Monday, April 30, 2012

Terrible Hat

I found this pattern while looking at knitting patterns, trying to get inspired to knit something for the baby. Aside from looking really stupid, I can't think that that would be utterly, utterly annoying to wear. The model's face seems to suggest that I am correct. You can almost see her repeating to herself, in her head, "I'm-getting-paid-for-this-I'm-getting-paid-for-this-I'm-getting-paid-for-this-not-enough-but-it's-something."

Sunday, April 29, 2012

In Pain.

I am in annoying pain. I believe that I have pulled my abdominal muscles, but I guess I'll find out tomorrow at the midwive's.  It is not excruciating, but is certainly very, very distracting and I just cannot find any way to be comfortable. Any sort of activity seems to aggravate it, but some things just need to get done.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

We had a snow/rain storm on Sunday night/Monday morning that resulted in our roof leaking worse than ever before. We have several new water stains on the ceiling and I spent the morning listening to new leaks spring up from the light fixture and running around with yoghurt containers trying to contain it all.

This is mid-morning. Not all the leaks had sprung and this also doesn't show the bathroom where we had about a gallon and a half come through the doorway. At one point, while I was peeing, I felt a droplet on my head, looked up and realised that the fan had just started leaking too. So, I had to try and dodge awful brown rain drops while also urinating.

I am still afraid to turn on the light in the kitchen because I'm worried it is still wet in there.

This has been a problem for years, but the landlord finally decided to put a new roof on this coming spring. He has promised to do it before the baby comes. Fingers crossed.

Our downstairs neighbour left us what can only be qualified as a passive-aggressive note, although it's really more passive than anything else. She left it on her door (not ours). It said,

"The fan in my bathroom is leaking. :( 4/23"

I'm not sure what she expected us to do about it. I'm not even sure why she left it. Why didn't she tell the landlord?

Ryan responded by writing the following on it:

"Ours too."

It disappeared almost immediately after he did that.

I sort of wanted to drag her upstairs and show her the ugly disaster that is my kitchen ceiling and kitchen wall and let her play dodge the droplets while she tries to urinate but I don't think that will persuade her to be more assertive in the future.

People are so strange.

So, as I mentioned before, I've been seeing a therapist to try and sort out a lot of mixed up things in my head. It turns out that the things I end up talking about in therapy seem to be things that have been a problem for a long time (shout-ey father, horse miseries, mother with pathological fear of any sort of confrontation, et cetera...). I had assumed that I would be more anxious/eager to talk about baby things because, after all, I feel I am at high-risk for PPD and this current bout of insurmountable depression seems to have been brought on by being pregnant. But the more I think about it, the less I think it is about the baby. I don't think my worries about the baby are unreasonable, but I do think that whatever other anxieties I have are unreasonable. 

That's really the worst part. Being so totally aware that the repetitive-thought-trains in my head are totally absurd and yet being unable to get past them or even articulate what they are or why they are so painful to other people. 

I'm a little afraid of my therapist at this point though. So far things have been going well, but I gave her an example the other day of a thing that is a constant problem for me. The example is this: I have been trying to knit a pair of socks for a year and a half now. I keep fucking up. I have somehow disallowed* myself from starting any other knitting projects until I can finish the socks. I can't finish the socks, therefore, I can't knit. Even though I really want to and I look at patterns all the time and make plans to knit things. I feel guilty and angry with myself for not finishing the socks. 

She asked me how it would feel to burn the socks. I said that I didn't think it would feel good. She said, are you sure? and I said, Yes. It would feel terrible to burn the socks. Why? 

Because it's not the socks fault I can't finish them. It seems unnecessarily punitive. 

I got the distinct feeling I was supposed to relish the idea. And that maybe she was going to tell me to go home and get rid of them. 

So, we'll see how long this goes on for. I already feel a little more "manageable".

*I do not know why.

Friday, April 20, 2012

I (Ryan) finally figured out how to get therapy for me. So I've been seeing a therapist.

I've been twice and mostly we've discussed my background. I also told her about being screamed at by Dr. Parker and she mused that it may have reminded me of my father treating me in a similar manner.

I was thinking about that just now as I was doing the dishes and then I realised something. I've been yelled at by an awful lot of people, mostly bosses, one boyfriend. Is it normal to have had a number of people yell at you?

Not including my father, my business partner from my school horse program yelled at me, my ex-boyfriend, Al yelled at me (I yelled back though, occasionally), Dr. Parker. I'm sure at least one other. Am I just totally irritating or do I spend more time than most people with males who need anger management training?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce

Today, I needed to make something protein-y for dinner as I've been really fatigued today and I have found, since being pregnant, that that usually means I need something with protein. I also had leftover tomato paste from yesterday's quinoa pilaf (quinoa and dried mushrooms tossed in with sauteed onions and various spices, then seasoned stock/broth and a bit of tomato paste added ). Additionally, my interest was peaked a few days ago by this recipe from Budget Bytes.

Since I really wanted to use up the paste rather than open up a can of tomatoes and I didn't have any onions or garlic, I did some different things. Here is my version:

1 stalk celery, chopped finely
3 green chilis, sliced, finely
ground cumin, paprika, asofoetida, garlic powder, salt, black pepper (to taste)
3 tbs tomato paste (or more, as needed)
homemade apple chutney (obviously most people may not have this on hand, it is optional. I used it to "round out" the flavour, but a nice stock might do the same thing)
3/4 c frozen spinach
3 eggs
Fresh parsley, fresh oregano and crumbled feta.

Heat some canola oil in a large saucepan and add the chilis and celery to sweat. Once the celery has begun to turn translucent, add the spices and salt and tomato paste. Give them all a good stir and add a bit of water. Scrape up any spices that are stuck to the bottom and then add some more water. You will want to end up with a sauce the consistency of pasta sauce. Since water will evaporate as it boils, add enough so that it would be too thin for pasta sauce (sorry- I never measure when I make up my own recipes). You may need to add a little more later. Bring it up to a boil, add spinach and leave it to boil for awhile, stirring occasionally, tasting and adjusting the seasoning as needed. I ended up adding more of everything.

Once you are near eating time (for me, it was when the soda bread loaf I made to go with this dish was out of the oven and cooling), get out your eggs. Your sauce should be fairly thick at this point - but not burning obviously. I cracked the eggs, one at a time, into a one of my mise-en-place bowls before sliding them onto the top of the sauce. Then I covered and left them for 5 minutes, until they turned white. Then I spooned some sauce over the top.

I served them over slices of soda bread, with the parsley, oregano (first edible things from the garden this year!) and crumbled feta.

Fixing the car.

Yesterday, we spent $1000 getting the car fixed. It's sort of our once yearly "Oh shit the car needs serious help" expense. This time it was the brakes.

Every time I think about actually replacing the car, though, I get sad. I've had it since I was 19 years old. It's been driven up and down the California coast, it's been to horse shows, it's carried kayaks, it's gone off-road it's lasted longer and been more reliable than any boy, save Ryan. It's been my companion for 11 years! It's a part of my identity: when I see another one like it, I say to myself (and anyone else who happens to be in the car) "There I go." because that's what I have looked like for 11 years, whenever I've driven anywhere in my car.

I've been reading about hoarders recently. They attach significance to things that other people cannot understand or see. I am not a sentimental person. I don't keep birthday cards. Three times a year, I go through the house and freecycle everything I do not use, no matter who gave it to me or what the circumstances were under which it came into my possession. But this car....

I asked Ryan if we should replace the car, seeing as we spend a huge chunk of money every year keeping it running. I realised I was dreading that he thought we should and that I am still harboring the idea that we will drive it back across the country (I have no idea how, considering that not only will we have an extra dog this time, but an extra human, and last time the car was about as packed as it gets with just the three of us). I can't bear the thought of just leaving the car in Ithaca. I sort of hope that it actually, completely dies before I have to agree to just get rid of it. Much easier that way. I know what's going to happen and I'm a little ashamed. I'm going to cry.

Ryan said (to my relief), no, we shouldn't replace it, because cars are just expensive to run. And yes, we wouldn't be spending a bunch of money fixing a new one, but we also would be spending a much larger amount buying it.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Arugula and lemon juice.

Exciting afternoon: finding a bag of arugula in the fridge that you thought you'd finished already and then eating it with a drizzle of lemon juice. My chapped lips hurt now, but it was so worth it.

Garden news!

After much hand wringing and worrying: the pea shoots have appeared and, as of this morning, three fava shoots. I'm going to finish my lunch and go down there with a watering can, my Kindle and the dogs (after watering my seedlings, I am going to lie in the sun and read).

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tiny Furniture

I could not finish watching Tiny Furniture. I may try again, but watching a lazy girl with unwashed hair wander around her TriBeCa apartment in her underwear, feeling ignored was just not compelling enough for me to get past the scene where she shows her dead hamster to a date, not realising that the hamster is dead. I may have been interested in continuing to watch it if there had been at least one actor in the film who managed not to sound like they were reading their lines off a cue card.

/rant over


I've now made 2 delicious chocolate cakes in a row. One with mocha-cardomom icing and one with a raspberry glaze.

Additionally, successfully made raspberry sorbet without an ice cream maker.

I never used to be into desserts before, but here we are.

Edit: I just ate some raspberry glazed chocolate cake with the raspberry sorbet. And I drizzled leftover raspberry glaze over the whole thing. And it was delicious.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

First Baby-Related Purchases

Today we bought car seat covers for our filthy, filthy car seats. We are also purchasing a pet barrier because the dogs, from now on, will be relegated to the way back. Jeeves will hate it, just like he hates everything that he is not used to.

I'm calling them our first baby-related purchases because we wouldn't be taking these steps towards cleanliness, hygiene and adulthood if we weren't expecting a baby.

The excuse I use for my car being gross: I am a horse person.

Friday, April 13, 2012


I can bake breads - quick, yeast risen or sourdough risen. I can bake pies - sweet, savory. Quiches, casseroles, generally anything that goes in the oven. I can even bake cakes.

Cupcakes defeat me and reduce me to tears. Every damn time. Fuck cupcakes.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Lazy morning

Today we are having some strangers over for dinner. Okay, not strangers. I haven't met them. Ryan knows them.

We are making pizzas with my perfected olive oil crust that for which I have to make the dough. Before I make the dough, I need to tidy the kitchen. It will take 10 minutes to do this and 10 minutes to make the dough. I have Morning Edition queued up and ready. Why can I not get off the couch to do this 20 minutes of not very difficult, somewhat enjoyable* work?

*I like cleaning my kitchen because it is semi-instant gratification for very little output. Kind of like making my bed. Which I haven't done yet either!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Etiquette is there to prevent people from screaming at you legitimately.

My husband's crazy ex-girlfriend sent him a strange email today.

This is the crazy ex-girlfriend who was a high school girlfriend who continued to have a friendship with his family after they broke up, even though she didn't want to speak to him ever again. Then they became friends again then she befriended another girlfriend of his with whom she became so close that they even took a bath together at one point. They called his mother during the bath (I think  that neither girl was involved with Ryan at this point). The crazy ex-girlfriend informed Ryan, when he started seeing me, that she didn't want to hear anything about me unless/until he was serious about me. So he didn't mention me until he emailed her to say that we were getting married. Which made her very, very angry and she told him to never talk to her again, mainly because of the pain he must have caused his mother by getting engaged to someone that this girl hadn't heard very much about. I know this seems to not make any sense, but believe me, it doesn't make sense to us either.

There is so much more to this story, but that contains the juiciest bit of gossip (who takes a bath with their ex-boyfriend's more recent ex-girlfriend and then calls said ex-boyfriend's mother to tell her about it?) and covers the main points.

It doesn't cover how weird the whole thing was for me and how weird it still is for me, to a certain extent.

The weird email that was sent today (as opposed to the flurry of weird emails she sent initially, how ever many years ago that was) basically said something about realising that they haven't been in contact recently and not particularly wishing to be in any contact but here's a Tim Minchin song she bought recently and she thought it would be a "dick move" (her words) not to share it with him.

I'm not going to speculate. I mean, I have speculated. Obviously. The first words out of my mouth were speculation and judgement. But there's no point in guessing because we'll never know. Ryan simply wrote back, "Thanks, Tim Minchin is fun." or something similar. He thought that perhaps she was upset that he hasn't told her about the baby and possibly considers this neglect a "dick move".

It's funny because the other day, I thought about the "social obligations" of pregnancy which are similar, but not the same as getting married. When Ryan and I were engaged we talked about the "etiquette" involved and how there really isn't an accepted rule for telling people but there should be. Engagement etiquette was invented before people had lots of premarital relationships, particularly not serious premarital relationships, there were no rules for making sure that you didn't get yelled at for or for not telling an ex that you are getting married. Babies are a little different though. I had thought that there was no reason to tell an ex you were having a baby unless you are actually good friends with them, in which case they are a friend and you would have told them anyway. But apparently, you may also be supposed to tell exes who hate your guts but still feel that they have some sort of claim on your personal life.

Since there is no accepted rule for babies or marriages, one has to go on a case by case basis. I opted not to tell Al I was getting married because the most recent email I'd had from him was a year prior, informing me, among other things, that he now had a concealed weapon license. Not that I think he'd ever have hurt me, but he definitely was scary at the end of our relationship, too scary to want to engage in dialogue for any reason, let alone telling him you've found someone you want to marry after a 6 month relationship. When I finally felt guilty enough to send him a quick email letting him know (maybe a year after the wedding), I got one back almost immediately, saying that he already knew and was "ecstatic" (his word) for me. It irritated me to no end because ecstatic was surely not the word he meant. And he was always misusing words.

Towards the end of Al's life, we were actually corresponding a bit, as even he seemed to understand that our relationship had changed and it wouldn't be appropriate to call me from various blues clubs telling me I needed to come and get him because he thought he was going to get beat up - something he did repeatedly after we broke up (but never before). I would send him maybe a Bob Dylan related email and he'd write back with some news. Or he'd post on my facebook wall. He mentioned coming to see me and meet Ryan at one point but I didn't encourage it. Al would have done it purely for the pleasure of going on a road trip; that was just who he was but I didn't want to actually see him or for Ryan to meet him. They would have not gotten along, having almost nothing in common and it would have been awkward.

I don't know how I would have told him I was pregnant though. He would have misused some other exclamation probably and I would have been irritated. Obviously, I don't really have to worry about it though. And regardless of what social convention says, Ryan shouldn't have had to worry about it with this particular crazy ex because she specifically told him never to speak to her again.

Offbeat Mama

I found this blog/site called "Offbeat Mama". I don't care for the name, but the sentiment seems like I've finally found a publication that doesn't make me feel totally alienated in reference to motherhood. For example, at the midwive's waiting room, I found an article in a magazine that polled readers on whether or not they intended on wearing make-up in the delivery room. This is not a thing I had even considered nor did I consider that other women might consider it. I wasn't even sure why you would consider it (for the other people present? It's possible you've just crapped in front of them, who cares about makeup??) until I read one response "regretting that she wasn't wearing any in her post-birth pictures."

Anyway. I found this article on Offbeat Mamas on the topic of egalitarian parenting and I strongly identified with the sentiment of the author, despite the fact that I don't have experience in the actual scenarios she describes (yet). She describes the odd feeling of talking to other mothers pre and post birth and having it turn into a partner-bashing session, rather than anything productive. Partner-bashing, specifically on the topic of male incompetence when it comes to anything domestic, particularly baby-rearing.

Obviously, I do not know how Ryan is going to handle fatherhood but based on statements like, "I'm going to teach her to tie knots. Knots and math." tell me that he has definitely got some plans for her. And though he makes a face when we talk about nappies, he's also and this is important and (was an important factor in my choosing to marry him) a grown-up. So, I imagine nappies will get changed as needed the same way the dishes get done as needed and he will watch her and feed her and look after her because she is his daughter, the same way the dogs get walked and fed as needed because they are his dogs.

However, I have been present for conversations about how incompetent male counterparts and there's not much I can do besides smile sheepishly and mutter something about Ryan not doing that, silently thinking to myself, "Why are you with someone who bugs you so much?"

I hate the cultural suggestion that men are incompetent just as much as I hate the cultural suggestion that women are killjoy shrews.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Wrong Texts

I got a strange text this morning. It was a picture of a girl - maybe middle school age - holding up candy. The text portion said:

soccer rox

I texted back:

Think you may have texted a wrong number.

I assumed that this would be enough to end the conversation, although I was getting prepared to be annoyed any potential, "Oh! Sorry!" reply.


is this helene or no
soccer rox

I had thought with the first text that "soccer rox" must be because she was excited that she got sour candy at soccer. As in, the candy I received at soccer practice was sour, which is a what I like, therefore, soccer rocks. Now, I have a suspicion that it is a signature of some sort.

Nope. This is Alice.

Once again, I assumed that this would be enough to end the conversation. Once again, I overestimated this person.

oww w do u play soccer on palo alto and go to jordan
soccer rox

Here's the funny thing: I did go to Jordan. But probably several years before this girl was born. I never played soccer, though. I'd like to think that when I was a student at Jordan, however, I did realise that there was a world beyond Jordan*. That the likelihood of someone who was at the other end of a misdialed phone being just like me was probably fairly low. Surely my use of capital letters and punctuation must have tipper her off?

No. I'm 30 and I live in upstate NY.

Result. No 12 year old wants to text with a 30 year old. Most of the 12 year olds I've interacted with don't believe that old people know anything or do anything "cool" so what on earth was I doing text messaging?? Mutton dressed as lamb.

Like when Maria at the barn (42) mentioned to Karin (12) something about instant messaging.

"WHAT? You're too old to instant message."

"Um. I have to use it for work. Also, what does that even mean?"

I realise that I could have just stopped responding to the texts, but part of me wanted to embarrass her into using her brain a little. Particularly after the Jordan question.

*In fact, I know I realised it. I spent day after day after day wishing I could leave that horrible school. I couldn't wait to go to Paly, then I found Paly just as unbearable, probably because the same people went to Paly as went to Jordan.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Roasted White Bean Salad and Pear Cheesecake

Roasted White Bean and Arugula Salad:
(the amounts are all estimates except the can of beans - this is a forgiving recipe and should be cooked to the cook's own tastes. Just make sure you have enough oil in your pan so you don't burn the beans.)

1 can white beans, drained thoroughly
2 large cloves of garlic or 4 small (or as much garlic as you like...), chopped.
2 tbsp neutral-flavoured oil
handful of arugula (complimentary amount to the amount of beans you have)
2 tbsp sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 olive oil
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp sugar or to taste
mustard seeds, black pepper and salt.

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F. Heat up the neutral-flavoured oil in a large oven safe skillet over medium heat. I used my largest cast iron - it needs to be big enough for all the beans to all lie flat on the bottom of the pan. Once the oil is hot, add the beans, garlic, a pinch of salt and some fresh ground black pepper (and make sure the beans are all flat on the bottom...). Once those have gotten going, move them to the oven. They should be nice and browned up in about 15 -20 minutes, but check on them in 10 just to be sure.

While those are in the oven, prepare your vinaigrette. Red wine, olive oil, salt, fresh ground black pepper and mustard seeds, and sugar all in a peanut butter jar* with the lid on. Shake until it emulsifies, taste add more of anything it might need.

Prepare your arugula (rinse as needed) and put it in a bowl with the chopped sundried tomatoes. Once the beans are done, pull them out of the oven and let them cool down otherwise you will end up cooking your arugula. They don't have to be room temperature, just not 400 degrees!

Once they've cooled down to warm instead of really hot, combine with the arugula and tomatoes. A few minutes before serving, add the vinaigrette. Yum.

*Ryan and I use peanut butter jars instead of drinking glasses and I save the lids. They also serve as storage vessels for things like dried beans or grains and as vinaigrette shakers. Also, when they break you aren't sad because you can just eat some more peanut butter to replace them.

Eggless Pear Cheesecake take 1.

I had some frozen cream cheese from a long time ago. I also had one pear and no eggs. And some almond flour that I love, but never remember to use up.

So, this is what I did:

8oz cream cheese
1 pear, chopped but not necessarily peeled (I didn't)
1/2 c confectioners sugar
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 c almond flour
1/3 c butter
1/2 c sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the almond flour and sugar. Melt the butter and then pour into the almond flour and sugar mixture. Give it a good stir to combine but don't "mix thoroughly". Press it into the bottom of a spring form pan. Put the pan in the oven for 5 minutes.

While this is in the oven, combine the cream cheese, chopped pear, sugar, vanilla and cornstarch in a food processor until smooth. Once this is ready and the crust is done toasting, pour the filling into the spring form pan.

Put in the oven for 20 minutes or until the top is nicely browned and cooked-looking. This is a thin cheesecake - the crust and the filling are about equal parts. If you want a thicker, on the more filling side, you could easily make more filling - maybe half again what I have called for here or perhaps even doubling the filling recipe. Of course this will require more cooking time.

Once it is done, take it out of the oven and let it cool to room temperature, then put it in the fridge for at least an hour, to set.

I wasn't completely happy with this version. Or rather I was happy with it, but I think I will tweak it a bit in the future. Mainly, I want it to be fruitier.

*Edit: I tried again. Doubled the cream cheese, added a bit more cornstarch and this time, used frozen raspberries that I tossed in the food processor to chop up finely before anything else, instead of the pear. YUM.