Monday, November 13, 2006


We are now well enough into oyster season, that I can feel safe eating them. That's right, I said eat them. I'm technically considered a pescatarian: I avoid all meat except fish, and I only eat that occasionally. But back to the star of this post: the oysters. One of my favorite foods is oysters on the half shell, on a saltine, topped with horseradish and a squeeze of lemon juice. The safe(st) time to eat these is during colder months, which is usually defined as a month with an "R" in it's name, i.e. September to April. The colder it is outside, the better the oyster. This weekend, with the start of November (the 3rd R month of the oyster season), Ryan and I decided to kick things off right with a batch of freshly fried oysters. Just dredge them in cornmeal with Tony Chachiere's, toss in the frier until lightly golden, then dip in cocktail sauce with a little bit of Crystal hot sauce thrown in. Somehow, we always find ourselves humming food songs during this process: yesterday was "Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, in the most delightful way!" And what good medicine for the soul those oysters were!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

On Parents, Dogs and Trick or Treaters

Wow. I'm such a slacker at this already. So quick update on what's been happening in my life for the past 3 weeks.

I have lived 30 minutes from my mother for over 5 years now. I can count on one hand how many times she has come to visit me in that amount of time. I've lived in 2 different dorms and 3 different apartments, and she's only been inside 1 of those places: the one I live in now. But, with the arrival of her new "grandchild" she's come to visit me every single weekend. She brings toys for him, decorative things for my apartment (mums and gourds and the like) and taken dozens of pictures.

During one of these visits, I introduced my mother to a new vegetable. Growing up on a farm in the South, her parents made her eat a lot of greens: mustard and collards mostly, all of which she hated. When she was raising the 4 of us, she refused to cook any, not wanting to subject us to them. But now, her kids are mostly grown, and all of us love greens. We'll eat them in most any form (except for me the vegetarian, who leaves out the fatback and sausage.) The other weekend, just as I started cooking lunch, she called to say she was on her way over. I was making a big pot of portugese kale stew and green salad, and I offered to feed her. Once she got in my kitchen, she opened the pot and made a face. I poured a bowl for her, and she poked at the kale floating on top and asked if I minded if she ordered pizza. I told her she had to try a bite first, so she did. And she smiled. My mother likes kale! At least in stew. What a role reversal!

I also discovered the usefulness of JoJo on Halloween night. I live right between a very nice neighborhood and a very bad neighborhood. The only trick or treaters I got were large hoards of kids from the "bad" neighborhood, mostly giant teenagers whose only costumes were masks (which is illegal in our town). I was too scared of them to say no. Then I got a 10 year old boy who wasn't wearing any costume at all. I asked him where it was, and he shrugged, so I gave him just one roll of Smarties. He said it wasn't fair and pulled his costume out of his bag, but I told him that if he wanted more, he should've worn it. He then kicked a potted plant by my front door, an action which infuriated my dog. JoJo went nuts inside the front room, leaping and barking and snarling, which sent that kid flying off the porch and down the street.

After that I turned off all my lights, and cuddled with Ryan in front of the tv. Soon, my brother-in-law Gandalf came by with my cowboy nephew Gordon to decorate cupcakes (my sister was at home with the baby, Girlie). I turned on a light and went to let them in through the front door, when a pack of teenagers comes running up the front steps and tries to force their way through the front door. I literally had to push them out, saying family only. Grr to evil trick or treaters. Next year, I'm going to my sister's, bringing my candy with me, and just feeding their trick or treaters twice as much. She doesn't get crazed teenagers who rush her front door.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Rocket Ships

The woman who lived in my mother's house before we did had very girly tastes: flowery wall paper, purple texturized paints and pink carpets. The one thing that didn't make you feel like you were in a Laura Ashley store was the kids' bathroom. She had fixed it up for her 2 sons with starry wall paper, rocket ship borders, and rocket ship decals on the cabinets. When we moved in, single mother with 4 kids, Momma didn't really feel the need to redo anything: too much time and energy and the stuff was pretty much to her taste. My 2 brothers found solace in the rocket ship bathroom, which was an oasis of testosterone for them in a household ocean of estrogen.

This summer, after over a decade in that house and removing the rubble left behind by 4 overactive kids, my mother redecorated somewhat. She replaced our rock posters with photos of Ireland and paintings of barns, the pink carpets with a pretty neutral color, placed handmade quilts on all the antique 4 poster beds (our family clings to stuff for generations) and redid the master bath in forest green and beige, moving the feel of the house from Laura Ashley to country farmhouse.

All summer she saved the best for last: getting rid of those rocket ships. Finally the whole house would be just the way she liked it. It would be a place to relax for a woman moving towards retirement, not a haven for screaming kids. She picked out chocolate towels, ivory accessories, and a lovely wallpaper with chocolate and rose stripes.

This weekend I got a chance to see her house for the first time and she gave me the grand tour. I oohed and ahhed appropriately. I even almost got excited to see the desecration of our favorite room in the house, when she threw open the door to our old bathroom. The rocket ships remained! Apparently when the workmen came, she couldn't do it and sent them home. She decided to embrace the astronaut within. She exchanged her chocolate towels for cherry red, and the ivory accessories for black and chrome. In the midst of her pastoral escape is the bathroom of any 5 year old boy's dream. Now she likes to go in there after a long day of teaching and take a bubble bath. She dreams of exploring the night sky and going scuba diving. She pretends that she's wandering foreign countries along side us and discovering Mayan ruins. Now that we're gone, she has the time to imagine about all the things we play-acted while she was so busy supporting us. And that's the way it should be.

Friday, October 06, 2006


So I have a dirty little secret. Are y'all ready for this? I used to be addicted to the WB. Last year, 3 nights a week, the TV would be tuned into the WB and my roommate and I would be glued in front of it. We lived our lives around 7th Heaven, The Gilmore Girls, and One Tree Hill. We would spent hours debating whether or not Simon would marry Rose, when Luke would tell Lorelai about his daughter, if Nathan and Haley's marriage would last. And on weekends, when there were no new episodes? Why we watched all 3 seasons of Roswell on DVD. We refused to watch Grey's Anatomy because it featured Katherine Heigl, who used to be on Roswell, because we couldn't bear to see her as anybody but Isabel the alien.
And now? Now I am done. I will not watch 7th Heaven. I will not watch One Tree Hill. I do have a girl's night every Tuesday in order to trash The Gilmore Girls. However, now the newly combined network also shows America's Next Top Model. With Tyra Banks and a bunch of half starved 18 year old girls. I love it! And my boyfriend actually likes to watch it with me. Huzzah! A new shallow addiction!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

You Owe Me

Remember the last dinner with my boyfriend's professor? Well, we get an encore performance tomorrow, but perhaps even odder. You see, there's another visiting professor in town who needs to be entertained. Unfortunately, main professor forgot that and made plans to go on vacation with his lovah. To make up for this oversite, he made reservations at a fairly nice restaurant for 5: visiting professor, dear boyfriend, 2 other very quiet grad students, and myself. Problem is, he didn't ask if I wanted to go, he just included me in the reservation, because as he said "mbbored doesn't seem to be afraid of small talk unlike the rest of you." By normal people standards, I'm a bit awkward socially, but when compared with this group of geologists apparently I'm a veritable socialite. Oh well, at least the food will be good.


I'm going to have a baby next week, and his name is JoJo. He's 6 years old and 71 pounds, and loves stuffed animals. I grew up with border collies, and have always wanted one of my own. Unfortunately, they're generally too high strung for apartment dwellers like myself. But, like any obsessed person, I check the rescue sites over and over again, hoping to find a calm border collie, and 2 weeks ago, I did. Now I will have a buddy to keep me company when I'm out running or hiking, or when I'm just chilling in front of the tv. I know there will be cold mornings where I don't want to walk him, nights when I get home to find he's made a mess, but I can't help loving him anyways.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Post Office

Apparently my trend is to post once a week. Is my life that boring?

The building next to mine at work has a full functioning post office, staffed by the same lady 5 afternoons a week. She has pictures of her 3 kids on the wall, flipped bangs and matching eyeshadow and scrunchy (lavender today.) I love to visit her and listen to her talk in her Southern accent (mine only appears around other Southerners, such as this lady) about her kids and their adventures in Sunday school or what happened during choir rehearsal last night. Today I went over to mail some postcards and we were trying to figure out the rate to send to Canada. She picks up her phone to call her supervisor at the main campus post office to ask her, and I over hear this conversation:

"Hey darlin', I've got a little girl over here trying to mail a postcard to Canada, and I can't remember the rate for that for the life of me."
"well, do you suppose you can look it up for me?"
"I don't have that information! That's why I called you! You are the central supervisor after all!"
"Why are you doing this? I'm gonna come over there and bust a cap in your ass!"
"Now does that rate go for Mexico too?"
"Thanks a million! You're a doll!"

I wonder if somebody needs to be medicated. Perhaps me.

Monday, September 25, 2006


My job deals with how yeast make more protein, and this video is an awesome animation of that and more from the cell cycle.