Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Summer's gone

The title of this post comes from a song on the mix Crystal made for us. Sigh. In Austin, all the buildings are cream or terra cotta and it's probably about 70 right now, with doggies swimming in Town Lake. In Manhattan, it's gray and bleak and everyone insists on wearing black. Could we have some color, please?

However, I did make a yummy minestrone that I will share with y'all. My camera was being temperamental, and decided not to be nice until I had already eaten most of the soup (well, D helped a bit). It's clear that my camera does not have 2 degrees from obedience school like Rowen.

Minestrone

2 T olive oil
2 c chopped onion
1 1/2 t salt
2 carrots, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 t oregano
Fresh black pepper to taste
1 t basil
1 medium bell pepper, diced
3 c water
1 14.5 oz can tomato puree (approx. 2 cups)
3 T red wine
1 can chickpeas
1 c dry pasta (any shape; I used farfalle)
1/2 c freshly minced parsley
parmesan or romano cheese

1. Heat the olive oil in your favorite soup vehicle. Add onion, garlic and 1 1/2 t salt. Saute over medium heat for 5 min, then add carrot, oregano, black pepper and basil. Cover and cook over very low heat for about 10 more min, stirring occasionally.

2. Add bell pepper, zucchini, water, tomato puree and red wine. Cover and simmer about 15 min. Add chickpeas and simmer another 5 min.

3. Bring the soup to a gentle boil. Add pasta, stir and cook until the pasta is tender. Serve right away, topped with parsley and parmesan or romano.

Monday, January 30, 2006

A story in pictures

We had a great time in Austin. I am definitely going back. The weather was perfect (except for some rare rain on Saturday), so D got his coveted bike ride in, and I loved meeting my blog friends. There was a cozy group feeling and we closed the restaurant! The staff locked the door behind us as we lingered outside, talking.



Here are some cute cookies that Lisa and I saw at a bakery before dinner. Aren't they adorable? I love the ladybugs.




Bdogg's husband DH and New Mezger's husband Russell hamming it up in the corner ;) I thought they were getting on remarkably well for 2 guys who just met; then Bdogg reminded me they were roommates in college.



Bdogg with her cake! It was great, and I think she was surprised. It was a yellow cake with rich chocolate frosting.




Lisa and New Mezger at dinner.



Here are Lisa and Lost at dinner.



Lisa having tea at a place we went to before the restaurant. I liked my tea a lot...lemon ginger.



Crystal's bag. Crystal makes super crafts. I love the patch. She also made us CDs which I am going to listen to today!



The Jamaican stir-fry I got at Mother's Cafe. It was good but not terribly filling, so I had too much cake afterward!



Aerial view of Austin, taken from my hotel room. I should have taken one at night, with all the lights sparkling. The red place is a tattoo parlor.



Here is a random fluffball I patted near Town Lake. S/he kept twisting around, so I couldn't get a great picture.



Rowen in the water, having a blast. Lisa and I took her for a walk around Town Lake, which is beautiful. Rowen:water = peas:carrots = Forrest:Jenny.



Here are Lost and Rowen, meeting at last. Rowen has her eyes closed for meditation.



Crystal and Justin. Aren't they a cute couple?



Crystal's pumpkin pancakes. They were huge, but looked awesome. She had to get most of them wrapped up to go.



Here are the famous squash flautas. We went back to Kerby Lane the next day for lunch (D, me, Crystal, Justin and Lost). It was fabulous! Of course I ate all the guacamole. It is a good thing I don't live in Austin, or I would gain 2,000 lbs. Otherwise it's a great city. I would also try to get a subway built ;)

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Interim post

Hi y'all from Austin! I recently purchased a cowgirl hat and a pair of boots with spurs...just for show, of course. Just kidding. But the men here do look awfully lean and cowboyish.

Got in last night. We had a 4-hour flight from New York to Houston on a very cramped Continental plane. The man on my right was about 6'4" and his knees were jackknifed up to his chest. Okay, that was a wee exaggeration, but he looked pretty uncomfortable. Then, ironically, we had a very comfortable flight on a spacious plane from Houston to Austin. The length of that flight? 30 minutes.

Lisa and I went to a fabulous place for lunch! For some reason the name keeps escaping me...Kembley Lane Cafe, maybe? It rocked. It was full of UT-Austin students wearing jeans and flip-flops. I got squash flautas. It was probably the best Tex-Mex food I've had in my life. Up North, Tex-Mex tends to translate to lots of sour cream and cheese. Not the case here. I had 3 delicate, soft corn tortillas wrapped around melty butternut squash and feta cheese, accompanied with a little guacamole, rice with corn kernels, and a great pineapple-mango salsa. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Then Lisa shared with me her dream about Chris Klein, who killed all the other bloggers and was trying to find her. Very silly!

Lisa is fun and bubbly (doesn't seem 100% introverted at all) and squired me about town in her SUV. On the way back from the restaurant, we were stopped in traffic by a pro-life parade. Some of the pictures they carried were in bad taste, but they were much more decorous than a NYC parade, where they would have been banging drums and yelling.

I will meet the rest of the gang tonight! Will keep you posted.

Food for thought - should I throw away my paper journal?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The soundtrack of our lives

Zombieslayer had this meme at his site and I figured I'd copy. You write about one or more songs that always make you remember something or someone. You can tag as few or as many people as you want. Feel free to do the meme at your own site or in my comment section!

"Father Figure" - George Michael. I'll always remember hearing this song at an 8th grade dance, held in a church. I was wearing stretch acid-wash jeans (yeah!) and a pink ten-button shirt. I believe the acid-wash jeans were tapered and tucked into slouch socks, as well. I think I even had my hair permed although it's naturally wavy, because *everyone* was getting perms then. Anyway, that song came on and we all thought it was the deepest song ever. I still feel a little reverence when I hear it ;) Maybe it's the faint touch of gospel music about it.

"Pride (In the Name of Love)" - U2. It was senior year in high school and I was picking up my mom's birthday cake. In her car. It was rainy, I was singing along with the car radio and not paying attention, and the car in front of me braked. I rear-ended it. Of course, that car got a dent and my hood folded up like a Kleenex. Did I mention it was my mother's car? AND the woman in front of me, since it was a small town, was the mother of a girl who graduated my high school the year before.

"Open Your Heart" - Madonna. My college roommate and I had a whole dance routine worked out to this. The words are:

I see you on the street and you walk on by (we'd walk along)
You look like such a sad boy, I wonder why (sad faces)
If you gave me half the chance you'd see (making a circle around one eye)
My desire burning inside of me (hands fluttering to signify flames - OK, that one was weak)
But you choose to walk the other way (turning and walking away in an aloof manner)
Well I got something to say (wagging finger emphatically)
Don't try to run I can keep up with you (running in hot pursuit)
Nothing you do can stop me, you've got to
Open your heart to me
(bursting hands open in front of heart)
I have the lock and you have the key (turning a key in the air, and giggling at the obvious symbolism)

Later, there was an interlude in the song with no words (a "deep" instrumental) where my roommate would lie down on the floor and spin around.

OK, I think I've fulfilled my embarrassment quotient for the day.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Supermarkets, Pilates, polenta and so forth

I was thinking about supermarkets. I went to one recently - Fairway - where the prices are very low (1/3 that of Whole Foods, for produce anyway) and insanity is high. At one point I got locked in the center of a hub that couldn't move. I patiently pointed out, "If you'd wait a minute and let me move, then we all could move." They allowed me to move, and then they could all move too! Who would have thought? Then my irritation faded as I shifted into survival mode, concentrating on getting what I needed and emerging in one piece. It was so crowded that the cashier lines extended into some of the aisles. If you wanted to look at dish detergent, it was too bad because the aisle was full of carriages waiting to be checked out.

I'm not usually silly enough to go there, but it happened to be in the neighborhood of the Pilates class I had just tried. To my surprise, Pilates doesn't involve sophisticated equipment. It's done on a mat, just like yoga, with some props, but it's very grounded (none of the balletic, balancing moves from yoga that I love). And it's all about the abs. It's a little scary, but I'd like to try it again.

Brokeback Mountain? If you've seen it, feel free to leave thoughts. I read somewhere that it was "beautifully shot [and] tediously paced."

I'm making pumpkin polenta for lunch today. My craving for the orange family (squash, sweet potato, pumpkin) could no longer be subdued. D decided to have lunch with a friend. I wish he would try it; he doesn't know what he's missing.

I finished "In Cold Blood" a couple of days ago and it was excellent. I would have told Truman to cut the first 5 pages or so but the rest of it was great. You could see he had finally found his subject. The writing was so evocative and the killers were actually sympathetic. I had some things in common with one of them (namely, being oversensitive sometimes), but I decided not to worry about it. It's "abnormal psych effect." When I took abnormal psych in college, the professor told us we'd all think we had one of the disorders we studied, but the fact that we were so self-aware meant we didn't. Or something like that.

I'm currently reading "The Wife of Reilly" by Jennifer Coburn. It's about a woman who's cheating on her husband, but she doesn't want to leave him alone so she creates a personal ad for him and vets his dates so she can find a new wife for him. He doesn't know this is going on. At first I thought she would be an unsympathetic character, but it's very funny, like all her other books. They always have an outrageous premise.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Finally, it has happened to me

What has happened, Bearette? you ask. Well, a good recipe for pad Thai. These are few and far between. Just ask Carolyn.

I found this recipe on Digital Vittles, doctored it a bit, and am now quite happy with it. I used Kikkoman Thai-style chili sauce, and I think that really helped. Note: I doubled the sauce; if you like a dry pad Thai, you can halve it.

Here it is:

The sauce: 1/2 c rice vinegar, 4 T chil sauce, 4 T sugar, 4 T natural unsweetened peanut butter, 2 dashes soy sauce.

6 oz rice noodles
1 lb. diced cooked tofu (use firm)
2-3 scallions, chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten (I used Egg Beaters with fine results)
1 handful of peanuts, chopped
1/2 lime

1. Cook noodles in boiling salted water for 3 minutes, rinse and set aside. Whisk the sauce ingredients together and set aside.

2. Heat wok or large frying pan on medium heat with 1 T canola oil. Add eggs and stir until done. Move to the side and add tofu and scallions to the center. Sprinkle with another dash of soy sauce.

3. Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes, until the tofu is heated through and the scallions soften slightly. Mix the egg back in and add noodles to the pan. Mix well.

4. Add sauce to pan and mix to coat noodles. Turn the heat down to low so the sauce won't catch. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, stirring. Once sauce is absorbed, add peanuts. Squeeze 1/2 a lime over the pan and serve.

Also, I saw an MSN headline recently that said men like revenge more than women. I wonder if this is true?

Finally, I'm going to Austin this weekend for GABE (the Great Austin Blogger Encounter). I am going to *try* to just take a backpack and pocketbook. No suitcase. We'll see if this works out. Not that I pack that much...I never bring a blowdryer on vacation, for example, because I seldom use one. But stuff adds up anyway. I suppose this makes me similar to Sally - "You're the worst kind. You think you're low maintenance, but you're actually high maintenance."

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Bill Clinton in training

Just got an email from my mother, and it's too funny not to share.

One of my nephews, B, is a little sweetie...a blond, blue-eyed cherub...who is only 7 (he'll turn 8 in February), but already has an eye for the ladies. They like him too. Once I was on a walk with him and he pointed to a little girl's house and said "My friend [I can't remember her name] lives there. She loved me for 2 years." Apparently they are still on good terms, as she rushes across the soccer field to hug him before games.

So B is about to get his First Communion, and therefore went to his first confession. He told the priest that he opened the door to see his sister in the nude, and that it was fun! Oy.

I remember going to confession and not being able to remember what I had done. I did bite a boy in 3rd grade because he tried to kiss me in the playground. I kind of liked him, and might have kissed him if it weren't in front of everybody! (I had a keen sense of propriety.) But that was a year after my First Communion. So I think I made something up, saying, "I argued with my sister." Is that sinful?

Friday, January 20, 2006

Friday reflections

So D and I went to Jackson Diner tonight - a misnomer because it's not a diner, but rather one of NYC's best Indian restaurants. I got an issue of Fit Yoga magazine on the way back. Not as good as Yoga Journal. Also, a new issue of Rachael Ray's magazine is on newsstands. It doesn't look as good as the last issue. The best recipe in my opinion was macaroni with butternut squash - apparently another favorite of Boo's (who is sadly no longer with her, but was once very well fed).

We skipped the chance to watch a 10:50 showing of Munich because it's almost 3 hours long. Instead we went to Barnes & Noble, where I picked up 3 new books:

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
The Baby Trail by Sinead Moriarty
Everyone Else's Girl by Megan Crane

When we got home, Us Magazine was waiting for me. I'm still on the fence about whether to renew or not, but I have some time. Anyway, I learned that:

*Lindsay Lohan hates Scarlett Johansson because Jared Leto dated Scarlett before her, and Scarlett is taken more seriously as an actress (according to Lindsay). Lindsay scrawled some unprintable graffiti about Scarlett in a bathroom. Hey, I'm not a big Scarlett fan either, but I wouldn't do that!

*Angelina was apparently pregnant before the divorce was final, and may even have been pregnant in July. I forget whether Jennifer and Brad had separated by then. Also, Brad has a brother who owns some kind of computer company. His name is Doug.

*Britney is no longer wearing her wedding ring. Sources say she and Kevin will split by the end of February. Predictable, but sad. I feel bad for the baby. She got a bindi at a Hindu temple. It was rather messy; there were splashes of red on her nose and shirt. I kind of like her better rounder, though I suppose her abs were a thing of wonder before.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Pandog















I liberated this from cuteoverload.com. It was just too cute not to post.

I neglected to mention that before I saw Capote, I bought a bunch of CDs. I used to go on huge CD buying sprees. When I was living in Newton, MA, one of my housemates told me where Newbury Comics (a CD store) was. I said, "You shouldn't have told me that." When I came back with a huge stack of CDs, she said, "Wow. I guess I shouldn't have."

I'm more restrained now, but I was feeling a little moody before I saw Capote, so I treated myself to:

Moby - Moby
Moby - Everything is Wrong
Everything but the Girl - Temperamental
Modest Mouse - Good News for People Who Love Bad News
Death Cab for Cutie - Transatlanticism

I haven't listened to the last one yet. I bought it because I love Postal Service. I read an Amazon customer review of Death Cab's newest CD, "Plans," and it said, "If you liked 'Give Up' by Postal Service, buy this immediately." So it's on my wish list. I love Postal Service beyond all reason.

Every song on Modest Mouse is not a winner, but it's overall very good and sounds like a mellower David Bowie.

A few entries down, we're having a "When Harry Met Sally" quote-off if you want to participate. Hopefully we will piece together the entire script ;)

Update: The Death Cab CD is great. Can't-leave-once-you-put-it-on good. Except for the first song. I hate it when a bad song is the first track! See also - Coldplay's second CD.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Sweet potato soup

This is really simple and yummy, if you like sweet potatoes. I like to halve it, as follows. If you want more, you can double it.

Microwave 2 good-size sweet potatoes after stabbing them with a fork a few times. With my microwave, this takes about 20 minutes. When they're nice and soft, scoop out the flesh into a bowl and mash it well. Transfer the mashed sweet potato to a saucepan and add 1 cup of low-fat milk or soy milk (I wouldn't go with skim), 1/2 tsp salt-free seasoning mix (I use Bell's), 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg.

Stir together, then heat slowly until the mixture comes to a simmer. Cover and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Serve at once.

Source: The Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Gourmet by Nava Atlas.

Fours!

A meme from Bdogg.

Four Jobs I’ve Had in My Life:
1. Movie theater girl
2. Lawyer
3. Zipper ripper (at a tailor's!)
4. Taco Bell (gross)

Four Movies I Could Watch Over and Over, and Have:
1. Bridget Jones's Diary
2. Napoleon Dynamite
3. When Harry Met Sally
4. Wedding Singer

Four Places I Have Lived:
1. Danvers, MA
2. Providence, RI
3. Newton, MA
4. New York, NY

Four TV Shows I Love To Watch:
1. Desperate Housewives
2. Grey's Anatomy
3. How I Met Your Mother
4. Those are all the ones I *love* to watch. The others are in the "like" category.

Four Places I Have Been On Vacation:
1. Miami, FL
2. Orlando, FL
3. Italy (Florence, Venice, Rome)
4. Bahamas

Four Websites I Visit Daily:
1. All of your blogs
2. Hotmail (my e-mail account)
3. New York Public Library (www.nypl.org)
4. chicklitbooks.com

Four Favorite Foods:
1. Sweet potatoes
2. Oatmeal with soy milk and raisins
3. Broccoli, quinoa and cheddar casserole
4. Baked ziti with Muenster and Parmesan

Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now:
I'm digging where I am right now.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Capote

I just saw Capote. It was fantastic. One of the best movies I've ever seen. I was stunned walking out of there.

And now, for something completely different


What follows is macaroni with a twist. Macaroni for the young at heart, the adventurous, and those who got a high score for openness on the Big Five Personality Test.

I got the recipe from Table for Two by Joanne Stepaniak.

You'll need:

1 cup elbow macaroni
1 10-oz package frozen mixed vegetables
3 T whole wheat flour
3 T nutritional yeast flakes (I know. I balked at this, too. But they smell good, are vegetarian, and are high in B vitamins and protein. You can get them in the vitamin/nutritional supplement aisle at Whole Body, the place adjacent to Whole Foods.)
1/2 t dried oregano
1/4 t garlic granules (dried minced garlic. I know, I usually use fresh too.)
1/4 t salt
1/8 t ground black pepper
1 cup water
4 t tahini
1 small, ripe tomato, sliced

1. Preheat the oven to 375. Coat a casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Boil the macaroni, adding the frozen mixed vegetables during the last 3-5 minutes of cooking. Drain.
3. To make a creamy sauce, combine the flour, yeast flakes, oregano, garlic granules, salt and pepper in a 1-qt saucepan. Stir them together until they are well combined. Gradually whisk in the water, stirring briskly until the mixture is smooth.
4. Place the saucepan over medium heat, and cook the sauce, stirring almost constantly with a wire whisk, until it is thickened and bubbly. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and whisk in the tahini.
5. Stir the hot sauce into the pasta mixture and toss until evenly coated.
6. Spoon the mixture into the casserole dish. Bake for 10 minutes.
7. Remove the casserole from the oven, top with tomato slices, and bake for 5 more minutes. Serve hot.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The gap between appearance and reality

So how was your Martin Luther King day? Mine was pretty mellow. I went to a yoga studio I'd been to once before. This class was taught by a teacher I'd never met before. So I went to the studio's website and read her bio. There was a picture. She was muscular and solid (the word "statuesque" comes to mind) with a wild mass of curly red hair.

I got to class and a very slight woman with freckles and straight, thin dark blond hair came in. I wondered, why didn't they call me to sub if the regular teacher couldn't make it? Then she said, "Hi, my name is ____." Same as on the website. Have you ever seen someone who looked 100% different from their picture in real life? Bone structure, hair color, height, everything? It was crazy.

It was a great class, though. Dancers often make great yoga teachers. They specialize in the slow, deep burn and very precise alignment. My mentor at yoga school said that "dancers learn through pain." I guess there is some truth in that. But it's not a bad kind of pain, necessarily; it just makes your body wake up.

Austin news! D and I are going to Austin from Jan. 27-29. I'm going to meet up with Bdogg, Lisa, Lost and New Mezger. If anyone wants to join us (Crystal? Liz?), let me know.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Vodka cranberries and Queen Latifah

What do you know, I woke up at 8:30. I had a drink last night, and forgot that this often messes up my sleep patterns. But waking up early is cool, and good for insomnia.

Last night we went to Jackson Diner, where they serve enormous portions. Ugh. Then we went to F's party. F is a girl from my writing group. Her party was at a nice, very red lounge (I saw its website and wore a red turtleneck to match). We didn't know anybody, but it was nice to be a part of her 30th. One of her friends was very funny. He was wearing a T-shirt from Urban Outfitters that said "Obey" and told us how he took up the sleeves and the bottom of the shirt. "When you're gay, you want to show the butt, you want to show the arms," he explained. In fact, he had very nice arms, and I asked D how long it would take me to get arms like that. D said probably only men can. My arms are toned, but he had serious muscle.

Anyway, I had a vodka cranberry and D had a Black Russian, but they tried to sneak coffee liqueur in there! They had no Kahlua. So he got a vodka cranberry instead.

Then we went to see Queen Latifah's new movie, since it happened to be playing at a convenient time at a theater on the way back. It also happened to be free, since AT gave me a gift card for my yoga graduation! Thanks, AT. The movie was surprisingly cute and good. It's not going to win an Oscar, and some of the plot points were ridiculous, but it was just so good-natured, wholesome and sweet that you couldn't help but be swept along for the ride. I also enjoyed Beauty Shop, her other movie which we saw in Miami last year. I did skip the one with her and Jimmy Fallon, but I think usually her movies are pretty enjoyable. Clean, broad humor, a far-fetched plot, etc.

Friday, January 13, 2006

A joke and three thoughts

OK, I can't resist posting this. My friend Carpe sent me this joke in an email...

A bear walks into a bar in Billings, Montana and sits down. He bangs on the
bar with his paw and demands a beer.

The bartender approaches and says, "We don't serve beer to bears in bars in
Billings."

The bear, becoming angry, demands again that he be served a beer.

The bartender tells him again, more forcefully, "We don't serve beer to
belligerent bears in bars in Billings."

The bear, very angry now, says, "If you don't serve me a beer, I'm going to
eat that lady sitting at the end of the bar."

The bartender says, "Sorry, we don't serve beer to belligerent, bully bears
in bars in Billings"

The bear goes to the end of the bar, and, as promised, eats the woman. He
comes back to his seat and again demands a beer.

The bartender states, "Sorry, we don't serve beer to belligerent, bully
bears in bars in Billings who are on drugs."

The bear says, "I'm NOT on drugs."

>>.........You're gonna love this......... (scroll down)
>>>>>
>>>>
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The bartender says, "You are now. That was a barbitchyouate!"

Three thoughts:

1) I'm addicted to Gala apples. Do you have a favorite apple?

2) I often take my mother's movie recommendations, or anti-recommendations, without question. She advised me not to see Closer, Million Dollar Baby, or Broken Flowers. Now that most of these movies are on DVD...what do you think? Was I right to skip them?

3) We might see the new Queen Latifah movie this weekend. D is a big Queen Latifah fan. If we see it, I will review. I don't even dare to look at the rottentomatoes.com rating for this one ;)

Shih tzus, Steely Dan and yoga

So I taught my first yoga class yesterday. I want to teach another one! But everyone has to take their turn, so there won't be any more community classes to teach until the last week of February (when I'll be in Miami. Not that that's a bad thing.)

At the risk of sounding totally hokey, it was really a beautiful experience. I liked having creative control and finally doing this thing that I'd been planning for so long. Afterward, the mentor who watched me and 4 girls from the program gave me feedback, and they clapped when it was over. Everyone liked my music (thanks, Moby), sequencing, etc. One tip the mentor gave me was to demonstrate poses facing the side of the room; if you face the class, it can confuse them (mirror image) and turning your back might seem unfriendly. Interesting, huh? They also liked savasana (the relaxation at the end). I played "Chord Sounds" (a much better song than the title implies) from Moby's Hotel: Disc 2 during relaxation and gave everyone a massage. The person I massaged before the mentor was very sweaty!! I had to wipe my hands before massaging the next person. But I was proud of myself for giving a good workout ;)

Also, I was playing Steely Dan before class in an attempt to calm my nerves. I was very nervous at the beginning, but as soon as I started walking around adjusting people and talking about the asanas, it kind of evaporated. The mentor was really digging the Steely Dan songs and singing along. It was cute.

I also met a shih tzu this morning. Eventually the owner said they had to go, and the dog kept casting me backward glances, as if to say, "Can't you pat me again?"

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Meme from Liz

1. What is one of your earliest childhood memories?

I remember this boy, Benjamin, chasing me around at my preschool, Living & Learning. (I was previously at a preschool run by nuns, but my mom took me out, realizing I was terrified by Sister Joan in particular). Benjamin would say, "Chugachugachoochoo!" as he chased me. I was scared by this.


2. What was your favorite toy?

I had a binky (translation: blanket) that I lugged around with me. It was little more than a frayed square of yellow cloth, but I loved it.

3. Was there something you always wanted for a birthday or holiday, but didn’t get?

I wanted a white mouse for Christmas in 1983, but I quickly got over this when I got a puppy instead.


4. What did your parents always say or do that drove you crazy?

I can't really remember anything.


5. What did you do as a little kid that would give you a heart attack if your own kids did it?

Like Liz, my answer involves swings. My friend Melissa and I used to go to the park and jump off the swings. This practice promptly ended when she twisted her ankle.


6. Was there a moment in your childhood that seemed mortifying at the time, but which seems kinda silly now?

Like Liz, my answer comes from first grade. We were having a Halloween parade at school, during school hours. We were sitting at our desks as the teacher blathered on. I wondered, "When are we going to change into our costumes?" No one was saying anything about that, so I thought, maybe we're supposed to change right at our desks, and it's just understood. I took my pants off and everyone started to look at me funny. OMG, this is still mortifying! At least I had cute panties. You know, the 6-year-old kind with little flowers.

7. Okay, admit it—tell us who you thought you were going to marry when you were in the under-twelve set.

Sean G and Scott R (boys from my school).

Hebanese

I just saw the cutest dog in the world. It was small and fluffy with an adorable face. It was unbelievable how cute it was. It was the repository of all cuteness. The owner said, "He loves you; he looks at me like I'm a loser!" He even tried his little puppy teeth on me, but extremely gently. I just basked in cuteness all the way home.

The owner said he was a Hebanese. Never heard of that breed before.

Since you're all dying to know...

Since you're all waiting with bated breath, I will bring you the next episode in the mouse installment.

One of the other girls from my yoga teachers' training program taught her first class yesterday (mine is on Thursday). I ran into another girl, also from the program, in the elevator. "I thought this would be over when I got married," I told the girl. Afterward, I realized how silly that sounded. All I meant was, I lived in a nicer apartment building after I got married. But she laughed and said, "Oh, you still get mice even when you're married."

There were two guys in the elevator, and one pointed out that Home Depot sells sonic devices for $6.99. I think that's what KitKat was talking about. So we went to Home Depot and a man who had obviously been through the mouse drill assisted us. He didn't even work there, but he was very helpful.

"Those work," he said, gesturing to the sonic devices. "They will be gone."

Meanwhile, D was browsing the have-a-heart traps and found one for small squirrels. A man who did work at Home Depot told him it was overkill, and he should get a glue trap instead.

Random Man said, "Glue traps don't work."

So we bowed to Random Man's superior knowledge of rodent habits, and took Home Depot man's suggestion to get steel wool. He said they might be coming through the pipe under our kitchen sink, and mice can't chew through steel wool. Also, apparently mice are more of a problem in winter. They want to get out of the cold. That would explain why we haven't seen them in this apartment before.

Don't you feel educated now?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A mouse in the house

I am freaking out.

I was peacefully reading blogs in the living room. I was feeling very productive, since I worked on my novel, read the chapters from the other girls in my writing group and wrote down comments, read part of a book, read everybody's blog, and ate lunch (all before D woke up. He's on a very odd schedule, 5:30 am to 12:45 pm, but we'll get to that later.)

D came out cheerfully to the living room and said, "We might have a mouse in the house."

"You're kidding me," I said. "A real, physical mouse?" (People say moronic things in times of stress.)

"Mm-hm," he said, still smiling placidly. "I was working out here last night and I saw a little mouse go vroom!"

I started to freak out. "D, we need to get that mouse out of here."

"Well, my sister had a mouse in her house, they came and killed it, and now she feels bad," he said.

"WE NEED TO GET IT GONE!" (Goodbye, grammar.)

"We'll get it gone. We'll go to the PETA site and find a humane way to do it."

Translation: it will never get done. I went to the site and found nothing. Granted, I didn't look very hard.

I know I am being a massive hypocrite. I'm a vegetarian yogini, yet I want this mouse gone. Now.

Before I moved in with and subsequently married D, I lived in a dump. Well, it was expensive Manhattan real estate, but a dump nonetheless. It was mouse central. One of my roommates, P, left out a trap with cheese on it. It remained untouched. He grew up in a farmhouse and said, "One day you will wake up with a mouse on your face, and you will scream." (He was given to campy drama.)

Finally we called the exterminators. It was a depressing sight, seeing the little mousie dead on the floor, like the victim of a gang hit. But I can't deal with little creatures scurrying around, shooting in and out of my field of vision, while I cook. I don't want them on my face.

I don't.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Tagged!

Crystal tagged me for this one, so I will try hard to think of 7 things in each category :)

7 things I’d like to do before I die:

1. Publish something.
2. Maybe own a beach house around South Beach. In a quiet part, though. Not right on Ocean Drive. Maybe Biscayne Bay.
3. Own a yoga studio.
4. Maybe have children.
5. Maybe become a massage therapist (so I could offer massages at my yoga studio. Also, I think it's cool.)
6. Maybe ride my bike for a long, long distance.
7. Continue patting dogs a lot.

7 things I (currently) cannot do:
1. Curl my tongue. This is genetic, so I'll never be able to do it. It's ok, though.
2. Whistle.
3. Tolerate Jessica Simpson.
4. Understand people who watch "The Bachelor" or "The Bachelorette."
5. Knit.
6. Drive along the super-cliffy parts of the northern California coastal route.
7. Drive a standard shift.

7 things that attract me to blogging:
1. I like to write.
2. Blog friends :)
3. Reading other people's recipes.
4. Reading about other people's love lives.
5. My blog is a secret from some ;)
6. It helps me sort out my thoughts.
7. Seeing pictures of other people's dogs.

7 things I say most often:
This is hard. I talk a lot, but I don't think I repeat much. I could put the 7 things I most often call my husband, but it would probably embarrass him terribly.

7 books I love
1. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
2. The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
3. The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler
4. The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella
5. Shopaholic and Sister by Sophie Kinsella
6. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
7. Carrie Pilby by Caren Lissner

7 movies I watch over and over again:
1. Napoleon Dynamite
2. When Harry Met Sally
3. Love Actually
4. Bridget Jones's Diary
5. Pretty Woman
6. The Wedding Singer
7. The Lost Boys (OK, I love vampires, as long as they're not associated with Anne Rice)

7 people I’d like to pass this on to:
Lisa was already tagged by Crystal, otherwise I'd tag her too!
1. Liz
2. Bdogg
3. New Mezger
4. Kim
5. KitKat
6. Carolyn
7. Zombieslayer

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Match Point; or, the flutist and the dancer

D and I saw Match Point tonight. I don't want to spoil it for anyone since it's not even in wide release yet, but I liked it. Woody Allen was revisiting his themes from Crimes & Misdemeanors, but actually in a more fleshed-out way, with an added twist at the end. There was also this conceit of luck vs. morality throughout. It was more developed than his other recent movies, as well. I bet he followed an eight-part structure ;) His other recent movies had a wandering feeling, while this one was tightly plotted.

There is something reassuring about a Woody Allen movie for me. They always begin with white letters on a black screen. The cast members are always listed alphabetically. Juliet Taylor always does the casting. And the producers are always the same, though I forget their names now.

Anyway, one reviewer had said this was a nasty misogynistic thriller with a polished sheen. I didn't actually find it misogynistic. He did a good job of making certain characters sympathetic and others completely not.

We decided there were two themes: "Money has a price" (D's conclusion) and "Don't push a man too hard" (mine).

In the subway station, we saw a flutist working his way through Stevie Wonder's repertoire, and a man with a Jerry Garcia-like beard, a Santa cap and a varsity jacket doing his own little baked dance. It was oddly touching. We gave a dollar to the flutist, but I felt like maybe we should have given it to the dancer. When the rest of us got on the train, I looked out the window and saw them still waiting on the platform, almost like lovers.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The odyssey

I had my last writing class last night, but I didn't get to go. It was almost as if circumstances were conspiring against me so I wouldn't get there.

First off, it was in a new location. Our original last class got canceled because of the MTA strike. Ironically (or unluckily? not sure what the difference is), that building was 3 blocks away from me and I would have made it fine by foot. The new location was in Soho, a part of town I don't know very well. It's best known for its shopping.

Anyway, I looked up the location - 424 Broadway - on Mapquest and chose a subway station. The station looked deceptively close on the map. I got off and started walking on Canal Street, but everything looked wrong. So I asked a girl if I was heading east, and she said, "I don't think so. That's New Jersey over there." So I thought, %^@#!^! and headed in the opposite direction. I went up Broadway, found I was going in the wrong direction, and turned around.

Finally I found 424. The problem was, it looked like a residence on one floor, and One Model Management on the other. Oops. Then I realized I was on West Broadway. Not regular Broadway. This is why I don't like lower Manhattan. It's confusing!

So I traipsed over to regular Broadway and found 424. It said, "Building open Mon-Fri 10 am-5 pm." The writing class is at 7. I roamed around a bit, seeing if there was an entrance I missed, but nothing.

Then I thought, "Maybe it's 464." That was Daffy's. So I gave up and walked home. Checked my email at 9 pm...and it was on 494 Broadway all along.

Gah.

The good news is, the girls from my class are going to continue to meet on Wednesday nights, so we can read each other's novels and give feedback. And we'll probably meet at my apartment! So I can't get lost.

:)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Favorite TV shows over time

I was never much of a TV watcher. I think my time to watch it was actually limited when I was a child, though I forget the limit my mother put on it. Over the years, however, certain shows emerged as favorites and this is my homage to them.

The Golden Girls - Who can forget Dorothy shaking her groove thing at the benefit and asking the DJ, "Let's have something with a little more octane!" My college roommate and I used to say this to each other. Our friend PC, who is now in England, is a (straight) male devotee of the Golden Girls, and even has a T-shirt that features Rose Nylund smiling serenely. He claims that on Bea Arthur's website FAQ, there is the question, "Is Bea Arthur a man?" and the answer is "No." I think the phrasing of the question is slightly different. But feel free to check it out and report back ;)

The Cosby Show - Like everyone else, I watched this in the '80s. So wholesome. It doesn't age well, though. When I see it now, I just think pudding pops. And Bill Cosby's illegitimate daughter, Autumn.

Seinfeld - Never got into it. But on the night of the last episode, I went to CVS and met a Rottweiler puppy. I held him in the palm of my hand ;)

Friends - Got into it reluctantly after 6 seasons. I liked it when Ross said the wrong name at the altar.

Sex and the City - Got into this reluctantly after 4 or so seasons. D enjoyed making fun of SJP's pseudo-deep revelations about life, typed very slowly on a laptop.

Desperate Housewives - Watched this from its inception. Miss it. Bring it back!

Grey's Anatomy - Couldn't be bothered to watch the first episode, but gradually got sucked into the drama of a hospital where everyone sleeps with each other.

How I Met Your Mother - A sleeper. I'm always surprised by how clever this is (for a sitcom, anyway) and particularly enjoyed the last episode. It was a rerun, but I hadn't seen it before. If it hasn't caught on already, I hope it does.

First season of The Apprentice - One of my former coworkers leaked a rumor that Kwame would win. Katrina got loose-lipped in a Miami club and told the New York Post that Kwame was the one. I had a bet with two of my other co-workers - I voted for Troy, the girl voted for Amy and the guy voted for Kwame. So the guy got all smug until the finale came and...Kwame didn't win. Because he had the supreme bad judgment to pick Omarosa for his team.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Winter vegetable stew


This is really good.

Winter Vegetable Stew (from Table for Two, by Joanne Stepaniak)

You need 6-8 cups of vegetables. The cookbook says to combine sweet potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, carrots, potatoes and parsnips, but I dissed the rutabagas and turnips. (Parsnips are cute, by the way.) Peel all the veggies and chop them in chunks that are about the same size. Then you need 6-8 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped coarsely, 1 large chopped onion, and 2 cups of greens (I used kale).

Put everything except the kale in a large saucepan (or whatever you usually cook soup in) and cover the vegetables with water. Don't fill the saucepan more than 2/3 full; otherwise the water will splash out. That said, the more water you use, the more broth you will have.

Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Add the kale, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the root vegetables are very tender and beginning to break apart.

It's amazing. I like sweet vegetables, so I favored the sweet potatoes, carrots, and parsnips and they released all this starchy sweetness. Much better than any commercial broth. You can add a little salt to each bowl.
It's late and I can't sleep. Earlier today, AT and I went to TW's class...TW was my yoga buddy from the program. This was the first class taught by one of my peers from the program. It was great. It was slower and more hatha-style (i.e., spending a long time in each pose) than I had planned for my own class. But that was a relief in a way. For some reason I had feared that all our classes would be alike. Now I think that it'll be super to go to all the different classes (except for this one girl, who wears a bottle of perfume each day and I can't breathe around her, so I'll be skipping hers) and pick up things from each class. One thing that was unfortunate: she couldn't get the sound system to work. I think she was using a CD though. I'm just planning to plug my iPod into the stereo. That's what I did at my physical final and it worked out.

I'm going to try out a new studio where they offer a class called "Honey Flow"...1 hour "sweaty vinyasa," 45 minutes "sweet restorative." I like it (and almost anything that is described in food terms). The teacher (bowing down as I write this) is both a yoga teacher and a private chef. Is that awesome or what???

I'm reading "How I Stole Her Husband" by Liz Ireland. It has one of the most ridiculous covers in chick lit (and the ugliest shoes I've ever seen!!!) but I picked it up on a whim from the library. I also got "What Do You Do All Day?", "fiction" about a stay-at-home mom. Honestly, some people seem to slip into motherhood so easily and others seem to be boiling vats of discontent. I think it's crucial to wait till you're ready. Which I'm not. Though I like playing and hanging around with kids. On some level, I am one of them, and they sense that.

Woody Allen has a new movie coming out. "Match Point." It's in NYC already at a couple of theaters, and slated for broad release on Jan. 20. I can't wait to see it. I have some doubts about the casting. Scarlett Johanssen is supposed to be a "scarlet woman" of sorts who tempts Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (who was cute in "Bend it Like Beckham", but looks a little jowly here, at least in the previews, but we'll give him the benefit of the doubt) away from his marriage. Now, Scarlett doesn't seem to have the get-up-and-go or passion for the role...her face is one of the least expressive I've seen on an actress...but I'm willing to give it a go because it just looks really good. And critics are agreeing. "Rumor Has It" is another story...truly awful reviews. Guess I won't be seeing it.

And D and I went to Le Gamin on 9th and 21st this morning. They've changed their name to La Grenaille, and their menu now says "French toast" instead of "pain perdu." But it tasted the same and they got it ready a whole lot faster than they did in the past. I guess we won't need to defect to the Le Gamin on 15th St after all.

I patted a number of bulldogs today. There's one that hangs out in a salon with blinding white decor and a glass door. It looks through the door all day. It has an expression of deep melancholy. AT and I passed by there on the way back from yoga. A held the door open while I patted the doggy, who got up and sniffed my hand.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year...

It's funny, I always feel a little sad when the ball drops. It's a new year...who knows what it will bring? I told my brother about this once and he said dubiously, "I never really saw it that way." We usually go out for New Year and then come back to see the ball drop on TV (never mind that it's pretty close!) and when everyone else jumps up and cheers, I have this moment of introspection.

It was a fun night, though. TW, sadly, was not able to come...she emailed to accept at first, then to decline because she was staying in NJ with her sore throat...I didn't get her decline email until later. She is teaching her first yoga class on the 2nd, and I am definitely going to that! (My first class is on the 12th.)

Lobo commented that it was a subdued New Year. It's true, last year we walked back from the same restaurant and people yelled, "Happy New Year!" from cars and a bar was playing, "Pour Some Sugar on Me" at top volume. I didn't mind, though. It was more mature ;)

We had a Thai dinner with some friends (S wore a puffy, Asian-new-year-style snake around his neck!), then went to the bubble tea place that used to be called Saint's Alp. Yes, it was oddly punctuated ;) Now it's called Teariffic. I had some kind of orange juice/passionfruit/curacao drink (or some other blue stuff at the bottom) and shared a "mung bean shake" with AT. The mung bean shake was curiously good...kind of a cross between split pea soup and a drink. AT said it was like drinking breakfast cereal.

We took the subway home and the conductor tried to shut the door on AT! AT felt it was because of his singing. Later, the conductor tried to shut the door on me, but D held the doors open and I was able to get out. Awww....

We watched a bit of Dick Clark's "Rockin'" New Year's Eve, just to see the ball drop. My SIL strenuously objected to Mariah Carey's dress. "I would never wear that dress," she said, "especially if I had a body like that." I thought she looked slutty, but that is the status quo, no? It wouldn't seem quite right otherwise. Then Hillary Duff came on, I became violently ill and we turned off the TV.

Also, did everyone notice that the 2006 sign looked like 2004 on TV? Lobo said we were going back. I wouldn't want to do that. 2004 was not one of my best years. I feel like things are going in the right direction now, although I will be psyched when I get a permanent yoga gig.