Friday, November 30


My father turned 70 on Wednesday. Age is so funny, it seems so relative to me. My dad has always been my dad, and perhaps because he's always been 37 odd years older than me, he doesn't seem to get much older. He also isn't someone who has ever lived by society's expectations, so perhaps he never will age, in the usual sense, anyway.

There is going to be a grand party tomorrow, in Philadelphia. A friend of my parents is hosting it, and the guest list keeps growing. My mother and I brainstormed on how to celebrate my father's life during the course of the party, and we settled on doing a mix of music in chronological order bringing us from my father's birth year to today. This idea has evolved, and eventually it became mostly music that my dad really liked from the 50s-60s, plus some other tracks to fill in the other years.
This is my dad, probably when he was in high school.

I spent last Sunday working on this, downloading music from itunes and otherwise filling it out with CDs that we already owned. What's really amazing is the life that he has had. I mean this is totally self-centered, but it's hard for me to imagine his life before I was born. And here is all this obscure music that I've never heard, from a time before I existed, music that he himself requested. Ever heard of The Coasters? They had a really kick ass song called Searchin'. I recommend it.

Last week Christopher gave me some slides from his father's family and asked me to scan them so we could get prints made for the family. Today at work I scanned them during my lunch hour. They are really wonderful, a little peek into the family's life in the late 60s, including a picnic at his father's family's house and his very young mother, looking very shy.That's his dad on the left.

The human experience. These men were, in these photos, much younger than Christopher and I are now. They look so foreign and far away. I want to ask them what it's like there, in the era they are inhabiting. Oddly, I feel the same curiosity towards the photo of my young father as I do to the one of Christopher's dad, who Christopher barely knew. I suppose that this is just how things go, that we grow older and our youth is inconceivable to our children.

Tuesday, November 27


After consulting various cookbooks and websites, I think I've exhausted what one can do with leftover turkey. We've had several mini-Thanksgivings, turkey quesadillas with goat cheese, and turkey pot pie. Luckily the pot pie used up most of the turkey; all that's left is a drumstick that I intend to have for lunch tomorrow. And, not to waste anything, the carcass is currently simmering on the stove, giving me stock.

The holiday season is here, isn't it? Christopher surprised me by putting on The Messiah while we were cleaning the apartment last week. Am I ready to go into Christmas mode? Do I have a choice?

Saturday, November 24

Giving Thanks

This post is coming later than I'd hoped, due to some unexpected events. I'd hoped to have a Thanksgiving blog post full of great photos, perhaps a funny story about how we dropped the turkey on the floor but served it anyway.
The apartment looked beautiful, our cleaning and work all paid off.
The meal came out nearly perfectly. The only thing I'd do differently is change my stuffing recipe. I cut the amount of fat in half (don't you think 2 sticks of butter is a lot?) and it was really dry. The kosher turkey was delicious and so easy. Christopher's father's friend (who was here) raved that it was one of the best he'd ever tasted. The unfortunate thing was that we were missing half of our guests. Christopher's family - his mother, stepfather, sister, brother-in-law and nephew - were in a car accident on their way to our place. They called us almost immediately and kept us informed of how things were progressing. We heard that the brother-in-law had broken his jaw. That he'd broken his nose. That the car was totaled. That they all rode in an ambulance together to the hospital. That the stepfather had a gash on his leg. That the brother-in-law's nose and jaw were not broken after all.And, finally, we learned that Christopher's mother had a headache. After an MRI they determined that she had some bleeding in her brain and then we heard, as we were feasting without them, that she was being airlifted to a hospital in Philadelphia that had a better neurosurgery unit.

It was hard having a celebratory meal, one we had worked so hard for, while knowing that his family was spending the day in the emergency room. At the same time, there was nothing we could do except wait for news and try to enjoy our bounty. After dinner we cleaned up and packed and then hitched a ride with my parents back to Philadelphia.

The good news is that, after two nights in the hospital, Christopher's mother has been sent home. It seems that she will be fine. And we've come back to Brooklyn to eat leftovers and try to breathe a little.

Wednesday, November 21


is it me, or are the leaves slower at changing color this year? It's almost December and so many trees still have their leaves, and some of the leaves are actually green. We are so lucky to have these colorful trees right down the street from us.
(yes, I am procrastinating. It's 2:30 and I still haven't started cooking!)

Monday, November 19


I made a delicious dish from the New York Times Dining section tonight: Curried Lentils With Sweet Potatoes and Swiss Chard. It's actually meant to be a side dish for Thanksgiving, at least according to the Times.

I'm not sure how our guests would like the flavor of curry at Thanksgiving, but it was delicious as a pre-Thanksgiving or other cold night meal. For once we didn't actually have any chard (lucky Christopher) but it was still fantastic
Look! The turkey is busy defrosting! (We ended up with the organic Kosher frozen one, which means I don't have to deal with brining it, but I do have defrost it.)

Saturday, November 17


You may be hearing quite a bit from me this week, as I try to balance work and prepping for hosting my first holiday. Most of the grocery shopping is done; I just have to get the green beans, pecans and a few other goodies. We can call the meal planning and shopping Phase One. Check.

Today we entered Phase Two: Getting the apartment ready for guests.

We've been here a year and we've made quite a bit of progress with it, but there is a lot more to go. It's really not worth thinking too much about what lies ahead, as it is completely overwhelming. (Let's just say that our baseboards are full of peeling lead paint and our window frames are rotten.)

Our goal for the apartment this week is simple: convey the appearance that we live a more organized and domestic life than we actually do. This morning, I put lots of photos in frames and hung them in our hallway. I started this project last spring but lost interest. Today progress was made.Christopher has been busy scrubbing the baseboards. It really makes a huge difference in the look of the apartment.

My father came up and finished plastering the column, a project we began many months ago. It is so nice not to have the floor around the column surrounded by plastic and buckets of joint compound! Ah! He also patched some parts of the wall that were rotten. And he helped me stabilize the wall cabinets in the kitchen. If I get my act together maybe I'll put more knobs on them... He also helped me install the last under cabinet light, and I took this photo of him. I can't help being reminded of this picture of him from July 2001, a photo which actually kind of creeps me out. Anyway, I feel a little like our apartment is much messier now than it was before we started, but I guess that's what happens when you do a major cleaning plus minor renovation. From now on we'll concentrate on the cleaning part, and start a little food prep.

Thursday, November 15

choosing turkeys

I have never bought a turkey.

It seems like an odd thing to say, or to admit. I've certainly eaten a lot of it, and I've even roasted a few. It's just never occurred to me to purchase one, since I've never hosted Thanksgiving. And until I just started thinking about it, I hadn't realized that for most people (myself included) turkey is a once a year event. I mean, why not eat them more often? Is it just too much work? Is it too expensive?

The food coop where I shop has just gotten in their shipment of turkeys. In the past I've eyed the list of turkeys with envy, wishing that I were hosting Thanksgiving and could justify the purchase of one of these locally grown birds. This year the list terrifies me.

There are seven different brands of turkey to choose from. Seven. All are antibiotic free and from farms within 500 miles of New York City. Some are pasture raised, some are organic, some are pasture-raised organic. One of them is kosher, organic and frozen.

I'm not sure how to choose. Maybe I'll just close my eyes and grab one.

Monday, November 12

our closet

This year we are hosting Thanksgiving. Our parents, along with Christopher's sister and her family, are coming up from Philadelphia for the event. There will be about 10 adults, plus Christopher's nephew who is 3.

In anticipation of our guests, we have started cleaning. We aren't the neatest or most pristine people. Papers tend to litter the floor, scarves and hats are on the dining table, along with 2 months' worth of mail, and you can see clumps of Dinah's fur in the corner. It's pretty gross.

Part of our problem is that we don't have enough storage space. There are boxes stacked in the den, still unpacked from our move a year ago. There is a pile of books next to my desk.

If you've been to our apartment, you might have noticed our tall ceilings, which extend into the closets. But most of the closets only have one shelf, leaving about 3 or 4' of empty space above. So, in order to get the clutter out of our rooms, we want to put in extra shelves. Yesterday we installed one, in our entry closet. I measured and cut support boards and installed them. And then I spent about 1/2 an hour trying to get the shelf to fit. Because our building is so old there are very few right angles. The back of the closet is about an inch narrower than the front, and I had to cut the shelf accordingly. (This is why installing the shelves is taking us so long.)Once that was done, Christopher painted the inside of the closet, which had been covered with multiple scuff marks and yellowing paint. He did a great job, don't you think?

Saturday, November 10

sweater surgery

You may have noticed me complaining about Christopher's sweater recently. Something about it is all wrong, but now that the weather has changed he's started asking when he can wear it. Which means that I need to finish it.

At first it seemed that the arms were too long. When he tried it on, the arms drooped down past his hands. They were at least 6" off. I removed one of the arms and tried it on without the sweater. It was fine, perfect in fact. And it matched the specified dimensions exactly.

Wondering what else it could be, I measured everything, including the gauge. What I discovered: The back of the sweater was a good 4" too wide, because for some reason the gauge was off. The rest of the sweater was fine. I spent about a week agonizing over what to do about this, gathering information from various blogs and forums before I decided to cut a panel out of the back. Crazy but true. Instead of unraveling the whole back and reknitting it, I decided to cut it.

Today was the big day. For several hours, I wandered between the living room, where the sweater was, and the den, where I have my computer. I consulted and reconsulted the blogs. I read my knitting books. I talked to my mom.

And then I got my sewing machine out and sewed two somewhat crooked zig zag rows up the back of the sweater. The actual sewing didn't take very long compared to all of the thinking I'd done. I then cut out the panel(with the help of my friend) and then sewed the seam up, by hand. The seam isn't as invisible as I'd hoped, but perhaps with a little blocking it'll lay a little flatter. And hopefully the sweater will fit better. Unfortunately, it's not smooth sailing from here. The sleeves still pucker, so I'll have to reknit at least the tops of them to make them fit better. But hopefully the biggest problems have been fixed. (cross your fingers for me)

Tuesday, November 6


Do you remember my post, way back in July, about the Night Blooming Cereus? Well, my father just sent me this, photographic evidence of the night I described.Yes, that's me.

I must have been about 11, and I am indeed wearing my nightshirt. If I remember right, that was part of my super cool new wardrobe, which meant that my clothing had patterns of cute objects all over them. My new look was supposed to have the magic powers of attracting friends and making me more "in," but I didn't realize that probably wasn't that cool to make your own clothes, which is what my mother and I did in the case of that nightshirt.

Interestingly, my attitude about making one's own clothing hasn't changed since I was 11 (even if it's not cool, I like wearing what I can make). Too bad I'm not a better seamstress!

Sunday, November 4

Christopher's sweater

Here's a quick post. This sweater, which at this point is giving me nothing but agony, is enormous. Today I soaked it and laid it out to dry, pulling at those little puckers at the tops of the sleeves. The puckers seem to have come out, but I think the sweater might fit someone about ten sizes larger than Christopher. Christopher himself seems rather insulted that I think the sweater is big, as if its size has something to do with his size. I'm not sure he understands that that is exactly the problem: the sweater and he are different sizes. Since taking this picture, I pushed the knitting together a little more, in hopes that it will dry smaller. Hey, a girl can wish!

(I apologize for the crappy photo. This is what happens when the sun goes down in the middle of the afternoon.)

Saturday, November 3

what I did

As promised, I have photos of my set. Somehow -ok, this always happens- I took the photos during a performance and someone's head is in the way. I've started Photoshopping it out, but it will take a while.

Here are a few pictures to show you what I did. The play is about two homeless people who live on a subway platform. During the course of the play they are visited (or haunted) by the Angel of Death and her sidekick: There are a bunch of dream sequences, one of which takes place in a tango bar.