Home - is where I want to be / But I guess I'm already there /I come home -
she lifted up her wings /
Guess that this must be the place...
- Talking Heads, "Naive Melody"

Friday, August 27, 2010

One Step at a Time

August appears to be doing as I wished, and speeding past in something of a blur. We are still not fully moved in, but the pieces are sorting themselves out, very slowly. We got the TV stand earlier this week, enabling the unpacking of another handful of boxes. The process has been slowed by a week on vacation, about which I hope to have more to say shortly (though not much to show, alas, since I forgot the charger for camera, and indeed have no idea where it is right now).

Monday, August 9, 2010

What Was Missing

Walked out of the apartment this morning into air like a damp dishrag, and nearly missed the bus--I am not yet used to the fact that waking up ten minutes later may actually impact my morning. A single cricket serenaded my hasty progress.

But it was a lovely weekend. Saturday began with a trip to the Union Square farmer's market, where I bought--oh, lots and lots of things, and felt ludicrously happy and very much an urban dweller. L asked for a snack, was offered a ground cherry by a man working at the stand we were in line for; she wouldn't try it, so I did, and found it surprisingly sweet. I bought her a stalk of broccoli, which she nibbled at for the remainder of our stay at the market (yes, she likes raw broccoli, at least as much as she likes anything that resembles real food). There was South American flute music, and lots of people had dogs, and some of the eggs I bought are green, not to mention huge. Lunch was a caprese salad and slices from the cutest little watermelon ever. I wish I'd written down the name of the tomatoes I got, because I actually found them okay.

In the afternoon we headed over to the Mystic River Reservation--which is a lot bigger than I realized, looking at it on this map. Maybe next summer I can start running again. The background sound was a strange, constant meld of traffic and cicadas.

On Sunday my sister-in-law and her husband joined us for lunch. I had promised L cookies, so after putting the dough in to chill, I made a corn chowder that looked reasonably good, and indeed it was so. Any excuse to use my belated birthday present:

For some reason, most of what I've bought for the new kitchen is red, I don't know why, though a straightforward interpretation would suggest energizing change.

After lunch the kids dragged everyone else upstairs--I heard a fair amount of LEGO clatter--while I cleaned up a bit and got the dough out. L ventured downstairs while I was rolling out the first bit, and very soon everyone was back in the kitchen, wielding cookie cutters shaped like dinosaurs and decorating the results as soon as they had cooled off.

It was exactly what I have spent the past few years feeling that we've been missing from our lives--casual, minimally planned social contact, in which people can come over on short notice and feel free to linger, because they don't face an hour-plus drive home from our place, and I can relax and putter and feed the people I love without making into a laboriously planned Event.

The place is still coming together--I don't think we'll be fully sorted out for another month, but we unpacked a bit more, hung up the shower curtain I like so much instead of the ugly one the previous tenants left, shoved some out of season stuff into the storage zones, and Freecyled a ton of moving boxes and packing material. We have filled another box with books we might be able to part with. There's a lot left to do, but every incremental improvement in the entropy level does good things to my stress levels as well.

In the late afternoon on Sunday, the kids watched a video while I sat at the kitchen table and leafed through old cooking magazines, cutting down the stack (am I ever going to make that? what was I thinking when I turned down that corner? do I like this entire issue enough to keep it, or can I pull out a few pages and recycle the rest?). It was pleasant and restful and productive at the same time, even if reading about fall recipes makes me want to hurry the seasons forward even more.

Supper was an adaption of a pork and bok choy stir fry I found after a brief online search. I had a ton of bok choy, beautiful little plants from the market, so didn't use any other greens. I also found that I didn't have any cornstarch or hoisin sauce--I have some restocking to do. It was good anyway.

And now it is Monday, and it's going to be 90 degrees again.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Lost Summer

In a recent IM conversation with a friend I referred to this year as a "lost summer" for us. She pointed out that a new apartment and a baby aren't exactly a loss, and of course she's correct, but that wasn't quite what I meant.

It's just that between the apartment hunt, packing and unpacking, and preparing for the baby, this summer has left us with precious little space for "now." Every spare minute is occupied with the future, getting ready for things to happen and wanting to the time to pass faster so that we can get on with adjusting our lives. I'm not really comfortable with this suspended state, with long-term waiting.

The weather has made it worse, a summer of sky-high temperatures and humidity that would be uncomfortable even if I wasn't pregnant, and which currently have me longing for fall more than I recall ever doing in my life. I tend to feel guilty about not living more mindfully a lot of the time, but this summer, I am giving myself permission to wish the days away, to focus on a time (not as far away as it seems, I try to convince myself) when we will be doing instead of preparing.

Just this once, August can't go by quickly enough.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

...And More Progress

Said farewell to Mom this morning after a busy, if not actually whirlwind, visit to help us settle into the new place. Which is not to say that we went out and did a lot of things, because we didn't, but the time passed quickly.

Sunday we did indeed go out shopping--Home Depot for keys and shims to keep our bookshelves from toppling (the floors in the new place are, um, not exactly level); Target for a vast miscellany of things, including an umbrella stroller (finally) and what turned out to be our housewarming present--all new towels!; and Bed Bath & Beyond for the things we couldn't find at Target.

Monday D* had a major dental appointment in the morning. I am drawing a complete blank on the afternoon; I suppose we just spent it unpacking. For dinner I made stuffed 8-ball zucchini, inspired by this post from Tea and Cookies, one of the best blogs going. I added mushrooms, and it made for a nicely substantial meal. I also did my first baking in the new place, a mint brownie recipe I have never tried before. They turned out okay despite the fact that I almost forgot to put in the eggs (had to scrape them out of the pan and stir those in), but are in no danger of displacing my usual go-to recipes.

Tuesday morning L had her annual checkup, and the acquisition of the vital paperwork to allow for enrollment at her new school. In the afternoon we went to the Aquarium, as I figured we should try to do at least one "event" during the visit. The place was packed with summer tourists escaping the heat, and the visit was a little hectic, but I think we all had a good time. Getting home, unfortunately, took forever, as there was construction on 93 causing an insane backup and spillover onto the local roads. The kids were patient (OK, L was patient; JJ fell asleep). Once we finally got back, I pulled some tortellini out of the freezer and whipped up a sauce with canned diced tomatoes, an emergency "recipe" I am happy to have.

The new place is coming together. I am impatient for our furniture to arrive, but the kitchen is almost totally sorted out now, which means I can relax in it. The books are finding their way toward an arrangement, though we are almost certainly going to have to store or get rid of some of them. There's a ton of miscellaneous things left to do, but progress is visible, and I think that the place is going to suit us very well. I'm even getting used to the stairs.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Making Progress

Yesterday had its ups and downs, but much progress was made.

The first outing was to the Union Square farmers market, near our old digs in Somerville. They didn't have a market when we lived there, but the past few years have obviously been good for it--the place was packed and obviously thriving. After the disappointingly tiny Medford market, with its two whole farms present, I was dizzied, not sure where to start. Amid intermittent meltdowns from L we provisioned ourselves with summer bounty, bolstered it with a few staples at Stop N Shop, and headed for home. Lunch was one of those minimalist summer market meals--a focaccia round sliced up and halved, filled with tomato, hand-made mozzarella, and basil leaves the size of my hand. Not to wax rhapsodic or anything, but it was damn good. I don't even like fresh tomatoes normally.

After lunch, Mom and I took the kids to the park, which is only about six blocks from our new place. Everything went fine, despite a disappointing absence of other kids. It was a perfect afternoon, sunny, warm, and breezy--I hope for their sakes they were all at the beach or otherwise outdoors, because anything else would have been a horrid waste. Every few minutes a jumbo jet would cruise overhead on a landing trajectory.

The kids played happily for a couple of hours, got thoroughly filthy, and seemed content when I announced it was time to head home. I carried J on my shoulders while L and Mom followed along. We were nearly home when L found a rock in her sandal, took off said sandal, then ran to catch up with me, and, one-shoed, tripped, skinning both her knees. She was quite fine about it until she we got to our driveway and she realized that she was bleeding, at which point the hysterics started. One would think Bactine a tool used by the Spanish Inquisition, but a Band-Aid and ice cream sandwich were soon applied.

The kids settled down with a movie, and Mom and I went to work attacking The Pile (mostly Mom, I must confess). We found a half-dozen boxes that can go right into storage--clothes that will await the next child to grow into them, CDs that I've ripped, but find myself reluctant to get rid of, just in case my laptop and external hard drive both spontaneously combust on the same day.

One major triumph: by dint of much box-shifting, Mom unearthed the remainder of my baking supplies--the actual ingredients. As soon as I put the flour away, I realized that I was going to have a storage problem. I just have too much stuff, even for a kitchen this size. Some consolidation and perhaps thinning will have to take place.

The next task was to give the kids a bath. Much as I like our new whirlpool tub, it's difficult in my present condition to do much leaning and bending, which means that the only practical way to bathe the kids is to get in with them. Fortunately, it's big enough to accommodate all 3 2/3 of us. The bath was the occasion of the day's second trauma, when L headed upstairs for fresh clothes, slipped, and split her lip open on one of the steps. Further hysterics ensued, but were short-lived.

Dinner was a simple dish I make in the summer when I don't have any better ideas: onion and garlic sauteed in olive oil, add squash, broth, and your protein of choice (chickpeas for this occasion, but I often use those Al Fresca chicken sausages), serve over pasta.

Today, Day 2 of Mom's visit, we have some shopping to do, and I hope to finish getting this kitchen sorted out. Perhaps I'll even bake something, and post a picture. I've been reading many wonderful food blogs lately, and am envious of the degree of photographic skill shown off on many of them. My little point-and-shoot hasn't gotten much exercise lately.

It's 5 a.m., I've been awake for ages (though my sleep was solid while it lasted), and I think I'll try to get some writing done.