Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

Have you hugged a tree today?

So here in the Land of Bean, we have been experimenting with some twists on living green. Switched over to compact fluorescents. Installed a new insulated garage door. We’ve been recycling and composting for awhile, but I’ll admit that more out of necessity than a desire to be kind to the planet: here in the rural outskirts of North Coast Metroland, we pay by the can for garbage removal, and they don’t take yard waste.

But Mr. Bean, the Bug and I have been experimenting with eating within 100 miles of our home. I am finding this to be a bigger challenge than expected, not so much because we are lacking in locally-grown and produced food choices, but because it’s darned difficult sometimes to figure out where our food is actually produced!!

We’re lucky in some ways: The West Side Market has a fabulous selection of locally grown and produced meats and meat products, and if you are willing to regularly show up before 7:30 on Saturday mornings, unshowered (I find the unshowered part is essential; they won't talk to you if you've taken time to apply cosmetics), you can eventually build enough “cred” with the vendors that they will give you their “real” addresses and phone numbers so you can get really really fresh beef and chicken and lamb and other lovely delicacies. You can get locally baked breads and cakes, locally-made cheese and wine, and locally roasted coffee. (Before you say something, I know that they don’t grow coffee within 100 miles of my house. Look; I at least try to stick to shade grown and fair trade. I’m not giving up coffee. End of discussion.)

Produce is another matter. I like fresh vegetables. A lot. There is quite a bit I can grow under cold frame for much of the winter, but clearly not enough to keep us happy and healthy. So I try to compromise. I look for produce that is at least grown in the US or southern Canada (I’m amazed at the quality of the hothouse cucumbers and tomatoes that are coming out of Ontario). But it’s really tough to tell sometimes. Witness the following exchange I had on Saturday at the Market:

Me: Are these grapes from California?
Vendor: Yes
Me: OK; I’ll take that bunch there.

As he’s packing up the grapes, I notice the empty crates behind him that say “Product of Chile” on them.

Me: I thought you said these were California grapes?
Vendor: Yes
Me: But the box behind you says “Chile” on it.
Vendor: Yes
Me: So they’re not from California.
Vendor: Yes

Me: You don’t speak English, do you?
Vendor: Two Dollah

Alrighty then.

I think grapes will have to come off the list until the local vineyards ripen in August…

Monday, April 21, 2008

Guilty (sort-of) Pleasures

I turned forty-something+1 on Friday. It was a pretty good day, until I opened the gaily-wrapped package on the dining room table and saw this:

Then it was a freakin' AWEsome day.

I will admit to harboring a small and entirely innocent (I am, after all, a semi-respectable married woman) crush on Michael Ruhlman. I don't know whether to thank or curse Ali for introducing me to his blog.

Anyway, gentle readers, I will be away from the blogosphere for a bit...I will until then be badgering my dear husband to finish the design on the kitchen remodel and learning, once and for all, how to make a decent reduction sauce for red meat.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Revealing my true self

There are moments in your life when you can stand apart from yourself, and see yourself as you truly are.

These moments can be disconcerting, but they also can be moments of clarity and comfort, if we choose to accept them and learn from them.

Today, I had one of these moments.

We are preparing for a major news release around some work we've been doing, and there have been a tremendous number of tasks to complete: figures to research, FAQ's the write, "sound bites" to rehearse, choices about who goes in front of the camera and who does the print interviews. Today, I ghost-wrote an OpEd for my boss, coached another one of the docs, revamped the budgets and trashed and re-configured the basic design on one of our marketing pieces.

The doc I was coaching on sound bites started to laugh, "Next, you'll be doing my surgery for me!"

"Nope," I said, "I'm strictly behind the scenes. I handle the words and the numbers. You do the rock star thing."

Then it occurred to me: I'm Velma Dinkley.

You remember Velma -- from Scooby Doo? The brainy, somewhat overweight one who talked too much? The one who solved the mystery, but that bastid Fred always took credit? (What was up with that retarded ascot, BTW?) Yep, that's me. I'm the Velmster.

10 years ago, this revelation would have sent me running for a Vicodin and Vodka cocktail.

Now? I guess I'm OK with it. I rather like it, in fact. Velma had her place in the world. She even got to be a hottie in the live-action Scooby Doo movie.

Ok, OK, I'd still rather look like Sarah Michelle Gellar. But who wouldn't?

But for now, I guess I'm OK being Velma.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

See? This is what happens when you don't let people drink beer!

I gotta wonder what was going through the minds of the upper management at Prosper, Inc, when they found out they were being sued for waterboarding an employee during sales training.

What. The. Fuck?

The two quotes are priceless:

"We're not the mean waterboarding company that people think we are," ...said their General Counsel.

So we're...what? The Friendly Waterboarding Company? WTF? They pay this guy to be a lawyer???

"How many times did the CIA even do waterboarding? Three times?" added Dave Ellis, the company president.
"But look at the damage it did to America's reputation," Brunt pointed out. "And it's going to hurt our image."

Ya know...you torture one freakin employee...dang, a little pair of thumb screws or somethin'... and suddently you're Vlad the Impaler or somethin', ya know?

I'm reminded of the SNL skit, with Faster, faster! Cody wants a pony!

Everything old is new again

Sorry I'm so quiet lately.

There is so much going on right now, in all aspects of my life, that I'm really struggling to make sense of it and struggling even more to find time to write about it.

So until those two things work themselves out, I will share an anecdote that illustrates how much my life has come full-circle.

I am now actually gaining new knowledge from my second-grader's reading assignments.

Last night, I learned that the first recognized dinosaur fossil was discovered in 1822. This surprised me greatly. For some reason, I thought that particular scientific timeline went back a good deal farther. (Edit: for the record, Plott was digging up bones in the 1600s, but ascribed them to 12'-tall people. Or man-eating Pliocene Clams)

Tomorrow, we're going to learn about the building of the Statue of Liberty. I can't wait. :)

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Jeepers, Creepers

The spring peepers are making a helluva racket tonight.

Bravo! I say. Let them sing! It's music to my ears.

When you live in this part of the country, you become accustomed to taking the weather in stride. Summer can be brutishly hot and humid. Winter is cold and wet...and about three months longer than it needs to be. That doesn't leave a lot of time for 'temperate'. So we learn here to ignore the weather. We dress in layers -- always -- because it seems you're always taking something off or putting something on. We have rubber boots and flip-flops next to the back door at the same time, as we'll often use both in a single day.

We're tough. We wear that weather-proof toughness like a badge around here.

But this year, the winter even started to "get to" the already weatherbeaten residents of the North Coast. I think it's because so much of our winter snow and ice this year arrived in March, when we're accustomed to being able to catch that very first scent of worms and the crocus make their first appearances. Between Valentine's Day and Easter, we measured our snowfall in feet, not inches. Or perhaps it's because Easter arrived so early this year and we so look forward to marking the holiday with that first daffodil rather than with shovels and rock salt.

The spring peepers started to sing last week, during a night marked by a light coating of ice on the birdbaths. I think they'd had it, too.

And tonight, with our mid-50's temperatures, they are performing one of their evening crescendos.

Today, the sun shone, the hyacinth started to bloom, the kids rode their bikes up and down neighborhood driveways. The smell of neighbors burning last Autumn's neglected leaves was accented by the smell of charcoal lighter. The worms made their appearances atop freshly turned soil.

The trout lilies have begun to peek through the moss and leaves in the woods behind the house. In another week, we'll have a delicate riot of yellow flowers standing in defiance against winter's last winds. Basketballs and sleds will continue to share front porch space for a few weeks, anticipating the arrival of the afternoon school bus. But I think we've safely turned the corner.

I think spring is finally, blessedly, arriving.

And not a moment too soon.

P.S. Eve went home on Saturday. Her mom is looking forward to spoiling her rotten all summer. :)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

On a more serious note...

Thanks again, to all of you who publicly and silently sent good thoughts and prayers for little Eve.

Late last night, they let her "wake up" from the induced coma where she's rested since Thursday. They were able to remove her ventilator and she's breathing on her own. She seems not to have any sign of infection.

I am cautiously optimistic that she's going to come through this without any major complications. I'll be fully satisfied when she eats again on her own, but things are looking much brighter here.

Can't wait to hold her again.

You have mail...

Hey! just wanted to let you know that each of you has a customized Happy Birthday message in your In Box, on the date of your last birthday, courtesy of GMail. Gawd I love technology!