Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday

It's a messy day. What can I say. Ed has meetings, I have multi-store grocery shopping, the car is acting up, the cheepers still look stripped of their protective coats, messy, I tell you!

Breakfast is fine, even if includes Isie boy. (I want quality non-cat time!)


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On my various drives around town, I begin to think about replacing the (reasonably) trusty 93 Ford Escort. Ed thinks this is nothing short of silly. Like him, I am not bothered by (and some would say even proud of) the appearance of this red piece of scrap metal. But unlike him, I begin to count the number of small things wrong with it and they add up to something that is just not that pleasant to drive anymore. And with Snowdrop visits, my driving time (at least in the winter) has greatly increased.

For now, I'm just thinking about what the next step should be, but it is a lonely process because Ed, who would be willing to work his knuckles raw to help me fix mechanical issues with the old car, is less happy to help me figure out how to find a replacement. Not surprising. He is still riding his '80 Honda motorcycle. We really do look like the couple who has been plucked straight out of Cuba with our antiquated and patched up mechanical vehicles.

The non messy part of the day is (predictably) the part spent with Snowdrop. She gave us her quiet self...


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...and her playful self.


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And then, of course, her tired self.


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A perfect package.


Evening. I take the time to make a careful dinner. I actually follow a recipe, that's how thought out it is.

And we watch a movie. Ida. It's Polish. It's nominated for an Oscar. I kept correcting for Ed the translations. All my life I have listened to English movies translated to Polish and Polish translated to English and they are never perfect and I cannot understand why they falter in the way that they do. I suppose life is messy and one person's rendition of a mess isn't necessarily the same as that of someone else.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

stripes

Thursday morning empathy nearly always pushes me out to set the cheepers free. Ed plays a vicious game of volley ball Wednesday evenings. It takes him a bit of time to recover.

It is not a pretty morning. Pellets of ice are coming out of nowhere. The sky seems unusually dark for a sunrise moment. The cheepers ignore me and stay inside.


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Breakfast is interesting: I open up the sun room to let in some heat so that we can hang out there over the morning meal. I recall to Ed the many winter mornings we've eaten there.


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He reminds me that typically it would have been on sun drenched days. Henceforth, we'll go back to eating breakfast in the (heated) kitchen, or (heated) front room.


On my way to visit little Snowdrop, I glance at the barn and see that the cheepers are making a valiant attempt at stepping outdoors. Remarkable, really. I guess they, too, feel shut in and anxious to experience the freedom of the outdoors.


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But it doesn't last. I throw them some table scraps and usher them back into the barn. It really is too windy for them to be gallivanting outside its protective walls.


Okay. Farmhouse chores done, I head for my daughter's place. There, I find Snowdrop snuggling with her mommy.


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Stripes against stripes. It's the kind of scene you love to encounter: total serenity and adoration.

In my hours there, Snowdrop and I play some...


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... then she lets me know that she needs a pause. Against my striped stomach.


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My daughter and I spend many minutes commenting on her perfection.


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Little Snowdrop half listens, in her various positions on my lap.


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Today, she is happy to while away the minutes on her tummy.


Evening.  I have a dinner date with Ed. He and I rarely go out (because I rarely want to), but today seems perfect for it. We do our favorite -- sit at the counter of Brasserie V, share a frisee salad and eat pots of steamed mussels with fries. Here's a reflection of us in some very shiny brass surface at the bar.

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Delicious. Every last stripe of it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wednesday

For upper Midwesterners, January has to be the longest month (followed by March which, in late spring years is interminable). You know there is still a February before you. You're willing to put up with that February. It's short and sassy but it's followed by spring. Yet here you are, forever stuck in January.

Well okay, so be it.

I make a greater effort to embrace January.


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This morning, I take my turn at bringing fruit scraps to the cheepers. They eat them, though (the feather shedding) Scotch at least strains to see if I have something better to add to the loot. I oblige with bread, corn and nuts.


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And then attend to our own breakfast.


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I am with little Snowdrop on the early side of this day. She is radiant and alert and I am absolutely positive that I saw on her face one huge (probably inadvertent) smile!


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After watching her enthusiastically track everything from books about love...


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... to stuffed animals that play music and sweet cats who don't get what's so great about a piece of blanket on the floor...


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... she gets a tad overwhelmed and so I do what she loves best (today): I sing.

I work through all of my recollection of Mary Poppins then decide there is no reason why she could not be exposed to my rendition of West Side Story's Tonight. She settles in my arms. We sit down. I resort to Youtube on the computer and the full collection of Chopin's Nocturnes.


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Yes, this little babe is perfect. And adaptable. Even if I did hand her back to her parents completely worn out.

Tomorrow I'll do better.


In the afternoon, Ed and I go to Brooklyn Wildlife Area. It is one of my favorite short range hiking places (helped by being only some 20 minutes from where we live). It's cold, but there is a spec of a sun up there. The trail weaves through the forest...


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... and uphill for a view of the rural landscape all around us. I love this place in all seasons and I am reminded how even in January, there is so much to admire here.


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So much.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tuesday

If it's Tuesday, it must be grandma's farmhouse!

We have this routine going and so sure enough, after the usual morning preoccupations -- the morning walk to let out the cheepers...


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...followed by breakfast...


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... I ready the house for my little visitor.


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Ed looks at little Snowdrop.
Does it have teeth yet?
No teeth and she's not an it, she's a girl.
What, do you want to give her labels? And have her earn 80 cents to the dollar? Don't you want to keep the she or he out of it?
She's a girl. Want to hold her?
Maybe later.
Maybe now?


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Little Snowdrop stretches her hand, Ed stretches his, supporting her tiny fist. I notice that his hand is longer than her entire arm.


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She's in pink.
She wears all colors. For now. Until she has her own opinion. I dressed my baby in oshkosh b'gosh overalls, until she was old enough to tell me she preferred skirts.
Do you think girls care more than boys about how they look? This from a man who cares not a single bit about how he looks. For the camera or otherwise.

We speculate a little about appearance, and choice, and socialization -- topics not normally part of Ed's repertoire. 

It is the beginning of a good visit.

(Though Isie boy retains his doubts. I coax him to check her out. He does. Reluctantly. Then disappears.)


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No time to cook tonight. I play with Snowdrop and ask Ed to pick up some take-out Thai.


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When he returns, he looks around. No Snowdrop. Where is she? -- he asks. Do I detect a tiny expression of regret when I tell him she went home?

Monday, January 26, 2015

a new week

You lose your bragging rights to an inch or two or even three of new snow, when you know that the east coast will be getting a foot or two or even three of the white stuff.

And yet, it is delightful to see the bare spots covered again with a very delicate coating of white flakes.


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We eat breakfast in the kitchen, in full view of our courtyard.


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After, Ed takes fruit scraps to the cheepers in the barn -- they're hungry for greens now! For a few minutes, the snow swirls and thickens, but it doesn't last.


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And looking ahead toward the next ten days, I do wonder if this winter will go down as the one when we will not have skied at all. All the major storms have passed us by and though I understand that this is wonderful news to those who need to commute to work or school, I have to say, to kids with sleds and to two big time cross country buffs (us!), it's just a tiny bit disappointing.


What's not disappointing is my afternoon visit with little Snowdrop. She is three weeks old today! So many changes in her life already! For instance, she can almost let her mom eat lunch and catch up on her email. Almost.


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She can fully enjoy the company of a musical octopus.


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And she is sure to let you know when you've tuckered her out with all the music and rattles and books with big blobs of color.


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I leave her just as the rush hour traffic picks up. Freezing drizzle has iced over my red wreck of a car. The roads are slick, the evening is dark. But I'm in no hurry. Dinner can be late. Time is gentle. Time is, on this evening, on my side.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday

Another dusting of inconsequential snow. Cold winds, below freezing temperatures. Stay indoors weather.

I think about how lovely it would be to take little Snowdrop out for a walk. Not today. certainly not today.

Instead, I turn to farmhouse cleaning, trying to convince myself that I am engaging in a terrific regimen of exercise, working muscle groups that aren't normally called upon to do much. And I don't need a gym -- just a two story house with many surfaces to wipe clean!

Sometimes, that kind of pep talk works. Sometimes.

At breakfast, I relax. I even manage to make Ed laugh. That's a rare event: quiet people tend not to guffaw on a daily basis.


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In the afternoon, I visit little Snowdrop. Afternoons almost always offer up her best hours (though I'm told she is also grand in the mornings and too, quite pleasant in the *early* evenings). This is at once terrific for me...


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...and a bit of a shame, since I want her to give me her most challenging moments. I need only experience them for the few hours I am there. Lay it on, little Snowdrop! I can take it! But, babies haven't an "On" or "Off" button for fussiness and so I take her in her most delightful state and we have a fine old time admiring toy animals that play music.



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At home, Ed and Isie boy are ready for an adventure. No way, Isie boy! You stay home!


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It is just a short few minutes before sunset, but Ed and I ignore the hours and set out for our county park again. It's colder today: the wind is sharp and the air feels brittle. But the colors are heavenly ...


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A January forest sunset, at its best.


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We drive home on rural roads, past field and farm...


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... to a warm kitchen where I prepare a supper, stir-frying a bunch of veggies and a few handfuls of small shrimp.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Saturday

A slow Saturday. You can almost hear the chug-chug-chug of the wheels of time grinding forward: deliberately, but with long pauses in between.

I blame it on the weather.

We wake to one of the warmer days of the month -- the predicted high will reach 40F. It's actually quite discouraging because, of course, this is tantamount to March weather. Meaning, it wont be any better than this in March. And it feels cold. Without sunshine, the outside world right now is uninviting.

At dawn, I am out setting the cheepers free. There is hope in the sky then...


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...but it quickly vanishes behind a thick cloud cover. I don't linger with the brood.


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I can't bear to see them so... featherless. (Butter is the worst. She stayed in the coop when I took out my camera, which is just as well. You don't want to see her defeathered frame.) I try not to worry about them in advance of the next week, when we're slated to get another arctic blast.


After breakfast...


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... I am determined to solve an emergent computer issue. A new emailing system (installed yesterday at the Law School) means new headaches. I get nowhere and have to get Ed who, in the end merely tells me that there is no solution and I will just have to live with a work-around.

The entire morning, devoted to solving an unsolvable problem! No wonder the cogs on the wheel of time seem so stalled!


The afternoon? A visit with little Snowdrop! She is as perky as could be. For half of my visit.


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The other half? She takes her cues from the rest of the world and closes her eyes.


In the near evening, Ed and I take a walk at the county park just east of us.


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We are rewarded. The clouds split into more delicate puffs. Owls hoot, geese honk, the moon comes out.


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Deer cavort.


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I am at peace with winter again.


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P.S. This is a response to a reader who asked for the recipe for the Brussels sprouts and bacon frittata.  I nearly always make a frittata for brunch. And though I did use a cook book to inspire this one (Huckleberry), it is also true that frittatas follow the same basic pattern and you need never crack a book again once you've memorized it: prepare and cook the veggie/meat base; prepare the egg custard; start cooking the egg custard; scramble in the veggie/meats; when half done, sprinkle with cheese and stick in hot oven for 8-10 minutes. For added effect, broil for a minute.

So having said that, let me give a few details of this particular frittata. If I am ever in Santa Monica  (unlikely), I will surely go to Huckleberry for all the recipes that place has given me! (In the alternative, when I am next in SF, I will hustle over to Tartine Bakery, a training ground for some of our best bakers, including the one at Huckleberry!)

The Frittata

Filling:
bacon (8 slices of thick slice; I used a pack of regular), chopped up
dash of olive oil and a spoon of butter
onion, chopped (I skipped it because one of my daughters hates onion)
salt
fresh thyme
about 2 cups Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced, plus abut 1 c of brussles sprout leaves.
pepper

Custard:
10 eggs (I used 11 and often go up to a dozen for 6-7 people)
2 tbsp of creme fraiche (you could use substitutes, but I had it, so I use it)
2 TBSP grated parmesan
chopped parsley

2 TBSP butter
3 TBSP grated Gruyere or some such cheese (I use more)

So, you preheat the oven to 475.
You cook the bacon and sprouts: saute the bacon in oil and butter until browned, add onion, salt and thyme and cook until soft (10 mins?). Add sliced sprouts and saute for 5 mins more (until soft: it took a bit longer for me). Set aside.

Toss the sprout leaves with a bit of olive oil and dash of salt, set aside.

Make the custard: whisk eggs, creme, parmesan, parsley, set aside.

Take your trusty (but not rusty!) cast iron 10 inch pan (or other oven proof lookalike), melt 2 TBSP butter, scramble egg custard into it, then add the veggies/bacon and keep on lightly scrambling until nearly half set.

Top with Gruyere and sprout leaves, stick in oven. (Broil at the end if you want that browned look.)

You can eat this warm or at room temp.

Hope this helps!