Thursday, October 24, 2013

Current Reading

My life is always filled with books, both for work and for pleasure.  This sometimes, but not always, has the result of making work pleasurable.

Currently on the docket:

In the middle of discussing The Myth of Jose Marti with my colloquium, exploring Cuban nationalism through its foundation myths.  We're also in the midst of Que Vivan los Tamales, a fun and useful book that looks at Mexican national identity through food.  Up soon: Unequal Cures, which is a fabulous book on public health, race, and gender in early twentieth-century Bolivia.  Okay, all pretty heady stuff, but hey: it's a capstone course on nation-state formation in Latin America.  This is what you get.

In my modern Latin American survey, we're set to discuss Guevara's Motorcycle Diaries.  I presume much of the class will enjoy it.  I find Che annoyingly sexist and bourgeois in it.  Later in his life, I find him annoyingly sexist and an ongoing intellectual elitist despite his commitment to revolutionary principles.  

At home, the fare is lighter:
I am almost done with The Orchardist, which I've found an absorbing read.  Not the best novel of my life (or even year), but definitely engaging.  Next for me: The Christmas Kid and Other Brooklyn Stories.  Hopefully that will be good.  

I'm also liking the simplicity of Terry Walters, Clean Food, which I bought last summer.  

The kids and I just started the the last School of Fear book, and I am looking forward to the next Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place book.  I'd like to find a good book on CD to listen to with them as the nights grow longer and colder.  

Anya just finished her first Molly Moon book, and she's looking forward to more, while Samuel finally finished Under Wildwood and is now reading Winter Dance--a nice little book about running the Iditarod.  

As far as I know, Howard is still reading drek.  

What are you reading these days?  Any suggestions on books I might want to give a try?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Letting Go

I should start this post by admitting: I don't let go easily.  I'm learning, but it does not come naturally to me.  I cling.  I try to retain.  I whine.  I bemoan.  I struggle to recapture.  

Thus, I have to remind myself (constantly) to breathe in, breathe out...and let it be.  Let go.

This summer, in the midst of a year of much upheaval and travel, I found myself feeling constantly disjointed and distracted.  I realized that, ever since we bought the house in Maine, I'd been dreaming and agonizing over the possibility of moving there.  I felt too torn.  At the same time, I began to realize that as much as I love Rockland, it was a bit too far from people we love, and not the right kind of school system, for my family to move there permanently.  

So we decided to put the house on the market and let fate decide.  It was under agreement within a month, and it sold yesterday.  Fate spoke loudly.

I'm still kind of in shock that it's gone, but...deep down, I know it's the right thing for us to do.  We might still move to Maine someday, but probably closer to Portland.  Meantime, we are in one place, which we all--I most of all--need right now, I think.  

So, goodbye my beloved little house, and see you later Rockland. 

And now greetings to:

  • living fully in this house, in this place.
  • working on living my values and dreams where I am 
  • seeking the next step/s with patience and heart.

Monday, October 14, 2013

It Takes a Child to Raise a Village

Both of my kids love Legos, and they ask for them at just about every gift-giving occasion.  It's also a way to celebrate certain moments, such as when Sam got his junior black belt, described here.  Sam is rather amazing in his construction abilities.  He loves the complex sets and following the elaborate instructions.  

Anya is good at that too.  But this girl especially loves what I find magical about Legos: free-form play.  She asked for a bunch of random bricks for a couple of gift-giving occasions, and recently she's been using them to build a village.  Seven houses, several people.  Everyone's got a story.  There's the man reading the morning paper, the young people who can only afford "mini-college" and who are rooming together to save money.  There's also the alien who is guarding the mayor, and Hedwig the owl (from Harry Potter, of course) looking over the town.  There is gold for the townspeople to share, and flowers to make the town prettier.  Oh, and what an entertainer in a Wonder Woman outfit and Batman mask!  

It amazes me how building and imagination come together to create a whole world like this.  

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Must be October

It must be October when...
  • I don't have much time to blog
  • The scenery is gorgeous everywhere I go, and even just looking out the window
  • Pumpkins abound (this teeny one fills me with delight)
  • The farmers' market has the most gorgeous spinach ever
  • I'm making hearty stews and eating by candlelight again.
The stew tonight is one of my very fall/winter favorites, found years ago in Ricciotti & Connelly's Pregnancy Cookbook, which I first encountered 13 years ago...!  I make it several times every year.  It's hearty, flavorful, and satisfying.  I think that one could skip the chicken and use vegetable broth to make an excellent vegetarian version (vegan even!).  

Lentil Stew with Chicken and Rosemary

2 Tbsp olive oil
About 1-1 ½ lb chicken breast, cubed
1 Spanish onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 Tbsp & 1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1 ½ tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
2-3 med carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
4 med. red potatoes, cubed small
About 2-3 cups butternut squash, cubed small
Salt to taste
1 ½ cups lentils, picked through and rinsed
1 cup dry red wine (or extra chicken broth)
5-6 cups water or chicken broth
½ lb spinach, roughly chopped, washed, and drained (or, just buy baby spinach)
Pepper to taste

1.     Heat olive oil in large soup pot over high heat.  Add chicken cubes and sear for a few minutes.  Remove chicken and set aside.
2.     Reduce the heat and add the onion, sautéing until soft.  Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant.
3.     Add the rosemary, basil, and thyme and sauté for 30 seconds.  Add carrots, celery, potatoes, squash, and salt.  Steam sauté the vegetables (covered) for 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently. 
4.     Add the lentils and return the chicken to the pot.  Stir well, and cook for 2 minutes.  Raise the heat and add the wine and simmer until wine is evaporated (about 3-5 min).
5.     Pour in the broth or water, and bring the stew to a boil.  Reduce the heat, cover the pot, and simmer the stew, stirring occasionally, for about 30 min.
6.     Add the spinach and cook the stew until the spinach is wilted, but still bright green.  Add pepper to taste (and more salt if you want).
I often double this recipe and freeze it in dinner-sized portions.  

I do so love the fall...I wish I had more time to enjoy it, but I'm grateful for the moments when I can!