Blue in the Sky

A lesbian wife and mother tries her hand at something new. Surely there is a hat that fits out there somewhere!

The Last Week in May Tuesday May 31, 2011

Filed under: Daily Life,The Wife & Mother — The Professor @ 9:11 pm

If I hadn’t had lovely family photos to share, this week’s image would have been something crazy, mixed-up and weather related.  On Monday night we met friends for dinner and hours later when serious thunderstorms rolled through our town, a HUGE old tree very narrowly missed their house.  Whew.  Unfortunately, it did take out their power lines and they have only just recently been able to get back into their house.  Happily our neighborhood fared a bit better although the storms (and hail) kept Toad, Baker and I awake for much of the night.  Bean slept like a baby.  Really.

The remainder of the work week was cool and cloudy making the weather (when it wasn’t raining) perfect for walks.  Is this May?  Bean kept himself busy TRYING to crawl.  Trying and trying and trying.  He hasn’t actually done it yet, but he is working really hard.  Mostly he is going backwards (which frustrates him to no end), but it’s cool to watch him plug away at it.

When Toad got home from work on Friday, we headed to Denver, new home of Toad’s brother and his wife.  As you can see from the collage, much fun was had by all.  We hiked, we played in the backyard, we enjoyed a cookout with their cool neighbors, we even had banana pancakes.  Yum.

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Meyer Lemon Spaghetti with Asparagus Wednesday May 25, 2011

Filed under: Daily Life,Food Glorious Food,The Chef — The Professor @ 1:51 pm

Everybody is talking about the Meyer lemon and once I found this recipe I’ve decided to see what all the fuss is about.  This won’t make the menu this week, but I’ll be giving this one a try soon.  It seems like a delicious light Spring dish.

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 oz linguine pasta
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like it!)
  • juice of two large meyer lemons to equal about 1/2 cup
  • 1 bunch asparagus, sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped sundried tomatoes
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • fresh parsley for serving

PREPARATION

  1. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until done. When pasta is done, remove noodles with a slotted spoon, reserving boiling water.
  2. Blanch asparagus in water for thirty seconds, until bright green. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of cooking liquid.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and saute for thirty seconds. Remove from the heat.
  4. Add the pasta, sundried tomatoes and asparagus to the pan and toss everything together. Pour in the lemon juice along with additional cooking water if the dish seems too dry. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Add the Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped parsley.
 

The Third Week in May Monday May 23, 2011

Filed under: Daily Life,The Wife & Mother — The Professor @ 8:06 pm

Lovely, no?  If only this image had audio.  Last week it was the rain and this week it is the plague.  The cicada plague.  At times we have literally been ankle-deep in their loud, crunchy bodies.  I wish I were making this up, but it’s true.  I should explain that the ankle-deep part has only happened during walks on our woodsy greenway.  It is quite possible that we have entered some weird portal and landed smack in the middle of a Stephen King novel.

In case you haven’t heard, the 13 year cicadas are here.  According to the experts, they emerge from the ground (in hordes) and live for five to six weeks.  In that time, they eat, mate and make an UNBELIEVABLE amount of noise.  A childhood spent entirely in the deep South has familiarized me with the cicada, but I was wholly unprepared for the mass appearance they have made in the last few weeks.  A cicada here and there is quite a different thing than thousands and thousands of cicadas invading your neighborhood, turning it into both a mass grave (crunch, crunch, crunch) and a concert venue that bows to no noise ordinance.

While it’s disgusting to see cicada bodies everywhere you look and even worse to crunch them endlessly underfoot, it is the sound they make that really gets you.  It’s a constant droning that has become so pervasive I’m beginning to wonder how quiet life will be when their occupation is over.  Toad has described it as sounding like a car alarm sounding from the next block.  In particularly tree/bush dense places it can overwhelm conversation.  I have retired my Nano for the duration of their visit because I can’t get the volume loud enough to make any of it audible.  Strange times for sure.

Of course, there is more than the cicada plague going on around here.  For one thing Toad and I enjoyed not one, but TWO awesome date nights.  On the first we ventured to a restaurant that was new to us and although we almost didn’t find it (thanks Google Maps) , we were quite glad that we finally did.  The place was high on atmosphere and modeled after a 1920’s speakeasy.  The focal point was the bar with a long and interesting list of signature cocktails, but we opted out of liquor(maybe next time) and enjoyed the food.  A nice night out for sure.

On Friday night we headed to the park, spread a blanket, bought some Kettle Korn and listened to good music.  Outdoor music is something we haven’t we done since before Yogi was born and it felt so good to do it again.  And also to think about how fabulous it will be to include the little dude.  To have a special night in which he stays up past his bed time and wears a cheap little glo stick around his neck and runs out in a field with other little people while his Mommies listen to bluegrass.  Good times ahead.

As I’m SURE I mentioned last week, Toad was at the hospital all last weekend, so we were extra ready for family time when the weekend rolled around.  We got Saturday off to a good start at the Farmers Market.  We picked up only one loaf of bread, but we did run into Emily Saliers while we were all perusing local goat cheese.  A small world, but where was Amy?  Humm….

Afterwards we headed out for more outdoor music.  One of our local parks runs a music festival on Saturday afternoons throughout the summer and we finally made a visit.  This was something that was very much on our radar last summer, but the crazy high temperatures and a very pregnant Toad kept us away.  Now there is nothing stopping us and this will certainly be a part of our summer weekends.  Bean especially loved pulling up the grass and getting as much dirt on his hands as possible.  I especially loved the ice cream vendors.  Yum.

The topic at church Sunday morning was Truth and Meaning which is always a good time and so in spite of a wiggly Bean, Mama was happy.  😉  Toad seemed willing to baby wrangle and so I didn’t stand in her way.  The afternoon was a quiet one.  Well, except for the cicadas.

 

My Reading Life (Pat Conroy) Friday May 20, 2011

Filed under: Books,Daily Life,The Reader — The Professor @ 1:59 pm

Oh Pat Conroy. I do love you.

On the days in which the weather allowed for it, the boys and I have been taking walks with Pat Conroy.  Well….. I’m the only one with the earbuds, so I suppose I have been taking walks with Pat Conroy.  It’s been awhile since I’ve read him and when I found this collection of essays in audio and read by the man himself at the library, I jumped at it.  Almost before he had made his way into the second paragraph I was wondering what had taken me so long.

In high school a teacher handed me a copy of The Lords of Discipline.  I didn’t so much read that book as I, as Conroy himself might say, devoured it.  I fell in love with the passionate intensity of his language.  The way he told a story was unlike anything I had ever seen and I was hooked.  In short order I read The Great Santini, The Prince of Tides and The Water is Wide.  Reading Pat Conroy was electrifying.  His stories made me want to write a story of my own.  What I knew of his Southern childhood made me feel like I could.

Then, I went to college.  Among the English majors, citing Pat Conroy as one of your favorite writers was a bit like admitting that you sleep with a stuffed elephant.  It just wasn’t done.  It was fine to show an interest in Southern fiction, but for heaven’s sake read Flannery O’ Conner or Robert Penn Warren.  So, I let him go.  I have read neither Beach Music or South of BroadMy Reading Life reminded me that I need to get on that.  Pronto.

Reading Pat Conroy makes me happy.  Well, if you’ve read his books you know that’s something of a stretch.  His stories don’t so much make me feel any one thing as that they make me feel.  They also make me proud to call the South home.

And because I can’t resist, here are a few excerpts from the book.

I had witnessed with my own eyes that a poem could make a Colonel cry. Though it was not part of a lesson plan, it imparted a truth that left me spellbound. Great words, arranged with cunning and artistry, could change the perceived world for some readers. From the beginning, I’ve searched out those writers unafraid to stir up the emotions, who entrust me with their darkest passions, their most indestructible yearnings, and their most soul killing doubts. I trust the great novelists to teach me how to live, how to feel, how to love and hate. I trust them to show me the dangers I will encounter on the road as I stagger on my own troubled passage through a complicated life of books that try to teach me how to die.

I grew up a word haunted boy. I felt words inside me and stored them wondrous as pearls. I mouthed them and fingered them and rolled them around on my tongue. My mother filled my bedtime hour with poetry that rang like Sanctus bells as she praised the ineffable loveliness of the English language with her Georgia-scented voice. I found that hive of words beautiful beyond all conveyance. They clung to me and blistered my skin and made me happy to be alive in the land of crape myrtle, spot-tailed bass and eastern diamond backs. The precise naming of things served as my entryway into art. The whole world could be sounded out. I could arrange the whole world into a tear sheet of music composed of words as pretty as flutes or the tail feathers of peacocks.  From my earliest days, I felt compelled to form a unique relationship with the English language. I used words to fashion a world that made sense to me.

 

Daybook – May 19 Thursday May 19, 2011

Filed under: Daily Life,Daybook — The Professor @ 9:27 pm

Outside my window… the sun is shining!  This is unbelievable after what feels like an endless parade of dreariness.  I had begun to think that some kind of ill-advised exchange had been made between the South and the Pacific Northwest.  This afternoon suggests that might not be true after all.  Whew….

I am thinking… about dinnerware and something colorful to go over the mantelpiece and the weekend.

I am thankful for… writers who are overzealous in their love of language.  I listened to Pat Conroy’s My Reading Life (read by the author) this week and am reminded of everything I love about writing, words and being from the South.

I am wearing… a blue tank top and grey pajama pants.

I am reading… Mrs. Dalloway.  It has been much too long.

I am hoping… that Bean takes good naps tomorrow.  So much I need to do around the house.

Around the house… everyone is working for the weekend.  Bean and I can’t WAIT until we can have Toad all to ourselves!

One of my favorite things…

A “picture thought I’m sharing… Jane Mount is my new favorite person.  She paints bookshelves as a kind of portraiture.  I LOVE that idea and am eager to get her book when it comes out. 

 

Roasted Carrot Soup Wednesday May 18, 2011

Filed under: Daily Life,Food Glorious Food,The Chef — The Professor @ 8:37 am

I have been on the hunt for a delicious carrot soup recipe and here it is.  Not surprisingly I found it on my new favorite foodie site Food 52.  If you like to cook simple, clean and delicious food, you must hop over there.  SO many good ideas.  This dish was super simple and really tasty.  I served it with crusty bread and a big salad with lots of bright strawberries.  Delicious!

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 to 8 large carrots (about 1 3/4 pounds)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 piece ginger, an inch long, peeled
  • 1 sprig thyme, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 large sweet onion
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper

PREPARATION

  1. Peel and cut the carrots into 1/2-inch rounds. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the carrots with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt. Set an oven rack 6 to 8 inches from the heat source and turn on the broiler. Broil the carrots until they brown and soften, turning them over with a spatula every 5 minutes or so; this should take 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, bring the stock to a boil, add the ginger and the sprig of thyme and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
  3. Put the onion in a medium stock pot with the remaining olive oil. Brown the onion over medium heat, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, and then add the carrots.
  4. Remove the ginger and thyme from the stock and add the stock to the pot with the onions and carrots. Bring to boil and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until the carrots are soft enough to puree.
  5. Use blender (I used my Cuisinart) to puree the mixture until smooth. If the soup seems too thick, add more stock or water and reheat gently. Add salt and pepper to taste. To serve, garnish with chopped fresh thyme.
 

The Second Week in May Monday May 16, 2011

Filed under: Daily Life,The Wife & Mother — The Professor @ 9:12 am

That pretty much captures it.  If this were a photo blog, I would click “publish” and know that my descriptive work was done.  Unfortunately, this is not a photo blog.

It rained.  A lot.  The boys and I were mostly trapped in the house and Toad was mostly trapped at the hospital.  This was a call weekend.  Quite a misleading term actually.  “Call” weekend makes it sound both benign and brief.  It should be called a “working twelve days straight” weekend, making it NOT a weekend at all.

When we weren’t bemoaning the work and weather situations, we were managing a little happiness.  Small amounts.  Bean has discovered clapping and he can’t get enough of it.  If the action stops for a moment, the boy starts clapping.  Of course, we love it.  How could we not?  Toad is charting some new territory in her department using a technique that involves ice balls.  Hearing her use the words “ice” and “balls” in conjunction with one another and with great seriousness makes me laugh.  I’m always happy when she can both bring home the bacon AND make me laugh about it.  I have been trying out new recipes and inviting myself into other people’s book clubs.

Here’s to sun in the forecast!