Tuesday, May 31, 2011

In Camelot

One of my guilty pleasures these days is watching "Merlin," the BBC series. As a child I loved Camelot, the musical, going so far as to redecorate my room as Guinevere's. I liked the movie Excalibur, even Monty Python and the Holy Grail (I didn't like the Richard Gere First Knight movie all that much). When I grew up, I loved Mists of Avalon, the book; the tv miniseries was okay enough too. And, in college, I studied all of the Pre-Raphaelite depictions of the legends. Though I was never an Arthurian purist--didn't read Le Morte D'Arthur or Tennyson's Idylls of the King, didn't go to Glastonbury when I was in England. But I'm really enjoying watching the BBC show--it's not gross or violent, the storylines are entertaining (from the point of view of the young warlock), the acting enjoyable enough, the sets pretty in their fantasy-medieval way. Though I have one beef: the castle is way too French (actually filmed at Pierrefonds), something out of Les Tres Riches Herures, and not a good English castle at all. But I can ignore that. Because it's otherwise a great English tale . . . .

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Kung Fu Kiddos

The kids went to their first kung fu tournament this weekend, along with Ma, Gong, and Mama (I stayed home with Goo). To prepare, they'd been attending extra practices, doing their forms everyday, even giving a demonstration for their P.E. classes. But in the last few days, they had become a bit nervous about the competition. So we kept focusing on having fun and doing their best (we're clearly not Tiger moms).

And that's just what they did today. They did their forms as best as they have, despite a long wait in a crowded and warm gym. Loud calls, tornado kicks, sweeps, everything they've practiced this spring. And they both earned gold! (How did they both win gold? Though they were in the same age division, they were in separate gender divisions.)

We're very proud of them!

And would've been, regardless of the outcome . . . .


Friday, May 27, 2011

Ask Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler


Is it or isn't it a real painting by Michelangelo? For comparison, a Michelangelo drawing from the Isabella Stewart Gardner.

On Neglected Projects

I had posted a few weeks ago about my new understanding of time and priorities. I realize now that what I always thought I should do, or even wanted to do, hasn't come close to what I am doing. For instance, for two years I've neglected Christmas cards, always saying I would do them when I had the time. Not true, had the time, didn't do them. Not sure I will. Similarly, I've always wanted, or so I thought, to finish, or at least add on to, the baby books. Obviously not as important as I thought. Similarly, though I long to organize my recipes into my cookbook and have fallen two years behind, I have not taken the recipes off my blog and put them in an edited document. Guess it wasn't as important as I'd thought. Funny, that.

So what has been important? I've been reading more and loving it, a past time that had fallen by the wayside not just with children but with years of intense grad school. I like social histories more than novels, unless the novels are solidly based in history (before the 20th century).

I've been doing a lot of what I guess can only be called self-improvement, self-improvement of a very spiritual, for lack of a better term, New Age kind, particularly focusing on Non-Violent Communication (NVC) and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). I find such studies, via DVDs, CDs, books, and workbooks, improve my communication skills and thus my relationships, increase my peace of mind and calmness and thus decrease my stress and pain.

Phone call, email, visits have also occupied my time ass I reach out through my loneliness to people around me. And I've written a lot of thank-you notes!

Now that I'm getting up more, it means I'll eventually return to baking, crafting (I can't crochet in bed!), and my new docent activities. But what will have changed? What have I learned? And will I still think about baby books and Christmas cards or have I finally laid those to rest?

Or, with 8-hour school days next year, will I get to the second and third and fourth tiers of priorities?

Or explore something totally new . . . .

I Did It!

I'm getting bored of walking in circles upstairs, especially now that I'm doing longer and longer stints. And so just now, I went downstairs all by myself!!!! I saw some lemonade-tea on the counter and managed to get a glass and ice. Then I looked for chocolate and stuffed a little bag of M&Ms in my pocket. I walked around downstairs and ventured out onto the porch, smelling spring and heat and growing things. Then I came upstairs . . . a very successful foray. And the best tasting lemonade-tea ever!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Reading the Day Away

Between all my walking forays, including a few trips up and down the stairs each day, I have been reading, almost a book a day. Yesterday was Edward Espe Brown's Tomato Blessings and Radish Teachings, which combined his Zen approach to mindful cooking with simple vegetarian recipes. Several of the essays were also in the documentary on Brown, How to Cook Your Life, including the explorations on battered teapots, the "right" biscuits, and the admonition to "wash rice when you wash rice." Today I started and am almost finished with Christopher Kimball's Fannie's Last Supper, an exploration of high-Victorian cuisine based on Fannie Farmer's 1896 Boston Cooking School cookbook. Not only does Kimball, founder of Cook's Illustrated, meticulously recreate complicated dishes using calves' heads and calf's feet gelatin and serve them up at a fancy dinner attended by the likes of Mark Bittman, he outlines the social history of Boston's markets, the South End, daily lives and clothing of maids, and how to use a coal-burning cookstove. All of which is for me fascinating reading (and the website has recipes that the book doesn't, like Baked Rosewater and Cardamom Custards with Pistachios). Tomorrow, I think I'll be reading Geraldine Brooks's new historical novel Caleb's Crossing, based on the first Native American graduate of Harvard. I'd been enjoying Sally Gunning's novels of the 18th century and had previously enjoyed Brooks's People of the Book, Year of Wonders, and March (well, that one not as much), so I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Take Me Out to the Ball Game . . . Far, Far Away

Sis and Bud's fantasy baseball league:

Tatooine Landspeeders
Mos Eisley Jawas
Jabba Sandbargers
Endor Ewoks
Kashyyk Roars (or Wookiees)
Kaminoan Bluefish
Naboo Gungans
Hoth Wampas ("They'll womp'um!")
Death Star Lasers
Jedi Lightsabers (or Coruscant Jedis)
Cloud City Pod Racers
Mustafar Volcanoes


Play ball!!

What I've Been Doing in Bed, Month 2 (Vol 2)

Now that bedrest is officially over, even if I'm still in bed quite a bit, here's what I've been doing:

News and Other Stories

Recipes and Food
  • "Little Britain"
  • "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"
  • "Merlin" (BBC)
  • "Hoarders"
  • "Hoarding: Buried Alive"
  • "Obsessed"
  • Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue
  • and, of course, "Glee"

One Big Thank You, Vol 2


Great thanks to . . . .
  • to three teachers at school, Mrs P, Miss C, and Miss L, for the luscious box of chocolate-covered strawberries;
  • to Miss J, for the long visit and the shortbread;
  • to Mama Teacher, for more visits and for organizing the meals;
  • to Mrs. S/Mrs. Cadbury/Mrs. Director, for Starbucks and the visit;
  • to Miss G, for out-of-the-blue stocking our freezer with easy-to-make veggie meals;
  • to Miss S, for the yummy lasagna;
  • to Miss J, for the delicious minestrone soup and banana bread;
  • to Miss R, for the great broccoli quiche and apple crumb cake;
  • to Miss C, for organizing even more meals;
  • to Miss D,for the tasty pasta, salad, bread, and cookies;
  • to Miss L, for the great vegetable pot pie;
  • to Mommy Goose and Miss L, for the visit and my own party;
  • to Miss M, for the long visit, the magazines, and the tasty rhubarb sauce;
  • to Miss H and Mr. P, for the lentil soup, bread, pear and walnut salad, and brownies;
  • to Miss J and Mr. M, for the yummy veggie chili and homemade bread;
  • to Miss S for the books and visit;
  • to Miss B, for the visits and coffee.

Let us give thanks...

For generous friends...with hearts as big as hubbards
and smiles as bright as their blossoms;

For feisty friends as tart as apples;

For continuous friends, who, like scallions and cucumbers, keep reminding us we had them;

For crotchety friends, as sour as rhubarb and as indestructible;

For handsome friends, who are as gorgeous as eggplants and as elegant as a row of corn -- and the others -- as plain as potatoes, and so good for you.

For funny friends, who are as silly as brussels sprouts and as amusing as Jerusalem artichokes, and serious friends as complex as cauliflowers and as intricate as onions;

For friends as unpretentious as cabbages, as subtle as summer squash, as persistent as parsley, as delightful as dill, as endless as zucchini, and who -- like parsnips -- can be counted on to see you through the long winter;

For old friends, nodding like sunflowers in the evening-time, and young friends coming on as fast as radishes;

For loving friends, who wind around as like tendrils, and hold us despite our blights, wilts, and witherings;

And finally, for those friends now gone, like gardens past, that have been harvested - but who fed us in their times that we might have life thereafter;

For all these we give thanks.

Amen.

--Max Coots

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My First Day Up

I'm tired.

Yes, it was a very exciting day. I went downstairs to see the kids have breakfast. I walked almost every hour for 5-10 minutes. I even ate two snacks standing up, which is such a luxury after consuming every morsel in a prone position.

My back seems solid, a few twinges in my posterior, nothing more. My legs are wobbly like jelly, which is why I'm not really tackling the stairs.

But even though I'm still spending 50 minutes or so an hour in bed--reading Edward Espe Brown's Tomato Blessings and Radish Teachings, practicing my Italian, "Io legge il giornale" ("I read the newspaper," I think), blogging, emailing, talking on the phone, and meditating--those 10 minutes up and about have made a world of difference to my outlook and spirits.

But sensing that I am tired, I know not to push it. I really don't want to spend another 50 some-odd days in bed.

Babysitters, Old and New

It's a week for babysitters here. Of course, we still have our nanny, who is as wonderful and well-liked now as she was at first.

Even better, tonight our beloved Babysitter, who has completed her first year of college, is home from school and coming for a visit. We might start having her come for a few hours on weekends, just to give Mama a little break.

Lastly, I have my own babysitter coming this weekend: Goo is going to watch me while Mama and the kiddos go on a little overnight (more on that after the fact). Even with my new bedrest-less state, a trip is too much to handle. And, because I'm not up to stairs, or bending, I needed someone to help out here--to feed me, feed the cats, etc etc. Just to make us all feel better about the weekend. And Goo (my BIL, for newcomers) has graciously agreed to come up. Should be fun, actually, we we both like food and haven't gotten much chance to hang out since he started grad school/med school (first, his MS and now his DO).

Worry-Free Beads


This weekend at the Greek Festival, besides eating and enjoying an incredible amount of food (this list plus Bud's new favorite, gyro), the kids and Mama bought me a set of worry beads, or komboloi. These Greek beads, similar to a rosary but with a more secular nature, are frequently fingered by Greek men (on two trips to Greece, I never saw a woman with a set; now apparently, only tourists buy them), seemingly absentmindedly. The set they bought is similar to this picture, with silver beads and the blue "eye" (matiasma) symbol of Greece, but with a black cord and tassel. I asked them to purchase the beads as I'd recently read a book, Simply Pray (more on this book soon), about the spiritual practice of prayer beads. Instead of making my own, I thought I'd use these (I had a plain plastic blue set, years ago, from my 1989 trip to Greece).

Bud is fascinated by them. He has come upstairs many times to finger the beads, wrap them around his hand, twirl them as I told him Greek men do. In fact, I've noticed that they calm him down. Three times now when he has been overwhelmed or upset, he has taken up the beads, sat on his bed, and calmed down quickly. It's almost meditative for him. And it definitely releases his worries . . . .

Spring Tossing

Mama Hungry and I have been passing time some evenings watching shows on hoarding. In part, we're fascinated; in part, we're embarrassed by our participation in this exploitation of mental illness. Watching the show has us contemplating the complicated (and in these cases unhealthy) relationships between people and their things: the emotional connection to things as a replacement for love, companionship, childhood, pleasure, or to remember the past or a person; the endless cycle of purchasing and keeping, without much concern for need or the ability to store or use it (oh, all the unopened bags of things people bought and never looked at again); "1 is too many; 100 is not enough," or overbuying/collecting to create complete sets; purchasing or keeping something only delays whatever emotion someone is avoiding for a little while (so they have to keep buying more!); don't bring in more than you toss out; never choose stuff over people; people become desensitized to mess and clutter; discarding things evokes hard emotions of loss, waste, guilt, even disloyalty; saving things "in case" or even broken things, swearing they'll fix them; family situations seriously influence a person's relationship to things (either as a continuation or reaction to the family's habits). It really is both difficult and inspiring to watch these people struggle with, and often overcome, years' worth of hoarding habits.

Is it cliché to say we've been doing more cleaning because of the show? But we have. I went through my entire food magazine and clipped recipe collection and tossed the majority of it. While we're not hoarders, we are savers and not very dedicated to housework on top of it. And we recognize some of the feelings and habits in ourselves, though definitely muted and less emotional. Because we are always working to simplify our lives, the show helps confirm our interest in simplifying and clarify our society's unhealthy materialism (even in people who aren't hoarders). So, it felt very good to throw things out and give them away.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Good News!

After talking to my doctor today (about more itchiness, a side effect, not an allergic reaction, to the injection), I have been given permission to get up as much as I can tolerate. Yep, that's right: BEDREST IS OVER!!!!!

Now, sure, I won't be able to tolerate much here in the beginning because it's been such a long time (translation: for now, I can probably do about 10 minutes an hour, maybe, though perhaps not every hour). But it's a really good start. He thinks I'll be about 70% by mid-June. And he still thinks the injection is two weeks away from full effect (which means "don't worry about my tingly heel").

And yes, Lambeth, I promise not to overdo it or do something stupid (in other words, the nanny stays, for the time being).

Perhaps predictably, in addition to being excited, I am a little nervous, too.

Wish me luck!

Tooth Fairy is Coming to Town, Again

Sis has lost tooth #2 just now!

Pick Me Ups

When I've been feeling down (it happens, especially since my heel is all tingly again), here are a few things that have brightened my spirits:
  • the "weehawken" baby red-tailed hawk, Pip, born 18 days ago after experts said the egg (which had been shown via live streaming on the NYTimes for weeks!) wasn't viable;
  • the young man, paralyzed in a car accident five years ago, who walked across the stage at his graduation thanks to new spinal stimulation technology (funded by the Christopher and Dana Reeves Foundation, no less);
  • the woman in Tuscaloosa who found her cat three weeks after tornadoes destroyed her home, and it was caught on video!

No Adventures This Year

Yep, there will be no "Adventures in Cooking Our CSA Share" posts this year because we've sold our share. With my being unable to fetch the box much less cook it, we aren't participating this year. Of course, I'm upset about it; I really loved experimenting with our weekly farm box of produce. I learned so much--about specific vegetables, about cooking, about agriculture, about my values. Sure, I can still, when the time comes, get veggies at the grocery store or even from the farm stand or farmer's market. But it's not the same. It doesn't feel like we're part of something bigger.

There's always next year, though, right?

More Prayers

This time for the people of Joplin, MO and other people in the wake and paths of these deadly storms.

Raptured

No, I didn't disappear this weekend, though I spent a lot of time reading about people who believed in the end of the world. I also read a lot of jokes about it. My favorite were the "rapture bomb" photos of the clothes left behind when people were taken. Hilarious! There was also an image of dinosaurs in the sky--"Velocirapture!" Hee hee hee.

I also learned a little bit more about the Bible and the history of religion, both in articles and in posts by commenters. I hadn't realized that many scholars read Revelation as a metaphor for the struggles of the early church in the face of opposition and that stories of the Apocalypse were meant to steel their faith against such challenges. Apparently, there is also a biblical verse that says no one, not even the angels or Jesus, would know the date of the end. Which makes Camping a false prophet for mainstream Christians. Of course, there have been many Doomsday predictions through the centuries (including a 16th-century mathematician's prediction. And of course, Nostradamus. And the Mayans coming up in 2012), often coming at times of political and social upheaval. Even Camping had predicted one in the 1990s. I liked one Buddhist's take on it (I think it was a Buddhist), that any day could be the end of the world for us and that we should embrace the moment for our end could come at any time. I guess that means, we'll all have our personal rapture.

I was glad it didn't penetrate the kids' awareness. I read a touching story about one person's devastating childhood fear of the last Camping prediction. And I remember being scared of Nostradamus (particularly because of an HBO special). But our kids didn't know. However, if they had, I don't think I would have vacillated about telling them it wasn't going to happen. As I commented on Motherlode (#22),

I believe that part of my job as a mom is to teach my children how to evaluate and analyze the flow of information that comes at them daily from media, peers, etc. We talk about considering the source of the information and the motivation behind it and how it aligns with our family's beliefs (my kids are almost 6; mostly we talk about what commercials are). As Unitarian Universalists, we apply the same criteria to religious or spiritual ideas. If my kids were aware of the rapture movement, we would talk about who Camping was, how he predicted the end of the world in 1994, the history of Doomsday predictions, the relationship of money and religion (and the definition of cult), as well as our specific UU principles that support the inherent worth and dignity of all people, meaning no one gets "left behind." Which is all to say, I imagine we'd come to the conclusion that the world is not ending tomorrow.

And because there will always be predictions of the end of the world (I think the current belief is the Mayans have pegged Dec. 2012), I'll get lots of practice talking to them about such issues.

Thinking on it again, I should've added that we would also talk about the right to free speech and also respecting other people's beliefs even if we don't agree with them. But respecting them doesn't mean believing them. And I suppose, if the beliefs are really harmful, as some would say Camping's are (or the Taliban or Neo-Nazis . . .or on an altogether different level, the BSA, etc), we would have to talk about what to do next. Mainly, how not to stay silent in the face of injustice. Thankfully, they'e only 5-ish, so I don't have to go there quite yet.

Of course, for true believers, the lack of rapture and earthquakes was no doubt devastating. There has been surprisingly little news about them, after all the coverage beforehand. I mean, how would you cope after something like that? If you truly believed . . . . I guess it would be as devastating for them as it would have been me for if the rapture had actually happened on Saturday.

BSA Revisited

I've been giving my Boy Scouts of America post more thought. It occurs to me that I am really bothered by my friends' acceptance of the BSA's discriminatory and homophobic policies, their willingness to sign up their own children regardless of the implications. Why don't they care? They've told me they don't agree with the policies, but it doesn't seem to bother them. Why aren't my friends also standing up for justice? for us and our kids?

While the comparison is exaggerated and hyperbolic, I am reminded of Pastor Martin Niemoller's "First They Came . . . ":

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Different Kind of Family Value

First grade. The time when boys join Cub Scouts.

Except our boy.

Because we can't see a moral or ethical path to encouraging Bud to profess this:

Boy Scouts of America believes that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed.

Do we really want him around people who believe that his moms are dirty and immoral? Or to have to agree to that himself? Of course, not all Boy Scouts believe this, surely. I imagine they conveniently ignore it because it doesn't affect them. That doesn't make it better. Or right. And what kind of message does that send to Bud or the BSA, that we don't mind that they morally object to us? Would you encourage a biracial child to join the Klan?

It's hard because we know that he'd probably enjoy the camaraderie and activities. Several of our friends don't understand our dilemma and keep telling us that it doesn't matter on the local level, that no one will discriminate against us or Bud here in town. And I imagine they're right, for the most part. But I say it's the principle of the matter.

Besides, in 2009, the moms of a Vermont Scout were prohibited from volunteering for his pack when it was learned they were lesbians.

How could I risk putting him through that? What would we have taught him? What would he have learned?

A Wild Dinner Party

Last night, two friends--Mommy Goose and Miss L--threw me a dinner party. Mama and the kids were at a school function to celebrate reading, and so I would've spent the evening alone. Instead, we had a fabulous night. Miss L is a Wildtree consultant, meaning she sells these food products that are preservative-free and natural but also quick and easy (think Annie's for the Pampered Chef crowd). And Mommy Goose had hosted a Wildtree party, which I was unable to attend.

So they brought it here: French bread with dipping oils flavored with garlic or hickory or lemon or basil pesto; vegetables with creamy dill dip; sauces with garlic, basil, parmesan; pretzels dipped in ginger plum sauce and Thai sun butter sauce; even a creamy strawberry cheesecake dessert on graham cracker sticks. Flavorful. Fun. Which means, of course, I bought some (they left the leftovers for Mama to try, which was smart, because she chose a few to buy).

But besides all the tasty goodies, we had great conversation. About school (their sons will be going to kindergarten at Sis and Bud's school). Friends. Food. Instead of just an hour or so, they were here for three, and then only left because it was so late . . . even though they stopped several times for one more comment!

Really, a great night. Thanks, ladies!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Poetry Jam: Love in Verse

My note to kids in their snack boxes yesterday:

"I love you
very, very, very
very, very, very
much!"


Their reply, to carry with me to hospital:

"Dear Mommy,

We love you. This is a poem for you.
HOW MUCH WE LOVE YOU!!!

All the way to Gommie's head to
Pop's head to
the Great Wall to
the Civil War
and back again.

All the way to
Paris France to
the Eiffel Tower to
the Pilgrim time to
the dinosaur time to
the mango trees to
Japan in ninja times to
Mystic Seaport to
the tallest tree in Africa to
the bunnies in Pop's cabin to
the penguins in the South Pole to
Santa Claus's toy shop to
the Indian times
And back again.

All the way to
the elephants to
Miss C's [Sis's teacher] house to
[school] to
a galaxy far, far away to
the time when Pop was a baby
(a long time ago) to
the Great Wall
and back again.

love, Bud and Sis"


My snack-box reply reply today:

"I love you
to Tatooine
to Dagobah
to Hoth
to Endor
to Naboo
to Coruscant
to Kaminoa
to Cloud City
and back again!"

Love,
Mommy

Thank You!!

Thanks to all of you for your thoughts, prayers, and good wishes. I'm doing very well today, though resting fully, not even taking my 10 minute walks. And for the first time in almost 9 months, I can feel all of my right foot!!!! This is progress. So I am hopeful and optimistic that I'm on the mend.

But I promise, Lambeth, that I won't overdo it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Much Better

Came through (uncomfortable) procedure fine and can feel improvement already.  Exhausted from long day and heading home in traffic.  Mama is a trooper and a love.  Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.  More later....

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tomorrow

I'm having a lumbar epidural tomorrow to reduce inflammation and discomfort. I had spoken to my doctor and we just weren't pleased with the slowdown in my improvement--I haven't gotten worse just not better enough. I'm a little nervous, if only because I hated the "pop" of my spinal for my c-section. But my understanding is that this will be better or different.

So, send your loving thoughts this way (or to NYC, where I'll be) tomorrow . . . .

And thanks to Aunt Banana for her words of support and calm and suggestions for the procedure.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Family Addiction, Including the Cats

I like my 'droid and whatever computer I can blog on.

The kids love to play DS and now they play a few games on Mama's iPad.

Yep, Mama has an iPad and she loves it, even if it's Mac-ness isn't quite intuitive for her yet.

And the cats love it too. Yep, the cats. Mama has a game for them which involves little mice running around on the screen. The cats even get points for pawing it! Hermione loves it but just watches, only occasionally tapping it--she doesn't care much about her score. Albus looks under the iPad for the mouse. No points for him.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

SQUIRT

Sustained. Quiet. Uninterrupted. Reading. Time.

But SQUIRT sounds better.

And the kids are very excited. Sure, we had been encouraging 15 minutes of personal reading before bedtime for a few months, but we didn't have a jazzy name for it until I came across a list in Trelease's Read Aloud Handbook. Other options were DIRT (daily independent reading time), DEAR (drop everything and read), and FVR (free voluntary reading), all of which are cuter than SSR (sustained silent reading). But the kids liked SQUIRT.

In fact, they like it so much they were both together in Bud's bed last night reading their Star Wars lightsaber book together.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Much Better

Sis's hives went away in an hour.

My itching should go away soon. And I'm doing okay with out that medication.

Got my Thursday posts back, so my blog is up-to-date.

Mama and I watched more "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency," which we really enjoy.

Mama Teacher came over for a nice, long visit while Bud and Sis were at kung fu, getting haircuts, and going grocery shopping.

Bud got a last-minute invitation to the birthday party today and he is very excited.

And we're going to get some rain, which will give all the allergy sufferers up here much-needed relief.

Pretty good.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Uh-Oh

Blogger has gone down today.

And I'm missing all my posts from yesterday, at least four of them, with no idea if they'll be restored.

:(

Not a good day. I'm having an allergic reaction to my medicine and am itchy all over so the doctor is taking me off it but it will still take a few days to clear up. Sis came home in hives (no, these aren't related; I don't have hives) which cause we can't determine; she's terribly itchy and welt-y all over. And now Blogger.

Blah.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Southwest by Southwest

Gommie and Pop are on a trip, a marvelous westward journey through New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah. They've been to Santa Fe and Taos and in 10-12" of snow in Telluride. They're heading to the Four Corners at some point, the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde, and other places in the next 2+ weeks. They check in periodically, when they have cell phone coverage, and it sounds like they're having a wonderful time, seeing elk and the Georgia O'Keeffe museum and eating spicy food and buying a silver Kokopelli charm. I'm glad they're having a great time.

Legos Make it All Better

There has been tension around the house, frustration perhaps, especially for Bud, who seems overwhelmed by everything. And so we were talking about it yesterday. He's sad that I can't play downstairs, sad that he can't be home with me instead of going to school. I told him I wasn't having fun without him, that in fact I was just home alone.

"But you have the cats," Sis pointed out.

"No, the cats are in their room for when Nanny comes and y'all get home."

They were both disturbed that I might be lonely.

So they've been bringing me toys to play with. Yesterday, it was one Lego mini-figure from Sis and Bud's stuffed penguin Tango, all dressed up. Today it's a fairy playland plus about 10 monster-ish Lego figures. It's all very sweet.

But I'm also glad they are still having fun and playing downstairs and not moping up here with me all day. Even if I miss them . . . .

Time is Not of the Essence

People always talk about time. Mainly how they don't have enough of it, how much more they could do if they had more of it, how they never get everything done.

I've said it myself, many times.

And I've been wrong.

Time isn't the problem. Time just is.

Yes, it's been on my mind a lot lately because I feel like I have a lot of it.

Here I am sitting in bed, 10 hours alone, no responsibilities. Seemingly all the time in the world. Everyone who visits wishes for some of my time--ah, to spend a day or two in bed, to rest, to get things done (though, no one ever wants all approximately 60 days, unless they could spread them out. And I admit that isn't a bad idea.). And I totally understand that.

Except I'm not getting everything done: there are emails I haven't replied to, calls I haven't made, all sorts of projects I could do but haven't gotten to, books to read, shows to watch. And I'm not napping; I'm doing something on my list all day long. There is always too much. I want and desire too much, even of those things I deem priorities. But I'm learning as I am here in bed that I can be happy without so much of it; I'm coming to understand what my real short-list of priorities is--and none of them are "things." Though, of course, I have been depressed about some things I can't do and events I've missed. But the sadnesses that have arisen have often passed, especially because I try not to dwell since it can't be changed. I'm trying to enjoy what I can do, though it helps to know that this is rather temporary. Though I hope I could say the same if it were permanent. As Stephen Hawkings noted in a recent interview, "My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit, as well as physically."

I would love to say I could extrapolate all of this awareness of desire and suffering, to use the Buddhist terms, to life and the larger picture, to accept that no matter how long my life, chances are that I will feel that it isn't enough, that I will miss out on what I leave behind, especially with regards to our children (especially when I read posts like this). Still, perhaps recognizing this connection between wants and dissatisfaction, desire and unfulfillment, on a daily, monthly, even yearly basis, will help me embrace it on the grander scale.

But for now, for all of my friends who keep worrying about time and believing they could ever have enough of it to finish their to-do lists, I say, it's a myth. Time isn't the challenge. We are.

(Though, I do wish you all some rest and time in bed for yourselves; it can help many things.)

Bass-ackward Priorities in Texas

In Texas, it seems fishing is more important than education.

Gail Collins talks about a teacher-certification law that didn't make it out of the committee . . . .

But the legislature did pass a bill to make it illegal to exaggerate the size of a catch at a fishing tournament.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I Was Born This Way . . . And It Gets Better!

Picture this: Sis and Bud performing Lady Gaga's "Born This Way," but Sis starts it in her five-year-old way, "It doesn't matter if you love him, or capital H-A-M!" Yep, the girl loves ham more than Him. Then Bud joins her and they start singing about loving themselves and being great the way they are. They even mimic all the choreography from "Glee"--putting their "paws up," curling their hair, smearing on the lipstick--but sometimes the meaning escapes them--they still haven't figured out what a "boudoir" is! It's adorable. And a fantastic message.

Yep, we're all Gleeks over here and it's been quite a week or two, with Kurt coming back to McKinley and the New Directions last week--culminating in the "Born this Way" song that the kids love. And then prom last night. Whose breath wasn't caught in their throat when Kurt was announced "Queen?" But I think he turned it around beautifully, with "Eat your heart out, Kate Middleton!" The kids are going to love the songs when I show them later today, the songs, not the episode. I only wish that Santana and Brittany could've moved along in their relationship. I'm even loving some of the commercials, including Google Chrome's support of Dan Savage's It Gets Better movement and the ad with the lesbian couple together for 29 years for New Yorkers United for Marriage.

At the same time, "Glee" has taken quite a beating the last few weeks, from Glenn Beck and from a Fox affiliate in Houston, which worries that the show is turning children gay. But I've got news for Fox: kids in Houston were turning gay way before Glee and even before Fox! And I was just one of them, even if I was a late bloomer. Two others were friends of mine in high school: my basketball- and softball-playing lesbian best friend (who kissed me!) and my New Wave, blue-eye shadow-wearing, multi-ear pierced, fashion-conscious Vietnamese boyfriend and prom date (whom I never kissed. We were Santana and Karofsky without actually acknowledging it!). But we never said anything, even if everyone else was whispering about it; silence was safety then, especially silence in your own heart. What we would have given for an accepting, celebratory show like "Glee," not just for its out characters but for its acceptance of all diversity--Asians, Jewish people, people in wheelchairs, overweight people, people with Down Syndrome. No, we had, a few years later, "90210," not a bastion of diversity, unless blonde and brunette, rich and not-quite-as-rich count.

But it got better. It's gotten so much better. On tv, in the schools, on the streets, on the law books. Yes, hate crimes happen with shocking regularity and LGBT suicides are still high--and internationally, the picture is bleak in many places like Uganda. But there has been improvement here--legal same-sex marriage, gay and lesbian adoption, Ellen, Chaz Bono,changes in the Episcopal and Presbyterian churches, the end of DADT, and "Glee," to name just a few--which shows it's possible. It does get better.

And if I ever made a video for It Gets Better, I'd start with our beautiful kids singing:

(Lady Gaga's "Born this Way," Glee version)

[Kurt:]
It doesn't matter if you love him, or capital H-I-M-M-M-M
Just put your paws up
'Cause you were born this way, baby

[Tina:]
My mama told me when I was young
We are all born superstars
She rolled my hair and put my lipstick on
In the glass of her boudoir

[Mercedes:]
"There's nothing wrong with lovin' who you are"
She said, "'Cause he made you perfect, babe"

[Mercedes with Tina:]
"So hold your head up girl and you'll go far,
Listen to me when I say"

[New Directions: Mercedes]
I'm beautiful in my way
'Cause God makes no mistakes
I'm on the right track baby
I was born this way

Don't hide yourself in regret
Just love yourself and you're set
I'm on the right track baby
I was born this way

[New Directions: Tina]
Ooo there ain't no other way
Baby I was born this way
Baby I was born this way (born this way)

Ooo there ain’t no other way
Baby I was born this way
I'm on the right track baby
I was born this way

[Kurt:]
Don't be a drag – just be a queen

[Tina:]
Don't be a drag – just be a queen

[Mercedes:]
Don't be a drag – just be a queen
Don't be!

[Tina:]
Give yourself prudence
And love your friends
Subway kid, rejoice your truth

In the religion of the insecure
I must be myself, respect my youth

[Mercedes:]
A different lover is not a sin
Believe capital H-I-M

[Mercedes with Tina:]

I love my life I love this record and
Mi amore vole fe yah (love needs faith)

[New Directions (with Mercedes):]
I'm beautiful in my way
'Cause God makes no mistakes
I'm on the right track baby
I was born this way

Don't hide yourself in regret
Just love yourself and you're set
I'm on the right track baby
I was born this way

[New Directions (with Tina):]
Ooo there ain't no other way
Baby I was born this way
Baby I was born this way

Ooo there ain’t no other way
Baby I was born this way
I'm on the right track baby
I was born this way

[Kurt:]
Don't be a drag, just be a queen
Whether you're broke or evergreen
You're black, white, beige, chola descent
You're lebanese, you're orient

Whether life's disabilities
Left you outcast, bullied, or teased
Rejoice and love yourself today
'Cause baby you were born this way

[Mercedes and Tina:]
No matter gay, straight, or bi
Lesbian, transgendered life
I'm on the right track baby
I was born to survive

No matter black, white or beige
Chola or orient made
I'm on the right track baby
I was born to be brave

[New Directions (with Tina leading & Mercedes on riffs):]
I'm beautiful in my way
'Cause God makes no mistakes
I'm on the right track baby
I was born this way

Don't hide yourself in regret
Just love yourself and you're set
I'm on the right track baby
I was born this way

Ooo there ain’t no other way
Baby I was born this way
Baby I was born this way

Ooo there ain’t no other way
Baby I was born this way
I'm on the right track baby
I was born this way

I was born this way hey!
I was born this way hey!
I'm on the right track baby
I was born this way hey!

I was born this way hey!
I was born this way hey!
I'm on the right track baby
I was born this way hey!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Take the Time

Lisa Belkin of Motherlode has asked her readers for their three words of parenting advice. There are some great phrases in the comments--"I love you," "Let's try again," "Change always happens," "Teach mutual respect," "Encourage. Rinse. Repeat," "Don't eat that," "Five-second rule," "Lead by example," "Trust your instincts," "Ask your mother." And many more lists of qualities or skills--compassion, respect, consistency, calm, patient, flexible, accept, relax, enjoy, trust, breathe, listen. (HEY, check it out: my comment #70 was highlighted!!!)

After much thought and discussion with Mama, I think I like . . .

Take the time . . .

to breathe, sleep, eat, laugh, play.
for yourself when it gets to be too much.
to listen to them.
to listen to yourself.
to listen to your co-parent.
to give them choices.
to wait for their answer.
to put a note in their lunch. And your beloved's too.
to get out the door in the morning.
to make the cake from scratch.
to sit down for a meal together.
to read one more story.
to stay up late sometimes.
to put the computer down.
to watch when they call "Look!"
to answer "Why? "What?" "How?" "When?"
to explain "I don't know."
to try again.
to do it right.
to say "please" and "thank you," "I'm sorry," and "I love you."
to say yes. And to say no.
to show them how instead of doing it yourself.
to share something of yourself.
to let them share something of themselves.
to take time alone.
to give them time alone.
to be together.
to do what you like or want to do.
to do what you have to do.
to let them do their thing. But to help them do what they have to do, too.
to try something new.
to teach and to learn.
to enjoy and to remember.
to be.


Monday, May 9, 2011

What I've Been Doing in Bed, Month 2

Okay, it hasn't even been a whole month yet, so I guess this is really "Month 2, Vol 1):

"Offline" Reading
  • Colonial New England on 5 Shillings a Day
  • Prayer by Erik Wikstrom
  • Food Matters by Mark Bittman
  • The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone
  • In Small Things Forgotten (colonial archaeology) by James Deetz
  • No Idle Hands on the history of American knitting
  • magazines: Buddhadharma

Online Reading
Miscellaneous

Recipes and Food
  • "Glee" and all the "Glee" albums
  • "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" (HBO/BBC), based on the mystery novels--very good
  • the new "Upstairs, Downstairs"
  • "The Vicar of Dibley" (1990s BBC comedy)--hilarious!
  • The Royal Wedding (all 6 hours of BBC coverage, on fast forward)
  • "Hoarders"--oh, how we're cleaning stuff out now!
  • "How to Cook Your Life" documentary (see previous post)
  • rewatching "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (early seasons)
  • "Making Life Wonderful" non-violent communication training video
  • Rosetta Stone Italiano
  • movies: Angel, American Morning, Did You Hear About the Morgans? All in one day, all pretty mediocre
  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction CD

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Buona Notte!

I'm learning Italian!

I've always wanted to--since lots of upper level Italian Renaissance art history and two trips to Italy--and now I have lots of time on my hands.

And Mama found a course on super-sale.

I just did the first lesson, which seemed faster and more complicated than I would've expected, considering I don't speak Italian--lots of "lei beve" and "la bambina legge" (I hope I got that right)--there's almost no time to think. But perhaps that's the point. I did pretty well and even my non-rolled "r" seemed to pass (yes, it has voice recognition).

Very exciting! It's like my 6 years of Latin, but useful . . . . (okay, yes, Latin was useful for SATs and a few other things, but you can't order gelato with it!)

Ciao, bella!

Poetry Jam: Where I'm From

I mentioned that I'm taking an online poetry course and one of our assignments was to write a "Where I'm From" poem, based on George Ella Lyon's poem and website. I decided to focus on food, thinking that would narrow my topic. Instead, I wrote 4 pages of ideas, which took a long time to narrow down to this still very long . . . let's call it a poetic list.


Food: A Life Story, or Where I’m From

I’m from asparagus poking up at me, watermelon lolling around, cornstalks “as high as an elephant’s eye” in Grandad’s garden
I’m from family eating together:
  • the bright-red pot containing my mom’s beef-and-potato hash
  • Mom’s battered roaster holding my favorite pot roast every time I came home from college
  • Dad scaling trout in the sink which Mom fried and I ate with ketchup
  • drinking Grandad’s “coffee milk” in bed, with china and demitasse spoons
  • sneaking a taste of Grandmother’s boozy Charlotte Rousse in the red glasses in the fridge
  • celebrating with escargot, scampi, spumoni at our family’s special restaurant
  • colored-Crisco frosting mixed with chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream every birthday
  • hush puppies are best eaten hot at bayside family fish fries
  • eating lunch after church with Great-Grandma’s friends
  • counting out snowmen and star cookies when Mom and I baked for the holidays
  • turkey and dressing for Thanksgiving and Christmas, ham for Easter
I’m from a handwritten note from Mom in every bagged lunch
I’m from campfire cooking (and singing) with Girl Scout friends—s’mores, banana boats, hobo stew
I’m from waiting for the ice cream man with my next-door neighbor on a hot Houston day
I’m from talking all night over a box of fudge-covered Oreos with my best friend
I’m from college bonding over midnight bean-and-cheese runs and cheesecake by the river
I’m from studying abroad:
  • tart yogurt with honey near the sunbaked ruins of Greece
  • dark chocolate with cookies for casse-croûte after excavating in the 114F Tunisian summer
  • the best gelato in the world, near the Pantheon—zabaglione, pistachio, nocciola “con panna”
  • crusty baguettes with butter and cheese every meal of my Parisian weekend
  • worst meal ever, under most beautiful view of Neuschwanstein Castle
  • afternoon tea--oh, clotted cream!--with friends in a manor house in the British countryside
I’m from we met in grad school, over my breakfast of a diet coke and a bagel
I’m from newly in love and eating out in Chicago: Japanese? German? Delicatessen? Middle Eastern? Swedish? Deep-dish pizza? Hot dogs? Mexican?
I'm from liking almond horn cookies, then finding a recipe, losing it, mourning it, and rediscovering it
I’m from teaching my beloved to bake, long distance, and setting off the fire alarm
I’m from sobbing over burnt candied orange peels in a ruined pot
I'm from giving tours with Chinese platters, American syllabub cup, Felix Gonzalez-Torres's pile of candy
I’m from traveling with my beloved
  • fish boils in Wisconsin
  • beignets in New Orleans
  • cornish pasties in London
  • peanut soup at Gettysburg
  • apple dumplings in a bag on a farm somewhere
  • the best hot dogs are grilled at the World Trade Center plaza
  • historic open-hearth cooking in Indiana, Connecticut, Massachusetts
  • drying off from a drizzling rain in a tearoom in York
  • walking down Fifth Avenue to the promise of corned beef at Carnegie Deli
I’m from Christmas is . . . Teuscher truffles
I’m from mozzarella, prosciutto, balsamic, and bread to welcome the Millennium
I’m from making gumbo to comfort us in the pain of September 11
I’m from eating with my in-laws:
  • the flopping fish in the cooler is about to be dinner
  • being the only white person at dim sum
  • learning to negotiate chopsticks, with witnesses
  • mango sticky rice
  • the ritual foods of Chinese New Year
  • mooncakes every fall
  • talking food with my gourmand brother-in-law
I’m from cornbread must be made in a cast-iron skillet
I’m from “Is that roux the right color, yet?”
I’m from reading the Julie/Julia blog real time
I’m from becoming a vegetarian because of the horse killed at the Kentucky Derby 2008
I’m from Frappuccinos and chai are the secret elixir of new motherhood . . . of twins
I’m from playgroup bonding over lunch and jars of baby food
I’m from learning to cook for my family
  • no soy, wheat, dairy, eggs, or nuts when the kids were little
  • the crockpot is my best friend
  • blogging all my recipes online
  • surviving the pickiness of preschool
  • picnics under the Japanese maple as soon as it’s warm enough to sit outside
  • Wilton cake classes to make the kids’ birthday cakes
  • play food restaurants and mudpies stirred with sticks
  • packing lunchboxes with notes, just like my mom
I’m from watching my beloved’s summer-grilling production, waiting for grilled pizza
I’m from excitedly putting out bowls the night before for snow for ice cream
I’m from helping my daughter sell Thin Mints and Samoas on a Saturday morning
I’m from eating homemade:
  • reading Bittman, Pollan, Kingsolver
  • PYO apples, blueberries, strawberries, pears . . . and putting up the little bit that makes it home!
  • cooking adventures with our CSA—what do you do with kohlrabi?
  • popping real pocorn on the stove
  • making all of our bread for 40 days and beyond
  • gardening with the kids and watching my son eat a grape tomato from an upside-down plant
I’m from beans, chocolate, and no-knead bread, but no raw tomatoes, cilantro, or cucumbers
I’m from our family blessing, “All I really need is a song in my heart, food in my belly, and love in my family . . . .”

Real Mother's Day

There is talk of moving that apostrophe in "Mother's Day"--not just for two-mom families--but to focus on all mothers not a child's particular mother. Sew and Sow posted a link yesterday to Julia Ward Howe's original Mother's Day Proclamation, reminding me that today was intended to be more than tea parties and cards (though, I enjoyed that immensely this weekend; more later). That proclamation, in conjunction with Nicholas Kristof's recent essay on maternal mortality in Somaliland and several mailings from Save the Children, remind me that even if the American holiday never changes, there is so much we can do to make change in the world for mothers and their children.

Mother's Day Proclamation
Arise, then, women of this day!

Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:
"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

--Julia Ward Howe

Real Mothers

My sister and I just had a long conversation, mostly about poop.

From experience, I know that this is what moms do.

But it was novel, and nice, to discuss it with my sister.

Happy First Mother's Day!

To Aunt Banana . . . hope you have a wonderful day!


By Christina Rossetti


Sonnets are full of love, and this my tome
Has many sonnets: so here now shall be
One sonnet more, a love sonnet, from me
To her whose heart is my heart’s quiet home,
To my first Love, my Mother, on whose knee
I learnt love-lore that is not troublesome;
Whose service is my special dignity,
And she my loadstar while I go and come
And so because you love me, and because
I love you, Mother, I have woven a wreath
Of rhymes wherewith to crown your honored name:
In you not fourscore years can dim the flame
Of love, whose blessed glow transcends the laws
Of time and change and mortal life and death.

Happy Mothers' Day!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

One Big Thank You, Vol. 1

Instead of several separate posts, I want to write one big thank-you post (or a few big ones).


On Gifts For Grace
by Bernadette Mayer

I saw a great teapot I wanted to get you
this stupendous 100% cotton royal blue and black checked shirt,
There was a red and black striped one too
Then I saw these boots at a place called Chuckles
They laced up to about two inches above your ankles
All leather and in red, black or purple
It was hard to have no money today
I won't even speak about the possible flowers and kinds of lingerie
All linen and silk with not-yet-perfumed laces
Brilliant enough for any of the Graces
Full of luxury, grace notes, prosperousness and charm
But I can only praise you with this poem—
Its being is the same as the meaning of your name

  • to Gommie, for everything, and I don't just mean those three weeks;
  • to Mrs. S (aka Mrs. Cadbury), for watching the kids during that first doctor's appointment and for all your offers of assistance;
  • to Mama Teacher, for organizing meals, bringing a delicious meal, and your many visits;
  • to Miss K, for the surprise visit and meal--loved the ravioli and the strawberry pie;
  • to Miss J, for taking over Daisy Scouts under less than ideal circumstances and for the pasta and brownies;
  • to Mommy Goose, for the meal (yummy mac and cheese and cake!), the fun visit, and running that errand for me;
  • to Miss L, for the yummy pasta e fagioli and ice cream bars, plus the offer to visit;
  • to Miss D, for the veggie lasagna and brownies
THANK YOU!!!!!!

Looth Tooth

We're on "tooth watch" over here, with Sis's lower front tooth wiggling practically back and forth in a full arc. She's excited, cautious with eating, fully informed about the whole thing (sometimes you swallow them without knowing; it won't hurt; there might be a bit of blood; the tooth fairy will come at night). Bud is distraught that she's going first and alternates between grumping and trying to force his own teeth to wiggle.

I understand it's often first in, first out, for baby teeth. And I can't recall for the life of me who got teeth first and which ones. It might be embedded in my journal somewhere, being a huge milestone at the time, but I don't recall it now. Sometimes, I really wish I had been blogging then . . . .

I'm betting money that the tooth comes out this weekend. But you never know. Still, her tooth fairy box is ready (she said I could make her a pillow--I had a tooth fairy pillow--for the next one). And so is she.

(Okay, I just checked the incomplete baby books--hey there's something to do in bed!--and Sis got that lower front tooth first, in January 2006. Bud got his in February. Wonder if he'll be a month behind again.)

UPDATE: 9:27 a.m. The tooth is out!!!! Sis just came running up here with the little thing in her hand, big smile on her face. And the new tooth is very visible, so it's not like a big gap. Extremely exciting. And Bud seems okay.

Friday, May 6, 2011

My Six-Word "Momoir"

Inspired by a post on the Well blog, where there are now hundreds in the comments:

Mine:
twins + 2 moms = un4gettable

For my mom:
I understand better now I'm "Mom."

For new mom Aunt Banana:
Years fly by, but hours don't.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Feliz Cinco de Mayo

We're having Mexican food tonight in honor of this American celebration. Yep, American. Just did some research and a). it's not Mexican Independence Day (Sept. 16) or b). widely celebrated in Mexico beyond the state of Puebla. It does commemorate the Battle of Puebla in 1862, when a small, poor Mexican army defeated invading French troops (who, a year later, took control of the country and declared Emperor Maximilian I, who was then later executed when the Mexicans took back their country; see the Manet painting here). Most interestingly, the Wikipedia article mentions how this little battle might have altered the course of the American Civil War, because if the French had taken Mexico then, they would probably have aided the Confederacy.

So, lots of reasons to celebrate. And to do so, I include a flan recipe given to me by a friend. However, this friend is Venezuelan, not Mexican, and it's not flan but quesillo. Still, similar and no doubt yummy. I have, however, taken this from Food.com because, in my current state, I can't get downstairs to get my handwritten copy of my friend's recipe (also the reason I haven't made it yet). But it is very similar. Oh, and she spelled it with a "k" for kuesillo. When I get her recipe, I'll make the adjustments--hers had the three kinds of milk, but fewer eggs and I think no vanilla.

-=-=-=-=-

Flan, or Quesillo a la Ana


    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 6 -7 eggs
    • 1 (14 ounce) cans condensed milk
    • 1 (12 ounce) cans evaporated milk
    • 12 ounces low-fat milk
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Over med. heat melt sugar in a cake pan or in a pot. You can add a tiny bit of water (1 Tablespoon or so) before sugar heats up to make it a little lighter.
  2. After sugar is melted it should be light brown. Don't let it get dark or burn. Take off the heat and if it's in the cake pan let it cool. If it's in a saucepan, pour it into the cake pan and let cover the bottom of the pan and harden a bit.
  3. Put the rest of the ingredients into a blender and blend for a few minutes. Then pour on top of the caramel mixture in the pan. Place the cake pan into a larger casserole or round glass dish and fill the larger pan with water until the water comes up to about halfway on outside of the cake pan. This is called a bain-marie or bano de maria in spanish. Place this into the oven and bake for about an hour or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  4. Place cake pan in refrigerator to cool for about 5 hours to overnight. If you're in a huge hurry you can also leave it in the bain-marie but dump the water and refill with cool water then add some ice cubes to this and place in refrigerator. If the ice cubes melt, add some more, removing a bit of water if necessary so as not to cause overflow. This could be ready in an hour or two if the ice is replenished often.
  5. Alternatively I'll sometimes do this in two loaf pans and place both into a large casserole dish. In that case, sprinkle enough sugar to coat the bottom of each pan lightly.