21 December 2009

Holiday Menu

I'm posting this online so that it actually gets done - I'm rather scatter-brained, as I'm not at home in my own little domain, but visiting family for a fortnight in Ohio.

We're celebrating Christmas at my Gramma's house, which, as it has been the way I've always celebrated Christmas (not observing the holiday in my own immediate family), is the only way to do it.  This being so, I've commandeered the reins of the preparations, so that it is "just so."  I like things "just so," you know.

Here are some elements that make Christmas more delightful:

1.  Real live (or rather, dead) fir/pine/spruce tree.  We have a dandy little fir that we bought from A. Brown and Sons Nursery here near Dayton.  It was on sale, as it had probably been cut a little while ago, but it was the kind we wanted, and it was "soft," as evergreens go, and had easy to decorate branches.

2.  Sweet things.  As I'm now pretty much all gluten-free, I can't even bend the rules in that regard.  But I do allow myself sweets, so I've been baking.  Ginger cake made with maple syrup instead of molasses (which is so bitter!).  And on the schedule for today are some Christmas cookines, including gingerbread people and maybe some sugar cookies (which have very little taste but are fun to decorate), and... well, something else small and tasty.  And we will be making fruit cakes for my Gramma, and a funny little "uncandied" version for me - I'm not too fond of candied fruit, so I'll try my hand with a dried fruit cake.

3.  Appropriate television nonsense.  I'm actually surprised that I wasn't able to find in the upcoming television schedule a performance of the Nutcracker Ballet.  How am I supposed to get in the holiday spirit without weird mice and Christmas toys battling it out in dance format?  And of course "White Christmas" is probably my favorite, and then maybe the Grinch, although he is a bit scary for Olivia.

4.  Christmas Eve Church Service.  My high school friend's father is the pastor (minister? I'm not too certain of the right word for a Methodist man of the cloth) of a local church which my grandmother likes to attend when she can, and we will be attending the 7 PM family-friendly (hooray!) service this Christmas Eve.  And eating ham, per my mother's request.  But not at the same time.

5.  Yummy Christmas Dinner.  Here's what I'm thinking:
  • Local pasture-raised Beef Roast from Aullwood Audubon Farm
  • Mashed Potatoes (of course)
  • Something to do with Squash
  • Balsamic Roasted Beets
  • Spinach Salad
  • Garlic Green Beans
  • Gluten-free biscuits
  • Mince Pie
  • Sweet Potato Pie
  • Ginger Cake
We will be having dinner around 4 PM on Christmas Day, in hopes that the other portions of my grandmother's family (i.e. my uncle, aunt, and cousins, et. al.) will be able to join us sometime during the day.

6.  Snow.  Although I can't really do much about that.

Now, after listing all of that food, I'm a bit peckish.  And I hear babies - I'm off!  Happy Holidays!!

05 December 2009


This afternoon, we were walking home from the train when Olivia asks me, "Mommy, how do you get into T.V.?"

I explained that it was a process of someone taking a video recording of you and then someone else playing that recording on the television.

"No," she told me.  And this is her explanation:

"You take out the bathroom and cross the street and go into the T.V."


This evening, in the bath, in a sing-songy voice:

"And she went to her house
and her daddy's house
and her mommy's house
and her sister's house
and a ducky's house...
a pretend ducky's house (in reference to the rubber ducks in the bath)"
[ending in a chorus of bubbles]

Elizabeth of Brick Apartments

I've spent the last few days reading my dear old Anne of Green Gables books by L. M. Montgomery.  Actually, I've been reading the text online, thanks to the efforts of Project Gutenberg, which posts free texts on the internet.  My real books are safely ensconced in my parents' home.

I read these when I was young, when I was more interested in the character of Anne and the romantic plot then.  But, of late, I've been thinking more about what happens after Anne gets married, as that's where I am in my life now.  Romance aside, I am much more interested in how she composes herself as a mother - particularly a young mother of young children.

Recently, I came across the movies, made in the 1980s by Sullivan Entertainment and was pleased to know that there were not only the first and second episodes, which were based on the Montgomery books, but a third movie as well.  The second movie, which I had seen when I was younger, leaves off just at the good part, as I see it now - right before Anne & Gilbert get hitched.  Eagerly, I watched the beginning credits of the "Continuing Story," but noticed that the plot seemed unfamiliar.  Anne and Gilbert weren't yet married and it had been five years, and there was some nonsense about moving to a large city, which I didn't recall.  And then Marilla is already dead, and Gilbert goes off to war, and another character makes advances at Anne and Anne goes to Europe to find Gilbert and there's a mushy love scene and...  bleck.  It left a nasty Hollywood taste in my mouth - apparently the producers felt that Ms. Montgomery's story was not adequate or exciting enough to snare viewers' attention.  But they missed the point entirely.   Needless to say, I didn't watch the movie, and promptly disposed of it.

Disappointed, I let the matter lie until the other day, when I came across an online text of Anne of Green Gables.  Eagerly, I thirstily read... and read... and read.

If you've not read the books, I shan't repeat them here, but will only say that they are delightful, and encourage you to read them, whether your are a young girl or an older gentleman.  There is much about human nature in them, and, being written over 100 years ago (the first book published in 1908), are wonderful historical sketches as well.

I was, as mentioned above, most eager to see how Anne dealt with being a young mother of young children, having two little ones myself.  I have been struggling with being too grumpy and "ruley," that is to say, too strict, especially with my three year-old.  So I wanted to see how Anne dealt with that time in her life.

I read to the point where her first son is born, and the family then moves into a new home (which is the end of one book, Anne's House of Dreams).  I excitedly took up the next book, only to find that it started six years later.  Six years!!  Those were precisely the years that I wanted!!  Nevertheless, I plodded on and finished Anne of Ingleside, and was surprisingly pleased at some of the tidbits of advice that I gleaned.

Most importantly, I appreciated how much God is present in the pages of the story.  God is simply a matter of fact, an over-arching theme of everyday life. It was refreshing to see the importance of being an upright person and saying your prayers (without undue stress on what prayers you were saying, exactly).  I additionally liked how having a goodly character was lauded over "appearing" to do the right thing - I often think about how in my own life, appearances are most important - that is, what people think often drives my actions rather than what I think is best and right.  So this was emboldening to me - I shook off some of the accumulated layers of the ill effects of our current culture to reveal my own wonderful self beneath.

Another interesting point was that Anne had a cook.  Who was also a housekeeper.  And Anne had a garden and a house.  As I struggle with keeping our home clean, small as it may be, I realise that one of my biggest enemies is "stuff" - all of the accumulated things that we are sold every day.  But the other enemy is a cultural attitude that as a mother, I must, singly and alone, do all of the "womanly duties" myself - cook, clean, do laundry, go grocery shopping, mop, sweep, dust, diaper babies, sweep some more, read stories, heal hurts, feed the family, sweep again - with no help.  Where's my cook?  How wonderful to have some companionship and another adult to speak with and share the attention of the children.


But the most salient point that I have decided to incorporate into our daily lives is to spend time outside.  LOTS of time.  And to read stories.  And little to no time watching tv.  My poor dears have been inside for the last week, as our car was disabled in an accident and it's been too cold (for me) to get out.  But winter hasn't even started yet, and so my goal today is to get out.

At the expense of the dishes.

Oh, well, we can't have it all.

04 December 2009

Where's the camera when you need it?

Murphy's Law is in full force at our house.

Elsie is being a chubby darling, playing at standing up while raising her arms in the air, and I can't find our camera.  It has lain idly for the past week on the steamer trunk in our front hallway, with no real cause for use, and now, when I need it, I can't find it.

So, dear reader, you must be content with my description.

Elsie is wearing an apple-green one-piece romper and fuzzy striped socks.  Her dark brown hair has lightened a bit after our trip to Jamaica, and lost all of its island humidity-induced waviness, but there are a few sweet inklings of curls around her ears and the back of her neck.  Her chubby cheeks seem as though she is storing nuts for the winter, but we know that is only a ruse.  Although she still likes to pick up tasty things off of the floor and pop them into her mouth (don't worry, Gramma, all edible things).

She is a prolific crawler and cruiser, ably pulling herself up and moving from couch to chair to leg.  Her favorite "leg up" is actually my leg, and I have to make certain my pants are on snugly, lest a too-strong tug should yank them off.

She loves to play games - mostly repetition games, where she will mimic whatever Nathan or I do, within limits.  She'll clap her hands or hit her fat fists on the table after we do, or parrot our sounds, such as "Mama" or "Dada" or "Abha."  She loves to clap and laugh, and play pat-a-cake and snuggle into my shoulder (which is my favorite).

But this evening, she is playing at standing.  She'll start on all fours and shift her weight back into her rather large diapered bottom.  They, she'll slowly raise her arms off of the floor, wobbling until she's lifted them over her head (or as much over her head as is possible, considering she is still the possessor of short and chubby baby arms).  She then seeks my eyes and proudly quacks at her accomplishment.  My favorite part is the "dismount," where she plops onto the aforementioned diapered bottom with a soft "thud."

My sweet chubby, dimpled baby.

Perfunctory Post #1 - Nathan's Birthday

Well, dear reader, I promised I would write about his, and so I shall, mostly to satisfy the family & friends from afar who take interest in our little family's goings-on.

Nathan celebrated his 30th birthday last week (at least I believe it was last week - things have been in a bit of a tizzy in the Thanksgiving aftermath), in conjunction with Thanksgiving dinner.

To be fair, he actually celebrated his gift from us on the previous Sunday - at the Chicago Bears vs. the Philadelphia Eagles football game held at Soldier Field in Chicago.  I had actually remembered this year to procure tickets more than a week prior to his birthday, and therefore didn't have to spend too pretty a penny for seats, although it's shameful the way that tickets are acceptably "scalped."  Nevertheless, I am in no was abashed at the gift, as he attended with his father, and neither had ever attended a Bears game.

This, dear reader, may not seem like such a dire wrong.  I've never attended a Bears game, or any professional football game, for that matter, and will happily progress to the next world without ever having done so, but for Nathan and his father to have never done so - it is almost akin to a travesty.    Almost.  I still have a proper sense of proportion.

So I arranged that George should drive in for the evening and meet up with Nathan at work, who had as yet been unaware of the plans.  I packed warm "secular" clothes for Nathan - orange and blue, of course - and hid the tickets in a funny little card I made for him.  We arrived to "pick him up" and gave him the card.  He was very excited, and, after a bit of scrambling to meet up with George, embarked on the train to get to the stadium.

To the outside world, both Mr. George Davis and his son Nathan seem like pleasant, mild-mannered gentlemen.  Both are veterans of the stage, and both are soft-spoken and spiritually-minded.  Never have I heard either swear or raise his voice, or show aggression or brutishness.

And yet, when cut, both bleed orange and blue.

Our dear friend, Emeric, must be one of the most superstitious football fans ever.  He won't watch the game with certain people, as he believes they jinx the outcome of the game.  When the Bears are falling behind, he'll call me to see if Olivia is wearing her Bears sweatshirt.  If not, I am told to put it on her.  And he was pleasantly surprised one day to, in casual conversation, learn that Nathan was a football fan.  Not only that, a BEARS fan.  And, not only that, but could recite plays and statistics from years past with surprising alacrity.  They immediately became friends, and we were honored with an invitation to watch the game with Emeric.

So George & Nathan attended their first Bears game together, with seats at the fifty yard line.  The Bears had been faring rather poorly in the season (I overheard the idea that for some reason, perfectly good quarterbacks lose their spark in this team), and this game would be the turning point.  If they won, they would still have a fighting chance for the playoffs, but if they lost, the season would be essentially over.

Of course, they lost.  But it was a well-played game.

Not being so dedicated to a team myself, and knowing that by saying so here, I may forfeit all future invitations to Emeric's house to watch football, what I do like to see in a game is each team playing its best.  I especially like to see players demonstrate courtesy (no personal fouls) and dignity.  Just as in politics, there will always be someone upset by the outcome, and, Lord knows, the only thing we can eternally put stock in is the next world.  So it is refreshing to see a team play with a good sense of healthy sportsmanship and honor.  And a coach who doesn't lose his head or swear (at least not that I can tell) when things go otherwise than perfectly.

Don't worry, Bears fans.  There is always next year.  Hope springs eternal, even in sports.

02 December 2009

What the Heck is Going On?

Something about this season always brings out the mostest in me - be it the worst or the best, who knows.  I just seem to be all in a tizzy with things to do.

Which is, dear reader, why I haven't posted since November 5th.

First, it was our family trip to Jamaica, which I will have to write about separately, as it was really that amazing.  We went to celebrate the wedding of Bahiyyih & Malik, and boy, did we ever (celebrate, that is)!

Then, it was right into birthday festivities for Nathan, which (I almost forgot) included a sneaky surprise trip to see the Chicago Bears play the Philadelphia Eagles with his dad.  Neither had gone to a game before and it was pretty amazing.  Even tho' the Bears lost.  But this, also, is another post.

Then it was house-sitting and Thanksgiving prep at said house across the street.  Which was a feast for the ages.  Complete with fancy china and the "king goblet."  Again, another post.

Which leads me, finally, to the point of THIS post:

On Sunday, after cleaning up from Thanksgiving and getting all of my ducks in a row in terms of "moving out" of our neighbor's house, I thought it might be nice to go visiting.  So I called up my dear friend, Corinne, piled the girls in our sweet car, picked up Corinne and drove into "the city" to a devotional at a mutual friends' home.  It was nice and tasty, and I ran into a friend from college, who it was great to see.

And then, on the drive home, someone ran into me.  Not in the cordial sense.

I was in the right lane heading north on the gargantuan Sheridan Road, and coming up onto an intersection with a left turn.  As I begin passing the intersection, Corinne suddenly says, "Look out!" and I barely have time to hit the brakes and try to swerve, when a car from the left lane turns into ours and hits my front driver's side wheel, thereby lifting our car into the air slightly before we come to an abrupt stop toward the end of the intersection.  This same car then veers back into the left lane and hits a car waiting to turn left, which, in turn, huts the car in from of it, also waiting to turn left.  It was a scary, adrenaline-filled jumble.

Stunned, I look behind me and see that traffic has stopped, and grumpy drivers, completely unaware that time is now moving in slow motion (they missed the memo, apparently), begin to filter through the two lanes to continue on their northbound way.  I can't think of where they could be going that is so urgent.

I make a mental check to see how the girls are - Elsie has promptly fallen asleep and Olivia is asking questions about what just happened, which Corinne is deftly answering while taking stock of the situation.  I get out to look at the car and it appears that there is only some minor damage to the front bumper and the front driver's side wheel well.  I somehow see that a police car has driven up, and the officer is asking all the drivers involved to retreat to a driveway nearby.  I dutifully try to back the car up, and am presented with a bit of difficulty in doing so - it feels as though I have a flat tire or something.

In the melee that followed, I am so thankful for Corinne's insight.  She quickly calls a friend to come and pick up the girls, and then calls Nathan's work and has him paged (he had escaped somewhere away from his office) so that he can come down, too.  She bawls me out of my stupor in so that I answer the officer's questions and don't allow the offending driver to label me as the "striking vehicle," when (as we later find out) there was no way that I could have rendered as much damage to my car as was there on my own.  She guides me to sit in the car to stay warm, as I aimlessly walk around the car, looking for God knows what.  I was so stunned that I didn't know what to do with myself.

Our friend, Bushra arrives and takes Olivia into her car.  Nathan arrives, and Corinne and Bushra leave with Olivia, who is excited about reaching the "promised land" of cable television at Corinne's house.  Elsie is still asleep.  The police officer is busy with paperwork as Nathan and I inspect the car.  When we drive it slowly forwards and backwards, it sounds and feels as though we are driving a flat tire over glass.  But there is no real visible evidence of any problems, except that the tires don't turn together - one would be parallel with the car's frame while the other would be turned on an angle.

I approach the officer's car and ask to see my insurance card, because we need to call a tow truck for the car.  He asks me if that is really necessary, as the damage appears to be very slight.  I reply that it is not drivable, and, although he appears to not believe me, he hands me my card.

The first car to leave was the least damaged one - the car at the front of the queue to turn.  Then the second car in the turning queue drives off.  Only the striking car and I remain with the officer.  The offending car soon drives off, with several tickets, and the officer approaches my car.  He tells me I need to accompany him to the station.

He may have believed that I was feigning surprise, but I really was taken aback.  I wasn't sure why I would need to go to the police station - but he was vehement that I hurry and follow him in my car.  When I ask what I should do if the car can't keep up, he told me that I needed to have a better attitude.  Fortunately, Nathan was there and asked the words that my brain couldn't manage to form:  why does she need to go?   It turned out that because I had mislaid my driver's license earlier and did not have it with me,  I was getting a ticket.  And so they needed my signature at the station so they could release me on bond.  I'm still not sure how to explain it, but I ended up riding in the back of the police car, leaving Nathan and Elsie with the car.

There isn't much leg room in the backseat of police cars.

I signed and waited for the officers at the station to finish their paperwork.  My officer was in a hurry to get back to the scene and be on his way, and so he started to take me back to his car before the desk officer was finished with the paperwork.  At this point, I believe that my officer realised that I wasn't being stupid or playing a part - I was doing the best I could at following his instructions (he had been rather curt up until then) - but was new to this and wasn't sure what was expected of me.

In the car on the way back, he asked for the names of the girls, as he hadn't realised that there had been children in the car.  And he asked what we would do in order to get the car home - to which I replied that we would try to drive it.  Content that his job was finished, and realising that he had left some paperwork at the station, he dropped me off and rushed away.

I think that police officers should have secretaries.  There is certainly enough to think about with the law and all.

At this point, I transferred Elsie's car seat to our neighbor's car (which Nathan was driving at the time), and proceeded to try to drive our poor little car home, with Nathan in the rear with his hazard lights on.  I could drive about 5 miles an hour and successfully crossed Sheridan road before I decided that we should actually try to call a tow truck.  I called our insurance and started to make a claim, before finding out that we would need to pay for a tow truck (we had no money on us, and our debit cards had been canceled as I had lost mine on our way to Jamaica).  So we started out again with my goal to get the car parked on a side street with no parking restrictions.  Ten minutes and three blocks later, I found a spot, right near our first apartment.

So we left our little car, content that anyone who tried to steal it wouldn't get very far, and prayed that no street cleaning would occur between then and whenever we could pick it up.  We picked up Olivia and went home and went to bed.

I am still trying to sort out insurance things - we have full coverage, but are reluctant to make a claim, as it will put us out $400 (plus we don't have rental coverage).

Our insurance, Allstate, has contacted me twice already to take a statement, and is making arrangements to have the car towed, in the event that we do not have resolution from the other insurance company.

The offending party's insurance company is a small local establishment, who will not accept liability because they have not yet heard from their client nor have they made an assessment of the damage.  They are apparently so small that they do not employ appraisers, and have sent out the request for an appraiser on Monday.  It is now Wednesday and I have not heard from them.  I have called every day, only to be told the same thing.  When I ask to see if we can at least have a rental car, they tell me that they cannot do anything until they have finished their investigation.

I think that they should hire me to fill out the paperwork - I'd get that thing taken care of in a jiffy.

01 December 2009

Bag Lady

Erykah Badu has a song called "Bag Lady," which is pretty amazing.  In it she describes what you might begin to imagine when you hear the term "bag lady" - a presumably homeless woman who is carrying all of her things around with her in shopping bags of various assortments.  However, as the song progresses, you realise that Ms. Badu is singing about ALL women (and probably some men, too) who take on too many things - hold on to what's not good for them or what they think is important, when the reality is much more simple

"Bag Lady, you gonna hurt your back
Dragging all them bags like that.
I guess nobody ever told you
All you must hold onto
Is you, is you, is you.

"One day, all them bags gonna get in your way
One day, all them bags gonna get in your way
I said one day, all them bags gonna get in your way
One day, all them bags gonna get in your way

"Pack Light."