June 24, 2008

A Moment of Thanks

E is home almost every night that I am at home. His work rarely requires overnight travel, and even when he opts to go out late with the boys, he likes to come home to sleep (albeit early in the next morning).

I know this is a blessing, and something for which I should be very thankful. But, like most good things in life, it takes a loss for you to truly appreciate how much you enjoy, depend upon, and benefit from the thing that's usually there.

So, tonight, E is away from home for work. He's got a conference that starts at the ass-crack of dawn tomorrow, so he's staying the night near the conference and he left before I came home from work.

I took the opportunity to stay home alone, catch up on some work, do laundry, and enjoy the silence of the house.

Unfortunately, I had less work than I expected tonight. So, I'm almost done with the laundry. I've called a good friend I normally don't get to speak with during the week and caught up. I've culled the unworn clothes from my closet and organized my clothes for the first time in at least a year. And, truly, now that I'm done with all of this, I'm lonely. I'm looking for more tasks to attack, because I'm quite productive in my effort to stave off the loneliness.

I'm used to having E around. The noises he makes. The comfort his breathing brings to me while we silently sit in the office and work on our respective computers. Even just this simple one night without him (I honestly can't remember the last time I spent a night at home without him), and I feel like something huge is missing from my life.

I can't help but be amazed at how this happened. There was a time when I would have counted "fierce independence" among my most strong character traits. And yet, now, somehow, I've become someone who is very comfortable with, nay, even craves, intertwinedness, interdependence, and a shared life.

Rather than be frustrated with my evolution, I'm so thankful to share my life with someone who (i) wants to share their life with mine; and (ii) is able to do so. I've been told by friends who do not have this luxury that I should be very thankful. And I knew I should -- but tonight, I feel much closer to understanding just how blessed I have been.

Life is a strange and fascinating process.

June 22, 2008

Surrogate Children

I took a break from work this afternoon to go speak with our across-the-street neighbor because she will be babysitting for us while we are on vacation.

Okay, so really, she'll actually just be watering the plants. But I don't think I've ever gone out of my way to line up care like this for something in my absence...and I can't help but think of the plants as E's and my children. We discuss them. We worry about them. We brought them to their current level of maturity together. We even (I wish I was kidding) have argued over the best way to treat them.

So, it was almost like giving the babysitter instructions when I walked our neighbor through the watering rules we follow (How many times a week should I water them? Well, we just keep 'em damp. Umm...you know, we just check 'em several times a day. We walk out there for breaks from work, breaks from life, just general breaks. Typically, we only actually hit 'em with the hose once a day, but sometimes, like this weekend when it reached 107F in the eaves, it's several times a day...)

Anyways, I'm going to get back to work now. Or perhaps I'll take a quick walk outside to check on the plants first...

June 21, 2008

Coming up for air

I'm in another one of those work-'til-you-drop periods again. It's actually been a while, and I've got a vacation coming up, so at least it's fairly well timed.

This time around, I'm trying to force myself to relax, let the work go for an hour or few at a time, and take breaks for things that are more important to me than work -- like lunch with friends, time with my visiting sister, my runs, and a birthday dinner party for a friend.

Fitting all of those things in, however, is stressful. I'm constantly feeling like I should be working when I'm doing the things I told myself were more important than working.

At least I'm actually doing them. Now I just have to get better about enjoying them more.

In other news, it got up to 107F at our house under the eaves yesterday and my short run was *very* sweaty.

Today, I've got 13-15 miles with E2 on deck, which is much less distance than last week's 20, but it's already 80F outside... so I suspect it's gonna be difficult.

Guess I should get out the door sooner rather than later.

June 15, 2008


It's halfway through June. When did that happen?

It seems like just yesterday that E and I planted the transplants in the garden and tried our hand at growing okra from seeds.

And yet, here we are, 39-days post transplantation for most of the garden, and they are huge! All of the tomato plants have at least one green tomato that is in development, and many have more. (11 days 'til early girl is supposedly bearing her early fruit, and just a few more for the others. I can't wait!):


The herb box has been amazing. My success made me so excited that I purchased some herb seeds and planted those as well (cilantro, dill, chives). Predictably -- it was less of a success -- the dill sprouted, but died over memorial day when no one watered it. The cilantro is hanging in. And the chives, which the packaging swore were like weeds have not yet sprouted.

In particular, the basil is just kicking ass this year. I love it. Every week or two I trim the tops of all 6 plants for a huge harvest of the freshest basil available while forcing them to become even more bushy in their quest for sun.

In such a short time, despite many trimmings for meals, the herb box has gone from this:


To this:


And, much to our surprise, *all* of the okra seedlings. We actually had to cull some of the plants to prevent them from strangling each other. We're still not sure how much success we'll have in pots, but regardless, we've gone from this:


To this:


Plus, a fellow-tomato lover heard of our sunshine and asked if she could borrow some sun. She donated a yellow pear tomato plant that quick caught up with its friends and is doing very well. And as a thank you, she gave us a crook neck squash. This thing is out of control! When we got it it was maybe 2 inches tall with two leaves, and yet, here it is:


It's even starting to produce squash:


But, the biggest surprise for me has been the japanese cucumber plant. It went from this:


To this:


But what's most amazing is the structural supports this thing sends out. I swear, this plant has intelligence. It grows these long probes, which extend in search of things to support itself and when it finds supports, it attaches. And not just a little bit:


Amazing, I tell you.

I'm finding it so fascinating how quickly plants change -- it's a much needed reminder for me that everything is constantly changing. Every day, each of the plants are different from the day before. The squash, in particular, wilts without enough water, and then stands right back up when you alleviate the problem for it.

Yes, the best part will most certainly be the enjoyment of the fruits. But the care and observation of the growing is full of joy as well.

June 10, 2008

The latest book meme

This comes thanks to Magic Cookie.

I'd never heard of library thing, but it seems like exactly the type of thing I turn to when I'm looking for answers. A collection of geeks who are passionate about something... in this case, books.

I'd love to join, but, if I am honest with myself, I do not have the time, and, I am more passionate about my other hobbies than reading right now, so it wouldn't be a great place to divert my energy. [Speaking of diversion, I got up early this morning to finish some diligence, and yet, here I am blogging...]

So, here's the deal, you take the the top 106 books (why 106? I don't know) from the books most often tagged unread, then, you bold the ones you've read, underline those you read for school (like mc, I'm not gonna bother with this one), and italicize the ones you started but did not finish.

The ultimate hitchhiker's guide by Douglas Adams
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Anna Karenina (Oprah's Book Club) by Leo Tolstoy
The Illearth War: The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the… by Stephen R. Donaldson
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
One Hundred Years of Solitude (Oprah's Book Club) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Vanity Fair (Penguin Classics) by William Makepeace Thackeray
The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
Ulysses by James Joyce
War and peace by Leo Tolstoy
Madame Bovary (Oxford World's Classics) by Gustave Flaubert
Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
Quicksilver (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 1) by Neal Stephenson
A Tale of Two Cities (Penguin Classics) by Charles Dickens
The Satanic Verses: A Novel (Bestselling Backlist) by Salman Rushdie
Middlemarch (Penguin Classics) by George Eliot
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
The Name of the Rose: including Postscript to the Name of… by Umberto Eco
(No title) by Mohammed
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The Odyssey by Homer
The Canterbury Tales (Penguin Classics) by Geoffrey Chaucer
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (Signet Classics) by Victor Hugo
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
The three musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
The Count of Monte Cristo (Penguin Classics) by Alexandre Dumas
The Iliad by Homer
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Emma by Jane Austen
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
Sons and Lovers (Modern Library Classics) by D.H. Lawrence
Gulliver's travels by Jonathan Swift
The House of Seven Gables (Bantam Classics) by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
Oliver Twist (Penguin Classics) by Charles Dickens
The Once and Future King by T. H. White
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Mansfield Park (Penguin Classics) by Jane Austen
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Great Expectations (Penguin Classics) by Charles Dickens
Labyrinth by Kate Mosse
Tess of the D'Urbervilles (Penguin Classics) by Thomas Hardy
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond
The Corrections: A Novel by Jonathan Franzen
Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
Underworld: A Novel by Don DeLillo
Ivanhoe (Penguin Classics) by Sir Walter Scott
The Grapes of Wrath (Centennial Edition) by John Steinbeck
Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics) by Charlotte Bronte
Count Brass by Michael Moorcock
The Gormenghast Novels by Mervyn Peake
The War of the Worlds (Modern Library Classics) by H. G. Wells
Jude the Obscure (Penguin Classics) by Thomas Hardy
The Origin Of Species by Charles Darwin
Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Penguin Classics) by James Joyce
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain
The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
The Inferno by Dante Alighieri
Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Swann's Way: In Search of Lost Time, Vol. 1 (Penguin… by Marcel Proust
The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel (Perennial Classics) by Barbara Kingsolver
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
The Portrait of a Lady (Penguin Classics) by Henry James
Sense and Sensibility (Penguin Classics) by Jane Austen
Silas Marner by George Eliot (57)
The Picture of Dorian Gray (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)… by Oscar Wilde
The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
The Confusion (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 2) by Neal Stephenson
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
The Book Thief (Readers Circle) by Markus Zusak
Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
The System of the World (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 3) by Neal Stephenson
Bleak House (Modern Library Classics) by Charles Dickens
The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and… by Brian Greene
Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
The Known World by Edward P. Jones
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Mill on the Floss (Penguin Classics) by George Eliot
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon
Dubliners by James Joyce
The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan
Les Misérables (Signet Classics) by Victor Hugo
Infinite Jest: A Novel by David Foster Wallace
Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Persuasion (Penguin Classics) by Jane Austen

I like this list. It's got quite a variety and gives me plenty to turn to when I'm looking for a good book.

June 8, 2008

Now that's an accusation!

A Californian technology billionaire has been accused of feeding ecstasy to unwitting business associates, hosting orgies at a private drugs warehouse and building a secret party lair under his mansion that even his wife knew nothing about.

Looks like Broadcom's former CEO's life is about to get even more interesting.

Or less. Depending on your perspective.

We were guests at my second-cousin/childhood friend's wedding this weekend. It was gorgeous, wonderful, but poignant given all of my dad's friends who were there. Maintaining my composure while interacting with them stressed me out more than I realized. This morning, on the drive home, E & I took a detour to go visit Dad's grave and I broke down in heart-wrenching body-shaking sobs. I hadn't been physically sad like that in a long time.

At the wedding, I couldn't remember the names of some folks I went to high school with, and, even better, one of the bridesmaids I hung out with in Vegas. A month ago. I made a bit of an ass of myself by calling her the wrong name when trying to introduce E. I'd love to say it was at the end of the event, so at least I could blame it on too much alcohol. But no, it was the first time I saw her. Before we even sat down. Awesome.

If you are not cursed with the lack of name memory, you have no idea how much it sucks. But, trust me, it does. Every time I walk in a room full of people, I know I am going to encounter someone who knows my name, about whom I know plenty of life details, but, for the life of me, I will not be able to retrieve their name. What I need to learn to do is to stop trying. I would have been much better off if I managed the conversation without trying to remember this girl's name than I was when I *thought* I remembered it. I mean, Andrea sounds like Becky, right?

The best quote of the weekend comes from M, when E, M, lucky_girl and I pulled into the beachfront event center of our hotel where we wanted to take some pictures of the four of us all gussied up in our wedding attire.

Valet: Hello, are you here for the furball?
M: No. But it sounds interesting...

Lucky_girl suggested we crash the furball (we later found out it was a benefit for animals) after the wedding. But, sadly, we are old and we had no interest in going anywhere other than straight back to the hotel at the end of the night.

And now, I must go bury myself in work. If we hadn't gone out of town, I could have worked straight through the weekend and still would not have finished it all. But we did leave, so this should be a fun week.

June 2, 2008

Bacon, Chick-Pea, Carrot Stew

The title pretty much says it all, my friends.

I've been working too hard to grocery shop. When I get spare time on the weekends, I take the opportunity to hang out with E, visiting Bro & niece, or E2. So, no shopping.

Upon arrival home this evening, I was greeted with a grim sight in our fridge (those who know me well will ask whether the sight was any grimmer than usual -- and honestly, I could not say...).

So, as a much needed break in the middle of my 13-billable-hour-day (groan... 8:30-7:30 straight at work plus an additional 2 hours of billable work at home make BT something-something...) I cobbled together a healthy stew that we both enjoyed from the random bits in the fridge and pantry. If, for some reason, you find yourself with these ingredients, enjoy!

Clean out the pantry and fridge healthy stew

-1/4 lb bacon, left over from camping, chopped into 1/4 inch squares
-4 carrots, washed, peeled, and chopped into 1/4 inch rounds
-1/2 white onion, diced
-4 cloves garlic, diced
-3 T of "La Bomba" red chili flakes mixed with herbs and dried porcini from a friend who lived in Italy and brought it back as a present (R's little bro, the chef)
-2 cans chick peas (garbonzo beans)
-1 can stewed tomatoes
-1 box chopped Pomi
-1/4 box beef broth
-3 sprigs fresh rosemary from your herb box [insert happy I-love-my-herb-box-grin]
-2 sprigs lemon thyme from your herb box [repeat]
-4 sprigs Italian Oregano from your herb box [repeat, cautiously]
-3 longer sprigs majoram [okay, so the entire point of this post is to point out how happy an herb box can make you when you spend your entire life on the busy-busy treadmill of capitalist business support.]

1. Brown bacon on medium heat. Drain 3/4 of bacon fat into empty wine bottle. Watch southern husband scowl.

2. Add 2 T olive oil, garlic, onions, and carrots. Stir vigorously for a few minutes. Add "La Bomba" and cough at the red chili pepper flake smoke. Potent stuff!

3. Add tomatoes & beans. Lower heat to simmer. Add washed and minced handful of herb-box herbs. Note that no one is as impressed as you are by the herb-box herbs. Leave covered on low to simmer for 30 minutes.

4. Stir. Add broth (and water if necessary). Continue to simmer until carrots are the correct level of cooked (total of 50 minutes or so).

5. Remove from heat. Serve into large bowls. Enjoy. Serves 3 hearty appetites for dinner (or, more importantly in our case, happily serves 2, with enough to feel like a good wife when you look at what you're leaving for lunch for your husband for the next day).