Archive - July 2008

1
I’m Leaving
2
Fear
3
La Clapotis, C’est fini!
4
Something to Like About Summer
5
The National Zoo
6
A Warning
7
Yay Subway!
8
A Note from Pumpkin Girl
9
Little Ol’ Me
10
Scenes from the Fourth

I’m Leaving

That’s it. I’ve had enough of the heat, humidity and tornado fake outs. I’m leaving DC.

Don’t worry, I’m coming back. We are actually headed back to the Old Country, the Left Coast, good ol’ Sunny Southern California. We’re on a pilgrimage to see family members we haven’t seen in about 2 years. We hope to stop by Olvera St in Los Angeles for folklorico costume pieces, visit the La Brea Tarpits and then head up to my hometown for Fiesta. Instead of temps already in the 80s at 8 in the morning, we will wear sweaters and peer out of my parents’ windows into the fog and wonder where the house across the street disappeared to. Instead of air conditioning, we will open windows and let the breezes off the Pacific Ocean cool us. We will probably take Bip to the beach for the first time.

When we return it will be August, with Bip’s birthday, school curriculum to order and organize, and a new school year to settle into. Fall will be on the horizon – ballet classes, scouts (Cub and Girl), soccer and possibly even music lessons. It’ll be busy.

But all that can wait. For now, we’re heading out to California. If you have a moment, please say a prayer for safe travel for us. I’ll try to blog a bit while I’m gone, but no promises. I think my parents may still have dial up.

Fear

The weather forecast yesterday called for “unsettled” weather.

Around 1pm, the base’s early warning system started sounding. Normally, this occurs at noon, first with a loud message assuring us that it is only a test and then a short burst of the siren.

This time, the wailing of the siren lasted a long time. I walked out of my house, across the street to get Pumpkin Girl in for lunch, all the way back home, checked the computer for severe weather alerts and picked up the phone to call Philip who wasn’t at his desk, then called a neighbor to confirm that Boo was safely in her house.

That’s a long time for a siren to be wailing. When it stopped, the Big Voice announced the all clear. Phew.

Then the siren started again. This time when it stopped the Big Voice proclaimed that a Tornado Warning had been issued for the National Capital Region and all personnel should take cover immediately.

I promptly lost my mind. After all, just because it is clear in the area around my house doesn’t mean that a funnel cloud of death isn’t bearing down on us.

I turned on the Weather Channel. The cable company’s informational blurb temporarily blocked the space where weather alerts scroll by and on the rest of the screen was the swirling vortex of red and yellow torrential rain and doom that was…Hurricane Dolly. The local weather blurb became visible – nothing but heat and humidity.

The Big Voice was now alternating between telling me to run for my life and to begin recovery efforts.

I was not amused.

At no time did the Big Voice assure me that this was only a test.

It may be me, but don’t you think that running a test of the “tornado coming, we’re all going to die” announcement, without saying it’s a test, in the middle of the severe weather season is an egregious error of the highest order?

Don’t you think someone in charge of the base owes me an apology and perhaps a box of Godiva chocolates?

La Clapotis, C’est fini!

The title rhymes, by the way. (La clap-oh-tee, say fee nee) It means – The Clapotis scarf, she is finished!

Remember back in January, when I started it? It was just a few rows on a needle. I bet you forgot all about it. I’ve been plugging away at it for for six months, almost to the day. Would you like to see it?

Voilá!

C’est moi! It’s longer than my arm span, but I’m only 5 feet tall, so maybe it’s not all that long.

Here she is sunning herself on our teak rocking chair.

It was a hot and humid day, which is hard if you’re a wool scarf/shawl thing. She needed to rest on my lawn.

None of these pictures do justice to the actual color of the yarn or the awesomeness that is the drop stitch design. Here’s a close-up:

I finished it 4 months before I thought I would, which is pretty impressive considering all the projects I started and finished in-between. The best part is, it totally matches all my blouses, which I realized just the other day consists entirely of Land’s End t-shirts in short, long or 3/4 sleeves. Regardless of my lack of wardrobe originality, I’m going to look so great on the sidelines of the soccer field this Fall! I my mind, I’m sitting there in my camp chair, ginormous sunglasses shielding my eyes and my Clapotis flung carelessly across my shoulders. People gather in groups and whisper, “Who is that? Eva Longoria? No way – it’s Boo’s mom! Wow, I can see where he gets his good looks!”

What? It could happen!

Something to Like About Summer

lorris-dinerThe hot, miserable DC summer is here. But no, I am not going to bore with you how much I dislike it. Today I am going to share with you one of the things that I do like about summer: basil.

I started growing basil when we moved to DC. I’m not a very successful gardener, but basil is one thing I can grow. It’s quite easy – give it full sun, keep it moderately moist and let it grow. Pinch off the flowers so it won’t go to seed and you’ll have a bountiful harvest until the first frost.

I harvest my basil all season as I need it for cooking or when the plants get a little too big. I use fresh basil instead of dried or I freeze any extra. I just put washed leaves in a plastic container and stick it in the freezer. No big deal. In winter I have lots of “fresh” frozen leaves to cook with. They often turn black, but still taste and smell wonderful.

I like to cook salmon with basil. I got this recipe from my mom – she originally used tarragon and lemon pepper, but I switched it to basil and garlic powder and it tastes just as good. This is another very easy recipe, of course.

Salmon in the Oven

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place aluminum foil shiny side up and layer whole, fresh basil then salmon. Brush on melted butter or olive oil, sprinkle with garlic powder and more basil. Wrap and seal the foil. Place seam side down on baking sheet. Cook for half of total time needed, flip and continue cooking. Salmon is ready when it flakes easily with a fork.

Sorry the directions are a little vague. How much salmon you cook depends on how many people are eating. We usually make about 2 pounds of salmon for 5 people and it takes about 50 minutes to cook. Hopefully that will give you a guideline for your family.

Of course, the best thing to make with fresh basil is pesto sauce! We eat pesto with pasta 2 or 3 times a week during the summer. Here’s the recipe I use:

Pesto Sauce

Add the following ingredients to a blender or food processor:

2/3 c packed basil (about 2 4 inch high stalks)
2 Tablespoons pine nuts
1/3 c olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 ounces whole Parmesan cheese

Cover and process until blended.

This is the perfect amount of sauce for 1/2 pound of cooked penne. Also, I don’t go crazy measuring the basil or the cheese. If the sauce looks runny, add some more basil. If you think it needs more flavor, add more parmesan. You can also freeze this sauce. I like to use little Ziplock bowls, the kind that hold about 8 oz. They are just the right size and stack well in your freezer.

Enjoy!

The National Zoo

No matter what kind of personality tests I take, I am always identified as being a loyal friend.  It’s true.  I’m the kind of loyal friend that will actually leave the comfort of my air conditioned house and meet you at the National Zoo.  In the afternoon.  In July.

That’s love, I tell you.

My friend Jen – the one who lives in PA, but not the one who came to help me declutter – was in town over the weekend with her family.  They only had a couple of days here, one of which they wanted to dedicate to going to the National Zoo and seeing the pandas.  Normally, I avoid being outside in DC from May through mid-September, but I’m a loyal friend, so off we went.

My advice for going to the National Zoo during summer is this – don’t.  It’s hot, it’s humid and the zoo is built on a hill.  But seeing as how most people insist anyway, here’s my tips:

1.  The zoo is free but the food is overpriced.  Pack your own lunch and snacks if at all possible.  At least bring your own water so you can avoid buying the combo meals.  If you ignore my advice, plan on spending about $8 per person on lunch. Including children.  There’s five of us – do the math.  Ouch is right.

There are also all sorts of snacks to be had around the zoo, so budget for that, too.  You’ll also need to know that lids and straws are not available for your drinks.  We like to bring a toddler cup for Bip rather than let him try to manage the lidless drink.  We also bring an empty, refillable cup to pour the soda in as we leave the restaurant.

2.  The zoo is built on a hill, so at some point you will be walking up.  Try to plan your visit so that at the end of your day, you are at the top of the hill.  Finer points to consider:  if you’re taking the Metro, you’ll be at the top of the hill at the main entrance.  Go all the way down the hill without stopping.  Then start back up, stopping to see animals along the way.  When you’re done with your day, you’ll be at the top of the hill.  Trust me, you will be be thanking me for this tip later. If you park in one of the upper lots (Lots A-C), same thing.  If you park in the lower lots (Lots D-E), it doesn’t matter how you see the zoo, it’s a downhill walk to your car.

3.  The zoo maps aren’t free.  Oh sure, there are signs with maps on them all over the zoo, but the paper ones are not free.  I’d recommend printing one out and bringing it with you.

OK, enough tips.  I’ll do some generic Washington, DC tips at a later time.  Here’s some pictures from the zoo:

On our way home, we passed under the Chinatown arch.  We were first in line at the red light, so I was able to get this great picture.

A Warning

You know those cans of refrigerated biscuits?  The kind where you peel off the wrapper, press on the seal and the whole thing goes POP?

Yes, well let’s just say that you were to leave a can of said biscuits out on the kitchen counter for oh, a few hours. Not you personally of course.  You wouldn’t be so foolish, would you? You should know that the warming of the can to room temperature will cause the dough inside to start to rise.  Which, when you  press on the seal, will not only cause the can to POP, but will cause the can to POP with such force as to launch one of the biscuits into the air.  The biscuit will then land several inches away on the kitchen counter.

Consider yourself warned.

Yay Subway!

There was a bit of a bruhaha when Subway recently announced a writing contest that explicitly excluded homeschoolers.  They got flooded with complaints and promptly issued an apology.

Now they’ve revamped the contest, opening it to “legal residents of the United States who are currently over the age of 18 and the story submitted must be by such entrant’s child in Pre-K – 6.”  Very cool.

There’s some pretty tasty prizes to be had, including $5000 worth of athletic equipment and a $100 Subway gift card.

Get the details and enter here: Subway Contest

A Note from Pumpkin Girl

“Dear Rebecca,

I miss you. I wish you would come back but your happy. (sigh) Tell me what heaven is like pleas. I bet it is great, full of never ending happynis and beuty and love. (sigh) Not like here, ugh. Some beuty, some happynis, some tears. I want to be with you. One of the worst things is mosketos (mosquitoes). Aghagah. I am running out of room (on the card) so…

Love, Pumpkin Girl”

sigh

(edited by me only for clarity)

Little Ol’ Me

Hat tip to KC for a link to prayers for each specific Meyers-Brigg’s personality.  Turns out, that’s the blog of none other than John Holzman of Sonlight Curriculum.  A wonderful company and a very nice man.  (I had the chance to exchange emails with him and he couldn’t have been more gracious and understanding.) If you don’t know which Meyers-Briggs personality you are, he has a link at the end of his post for a quick test to take.

This week I am an ISFJ – Introverted Sensing Feeling Judging.  I say “this week” because my type changes according to my mood.  The very first time I took the test, it was the real paper and pen version that was analyzed and returned to me a day or two later.  Most of the test had questions that started off – “Would you rather x or y?”  Well, I answered how I’d rather be, instead of how I really am.  For example, in a party situation what I really do is keep to myself and wonder when we can go home.  What I’d rather do is walk in, start talking to people I don’t know and circulate around easily.  It’s the difference between an extrovert and an introvert.   I am an introvert.  I’d rather be an extrovert.

Philip was surprised when I came home and told him my type.  We looked over the test together and I realized how I misunderstood the question.  The next time I took the test I was correctly labeled as in introvert.

Anyway, I followed a couple of links after taking the test today and found this description of me:  ISFJ Profile

It was kind of scary in its accuracy.  I liked this paragraph:

[ISFJs] prove over and over that they can be relied on for their loyalty and unstinting, high-quality work, those around them often take them for granted–even take advantage of them. Admittedly, the problem is sometimes aggravated by the ISFJs themselves; for instance, they are notoriously bad at delegating (“If you want it done right, do it yourself”).

And this one:

They are capable of forming strong loyalties, but these are personal rather than institutional loyalties; if someone they’ve bonded with in this way leaves the company, the ISFJ will leave with them, if given the option.

This one had me laughing out loud.  It’s me all over:

ISFJs have a few, close friends. They are extremely loyal to these, and are ready to provide emotional and practical support at a moment’s notice. (However, like most Fs they hate confrontation; if you get into a fight, don’t expect them to jump in after you. You can count on them, however, run and get the nearest authority figure.)

But the best part was the list of potential careers:

Traditional careers for an ISFJ include: teaching, social work, most religious work, nursing, medicine (general practice only), clerical and and secretarial work of any kind, and some kinds of administrative careers.

Now tell me that’s not what I do every single day.

As for the prayer for my personality type…

“Lord, help me to be more laid back and help me to do it EXACTLY right.”

AMEN.

Scenes from the Fourth

There was Jedi Training in the front yard.

A little sunshine

Some rain (third year in a row, but this time no scary storms!)

Hot dogs

A short walk to the fireworks

More rain during the show

Isn’t this picture cool? You can see the lights of the fireworks reflected on the Potomac and can just make out the Washington Monument. All the lights on the left are Reagan Nat’l Airport. I generally don’t take pictures of fireworks since I’d rather just watch. Plus, other people do a much better job with the same firework show, like this:

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