Sunday, December 31, 2006

Tic tic tic

This is the last blog of 2006 and so I decided to throw caution to the wind: I'm going to make it as long a post as I damn well please, throw in a curse word here and there, not pay attention to run-on sentences (or too many parenthesis) and ramble on about absolutely nothing until my fingers cramp. It's all in good fun.
There, you've been forewarned. Get the kids out of the room and let's get this baby started.

It's 2007 in some parts of the world already, only 6+ hours to go before it's our turn.
At this moment I should be all contemplative and sh** – you know, the typical things that have past, things to come– but the only thing I'm contemplating right now is when to take a nap, all the good stuff we'll be eating tonight, and the dust bunnies under the bookshelf.

Speaking of dust bunnies.
I often check a site that cracks me up. They review blogs, and most of the time tear them apart in such a way that when I need a good laugh I go visit them. Yesterday, as I was reading their reviews, they mentioned a blog that killed me. I swear I've never laughed so much. This woman either has a strange sense of humor or she needs some serious therapy.
Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against people that take pride in cleaning their house, hell I've even been called a maniac from time to time (no comments from the peanut gallery, especially you 'me'), but stating that you should "Clean canisters"? You've got to be kidding me. It's the 50's Good Housewife book all over! There goes years of women's rights kids, put your bras back on and don't forget the apron, the duster will be from now on your new accessory (and sex is only for procreating, really).
As I was reading it –with a handkerchief in one hand so as to wipe the drool caused by my jaw dropping and the tears of laughter, and a glass of wine in the other to try and numb the pain–, I kept hoping that somewhere, anywhere in there there would be a hint that all was a joke, but no. I had to stop after the coupon-clipping entry (I kid you not) as my stomach started to turn.
What the hell?? You have to see it, I'm sure you do not believe me. I will not be held responsible though for any harm that you might inflict yourself when you punch the screen.
(Señor N just told me that it wasn't nice to criticize a fellow blogger - I don't want to be called fellow anything with that type of mentality- but I guess I should *snort* respect others' perspectives, even if they set us back a few generations).

Okee, moving on.
N is starting to get the food ready for tonight's binging marathon and, AND, the chorizo is bad! It has mold on it, agh! there goes one of the tapas... oh well, we've got a few thousand more thing to munch on. HA.
Being the perfectionist that he is (he really is), last night he tried one of the dishes to see what needed to be tweaked for the big dinner a deux. The dish in question was the goat cheese clafouti.
I have to describe it because it was beyond amazing (at least for me, Mister Chef decided that indeed in needed tweaking). In a small individual baking dish he layered potatoes, goat cheese and pieces of smoked duck breast, topped with puff pastry. When it was done, he served it upside down (hence the "clafouti" part) so that the pastry was at the bottom... well... let me tell you: Holly cow! (OK, goat) u.n.b.e.l.i.e.v.a.b.l.e!
I on the other hand made my mousse, and I attempted to make tiny meringues to accompany it... I think they're burnt... how the hell do you miss meringues you say? leave it to me to accomplish such endeavor.

The cheeses (many many stinky - really stinky cheeses) are out, perfectly positioned, pretty to look at and definitely covering the smell of cigarettes. Not only good to eat, but useful too!
There's lamb, and loads of appetizers, you'd think the whole building is coming over, but nope, it's my man and I.

The downer tonight? I've got an acute case of stiff neck, I look like Quasimodo. And when you try to either kiss or simply look at your 6'4" husband from a stiff 5'2" frame, trust me, the effect is quite humorous. A sideway glance is all I can manage for now.

Winding down.
The hype of the holidays can be tiring, which is why I always look forward to Jan 1. First of all I have the day off, which feels like a mini vacation to rest from the previous year (and a day of fasting). And then there's that whole "new page, virgin territory..." blah blah blah thing.

And so on that note, I leave you all. My fingers aren't cramping yet and I still had more blabbering to do, but I'm starting to feel the vibe coming from the kitchen telling me to move my butt so that the table can be made pretty, and we can start calling the overseas folk that will be toasting within the hour.

Happy New Year people, hope the next one is as good one or better than the last.
Cheers!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Here we go again

Yup, this is about the contemplations of another yummy dinner.

I finally asked hubby what his plans were for New Year's eve dinner, not that I don't like surprises, but I'm curious (plus it's fun to write about our culinary adventures).
So, as you know there's seafood. We've got some gargantuan scallops wrapped in bacon on skewers. Tapas-like servings of shrimp with fresh pasta (God-only knows how he's going to manage to make tapas out of pasta...), goat cheese clafouti that sounds divine, chorizo (a recurring option don't you think? but this one is the real thing, plus we still have the Spanish bug going on), some lovely stinky cheeses, a salad, and chocolate mousse to wrap-it all up.
I'm only doing the mousse, so I came off easy.

The quiet, the smells of cooking, the music, hubby and I... now, what could be more perfect than that? OK so the crackling of fire in a fireplace and snow falling would make it ideal, but no such luck, so we'll be happy with what we've got.

And speaking of being happy, I've decided that I will write more in '07. I will make it a point of writing one page a day and let it be what it wants to be —besides this blog I mean.
Just to get the fingers going, I started yesterday. The funny thing is that when I decide to write fiction I might base it on things that I know, but it really has nothing to do with me. What I'm writing so far seems quite gloomy, and yet I am not feeling down in the least.
Does that mean that words take a life of their own? Dunno, it's a fun experience though and since I enjoy doing it I'm going with it. What makes it special is precisely that, that I'm doing it for myself and not for others...

2 more days in '06. I'll fare it well then. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to a great evening with señor N.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

All's good?

I almost feel guilty to admit that I feel content today. I say almost because I can't quite pin-point the reason behind it.
Maybe because a brand new year is coming and it just feels as if it was virgin territory: You know that you can make anything of it since it hasn't been touched yet. It hasn't been molded or corrupted by bad mementos, it has no memories or experiences. For all you know it will be perfect, it'll be what you want it to be. And I guess that's the exciting part of it. Like a new notebook that you will start writing on with perfect handwriting, no erasures, white-outs or mistakes. Just blank, perfect pages that promise to be great.

I'm not one to enjoy the holiday season, and so having decided to stay home with hubby and snubbing all our friends has lifted a weight from my shoulders. We will have a delicious tête-à-tête accompanied with seafood (check, in the fridge), cheeses (to be purchased tomorrow), champagne for toast, wine for dinner and Calvados as digestif (all already present and ready to make their debut).
I know that it sounds slightly alcoholic, but the fact is that we've been frugal this year, and so this feels like a true treat.

Having traveled overseas three times this year could also be playing a part in this elation. It served as a base for things to come. Before, N and I would just contemplate inland trips, now the world is open to us. OK, granted, with the seldom visa annoyances and stressful moments, but still, we can travel and actually consider going to see people we haven't seen in over 10 years.
If you've never experienced this, you will think that we're making too much of it and it's not a big deal. It is. N hasn't seen his sister since 1995, I have little cousins that I have never laid eyes on, we both know of family members that were little ones when we last saw them and are now doing their masters or married or with children. It is a big deal.

As much as we are (often) happy to be far, when we realize how long it's been since we last saw our families, there's a void that becomes apparent and brings out a need to come closer. And I guess that's what this last trip reminded us of: far is fine, too far for too long becomes almost a burden.

2007 is looking promising, it's starting with N going to see his sister, us making plans to see those we haven't seen for ages, and foreseeing trips that if do not turn out to be perfect will be, at the very least, needed.

Now, if we could only hit the lotto all would be good ;)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Back

Every time we go to Spain there's some issue with the airline.

The first time, in May, after suffering major delays in NY and missing our transfer in Madrid they lost our luggage - which we never got back-. Hubby is 6'4" so his cramping into the tiny spaces airlines offer as seats becomes a Houdini accomplishment, so this time I thought I would foresee the problem and reserved the emergency exit seats. I was told that they were available but that we had to sit separated by the aisle. No biggie if you've been together for over 8 years, biggie if the one next to you happens to be a talkative nut-job. N was not only folded in half (they gave us the wrong isle) but had a paranoiac companion, needless to say he was not a happy camper. I, on the other hand, kept thanking throughout the trip my lucky stars that I had quiet people next to me.
Besides that all went fine. On time and no luggage to worry about, so all was good.

Being with the family? Quite an experience. It was great to have 4 generations together for Christmas. My grandma seemed very happy, and ultimately that's what we were there for.
I just came back. Landed last night after a 17 hour trip and I'm pooped, so I won't go into more detail tonight. Suffice to say that I'm happy it all went as it did.
But it is great to be home, nothing like finding your turf, you know?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

D-Day

Yeah, yeah and yeah!

I couldn't wait until 1:00 PM to find out if N's visa was ready so I called the Spanish consulate. A nerve-wracking 5 minutes later while they put me on hold: It's ready!!! they made us sweat it but it's there... phew!
So we're off. Now I have to pack (I couldn't bring myself to doing it before), and start running around the house like a chicken without a head... as usual.

Sayonara people, have a great holiday and I'll be back in a week.

Yeah!!!

Monday, December 18, 2006

My pet-peeve

I hate Sundays. They're such a let down. It's now 12:50 AM and I keep looking at the clock thinking that I have to get up early tomorrow. Well not so much getting up early as staying in the office until God-knows what time since I'm (maybe) leaving Tuesday.

Agh, I wish I had one more carefree eve and do what I want to do... which is nothing really, but still my evening.

Anyway, in case you were wondering the quesadillas turned out pretty good and filling. Having tortillas, cheese and meat all in one package makes for one "hearty" meal on its own. I'm about to burst.
And I'm procrastinating. I'm trying to make this evening last as much as I can. I could say that if I'm exhausted tomorrow, I'll sleep better on the plane the day after. And If I don't leave, well, I'll just sleep in my comfy bed. But that would just be an excuse because regardless of how tired I am I never sleep during flights.

Sooooo, I do have to work, so off I go and try to be a reasonable adult.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Keeping busy

The fact of having no classes left and the (hopefully) impending trip to spend Christmas with mom and grandma has me somewhat on the edge. And so this weekend I decided to stay put, empty my mind of all things that might turn my stomach into a knot, and play with the look of the blog...

What do you think??

For someone that has no idea about HTML, CSS, or all those letters that seem to make no sense, no too shabby if I may say so myself.
I had moments of amazing patience and others of utter frustration, but I've finally -sort of- accomplished most of what I wanted to do.

The trip? we'll know on Tuesday - about 4 hours before leaving- if we can go. It's a long story and since the weekend is not over I rather not go into it (the knots and all, you know?).

On the other hand some goods news: I went to see my mentor last week and we decided what classes I'll be taking next semester. One of them is with an eminence in the field. She was recommended to me by the head of the Bilingual Education department at Columbia University, hence the reason I applied to the Hunter program, and so I'm totally psyched! The course is Psychology of Language Learning and Teaching, which is a perfect fit for the class I just took... I love the course my studies are taking.
It'll be a difficult semester: Tuesdays 7:10PM to 8:50PM and Saturdays 9:30AM to 12:00PM, plus my regular work hours of 9:30 to 6:00ish (although I might adjust Tuesdays from 10:00 to 6:30). Busy busy busy, and as of this moment I can't wait, although I'm sure that by mid-semester I'll be posting some exhausted "I'm fed-up" kind of post.

That's about all for now. Hubby is calling me to help with the quesadillas he decided we will have for dinner, so I'm off to chop some onions ...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

After the euphoria...

Today I went to Hunter for the last time this semester to drop off my final paper.

There's always something a little sad about that last day. Although you know that you will be back (in my case, for many semesters to come), the fact that you know that most likely you will never again see the people you've shared breathing space with for 6 months, makes it a bit gloomy.
I know I know, we are all somewhat following the same career, and so we will eventually cross paths, but still, it's not the weekly thing you know?
I guess it's the habit of it all, the fact that after a semester you finally got to know the names that go with the faces and then one day puff! It all goes to dust.
Well OK, if a friendship is in the making, the weekly meeting should not make a difference. But the whole point is that it's in the "making", so no long-term connections have been made. You'll never know if those people that have sweated it with you during exams, presentations, and such could have eventually become friends. There just wasn't enough time.

And so I've become a bit cautious in forming any attachments. School? A semester goes by and it's all gone. Work? They either leave or are let go. Neighbors? They move out.
I guess that's why my best friends are those that I've had since childhood and adolescence. Those that shared with me the moments (besides the pimples) when time was not an issue and felt that the hours were eternal; When there was no end to be foreseen and our lives had no further ado than who was talking to whom.

Ahhh, if only to go back to those times... Oh well, another semester wrapped, another one to come soon enough. Nothing left to say but, cheers mate! I made it once again, let the next one be as good as the last. And the next, and the next one after that...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Done, done and done!

I finished my final paper!! yeay!! Now you know why I've been MIA. The semester is over, I have survived yet another term, and I refuse to think of how many more I have coming because I'll crawl under the covers and refuse to come out... kiiiiding.
So I played hooky again today in order to finish the paper, and you know what? I don't feel an ounce of guilt. The paper is pretty good, I got to see hubby (and daylight) and I feel rested... Now that's a good day.
As far as I know the office didn't crumble and the pile of work will be waiting for me like it does every morning. So, I got to fully take advantage of my day.

In other news, there's a bit of a dark cloud hanging over our heads. Hubby and I are to spend Christmas with my mom and grandma, and because of bureaucracy it seems as though it could get somewhat spoiled.
The Spaniards have a strange perception of timing. They refuse to give you an appointment to drop off a visa applications more than 15 days prior to your departure, but yet cannot guarantee that you will get it on time. Can someone explain that one to me?
Well, we're off to the consulate tomorrow morning at 6 AM to stand on line, cross our fingers and light as many candles as possible so that N can get his visa before our December 19 flight... 2 weeks away...
N told me that if it doesn't happen for me to go anyway, and this is where I am completely torn apart.
It breaks my heart to spend the holidays without him, but I know that my mother and grandmother will have theirs broken if I don't go. BUT, if I go, there will be this morose feeling (because the three of us will be missing him) and so it will spoil any kind of celebration.
The whole thing is just messed up. I truly do not know what to do.
Let's hope that the Consulate people see the light and speed things up. Agh, the anxiety.

Figures, there's always something. Anyway, for tonight I will only think of having finished the semester with a great score, and let things be.

Will keep you posted.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Some thoughts

It's so easy to feel relaxed on a Friday evening, knowing that the whole weekend lies in front of you, while listening to some great jazz and drinking a glass of wine, with the wind blowing (it's pretty strong) as a background. It seems as though there are no worries in the world, and all is good.
It's these ephemeral moments that we must stick to in order to keep some kind of sanity.

I'm loving this evening, just a few hours before I'm in class learning about how we develop psychologically.
Hm mm, the peace...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Blues

There's nothing like blues. Well ok, good blues that is. There is just a feeling that is transmitted through the music that is incomparable to other styles.

We were watching a special on James Taylor, and a musician that I didn't know (forgive me all you music experts) who calls himself Taj Mahal interpreted one of his songs. I swear, you could feel it to the core.
When I told my husband-the-wise that few people can reach those depths, he responded that unless you have lived though the hardships, you cannot sing the blues.

"Blues isn't learned, it's lived" How beautiful is that?

Monday, November 27, 2006

A few undone buttons later...

Thanksgiving dinner turned out to be quite good actually. We ended up making less dishes than were first planned, which was a good thing because we ate the last of it last night.

The "ducken" and the stuffing were a true hit. Stuffing a deboned duck with a deboned chicken makes the end product full of flavor and very juicy, just the way I like it. The wild rice with mushrooms, almonds, pears and chorizo is highly recommended. It combined fall flavors with a hint of sunshine, perfect for a rainy day. Lacking? greens! we had no veggies throughout the whole weekend. Seriously. I think that I'm going to purge myself this week with nothing but greenery (ok starting tomorrow).

Last night, as I watched the bits and pieces looking a little pathetic in the pan I decided to give them yet another twist and go Mexican.
I added some more pieces of chicken and onions, shredded the whole thing and prepared a bit of mole. Slightly fried tortillas, stuffed, rolled, poured the mole on top, added the cheese, and voila! some wonderful enchiladas, great for keeping my girlie figure... HA!

After 4 days of not doing much besides eating, it was a bit rough going back to the office. But hey, reality has to show its ugly head from time to time.
So now, no looking forward to any rest until we leave to spend a week with the family over Christmas. Four generations will be together, it promises to be unbelievable. But that's another entry.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Never say "I" when there's a "we" involved

Yup, dinner menu has changed yet again.

Yesterday I mistakenly wrote that I had decided what we were having for dinner. Never say "I've decided" when there are two involved, especially if the second party happens to be someone that enjoys cooking and is very good at it.

Soooo, the chicken is not quite what I had originally thought it would be. Have you ever heard of Turducken? It's a southern dish comprised of de-boned turkey stuffed with a de-boned duck, which itself is stuffed with a small de-boned chicken. So hubby, being the dare-devil that he is, decided that we would make our own version of it: we skip the turkey and go for a "ducken", de-boned duck stuffed with a de-boned chicken.
We're still having the pumpkin soup, which he's making (uff) and the wild rice, mushroom, almonds and... yes! chorizo, stuffing. The side dishes are still standing but the desert seems a little iffy right now. Hubby doesn't like pumpkin pie (I'll never stop learning something new). So I have to come up with another one... tick tick tick... by tomorrow.

Any suggestions? Forget about it being light, so far this meal is turning out to be a heart stopper, literally.
If you want to get in touch with us, we'll be the ones at the ER first thing Friday morning, getting our arteries unclogged.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

OK, here it goes

I think that I've decide what we're going to attempt to have for Thanksgiving dinner (do I obsess or what?).

Starters: Pumpkin soup with chervil (it's all in the presentation, I have a little idea about it).
Main course: Chicken (it might change, don't hold your breath on this one) with glazed pears.
Stuffing: Wild rice with almonds, pears and a hint of chorizo - yes, I want my chorizo-.
Side dishes: Potatoes and mushroom puree; Green beans with almonds and mushrooms.
Desert: Pumpkin mousse.

Now, I do say attempt because theoretically it all seems very good, but watch everything turning out to be an utter disaster. Hey, if I can't experiment on my husband, who the hell can I experiment on, right?

I'll keep you posted on the adventures of this trial. You never know, it's still early and I might change my mind.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The mind of a crazy woman

You know how I said in the previous post that I was contemplating a "light" Thanksgiving dinner? yeah weeelll, the way it's being concocted in my mind it seems as though it won't quite turn out to be that... ahem... light.

Beware, you are about to see the workings of a crazy mind.

Jen, a coworker and reader of this nonsense, suggested sausage, cranberry and corn bread stuffing. Me, loving to complicate things, got inspired by it and decided that it sounded great but, 'how about chorizo instead of sausage, and pears instead of cranberries? Might as well just forget about the corn bread and make it rice pilaf with... almonds!' - yes, the only ingredient I had originally thought of - And wham! there goes the first button.
It all came about because I read a recipe about chicken with apples and Calvados. Aha, you see it, right?
So I started with chicken, apples and Calvados, accompanied by sausage, cranberry and corn bread stuffing. I'm ending up with chicken (at least we still have that) and pears accompanied by a rice pilaf with almonds, and chorizo. What?? it could be good! the secret is not to use too much chorizo, just enough to give it a humph, to use it as a contrast to the sweetness of the pears. See? there's logic somewhere in there.
Now how I went from point A to point B is a mystery even to me.

But it's still early, I still have 2 days to come up with a definite meal, and so who knows? I might go from B to Z in one jump and decide to order-in Chinese instead.
Hmmm glazed duck... uh oh, here I go again...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Hmm

I've decided that having only one day off (class on Saturday, remember?) is killing me. Yesterday I purposely stayed up late just because I didn't have to get up early this morning... HA! I still got up at 8:30...agh. So basically, I have no weekend. If I don't do anything on Sunday I feel guilty. Why? because I don't have another day to do what I have to do. Those little menial tasks like, oh I don't know, doing laundry, watering plants. Forget about any thoughts on pampering myself. Well the thoughts are there but not quite the action itself. Last time I gave myself a facial mask? I think dinosaurs were still roaming the planet.
I could be doing that instead of writing you say? hmm don't think so, this is my time off.

In other mindless news: Thanksgiving is next week. You wouldn't know it from walking around the city. It looks like Christmas is tomorrow! - yeah hubby and I went for a walk yesterday after class, I need air from time to time you know?-. It's pretty, but way too early for my taste. Aaaanyway, not complaining here, just saying.

Back to Thanksgiving. First of all it means that I get 4 days off (uff), that'll give me a breather. It also means that I better use that time to work on my final paper due in 3 weeks (double agh). But I decided that we're still going to have a Thanksgiving dinner, with a twist.

The twist: there's only 2 of us, scratch the turkey bring on the chicken. But, and this is a big but, it doesn't have to be boring. I'm going to stuff it, not quite sure with what yet but almonds will be involved. I've also thought of the desert, individual pumpkin pies. Fluffy and not as heavy as the traditional ones. A little bit of yams; They have to make a presence, the poor things are ignored the rest of the year.

What I'm saying is that I'm cajoling a superb Thanksgiving dinner, using the traditional main ingredients in a non-traditional way: small portions and light. The kind of dinner that won't make us unbutton our pants thinking that the food must have reached our brains by the time we're finished.

Well, I still have to survive 3 days before that. I'm off to have a glass of wine to drown my sorrows... and hit the bed early.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

And more on today's wonderful day

Yeah, I forgot to mention that to complete my day I had to go to the GYN. I must admit that as I was enduring the exam I kept thinking "my husband will have to go get his prostate checked in a few years..." and somehow, that gave me solace. My bad.
Damn those twice a year check ups. Seriously! Nothing like having a bunch of strangers hovering over you when you feel your utmost vulnerable.
I kept my socks on and didn't shave, that was my rebellion. I used to go through a whole routine the day I was going to see the doctor: shaving, moisturizing and wearing the nicest underwear I have... like they see it, right.
Anyway, all systems are a go, but I wish there was a less invasive, or at least humiliating way to check.

Pimples Galore!

I've got pimples. At 39 I got pimples! Last night I saw one that was making a shy appearance on my chin, and so I nuked it with my ever-so-faithful Neutrogena solution thinking that that would be the last of it.
I wake up this morning to see it in full bloom nagging me. Fine, a little more nuking, a little make up and off we go.

The damn thing not only refused to go away but it reproduced while I wasn't looking. I am now the proud (ahem) owner of three, yes three such entities all localized in the same "homey" area. What the hell? OK, so they are not huge, they are small and barely noticeable, I think, but still they are there.

It reminded me of aaaalllll the pictures that were taken of me during my teens. I always had a damn pimple. But I'm no longer in my teens, I am a full mature woman and apparently the maturity decided to come through as almost being riped... pimples!
So I had a panini today, and last night hubby and I had a tapas kind-of dinner comprised of smoked salmon, cheese, prosciutto, and marinated beef, accompanied by wine... not the healthiest granted, but come on! Pimples?

They say that beauty is on the eye of the beholder... well don't be beholding me, it ain't pretty to my eyes to walk around with 3 pimples on my chin.

Agh! and it's raining. Pfff this days sucks.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Phew!

Hearing of other people's heartaches makes me realize how difficult it is to find someone that will stick by the good and the bad.
It seems as though there are instances where the timing is wrong, or the people are wrong for one another, yet they try and the imminent break happens living scars that are difficult to heal.
This can happen to a couple, family members or friendships. There are just some things that aren't meant to be, yet we still try.
Is the trying a repetitive downfall into painful experiences? Or is it simply the result of naive human nature believing that there must be something better?
We make the same mistakes over and over again but eventually, I hope, we learn.
Although if history is any indication ... then maybe not.

All this to say - it is difficult and scary to feel alone while confronting the world. I empathize and completely understand all those that feel let down by an ideal of what this society considers a whole person: Someone that has found their "shoulder to lean on", as if that is enough.
I am so thankful to be with someone that plain gets me. I am with the kind of person that in a distant future will not give a second thought to filling the glass on my bedside table so that I can put my dentures in it.
And that, after all, is what counts

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Beware loooong election-day entry...

There is something about walking outside on a crisp morning, while it's still dark, knowing that you are on your way to witness one of the greatest exercises in democracy. Somehow the effect of having too little coffee or lack of sleep doesn't seem so important after all.
I had been looking forward to doing this for a while, and so I strolled the three blocks that separate my house from the polling site not even noticing that the streets were still asleep.

When I got to the site it was total chaos.

I've been told since then that the average age of poll-workers is 77, and I can vouch for that. There were 18 people crammed into two little building entrances and all knowing more than anyone else about what had to be done, where things had to be hanged, and who was doing what.
After the walkers were put aside, envelopes were opened, signs were distributed along with duck tape, and off the little ants went, to hang things here and there, color-coordinated and looking pretty: blue for “vote here/vote aqui”, and orange for “no electioneering beyond this point”.

The site coordinator arrived, looked around about 15 minutes before the polls were to open, and gathered her workers around admonishing...
5 minutes later signs were re-hung in their proper places, people were set at their posts and all looked properly in place and very professional at 6:00 AM on the dot.

The first person was already standing on line while we were all trying to figure out where our heads were, that same person was greeted by a cheerful "good morning" the moment he stepped in.
Pretty impressive for people that know will be spending the next 18 hours doing exactly the same thing over and over.

I was the youngest of the group and I must say that I was dreading the hours ahead. It is no small task to be trying to concentrate for so many hours (with two one-hour breaks). But all the elders were taking it in stride not once complaining... And so we set to welcome those that believed that whatever they were doing had some impact on their future.

Our little poll had 3 districts, represented by 3 tables each overlooked by 3 people, plus the inspectors and the translators. My job was to look up voters’ addresses and tell them which table they were to go to. I was the “hi! Are you here to vote?” person. After many, many addresses I could not keep one straight, and so although I looked like an absolute moron, I had to ask almost everyone to repeat what they had just said.

In normal circumstances it’s the kind of thing that puts everyone over the edge, but not this time. People were if not receptive to human glitches, patient to human error. And so the day went by, with passer-byes offering to bring coffee and neighbors happily surprised to see a known face greeting them.
There was the funny guy making comments that were not to be had in a voting poll (as much as I agreed with him), and the prankster making comments on the intercom against the present government, which had the on-duty policeman on his toes. But all in all it was a day of neutral ground. All came to do what they had to do, and left.

My day had as a background the cranking sound of the voting machine, the last vestige of mechanics in this country. We were the last to have voters do any kind of physical effort to cast a ballot. That, followed by the grins on the faces of many first-time voters as they were walking out knowing that they had said their piece, was priceless.

I greeted first-time citizens, come-to-age voters, and old timers. And they all reminded me that it takes each voice to make a country.

I’ve had people telling me that they are proud of me for being there. And I say to all that I’m proud of having witnessed anyone coming to say what they wished their country to be.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

November 7

This day will go down in the annals of memory as one of the most brutal days I've had so far.
Up at 4:45 AM, at the voting poll by 5:30 AM; one hour break at 1:00 PM and finished by 9:00 PM... outdoors and looking up people's addresses so as to tell them where they were voting (yeah, I wasn't a translator after all). I was the one saying "Hi, welcome" and "Goodbye and thanks for voting", or "no sorry you have to go [yet] somewhere else". More on that in a later post.
I am cold, I am tired, but still must say... what a day.
I'll write about it tomorrow, after I've thawed and regained some kind of brain function.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Size does matter

I've changed the size of the font because it made me feel like I had aged 10 years (had to squint to see the damn thing).

Better?

The lurkers, the lurkees and the others.

I'm a newbie when it comes to this whole blogging thing and so I never realized how much of it was out there or how important it's become!
I've spent much of this weekend "lurking" - just learned that that's what people like me do, not being a voyeur as I thought, which doesn't sound any better than lurker anyway- and I must say that there's some funny things going on out there.

Note: Most of the weekend on the computer? I was avoiding weekend chores. Plus I'm a bit under the weather anyway, and I don't feel like reading Freud so shoot me.

It seems that just about everyone is blogging these days, and lurking as it is. Now, apparently there is such a thing as traffic, which is your blog being visited (now that's a nicer way of putting it) or hit as some call it. The more you visit a blog the more you get to know the players, and if you're not too shy you post a comment. That in turn gets people to look up your blog, which makes you look at theirs, and so on. If the blog is appealing it might even end up in someone's link list, which then creates an infinite chain that can or not make for great reading. And so this way little communities are formed and "virtual" friendships are made. Which in our world means in a global way.

But, and here's a big but, I've noticed as well that many people tend to take this whole thing way too seriously. I've read some entries with their corresponding comments that would put to shame many soap operas. It seems as though they don't realize that by going "public" in cyberspace, they become open game; When you have a blog you should expect the good, the bad and the ugly to come and get you. Now granted, as the owner of the blog I think that you should be entitled to either accept or reject those comments that you deem unwanted. But if you allow them, well then you have to be able to take it in stride.

The other thing I noticed is how shocked some people were at the fact that something they wrote, let's say something touchy, was read, and lo and behold! got a reaction. What the hell? If you don't want it read, don't write it, seriously 1+1=2? it's on the Internet, chances are it will be read, and you know Murphy's law right?

Not that long ago I was guilty of censoring a friend's comment. The funny thing though is that if it had been a complete stranger I wouldn't have cared and most likely would have left it in, misspells and all. But because it was a friend's I didn't want any reader judging, and so I chose to edit and censor some parts of it.
I did tell my friend something about this being my turf and blah blah blah, but truth be told, I was completely aware of the fact that it could have been misinterpreted, since most people do not know the personality behind it -and the sarcasm that is ever present-. And although the friend in question might not give two damns about what people think, I do.

My decision was validated by some of the things I read. I really do not want my blog and/or its comments, to become a pissing match, which it would have most likely turned out to be if anyone had commented on the said comment. I can criticize, but don't touch my friends or my family, if you do, the gloves come off.
(Although I must admit, some of the stuff I read this weekend was hilarious.)

When I started this blog back in January I referred to it as a modern version of a diary, which in some cases it might well be; but knowing that people you know -and some you don't- are reading it, makes self-censoring a must.

For instance, I will never name names (besides hubby's because everyone knows that I'm crazy about him), and will try to hold my tongue when it comes to cursing (what can I say, my mom reads this), nor will I talk about things that are too personal, because, well, they are personal. Hence the title blabbering. In other words nothing too serious or that may have repercussions.

Playing it safe? hell yeah. If I didn't want to, I would start a blog that was completely anonymous, wouldn't tell anyone about it, and pray the cyber-gods that I wouldn't be recognized... Now there's a thought ;)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Update

I got another letter from the board of elections. Apparently I'm to be a translator of... Korean and Mandarin!
Yes, that's what's needed in my neighborhood and apparently they think I'm it.
What the hell?
I applied as a Spanish translator people!
I've tried calling them to say that I do not speak Korean or Mandarin and have been greeted by a voice mail in... Korean (I think).
This election is looking very promising...ahem.

So what's wrong with this picture?

Unbelivable. For a company that claims that "family comes first" Wal-Mart is showing, once again, its ugly head. I'll let you read the article, but it makes you wonder if you're not living in some kind of parallel universe.

So the big issue is that absenteeism has gone up in the workplace. Whoopy-doo. Instead of finding ways in which to chastise the workers, shouldn't they start looking as to why it has gone up?

"Personal illness makes up for only 35 percent of unscheduled absences, with the rest due to family issues, personal needs, stress and an entitlement mentality."

Let's look at this for a minute, shall we?

  • Personal illness: if we had better preventive care and more accessibility to medicine (read: being able to afford it), 35% would not be absent.
  • Family issues: a bit broad isn't it? are we talking about death of a family member? your father had a heart attack? your grandmother fell and broke a hip? your kids are sick?... which one is it? But again, if we were able to afford health care maybe many of these "issues" wouldn't be an issue at all.
  • Stress: hmm, your employer punishing you because, oh I don't know, there was an accident in the highway and you might be 10 minutes late? yeah, that could stress the hell out of anyone.
  • Entitlement mentality: Actually I searched for what this one was about and couldn't find any definite answers. There were references about Americans in Lebanon, medicine needed for people in Florida, morality, Katrina and Rush Limbaugh... not quite clear, but anything that mentions "mentality" can be interpreted in so many ways that really, using it as means to punish people seems a little... vague? Call me crazy.
The fact is that yes, research has proven that the working force is more and more often late or absent from their jobs. Wouldn't you see this as a reflection of other problems? I mean if the trend is going up-ward, something must be happening.
Are people less happy at their workplace? Could this be a reflection on the society at large? What a thought.

I wish corporations, or companies, schools or even governments stopped looking for the "bad" things people are doing and more to the "why" they are doing it.
Well, maybe it is easier to slap than to understand. Let's treat everyone like idiots and idiots they will be...

It's almost winter, and there are no cooking entries so far. This girl is not happy.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Over-analyzing

Monday morning I woke up at 6:15 AM and for once was quick to get out of bed. What made such miracle happen you ask? a dream, or nightmare, depending how you want to look at it. I had been dreaming that I got a bad grade in my up-coming exam.
Let me give you the story behind it: The grade for the class will be made of 3 exams, one oral presentation and one final paper. The professor told us that he would only take the best two grades we get in the exams, therefore, if we're happy with the grades we get in the first two, we don't have to take the third one. Are you with me so far?
I got a 90% on the first one and so I would like to get at least that this weekend in order to wave the third one.

Back to my dream. I had gotten a 70% and was the only one that had to take the last exam! - I say "had to" because I refuse to get a 70 in grad school- Well, needless to say that I was hitting the books by 6:20 AM...
The funny thing is that one of the main readings we have been doing for this test is about the unfairness of grading, and exams, and any assessment that put pressure on the students - it is called, justifiably so, "Punish by Rewards".

And so why would I be dreaming about it? Am I so gun-ho on proving myself to others? Am I so scared of failure?
This whole psychoanalysis of education thing is driving me crazy (no pun intended), and it's not letting me get my beauty sleep. By the time I'm done with my career I'm going to look like an old, tired hag and cursing the behaviorists for the white hairs and wrinkles I'm getting.

And I refuse to pay a professional to tell me that I worry too much!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Didn't want to go there but...

I've been avoiding the blatant political entries because, well, it might ruffle some feathers. But we're in the midst of an election and politics are all around us.

We've been watching the endless commercials, debates, commentaries from one side or the other and I've got say that I can't see much depth anywhere.
We live in a bipartisan society. As much as some people might say that there are numerous other existing parties, there are only two that seem to be present, or that actually have any saying in what goes. Do I see much difference between them? not really. I prefer one over the other, but really, it's like choosing the lesser of two evils.

The reason I say that is because I find that there aren't any "real" issues being debated. Yes, we hear about gay marriage, and abortion, and the war, and terrorism - and I'm not saying they are not important-; but what about poverty, and lack of health coverage, and the fact that there is a very small, tiny percentage of wealthy people getting wealthier every year at the same time that poverty is increasing? Listen to this: minimum wage has not been raised since 1997! oh, but cost-of-living has not kept stagnant, that I can tell you...
The middle class is being crushed out of existence little by little. Either you are one of the very, very few that are lucky, or you fall into what some western societies consider border-line poor.
Wasn't it almost always the middle classes that led revolutions or major political movements? hmmm...

Carter was criticized (and lost a second term because of it I'm sure) because he decided to first take care of his own dirty laundry before sticking his nose too deep into other people's business.
Well his people needed the attention, and still do, and nothing is really done to address it.
Some people might say that those that voted for the current government are dumb or illiterate or anything you wish. I think that they were touched to the core of their needs, were told what they needed to hear. Were they empty or hypocritical promises? Maybe, but if people went for them, shouldn't we look into why?

Setting people aside and not paying attention to them because they do not have diplomas or seem ignorant to your eyes is a stupid approach. All humans have basic necessities, whether they are food, health, a sense of security (and no, I'm not talking about borders and wars, I'm talking about a personal sense of worth), or faith (yes, although I do not share those beliefs I am aware that they exist and are important aspects of people's lives).
But yet, we are not talking about education, we are not talking about preventive health care, about fairness or any issues that, in the long run, can make this society if not Utopia, at least fair.

We keep seeing that power corrupts, one side or the other, and so what is left? How can we trust representatives that promise us what we need but that once in power only think about what they can have?
We are a political generation - encompassing different ages- without leaders, without models, without examples we want to follow and fully back. Do we have to take baby steps? I believe so. We don't have revolutions or major political movements in our forecast, we are too busy trying to make it day-to-day.
And so baby steps have to be taken, and hope that those steps will eventually lead to a full blown change for future generations, so that they don't have to live in the uncertainty we all live with.
How's that for ruffling feathers...

Never too late to say I'm sorry

I'm too critical, or judgemental some would say, and I admit it: I was quick to have an opinion and I was wrong. Yes, I said it... wrong.
I am referring to my class, remember? As the semester has progressed (granted it's only been what, 3 weeks since that entry?) I now see where the professor is taking us. The readings he put together at first made absolutely no sense, they seemed like a list he made while eating dinner over his kitchen sink; A last minute thought for a class he did not want to teach.
And I wasn't the only one feeling let down by what seemed like a half-ass lecture, more than one of my peers shared my thoughts. But now, we have seen the light, a bit dim and we're not quite at the end of the tunnel, but it's there, like a flickering candle letting us perceive what other mysteries surround us.
The man is actually a genius. I think that I've learned in these past weeks what I never thought would have been possible.
He is nonchalant, not pushy, doesn't expect anything from us, in other words he treats us like adults and not like students... what a breakthrough! I still have the nagging feeling that he's not quite happy with teaching on Saturdays though, but who am I to say.

And so I retract anything I've said about "give me theories and I'll apply them as I see them applicable to the 'real' world". What a bunch of crock, how presumptuous of me.
I've been humbled and have learned my lesson: from now on I'll wait until the end of a semester to criticize ;)

P.S. He's the one that inspired me to buy Emile and The Republic... I've should have known better...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Civic duty?

I registered back in August to serve at the voting polls during the elections. The thought behind it was 1) I wanted to know how it worked, 2) my knowledge of Spanish could be useful 3) well... I actually find the whole process of "electing" interesting, and after living in this country for 21 years I might as well get involved in it one way or another, right?
I cannot vote in the US since I am a resident and not a citizen. How can I be in the polls you ask? as a translator. It is the only position where citizenship is not necessary.
I signed up because I read in the newspaper back then that Spanish speakers were needed, so being the good Samaritan that I am, I answered the call.

I spent a Saturday being "trained". Now, I put it in quotes because I'm still not sure what's going on. Yeah, we listened to a guy explain the whole thing, we were given material and took an open-book exam at the end... could I vote or know how it's done? nope. I will say though that it was the firs time that I got to see the voting machine up-close. That thing is intimidating! There are buttons to push, levers to pull. Seriously, you feel like a technician in front of it. How the hell do people do it so as to not get overwhelmed?

The first elections came and went and I received no notice, so I figured that either I hadn't passed the exam (for-crying-out-loud) or they didn't need a translator (I stuck to that explanation). Those were for the primaries, when each party chooses their representatives... I guess I did learn something... Today I come home and am welcomed by a card stating in big bold letters: NOTICE TO WORK.
So, I have been called to duty, sort of speak. I am to present myself, —right next to the house, phew!— at 5:30 AM and stay put until 9:00 PM, to do what? not sure as of yet, but I get to observe the process of elections from first row.

I've already participated in such a thing: One year, during the French presidential elections, I served as a vote counter. We had to tally the votes that were going to each party the good ol' fashion way, with pen and paper . That was exciting and so I can't wait to be able to compare. I'm not necessarily speaking of the actual deed of voting, no, I'm talking about the people that go and vote. The attitudes of the voters, how they perceive voting, how the teams observing and working the polls are.
It can only be, besides exhausting due to the hours, a learning experience.

I'm sure I'll post something about it, regardless of the results. And so come November I'll be doing my civic duty, but is it a duty even if you're not a citizen? I think so. If you are part of a society in whichever way, you should, at least once, be part of the process. That way you'll be able to really know what you're talking about when you criticize, praise, blame or compliment.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

AGH!

ok, this is driving me crazy. Although I'm very happy about this "no ads" site, getting it together is proving harder than I thought.
So maybe it's the "the little creepers" that are up and running, but seriously, things should be a lot easier. I can't get the damn picture where I want it, I can't post the way I damnwant it. It takes aaaaaaages for things to come up.
I am most definitely considering paying for being able to write what I want, when I want it to be written...
Agh!!!
Any suggestions?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

All grown up

"A house without books is a home without soul". I don't know who said that, or if anyone actually did, but I find it one of those absolutes that are so true.

I've always been surrounded by books. Bookshelves were the main entity wherever I lived. What was in them varied: my mother had various interests and so her library reflected that, then when I started living alone it mainly comprised of Spanish books, or anything relating to Spanish literature.
Now? Now I feel all grown-up. I'm starting to create a library that is more than reference books, more than dictionaries and encyclopedias, more than paperbacks of Spanish must-knows and Agatha Christies. I started buying books (yes buying and not picking up other's left overs) that I can't wait to attack. Books that vary in periods and ideologies but all for a definite goal: learn.
My recent purchases: Plato's Republic, Rousseau's Emile, Feire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed (thanks Malichan) and Pedagogy of Freedom, and my mentor's Kaleidoscope, a Multicultural Approach for the Primary School Classroom, by Yvonne De Gaetano.
Throughout the summer I read great novels and mysteries, now I'm going for theorists, new and old.

I guess there is such thing as reading maturity. Age influences how you read and what you read. Don't get me wrong, I still go for comics and good ol' fashion mysteries. But I've noticed that a book that is poorly written does not keep my interest.
Is it becoming picky? Or is it that I've read so many bad thing (I confess, I read Barbara Cartland when I was young) that now I'm starting to search for something better?

I will never dream of saying that I'm a good judge of the written world, but it's like wine you know? You either like it or you don't, and little by little you learn to appreciate what you like in it, which doesn't mean that you are a sommelier.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Surfing, blogging and what-nots

The blogging world has opened up a whole new universe of information (or misinformation) as well as just plain funny nonsense for me. As you go through the links of others people's blogs you might discover things that you wouldn't have otherwise.

I came accross such funny nonsense while looking at someone else's page, and although I had already heard of it, I completly forgot how funny it was. Now granted, often it is sad, but unless you plan to spend the rest of your life crying over other people's stupidity, I recommend that you laugh it off and thank your lucky stars that at least you have no one in your immediate surroundings that sounds like that, hopefully.

The site in question is "Overheard in NY". It's postings people put up about things they've overheard either on the street, subway or shops. Many are hilarious, hopefully they won't make you feel like walking around with a club and whacking people over their head. Just laugh it up people, that is the best way to survive.

A couple of examples:

Health Food Fads: 1, Basic Safety: 0

Lady #1: This stuff is really good. It has antidotes in it. It's good for your skin.
Lady #2: You mean ANTIOXIDANTS. An ANTIDOTE is a short story.

--At Barnes & Noble

And You Say the States Aren't All Different Colors?

Blonde: So you mean Alaska's not an island right above Hawaii?
Brunette: How did you graduate college, again?
Blonde: Well, I wasn't a geography major. Gosh!

--At 96th & Madison

And these are real people, not comedians... I think I do need a club...

Saturday, October 07, 2006

1 down 2 to go

Today I took the first exam of my Childhood Development class. Ok, so call me a geek, or nerd or anything you'd like, but a 10 multiple-answers test does not call out "grad-school". Especially if the answers are so obvious that, unless you do not even know the title of the course, you can figure them out.
I expected some heavy-duty theory, or name-throwing going on, but no. It took longer to wait for the train, seriously, than to complete the test. Like Nadir said: "more than $800 for that?". Ok, so not everything should be quantified by money spent; I'll give the professor the benefit of the doubt, maybe his idea of teaching is making you want to actually learn on your own.
And yet there's that whole concept of having someone childless teach me about children's development... I don't know, it sort of looses it's credibility, specially if the professor states as a matter of fact that children are a pain in the ass (he did, just like that), but doesn't have a first hand experience of how much of a pain they can be. Plus, how insightful is it to make such a statement? And is this someone who is training teachers to-be?!
I am thankful to be taking this class now and not when I was more naive. I can take what the professors tell me with a grain of salt and filter the information - Give me theories and I'll apply them as I see them applicable to the "real" world-.

That whole concept of professors being larger than life and godlike figures is no longer in me. They are human beings that have a profession and know more than I do about their specialty, not necessarily about life.

It is somewhat sad though to loose that naivete, we end up having fewer role-models and become a lot more picky about who they are. Maturity comes with age, but so does skepticism. Hopefully being open-minded is also a byproduct of the process...

Friday, October 06, 2006

So?

How do you like the new home? not too shabby if I may say so myself...

Monday, October 02, 2006

One thing or another

Since the summer is gone and soon the drop of temperature will once again be perceived by yours truly as a very personal confrontation, I decided that it was time to hit the garden and harvest all the herbs that were planted. Branches from the thyme, lemon thyme, sage, rosemary (ahhh), tarragon and oregano were trimmed down and brought to the house.
Not knowing exactly what to do with the tons that I cut I gave some away, put some in ice tray cubes for future use, and intend on making some kind of pastes, although I'm not sure how to, so if you have any ideas shoot them this way.
Anyway, as I was cleaning them I became intoxicated by the smells, and of course right at that moment of olfactory nirvana I remembered that I have a test this coming Saturday... talk about a let down.
The class mainly concentrates on psychology and all that comes with it. Don't get me wrong, I respect all sciences, but sometimes psychologists seem like, well, they want to make too much out of things. If a diaper is too tight, is it really that the parent is showing some kind of repressed frustration? how about it's the first time they changed a diaper and had no idea how to do it. Trying to find too many hidden meanings can sometimes be a bit much, at least to my eyes. We (and I include myself) end up wondering why that kid in the subway was picking his nose: he's lacking something? he saw it at home? not enough structure has been imparted? maybe he just has a big snot that is bugging the hell out of him!
There are many instances where some behaviors are reflecting something deeper, but we should admit that sometimes it's just what it seems... wasn't it Freud that said "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar"?
The smells are wearing down, the hype of herb-picking wearing thin, I'm off to my notes and readings to try and make some sense of this class... and not read anything into it.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Friendship

Reading Medusa's blog brought up some thoughts that I've been having over the question of what a friend is.

As time passes the concept of friendship starts to evolve and metamorphose into a more precise and concise meaning. When you are a child, a friend is someone that you've met 5 minutes ago in the playground and whom you''ll spend a whole of 30 minutes playing with. And even though you might not see him or her again, right at that moment he or she is your bestest friend.
Later on, your best friend is one you can share stories with, complain about your parents, teachers and anyone who represents the adults that cannot understand you. A person that, like you, is going through the hardships and denials of becoming that adult. As a teenager, friends are the most important people in your life: They make you or brake you, which incidentally can happen from one day to the next. In college, on the other hand, a friend is one that shares your interests and your way of life. And so on.

As you take on responsibilities you become more selective. You realize that being a friend implies subtle things. It's not a person that you hang out with, or a person that depends on you. It's a person that you know is there when you need them and you are ready to drop anything you are doing when they need you. It's a person that knows your fears and pleasures, but not necessarily your everyday problems. A friend for me is someone that knows who I am, that can feel when something is not right without me having to draw a map, and vice versa. True friends should and must respect each other, in the true sense of the word.

Throughout life we come across acquaintances,buddies, pals. But real friends are counted on the fingers of one hand, and those, are for life.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Left-overs

When there are limited edible things in your refrigerator and you don't want to go out shopping, your imagination feels free to reign and explore. Often extremely happy accidents occur, if the mind-frame is right, others it's an utter disaster.
Today the stars and the planets seem to be with me. I had a minuscule piece of pork loin left that was pasted in mexican achiote, and so the sauce was to be kept. I had an eggplant looking a little lonely, prosciutto, goat cheese, and decided to make a meal with it all.
The eggplant peeled and sliced was breaded and baked. And as I searched in the pantry I came across pancake mix... oh the imagination...it took over. I mixed the pancake mix with some herbes de provence, garlic powder and the said pork loin sauce so as to make it quite watery. The thought behind being that I didn't quite want thick, breakfast pancakes, but more of a crepe consistency.
The "crepes" are being filed with goat cheese and prosciutto, accompanied by the baked eggplant and sliced tomatoes... I guess letting your imagination take over isn't bad sometimes. Just don't do it when you are having people over, you never know what your luck-of-the-draw might be.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Changes

After a week of nothing special, comes a weekend that looks like nothing special as well. I've started classes and I'm taking them on Saturdays so that they do not interfere with work, it's a choice. Apparently the professor was told only a few days before classes started that he would be teaching it (that's Hunter for you) and so was not available today. Next weekend I'll miss class because I'll be in Spain, and the week after it's veteran's day weekend, meaning I won't being going to school until my birthday, how appropriate.
The course seems interesting enough: Child Development, encompassing psychological, biological and learning theories that, knowing me, will have my mind reeling as to the whys of whats. The professor was kind enough to e-mail us all the readings we will be doing for the semester. I don't know if it serves the purpose of making us save money or to try and convince us to drop the course. There are loads and loads of reading to do. I'm going to be up to my elbows in Freud, Piaget, and the likes. Hopefully my rantings will not become psychobabble and make you all run for cover. I do enough two-cents analysis as it is.
The trip to Spain. My grandma is not doing too well and so I'm going to see her and lend a supporting shoulder to my mom. The strangest thing is to go unto the unknown. It's not like taking a vacation, or going for a specific purpose. It's just going to be there, and I've never done that before. It will most likely be the last time I go to Spain and so it gives it a different kind of feeling.
As children (here we go, and it has just been a class!) we tend to see everything as permanent, as going on forever. Your grandparents' home will always be there, there is no reason for you to think that it might not; the trees will grow and you'll remember how tiny they were, but will always see them, no reason to think that maybe they'll become someone else's trees one day.
We have no problem thinking of ourselves as mobile, ever-changing beings, but those that represent our childhood stability are incapable, to our eyes, of doing it.
It was strange enough that my grandparents moved from the north of the country to the south, the change of scenery was welcomed but awkward at first. We all have memories of that first (for us the grandchildren) apartment we spent our summers in. The fact that when my grandmother goes there will be nothing to attach us to the country is even weirder. I, for one, feel closer to Spain than I do with France, and so it will become like being a stranger in my childhood's land.
Sort of like Mexico. After 12 years of living there I could not go back (and haven't since 1986). Nothing worse than feeling like a tourist in your own home.
It's funny how ready we are to embrace the future but have problems letting go of silly things of the past. It's a balance that should, when done properly, make us whole, but when confronted with it can become a fearful moment to conquer.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Luca

We have a neighbor named Luca. Well he's not really our neighbor, he's our neighbors' son. One month old son to be exact.

Luca is the newest addition to this what I call, the community. You know, the one we live in, the building with the strangest group of people I know. Well Luca, as a good son of his parents, does not represent part of that "strangeness". He is the cutest little shrimp I've met.

I've mentioned to Tosh and Anna (the parents for those who want to know) that I needed my Luca-fix from time to time, and they've obliged. Luca came to visit us tonight (granted in his father's arms, and most likely not from his own volition) and showed us that he is starting to learn how to smile. It was more of a smirk, with his little pout not quite knowing where to go, but it looked to the adults around him like he was making fun of us.

The best part of holding that little body in your arms is imagining what he's thinking of. I'm sure that somewhere in that little head there's a: "what are these awkward, H-U-G-E people talking about?" (and I'm being polite here, because I'm sure that he doesn't know bad words yet... I think...)

He's going to be a smart one, I can already see that, and I wish him to continue using his little pout to poke fun at the world. Even if he doesn't, he'll always hold a dear place in my heart.

September

It's the beginning of September. For many of you it just means that you're back at school, or that summer is over, or even yet that the holidays are coming (which some of you actually look forward to). For me September is the dreaded month for all of the above given reasons, and because it means the imminent approach of my birthday...

Apparently it might be a genetic thing. I share the same anxiety my great-aunt did about turning one year older, although not to the same extreme. The woman used to close the curtains, lie in bed and cry for the whole day, we could not even call her to wish her a happy birthday less we wanted to be perceived as evil people.

And so I've told myself numerous times about the whole "getting older-getting better" thing, but no, I still don't buy it. So OK, it's nature and it's all in your head, blah blah blah, well my head is still young, it's the damn years that won't stay with it! I mean the body looks different — and don't try to fool me, it doesn't look better—. It also feels different: you have the same aches and pains that your mother had (and you made fun of), wrinkles you thought you were impermeable to, the hair changes, the eyesight changes, your memory is not the same... seriously, where is the "better" in that? So you're wiser, well you better be! if you don't learn anything from time, what the hell will you learn from?

Nadir, for the past decade, braces himself when my birthday nears. His sweet, non-confrontational wife (or girlfriend at the time) goes from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. I have no patience, everything is an affront to my well being. Even my dog died in September, Fine,eons ago, but I still remember it because it was... well, in September.

So, like I said, I hate this month. I wake up in a bad mood and go to bed in a bad mood. It's like going through PMS for 30 straight days.
Feel sorry for my poor husband, I'm going to turn 39 and this pressure cooker is about to pop (not really, but I also have a tendency to become over-dramatic).

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Luxury

I decided to make rosemary chicken today. No big deal, it's a common dish. The worthiness of me mentioning it is how I got the main condiment.
Once the dish decided, I grabbed a pair of scissors and went to the garden. I proceeded to grab some fresh rosemary (for the said dish) and picked some basil for the accompanying pasta. As I was tendering to the basil, a neighbor came and said that she was also in need of basil for some fresh tomatoes a friend had given her from her garden. When she said that she also had eggplants I offered to pick some oregano, lemon thyme, sage or.. ahem.. rosemary for her. In a gesture of appreciation she, in turn, brought me an eggplant and a beef tomato from the afore mentioned friend.
So I now have a kitchen smelling of fresh herbs, since I stocked up in everything that smells good, a chicken that has been cooking in rosemary, a sliced tomato with basil to start with — which promises to taste divine—, an eggplant waiting to be baked and me feeling like a true agrarian. Doesn't take much to make me happy now does it?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The end of Summer

I've been lazy... mea culpa. I've often sat in front of the computer with the best intentions of writing but was distracted by numerous things. Once it was a fly. Ok, it might not have been just any fly, the thing was persistent, it kept landing on my arm or on the screen. It wasn't big or small, and apparently it liked our apartment so much that it survived for what seemed to be the whole summer, avoiding Nadir's magazine swats with mastery and my annoyed persecutions in a very non-chalant way.

Often when I sat ready to write, my eyes would wander and I would ultimately find something that needed my immediate attention: a plant needing water, an unwanted spec of dust, a pillow not fluffed enough. Another time it was the breeze. Yes, I sit next to a window and the summer breeze is one of those things that takes my mind to far away places. Nothing awakens my senses like a summer breeze. There was the garbage truck one evening that seemed to make more noise than usual, and I should also mention Mister Softee. Now Mister Softee is one of those NY things that brings out the best in you when you're 10 years old, and the worst when you're an adult.
Mister Softee, for all of you who don't know, is an ice-cream truck. It c-o-n-s-t-a-n-t-l-y plays this music that I always wondered why it hasn't been used in a horror movie. The first time you hear it it's almost nice, it reminds you that summer is here, that kids will be running outside to get their ice-cream and that everything is ok with the world. By August you're ready to grab a bazooka and shoot the damn thing (when there are no kids around and the driver is getting a cup of coffee mind you - no need for blood). And so Mister Softee makes me forget the summer breeze as I close the windows to keep my murderous instincts in check.

Right now, someone is listening to Andrea Bocelli in their car, loud enough for me to hear, and my first instinct is to get up and put the CD on, but no, I've decided that I would write today (saying absolutely nothing by the looks of it) and post a blog.
So here it is, an entry about flies and ice creams and my lack of concentration. It's the end of the summer, and that means, my dear friends, that I'll be moaning soon enough about weather and winter, writing about soups and hearty dishes, about classes and life. Nothing else to say but: I'm baaaack.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Back to Basics

Monday night. After a day of reaching 90F with over 80% humidity we're home enjoying a quiet evening with the AC on. We start seeing lights flickering and power getting weaker so we turn off the AC and get candles, batteries and flash-lights out. After the blackout of two years ago we recognize the signs. Power is low but it's late so we don't mind. Off to bed.
Tuesday morning. No hot water. It's hot and humid so it almost feels refreshing. The light in the bathroom has the power equivalent to that of a candle, but I don't see much in the morning anyway.
Nadir suggests that I take a pocket flash-light with me just in case and I leave early not knowing what I will find out there.
The first sign is that there is no light in the hallway, no elevator. So I start taking the stairs and thank my lucky stars that I married such a smart man as I turned on the flashlight. 6 flight of stairs later I'm lighting the way for a group of people going to work and trying to make it to the main door of the building.
Subways are running OK, no signs of anything wrong in Manhattan. My office is an ice box and the day goes by without a glitch. I get updates from my husband of the conditions back home. The temperature reaches 100F, Nadir is beyond miserable, he tries to cool off at the pool but going up and down 6 floors would make anyone cranky.
By Wednesday I was trying to make light of the situation and told Nadir to see it as an adventure. Needless to say that he looked at me like I had two heads.
It's day 5 now and I'm the one on the edge. There are things that people not going through this do not realize, little details that might not seem like much but that after a week begin to take huge proportions.
We had to throw out everything we had in the fridge. Then the problem becomes what to eat. Most would say take-out, and that would be OK except that the whole neighborhood has no power. No power=no refrigeration, no refrigeration=food spoils. I'm not about to get food poisoning. The supermarkets have no power, the restaurants have no power, we would have to go to another neighborhood to get food, and then what? keep it how? canned food is a solution, but when you have thousands of people in the same situation guess what, we all think of the same thing. Salads? hmm they don't really fare well in 100F, nor do vegetables or fruit, all rotten.
Laundry. What laundry? I'm going to have to start doing it by hand and trust me, not looking forward to it. The dishes OK, but washing clothes in the sink?
The garbage. No garbage-shoot and so we have to walk down the 6 flights, with a flash-light.
At least we have the pool you say? no, we don't. No power therefore no filters, ergo no pool. No garden either, it's pouring.
At first people would take it in stride, laughing and saying "unbelievable". Now the unbelievable is usually preceded by a curse word and the faces do not show any amusement. Everyone looks tired and beyond annoyed.
We're one of the lucky ones, we have power in half of the apartment since Thursday. We still don't understand why only half but at this point we don't care. We're locked up because there is no way we'll be going up and down the stairs and walk aimlessly in pitch-dark streets. Don't want to go into the city either because it will only serve as a reminder that this is the kind of thing that would never happen in Manhattan. I'm already mad, no need to get furious.
I have totally lost my sense of humor, I am beyond cranky, I am tired and I want this to be over.
If I hear one person telling me that it can't be that bad I'll choke them. Unless you go through something like this you can't understand the toll it takes on your psyche. We're all doing the best we can to maintain a sense of civility, but seriously, the last thing you want to do is to be nice.
After 5 days of taking cold showers, of not being able to get normal food, of not knowing when the hell we will go back to "normality", I don't want to hear one more politician telling us that they're doing the best they can. I want them to come over and take showers in our houses and deal with the crap we've been dealing with.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Rodeo

We had our exciting moment this weekend. When you have a 4 day weekend, are married and both parties like to live like recluses, exciting moments can be counted on the fingers of one hand, besides the obvious moments that is... ahem...
So maybe it shouldn't be called "exciting" more like disturbing or an adrenaline-pumping moment. We had a waterbug (or American cockroach as I learned after doing some research, like I always do when I worry about something) in the apartment. You know the ones, they are huuuuuge, have wings although don't always use them, and you can actually see the hair on their freaking legs, which are more than four. Many of you know my opinion: more than four legs, not normal.
Anyway, this waterbug or roach or whatever huge thing it is, made its appearance in our spare bedroom which is our home-office, right in front of Nadir.
He, of course, tells me this in a very nonchalant way: "I saw a huge cockroach". Now, 1) for my husband to say that it was huge it means that it was gargantuan, and 2) he wasn't able to kill it. Needless to say that I proceeded to lock the room and duck-tape the door shut, I did not want that creature crawling on me while I was sleeping.
The day after, we (we being my husband and me looking on by the sidelines) emptied the office and cleaned it thoroughly, setting "roach motels" all over the place. At least it could die of laughter at the sight of those things.
And so this evening, as I'm typing this, Nadir is in the doomed room and I can hear things moving around and flip flops being banged against the floor. There is a fight going on, and I'm staying as far as I can from it.
Let the best man, creature, win.
Conclusion: the man won. After hearing many bangs I saw him darting into the kitchen and grabbing paper-towels to retrieve the corpse while mumbling "got the damn thing". The dead beast is in the garbage. My man, feeling like a hunter that has finally gotten his prey, is proud of his accomplishment. Me? I'm sure that the thing is going to try and crawl its squished-self out of the garbage bag just to prove us wrong. Why couldn't he just drop it in the toilet?? Can't wait until Nadir dumps the garbage. I just know that the moment I grab the bag the monster will come back to life and jump on me seeking revenge...

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Pics

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what football (or soccer) is all about:
Captwcfra41007012223wcup_world_cup_socceCaptwcfra34307012115wcup_world_cup_socceCaptwcfra34007012118wcup_world_cup_socce







And ultimately this:Captwcfra22207012054wcup_world_cup_socce

Oh yeah baby!

I have to do this: Allez les Bleus!!! France won against Brazil!!!!!! yeah! And again, Zidane, one of the oldest players in the cup, proved to be amazing... what a game...

Friday, June 30, 2006

Drip, drip and more drip

To say that I am fed up with the rain is an understatement. What's up with this weather??? I mean come on! I haven't seen the sun in like months now! There is apparently a shy appearance every now and then, but of course it happens when I'm in the office and ergo do not see it. It teases, a ray here and there, and then vlam! a thunderstorm, a freak rain shower that turns every street crossing into a battle with the rapids. Yesterday I had to fold-up my pants and take off my shoes to cross an avenue so that I wouldn't go into involuntary surfing. Not pretty I'm telling you.
Needless to say that I have not done any gardening and have only gone once to the pool. This morning I went into the garden before going to work to check things out and can almost guarantee that the tomato plants have become possessed: There is a mangle of branches that have no beginning or end sprawling all over the place. No tomatoes of course...
The strawberries? never mind those, it's a horror story. Yet the grapes have decided that they do not like their new habitat and have maintained their comatose state. The weeds on the other hand are happy campers and I'm sure are stinking their tongue out to every plant that we've planted claiming their kingdom back.
This weekend is supposed to be OK and so I find myself in a quandary: Soccer or garden? for many of you it would seem like a no-brainer but I'm hooked on this World Cup. And so the dilemma becomes to either watch the matches or save whatever self-esteem the poor plants still have. Oh if I could have both. Maybe I'll run from one to the other and do the best I can. The World Cup is once every four years, the weeds? If I were ever so lucky...

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Reminiscence

Do you remember when you were a kid and as the summer neared its end you felt the knot at the pit of your stomach slightly tightening? You knew that the care-free days were almost over and that soon you would have to sit in a classroom day in and day out, and do homework!
Well, as adults most of us don't have the luxury of a couple months off before starting to get that uncomfortable feeling, now it's limited to a weekend.
That's basically how I feel on Sundays during the summer. It's like I want to squeeze as much "me" time in a few hours. The fact that I feel cheated out of my weekend due to the weather might explain my sudden flash-back into childhood. I watch the clock as the day progresses and do an automatic count-down. "Yeah, I still have 6 hours." How sad.
Could it be that my week is not satisfying? maybe it's just that summer reminds me of the simple pleasure of just waking up. During the winter you have to find things to keep you busy and uplifted, whilst during the summer the mere fact of walking around your neighborhood might be enough.
I feel like I'm being robbed of that luxury. The weather is lousy and forcing me to stay indoors when I should be in the garden or the pool, or just out!
The elements, my biggest enemies...

Friday, June 23, 2006

The power of words

Most of us have stumbled at one point or another upon one of those books that we wish did not end. That is exactly what I felt while reading "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd. Although I cannot say that it is a literary marvel, it did make me smile, laugh and even sometimes cry. It is a coming-of-age story set in the early 1960s South Carolina and it is mainly written for a female audience.
The endearing relationships between the young narrator and the older women trying to empower her are written in a simple yet quite realistic way. You find yourself immersed in their world and wishing that the author did not stop, well, where it ends.
As I said, I would not recommend this book as a must in a "classic" kind of way, but it is an easy read that brings you the flavors and smells of the south, making it a very appropriate companion for the summer.
On the other hand I am now reading "Les Hirondelles de Kaboul" or "The Swallows of Kabul" by Yasmina Khadra, an Algerian writer, and I must say that I am in awe of the language. It takes place in Afghanistan during the time of the Taliban and intertwines various characters' lives.
I have not finished it yet, but I am fascinated by the fact that although the plot itself is hard to swallow (no pun intended) the way it is written has me enthralled. I almost read it aloud to feel the power of the words, the way they combine to form beautiful and yet extremely strong sentences.
I would be incapable of highlighting only one, I have read over half of the book and find the whole thing pure pleasure.
So far it is definitely not an uplifting novel, but if you ever come across it, do pick it up. I cannot vouch for the English translation, but if it's anything like the French one, it will leave you with a feeling of reading a masterpiece.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Little bits of nothing

I'm watching for the umpteenth time the Star Wars episode "The Revenge of the Sith". Yes, I'm a Star Wars fan, I belong to the generation that grew up with R2 D2, Luke Skywalker and (oh boy) Han Solo.
The more I watch it, the more I find myself analyzing those characters that were probably meant to be one-dimensional, specially if you just rely on the acting.
Let's take Darth Vader for instance, or Anakin Skywalker as he was known before he joined "the dark side". In the movie they mainly show him as a soon-to-be malevolent character that had the genetic make-up for being evil. Yet, as I watched the movie over and over again, I started thinking that he was forced into becoming the bad guy. I mean, he had all this power but yet was never trusted by the good guys. So it goes back to the nature vs nurture dilemma: if he had been shown trust, would he have turned his back on those that were meant to be good? He was let down by the people that he loved and respected. Granted he seemed to be weak, and I'm not talking about how bad he acted, although he did, but if a weak personality is not influenced and nurtured by the "right" people, what can be expected?
I know that for those that do not know the characters and/or the movie I'm making no sense, but really, as cheesy as this saga seems to be, I find that when analyzing it, it carries a lot more insight into the human psyche. And seriously, it can be eerie.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

back...ahhhhh

Friday night: a nice glass of rosé and my husband's teasing. Saturday: Checking e-mails, making phone calls, emptying suitcase and going out for a beer. Sunday: yoga, swimming-pool, watching football, going out for a beer and watching basketball's finals. All this with the lingering smells of bouillabaisse as a backdrop which was a "welcome home" gift from Nadir.
A weekend that not only reminds you that being away for a week is too long, but makes you feel oh so grateful to be back.
I've spent a week away for work reasons and as much as I appreciated the having the bed made and all the cares that come from staying at a hotel for the first 2 days, I was more than ready to come to my own "turf" quite soon.
Home is home, and I love to be in it. Please remind me next time I complain about dishes not being done...

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Unfortunate things

I've discovered another use for the dishwasher: dish-rack. The damn thing broke down and I've come to realize how much I rely on it. So now we wash the dishes by hand (yeah) and put them in the dishwasher to dry. Soon, very soon, we either get it repaired or get a new one, because it is one thing to stick your hand down the toilet to clean it since no one else will do it for you, another is to have the possibility of having a machine do the job and the damn thing not working—I'm sure you see the logic here.
And I've said damn twice... I hate doing dishes.
Besides the dish-washing adventures, coming back to reality has been an arduous task. We've been back for a week now and I'm still in Spain with mom and grandma. It was hard enough to go back to commuting, because let's face it, taking the subway is definitely not a joy ride, but this past Friday I had to walk across the bridge, again.
It seems that due to the torrential rain we had on Friday the tracks got inundated and so they shut down all subway service between Manhattan and Queens. Lovely. As I was almost paddling through the puddles insulting myself for wearing summery sandals, I realized that in 5 years I've had to walk from Manhattan to Queens 4 times: 9/11, the blackout, the strike and now the damn rain (there goes "damn" again). I've decided that even if I look like an 80s Wall Street secretary I'm going to start bringing sneakers to work, at least in a bag. No more blisters in case of a walkathon.
It could have been worse though, I could have been wearing plastic flip-flops that make you an instant ice-skater, like I saw a few passer-byes become.
I kept my cool as my pants were sticking to my legs (did I mention that it was raining, a lot?) and surrendered to my fate, knowing that at least this time hubby was going to pick me up at the end of the bridge (there was no way he could have driven into Manhattan.)
The weekend was a wash-out. The only positive outcome of such weather-related catastrophes is that the closets are now organized and the house immaculate.
So much for a weekend where the only task should be deciding at what time to hit the pool...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Skee Ball?

I was reading Medusa's blog and realized that many of us have our 80's guilty pleasures. I am relishing one of them right now: I am listening to Abba. My husband has sought shelter in the extra bedroom and closed the door. Granted he didn't say a thing, but the self-imprisonment talks louder than words. Meanwhile "voulez-vous" is blasting in the living-room while I make a tortilla so as to use the last of the potatoes and onions before we go away, all the while twirling around... Do I really like that group? I don't even know but it brings back memories of being young and full of energy, therefore it feels good.
Yeah the 80's!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The right stuff

I got up at 6:00 AM to finish up a paper. Yup, I like what I'm doing. Now I'm dead at 9:00 PM. It's a price to pay.

Oh my

The worst thing about getting ready to see your mother and grandmother after too many years is looking at yourself in the mirror. You realize 1) that you've aged and therefore 2) gravity has started to play tricks on your body, 3) that you haven't been careful and have some really awkward patchwork of a suntan because you've been in the garden —wearing t-shirts, tang tops and gardening gloves— and therefore dread the moment you have to get into a bathing suit. I am tanned, but in a scoop kind of shape from the neck up, the arms but just between the edge of the sleeve and the gloves, and I had the great idea of folding up my pants so my legs could get a little color... up to the knees. Not a pretty sight when you see the whole I'm telling you. If I go to the beach I'm going to look like some tan and white quilt... my grandmother will surely deny knowing me.
And then there's the eyebrows that in a fit of terror while writing a paper I plucked... never ever touch your eyebrows when you're stressed. I have bold patches above my left eye that will surely not grow before I meet those that think I'm perfect.
Instead of meeting the young perky thing they know, they'll see a middle aged woman with a bold spot on one of her eyebrows who looks half tanned, half dead. Hopefully they'll only see the happy person I've become. Maybe I'll hide their glasses so they can't see me up-close.

Monday, May 08, 2006

But who's counting

T minus 8 days until the end of the semester. One 10-page paper down, one more to go. In 12 days not only will I be done with the semester, papers, classes, readings, but I will most likely be enjoying good weather and looking forward to some savory foods for lunch and dinner while planning future meals. All this accompanied by two great ladies and hubby, sitting under a parasol in the southern Spanish town of Calabardina... Yeay! I shouldn't think of it right now because somehow the thought of grilled seafood accompanied by anything that tastes like something does not mix well with a book analysis...
It's going to be interesting to say the least to see my husband surrounded by three generations of women in my family. One thing for sure, being the only man and the tallest (yes, we're all midgets) will most definitely guarantee him privileged treatment. The way I see it he will be getting a glimpse of the future. My grandmother, my mother and I look exactly the same, with a few wrinkles here and there to distinguish us from one another. Characters on the other hand have been subdued as generations pass. In other words, my grandma is the judge, my mother the lawyer and I the diplomat. My grandmother has the strength, if not physically definitely mentally, of a bull. My mother has the strength of endurance, the woman doesn't stop, the amount of energy she has is incredible. Me? well, I'm still trying to figure that one out.
But I can already see it. If Nadir (hubby) happens to do his stuff, like, oh I don't know, clear the table after dinner, either my mother will get up in a dash to do it before him, or my grandma will tell me to do it so that he doesn't have to because "that's not how you keep a man" or "that's not right" ;o) It's all good. I'm looking forward to these interactions, and being the diplomat that I am I will smile and wink at Nadir, so as to say "maybe now and here... but wait until we get home". As long as I'm fed, I'll clear the table.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Hooky

Today I played hooky from work. It seems that I don't take enough days off or take the wrong ones, and so if I don't use them they will be gone next year. I don't get the actual difference between personal, floating and vacation days. Although they've tried to make it simpler by narrowing it down to personal, vacation and sick, I still get confused. I've apparently taken vacation days when I should have taken personal and to top it off I never "call in sick" unless I'm in my death-bed. For me, you get a bunch of days and should fend for yourself. But no, and so if you call the day before saying you won't be in it counts as sick (which makes sense), if you organize it ahead of time you can choose between personal and vacation, now where's the logic in that? If you are a woman and are pregnant, do you take personal, sick or vacation days? you're not really sick unless you're throwing your guts up, it's not really a vacation (I have friends that can more than confirm that), but is it personal?
Anyway, I decided that instead of having my "sick" days go to waste, I would call saying that I wasn't coming in. And so I woke up at my regular hour and called the office. Needless to say that I feel guilty taking a sick day when in fact I'm not sick. I prefer, for my own peace of mind, to think of it as a "mental health" day...

It was a beautiful day (I apologize in advance to those that were being responsible and worked), but a bit chilly so I didn't go to the garden. Instead I took my time shopping for food for the whole week - yes, it's become a culinary entry yet again-. Nothing like going to the supermarket when everyone else is working. You share the isles with the elder, which in this case suit me just fine. No hurry, no racing to the cash register, taking my time to look at labels and savoring what each meal will be like.
In my years of buying food I've discovered one little pleasure that comes almost guilt-free: Turkey bacon. You see, I grew up with a grandfather that had a heart condition and so salt was sparse and food health-conscious. Now I have a husband with a family-history of heart problems. When you are Mediterranean this dietetic situation can get a bit tricky, but some bright soul invented olive oil, so all is good.
Back to my turkey bacon. The purists might be cringing but I can vouch for it. It tastes like bacon, since it's smoked, but doesn't have as nearly all the fat as real bacon has. Somehow I try to make things tasty without much of the fat that comes with all the greatest meals. No sour cream (I'm still crying over that one), no using butter for cooking, and I still call myself French...
Tonight I decided to use some healthy bacon galore. I'm simmering onions with fig preserves so that they can caramelize. They in turn will be topping the serving of calf's liver with bits of turkey bacon. All this accompanied by a cucumber and yogurt salad that has been condiment-ed with papalo (got you there, ask me about it) and my ever-faithful mesclun salad that has... bits of turkey bacon! I thought about adding some feta cheese to it, but that might overkill it. Tasty but healthy, somewhat.
Tomorrow I'm back at work, lingering smells of cooking in my mind, of summer days to come, but specially of some great meals to have when I'm in Spain shortly!