Go read the NY Times op-ed piece about some of the differences between liberals and conservatives. It’s not a political piece, but it’s still interesting. Anyway, how about this sentence,

“If you damage your prefrontal cortex, your I.Q. may be unaffected, but you’ll have trouble harrumphing.”

Also, I thought it was interesting, though not entirely surprising, that it has been found that people who search things on the internet generally find stuff that reinforces their own bias. Don’t we all want to be proven right? It’s the same in our conversation. We love to talk to people who agree with us, or who validate our opinions. That’s how we tribe up. I like the suggestion to lunch with people who have differing opinions than our own, though not necessarily radically different, or at least not people who won’t listen respectfully to your own ideas.

I’m moving to Vauban. In related news, I bought myself a bike yesterday, for my Mother’s Day/birthday/Christmas present for the next 2 years.


Pretty, no? I had them add fenders, a back rack, and a front basket. 21 Speed, front shocks, comfy ride. I may be in love.

as in, the pox. Zeeb got it from the vaccination, and this morning, Kiki woke up with a ring around her neck. Yay. Derek is out of town, of course, because every time he leaves, something bad happens (remember the sliced finger, the cracked skull?).

I think I may have to skip Calvin’s school’s Mother’s Day Tea.

This is a whiny post about my whininess. Not whinniness, which is what a horse would be, but whiny-ness. I’m a whiner. Whiner sum ego.

I went to the doctor last week, after years of complaining about the cold. Yes, I’m one of those people that you wish would just move away, so you never have to hear about the frozen feet again. I wear multiple wool sweaters in the winter. I wear wool leggings under my pants, and several pairs of socks under my sheepskin boots. Yet my hands and feet, and thus my entire body, remain unremittingly frigid. I hate it. I hate it so bad that it frequently makes me cry.

It’s against my principles to set the thermostat above 68 in the winter. Even that feels indulgent. Yet, every once in a while, I just can’t take it anymore and crank it up to 70. Then I feel guilty and turn it back down to 60 overnight.

I feel angry all winter long that I have to haul my kids to school and preschool in the bitter cold. I dream of having a second car. But then I feel selfish and bratty. I dream of having a treadmill, so I could run or walk without braving the arctic chill (and now the rain), but then I can’t stand the idea of using electricity to do something that requires none, and should only be creating energy, not wasting it. So I don’t go running.

Well, the point is that I went to the doctor to get tested for hypothyroidism, which is one know cause of intolerance to cold. I was practically praying that they would find that I have it, because I would just have to take one pill a day, and everything would be normal.

Well, I don’t. I’m fine, healthy, whatever. I have Raynaud’s syndrome. Yeah, unexplained intolerance to cold. Nothing really to do except try to keep warm.

Just in case you’re curious, Raynaud’s is where the capillaries in the extremities clamp shut because of either sudden (or prolonged) cold, or emotional distress. Some of you have witness me have an attack, and it’s not the cutest thing ever. I’m sure depression doesn’t exactly help. The hands and feet can become white because of the lack of blood. Then they turn blue from lack of oxygen. (I’ve never gotten that far.) But then, they can develop gangrene. Yup, we can get frostbite in temperatures where other people are wearing shorts comfortably.

I cried for about 10 minutes this morning, when I found out I don’t have hypothyroidism. Isn’t that awesome?

So I’m reading this cookbook/philosophy book by New York restaurant owner Kenny Shopsin. It’s a great read on many levels, but I’ll warn you, skip it if you get queasy at multiple sex references and profanity. Anyway, I just wanted to let the crepe lovers among you know that the crepe method Shopsin created is worth finding the book for. I tried to get it on Amazon, but they didn’t have it, at least last week. Luckily, my awesome local library does.

Anyway, if you’re a crepe purist, maybe you should avert your eyes while I describe the painfully simple, fast way to cheat on crepes. Grab some white flour tortillas, the thinner the better, and the great big ones are the best. In a wide bowl, whip up some eggs with a little cream and a tiny bit of vanilla. Dunk the tortillas, one by one, a la french toast, and maybe let them stew for a few minutes while you heat up the griddle.

Butter griddle like you would for regular crepes. When it’s hot, toss in a tortilla, cook until golden on the bottom, with lovely brown circles all around, flip, same for next side. I plated these up as fast as I could and couldn’t keep up with how fast they were cooking. I actually had to cut the tortillas in quarters because my griddle is too tiny, but that works with little kids just fine.

I popped them on a plate, dabbed about a tablespoon of cottage cheese (no ricotta on hand), a drizzle of strawberry jam, folded it like a burrito, and tapped on some powdered sugar. What a hit.

There are so many other cheats in the book that it’s worth looking into. I already do a lot of them, but he sure takes it to a new level, as far as being prepared to cook anything on the fly, and serve in less than 5 minutes.

I’ve now started daydreaming about visiting Shopsin’s General Store, but I suspect I’d get kicked out for being too much of a twit. I’d probably walk in, stare around with wide eyes, and stammer. And Shopsin would bellow, “Off with her head!” Actually, I doubt he’d do that, but I don’t know if I want to find out.

You wish you lived on my street. You may not fully understand how badly you wish it, but that’s just because you haven’t been here.

So last night, we had fish sticks for dinner. This is not one of the reasons you should live here. Derek went on another trip, and when he’s gone, I’m worse than lazy. I made, er, I mean heated up, some fish sticks. That’s all. No veggies, just fish. I did whip up a bowl of tartar sauce, though, which was a huge hit with the under-8 crowd. Something about the pickles. And/or lemon juice. My chickens will suck a lemon dry if they get the chance. Anyway, I had to slice a lemon to extract said juice, and idiotically did it with a steak knife.

Well, the idiotic part wasn’t using the steak knife, but rather leaving the steak knife on the dining table after dinner, when I went to beat my bruzzer’s high score on Scramble. Zeeb came in telling me Kiki was wielding the knife. I asked him to get it from her. He did. Then he came back to tell me she had blood all over.

She wasn’t crying at all. She was standing in the dining room, dripping from her hand. I called one neighbor, we’ll call her Christy, to ask how you know when you need stitches. She said you call your neighbor, we’ll call her Lisa, who is a nurse. I did, but she didn’t have any dermabond. She said to call the other neighbor who is a nurse, whose husband, the OBGYN, was home with the kids. They said they’d look around. Christy also called her husband, the on-duty police officer/firefighter/medic, just in case. Meanwhile, I just had the kids put on shoes- pausing here to say how much I glory in the fact that it was 60 degrees and they didn’t need coats or mittens or hats…- and we went to that neighbor’s house to ask if we even needed more than a bandaid.

He, the OBGYN, we’ll call him Phil, said if it were his kid, he’d get the stitches. I trust that opinion. I was mentally gearing up to get the kids ready for a fun night at Instacare, when Christy came in, took Phil’s baby out of his arms, told me to go home and get pajamas for the boys so she could put them to sleep at her house while I went to the doctor with Kiki, and she would carry them back when I got home.

But before that plan could be set in action, Dr. Phil said if I was comfortable with it, he could put in the sutures himself. Yeah, I was comfortable. Except for the part where the blood was draining from my brain. Christy took the baby to her house, Phil sent my boys downstairs to watch a movie with his 2 year old, and got out the gloves.

My darling baby girl, who, up to this point, had only complained because of the pressure I was putting on her finger, stood while he gave her a shot, screamed while he sewed, but didn’t try to get away. She was amazing.

I had to kneel down for a while, and my face felt weird, but I never turned yellow. I know, because after we finally got home, I got Kiki into bed, and as she was admiring her Dora bandaid on top of her stitches, she waited for me to leave, so she could sleep. Then someone knocked on the door. My Greek neighbor who’s married to a Japanese man (this being the gratuitous, multi-cultural sector), came to return a tupperware and hear the story, but she said I was definitely on the pink end of the spectrum. The pink side that’s more indicative of not being about to check out.

Just then, the police arrived. OK, it was just my neighbor, still on duty, but as he got out of his squad car, he said, “We got reports of a stabbing?”

Later today, I’m sure my kids will regale the mailman with tales of gore.

I just finished what may be one of my best inventions yet. I wanted something like an oatmeal cookie, but I just got a #10 can of dried apples, and I looooove apple crisp. So I decided to try some oatmeal apple cookies. But I’ve also been using way too much butter in my daily life, so I didn’t want to use another whole stick in something that I will probably eat all by myself later this afternoon. But, you know what happens when you use oil in cookies, instead of butter? Moosh. Well, the dough doesn’t hold together super well, and spreads in the pan if you use the same amount of oil for the butter. As far as I’m concerned, butter is magic, when making cookies.

But a couple of weeks ago, when I inquired of the Universe whether to make cookies or cake, NungNung told me I should just make cakies. He meant something like black and white cookies, which is what I ended up making. But, for the record, the recipe in Carole Walters’ cookie book is not that great. Maybe I just don’t like black and white cookies.

Anyway, I halved the fat, using sunflower oil instead of butter, and I ended up with something between a cookie and the crust of a crisp. I tell ya.

Apple Crispies

1/2 C light brown sugar, packed
1/4 C sugar
1/4 cup oil
1 large egg
1 t vanilla
1 1/4 C rolled oats
1/2 C all purpose flour
1/2 C oat bran
1-2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
3/4 C dried apples (the ones I used were very dry, very crunchy)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment.

Cream together the sugars and oil. Add the egg and cream some more. Add vanilla, stir. Right on top of that, gently dump the dry ingredients, except the apples. Swirl the dry stuff around a little to distribute the baking powder, soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir the whole thing up, just until there aren’t giant clumps of flour/oats. Stir in the apples. If you want, you can add a little water to make the dough stick together a little better, but know that they will spread a little more, and won’t be quite as airy.

Drop mounds a little less that 1/4 cup (I used a small ice cream scoop) onto the baking sheets, and with wet hands, smoosh them down to about 1/2 inch thick. Leave a couple inches between each mound.

Bake for about 15 minutes, checking after 10. They’ll be a little puffy when you take them out of the oven, but they’ll fall as they cool and crisp. These cookies are very crumbly, but in a good way! Man, I wish I had some vanilla ice cream right now!

Can I help sharing this? I can use this NY Times article in the Health section as justification for my grimy floors. I’ve been wary of anti-bacterial soaps and hygiene products for years, and have certainly let my children get their share of dirt and other interesting substances from the floors and from outside, but isn’t it so nice when the scientists agree with you?

I especially love the section on worms. Beneficial worms? Why not? Maybe if I get myself some more worms, I can get rid of my asthma. Maybe exposure to worms is why my asthma isn’t really that bad. Maybe if we get a dog, we can keep the kids from developing it, too.

I love it when something challenges my worldview, and changes my approach to living. Sometimes, I cannot figure out how to weather the change, how to behave in a way that will benefit the universe, rather than becoming a canker.

Which is more important, buying locally, bypassing emissions from transport and production, and avoiding non-living-wage labor from sweatshops in third world countries, or contributing to the suffering of people in those countries and others, where they can’t even get a sweatshop manufacturing job, and must scavenge in the dump, even living amidst the refuse?

Nicholas Kristof’s latest op-ed piece in the NY Times has certainly challenged me with this question. Save the Earth, or save the Humans?

I live a privileged lifestyle. I know I do, and I’m grateful, even shameful sometimes. It was pure luck that I was born where I was, when I was. The fact that I can ask myself, every time I make a purchase, whether it’s more important for me to spend extra pennies on organically grown produce, or to avoid clothing from notoriously inhumane corporations, is pure luxury. I have extra time on my hands, and money to burn.

I believe in stewardship of the planet, in carefully changing the way humans do things to preserve our habitat, our host. But I’m a human, after all, and I also believe in the reduction of suffering. I don’t know, at this precise moment, if I would choose the Earth, and let Homo Sapiens burn (we are, indeed, selfish, prone to greed, power hungry, war-mongering, racist, sexist, exclusionary, do-it-in-the-name-of-God murderers), or if I would choose to raise the standard of living for every human on earth, even if it meant our planet would last only 50 more years.

Perhaps it’s too simplistic, but perhaps it’s exactly as simple as that! Can I help the world better as a consumerist, or as a conscientious researcher of all lifestyle options? This makes my brain hurt.

I always intend to respond to each comment on my little glob, but then I remain ineffably lazy. So I may have to start a new tradition of responding via follow-up post. Except it will never become a tradition, because of the aforementioned personality flaw.

Jana, you roast, I’ll grind. Do you roast your own? I hear you can use a popcorn popper, the air pop variety. And Earl Grey is a delight in the afternoon.

Bon, I love chamomile, but I’ve discovered that I love it with a little milk and plain white sugar, but only a tiny bit of sugar. I found some chamomile that also has rose petals, but it’s very subtle. Mmmm.

Elizasmom, is it the Good Earth Original? I’ve looked up the brand, but they have many, many exotic combinations. All of which I will get to, someday. But which one do you mean?

Sue, really, I was just immensely flattered that you came all the way to meet me, and delighted to introduce someone to the exciting world of Tapas. That is, of course, if you liked the Tapas. Oh my! What if you hated it? Though, I’ll admit, that place is nearly Nouvelle Cuisine, and not at all traditional. Maybe next time, Carina and I can just host a Tapas party and make our own. And stay up all night being awkwardly awkward.

Azucar, if only I could always remember the html for the acute accent. Woe is me. I love rooibos (=red bush in Dutch). I think I started drinking it after reading The Ladies #1 Detective Agency. I’m a slave to the power of suggestion. Which brand is yours? I like the sound of spicy rooibos.

Barbara, I’m not at all surprised Grandma Hart (of the “Dammit Ed!” fame) gave you tea for tummy aches. Now I’m missing her again. And it really does make me feel better from my usual nausea. My mom also swears by it for controlling asthma.