Archive for November, 2007

Sophie has clothes!

Monday, November 26th, 2007

Things are looking up for Sophie, who called tonight to report that she is now at the TESOL school, and has been reunited with her luggage.  She’s in a pretty good mode at the moment.  You can read all about it in her blog.

Meanwhile, Cabell is waiting to find out what the deal is with her recurring blood clots, but at least she has found a new hematologist who seems to be highly qualified.

And I am a couch potato, due to my work schedule at the moment.  I’m on the rank and tenure committee and we have 10 people going up for promotion this semester (yes, it’s like 2/3 of the department).   As a result, I keep having late afternoon committee meetings, which mean that I can’t leave campus till after dark, and thus can’t ride my bike to work.  This no doubt brings joy to motorists whom I have been inconveniencing, but I wish I could bike more.  Oh, and Wednesday morning I have to drive to St. Louis for a magnetic resonance angiogram, to try to figure out MY clotting problem, which is not the same as Cabell’s.  In fact, MY clotting problem is not the same as anyone’s.  I’m a unique f**king snowflake.

Sophie gets to Costa Rica

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

Sophie arrived in Costa Rica this afternoon — she’s a bit upset, since they lost her large suitcase that contained all her clothes.  Presumably they’ll get that to her soon.  On the plus side, at least she got there safely.

Thanksgiving photos

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

Here’s the contortionist turkey:

Spatchcocked turkey

This actually worked out pretty well. Having removed the ribs, spine, and breastbone in advance made carving really easy, especially the breast, which is what most people want to eat. The stuffing underneath was exceptionally moist (i.e. full of grease, but what the hell, it’s Thanksgiving), and got rave reviews. It did get a bit crunchy right on the bottom of the pan, but that didn’t seem to stop anyone from eating it. My roasting pan is a thin enameled-steel job, and I think if I do it this way again, I’ll set it on my baking stone to even out the heat a bit.

I thought the breast was a bit dry, but other people didn’t. Or maybe they were lying.

The pumpkin cheesecake was great. Sorry, no pic, but it’s excellent, and the bourbon/caramel/pecan sauce is incredible. My apple/cranberry pie was good, but unremarkable. Terri views it as a required dish for Thanksgiving and Christmas, so she was happy. I had some for breakfast today.

We watched Team America after dinner; it’s traditional to watch a really bad movie, but this one didn’t really provide a chance to make fun of it — it’s supposed to be like that. I wasn’t too impressed.

Sophie also opened some Christmas presents, since she won’t be here for Christmas.  She’s taking the rest with her in her luggage, unwrapped for security reasons.

Anyway, everyone had a good time. Here we are at the table:

Thanksgiving dinner

That’s Sophie’s friend Chloe, Sophie, Michael, Terri, Robin (hiding), and Walt.

Here are Robin and Sophie:

Robin and Sophie

Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

Every Thanksgiving we go to our friends’ (the Lillys) house for Thanksgiving.  Diana Lilly makes all the other food; I do turkey, stuffing, and desserts.  Except she usually makes desserts too, but you can’t have too many.  Yesterday I rode my bike to WalMart in Jackson to get stuff to make cheesecake.  It’s about 30 miles round trip, with a fine mist of rain on the way there, and some patchy, but fairly heavy, rain on the way back.  It was actually a very nice ride; I had all the appropriate rain gear on, and the groceries were in a waterproof pannier.  Halfway home my cell phone rang, but I couldn’t get to it.  I found a tree to stop under and hit redial.  It was my sister Gerry; she meant to call her husband but was fumbling with the phone and called me by accident.  We had a nice chat, and she mentioned that my nephew Scott and his family were driving to Pearl River that afternoon — so later I could call them and wish my grand-niece Libby a happy 6th birthday.
I spent the rest of the day in the kitchen, cleaning, making the cheesecake, making enchiladas for dinner, and spatchcocking the turkey.  This last consists of cutting out the backbone so that the bird can be spread out flat for roasting, which purportedly gives faster, more even cooking, with moister meat.  With the 22-pound turkey I bought, there was no way that it would have fit in my big roasting pan spread out like that, so I wound up removing the ribs and breastbone, and cutting it down the middle.  The two flat pieces then fit in the roasting pan, but only if you turn one so you have a leg pointing each direction.  Sophie said it looked like a contortionist turkey.  I rubbed it with fresh sage, rosemary, and thyme, covered it with plastic wrap, and stuck it in the fridge.

This morning I got up at around 7 and  cut up all the day-old bread that I’d bought into cubes, then spread them on baking sheets in the oven to dry out a bit more.  I sauteed a large onion in butter, then some Italian sausage, and a pound of mushrooms.  All that went into a bowl in the fridge, then I cut up more fresh herbs and mixed them in with the bread cubes in my biggest bowl.  I took the turkey out of the roasting pan, cleaned the pan, and dumped the bread cubes in to see if the amount was right — it was, about 3″ deep throughout the pan, so I can spread the contortionist turkey on top of the stuffing when it’s time to roast it.  Then I did a little more deboning — just getting small bits of rib, etc. that I’d missed — rubbed the turkey with chopped garlic, and put both halves in a giant zip-loc bag, and back in the fridge.  Dumped the bread back in the bowl, and buttered the roasting pan.

Then I took all the bones that I’d cut out of the turkey and put them in the stock pot along with an onion, filled it with water and put it on the stove.  Morning Edition was on NPR, and they were with some chef at his Vermont farm with his family, talking about how they prepared their traditional dinner.  They said that Thanksgiving is a day when families get together and do the same thing every year.  It’s true, pretty much.  This year, though, Cabell can’t be here because of her DVT, Hannah is spending Thanksgiving with her boyfriend’s family in Massachusetts, and Sophie is about to leave for Costa Rica for a year.  They cut to some plaintive, folky instrumental music on the radio, and I had to go sit down for a while because I was about to cry.  I get anxious and panicky sometimes when I have to be away from the kids.

So I made a cup of tea and I’m writing about it, and I feel a little better.  Now I need to go make pumpkin pie and apple pie before it’s time to devote the oven to the turkey.  On the plus side, I’ve got Robin and Sophie and Sophie’s friend Chloe, and the Lillys.   And I’ll see Cabell and Hannah at Christmas.  Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.

The bicycling controversy continues

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

From  Speak Out today:

Biking reality

TWO BIKERS have made their cases, and I’m sure they are right. The only problem is that convincing everyone they are right will not bring them back to life when hit in the dark at the crest of a hill or mend bones when hit by a sleepy motorist.

Right, got it.  We’ve got a right to be on the road, but you’ll kill us because you’re incompetent.

In which I make the newspaper

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

From Speak Out, in our local paper:

Dangerous cycling

I’M CALLING about the bike rider who goes down Route W from Fruitland to Cape Girardeau every morning. He wears a helmet with a flashing red light on the back thinking this is sufficient for drivers going 50 mph to see him. For the past two days I’ve had to come to a complete stop because there was a car coming over a hill and this biker was not over far enough for me to get past him. I realize bike riders have the right to be on the road, but riding on Route W at this busy time is dangerous. I’m afraid some teenager like mine is not going to see this bike rider or know how to react.

I’M CALLING about the bike rider who goes down Route W from Fruitland to Cape Girardeau every morning. He wears a helmet with a flashing red light on the back thinking this is sufficient for drivers going 50 mph to see him.

Apparently you did.  By the way, there’s another, bigger red flashing light on the back of the bike.  And two flashing lights on the front, plus a headlight, plus reflective tape on the panniers. 
For the past two days I’ve had to come to a complete stop

You mean, slow down to bicycle speed — there is a difference, however small it may seem.

because there was a car coming over a hill and this biker was not over far enough for me to get past him.

Yes, I do like to keep on the pavement.  It’s not really the right bicycle for riding in the ditch.  So to summarize, what you don’t like is that you can’t pass me on a hill?  Why are you trying to pass on a hill?
I realize bike riders have the right to be on the road, but riding on Route W at this busy time is dangerous.

Right.  I’ve got the right to be on the road, but not one that goes where I need to go, or at a time when I need to get there.  And furthermore, in the typical busy morning about 10 cars pass me in the 8 miles I’m on W.  
I’m afraid some teenager like mine is not going to see this bike rider or know how to react.

Well, I hope you caution your teenager to watch out, then.  Cycling is dangerous, I’ll admit.  But who is it that makes it that way?

Genetically modified crops

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

As I’ve been saying all along, there’s no reason to think that they’re inherently unsafe or harmful.  It’s irrational fear of mad scientists.

The hell with scary pictures.

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

Here’s a story that’s genuinely scary.

I’m too busy to really post.

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

But I can put up links to stuff I’m wasting my time reading.

I guess I go to the wrong restaurants.

Popular culture is eating your brain. And it’s even ruining your appreciation of popular culture.

Meanwhile, here’s what I’m reading in print: From the introduction to Martin Buber’s Ecstatic Confessions:*

The commotion of our human life, which lets in everything, all the light and all the music, all the mad pranks of thought and all the variations of pain, the fullness of memory and the fullness of expectation, is closed to only one thing: unity.

And from his The legend of the Baal-Shem.**

“If a man has fulfilled the whole of the teaching and all the commandments, but has not had the rapture and the burning, when he dies and passes beyond, paradise is opened to him, but because he has not felt rapture in the world, he also does not feel it in paradise.” -

And that, kids, is why you should be a mystic.

And perhaps why a Woodstock Museum isn’t actually that bad an idea.

*San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985. (Originally published as Ekstaische Konfessionen. Berlin: Eugen Diederichs Verlag , 1909.)

**New York: Schocken Books, 1969 (Published originally in German, 1908).

Scariest news photo ever

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

New York Times photo