Monday, April 30


I recently handed back essays to some students privileged enough to attend what's been named America's Top Dream College*. Concerned that they were nearing the end of their freshman year and that few of them could write an essay with an idea in it, I asked them the obvious question: What's an idea? After trying -- and failing -- to describe the word, one of them ventured, "It's just that the word idea so perfectly captures ... the word idea."

*NYU, for the 4th year in a row, according to a survey by the Princeton Review

Sunday, April 29

photos galore!

Tonight was very productive. We finally have begun framing and hanging photos in our hallway, which we've been planning since Day One. It is going well and I am sure that they will look fantastic.

It's an interesting and fun project, in some ways because it's a reminder that we are combining families and pasts, that in some ways the Christopher's childhood photos are an extension of my childhood photos. I'm not sure how to explain it. I just feel more and more that we are each other's family and that it's less about "me and him" and more about "us."

Unfortunately, we've realized that we don't have a lot of pictures that are larger than 4x6, and we also need more frames. So we're done until our newly ordered prints arrive and we get more frames.

Saturday, April 28

pie time

I made cranberry-apple pie today! It took forever, but I must say that it was worth it. And it's just about the handsomest pie I've ever made.

Oh, oops! It's already half gone!

I also want to note that our daliah now has another sprout and that the part I photographed the other day is already much bigger. Do daliahs usually grow this fast?

Thursday, April 26

spring, where art thou?

These past few weeks have been a big tease with the weather. It was cold and rainy, then it was cold and sunny, then it was hot and sunny. Now we're back to cold and sunny, though tomorrow is supposed to be lukewarm and rainy.

Every year around this time we all get impatient for some warm weather, but I want to point out that there are few signs that spring is on its way.

The flowers are blooming. My nose is running non-stop and I'm sneezing. The trees are showing signs of green, so slowly but surely. And the pigeons are mating.

Before this apartment, I'd never paid too much attention to pigeons. Sure, they are all over the place in New York. Most of the time they are missing a leg and hobble painfully around, begging for crumbs and looking completely pathetic. But we have a pair that sun themselves by our window. And this past week they've been very busy.

I try not to get too involved in the life of our pigeons (our cat, Dinah, is much more interested), but there was some definite action over the weekend.

The other good news is that my daliah bulbs, which I (legally) planted over the weekend, seem to be sprouting already. They must be very eager little plants!

Saturday, April 21

buttery comments

I'm never sure whether to respond to comments that people leave, though it's really tempting. I am so excited when I someone writes something, but I've only seen one blog where the blogger responds. Anyway, I've decided to respond right here, in my post.

This week one of my dear Brown cousins (I'm not sure which one, though I have an idea) left a note about butter, and whether I leave it out or put it in the fridge. This is a very interesting question, and one which I might have explored more if I'd had siblings with whom I could gossip about my upbringing.

Interesting fact that I've never evaulated: my parents leave their butter out on the counter.

A few months back I was talking with my Brown cousins and this subject came up. Apparently, they (or one of them) believes that this is a Brown thing, that this is something passed down through the family, like the ability to use power tools or remember family anecdotes (unfortunately I think I got the Scott memory). The Browns leave their butter out.

To answer this question once and for all: I do not leave my butter out.

But I used to. When I was in college, I interned for several summers for a regional opera company and lived in a huge house with 13 other people. One of these people is still a good friend, and she had recently moved to the U.S. from France. She explained to me that butter can go bad, and would routinely throw away anyone's butter that was left out overnight. I had never before considered that butter had a shelf-life, but I think she's right. Fresh butter does taste creamier than counter butter. I actually keep all but one stick in the freezer, to prolong its life.

My other confession: I don't use butter very much. Sometimes I use it to saute or in baking, but for the most part I don't eat it straight up. We did get a fabulous butter dish as wedding present from a family friend who is a potter, however. And I wish I had an excuse to leave it on the counter all the time.

Sunday, April 15

leaky windows

Here's a new one: we have two windows that leak from the top.

I'm not sure what is going on, but they don't seem to be sealed at the top, and with today's torrential downpours we had major puddles to clean up. A call to my handyman (aka Dad) alerted me that this wasn't something that I could patch myself with some silicone.

Being Sunday, we have to wait until tomorrow when the super can look at it, but of course then we'll be at work so this might have to wait till we're home sick or something. This whole situation of course prompted my father to sing me the Arkansas Traveller, fabulously out-of-tune as only a Brown could do. I was very proud of him.

Friday, April 13

illegal dahlias?

Last week when my father came up, he brought with him a rectangular ceramic planter, dirt and dahlia bulbs, courtesy of my mother. Since then the planter, bulbs and earth- along with the bags they came in and some additional seeds I bought at the Coop- have sat on our kitchen counter waiting for me. It's sort of horrible. I cook a lot and these things take up counter space (yes, I know the counter is already cluttered), plus I'd like to get these bulbs into the "ground" so they can start growing.

So my big plan for this weekend was to plant the bulbs and sneak them onto the fire escape. In New York City we all have fire escapes, but there are laws governing what we may and may not put on them. Really, nothing can go on them. It's a fire hazard. You'd think a little pot wouldn't get in the way if we were evacuating up to the roof as long as I stick it over to the side, but apparently we'll fall and trample each other if the planter is there. It would just be horrible.

Except for the joy of seeing the dahlias grow in the sun and the rain!

I am stuck on this idea of them being outside, perhaps because I am inside all the time and this is my one connection to nature. But is it worth the risk of being fined by the fire department? And we're supposed to get 4" of snow this weekend, which also probably isn't so great for my little bulbs. Argh. What to do...

Wednesday, April 4

lighting makes the room

My dad came up for the day today and we worked on improving the apartment. It was just the two of us since Christopher was teaching all day.

He installed a new fan in our living room.

and we (mostly he) put track lights in our hallway. Our plan is to line the hallway with tons of family photos, though we are still figuring out what we want it to look like. Since Christopher already has a bunch of photos in black frames and white mattes (and our wedding certificate is framed similarly), we will probably stick to that style with our new images.

The pink tinge from the lights is little odd. Christopher said it reminded him of Christmas lights. Hm.
In any case, we are both blown away every time we enter the hallway and turn on the lights. It's just a completely different experience, sort of like we live in an art gallery or something.

Monday, April 2

my lace project

I know you've all been anxious to know what I've been knitting, since my red sweater project failed a few weeks back. Here are some photos of my lace tank top, in progress.

I'm knitting it in the round and hope that it actually fits me when it's done. Right now it looks a little large.

I also wasn't considering how big the lacey holes would be, so if I wear it without a lining or camisole my belly will be on display. Christopher seems to think this is normal for me, that I enjoy wearing revealing clothing (I do?) but I'm thinking that a little lining might be a good idea.