thursday randomness (88/99)

Sky - 8-25-2016

evening sky tonight, 8/25/2016

– Driving to work this morning, there were two cars ahead of me — one in the left lane and the other directly in front of me.  Left Lane Car’s license plate said INSANE2.  The other car had a Trump bumper sticker.  I found this rather amusing.

– We tend to listen to music (via The Husband’s Spotify playlist) while having breakfast, preparing last minute lunches, etc.  Yesterday was the first day of school and surprisingly, both kids didn’t give me too much of a hard time about taking their picture.  They refuse to pose together, of course, so we do individual shots.  As I’m doing this, Rod Stewart’s “Forever Young” comes on, which was sort of ironic. And cool.

– I don’t want to jinx anything but so far, so good with the beginning of high school. Thank you God. I really couldn’t have handled a repeat of last year.

– I tried Iranian food today from Conflict Kitchen in Oakland and discovered that I like salad-e shirazi.

– A new school year means it’s time for me to sign up for new MOOCs that I likely won’t finish.  (I’m not alone; did you know only 9% of people who sign up for a free online course actually complete the whole thing?)  Anyway, I’ll be giving Modern and Contemporary Poetry a try again this fall along with Greek and Roman Mythology. Both offered online, free, through the University of Pennsylvania. (I certainly hope my deceased Mom-Mom has taken notice of this so she can tell all of her friends in heaven that her granddaughter is a student at Penn). I’m also doing a Latin course via a language program because The Girl is taking Latin this year and I always wanted to but probably wasn’t considered smart enough for, back in my high school.

– Out of nowhere, The Boy just initiated a discussion with me about feminism (“are you a feminist, Mom?” to which I answered with my oft-used sarcastic line that has gotten much use this week, “I’m sorry, are you new here?”). What followed was one of the longest, all-encompassing conversations we have ever had — about history, women’s rights, racism, literacy rates among men and women, how one’s feminist beliefs are formed and more. (I don’t know what the hell they’re teaching at that high school, but if this is any indication, my tax dollars are being well-spent.)

– Ten more of these 99 Days of Summer Blogging posts to go. I’m feeling like I’m just coasting at this point and it probably shows, but whatever. Just sayin’, don’t be surprised to see more of these types of posts.

 

the back to school milkshake (87/99)

Milkshake

We’re officially back to school now, and because of such, The Girl needed some one-on-one time the other night in the form of a dinner out at Eat’n Park. A luxury splurge these days, but one made easier with a gift card on hand.

And a milkshake. *

* Rest assured, that concoction above is definitely not mine.  I’ve been given six months to try and improve my cholesterol and triglyceride levels with diet and exercise **, so milkshakes are definitively out of the question.

** More on that in another post.

99 Days of Summer BloggingThis is post #87 of 99 in my 99 Days of Summer Blogging project

 

Come Join Us at The Book Bridge! (86/99)

2016-August-BookBridgeMy longtime book blogging friend Florinda — she of The 3R’s Blog — has launched a fun new project. It’s called The Book Bridge and it’s purpose is to connect people with the great reads that we were most excited about within the past month.

The first edition debuted last month and today, the August 2016 selections are available for your enjoyment.  I happen to have a recommended read included among this month’s picks but even if I didn’t, it’s well worth your while to check it out because there’s something for everyone — suggestions for science fiction, memoir,  recommendation, ,  You can find our latest picks here.

Happy reading!

99 Days of Summer BloggingThis is post #86 of 99 in my 99 Days of Summer Blogging project.

 

Quinoa Salad with Tomatoes, Corn, Black Beans, and Feta

Quinoa Salad

When I first tried quinoa, I thought it was horrid. And this disappointed me tremendously because quinoa is one of those grains that seems to be a staple in the gluten-free diet and one that everyone loves.

I’m not sure when my feelings for quinoa changed, but I know it had something to do with it being served cold, rather than warm.

Suddenly, I loved it and couldn’t get enough.

This summer, I’ve been making a variation of this simple salad. It’s so flexible and easy. You can eliminate an ingredient or add others, such as onion, cucumber or avocado.

Quinoa Salad with Tomatoes, Corn, Black Beans, and Feta

one package of Trader Joe’s fully cooked organic quinoa (so easy; just microwave)
half of a corn on the cob
canned black beans, about a cup or so, drained and rinsed
1 yellow plum tomato
1/2 of a red beefsteak tomato
handful of feta cheese
You could also add onion and/or avocado.

Mix together.  Refrigerate.  Enjoy.

99 Days of Summer BloggingThis is post #85 of 99 in my 99 Days of Summer Blogging project.

sunday salon/currently …moment in time

Sunday Salon 4

Sitting out here on the deck, with the sunny and 75 degrees and no humidity weather as perfect as it gets here in Pittsburgh, this feels like a moment in time. Summer is definitely winding down. Only two days remain before school starts, and it’s a milestone one: this is the year we turn a corner and become the parents of high schoolers.

“I remember thinking, back when we were in the NICU, that their high school graduation year of 2020 seemed so far away,”  The Husband commented on Wednesday, as the four of us sat in the school’s auditorium for high school orientation.  This is where it all starts, the principal said, the plans and decisions and classes that shape the next four years.

Of course, he was careful to say that there’s still time to decide on a post-graduation pathway; nothing needs to be determined this week.  But the message was clear: time’s a-tickin’. Time keeps on tickin’, tickin’ tickin’ into the future …. 

It’s all a bit unsettling. Even without a new building to navigate and new school personnel to get used to, the beginning of school historically tends to be a difficult, stressful, anxiety-levels-through-the-stratosphere transition for our family. Much of this past week has been spent trying to mitigate as much of that as possible. To put it mildly,  it’s been exhausting on every level.

Bright Precious DayOne of my go-to coping strategies has been to seek out a mindless read, and Jay McInerney’s latest, Bright, Precious Days is fitting that bill perfectly. It’s another incarnation of the insufferable lives of Corrine and Russell Calloway, the protagonists in two of McInerney’s Brightness Falls and The Good Life. Just like his earlier works, Bright, Precious Days is yet another one of McInerney’s name-dropping romps through the New York City playgrounds of the glitterati.

If you’ve read any of McInerney’s earlier novels, you know what you’ll be getting with any of his subsequent books. Bright, Precious Days does not veer from the formula that has made him successful. It’s a navel-gazing, salad-eating, charity-gala-going, Chanel-wearing, hedge-fund managing narrative set in New York (of course) between 2006-2008.  Hillary is running for president against a guy named Barack whose only major political experience is a short stint as a Senator;  the subprime mortgage crisis and the recession hasn’t yet happened, and people still carry flip phones.

It all seems like an ancient time, as much of a relic from the past as the cocaine-laced ’80s that define McInerney’s characters own bright, precious days. Those they lost in the era of drugs and AIDS, as well as the horror of 9/11, are still very much part of their present.

Like I said, sometimes you just need a book where you don’t have to think much and if I was in a different state of mind, this might not be holding my interest. But it’s doing its job right now by being an effective diversion, so that’s something. And even though The Husband and I never were nor will ever be in the same social and economic class as the Calloways, there’s a part of me that can relate to them.  At 47, we don’t feel old enough to have kids in high school, despite my insistence to The Husband at the school orientation that we are, in fact older than the typical parents.  At nearly 50 (the age of the Calloways), it seems we should have our act together by now, have done more, know what we’re doing with our lives.  Instead, the decisions we’ve put into place and the assumptions we’ve made about our future feel shaky, at best.

It’s twilight.  The clouds are aflame, there’s a slight autumnal chill in the air. All any of us really have in this moment in time are these bright, precious days.

99 Days of Summer BloggingThis is post #84 of 99 in my 99 Days of Summer Blogging project. 

finding my brave (83/99)

When I was preparing for Listen to Your Mother Pittsburgh, I knew I wanted to wear a specific bracelet during the actual show.

Mothers Day 2015 - Be Brave

You see, almost exactly one year before, I decided to buy myself a Bravelet for Mother’s Day to support the Beautiful You MRKH Foundation which is a very important organization to me.   That Mother’s Day was also the 30th anniversary of my MRKH diagnosis, so the Bravelet had special meaning.  Putting sentiment aside for practically, however, the Bravelet is a little dangle-y, so I got into the habit of taking it off whenever I was typing on my laptop.

Which, you know, is rather often.

Well, of course it got lost — and in the weeks leading up to the Listen to Your Mother show, I searched and searched for it, with no luck.  And then the day of the show came and still no Bravelet.  The show, of course, went tremendously and everyone was so beautiful, so radiant, so supportive, and yes — so absolutely perfectly brave.  (You’ve watched it on YouTube, right? My story and the stories of everyone else who rocked the hell out of that stage?)

I’ve said this before: being in Listen to Your Mother is one of my most significant and personally meaningful accomplishments and it will remain that way for me forever.   And while it would have been nice to wear the Bravelet, I didn’t need it to be brave.  And I knew this, of course, but … well, sometimes when you’re telling the most personal story of your life to 500 people and having it recorded for all time on YouTube, it helps to have a little talisman of sorts.

So, more than three months have passed since the show and I had pretty much forgotten about the lost Bravelet.

Until tonight.

I happened to reach over to the end table next to where I sit because I thought a box of over-the-counter medication was the Advil Cold and Sinus I tend to take when the weather sends me into sinus hell, as has been the case for the last several days.  I lifted the box up and there, underneath, there it was! My missing Bravelet!

It had been right next to me this whole time, within an arm’s reach (if that).  And I can’t help but notice the inherent meaning in this and how significant it is that I found this now because it’s so obvious.

How often do we find ourselves searching for something we think is missing when what we’re looking for is actually so much closer than we realize?  When we think that we’ll never be able to find the answers, the solution, the magic charm that makes everything better? 

Our strength and our bravery is always with us, closer than we think, even when it seems hidden.  Especially when it seems hidden.

Somehow, the hardest things to see are the things that are right in front of us.

99 Days of Summer BloggingThis is post #83 of 99 in my 99 Days of Summer Blogging project. 

P.S. This isn’t a sponsored post for Bravelets, but if you’re inclined to purchase one for yourself and you aren’t sure what charity to select to receive the percentage of your purchase, I know the leadership of the Beautiful You MRKH Foundation personally and I also know how important the work and advocacy of this small organization is to so many women, including myself.

 

when life gives you lemons, eat tomatoes (82/99)

Tomatoes

tomatoes, from the neighbor’s garden and my coworker’s farm share, photo taken by me, august 2016.

“Back when [Former Owner of Our House] lived here, we would have just shot ’em.”

The Neighbor is speaking with The Husband about the gigantic possum and raccoon that are co-habitating underneath our backyard shed. They aren’t long for this earth if The Neighbor has anything to do with it. Seems they’ve been gorging themselves by eating three square meals a day from his elaborate garden, a crime punishable by death.

I was aghast until I remembered that we live in Western Pennsylvania, a corner of the universe where the start of hunting season means kids get an official day off from school.  Seriously.  For real.  I guess this is what people do here — go around shooting the backyard wildlife.

Immediately after sharing with The Husband his plans for setting traps for the backyard pests (“he’s going to be cleaning up the remains after his handiwork, I assume?” I replied), The Neighbor asked if we liked tomatoes. Apparently Mr. Possum and Ms. Raccoon aren’t fond of them because despite eating the Neighbors out of house and home and garden, they have an abundance of them.  Last night, he came to the door bearing a bag of perfectly ripe tomatoes.

And then today, a coworker was out of the office and she asked me if I would like to have her CSA share for this week. (The front of our building is a drop-off point.) Sure, I said, grateful for her generosity.  Among the CSA items were, of course, several luscious tomatoes, which have now overtaken my kitchen counter.

I’m not complaining though.  It’s been a tough couple of days. Everyone’s generally fine but we’re all under a significant amount of stress for various reasons.  The tomatoes are a small thing, really, but I’m thankful for the kindness of The Neighbor and The Coworker for saving us a few dollars off this week’s grocery bill.

Everyone knows when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.

But when life gives you tomatoes?

You make the best damn sauce possible.

99 Days of Summer BloggingThis is post #82 of 99 in my 99 Days of Summer Blogging project.