30 September 2005


Mia, my cat, with her new haircut.
Cost: $134.90 (includes a necessary sedation)

Jeremy, my husband, with his new haircut.
Cost: $13 + tip at Schurman Barbers in Dayton, Ohio

[Photos by Dave Heller]

28 September 2005

The Flying Wandellas

My dad and I used to do this thing called “The Flying Wandellas.” At least that’s what it has always been called in my memory.

[Tonight, after trying unsuccessfully to Google: Wandellas, Juandellas, and One-Dellas to confirm the spelling, I finally gave up and called my mom who informed me that it’s actually “The Flying WALLENDAS.” Apparently they are German. A famous team of acrobats.]

Anyhow, my dad and I used to do this thing that I called “The Flying Wandellas.”
Here’s how it went:

We’d be in the family room watching TV, or sometimes my dad would have just come home from work and I would say, always with excitement, “Can we do the flying wandellas?!” Or every once in awhile when I wasn’t expecting it, he would shout, “It’s time for THE FLYING WANDELLAS!” and he’d pick me up by my waist and flip me over his head and onto his shoulders like a real acrobat, and I would stand up on them while he held my feet. Standing on his shoulders! What balance I had for a six year old. What strength was in his hands.

Hmm, now I am thinking that maybe I actually just sat on his shoulders like you see little kids doing at the zoo or the carnival when they get tired of walking. But that would not be very daring on my part…nor is it particularly acrobatic (eliminating the need to name it after a group of acrobats)…so I am sticking to my first recollection…I think I stood up there.

I do remember actually holding my arms up into the air and being able to reach almost to the top beam of the vaulted ceiling in our family room, which my mind must be exaggerating, because considering that even with my arms raised I was probably only four feet tall, that would mean in order for me to reach the ceiling beam, my dad would've had to be on very high stilts (which he wasn’t…he was in dress loafers), OR he would have to be something like 11 feet tall.

Still, I was up there pretty high, and I would stand there imagining oohs and aahs from the crowd below. Then, for no particular reason (perhaps this is what the real-life WALLENDAS do), we would both yell, “THE FLYING WANDELLAS!!” before he flipped me back down again onto my feet.

I talked to Jeremy’s mom on the phone today and she told me about when Jeremy was little, how his dad Russ used to pick him up and swing him all around, and how much he loved it. She was talking about how much as children (even grown ones), we really do adore our fathers.

It made me remember The Flying Wandellas and how great that was--to be small enough to stand on the shoulders of my dad, and be able to touch the sky.

27 September 2005

Houston: where people go to fry eggs on the sidewalk

Today I am camping out at Starbucks. Lucky me, I landed a spot in one of the comfy plush chairs. And for an added bonus, there's FREE wi-fi here. I didn't think Starbucks was offering that yet so I am pretty excited. It's close to 8 million degrees in Houston. We live in the northwest part of town, a suburb of the city, and everywhere you look there are shopping centers overflowing with stores and restaurants. I am starting to think all people do here is eat and shop, which explains why there is so much traffic (driving from eating to shopping and repeating the process over and over.) I do not really blame them though because it's so dang hot outside that they probably just want to escape the blistering humidity with an ice cold drink or by taking all their clothes off in a dressing room at Gap.

I do have to say that there are quite a few good restaurants here, and that is one thing I have missed since moving to Nashville. My friend Jenni and I are going to meet for dinner tonight, hopefully at one of my favorites (there are many.) She said I could pick! At the moment I am deciding between:

Kim Son: all-time favorite Vietnamese...best steamed spring rolls in the United States

Empire Cafe: I think Tuesdays are half-price cake day so I might have to choose this one. It's just a really good cafe with an artsy-eclectic menu, and they give you 2 little free cookies when you order coffee...to go with the half-price cake!

Cafe' Lili: Scrumptious mediterranean restaurant with the ultimate chicken kabobs ever. The owners, who are Lebanese, are always there running the place and the elderly husband brings around turkish coffee in tiny cups at the end of the meal. It's super-strong and tastes like cloves and cinammon. He scowls at me if I add Sweet-n-Low so I have to hide it and do it when he's not looking.

Shiva: Indian restaurant in Rice Village, with cozy booths adorned with hanging beads.

Hobbit Cafe': I think I want to wait until Jeremy comes back next week to take him there. It's decorated with Hobbit-y stuff, made to look like The Shire kind of, and the menu is really healthy...lots of sprouts...and the dishes are named after places and characters from Middle Earth.

Today has been a tough day emotionally and I am starting to feel the weight of things. It will be good to go downtown tonight for a change of scenery and to visit with a good friend for awhile.

25 September 2005

Kauai, Hawaii.

Ah, the memories. A year ago at this moment, I was there on my honeymoon. For amusement, I want to make a list of things I can remember, just because I am nostalgic like that.

[disclaimer: similar to my “Anniversary” post, this might only be interesting to people who have actually been to Kauai, who are planning to go, or who simply enjoy reading about travel. Possibly it could be interesting to someone with nothing much to do at the moment, but that depends on how easily entertained you are.]

Papayas. I was really into papayas while we were there. In fact, I drove Jeremy crazy because I kept wanting to take a picture of us eating a papaya, and he liked them okay but they are filled with slimy seeds and he was just as happy with a banana. I finally got a photo on the very last day---in the rental car, on our way to the airport to fly home, at night, going 45 miles an hour. It’s not a very good picture because the car made the camera shake and all I had was black and white film left (you kind of need color to capture the essence of a papaya) and Jeremy was driving so he couldn’t really pretend he was eating it. And all I had was a plastic spoon to cut it open.

Chickens. They were everywhere. Just below our balcony on the grass. Mulling around the pool at Mai-Tai hour. Crossing the street near the arts and crafts fair as we drove to Glass Beach. I think this is perhaps where the riddle, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” came from. Where else do you see chickens crossing the road?

Glass Beach. Jeremy was less impressed than I. Instead of sand, this beach was full of tiny, smooth pebbles of multi-colored glass. All shades of blue, green, brown, and white…an entire beach completely made of glass. It was sort of near an industrial plant and I'm pretty sure that's where the glass came from, which kind of ruined the vibe I guess. But I still thought it was neat.

Umbrellas. We took a day trip to Oahu to see Pearl Harbor and to visit Waikiki beach. It was such a contrast from the remote feel of Kauai. On Kauai, there were usually 10 other people on the beaches with us, all spread out. At Waikiki, you had to hopscotch between hundreds of mothers and children and towels and radios underneath a flurry of red and white umbrellas to find a tiny swatch of sand to sit on. The ocean was more like a wave pool and that was really fun. We also saw a one-legged pigeon hopping up and down some steps while we were waiting for a taxi. We laughed at him, and I kind of feel bad about that looking back.

Roy's. Best meal of the week. If you go, order the chocolate souffle’

Eels. On our last day there, we found our best snorkeling on a great reef by the side of the road that some locals had told us about. We saw every fish that was in Finding Nemo, even the puffer one, plus a lot of eels. Jeremy went down and swam with them. I skimmed the surface and kept my distance.

[I am going to stop myself at six memories for now. For more on Kauai, I recommend Kauai Revealed: The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook. But it’s actually more fun if you leave the guidebooks at home and just figure it out as you go.]

by the sea

Tonight the ocean is 200 feet away. We watched the orangey sun set on the water, then my mom made a great spaghetti dinner and we sat on the deck, listening to the waves crash while we ate. Afterward, we turned off all the lights and sat out under an inky sky full of billions of stars, the salty wind sweeping across our faces.

I welcomed the peace and quiet.

Obviously, I made it through Hurricane Rita unscathed last night, though I will say that the experience was a bit more unsettling than I expected. She woke me from a shallow sleep at 1:30 AM, whistling through the trees outside my bedroom window. I was restless for the next several hours. I kept creeping over and peering through the blinds. For awhile, the trees jutted back and forth like a clock pendulum, and the wind sounded eerily foreboding. Then suddenly all of it would stop, and there would be total stillness for a minute before she whipped through again. After an hour, I saw a spark and the streetlights went black. When I wasn’t at the window, I was under the covers, drifting in and out of odd, fragmented dreams, most which involved the hurricane, and waking up to hear pinecones pelting the roof. I kept wondering if the trees were swaying in the direction of my bed, so then, like someone with obsessive compulsive disorder, I’d hop back out of bed and look between the blinds again. And so it went.

Today I was groggy, so I went to my mom’s house; she was making coffee with a pot of water and some Sterno. She lives only a mile or two from my dad’s house. When I got there, we learned that her weekend beach house down on the Gulf actually had electricity, and no hurricane damage to speak of. We made our way here this afternoon.

After prying boards from the front door and windows, we came inside to discover cool air, working lights, and a small scorpion that had crept into the house for shelter from the rain.

I was reminded tonight, as we sat in our deck chairs, how much I love the combination of chilly night air and a dark sky dotted with layers of stars. It takes me back to those mountaintops in Colorado when I went to Young Life camp in high school.

We sat in silence for a long time in the dark, just listening to the waves…until my mom broke the quiet to say how nice it would be if we had some hot fudge sundaes to complete the bliss.

Tomorrow, we’ll head north toward home again and hopefully the hospital will be letting visitors in again so I can see my dad. They sealed it off the day before the storm came.

I really wish Jeremy had been here tonight. He’s out playing shows. He would have liked the spaghetti, and this peaceful house on stilts with its colorful paintings and large hunks of coral used as bookends. He also loves the stars as much as I do, and out here it’s like having a planetarium right in your own backyard. Except this backyard also happens to have an ocean.

23 September 2005

Lovely Rita, Meter Maid

So I’m in Houston. I’m just waiting. Watching Felicity reruns and flipping to snippets of Fox News. Why is it that you can ALWAYS find an episode of Law & Order on TV at any time of day? The trees are starting to blow around a little now, and the white butterfly bushes in the front yard are swaying to and fro. Earlier I saw huge blue butterflies dipping down for their last visit before the storm comes. This morning, two hummingbirds were zipping in and out of the hibiscus. Their wings might have been moving a little bit faster than normal, come to think of it.

The mailman did not come today, the chicken. What ever happened to “Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow…”?? It’s not even drizzling yet. Through the slivers of the blinds I can see the clouds rolling along. The sky is actually a pretty shade of pale blue with lemon-yellow clouds.

I’m upstairs in my dad’s office on a little slip-covered sofa that we’ve had my entire life. Next to me is a tall bookshelf with my dad’s medals from Vietnam arranged in a row. He got the Bronze Star for heroism. There’s also a collection of photographs, his tennis trophies, and four autographed baseballs, but I can't read the names.

Downstairs on the kitchen table we’ve got a basket of batteries, two flashlights, a portable television, two radios, and at least eight of those butane lighters ‘cause you can never have too many of those.

The cat just poked her head in at me. Lucky looks like a human. Her face really does… like a tiny person’s face with fur stuck to it. Sometimes it frightens me.

I am actually not very nervous about the hurricane. I think I am going to wait up for her, watch for her out the window (from a safe distance.) And then maybe I’ll sleep in the bathtub.

I’ll let you know how it goes…

p.s. Now the sky is pinkish purple.

22 September 2005


I am in the bedroom I grew up in. Through the years, this room has changed colors along with my life. It started out blue, a baby sort of blue, back in the 70s & 80s when its primary resident was my sister. My own room was down the hall then, but I knew the blue room well because I was fearful of creepy things under my bed, so most nights I would scoot quietly down the hallway in my pajamas and climb into bed with my sister where I felt safe. The blue room had a hanging wicker swing-chair in the corner, a canopy bed for awhile, and all of those older-sisterly things like lots of eyeshadow, cassette tapes, and notebooks scribbled with her high school doodles.

I moved into the blue room in the late 80s, after my sister left home. My dad and I picked out a new comforter for my bed. Pink and white flowers with thin stripes of green running through. We also chose a new paint color to match the pink flowers, and so for the next fourteen years, whenever I came to this house, I slept in a room dripping with Pepto Bismol. That’s the honest to goodness exact shade of pink that it was. You could actually see it glowing from the staircase, its brightness shooting out from the doorway, hinting at the glory to come. Once, when I was about sixteen, I cut out pictures from magazines and taped a collage to one of the bathroom’s wallpapered walls, just beyond the Pepto. I was so proud of my artistic display of Clinique ads, images of my favorite actors, the Guess? logo, and cut-outs of important slogans like “Be Cool" and "Dress to Impress."

Then, sometime in the recent past when I was not around to appreciate it, the Pepto Bismol lost its luster, and a deep shade of raspberry wine took its place. So that’s where I am tonight. In a sea of raspberry wine. I’m all grown up, and this room feels so different to me now. If I squint my eyes and concentrate hard, I can vaguely remember being a child in here, but then the room makes me aware of how long ago that was. One of my sister’s old porcelain dolls that my dad brought back from a business trip still stands in her kimono on the bureau, the only real evidence that this was once a blue room.

But the true reason I know this room is different is because of why I’m here. I can see my suitcase in the corner, the stack of books and photos I brought from home on the nightstand, a candle from one of my friends, and a soft blue knitted blanket that my mother-in-law gave me to bring here…to wrap around my shoulders whenever I need some comfort. And I have needed it a lot.

I still remember the day my dad and I went to pick out the Pepto pink. I remember comparing all the swatches and choosing the one we thought was the brightest and best. The most girly pink we could find. And now he is sick and I think I would give almost anything to have the room be pink again.

We just went to see him at the hospital. Lots of little tubes hooked into his hand and chest. He’s wearing one of those paper-thin gowns that makes everyone look frail and small no matter how big they are in real life. He was watching TV when we got there, and told us about his nurse and her plan to get her Master’s Degree. I think all of the nurses love him because every time they come in the room to give him pain medicine or check his vitals, they tease him a lot. At least in elementary school, teasing usually meant that someone really liked you. I’m sure it’s the same way in hospitals.

The walls in his room are very white, with large random squares of grey wallpaper on two of the walls (almost like they are marking the place where a picture should go) and some faded Catholic-looking art hanging next to the window. Still, it is nicer than the room he had last week, which was darker and smaller and looked out onto brick. I hope he gets to come home soon, where things have a bit more color.

17 September 2005

Piece of Cake

I have just removed something very exciting from the freezer. A large, smooshed, year-old, vacuum-sealed, frozen slice of wedding cake.

Tomorrow is our first anniversary, which is really interesting to very few people besides Jeremy and me, so let’s just focus on the cake instead.

THE CAKE, at its debut, was three delicious blonde tiers, each one filled with heavenly layers of white chocolate and tiramisu (coffee and kahlua dusted with cocoa), spread from top to toe with champagne-tinted buttercream frosting, and adorned with the most beautiful array of fall-colored roses and blue hydrangea petals.

When we returned from our honeymoon, half of the middle tier was in a box in our refrigerator along with the top, so for the next several days we dug in with forks, and floated around the house on a wonderful sugar-high.

This is a cake so good that I have been anticipating its return all year long. Several times have I thought of it.

And we even have a contingency plan.

In case the frozen piece (now thawing on the counter) turns out to be too crumbly or freezer-burned, our fabulous cake lady (who sadly is retiring from the cake business next month) has agreed to make us a tiny replica, which I am picking up today at 1 o'clock for us to enjoy as tomorrow’s dessert.

If it lasts until then!

16 September 2005

For the love of gourmet cheese and pretty things to look at...

One day soon, I’m going to the Louvre. I don’t have a ticket yet--to the museum OR to Paris--but Jeremy and I have plans. Sketchy plans, but plans. I have never been to France before, so for the moment all I have are daydreams of strolling past the Eiffel Tower hand in hand, sitting in small cafes munching on French pastries, and of course, chasing Mona Lisa’s elusive smile.

I’ll be sure to visit all of those hard to pronounce places Ellis Paul sang about in one of my favorite songs, “Paris in a Day.” And since Jeremy has been to the city before, he can be my handsome tour guide and buy me a fancy scarf, which I will tie around my neck. I will try my very, very best not to look like a tourist.

Uh oh, what if the fancy-french-neck-scarf is just a gimmick, one of those things that only Americans who are trying to look like they’re French do, and it’s actually a dead giveaway? Maybe French men don’t even really wear berets!

I know a lot of people are anti-France these days, but politics aside, I don’t see how you can be completely against a place that gave us Brie and Impressionist art.

My first and only visit to Europe was about four years ago, to the most breathtaking land on the planet. Italy. I met my sister Laura there, and we spent several days exploring Florence and Lucca, the small medieval town in Tuscany close to where my grandmother was born. On the train, my sister was serenaded by a persistent Italian stranger, who after failing to woo her with his suave foreign phrases, took the intercom hostage and proclaimed his affection with a song for everyone to hear:

Ding, Ding, Ding…”Attenzione Low-ra. I Love You!…When the moon hits your eye, like a big pizza pie….”

(Well, I don’t remember the song exactly.)

I do remember flying by foot through the Uffizi, trying to take in all the Caravaggios and da Vincis and Botticellis, but feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of the collection. Room after room after room of masterpieces, and my single little brain to soak it all in.

When I visit the Louvre, I will be sure to take more time.

The experience I remember most came a few days later, after my sister had left and I was in Rome alone. I walked to Vatican City from my hotel near Piazza Navona. I thought about the Pope and the blisters on my feet and how I couldn’t wait to see the Sistine Chapel. It was amazing, truly it was, and well worth the eternal wait in line. But I found myself most captivated by my stop next door, at St. Peter’s Basilica. There, I stood before Michelangelo’s Pieta’, a magnificent, emotional marble sculpture depicting the crucified Christ in Mary’s arms. I think I spent more time pondering that one work of art than I did the entire vast collection of the Uffizi.

In fact, I know I did.

15 September 2005

If I Was Lost

When I was little, my friend Caryn McClure and I used to go down to the creek and play in the dirt. I wasn’t really a tomboy, but something about pretending to create a house out of giant holes dug in the ground, rocks and assorted bottles and bits of rope, and whatever else we could find lying around, satisfied my imagination and an early sense of domesticity. Maybe this is how Martha Stewart started out too. You never know.

I am not sure why, but I have always had a fascination, or maybe it’s just a motto of preparedness, that has led me to occasionally ponder what I'd do if I found myself stranded on a deserted island. I remember watching The Swiss Family Robinson in 2nd grade and thinking how fantastic it was that they rigged little hammocks to sleep in and made a way to have running water. A majestic tree house.

When my husband and I gave in to peer pressure (actually peer suggestion, but there was enough of it to feel like pressure) and rented the first 2 episodes of LOST the other night, I started thinking about it again. What would I do if I was stranded on an island all by myself?

I would begin by making a house. First I would gather up giant palm leaves and find some rope, or if I had to, I’d weave some out of reeds that I had peeled into strong strips. (I think that’s what he did on Castaway.) I would build my house with a nice view of the water…I’d need a nice view in order to keep my spirits up and to be reminded that I was not really alone…but it would be far enough away that the tide couldn’t sweep in and get me. I would build the house from sticks woven together, and mud to fill the crevices. Palm leaves for the roof.

Next I would make a basket to function as my refrigerator. And I’d collect a variety of fruits in all different colors and display them as an edible still-life so I’d also have art.

Every day I would catch a fish and play chess with myself using rocks and a board drawn in the sand.

In the evening I would get out my iPod and listen to some music before going to sleep (somehow I would have an unlimited supply of batteries). A few of the albums I’d have to round out my island life:

Patty Griffin - Living with Ghosts
Ellis Paul - Carnival of Voices
Phil Keaggy - Beyond Nature
Simon and Garfunkel - The Concert In Central Park
Bob Marley - Legend
Marc Cohn - Burning the Daze
Soundtrack - The Mission
The Cardigans - Long Gone Before Daylight

14 September 2005

The first 5 things I thought about when I opened my eyes this morning

My dad.

*Why is Jeremy slamming all the kitchen cabinets?

**Tucker Carlson.

The need for thicker drapes in my bedroom.

Why is Jeremy slamming all the kitchen cabinets?

*(turns out he forgot to put the filter in the coffee maker, so coffee was flowing all over the kitchen.)

**(this I cannot explain. but I’m guessing it’s because we watched him on MSNBC last night and I noticed that he is back to wearing bowties. when he was reporting from New Orleans he wore long wading boots with his pants tucked in and looked rather like a horse jockey from an earlier decade. then again, the midst of a national disaster is no time to fuss over fashion, even if you are on television and everyone can see you.)

10 September 2005

Outside my window and inside my room

Another early morning. Five fifteen. But this time it was not a peaceful morning in our quiet kitchen. No, it was a frenzy of shoes being tossed about, quick gargles of mouthwash, and fumbling for car keys. We overslept.

Miraculously, Jeremy made his flight to Billings, and I came home and went back to sleep for as long as I could. Then I sat in our office and looked out the window with my coffee and watched bugs crawl along the fence. I wonder if bugs sleep. They sure seemed energetic for being up so early…big red ants scurrying along the tops of the fence planks. Up. Across. Down. Up. Across. Down. Such a steady rhythm, and such a contrast to that poor spider stuck between the window’s screen and pane of glass: confused and erratic, ramming himself into crevices in search of freedom.

I think life is kind of like that. [Or maybe I am just trying to be Annie Dillard.] But I do…life can be like the ants sometimes…moving along at a steady pace, in a straight line with goals and intentional patterns, the warm sun beating down on your back as you go. But then it takes these unexpected turns and suddenly you’re caught in this strange, confusing place you’ve never been before and you’ve got to find your way.

Jeremy wrote the funniest blog today about pens. He makes me laugh. A whole entry just about his collection of pens. (I can't promise it would be funny to anyone else.) He is the only person who can truly make me laugh when I am my most sad. A pure kind of laughter that you can’t hold back. You know that kind? He is so good at that. I have come to learn that no matter how sad I am, there are a few instances when it’s impossible for me to cry. I have tested this even. No matter how much I may be on the verge of an emotional spill, I won’t cry if I am chewing gum, wearing sunglasses, or in the presence of my husband when he is being funny.

Sitting here at his desk, I can smell his pipe tobacco. My grandfather used to smoke a pipe…my dad’s dad. He also loved to play chess, which Jeremy does too. I don’t quite remember if he was funny or not, though I know he was tall. And I do remember what he looked like when he was smiling, if only from pictures.

07 September 2005


I got up really early this morning. A little before six. That never, ever happens on an ordinary Wednesday. It was strange to be awake before the sun, to creep into the kitchen as if it was Christmas morning and I was trying to sneak a peek at what Santa brought without waking my parents. The house is so quiet and still at 5:56. Except for Mia of course, who has been alone for seven hours and scuttles about with more energy than a 12-pound cat should be able to produce. She skids across the linoleum like Tom Cruise in Risky Business, minus the sunglasses and underwear.

Jeremy woke up too and we did shots of orange juice (the carton was almost empty) and he put on some coffee. Number 5 in yesterday’s blog in case you’re wondering. He is such a wonderful husband; I could not ask for more. Our one-year anniversary is in eleven days.

Normally I don’t like the morning. Mainly because I adore sleep so much and morning just seems like a thief. I have always wondered if I will turn a corner one day when I have children. Suddenly, like my mother and every other mother I have heard of, I will become a 6 AM riser every day. I will have one of those terry cloth bathrobes and two matching slippers -- hopefully the soft, white, fluffy kind and not a raggedy old blue one that looks like I should have curlers in my hair. I want to be an elegant morning person if I am going to be one at all.

But this morning, morning was good for some reason. I mean, I’ve already been awake for three whole hours and it’s not even the time I usually get up yet. Also I got to see the sun come up and be reminded once again, something I so often forget… that every single day is a gift.

06 September 2005


Current favorite cups of coffee:

1. Java Love (by The Organic Coffee Co.)
2. Mocha Java (by Caribou Coffee)
3. Bistro Blend (by Jim's Organic Coffee)
4. Timor Java (by The Chocolate & Coffee House - Pawley's Island, SC - a gift from my mother-in-law)
5. French Roast (by Eight O'Clock Coffee - only $3.89 at the grocery store - it's really good! who would have thought?)

05 September 2005

The Fellowship of TV Watchers on a Saturday afternoon

I finally changed the channel. For the first five days or so after Katrina hit, I felt bad every time I switched from watching the latest headlines to a channel where a sitcom was on and people were laughing. It was as if I was letting myself forget what people were going through, turning away from them. My usual favorite stations, the Style network, Food channel, and E! quickly lost their luster and seemed much more indulgent than usual, (even though a girl does need to be well-clothed, fed, and up to speed on what’s happening with Brangelina.)

But finally on Saturday I changed the channel. I just couldn’t watch anymore of the wreckage across the Gulf. So all afternoon and evening, after taking Jeremy to the airport for his Delaware concert, I nestled down on the sofa with some leftover brownies, the remote control, and Sam and Mia on my lap.

Sam is our Jack Russell terrier and Mia is his reluctant half-sister, a long-haired calico cat with quite a bit of attitude. Normally “the pets,” as we call them, stay on their respective sides of the house, crossing paths only by reason of necessity, or a daily chance meeting in the kitchen where both their food bowls are located. If Sam ever gets too close, Mia will reach out with a swift paw and give him a little swat. Sam ignores her and keeps walking smugly by, and it’s hard to tell if deep down his pride is hurt or if he’s merely thinking, “Thank God she doesn’t have claws.”

Whenever Jeremy travels though, the barriers dissolve like magic and the three of us form a little union. A union of the “we are sad” variety. Or maybe they are just being compassionate because they sense that I miss him. And maybe they’re a little bummed that there is one less person in the house to give them treats. Regardless of their motive, on Saturday, as they often do when we’re alone, Mia settled down on my chest and Sam sprawled across my legs (their backs were even touching a little) and they slept for hours upon hours while I absorbed myself in mindless entertainment under a blanket of animalia.

I watched Sleepless in Seattle for the umpteenth time, parts of U-571 but that got me in a funk again, so I switched to an Ashley Judd/Hugh Jackman movie where she compares men to cows. Marisa Tomei was in it. I like Marisa Tomei. She is under-utilized as an actress in my opinion.

I also watched several episodes of The Look For Less, and half of Mystic Pizza which made me hungry, so I flipped between it and Alive, a movie about a soccer team who crashes in the mountains and has to survive by eating…well let’s just say I lost my appetite at that point. Sam and Mia remained loyally by my side all evening.

Now Jeremy is home from Delaware (rejoice!) and the pets are back on “non-speaking” terms... but all is well, except that now we have returned to watching the news again. And Sam is eating a pair of socks.

02 September 2005

Try some Thai

It just occurred to me that in nearly every blog I’ve written these past few days, Jeremy has been cooking dinner. He has actually become a very good cook (though I have to take a little credit for this…when I found him three years ago he was surviving on a steady diet of red meat and Capri Suns. Nary a vegetable could be found in his refrigerator…unless of course you count onions, which are at the tip-top of his personal food pyramid even now.) But lest my half-Italian gourmet mother think she has taught me nothing, I decided to get up from my blogging chair tonight and make the boy some food.

And now I will share with you tonight’s healthy plate of scrumptiousness. I hope you enjoy!

(I swiped this recipe from the YMCA’s copy of Self Magazine after reading it on the elliptical machine one afternoon.)

Thai Chicken and Broccoli with Peanut Sauce

What you need: (Serves 2)

Cooking Spray
6 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced very thin
1 tsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
3 1/2 cups fresh vegetables (I use broccoli, red peppers, and fresh spinach)

1 1/2 Tbl hot tap water
1 1/2 Tbl peanut butter
1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbl rice vinegar
hot chile sauce (to taste)

What to do:
Coat a nonstick pan with cooking spray; sauté chicken over medium-high heat until cooked through. Remove from pan. Add oil and sauté garlic and ginger until garlic is golden. Add vegetables; cook until tender. Return chicken to pan; stir-fry 3 minutes. For the sauce, whisk hot water into peanut butter in a small bowl to blend. Add soy sauce, rice vinegar, and hot sauce and mix. Add sauce to stir-fry and mix well. Serve over brown rice.

Get Music. Send Food.

Jeremy came up with a great idea today...for the next two weeks he's going to donate 100% of the merchandise sales from his website to the American Red Cross to help the hurricane victims. If you go to jeremycasella.com you can order a wonderful CD or fashionable T-shirt, both which I will personally package and mail to you (that is my little job), and in return your money will be used to bring food, water and supplies to the victims.

01 September 2005

What I had for dinner and other reflections...

Well, now I just feel silly. And at the moment, pretty angry at our government. Or someone. Whoever is supposed to be in charge down there.

While I understand the media to be somewhat exaggerating at times, you can’t deny the pictures, the interviews with real people who have gone for days without water or food or seemingly any hope of help. It is maddening to me that we live in a country where four days can pass and thousands of people can still be desperate. It baffles me that we can get a man to the moon but can’t manage get a glass of water to people on our own doorsteps, albeit a doorstep in the middle of a lake.

So honestly, tonight I don’t care quite so much about the loss of coffee and jazz and the sudden jump in gas prices. There are people dying on Interstate 10.

In the middle of the night last night, our friends Grant and Christy and their 5-month old puppy, a boxer named Jack with a bad case of cabin-fever, appeared in our living room after making their way north from New Orleans. They left their second floor apartment on Saturday, even before the mandate, casually packing a small suitcase and grabbing their wedding photos as an afterthought. They said they’ve been through the false alarms before, and like many New Orleanians, didn’t think this storm would amount to all the hype.

Three days later in Mississippi they were given peanut butter sandwiches and tuna fish at a school cafeteria. Eventually, they crept their way to Nashville, arriving exhausted, bewildered, eager for a hot shower, and curious to see the news reports since they’d been without TV. After about five minutes, they were ready to turn it off.

They are among the fortunate ones, which sounds dramatic but it’s true. They got out with each other and have the resources to pull themselves back up. Still, in the midst of counting their blessings, we could sense their disbelief and sadness barely beneath the surface. Today they headed north toward family in Pennsylvania. They’ve said they’ll most likely just cut their losses and start over in a new town, but they’re not really sure.

I guess I just feel a little writer’s remorse about my first entry, which is part of why I was hesitant to do this blog-thing in the first place. Once you spill your thoughts, it’s almost inevitable that you later wish you’d written whatever it was with the benefit of foresight. And for the life of me I don’t know why all of my analogies seem to link to Jerry MaGuire, but it’s kind of like when Jerry distributed his grandiose mission statement to his entire office in the middle of the night and then woke up to realize that it was too late to take it back.

As Meg Ryan once noted in When Harry Met Sally, “It’s already out there.”

Then again, my uncle in California, a fellow writer who I’ve always respected, said today that he too was grieving the loss of a city he’s always hoped to visit. So maybe there is something valid about mourning a little over beloved buildings and cafés sinking into oblivion. At the same time, I struggle. I watch the news and realize how much suffering is happening. I do this while sitting on my sofa with a plate full of chicken that my husband grilled for dinner (which by the way, I had no urge whatsoever to supervise---see, I’m growing.)

I feel a mixture of emotions about this whole situation. Frustrated that more isn’t being done and that the government is saying they weren’t prepared. [MSNBC just reported that Condoleezza Rice went to a Broadway play last night---a comedy.] Sad about the loss of actual people I might have once sat next to at Café Du Monde. Anxious about what I might possibly do to help them. And kind of wondering if it’s okay to have a vase of roses on my table just because they’re pretty.

A haunting prophecy from the little cafe'

I just discovered this on the Cafe' Du Monde website:

"The Original Cafe Du Monde Coffee Stand was established in 1862 in the New Orleans French Market. The Cafe is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It closes only on Christmas Day and on the day an occasional Hurricane passes too close to New Orleans."