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Chapter XVII

because you never know someone from the very beginning

Month

February 2009

Thank you for dinner, Mr. Flounder

I like to pass along something good when I find it…especially recipes…unless a recipe is so good I need to keep it a secret to bolster my image as SUPERMOM/WIFE.

This one is pretty damn good, and besides being tasty, has several other benefits that deserve sharing, such as:

It is good for you.
It is cheap.
It is REALLY quick to make.
It looks awesome on a plate.

Too bad it was not my idea, but so be it.  The NYTimes came up with it – Quick Steamed Flounder with Garlic and GreensHere is a link.

My husband and I add red pepper flakes at the same time as the garlic and ginger go into the pan.  We like it hot.  Hot food clears out your sinuses and puts hair on your chest.  Foul.  Scratch that last point. 

So next time you are looking for a fast, nutritious, flavorful meal that makes everyone around you wonder how you did it, oh my goodness you are a wonder in a kitchen, try this.  I hope you like it as much as we do.

Also, for you single folks out there, this would be a GREAT way to impress a date.  And a way to test their culinary chops.  If they can't take the heat, throw them out of the kitchen!

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Expectations

I ran across a quote the other day that struck me…

"Expectations are premeditated resentment."

Wow.  Think on that for a bit.  I am. 

Morning People. I need a new alarm clock.

Do you use your blackberry as an alarm clock? I do and it’s the worst habit. Before I am even out of bed I am checking email. The worst part is, I work with lots of morning people – not the “I worked out at 6:30” variety; rather, the sadistic “I worked out at 6:30 after getting up at 4, reading three papers, writing two memos and eating an (irritatingly) wholesome breakfast” variety. I regularly get up to a stream of emails and related replies that started way before dawn. Makes me feel the need to retaliate by emailing into the wee hours of the night, making them stressed to turn their lights out and turn in. The way I see it, there are two options. Become a morning person, or get a new alarm clock and leave the Blackberry at least for post shower. What would you do?

SmugMug, Shutterfly, Picasa, OH MY!

I asked a question on Twitter today about Smugmug – here is my question:

"Anyone have thoughts on why you would pay for SmugMug versus a free Picasa or Shutterfly (or other) account?"

Responses were all over the map, such as:

"I used to pay for a SmugMug account. Now I pay for a Flickr account. It has more tools and the small cost is worth it for me."

"re: Smugmug vs free… you get what you pay for. Smugmug has excellent customer service, is beautiful, securely stores photos"

"smugmug easiest way for parents to grab print-quality copies of your kid photos, for free.

Great Gift Idea

I meant to write about this a while ago but forgot!  So here we go – if you are looking for a great gift to give new parents, have I got an idea for you.  New parents get many wonderful gifts – books, blankets, clothes.  We got to know our UPS guy personally after Avery was born. 

And then a friend sent us an email basically saying "Call this number, our treat."  So we called the number and wouldn't you know it but it was a personal chef on the other end of the line.  Our friends had hired her to come and cook for us one night, to celebrate the arrival of our daughter.  How fabulous is THAT. 

We talked to her about food likes (many) and dislikes (few), favorite meals of all time, and other particulars to give her some ideas.  And then, she arrived at our house one evening after we had put Avery down and calmly started to set up.  She set the table, arranged the kitchen, and poured us glasses of wine.

She proceeded to serve us a delicious four course meal including watercress soup with white asparagus, red snapper, quail and a rhubarb tart.  She cooked, served the meal and cleaned up the kitchen.  She was quiet as a church mouse and cooked like a fiend. 

It was heaven.  We had not been out in weeks, had a little anxiety about leaving as we had not yet hired a babysitter with whom we were comfortable and were hankering for a nice evening with real food – prepared by someone else. 

I don't think it is the cheapest gift, but I would definitely do this for someone else – maybe go in on it with other people – because it was different, in line with just what we needed, memorable and a huge treat.  Here are a few pictures from the evening:

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why i practice Lent.

Well hey there.  What am I thinking about?  God, naturally. 

That is not what you are thinking about?  Liar.  With this market and economy, even athiests are praying their behinds off daily.  Everyone is a sky-looking God seeker these days.  "Dear God, make it stop!"  "God, I swear I will stop buying wasteful Starbucks lattes if you just make my 401K go back to where it was!"  "Dear God, it's me Margaret." 

Awww, hell, I don't know if you are thinking about God, but as uncool as it is to admit these days, I am.  Why?  Because Lent starts one week from tomorrow and every year I give up something interesting for Lent.  In the past I have given up wine, red meat, any and all alcohol, any and all meat/poultry, french fries (just as hard as red meat), television, non-essential shopping and complaining.  Per my father's advice, at times I have also taken something on such as training for a half-marathon, or some other such goodness.  I always enjoy the dedication and sacrifice, the break from routine, and the challenge that Lent presents.  So this year, the first year after my father's death, Lent becomes all the more important.  Participating in the season of Lent is a way for me to honor my dad.  So, I am seeking thoughts and ideas.

To be clear, I actually have no idea if God exists; yet, I consider myself religious.  As a preacher's kid, I am frequently asked "Oh, so are you very religious?"  I am tempted at these moments to start preaching the gospel and trying to convert friends and acquaintances to be SAVED and/or RE-BORN (pick your poison), but thus far have refrained.  People would see through me in a second…let's be honest, I am an Episcopalian – the word "Jesus" gives me the willies.

In my sphere of career colleagues, believing in God is a generally unpopular viewpoint, reserved for half-wit lunatics wielding a political agenda, or for some new-age fruitcake who eats only flax seeds and has unwashed hair.  WE are investors in technology who like evidence, science, facts and figures.  Ain't no facts really around God, last I checked, except for all of us loonies that think it/he/she may exist. 

Yet still, I think I believe.  I say, "I think" because in the last few years I have started to question my belief in God (for the record, I just moved to the other side of the couch out of fear that my father would strike me down with lightning from the heavens…note the irony).  I like evidence, facts, figures and analysis.  I think the whole idea of a person rising from the dead is insane.  Walking on water?  After enough glasses of wine, anyone might think they can see someone walk on water.  Water into wine?  I have served some pretty plunky stuff to drunken guests in my years (college, 1992, keg party, ran out of beer, told everyone we made "special" Kool-Aid, and well, people start to drink the Kool-Aid).  The Ark?  I cannot even begin to defend that.  I also don't believe in ideas like "God will provide" etc.  Last I checked, my husband and I wrote our last mortgage check and I bet we will have to repeat that process this month.  I believe in The Self.

And yet.

We don't have a cure for the common cold (though apparently one is on the horizon – any minute now).
Nobody has figured out a formula for why two people might be attracted to one another.
What defines and generates and maintains love?

And science?  Well, science seems to evolve too, so who says it contains absolute truths?

And the final thing is, I am way too humble to think that humans are the highest form of intelligence that exist.  If that is the case, we are all doomed.  Just look at what we do to one another, to our world, to children, to plants and animals.  Are we really the best out there?  If there is something more intelligent, would we humans really be able to outwit it and figure that out?

I have no idea. 

So, I try to believe because I like the idea that we are not just here as a science experiment that, ultimately, means nothing.

This is why I practice Lent.  It's personal, practical, a challenge, relies on the Self and for me, may just bring out a little of the Divine in every day.

Ideas welcomed for creative Lenten give-ups.

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