Friday, September 29, 2006

stuck in the mud

You've Changed 8% in 10 Years

You've hardly changed in ten years, from your lifestyle to those very retro clothes.
And unless you were really ahead of your time, you probably need to acquaint yourself with the modern world!
How Much Have You Changed in 10 Years?

Saw this on Raising WEG. OK, so I did have a child in the last ten years--not a question on the quiz--but otherwise, truly, much is the same. (But why doesn't the quiz care about my fabulous new refrigerator?)


So now this blog is in beta, too. I'm told the commenting issue has been fixed--let me know if you see anything different.

[edited to add more detail, in response to Mom's comment]
So: blogger has two different interfaces, now, and I'm testing out the new one (thus, beta). My understanding is that at some deep level it's very different from regular blogger in how it manages posting, but as far as I'm concerned the difference is that it's easier to edit and change the layout, and that I can add labels to posts, which can help with searching out old posts later. Or that's the theory.

this isn't really Friday food

Because I'm not doing that any more. But last night I made this tasty dish of stir-fried beef and vegetables (I added snap peas and haricots verts to the red bell pepper) and everyone liked it. In fact Nick, who has been unreasonably picky of late (sweet potatoes! Who doesn't like sweet potatoes?) ate a second helping.

three chocolate-covered espresso beans

and a cup of tea, taken late in the afternoon, conspired to disturb my sleep from about 2:30 until 6, when I had to get up anyway. I know this about myself: caffeine doesn't keep me up, it just disturbs my sleep. But those espresso beans tasted so good!

Monday, September 25, 2006

How not to start the work week

1 a.m. The house is dark; everyone is asleep. I become aware of several things at once: Mark is moving next to me, there's movement upstairs, and some horrible noise has broken through my sleep. Out of bed, I hear it again. It sounds like a child being tortured: a high-pitched scream of pain.

Before I can begin to imagine the possibilities that the sound holds, I flip on the downstairs hall light. I shout: "What is it?" Mariah comes down her stairs--I register, then, that she's not hurt, that she didn't make the sound.

And as I hear it again I realize that the sound that woke me was slightly different, involved hissing and scratching. As I hear it again I see Anna the cat leaping at the front door, fur pointing in every direction, tail fluffed, hissing and--yes, that's her--screaming at the black cat on the front porch, who is on the other side also leaping at the door, at Anna. A cat fight, with a door and a pane of glass in between the combatants.

Mark goes down and shoos both cats away from the door. I make sure Nick is all right (he seems, in fact, to have slept through it all, though he looks up groggily at me when I ask him if he's ok). Mariah goes back to bed. It's over by 1:05.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Friday update

  • Nick is learning to play the saxophone. Twice a week he goes early to school for "band practice"/group lessons. He got the sax (a rental) Wednesday, and learned how to make noises with it yesterday. To all my neighbors: I apologize.
  • Nick, by the way, does not apologize. He announced at dinner last night that passers-by were stopping to listen to him when he was demonstrating his prowess for our neighbor. We did not correct his impression, but I'm afraid they may have been looking for the goose that was being strangled.
  • Mariah is taking voice lessons but we are not privy to her practicing. Again, I apologize. That might be nice to listen to.
  • It is the autumnal equinox and the weather is appropriately crisp and cool today. But I hear it's warming up again tomorrow. It's hard to get dressed these days.
  • The sky this morning looked like the sky on a summer afternoon just before a thunderstorm: dark overcast with bright light at the tops of the trees and buildings. Lovely, but a bit ominous.
  • So far fall classes are going well for everyone. Mariah loves her government class, Nick is full of information about the history of Virginia, and I'm all children's lit, all the time.

Monday, September 18, 2006

what is up

I'm working on a fellowship application lately--or should I say, I am working on a fellowship application? Get the difference? I've spent the last five years or so working hard to rid my academic prose of its stiffness, its stuffiness, its (let's be serious) unreadability. Though I always thought I wrote conversationally, the years in graduate school and beyond had an effect, and when I first tried to sell some non-academic writing I got smacked down, hard, for my pretentiousness. Over the years I've tried to adjust, and I think I've been reasonably successful.

So anyway. I'm applying for this fellowship, and the person who advises me on such things tells me to avoid contractions in formal prose. I've been teaching writing for 20 years and I've never told a student to avoid contractions.

But audience is everything, and if she says formal contractions won't fly, out they go.

You'll be glad to know this equanimity took at least an hour of me growling at the keyboard and refusing to remove my apostrophe. But it's like parenting, this writing gig: you have to pick your battles, and the apostrophe was starting to look a lot like a meal Nick didn't want to eat--not worth this fight, even if I still want to hold to the principle.

OK, so the analogy is strained. But you get the point.

blogger hates me

I have just tried three times to update my viewing list (for the record, we watched "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill" two weeks ago, and it's well worth watching) and every time, blogger tells me it doesn't know who I am, despite the fact that I have just signed in.

Watch this post disappear, too.

Maybe it is mad at me for getting a beta blog as well? But I thought they wanted me to!

Monday, September 11, 2006


Becca's going to think I'm copying her; but really, who better to imitate? I'm blogging about my reading here. It will take a few weeks, I think, before I really get moving on it, but at least I've made a start.

new column

Here's my latest: on Harry Potter, Jane Eyre, and 9/11.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Last Friday Food for a while

It's that season of the year when summer food seems too light, not quite substantial enough, but we are not yet ready for the soups and stews and casseroles of winter. It's a hard time, cooking-wise, for me. I'm busy at work, the kids are busy, we all need to eat, but nothing seems quite right.

Luckily we can still fire up the grill. Here's a marinade for grilled chicken thighs that works every time. If you slice up some grillable veggies (maybe a late-season zucchini or two, an eggplant, a couple of red peppers) and brush them with olive oil to grill alongside (really, you'll need to start them first) you'll have dinner in no time. Especially if, like me, you delegate the grill-work.

Marinade for chicken thighs (enough for 6-8 boneless skinless thighs; also works for breasts, bone in or out, but the thighs are more flavorful and juicy).

5 minced garlic cloves
1 tsp. kosher salt
juice of two lemons (1/3 cup)
grated zest of one lemon (2 tbl.)
3 tbl. chopped fresh rosemary
2 tbl. olive oil
1/2 tsp. sugar

Mix together the minced garlic and the salt and rub it all over the chicken. (Messy but worthwhile.) Mix the rest of the ingredients together and pour over the chicken; marinate for at least an hour, or up to a day, covered and in the refrigerator.

When it's time, get someone to grill them. Yum.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Well, it took six days, but we now have phone & internet at home again. When so many didn't have power at all, and when in the scheme of things our problems are so small, it seems churlish to complain, but just believe me when I say I have not been fun to be around the last few days. What this says about my internet addiction I don't care to examine, though I will say that I do increasing parts of my job online (course management software, online course reserves, etc., etc) so part of the issue was that I was feeling hamstrung about work. And, then, the other part.

Blogging will no doubt slow down for a while anyway. It's the kids' first week of school (praise be!) and my second week of the semester, and there is a lot going on. This will be a busy fall, mostly in ways I'm quite looking forward to, but that will necessarily cut into my internet time. And that may not be a bad thing at all.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Do I still exist?

We've had no phone or internet at home since yesterday afternoon, and no power on campus today, so I'm feeling a little out-of-touch. I'm in a cafe with free wireless this morning so I can update and check e-mail and all. But I'm about to head back to our digital-free-zone at home, hoping that we'll be reconnecting later in the day. Wish me luck!

(And if you came here this morning looking for a recipe, my apologies... As usual at the turn of a season, I'm tired of all the food I've been making for months but haven't quite shifted into the new mode. Maybe next week.)