Monday, January 26, 2009

Of Puppies and Pomodoro

We looked at puppies yesterday. Yes, on purpose.

The Dog Discussion has been in the works for a while now. Finn wants one--that's no surprise--and we've been stalling.

The prereqs have been varied--and admittedly random: Finn had to prove he could take care of a smaller animal (two Beta fish, the second committed suicide), Finn had to wait until we moved, until we weren't traveling as much, until he could show he could handle responsibility (like loading the dishwasher or making his bed--yeah, I know, but Finn didn't pick up on the non seq), until he could come up with a name that wasn't--and yes, I'm going to write this out loud--stupid.

Finn: We could call her Finn!

Me: That would be confusing . . .

Finn: How about Bouncey?!

Me: Absolutely not . . .

Finn: I know, we'll call her Sushi! Except when we make sushi for dinner, she'll think we're going to eat her! (Cue irrepressible giggles.)

Today's Tomato: Cioppino, courtesy of Rachel Ray

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Week's Worth of Tomatoes

We bought this ginormous can of tomatoes at The Costco. Read it and weep, baby: 160 ounces of San Marzano romas, peeled and bathing in tomato puree. Scrumpdiliocious.

The only problem: now that the romas are freed from their tinny prison, we have to eat them. And I figure, unless you tell me otherwise, that we have a week to do it. Two, if we dose them with citrus.

So forthwithit, we begin the Parade of Pomodori. And we begin with:

Tuscan Chicken with Beans

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Don't Hate the Player . . .

I've been keeping stuff from you. Secrets. Secrets that, had they any juice to begin with, are now dried up on the top shelf of clandestiny. You don't know about the failed diets, my trip to China, my all-nighters, my ill-conceived theories on the fifth Cyclon, and the struggles I have endured to cook, clean, and unpack those boxes that still haunt our hallway and now attic and closets . . . as little as possible.

(You can thank me--just push "Comments." And you're welcome.)

But one little glorious--and yet nettling--thing you missed over the past six months: Finn turned into a boy. And again, I blame the harbinger of my personal depression.

Kindergarten has introduced Finn to a new world of . . . ideas.

I told you once upon a time that he was reading. Well, he put that activity in the slow lane to develop new talents, like incessant talking, selective remembering, bad creative joke telling, dastardly plan hatching, worm squashing petting, sand-in-socks-and-shoes collecting, and . . . wait for it . . . flirting.

It started with a spunky little wisp-of-a-thing in his class. She's all glam-and-roll. Picture sequined Chucks in a zoot suit. Then he butted another girl (that's when you tap someone, rather vigorously, with your rear end), which we found out, after many evasions and even more tears, had little to do with her annoying him and much to do with him trying to "get her attention." Then he started playing dog hotel with yet another girl. (Have yet to tease out what that game is about. Suggestions welcome.) And a few weeks ago, he got a love note. From a first grader.

But don't think Finn is a fickle flirt whose intent is to collect girls like so many Bakugan. (Because I know that's exactly where you were going, "That Five, he's a playah!")

Finn may be experimenting with modes of social interaction, but he has always had just one crush. In fact, he will tell you--as he told me and our dental hygienist just yesterday--that he has and will always love only one girl, a postmodern princess from his previous school. (Cross a Precious Moments doll with a four-year-old Buffy and you'll get a general picture.)

So why the loyalty? What is it about this girl that prevents any other from truly entering his heart?

Well, I just asked him. His answer:

"Just because."


Friday, January 23, 2009

So . . . where have you been?

Yeah, I know it's been a long time since I posted anything here. Just shy of six months. And I honestly thought I might get away with just sneaking back in, dropping a post, and scooching out quietly .

Then Carie, that dutiful yet lovely blogger of good hair, outed me.

So here I am, 'splaining myself. I really have you to blame. You, and your contagious obsession with Facebook.

See, after I sent Finn off to school, I signed up on Facebook, aiming to find myself a community of kindred spirits and old, familiar souls who I could find solace with, who could comfort me through the trauma of surrendering my child to public education. I didn't find you so much, but in the months that followed, I did find my slayer army, my troop of rabid vampires, folks who are also defined by the Breakfast Club and White Snake, and people willing to help me populate my nauseatingly cute, virtual rain forest.

I suppose that's something--but I know, not really an excuse. And I don't so much have one of those, except to say that it takes a lot of time to build a truly killer collection of eyesores, figurines, and flair.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Stop to Smell the Spam

(and the music and the Pulitzer-prize winning article . . .)

My aunt sent this to me--one of those forwarded e-mails that I often, often, often, delete. This one, though, I stopped and listened to. I like to think that, occasionally, I'm the type of person who would.

"Only then do you see it: He is the one who is real. They are the ghosts."

Violinist in the Metro

A man entered a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried, but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a Stradivarius violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written what else are we missing?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

For Today

I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--

I, too, am America.

by Langston Hughes

Monday, January 19, 2009

Here Begins the Era of Ham

(So, for those of you who tripped into this blog looking for the son of Noah and the father of Canaan, keep surfing. The "ham" I'm talking about belongs to the unapologetically undignified and hypertheatrical Five, which, in loose Biblical interpretation and delightful analogy, could be just what you're looking for after all.)

Five has taken to impersonating . . . somebody. We don't know exactly who and we definitely fear this may be the first signs of multiple personality disorder, but almost everyday, Finn (as Five and several other characters) comes home with a new gimmick. Heavy rotation hits include what I like to call The Please and Igor's Pout.

The Please, and you mothers will recognize: raised eyebrows, closed eyes, and undeniably sweet and wide smile. Igor's Pout: eyes half closed, hunched shoulders (which actually plays quite comical on Finn's skinny frame) and jutted lip.

I'm a complete victim to The Please, he pulls that one out of his pocket and he gets all the MsMs he wants. Igor's Pout, absolutely immune, in that sense of Five doesn't get what he wants and I revert to sniveling, blanket hugger. There's something about that particular combination of gestures that's a little too turtle, a little too Gollum, and much too Benjamin Button freaky. Instead of buckling to whatever demand Igor's Pout follows, I find myself cuddling in a well-lit corner with Finn's mankie, rocking and incessantly repeating happy thoughts. (Five still loves his mankie.)

We have determined that these aren't originals. How? We asked, he fessed. Five does that. (For now.) But he don't snitch. (Five is chivalrous.) So, through a Sherlockian process of deduction (we wore hats! donned plaid! affixed monocles!), we narrowed down the list of suspects to the folks he shares kindergarten with: a motley group of co-Fives who bedazzle our impressionable impressionist with their Culkiny expressions of slappy surprise, their Knottsian looks of bugged out incredulity, their Carreyesque gestures of faux inanity.

That's not to say that our Five doesn't come up with his own performances. His stuff is decidedly ninja and, well, British. British ninja. Yeah, he's onto something. (Reared on Buffy and Yoda, that one.) But his portfolio is eclectic, a veritable pastiche of his peers. Which surprises me, really. Both in its wide sense of humor and in its ability to take on and completely embrace what his friends are dishing out.