Monday, February 28, 2011

On Popcorn

Popcorn's a pretty neat thing.  Whodathunk that drying out corn kernels would reveal such an amazing canvas for so much creativity when it comes to butter + accoutrements... 

Did you ever read Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder?  Do you remember when he and his family are still back east and they are inside one evening, listening to their mother read?  Do you remember the popcorn?

Hot, crunchy, salty, and perfectly buttery, melting in his mouth.  I remember Almanzo wanted to finish off his popcorn with a tall glass of fresh, cold milk, but the cream was collecting on the top of the pail and his mother would be furious if he disturbed it... popcorn: serious business, folks.

So, this might seem silly to you, but I'm sort of a connoisseur of popcorn.  It's a big thing in our house.  We won't have air popped, thankyouverymuch--it has to be oil popped, preferably with olive oil, and preferably in a whirly pop, though I've used a skillet and snug fitting lid in a pinch.

The corn doesn't have to be buttered, necessarily (though I do prefer it that way), but it has to be salted.  Even just plain popped corn and salt is a great treat.  (I confess, sometimes when Taylor is out for the evening, I have popcorn for dinner...)

If it's buttered, though, the butter has to sizzle just a bit while I'm heating it.  Butter that's just barely melted isn't quite perky enough.  And you have to put it on the corn evenly!  Getting a butter-soaked piece is a nice surprise, but when the rest of the bowl is just dry unsalted corn, it's no good.  To get it evenly coated, you have to add the butter little by little, and shake the bowl to stir the pieces.  Pour, salt, shake.  Repeat until you're out of butter.  And add a little more salt for good measure (go ahead--lots of it falls to the bottom of the bowl anyway).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Home is Where You Are

With Taylor in his second year of law school and our eyes firmly fixed on a long road trip to Washington without looking back come May 2012, I've been giving some thought to the idea of packing (ick), moving (ick), and leaving our Boston home...

I didn't realize it until a few months ago, when we really started planning to leave Boston, that we have grown up a lot together in our small apartment here.  We had been married just over a year when we moved in and started our life so far away from family.  Our previous apartment was a small stone's throw from our college days and our alma mater and our previous dwellings.  Not much had changed except that we were now blissfully married.

And then we came to Boston.  It was hot when we moved in, and humid.  So humid--sweat dripped down our backs as we lugged box after heavy box (mostly books) up the three flights of stairs to our "penthouse."

There was a BC football game that day.  We had parked too close to campus and our car was towed.  Welcome to the city, West-Coasters! Our first night in our home we had a house guest.  We didn't have any of our furniture yet, and so he slept in the living room on the camping mats we had used in our cross-country drive.  The door-to-door storage crates weren't due to arrive until the next morning.

And, as we've changed, we've made changes to our home over these past four years.  Has it been four years already?  Almost... almost.

Friday, February 18, 2011

32 Days

The waiting is hard.

I think it (might) be different if we were still waiting for the baby to be born; or if we were still waiting to make a connection with an expectant mother.  I don't know if it would be easier, but it would certainly be different.  When I think back on our before-waiting, it didn't seem this hard.  It didn't seem so hard to wait for an email from the agency telling us "there is a mother who has selected you as a family and she's due on..."  or even for the phone calling telling us "your baby was born this evening.  You can pick her up in two days!"

But she's here!  That Little Girl is here already, and all I want to do is hold her, all the time.  I took the call from our agency worker on December 2nd and she told me "S had her baby, a little girl, who she named after you and Taylor.  Everyone is healthy and doing well, and she would like to select you and Taylor as the family.  But, Anne, there are a few complications..."

My heart was racing as she explained the situation and told me the baby would be put into foster care.  All of a sudden, from a pleasant cruising altitude of "well, we'll see what comes along in time..." we were shot into a rocking roller coaster of WHAT ARE WE TO DO WITH THIS VERY SPECIFIC AND TIME-SENSITIVE SITUATION?  How were we to fit this new, unexpected, complicated circumstance into our plan for bringing a child into our home?  In one moment, our hope for a child became tangible to us.  Someone was holding a child that might be ours someday.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Babies and Boobies

They're not so different, really.  Squishy, squeezy, squirt-y.

Though I guess breasts that are feeding babies are mostly the ones that are squirty.  And most people know that breasts only get squirty (ok, we'll use a grown-up word), that is, bring in a supply of milk after the woman has delivered a baby and the hormones + baby suckling cues the body to start producing milk.

But what does a woman do when she has a baby she didn't give birth to?  Can she still breastfeed?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Monday, February 14, 2011


I really have to hand it to Google today, guys.  When I first saw the link in my twitter stream this morning, it didn't quite occur to me how awesome the idea was. My first "map your valentine" for Taylor today was only our apartment address: "My home is where you are, my Love."  Simple, sweet.  I didn't think of any grandiose locations to send him on a heart-shaped map.

But then I got his valentine back and I swooned.  Really!  I almost gasped out loud at work (ok, fine, I did gasp out loud at work.. but no one was near my office) :)

Really, the location might not mean anything to anyone else, but to me, it brought back memories of fresh pasta, hot humid days, warm vibrant nights, ancient history living all around me, and lounging in bed for hours on end, with nothing to do but eat tasty food and read Tolkien aloud to each other.  He sent me the address to the apartment in Rome where we stayed for our honeymoon.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011



We don't shop for fruit.

Or vegetables.

In fact, I never know what I'm going to get each week in our CSA produce share.  But I like it that way.  It adds more adventure to my kitchen-life.

In fact, it's been so long since I had any stickers on my apples that I sliced right through a sticker on an apple from work and nearly ate it up.. oh, to have produce straight from the source.

During the winter, the CSA share we have is gathered from only the east coast (during the spring/summer/early fall it's all New England goodies).  This isn't "dogmatically" local, of course, but we much prefer getting our greens and fruit from, say, Virginia or Florida during the winter, rather than from California or Mexico.

Now, naturally we have a lot of citrus coming in our shares during the winter.  Hey, if I was a box of food from Florida, I'd probably contain a lot of citrus too!  Grapefruit is very common--which is great for me, having been born in Florida myself.  I've always liked grapefruit--at least, I liked it enough to douse it in sugar and cut the wedges out with Momma's grapefruit spoons--and the plethora of these citrus in my boxes has forced me to be a bit more creative. After all, I can only handle so much sugar (anymore).  And I don't have any serrated grapefruit spoons anyway :(

So it's forced me to get creative.  We sometimes get four or six a week, which is more than even T and I can eat for breakfast.  Then I had an idea..

Monday, February 7, 2011

Look, Ma!

no hands! 

Guess who snuggled up perfectly in this new mei tai.. and went right to sleep?  

That's right--(hopefully) our little girl :) 

Far Away

I've had this song from VeggieTales stuck in my head for the last few days.. or maybe it's been the last few weeks.  Months?  I don't know, really, but it makes me think of Baby, and we saw her on Saturday, and we will see her again this Friday.  Of course, it sounds better when Junior's mom sings it to him as a baby, but I can't find the audio anywhere online.. so you'll have to listen to his cute little voice singing it if you want the gist of the song :)

I wish you could see this Little Girl's sweet face.  I wish I could show you her smile and let you hear her little coos and laughter.  The few hours we get to spend with her each week simply aren't enough.  I think about her all the time, and I wonder how she's changing and growing each day.  I can't wait to see her again.

And I find myself singing to her--sometimes in my head, sometimes out loud.  I have her picture on my phone so I can look at her whenever I want.  And whenever I think of her, I start to sing..
Think of me everyday, hold close to what I say
and I'll be close to you even from far away.
Know that wherever you are it is never too far.
If you think of me, I'll be with you. 

I wonder... is she singing to me?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Fiction Friday

The great front door slammed with a bang against the wind and a strong young man of 18 tramped through in heavy boots into the sitting room, to find his sister cozily reading on the couch.

"Where have you been?!" he bellowed.

"Where do you think I've been?  I told you!" she said, looking up.  "I'm sure I told you before I left.  I thought you heard me--the way you nodded your head."

He stood a few paces from the couch, dripping wet from the torrent of rain he had just left outside.  He was visibly distraught, but the signs of his worry were fading as he stood and talked to her.  She was sitting, wrapped in a blanket on the antique couch, with her stocking-ed toes toward a blazing fire.  It was a chilly night.

"Oh..." he sighed.  "I heard you say something," he replied, "but I didn't realize you were going to be gone for so long.  I was so worried, and the storm was coming."

"Oh, John!  Don't you know by now?  I'd be alright even in the wildest tempest with them.  They will always take care of me. They promised."  She paused.  "In fact," she added, "I believe they held off the rain until I got safely home."  She returned to her book, content with the thought of this mysterious protection.

"But no one knew where you were," he said.

"Of course they wouldn't!  No one would have understood anyway.  No one but you, that is."  She looked up at him and saw the concern in his face.  Turning her eyes from his, she gazed into the fire for a moment.  "I'm sorry I worried you so.  I'll be more careful next time."

He mumbled something of an acceptance and shuffled from the room.  He was the only one in the family who knew, and she was right--no one else would really understand.  It wasn't that they were un-feeling or hard-hearted, they just wouldn't understand a 13 year old girl's desire to traipse around the forest day after day, bringing back all manner of strange, unbelievable tales with her.

He went back into the hall and took his boots off, leaving them by the door.  He walked carefully upstairs, trying not to drip too much on the carpet.  He paused at the top landing, listening to his mother's voice.  She was talking to father about the dinner party next week--they hadn't even noticed Muriel had left.  He went to his room.

He hadn't meant to have understood Muri's adventures in the woods, except that one day, he found himself in the middle of them.

It seemed many years back now, but when he thought about it, it was only 11 months ago that he saw her as he walked through the woods on a fine autumn afternoon.  At first he thought she was only playing make-believe, as young girls are wont to do, but when he got closer, he noticed she was dancing with something--or someone.  He began to walk towards Muriel, but before he got much closer she stopped dancing and turned toward him, her face full of joy.

He'd never seen a fairy before, and even now he wasn't sure he had.  But it was unmistakable then that his sister danced and played with some being that was real, tangible, and with quite dainty feet.  He had seen both their footprints in the moist grass, and the fairy's departing laughter sent a thrill through his heart instantly.

Muriel had the most carefree explanation for him: "They're fairies, John!  Real ones!  Didn't you see them?  Did you hear them singing for me as we danced?"  He had to admit he'd heard something like laughter, though he couldn't distinguish it in his mind from a symphony of bells or wind in the trees on a stormy morning: powerful and playful and joyous all at the same time.  It still made his heart beat when he thought of it.

"It's ridiculous," he thought to himself.  "I've only seen her--really seen her--once, and she barely talked to me."  He thought of the fairy's face and saw her eyes in his mind.  How they seemed to glow with light, a deep light, from somewhere inside, that caught the reflection of the setting sun and seemed to smolder out the great star itself.  And then her smile.  It drove straight to his heart when he recalled the joy there and couldn't help but smile himself.

"How could I be in love with a fairy?" he said aloud.  "I didn't even know they existed a year ago."

[ be continued]

Tuesday, February 1, 2011