Friday, November 30, 2007


I love butter. So does my grandmother. So does my brother. So does my dad. My husband? Not so much. Now, he's no butter hater, but in his world it appears to be some sort of accent flavor, as opposed to the main show. Or to put it another way: in my family, bread is largely a vehicle for butter (my paternal grandfather even ate pats of it on crackers!). Vogelman! once turned to me after watching Robert sparingly butter toast and said "It's painful to watch him butter toast, the way he's so stingy and scrapes at the bread!" (or something to that effect).

Zion hasn't shown any real feelings for or against butter, but Liel loves it. When we eat in restaurants that bring a bread basket she spends her time squeezing butter out of whatever container it arrives in- usually straight into her mouth. Eventually we realize why she's being so quiet and move the butter away from her. Then she starts trying to slip a little butter in on the sly. I wouldn't mind so much, but she makes a huge mess and I don't want her wrecking her clothes with butter stains (how's that for lame? Man, never thought I'd see the day I was so worried about laundry. Next thing you know I'll be shilling for some ring-around-the-collar treatment and crowing about how much better it's made my life. And I don't even have ring-around-the-collar).

I was sharing this little personality quirk of Liel's with some mama friends today, and one of them reported that she caught her son dipping his breakfast sausage in butter as if he were eating fries and ketchup. Robert was repulsed when I told him about it- I was intrigued. In college I knew a girl who's aunt used to sometimes share a special snack with her: a stick of butter dipped in white sugar.

Cause there's no wrong way to eat butter.

(This post is dedicated to Becka, who I love despite the fact that she hates butter even more than Robert does.)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Better late than never


Here ya go, Stace, 7 weird facts about yours truly :)

1. I love socks. (also shoes, but this one is not so unique!) My mom swears it is genetic, as my dad would also be delighted to have drawers and drawers of pleasing socks at his disposal.

2. I am a terrible housekeeper, yet my mother and grandmother are both fabulous housekeepers. That gene skipped me, apparently. However, I do look forward to their visits, so they can clean my house. And, um, other reasons, too! Of course :) I like to think of it as Zen- I can't possibly vacuum in the corners because I have no attachments. Hell, I might not even have corners anymore, there's so much stuff piled in them.

3. I am convinced that pie is the food of the G-ds. Seriously. It's PIE. What could be better? (PS Pies should contain fruit. Chocolate pie is not Pie. Butterscotch pie is not Pie. And heaven forbid, Peanut Butter pie is not Pie.)

4. I think that smell is one of the most undervalued senses. Scent can transport me back to a person, place, or time faster and more completely than anything. My grandfather died when I was 8. I don't remember a lot about him anymore. I don't know what kind of cologne or aftershave he used, but sometimes I smell it, out there in the wide world. And it's the only way I really know my grandfather these days.

5. I never eat oranges unless I am at home. Never. Why? Because I've yet to have a decent orange anywhere else. Ojai oranges are The Best. Period. They are sweet and tart and sunshine and juice and chapparal and home and Thacher and cut up in a bowl with strawberries when I get up in the morning at my parent's house, and juiced fresh and bought in huge quantities an eaten with joy.

6. I am kind of double jointed (where would my list be without this one?). I can bend my joints in all sorts of unnatural ways, and I can partially unhinge my jaw, like a snake. This means I can win virtually every "what can you fit in your mouth" game (what, you didn't play those??). Growing up, Kenny and I loved playing a game that was essentially a contest to see which of us could fit the most of X (usually grapes) into his/her mouth without crushing them. We last played this game in high school, and I won (though narrowly, I must admit). I put 42 grapes in my mouth, and spit them all back out, whole, on to a plate for counting. Our mom always worried that we'd choke playing this game. Now I can see why.

7. I do not do well being TOLD what to do. Suggestions are always welcome, but man, someone telling me what to do really gets my hackles up in most situations. And I tend to fight or resist something fierce.

So- tag! Becka, Rachel, and Jill! Your turn!


The kids were pretending to be bears today and started asking me to give them various pretend honeys- yellow and orange and red and black and green. Suddenly, I had a brilliant idea! Why not set up a honey taste-test for them? So I got out the honeys we currently have (mesquite, rasberry, and buckwheat) and put some of each on a plate and let them taste them. Wow was that a hit! I was able to empty the dishwasher and sweep in the kitchen and dining room while they tasted honey. Zion told me he liked the raspberry honey best which was interesting as I'd wondered if he would have a favorite (for the record I didn't ask him if he did!). And the raspberry one is my favorite, too ;)

I'd totally win some kind of parenting award for thinking of this clever activity, except that it turns out that, you know, honey is kind of messy. Especially when paired with preschoolers. When I turned my attention back to the kids they were licking the plate in a honey frenzy. Liel had honey on her shirt, her hands, her stuffed owl, and all in her hair. Bath night!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tomorrow's Class

I'm creating my class for tomorrow and thought I'd post some of it here since it's so blindingly interesting and insightful :P The topic is Popular Music and Religion, and my thesis is that since the earliest days of the record charts (and before, of course, but I only have 55 minutes so I have to narrow it down somehow!) singers, songwriters, and musicians have used songs as a medium through which they can both express their religious beliefs and challenge the religious (and social) status quo. Because music is so popular, fluid, and well broadcast its an ideal medium for the message, and the message can easily be found in secular music the world over. To illustrate this point we'll spend time listening to and watching (what is shown in music videos can be equally as important as what is said in the lyrics) music and videos that encompass many different genres (R&B, gospel, rap, soul, pop, rock and roll) and nearly half a century.

We begin with Sam Cooke. Where else could we possibly begin? Born in Mississippi in 1931, Cooke moved to Chicago as a small child. In 1950 he joined the gospel group The Soul Stirrers (one of the most popular and influential gospel groups- they'd been around since the late 1920's) as their lead singer. Cooke had an immediate hit with the Soul Stirrers with "Jesus Gave Me Water", although my personal favorite from this time is "The Hem of His Garment". Cooke spent the next 7 years with the Soul Stirrers, and when he left in 1957 to pursue a pop career the Soul Stirrers most successful days ended.

But Sam Cooke was just getting started. Between 1957 and his death in 1966 he had 29 Top 40 hits, and is considered one of the most influential musicians in the creation of soul. His musical influence is wide ranging and encompasses such performers as John Lennon, Al Greene, Rod Stewart, Otis Redding and Bob Marley.

Early reggae was, in many ways, essentially gospel set to a Jamaican beat. My favorite of this genre (and since I'm giving the class I get to pick my favorites) is "Rivers of Babylon", which was written by Brent Dowe and Trevor McNaughton of The Melodians (a Jamaican reggae trio formed in the early 1960s). Many of the lyrics are taken from Psalm 137, a psalm that was written about the exile of the Jewish people to Babylon in 547 BCE. Some lyrics have been changed or added to reflect the Rasta beliefs of the song's writers. Many people have covered the song since- everyone from Sinead O'Connor to Sublime. I grew up listening to Jimmy Cliff sing it, but these days I prefer the Sublime version. You can listen to it in the music player at the bottom of my blog. Here are the lyrics:

By the rivers of Babylon,
Where he sat down,
And there he wept
When he remembered Zion.
Oh, the wicked carried us away in captivity,
Required from us a song,
How can we sing King Alpha's song
Inna strange land?
So, let the words of our mouth
And the meditations of our heart
Be acceptable in Thy sight.
Oh, verai!

And Psalm 137:
By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion

There on the poplars
we hung our harps

for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"

How can we sing the songs of the LORD
while in a foreign land?

"Zion" is an important religious concept in Judaism, Christianity, and Rasta. Another well known song that touches on this theme (and owes some debts to both Reggae and the Bible) is Lauryn Hill's "To Zion", written for her son. You can hear this one on my blog music player, too. In it, Hill (perhaps somewhat immodestly) places herself in the roll of Mary in the Annunciation (when the angel Gabriel came to Mary and told her that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit), and Zion is both her beloved son and a longed for place of religious fulfillment. She critiques the cultural claim that children are a burden, particularly to young women with careers, and G-d as the source of the blessing of children. Lyrics:

Unsure of what the balance held
I touched my belly overwhelmed
By what I had been chosen to perform
But then an angel came one day
Told me to kneel down and pray
For unto me a man child would be born
Woe this crazy circumstance
I knew his life deserved a chance
But everybody told me to be smart
Look at your career they said,
"Lauryn, baby use your head"
But instead I chose to use my heart

Now the joy of my world is in Zion
Now the joy of my world is in Zion

How beautiful if nothing more
Than to wait at Zion's door
I've never been in love like this before
Now let me pray to keep you from
The perils that will surely come
See life for you my prince has just begun
And I thank you for choosing me
To come through unto life to be
A beautiful reflection of his grace
For I know that a gift so great
Is only one God could create
And I'm reminded every time I see your face

That the joy of my world is in Zion.

Some performers, however, are critical of religion and its broader cultural context, and use this critique to illuminate all manner of social ills. Immortal Technique is an independent New York rapper (he has refused offers made him by record labels) and cultural critic. His songs are harsh, and dripping with anger and profanity- but they are also educated and eloquent. Here is the video of "Point of No Return" (warning for those sensative to profanity- there is lots!):

I cannot deny the value of anger.

But I don't see anger as the only tool of social change. U2 (most especially Bono, the lead singer) is well known for their religiously motivated (and generally positive) lyrics and their political activism. Since 2004 Mainline Protestant churches have begun using U2's secular songs as hymns in services called "U2-charists". U2's list of religiously inspired songs is so long I don't even know where to begin- but since we were talking about Psalms earlier I guess we can start there. The last track on U2's 1983 album "War" is called "40" and is based on- you guessed it- Psalm 40. "40" has been a frequent concert closer from 1983-1990 and 2005-present. Their 2004 album "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" contained the song "Crumbs from the Table", the title and lyrics of which reference Matthew 15 (and Luke 16): the story of the Canaanite woman who follows Jesus begging him to heal her daughter. He refuses her twice, telling her that he is sent to the Israelites alone, and that it is not right that dogs should be given food when the children are still hungry (nice one, Jesus!). She replies that even the dogs get the crumbs from the table when the children are through, and he praises her faith and heals her daughter. U2-charist services appear to gravitate to late 80's and early 90's U2, using such songs as "Until the End of the World" (which features a conversation between Jesus and Judas Iscariot), "One", and "Mysterious Ways". I'd guess this is a demographic choice- 30 somethings are heavily courted by churches these days. Here's the video for "Until the end of the World".

Just as U2 helps to contemporize Christianity, so Outlandish presents us with an up-to-the-moment Islam. Outlandish is a Danish hip hop group comprised of 3 members- 2 Muslim (of Moroccan and Pakistani descent) and one Christian (of Honduran descent). There music is not, therefore, exclusively Muslim, but a number of their songs are. "Look into my Eyes", the first single from their 2005 album "Closer than Veins" uses a poem by Palestinian Gihad Ali as the lyrics. Ali wrote the poem as a teenager and it deals with issues of American foreign policy in Israel and Palestine.

Outlandish also does an English-language cover of "Aicha", a song first made popular in French by Algerian singer Khaled. I am particularly interested in the video for "Aicha", as it features such a variety of Muslim women: in hijeb, in typical Western clothing, shopping, teaching, with families and children, women who are of Arabic, African, and European heritage. Muslim women are so routinely portrayed as one dimensional in our cultural image, and I appreciate the way this video give some breadth and depth to the faces and lives of Muslim women, all the while affirming their worth and desirability. See for yourself:

Longest blog post ever, eh? Well, that'll probably wrap it up for my class tomorrow. But I really can't leave you without recommending Tom Wait's "Chocolate Jesus". That man is unique, and so is his delicious religious song. Here he is live on Letterman.

...And that's what I do for a living!


Zion's daddy and I both have relatively big egos. It must be genetic- we come from big ego stock. And last night Zion gave my genetic theory a little nudge forward.

Yesterday afternoon one of his friends called to invite him to play at the park. He was still napping, but when he woke up we all went down. His friend was thrilled to see him and came running across the playground, but Zion hasn't really moved into social play yet and he gave her a lukewarm reception. Luckily she didn't seem to notice or mind! So the kids played on the equipment, and ran all around, and generally had a great time. After an hour or so it was getting pretty dark, and we all headed home. Zion's friend gave out hugs and kisses to everyone. Zion managed to say good-bye, after being prompted and reminded several times. Hey, they all develop at their own pace, right?

Anyway, last night as I was snuggling with Zion before bed I couldn't resist asking him if he was looking forward to seeing his friends at school tomorrow. "Not really", he said. "Oh", I said, "but don't you have fun playing with them?" "I don't really like to play with them", Zion said. "Well, I think F. really likes to play with you", I said. "She was happy to see you today, and I bet you could have fun playing at school tomorrow." Zion considered this for a moment and it evidently pleased him. "Yeah!", he said. "F. likes me. But you know what? F. does not really like listening to her mommy. She mostly likes listening to me."

(For the record, F. actually listens to her mommy very well!)

Wait...where am I??

As the kids were eating lunch today Zion asked for some ketchup, "to dip in". Liel, who is currently repeating nearly everything Zion says chimed in right away, "May I have some ketchup to dip in, mama?". So I said yes, and went into the kitchen. I got down two bowls and took the ketchup from the fridge. I put some ketchup in each bowl.

"What are you doing, mama?", asked Zion, watching me.

"Getting you ketchup", I replied.

"Why?", he asked.

"Well, you wanted some and asked me for it".

"Why did I want it?"

Luckily, with all the Baghavad Gita reading and lecturing I've been doing, I think I'm now able to answer this age-old question: It's because G-d really, really likes ketchup.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Yes, but...

Is lust (or love) ever actually logical? Dissin' on my oh-so-practical knee-high moccasins? What's next??

However, if you are some WARM boots y'all can get me ;)

I also like these! Good ol' Texas burnt orange...

So: practical AND cute enough for ya?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Boot lust

It's winter time, and a girl's thoughts turn to boots. Here are some of the pairs that I'm lusting after!

From Medieval Moccasins:

I have two pairs of their Low Top Moccasins (in black and brown, I am so boring!) and I love them. They are in the Top 3 most comfortable shoes category, and I think they're pretty fly. I want them in other colors, I must admit. Anyway, back to the boots up there. Aren't they neat-o? Wouldn't they look good on me? Ah, someday, perhaps....

Logical inference

Just a moment ago I heard Zion sitting on the potty and telling a story to his stuffed fox.

"And they heard big footsteps coming up the path...thump, thump, thump. Hmm, I wonder what that could be? Thump, thump, thump. It sounded like a biiiiig person. And then they heard oinking! Oink, oink, oink! Now, the thumping sounded like a person, but the oinking sounded like a pig! So I wonder what that could be?!"

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I hear Bambi's pretty tasty, too.

Tonight I made roasted cauliflower. If you haven't tried this method of preparing cauliflower, run, yes run, out for cauliflower and try it! It's amazing and delicious. Sometimes I drizzle it with tahini and pomegranate syrup and some chopped parsely, but only if I'm feeling fancy, cause it's yummy enough on it's own. Here's what you do:

-heat oven to 425
-chop your cauliflower into florets. smallish ones.
-put cauliflower in a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle w/salt and pepper
-roast for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Anyway, Zion whined and moaned about how he didn't like cauliflower anymore, but after he actually tried it he ate without protest and even murmured, "Mmmm, mmm" to himself as he polished off his last bit.

Liel didn't really complain at all, which is unusual for She of The Suspicious Palate. At one point she held up a love little floret that was completely caramelized. "May I eat this?" she asked uncertainly. "Yep", I told her, "that's an extra yummy one!" Liel put it into her mouth. "Is it yummy?", I asked. "Huh!", Liel nodded, "Tastes like butterfly!"

Leftover Turkey

Here's my recipe for what to do with your leftover turkey this November.

clears throat

Dip it in mayonnaise. Or Veganaise- that works, too, and even better in my opinion. For now let's just avoid the irony of slathering meat in a vegan marketed product, shall we? I've plowed through half a turkey breast in the past 3 days using this recipe. All by myself. And did I mention that we had a 19 lb turkey for the four of us? So that's some serious meat-eatage.

Ah, mayonnaise. Is there anything it can't do?

Baby news

Just a couple of shout-outs...Ruby Zell was born November 20 to my friend Alissa and her husband, Chris. I've known Alissa since we were in utero- our mom's met in a Lamaze class in 1976. Ruby was a footling breech and consequently a scheduled C-section. Mama and baby are doing well, and my mom reports that Ruby looks like Alissa :)

And last night my friend Abby emailed to tell me she was having mild contractions! Abby has a son the same age as Zion and a daughter the same age as Liel, and she and Colin are expecting a second daughter. Abby and I both grow posterior babies, and she's needed her previous two labors augmented with pitocin (posterior babies often don't put sufficient pressure on the cervix to cause it to dilate fully). Nonetheless, Abby is a strong natural birth proponent and has avoided all pain medications in labor. Go, Abby! That's some strong woman stuff, there. I haven't heard from her since last night, and I'm saying lots of little prayers that things are going well for them.

Look for more baby news in the next 4-6 weeks- I have two more friends due in late December/early January! Everywhere babies...

Holiday knitting

I gotta hold myself accountable somehow, right? OK, here's my bare minimum to-do list:

-second glove for Max
-caplet for Gramma

But, I I really want to do just the minimum? Of course not! So here's my "more flair" list:

-scarves or neckies for kids
-vest for Dad
-hat for Kenny
-second sock for Mom
-fingerless mittens for Giselle

I love my family, and I love knitting, but I will not be knitting for the holidays again, at least not for everyone in the same year! Having such a long list of time stamped projects kinda kills my knitting mojo.

Finger paints

This morning Zion asked to do finger painting, and I decided it would be fun to make our own. We have finger paints in our craft box, I just felt creative this morning, I guess. So I looked up some finger paint recipes and settled on one that used a cooked cornstarch mixture. Cornstrach made a nice, slippy product, I reasoned.

So we cooked it up and added food coloring (Zion wanted to make orange and brown. I'm pretty pleased by the color mixing lessons this and our bath salt making are teaching!), and Zion went to work with some paper.

Oh. Dear. This stuff is chunky. And ewwww. I mean, yuck. He had a great time spreading and spooning them around on his paper but we won't be using this recipe again, lemme tell ya.

Brains. Brains! Vomited up brains!!!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Dancing Turkey

What can I say? My mom set a bad example for us when we were impressionable young children. She played with our food. Mostly poultry, really. Whenever she was preparing a whole chicken or turkey she'd make the uncooked bird "dance", holding it by it's wings and spinning it around the sink. Turns out that my brother and I were both deeply touched by this little ritual, cause we both dance our birds around, too. And Zion? Loves it. He came home early from the park today so he could see the turkey dance, something he's been looking forward to since Monday, when I brought it home from the store.

As I wrestled the 19 lb bird around the sink in a kind of awkward shuffle Zion had a smile on his face that most kids would probably get from visiting Disneyland. I kid you not, I wasn't just making his day, I was making his week. After a couple of dances the great bird obligingly flew over to the roasting pan, where I rubbed it with butter, salt, and pepper. "That's right, turkey!", Zion said encouragingly, "Now you will be delicious! Mama, can I eat his wing?"

PS. In case you're interested, my mom was delighted to hear she'd started such an excellent family tradition, and informed me that she herself had danced the turkey she was preparing this morning. And when Zion woke up from his nap he asked if he could have the turkey's right leg, too. To go with the right wing. We gave him both, and he gnawed happily at each in turn- my perfect little gentleman!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tofu Sandwich

Ah Thanksgiving, the holiday of food. And yet, as I sit here on Thanksgiving Eve, I find my thoughts drawn, not to tomorrow's delicious feast, but to tofu sandwiches.

I'll come clean upfront: I don't like tofu sandwiches. But I'm pretty sure this is at least 60% due to my personal history with them. Remember those vaguely hippie indignities of my childhood? Yeah, this is one of them.

Picture it, if you will. A warm later summer day in Chico, CA. The year is 1982, and I am off to my first day of first grade. I presume my day went normally, well, even, until lunch time. Lunch time is when my memory of that day becomes crystal clear. I opened my lunch box only to find that it contained a tofu sandwich. Whole wheat bread, sliced tomatoes, mayonnaise, mustard, alfalfa sprouts, and sliced, raw, blindingly white tofu. Kids aren't dumb. In fact, they sometimes read and understand unspoken social norms better than adults. And everyone knows that the food you eat situates you socially. Kobe beef burgers? Spicy curries? Ramen noodles? Raw food? No animal products? Locally grown? What we eat sends out a clear social message about who we are and what is important to us. Unfortunately for my 6 year old self, children have very little control over the messages they send out, since they largely eat whatever their mothers give them. And some well meaning mothers, it turns out, give tofu sandwiches. Well, at least one mother!

I closed my lunch box. I did not eat my tofu sandwich. Can you blame me? Social ruin was staring into my first grade face, its rays no doubt reflected off the pearly white tofu. Disaster was averted. (I am reminded at this point of Will Smith's classic "Parents Just Don't Understand". As he bewails the horrific back to school clothes his mom has chosen for him she responds with the well meaning, but nonetheless completely wrong, classic parent line: "If they're laughing you don't need 'em/Cause they're not real friends". Um, maybe. I'd probably laugh if I saw one of my friends dressed in the get-up he describes. But that's beside the point, because the issue is: do I want to find out of if my friends are real or not by risking becoming a laughingstock? No, I didn't think so.)

However, I was not the sauve social mastermind I fancied myself, as it turns out. Instead of throwing the offending sandwich away I brought it home. And my mom made me eat it. When I protested and whined and dragged my feet about it she put a timer next to me and told me I had X amount of time in which to eat the offending item. If I'd known enough social theory to construct the tofu sandwich as my enemy I might have been able to take some small amount of pleasure in its demise at my hands, but as it was it mostly just sucked.

In the end I learned two valuable lessons. The first was that I should never bring home any food that was too hippie to eat at public school. The second was that tofu sandwiches are not very delicious.

Grapefruit and Cardamom Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is a great make-ahead Thanksgiving dish in my world, cause it doesn't need to be reheated. Somehow reheated dishes are never quite as good, you know? So this afternoon I made cranberry sauce for tomorrow. I figured I'd make some kind of orange-cranberry sauce, probably with ginger. A quick look around the kitchen changed my mind, however, since I didn't have oranges in any form (including juice), nor did I have powdered ginger. Hmm, just realized I do have fresh ginger...oh well! I made a yummy cranberry sauce with grapefruit and cardamom (and also candied ginger, shhh don't tell Robert!), and here's the recipe.

Cranberry Sauce with Grapefruit and Cardamom

approx 1 lb fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cardamom
2/3 tsp grapefruit zest
1 1/4 c water
1/4 c candied ginger, chopped fine

Put everything but the ginger in a pot and cook it over medium high heat (or high if you're really impatient, as I am) until the cranberries pop and get all nice and soft. Stir in the ginger. Yum!

This does make a slightly tart cranberry sauce, but another beautiful thing about cranberry sauce is that you can adapt it however you want, so feel free to add more or less sugar to taste.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Wife P0rn

A few months ago Abby sent me a forward that was titled something like "P0rn for women" and was full of pictures of guys saying things like "Of course! I'd love to go shoe shopping with you!" and "Let me just clean the kitchen now so I don't forget to do it later!" It was pretty funny.

Since then, whenever Robert does an unusual amount of cleaning while I'm teaching, he'll gesture to the kitchen, practically bursting with pride and say, "Did you see all the wife p0rn??"

And I gotta tell is pretty smokin'.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Falling Leaves Scarf

I finished it! Here's a better close up of the stitch pattern:

And here's me, looking kinda goofy in said scarf:


If you're intersted, here's my pattern for the scarf (note: I did not invent this stitch pattern! It's called Fern Lace):

Materials: 1 skein Malabrigo Worsted in Col China (216 yards/3.5oz)
US size 10 knitting needles


CO 31 stitches using long tail cast on
Row 1 (WS): purl
Row 2: k3 (k2 tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, k5) twice, then k2 tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, k3
Row 3: and all WS rows: purl
Row 4: k2 (k2 tog, (k1, yo) twice, k1, ssk, k3) twice, then k2 tog, (k1, yo) twice, k1 ssk, k2
Row 6: k1 (k2 tog, k2, yo, k1, yo, k2, ssk, k1) three times
Row 8: k2 tog (k3, yo, k1, yo, k3, sl 1, k2 tog, psso) twice, then k3, yo, k1, yo, k3 ssk
Row 10: k1 (yo, ssk, k5, k2 tog, yo, k1) three times
Row 12: k1 (yo, k1, ssk, k3, k2 tog, k1, yo, k1) three times
Row 14: k1 (yo, k2, ssk, k1, k2 tog, k2, yo, k1) three times
Row 16: k1 (yo, k3, sl 1, k2 tog, psso, k3, yo, k1) three times
Repeat these 16 rows until scarf is desired length. Work 2 rows in St st and bind off. Weave in ends and block.

If anyone actually makes this I'd love to hear about it/ see your project!

Teach your children well

My house is a bit of a mess this morning. A moment ago, in an attempt to make a dent in this mess, I cleared off the dining room table and put 3 empty wine bottles in the recycling. Liel watched me with horror. "No, no, mama!", she wailed, "That is wine, that is wine!!"

Fly Scarf Designing

Last week I bought a skein of Malabrigo from another Raveler. I didn't have any particular plans for it, but it looked pretty! When I saw it in person I was strongly reminded of the trees and leaves around here right now. And then, when Malabrigo Cast On Week was announced at Ravelry, I knew what I wanted to do- design a scarf that would help my yarn look even more like fall leaves. I've never designed anything other than simple hats, so while I know this scarf isn't rocket science or anything, I'm pretty excited anyway. And it really did take a while to come up with the right stitch pattern, needle size, number of CO stitches etc!

I call it the Falling Leaves Scarf. It's not done yet because we went to Korean BBQ with Brian and Ysette last night, and then they came over and we drank wine, and as it turns out, drinking wine and talking to friends and knitting didn't really work for me. I'm hoping to finish it up today, but here's current progress:

A close up of the stitch pattern:

As an aside, we had a super cool time w/the Guevarowe's last night. The kids dug the Korean BBQ ("more beef!" Liel kept begging), and they were super well behaved. I mean, they're usually really well behaved in restaurants (a fact I attribute to our living in NY and going out pretty often, to all kinds of places), but the speed with which Korean BBQ and it's accompaniments arrive made everything even easier. At the end of dinner the waitress brought fruit- oranges, honeydew, and a few grapes. Zion loves grapes, and most of them off our plate. Then he turned his attention to Ysette's unloved grapes. "Aunt Ysette?", he said "May I please have one of your grapes?" "You may have all of them", Ysette replied. "Oh, THAAAAANK you!", Zion whispered, taking the grapes. Ysette was highly amused. Them's some cute kids we got!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ode to Yoga

When I was 8 years old my parents started doing yoga, and had my brother and I get up with them to do it, as I mentioned yesterday. At the time I was pretty neutral towards yoga. I was good at it (natural flexibility), so I liked that, but I didn't much care for the getting up early, nor for the fact that yoga was the latest in a long list of vaguely hippie indignities to which my parents subjected me and which I knew I must never mention to any other children, lest I become a social liability (this list largely consisted of food related events, and they deserve their own blog post soon!). Yoga was not cool in 1984.

The 6am stuff stopped, but the yoga kept up. It became one of our chores, literally. Kenny and I had lists of daily chores, and yoga was on that list several times a week. I stopped doing yoga regularly when I went to Thacher, as I was rarely home, and hence did not have chore lists other than during the summer and other vacations.

When I got pregnant with Zion I started doing prenatal yoga. Robert did it with me, and we virtually never missed a morning for 9 months. Then I had a baby, and yoga went by the wayside again. I tried to do it when I was pregnant with Liel, but never managed to make it a part of my daily routine.

Lately I've decided that yoga and I need to be BFF again. I really can't do it when the kids are awake (the crawl all over, me demand trips to the potty, stories, and adjudication of squabbles), so nap time it shall be. I've never actually taken a yoga class- yoga is entirely home-based in my life.

Immediately after making this decision about getting close with yoga again I got sick. And man, I just didn't have the energy for yoga. Hell, I barely had the energy to sit on the couch and read the kids stories! But a few days ago when I crawled out the other side of this illness I did yoga again. I was still sick- in fact, I couldn't breath out of my nose at all. I did a pretty mellow 30 minutes (mentally cringing at how much better I'd been at some of the poses when I was 9 months pregnant and 50 lbs heavier- yeah, I've got some work ahead of me!), and you know what? By the end of them I could breath out both sides of my nose.

Yoga, I love you.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Some people, however, could use a good does of sick.

Yesterday morning the sky was a deep, dark gray lashed with rain as I drove to work. I didn't really want to be awake, but Zion had woken us up at 530am. I didn't want it to be gray and rainy. I didn't want to be driving to the Bronx.

As I crept along I remembered the other times in my life when I regularly woke up much earlier than I would have chosen. The first time was when I was about 8 years old and my parents decided it would be good for the entire family to get up at about 6am and do some yoga and meditation. The second early-rising period was when I was in high school, and would wake up at about 6am and go feed my horse and clean his stall. I spent 4 years doing that nearly every morning, and as I drove to the Bronx yesterday those memories were so clear in front of me I could almost feel the chill early morning desert air, smell the horses, and see the sun rising over Topa Topa. The heart never leaves some places, right?

My 8am class seemed to be in an extra stupor when I got there. Huge numbers of them were literally slumped over backwards in their desks, mouths open. I decided to ask them a question in an effort to get their minds working, if even just a little bit. So I asked them: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, doing anything, where would you be?

And do you know what they said? Sleeping. Every student who answered the question insisted that if the world were open to her, she would be sleeping. When pushed one of them suggested she might be sleeping on the beach, and several choose to be sleeping at home (as opposed to their dorm rooms).

I offer the world, they choose a dorm room in the Bronx. And to that is what is wrong with their generation!

I'll steal your honey like I stole your bike!

And that, my friends, is how good I'm feeling today. I'm still a little sick, but man! So much better than the past week. Nothing like illness to make even sub-par health feel like you could take on the world...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Good Night

I leave you with some sweet amusement. I made falafel for dinner tonight, and the kids and I always eat those little Lebanese pickles with falafel (not Robert, he eats Clausen's. I haven't managed to re-train him yet. Not that I'm down on Clausen's, but with falafel??), and Liel quickly scarfed her first pickle and asked for a second. But her second pickle still had a stem attached to one end. She stared at it in concern for a moment before gamely taking a bite from the stem end. She spit it back out into her hand right quickly and said, "I do not like this. It is not good. Here, mama". I put out my hand. Liel shook her head, clutching her soggy pickle stem. "No mama", she said. "I want to put it in your mouth."

I'm on a roll!

Man, I can't stop posting today!

I made this hat for Jill's little Chloe yesterday. Jill told me what colors and style she wanted, and I worked the pattern out all by my ownself! Not that it was overly challenging or anything, but still ;)


Or, doublepost. WTH?


Yesterday I watched my across the street neighbor raking the leaves in her yard. Everything looked so tidy after she was done, and my own yard appeared so...not tidy. I considered raking my leaves for the first time ever (I know, I must be getting old!).

Luckily I've come back to my senses. When I looked out my window today my neighbor's lawn was covered in a fresh carpet of yellow leaves. Her lawn and mine are twins again (Actually the leaves on my lawn are prettier, lol. They are red and orange!). I think that the Leaf G-ds don't like being raked.

For the Robot Girls on your list

Rika, Nate and Adelaide sent Liel these adorable robot hair pins for her birthday. Perfect! Liel loves robots, and she loves her new accessories (as does her mama, who is always pushing Liel's hair out of her eyes. How can she see like that??).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Oh What a Night

Robert teaches a night class on Wednesdays. Somehow everyone- my kids, the universe- seems to know this, and to act accordingly. The last time Liel had a stomach bug it started on a Wednesday night. Now admittedly this was some time ago, but it's still etched clearly in my mind: me leaning over to put her in her crib, then freezing as she started retching. Quick! Get her over the floor, not the crib! She puked all over the floor, both of us, Fluffy, you name it. And I had Zion waiting in his room for pajamas, a drink, and a tuck in. And Liel was up like 5 times throwing up before Robert even made it home.

So by way of comparison, tonight was pretty lightweight stuff. Still, some days are Wednesdays, and some aren't. And today definitely was.

Zion didn't eat much lunch after school, but he told me that Gail (one of his teachers) had surprised them with little pies, so I figured he'd had a lot of snack and wasn't hungry. He conked right out at nap time, which was a relief since he didn't nap either of the past two days. Sadly, the unwritten rule in our house is that if one child takes a good nap the other will take a very short and insufficient nap, or no nap at all. As a result, I was busy with Liel much sooner than usual. Aside from that we had a normal afternoon of play, stories, and granola making. Zion kept asking when Robert would be home, and disliking my reply (not for a while, after you're asleep) he'd say, "Well, I think Daddy's going to have to be in trouble!" He was also very interested in pretending to be a sick corgi, and having Liel be the doctor who would treat him.

Zion asked about Robert again right before dinner, and when I told him Daddy wouldn't be home for dinner tonight he announced that he didn't want any dinner. At this point I started to add it all up and wonder if Zion was perhaps not feeling well. I sat the kids down at the table and headed into the living room in search of Liel's water. Oh snap! Guess what I saw??

Puke. On my new rug. I almost cried. Zion had thrown up about half an hour previously when Liel and I were in my bedroom and not told me about it. Of course I was sad that he wasn't feeling good, rug!! So I set to work to clean up the vomit, blot as much wetness as I could, scrub and press and try to restore the original colors. I was having reasonable success at this when Liel announced that she was done eating and wanted to get out of her chair. "Alright", I told her. "Just let me put these in the laundry basket". And I headed to my room with a stack of cloth diapers I'd used on the rug (cloth diapers- is there anything they can't do??). CRASH! HOWL! I ran into the dining room and found Liel and her chair tipped over on the wood floor. Thankfully she was fine- banged a little, and scared, but not seriously hurt.

I gave up on eating my own dinner until after the kids were asleep. Wednesday and all.


I don't really wear makeup. Some powder, a touch of concealer if I need it, but nothing fancy. For dress up I'll wear lip gloss. You could say that I like a natural look.

So can someone please explain to me why I am so so tempted by the gel eyeliner at Aromaleigh? It comes in colors that would look anything BUT natural. And I want about 8 of them. I'm so makeup challenged I don't even know what colors would look good on me!

I might regret asking this, but if you're feeling your enabling mojo and you have an eye for makeup colors, can you please tell me which of these eyeliners has my name written on it?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Malabrigo Cast On Week

Over Ravelry way there's a fabulous contest going on: Malabrigo Cast On Week! The goal is bump Malabrigo yarn up the popularity scale at Ravelry, and so there are prizes (largely in the form of Malabrigo yarn, donated both by Malabrigo and the moderator of the Malabrigo Junkies group) in various categories for work cast on November 11-17. I'm designing a pattern for a scarf that I'm hoping to cast on tonight, but meanwhile I entered a couple photographs in the Most Creative Photo contest. Here they are (I call them "A nice Uruguayan Rose" and "mmmMalabrigo!"):

I'm no photographer, but I am, at least, amused by my results.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Yes, please!

I use stitch markers when I knit. Not all the time, of course, but whenever necessary. I don't think much about them, and perhaps as a result I've lost most of the plastic split-ring stitch markers I bought at Joann last year. No big deal tho, I make do with scraps of yarn, old earrings, and safety pins, and I don't mind.

Or rather, I didn't mind. Until today. Today Tamara helpfully sent me a link to these:

And I fell in love (and joy of joys, she makes pie ones, too!).


Thanksgiving is a-comin', but this post is about the other turkey. You know, the kind you buy pre-sliced in packets at the grocery store. The kind who's relationship to an actual turkey, even in the past, is suspect at best. The kind Liel loves.

To be fair, Liel is a pretty equal opportunity meat lover. Sausage is probably her true love, but so far she hasn't turned up her nose at anything the once roamed the earth. Still, pre-sliced turkey is a go-to item for her, since we have it in our fridge 50% of the time and she considers it to be a tasty and appropriate snack for a growing girl.

A couple of days ago I had the fridge open and Liel spotted the container of turkey. "Want turkey!" she cried, pointing. "May I have turkey, mama?" So I pulled out the container and opened the lid. "Get it myself!" she begged, so I held it out at her level. "I want dis one!", Liel announced, as she delicately plucked at the slice on top. It stuck a bit of the one below, but eventually she got it out. I started to put the lid on, but hesitated. Liel was eyeing her turkey slice with growing distaste. It had a tear in it. "I do not love this one!" she said, handing it to me. "Want dat one!" and she pointed to the slice on top. "OK", I said, knowing that it was pointless to argue. Liel is in a really fastidious phase right now and it's important to her that things be just so. I held out the container again. "Here you go". We repeated the process, complete with the slice tearing a tiny bit as she lifted it out. This time she realized that the goods were damaged immediately. "No, no.", she said, "I do not love this one. Want dat one!" And so it went, on through the remaining slices of turkey. Luckily for me there were only five or six left, and when we reached the bottom and ALL the turkey had been found to be defective she deigned to choose from amongst her former rejects, tearing and cramming it into her mouth with abandon.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Knitting Granola

The kids and I made granola this morning. I'm not sure if this pushes me over some hippie cliff, but let me tell ya, it was teh awesome, and I am now confused and unsure as to why I ever bought granola when I can turn this stuff out in my own kitchen. As an added bonus it's a great thing for kids to "cook" by pouring and stirring all the dry ingredients. I have a bunch of ideas for different types/flavors of granola swirling around in my head now. I told Kenny about some of them this afternoon, and he helpfully suggested that using bacon grease instead of grapeseed oil might give one of the recipes that nudge from delicious to decadent. Hmmm.

In knitting news I finished the pink cabled mittens I was working on. They aren't my favorite knit (the pattern had a bunch of errata on the right hand mitten that really slowed me down as I had to reconstruct the pattern from the left hand mitten), but they are reasonably cute and should do the trick. Crappy photo, but what'dya think?
Robert was talking to one of his friends on the phone while I was finishing them today and he told her that I was knitting a pair of mittens. She said, "Oh my gosh, that is so sexy!" Yep, nothin' spells sex like a ball of yarn and 2 needles...

The Wisdom of Children

We've been sick lately. Unable to muster the energy to cook dinner tonight, we decided instead to head to our local Vietnamese joint (side note: a recent review by the local paper was posted on the wall. The review mentioned that this place is the only Vietnamese restaurant in several counties. Man, we narrowly dodged a bullet we didn't even know existed...). It's a family affair, and our favorite waiter is a guy in his mid 20s. He's always happy to see us and is kind to the kids.

We were the only customers when we sat down tonight, and after he brought us water our waiter turned on the fake revolving fish tank, which always delights the kids. Zion's face lit up when he saw it go on, and then he turned to us and said, "Yeah, but they are fake fish". "Yes", Robert agreed, "but they are still pretty to look at". Zion turned back to the waiter. "We used to have a real fish", he said, "but then he died." The waiter made a sympathetic noise and said something like, "Oh, how sad". "Yeah", Zion agreed. "But", he said, brightening, "luckily we still have his boat (one of the tank decorations)!"

Friday, November 9, 2007

A Day Without Pie

I meant to make apple pie today. But I didn't. And guess what? It was a day without sunshine. I should've set up a mournful keening- perhaps something like:
Ain't no sunshine when she's gone
And she's always gone too long anytime
She goes away.
Yep, there it is folks, my traditional Pie Dirge.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Yarn Harvesting

...or, not. As the case may be.

Tonight Robert pulled a bunch of stuff out of our hall closet that we don't really use and is just clogging up the very limited space in there. Among those items was a sweater I knit for Liel last summer- about 18 months ago. Obviously this sweater no longer fits her. Furthermore, it was my first sweater EVER and it sucked. Not dreadfully, but suck it did, all the same. So I got the brilliant idea that I should unravel the sweater and re-use the yarn (my beloved Peace Fleece and all).

After 30 minutes I'd managed to unravel about 5% of the sweater. The damn thing isn't just unraveling, there are loops and knots at the end of every row. What, did I turn into some kind of devil knitter when I did this thing? It ain't natural! Or perhaps the sweater has become sentient and is fighting is apparent demise. Hmmm. Still not natural, but I think I'll put it in the bathroom for the night, just to be safe.

So yeah, there I am pulling and twisting and winding and unwinding and suddenly it occured to me that: 1. at the rate I was going it would take me 10 hours to unravel the sweater and 2. I was looking at approximately $2.25 worth of yarn for my troubles. That pretty much put a stop to that. Maybe I'll use to it stuff one of my Creatures. That'd be like an extra bonus Creature cause it'd be pretty on the inside, too! Awwww. Maybe I could call it Christmas Miracle or something. As a child my gramma had a pet rabbit named Sunday Dinner. Guess the sense of humor runs in the family, right?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


So, today is the big day. Liel is 2! In celebration and commemoration, I offer a few pictures, a stroll down memory lane. Here is Liel nursing for the first time, about 30 seconds after she was born.

Here she getting measured on our bed, after her little snack.

Here she is being held by her daddy for the first time.

Zion slept through her birth and much of my labor. He did go over to Kenny's for a while in the evening, for dinner and some play time. Then he came home and went to bed, and when he woke up in the morning he had a sister. Uncle Kenny came over to meet her on his way to work.

Of course, most of the actual birthing of Liel took place the day before she truly entered the world. I am so incredibly grateful to have been able to homebirth my kids. Home is where I am comfortable. I know where everything is, I know who touched it, I know who's been there, and if they were sick or not. Home is normal, and in my experience birthing there normalizes the process of labor and birth, as life flows and moves around the experience. During my labor with Liel I baked scones. I was in reasonably hard labor (contractions every 2-3 minutes), and baking gave me something to focus on aside from the pain of contractions, and really did remind me that what I was going through was normal, as normal as baking a batch of scones. After Liel was born, Robert, the midwives and I ate the scones. Liel entered our lives seamlessly, part of an organic, continuous whole.

She is such a blessing and a joy, a daily reminder of the advice that her namesake, Siduri, gave to Gilgamesh: "Fill your belly with good things; day and night, night and day, dance and be merry, feast and rejoice. Let your clothes be fresh, bathe yourself in water, cherish the little child that holds your hand, and make your wife happy in your embrace; for this too is the lot of man."

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


On Sunday we went to Brooklyn to celebrate Liel's 2nd birthday with Uncle Kenn and Aunt Giselle. We cleverly managed to forget that the NYC Marathon is run the first Sunday in November, despite the fact that after my water broke the day before Liel was born our midwife suggested we walk down our block and watch the runners go by to take my mind off of things. And we did. And it's a very clear memory for me, one I associate with Almost Liel Time. But we still forgot. The reason I'm wasting so much metaphorical ink on this oversight is that it cost us probably 45 minutes of extra car time. Not because there were more cars on the road (most folks were more aware than us, I guess), but because, as the electronic billboards all over the city helpfully noted, there were "Various road closures". And one of those roads was 4th Ave in Brooklyn. Kenn and Giselle's house is between 5th and 6th Aves, and the BQE (the rather misnamed "Brooklyn/Queens Expressway) runs right above 3rd Ave, and drops you off down by 2nd Ave. So in short, we couldn't get up by Kenn. We made various bad calls in attempts to get closer, but in the end we parked on 55th St between 3rd and 4th Aves (by going backwards up the street, I might add), and walked across the Marathon. The helpful cop we talked to down in Bay Ridge said he thought it would be OK for us to do that, since most of the runners were past that point.

Anyway, you still with me? Good. So we all sauntered down to Bay Ridge and I bought a lifetime's supply of tahini (4 lbs!) and then we went to La Maison du Couscous for some delicious Moroccan food. We used to go there all the time when we lived in Brooklyn, and Robert says it's his favorite restaurant in all of NYC. Rashid, the owner, calls Liel "the Moroccan baby" because he says I ate there so much when I was pregnant with her. Here we are, enjoying our tagines, couscous, and lamb shank bones.

After that we drank mint tea (not pictured), and headed back to Kenn and Giselle's for cake and a couple of gifts. Kenn and Giselle gave Liel a Hello Kitty backpack, which she loves, and which Zion now covets. Luckily for him she's pretty accommodating (tho not as much as he'd like, since he'd like to just have it be his!).

All in all, quite fabulous.

Friday, November 2, 2007


Every night Robert tucks Zion in, turns his music on, and snuggles with him while I put Liel to bed. When she's settled down I go in and snuggle with Zion for a few minutes.

Tonight Zion had The Clash as his bedtime music (he's on a Clash kick these days). Robert told me that after a very short snuggle Zion announced, "I think it is Ima's turn." "Hmm.", said Robert, "I think Ima is still down with Liel, so how 'bout if I stay a little longer?" Zion considered this. "I think", he said, "that when 'Clash City Rockers' comes on, it will be Ima's turn".

Late Halloween

Here are some belated Halloween pictures, as promised!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Wuv, Twoo Wuv...

Robert is so totally my True Love. Yesterday when I came home from work there were 5 parital balls of yarn sitting on the table. Yarn I'd never seen before.

"What's this?", I called to him as he got ready to leave for work himself.

"They're masks Zion made at school."

"No...where'd the yarn come from?", I asked, skimming right over my son's preschool art.

"Oh, someone was throwing out a bunch of yarn. I thought I'd bring it home and see if you wanted it. There was more, but it was pretty tangled up."

Now maybe I'm biased, but how cute is that?? And I don't think he's ever been trashing before in his life.

The yarn is pretty decent stuff, too, from what I can identify. There's some Pistachio colored Manos de Uruguay Cotton Stria, and some charcoal/black/gray kettle dyed Manos Wool, too. Yum!

Humor...or not.

Zion is trying to figure out what humor is. It's interesting and annoying at the same time. Most of his forays into humor are both confusing and tiring. For example, from several days ago:

Zion, mumbling: ...I'm going to shoot Liel's robot, Mommy!

Me: No, you're not, Zion.

Z, laughing manically: Oh, it was a joke!

Me: Well, it wasn't a very good one. Jokes should be funny.

Z: There's a shirt that says dingo snack! It's a joke! (more maniacal laughter)

This scene is repeated many times a day. The only variable part is the beginning. Sometimes he starts out with the laughter, sometimes he says things that make no sense, and often he says things that he knows aren't kind or appropriate behavior. So he's testing out those boundaries, too.

Of course he's unintentionally funny all the time! This afternoon we were reading about squirrels and he said, "But aren't squirrels usually sick, mama?" "Sick?" I said. "Yeah. Don't they usually have radios in them...or something?"