writeonthebay has moved to roundthekitchentable
Please come visit the new blog!
writeonthebay has moved to roundthekitchentable
Please come visit the new blog!
The edge of my shirt is damp
From your mouth, so perfect,
So relaxed in the crook of my neck.
You, falling, literally,
As if you never left.
As if you were still inside me,
Below my heart instead of above it just now.
My own exhaustion falls away
For this tiny
Where I am all you need.
I felt like a big girl today, went to the local lumber yard all by myself to get wood for a garden frame. Pulled up in my mom-mobile next to the big trucks of general contractors and handymen. Told the guy at the desk I didn’t know what I was doing but I knew what I wanted. He was nice and took care of me in a jiffy, loaded my 2x8s and sent me on my way.
The last time I was in a lumber yard since I was about seven, tagging along with my dad on one of his many woodworking projects. The visual memory is hazy, but I remember the scent of sawdust, so fresh and sharp I could taste it.
I want to finish building the frame by myself too, though it’s the kind of thing I’d usually ask Richard to do for me. But it’s the kind of thing I’m perfectly capable of doing myself, and it’s a project that I’m much more interested in than he is anyway.
Nothing stands between me and that finished frame but a saw and a drill. I can handle power tools. I’m a big girl now.
Some big news arrived in the mailbox. My little Daxie will start kindergarten soon, and a letter arrived telling us his teacher’s name. We’ll be meeting Mrs. Davis soon for a conference. What should I tell her about my middle child? I’ve tried to pay closer attention to my middle child lately. He’s been dealt quite a hand lately, what with becoming the middle child and all. How can I sum up in a few minutes’ discussion everything this woman should know about my sweet boy?
Dax is a force of nature, afraid of nothing, save spiders and zombies. He’s a snuggly bug, but less so since his baby brother was born. He’s been known to suck his thumb, pick his nose, and hold onto a swing chain all with one pudgy hand. He has lots of girl friends whom he adores. He’s happy to chase behind them in the woods or have a tea party, and lately he’s begged me everyday to play tennis or baseball with him. He would eat grilled cheese sandwiches and nothing else if I let him. He’ll never tell me he’s excited about starting school, but he dons his backpack any time we go anwhere near the place and asks when he can go in and meet his teacher. He’ll be 4 still, when school starts, for just a few days. And I’m worried that he’ll have a hard time, have trouble sitting still, have trouble learning, or liking school. Before I had him I was petrified of having a boy. I didn’t have a brother, and boys just — confuse me. I had no idea how much I could love and connect with a son.
He was just born, my little Daxie-roo. And off he’s going to school.
I hate when bloggers write about why they haven’t written in a while. “I’ve just been so busy!” Yada yada yada.
Well, here’s why I haven’t been blogging for a while. When I thought about writing, all I could think about was stuff about my dad, and I’m guessing there’s only so much of my feeling sorry for myself any reader can take.
But someone gave me a kick in the pants, so here I am. Pity party and all. We’ll call it a segue to less self-indulgent topics.
I made a cake Saturday. A lot of eggs, a lot of butter, more than a few tears. It would have been Daddy’s 83rd birthday. German chocolate was his favorite.
It was one of the best cakes I’ve ever made.
If you like German chocolate cake, or if you like chocolate, pecans, coconut, and creamy caramel-ly frosting that you would eat by the spoonful (not that I’d ever do such a thing). Make this cake. Pronto.
German Chocolate Cake (adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe)
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
5 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 7-ounce package sweetened shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9″ cake pans and line with parchment paper. Bring water to simmer in small saucepan. Reduce heat to low. Add chopped chocolate; whisk until smooth. Cool.
Sift flour, baking soda and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until blended. Beat in yolks 1 at a time. Beat in chocolate mixture and vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk. Using clean dry beaters, beat whites in another large bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold into batter in 2 additions. Pour batter into prepared pans. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool cake for 10 minutes in pans then turn out onto wire racks and let cool completely.
Combine first 5 ingredients in heavy large saucepan. Whisk over medium-high heat until mixture simmers, thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, about 18 minutes. Mix in coconut and pecans. Place one layer of cake onto a platter with chocolate chips up. Spread warm frosting over top of cake, but not sides. Let stand until frosting sets, about 2 hours.
Share, but only if you must.
A week ago today I buried my father. The last few days have been – weird. As much as I was overwhelmed by the stacks of boxes strewn across the house and the half acre of grass yellowing in the intense heat and the lack of food in the fridge, it all did me good. Wrestling the concrete unpleasantries of a disheveled household gave me a break from crying and worrying about my mom and looking into all those earnest faces telling me how sorry they are.
By today most of the boxes are put away, the sprinkler and the rain have watered the lawn, and the fridge is well-stocked with farmers’ market booty. We had banana pancakes for breakfast and slowed down. I walked around the house that my father will never see. I wondered what my mom would be doing on her first Saturday night alone. And even at a big party at a big house on the water this evening, I felt pretty darn lonely. I miss my dad. I miss my far-flung friends. I’m sad, and I guess I will be for a while.
-being done with packing!
-being done with unpacking!
-smiles and new antics from Mr. Chunky Thighs
-date night with hubby (dare to dream)
-a vacation? maybe?
-poolside dinners with fabulous friends
-visiting J and her chickens
-visiting H and her mountains
-reading a book (woeful, woeful state of affairs currently)
-a summer free of soccer practice and dance class
-digging in the dirt
-getting over this ridiculous cold
-catching fireflies with M and D
-new blogging adventures…stay tuned!
Smart girl’s going wingy dingy.
What’s that you say? I don’t understand.
My mind is swimming, brimming with details and ideas and tasks
To be wrestled to the ground.
All those loose connections have me wishing
For a nice little calculus integral
Or a policy debate.
Those things seem so manageable by comparison.
Fuzzy head’s running all over.
But I won’t try to rein it in.
Let it run a little crazy,
A little hazy.
Fuzzy head might see things that clear head won’t.
Last week was tough. Hitting the eight-month point in the pregnancy and the associated discomforts might have had something to do with that. And then there were those few nights when I thought I was having labor pains, and the night I actually went into the hospital at 3am after whatever pain I was having didn’t let up after two hours and a shower and several glasses of water.
We had invited friends over for a Mardi Gras dinner of sorts, thinking that we were early enough to avoid my being too tired to host a dinner party. Luckily our friends looked at the dark circles under my eyes and told me that I needed to get over myself. So Richard made the seafood gumbo, I made the king cake (with some help from a friend and her industrial KitchenAid), and we headed to our friends’ house for festivities.
It’s nice to be taken care of, especially when you’re not so good at that whole rest and relaxation thing. I’m officially on it’s-all-about-me time now. A pedicure is in my near future.
Richard doesn’t cook much, basically chili and gumbo. The gumbo part came slowly as I delegated parts of the dish to him here and there over the years. The last two gumbos we’ve made I’ve given him instructions (which he’s largely ignored) but he’s been the one to really make the gumbo. He’s done so well, I’m not so sure I want to do it myself anymore.
Paul Prudhomme’s Cajun Seafood Gumbo with Andouille
We make our roux for gumbo in a 2:1 flour to oil ratio, so we used 1 c flour and 1/2 c oil. Otherwise, we find we end up skimming oil off of finished gumbo. We don’t add the sausage as I’ve never found an andouille in Maryland that I like. And we used closer to 2 pounds of shrimp — no one complained.
2 cups chopped onions
1 1/2 cups chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped celery
2 whole bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper (preferably cayenne)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon minced garlic
5 1/2 cups Basic Seafood Stock
1 pound andouille smoked sausage (preferred) or any other good pure smoked pork sausage such as Polish sausage (kielbasa), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound peeled medium shrimp
1 dozen medium to large oysters in their liquor, about 9 ounces
3/4 pound crabmeat (picked over)
2 1/2 cups hot cooked rice
Combine the onions, bell peppers and celery in a medium-size bowl and set aside. In a small bowl combine the seasoning mix ingredients; mix well and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over high heat until it begins to smoke, about 5 minutes. Gradually add the flour, whisking constantly with a long-handled metal whisk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until roux is dark red-brown to black, about 2 to 4 minutes, being careful not to let it scorch or splash on your skin. Immediately add half the vegetables and stir well (switch to a spoon if necessary). Continue stirring and cooking about 1 minute. Then add the remaining vegetables and cook and stir about 2 minutes. Stir in the seasoning mix and continue cooking about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic; stir well, then cook and stir about 1 minute more. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile, place the stock in a 5 1/2-quart saucepan or large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Add roux mixture by spoonfuls to the boiling stock, stirring until dissolved between each addition. Bring mixture to a boil. Add the andouille and return to a boil; continue boiling 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes more. Add the shrimp, undrained oysters and crabmeat. Return to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and skim any oil from the surface. Serve immediately.
To serve as a main course, mound 1/4 cup rice in the middle of each serving bowl. Spoon 1 cup gumbo over the top, making sure each person gets an assortment of the seafood and andouille. Serve half this amount in a cup as an appetizer.
I am inordinately happy about my arms today. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful for my two well-functioning legs. It’s just that I haven’t seen much of them lately, except for that gnarly varicose vein on my right calf. Nor do I think I’d care to look at them at 30 weeks gestation.
Before this pregnancy, I came to be a runner. Not a fast runner, mind you, just someone who actually enjoys running and signed up for races here and there. I ran through my first trimester, albeit with a sudden shift in what my cardiovascular system could tolerate before I cried “uncle”. Since then, I’ve vacillated between astonishment at women who run throughout pregnancy and envy for anyone I see running — outside in the bitter cold, or inside toiling away on the treadmill. (Good god, I hate that thing, but I’m jealous nonetheless.)
Much as I want to work up a profuse sweat and push my body to its athletic limits, it just ain’t happenin’ right now. Seems as though this pregnant belly does not take kindly to much more than walking from my legs. Ten minutes of any leg-driven cardio gets my abdomen hard as a rock and cramping. This is not a pleasant sensation, and one of those moments when my body is just screaming out “Stop it fool!”
My arms and upper body, however, I can push. I can hit a muscle conditioning or yoga class or even free weights and know that I’m getting a challenging workout without disturbing baby’s world. I caught sight of my arms this morning in the mirror at the gym and was pleased to see some definition. For now I’ll ignore the extra little jiggle of water retention and hey-I’m-pregnant-hand-over-the-cookies maternal fat. I spotted a bicep! And look — that there — it’s a tricep!
Just like Mrs. Obama’s iconic limbs, my arms still have something going on. And for now, I’m good with that.