much basil for what I needed. Then at one of the organic stands we found a plastic bag for $3. So we got one of those, and went to look at the ducks. While Jupiter was making friends with ducks (Mom, is that duck poop?) I was srounging through my pockets for change, but could only come up with $2.50. So we hiked back to the car so I could get 50 more cents, and then found another organic stand offering up basil leaves for $1 a bag. So we got two of those, and came home with a dollar. The car smelled like basil. It's just such a yummy summery smell. Probably if they had one of those pine tree air freshners in a basil scent, I would buy one.

Yesterday, I made pesto. Pesto is very expensive to buy. It's not that cheap to make, but more cost effective than buying it in jars. And a little goes a long way, so I freeze it in the little small size gladware containers and during a raging blizzard in February, when I long for summer, I take out one of the little containers, thaw it in the microwave for about two minutes, and toss it with some hot penne or spaghetti, just so I can smell the basil. And once in awhile, I try to make a bootleg copy of Ricetta's Bolto pizza. Use basil pesto instead of tomato sauce, top with cooked chicken, red onion, fontina cheese and some tomatoes. Not as good as Ricetta's..must be the brick oven magic, but still a fresh change from regular pizza. Especially if you're having pizza every Sunday night, which is our new routine.

Speaking of routine, I'm trying a new budget/planning thing. Last week at work I printed out an Outlook calendar and made a meal plan until the end of September. Theoretically this meant I could go buy almost all the food, short of perishables, milk, and fruit, on the non-mortgage payday. It's a little weird trying to plan that far ahead. Usually I look in the fridge and cook what I feel like eating. And Jupiter is sometimes picky. Actually, not so much picky as stubborn. Sunday I made the mexican pizza with the cornmeal crust (the cornmeal crust was very good, btw) but Jupiter refused to eat it because it had corn on it. Oh, and she didn't want tomatoes. I know that was a stubborn deal, because when it's her idea she'll eat a tomato fresh out of the garden, complete with dirt. But even now, while posting this, I have rice in the steamer for tomorrow's fried rice. One thing Stubbon Jupiter does love is Fried Rice. The hard part is remembering to cook the rice the night before so it will be properly chilled before being fried. Making the fried rice itself, once the rice has been cooked, is a quick 15 minutes or so. And it's something I know she will eat, so it's a double bonus. We'll see how the plan goes. I tried it once before and it only lasted a week or so. If at first you don't succeed....

Classic Basil Pesto (The Best 125 Meatless Pasta Dishes)

2 cups fresh basil leaves, firmly packed
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
6 medium cloves garlic
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesean cheese

Wash and dry the basil. Discard stems. In a food processor or blender puree basil with 1/4 cup of the olive oil, the pine nuts, garlic, and parmesean until thick and well blended. With the machine running, add the remaining olive oil in a thin stream to form a smooth paste.

Monday, September 8, 2008

the Salsa recipe that was supposed to be in the Previous Post

adapted from The Best 125 Meatless Pasta Dishes~
(no, there is no pasta in the salsa)

2 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes ( I used Roma or pear tomatoes, becuase they have fewer seeds and less water)
1-2 hot peppers-to taste-can skip entirely
1/4 cup lime or lemon juice (I like lime, either works)
1 medium onion, finely diced
1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro (use more or less or none to taste. Cilantro is an acquired taste and may seem bitter at first. But once it grows on you you will begin to crave it.)
3 cloves minced fresh garlic
black pepper

Blanch and peel the tomatoes. (Boil a pot of water on the stove. I cut a slice thorough the outer skin on the tomato, plop it into the boiling water for about 30 seconds or so, then run under cold water. The skin will split and curl off the tomato meat.) Coarsely chop the tomatoes and drain off the juice and put in a bowl. Chop the hot peppers, and add them to the tomatoes, along with the lime juice, onion, cilantro and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. I don't know how long this will keep in the fridge, because at my house it lasts about 24 hours. Enjoy with tortilla chips!

My First Cookbook

I have an extensive cookbook collection. It's slightly less extensive now; since I forced myself to weed out the ones I haven't used in a long time and put them in the highly profitable Yard Sale. Those books are now in the United Way Fundraiser bin at Hannaford, where I was browsing the other day before I realized that 2/3rds of the books in the bin were from my house in the first place. I read cookbooks. My mother will also tell you that I used to read the encyclopedia, which is true, but that's another story. But anyway, I read cookbooks like ordinary books. If I have nothing to do, I'll pick up a cookbook and page through it. I never have nothing to do, but I persist in thinking that I have free time to do things like this. This perhaps may have some bearing on why my house is so not neat. Maybe if I got rid of ALL my cookbooks, I would have a neater house. But I like to cook. My sister Haleine was watching one of those shows on HG one day where you had to get rid of most of your posessions to clean your house, and they told a particular couple they could only keep 25 books. This topic was good for a half a day of email one slow work day, as we both struggled to think about what 25 books we could keep and what to get rid off. I would probably need 25 just for cookbooks. And then another 300 or so for all the books I like to read semi often. But, since I have titled this post My First Cookbook, maybe I should talk about My First Cookbook.
I probably got it about 1997 or so, the date is a little fuzzy, but I remember it was in the sale bin at Borders. Most of them were in the sale bin at Borders, but my first one is Cooking Provence, by Antoine Bouterin. Being the francophile that I am, this was a must for me. I read it cover to cover, including the anecdotes about growing up in Provence on a farm. I go through phases of cooking out a certain cookbook, and this is a good summer one, full of vegatables and herbs which make the veggies taste so incredible. This might also have started my gardening kick, come to think of it, since it was much easier and cheaper to grow my own herbs than to buy them. This week, I have made baked eggplant, and pistou, which is sort of a vegetable soup with lots of basil. I always forget how much work the eggplant is to make..the slices soak up a lot of oil, but a couple days later I thought maybe I would try grilling the eggplant slices in the George Forman griller instead of frying them all in the oil. I think that would work great. If eggplant can be found at Farmers Market on Saturday, I might give that a try. There are other recipes I cook from that book on a regular basis, and the book is in about three pieces and is in desperate need of rebinding. But definitely a keeper, especially if you have a surplus of garden produce on your kitchen counter attracting fruit flies.
And, I am proud to say, I have come close to living one of my dreams. This particular dream applies to salsa. I love salsa. I have a great recipe for salsa. But usually I have to go to the store, buy 2 and a half pounds of tomatoes, a hot pepper, onions, garlic, and cilantro. Last week, I picked all the tomatoes, the garlic, and the hot pepper from my own garden. Normally I would have cilantro too, but I am in between cilantro sowings at the moment. So the salsa was both delicious, and cost effective. I looked online today for methods of canning salsa, but after looking at all the specific directions and warnings, I wimped out. They say you can freeze it, and I've tried, but the texture just isn't the same. But maybe I'll give it another try. I'll be making some more tomorrow, since I have lots of roma tomatoes just begging to be turned into salsa. I think for our Sunday pizza I will try using salsa instead of tomato sauce, put Jack cheese and fresh corn on top, and see if Mexican pizza is feasable. My made up recipes are not always as edible as the ones I make from cookbooks. Happy Joe's restaurant in Pella used to make a great taco pizza, though.
Jupiter had her first official day of school today. Her new school has been wonderful about letting her come in and visit and get used to things. So far, I LOVE her new school. So far, Jupiter also loves her new school, and her new assistant teacher Miss J. She even told me the other day that Miss J is the bestest teacher in the whole world. Absolutely music to my ears.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Not a politico

I am not, nor have I ever been, a politico. For the most part, I have been content to let the politicians do their thing and not interfere with the process. I could definitely live without CSpan. But when I had a daughter, things like that seemed to take on more importance. When I hear conversations over the cubicle wall discussing how frightening a particular presidential candidate is because of a particular racial makeup and name, I seethe. These are the same people who wanted all the people not born in the United States to go back to wherever they came from...apparently not realizing that would include my daughter, so I suppose I should not be surprized by that.
I would not presume to tell anybody what to think or feel about a political candidate. I have no problem with disliking a candidate because of a voting record, or political positions, or whatever. But I am excited about this upcoming election. I actually watched primary results come in and parts of the Democratic National Convention. Because this time around, I actually like one of the candidates. I liked Hilary too, but I happened to like this one more, this time around. And I for one, never thought I would live to see the day that a woman would be so close to running for president and I would not vote for that woman.
It has been said that this particular candidate gives a good speech, but doesn't say anything specific. He says he will make change, but doesn't specify how. But from what I see, he already has. He has done so by inspiring many of us to take an interest in the process for the first time, to take part in the process in big and small ways. I know two people who are actively volunteering for campaigns. And I think this ability to inspire action is perhaps the best quality a leader could bring to the presidency at this time. This is a time for change. So many of us need changes for the better. Maybe I'm getting that idealistic view, but I think things can improve.
But sitting around waiting for change and hoping for change does not bring about change. Only if people are moved to act will change happen. I saw a sign once, sometime after 9/11, when "God bless America" was everywhere. Driving past a little church out in the country, I saw a sign that said "Go Bless America." Ever since, I've pondered whether that's how the sign was posted, or if it was a fallen D. But can you imagine if everyone assumed it meant "Go out and do something positive for someone else, right now?" Things will change if we each do our part to make things better. We have to be the change that we want to see. Each of us has the power to make a change, some big, some small. If we have a leader that inspires each of us to that, well, that's a whole new ball game.
The president can't possibly know every single thing there is to know about every single thing about running the country. Be realistic. There is too much involved for that. The president really should know how to choose people by merit to fill important advisory positions and heads of government agencies. It would be nice if that could happen without undue influence from lobbyists and owed favors. The president should know how to ask the right questions of the right people and come to an appropriate decision based on the information given. Not that I think the political process in itself gets in the way of a functional government or anything, which is perhaps why I refrained from voting for so long. I feel guilty about that. My great grandmomther voted in every presidential election after women won the right to vote until she died in 2001.
But I will vote this year. I will vote for the candidate who gives me hope for a better future, who has provoked me to watch Cspan (although not regularly), and who has inspired so many of us as a people to say "Yes, we can!"

The last day of Summer

Today is Labor Day. Labor Day is the official last day of summer in Maine. Winter, by the way, generally starts around Thanksgiving. But fortunately, today was still summer, and even felt like summer. Yesterday Jupiter and I went to Kettle Cove State Park in Cape Elizabeth. We haden't made it there all summer, and I've made it at least once every summer since I was six years old. Jupiter liked the walking paths, but man, was it ever windy at the top of the cliff. I like to follow the trail up there and stare out at the ocean and pretend I can see Ireland. Never mind the fact that the summer I was in fourth grade and got my first pair of glasses, we went to Kettle Cove and I looked at my mother and said "When did they put that island out there?" But now I have contacts, so Ireland is definitely in my line of sight now. We climbed on rocks and looked in tide pools and Jupiter made friends with anybody who was willing, and one grandmother asked me if Jupiter was going into first grade. Seriously, this is how tall my child is. One of the many blessings of adoption....she never would have gotten any height from me. Finally we packed up around 3:30, and stopped at the kiddie water park at Deering Oaks park in Portland to rinse off the sand. Apparently the city of Portland Public works forgot that today was Labor Day, not yesterday, because they drained all the water out of the kiddie pool. The water spraying things were still working, but I have to admit that the normally submerged fountain sprayers looked terrifyingly strong when not submerged. We made it through without injury, went home, and I made pizza with fresh tomatoes, all home grown, and basil. Jupiter even ate the pieces with basil, which suprised me. I expected her to at least kick up a fuss about the basil, even though I strategically hid the basil underneath the cheese. Although this morning I asked her what was in her mouth and she opened it to reveal a huge wad of chives she picked out of the herb garden. She also eats plain cilantro.
Today, since I've been busy being lazy all weekend, I had to do some work around the house. Well actually, Saturday we tried to have a yard sale at Mimi's house. We made $4. So mostly it was more of deciding where all the stuff we put in the yard sale would end up. I have to do something with it so I can park my car in my garage again. Wash dishes, bleach out the tile grout in the shower, do laundry, look for the floor. It's my goal to get the house neat enough that Jupiter can have a play date. Why is this so hard for me?? Well, soon it will be winter and I won't want to be outside so much. Actually, I will avoid going outside until May. Jupiter is already discussing the first snowfall. She can't wait for snow. And her birthday. We determined yesterday it was 52 days until her birthday. Speaking of house cleaning..