13 February 2011

Good grief.

It's been a challenge, the last couple of weeks. Last week in particular, we were *very* short-handed at work, and as the office's "utility player," that meant some very long days. I managed to go to the gym every day, as usual, and cook proper food at home most nights, but beyond that? NOT MUCH.

I have just been modifying my order for the week from Full Circle Farm.

Here's the content list for this week, with my substitutions in parentheses:
Avocados MEX
Russet Potatoes WA (Red potatoes, as I don't intend to bake or mash them)
Spinach CA
Cilantro CA (Red onions--I'm low on onions, and would have a hard time getting through an entire bunch of cilantro)
Broccolini CA
Arugula (Greens) CA
Romaine Lettuce CA
Rainbow Chard CA (Green kale, because I love it so much)
Navel Oranges CA
Mangos PER (Chioggia beets, because I haven't yet used the 2nd mango from the last order)
D'anjou Pears WA
Braeburn Apples WA (Cremini mushrooms, still have apples left from last time, too)

And here's what I'm thinking of making:

Burritos with avocado slices
Tofu scram with red potatoes & mushrooms
Big salad – romaine, arugula, mushrooms, beets, pears & chickpeas
Kale, broccolini, mushroom stir fry over rice or quinoa
Red lentil & spinach curry

There is a writer who blogs for the farm, and though he is not vegan (or vegetarian, for that matter), his writing is thoughtful, and his posts are nicely photographed. Check it out here.

30 January 2011


On Friday, I was able to log in at Full Circle to see what our first Produce Box would contain. Here is what we'll be getting:

Celery, Organic - 1 each
Rainbow Carrots, Organic - 1 bunch
Broccolette, Organic - 1 bunch
Shallots, Organic - 0.7 pound
Green Beans, Organic - 1.25 bunches
Cremini Mushrooms, Organic - 0.66 pound
Red Leaf Lettuce, Organic - 1 bunch
Red Chard, Organic - 1 bunch
Navel Oranges, Organic - 6 each
Mangos, Organic - 2 each
Golden Beets, Organic - 1 bunch
Gala Apples, Organic - 5 each

The only change I made was to substitute Golden Beets for Red Pears. When not in use, the kitchen isn't the warmest room in the house, so ripening pears is a bit hit and miss. Also, I prefer veggies to fruit, for the most part, and if the beet greens are in good shape, I can use them in addition to the beets themselves. I thought about subbing kale for the chard, but I do like chard well enough, and part of this experiment should be about being creative with what we are provided with in each order.

Yesterday was Vegan Pizza Day, but after work I did some errands I hadn't been able to do during the week, and didn't get home in time. Therefore, today was Vegan Pizza Day Observed. I made the crust, used some homemade pesto I'd frozen at the end of summer for the sauce, sliced up and sauteed a couple of homemade vegan sausages from Vegan Brunch, and topped it with Daiya mozzarella style vegan cheese shreds. Judging from the crowd reaction, it was a home run.

29 January 2011

Orange Eyed Orange Kitty

I am not normally tempted to kidnap animals I encounter on my mail route, but hey, orange kitty, let me know if you need a new home. You would put us over the official city quota, but no one needs to know, right?

26 January 2011

Lone wolf.

Last week, at the gym, attempts were made not once, but twice--in the same day--to entice me to attend the "fusion fitness" class happening upstairs.

Oh, my dear, dear people. No, not me. For I am 1) an introvert who works as a public servant and 2) comically uncoordinated. No, I'll be downstairs with earphones jammed in and the volume loudish, running by myself on the treadmill, and lifting weights. By the time I swipe my gym card at the reader, I have exhausted nearly all of my public self. I know you mean well, but no, no, no.

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23 January 2011

Part of the family.

We were all upstairs watching the Season 3 premiere of Parks & Recreation, and two of the cats and the dog were with us. The kid looked around him and said, "I'll be right back. I'm going to go get Spritey so that the whole family will be here." (Just for reference, the part of the room that isn't under the dormer ceilings is about 5' x 8'.)

When people ask me why I'm vegan, they usually ask whether it's because of the animals or for health reasons. I've been vegetarian for over twenty years, and vegan for the last two, and I'm disinclined to make too many harsh pronouncements about other people's choices. But at the same time, I really do believe what I believe, and my choices about food are not casually made. When I first stopped eating meat, it was because I was cutting up a chicken breast for a stir fry, and I just couldn't do it. I don't remember whether I finished making that meal or not, but I knew I couldn't eat meat any longer. It was the late 80s, and while there were some vegetarian resources out there, the realm of veg cookbooks looked nothing like it does today. There were the Moosewood Cookbooks, Laurel's Kitchen, and Diet for a Small Planet. The latter influenced my early thinking on the subject almost as much as that first visceral rejection of the chicken. When I finished reading the book, I was fairly well persuaded that a meat-based diet was a terribly inefficient use of the planet's resources. It seemed pretty clear that you could feed more people, well, by emphasizing plant foods than by feeding those plants to animals that would then be slaughtered for their meat. So that was one thing.

And the animals. Yes, absolutely. I don't happen to believe that there is anything but an arbitrary distinction between pets and "food animals," so if I can feed myself and my family without harming them, that is what I will do. For a long time, I viewed eggs and dairy as acceptable food choices because the animals producing them weren't killed directly. But the more I knew about commercial egg and dairy production, the less sense it made to me to eat those products. I do think it's possible to obtain eggs and milk that have been produced in a fairly humane way, but it doesn't seem worth the expense and effort.

That leaves health. I think it is possible to be a healthy eater of almost any diet, as long as your food choices are broad enough and are processed as little as possible. For me, being vegan puts the focus on the best foods I know of: fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, & seeds. I have seen improvements in my respiratory health since I eliminated dairy from my diet, but I know that not everyone experiences the problems I did.

Today, we spent part of our morning with members of the local Orthodox Christian Mission. Part of their spiritual practice includes fasting from meat, fish, dairy, wine & olive oil for various periods of time during the year, which can add up to nearly six months, all told. After the service, I was talking with an Orthodox friend who had prepared chicken for the meal, and he was telling me about its source. I smiled and said that I would take it on his authority, and he worked out that I am vegan. He made a reference to my being "strong" in that, and while there is a way in which that may be true, I definitely don't experience being vegan as any sort of ascetic triumph! I don't experience any deprivation, really. I like the things that I eat better than their non-vegan equivalents!

What it comes down to is this: my goals with respect to food choices are to eat the best quality food I can cook at home, and to treat the earth's fellow creatures (human and non-human) with respect. Within my personal ethics, a vegan diet represents my best chance of achieving those goals. I'm not missing out on anything. I'm really not.

22 January 2011

Look down.

I started writing a blog post last night, but was so very tired, it devolved into incoherent rambling. Quite unlike a typical post!

I just enrolled in a CSA (Full Circle Farm) which will provide a generous organic produce box every other week for $41. (Sample list of contents for a smaller size box is on this page.) We have to pick up the food from a centralized location about an hour away, but we are joining a group of six other families who participate, so we'll only have to make the trip once every few months. I'm familiar with this farm's produce, as they have been one of my favorite vendors at the Roslyn Sunday Market in the past. And to make it all even more awesome, you can *customize* your order: there is a three-day window after the week's box contents are announced where you can request substitutions. I'm excited--but then, I'm the sort of girl who gets excited about vegetables.

Currently reading: A Little Princess, by Francess Hodgson Burnett. Along with The Secret Garden, this was one of my favorite books as a child. It's in the public domain now, so I'm reading a free version on my Kindle. And I love it just as much. The protagonists of these books are written with such sympathy--I wanted to know them when I was a little girl, and I still do.

(Update: we finally got the pilot light re-lit, and so have had heat. It's a bit of a recurring theme, so we are still going to have it checked out.)

20 January 2011

Okay, rainbow, DELIVER.

Seriously, enough with the sisyphean tests, 2011. My family's health and happiness is my primary concern, but I wouldn't complain if all of the household appliances just WORKED properly. It feels like a track of dominos lately.

(Currently: no pilot light, therefore no heat.)

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19 January 2011

Adding insult to injury

Would you like to know what you shouldn't find in your mail? A bill for medical services on a date that thoroughly confuses you because it was months ago, until you remember that 10/23/2010 was the day you got bitten by someone's dog, while you were doing your JOB, and your employer was supposed to make the dog owner pay for your medical care, but apparently did not. THAT is aggravating.

In better news, i don't need bifocals for at least another year.

Monday in sheep's clothing

The pocketed bulletin board in my office at home.

MLK Day is my favorite federal holiday, but the day after is brutal. Both in terms of work load and in terms of the public's views regarding our having had it off.

I don't discount the quality of my job: it's crazymaking at times, but I have good benefits and a reasonable family wage.

HOWEVER, dearest public, must you begrudge me a day off *without pay* when my normal workweek is Monday through Saturday? I believe that sort of thing is typically referred to as a "weekend," and most of y'all have them on a regular basis. Is it really so odious that we have 5 of them per year? (The other five holidays are date specific, and may or may not be adjacent to Sunday.)

A great number of postal employees are what is called "part-time flexible." This can be the case even if you work well over 40 hours a week, as I typically do. PTFs do not have a set schedule, are not guaranteed any hours beyond 2 per pay period, and do not get paid holidays. We do have health benefits, and sick and vacation leave.

I'm not asking for sympathy here, I'm just politely requesting that I not be berated for having the occasional day off without pay.


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17 January 2011

(Homemade vegan sausage, lemony yellow finns, and baby arugula)

On Slate's Culture Gabfest last week, they discussed the announced revision of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which replaces the "n-word" with "slave."

The discussion brought to mind a conversation I had with the Kid, when he read Huck Finn at age 10. At that point, I was not sure he had ever heard the word. The only real possibility would have been if he'd heard it in a hip hop song or in a comedy routine when listening to internet radio. I'm not sure, but I think when we talked, he had not heard the word, so I tried my best to lay out its history, and the hateful ways in which it has been used. I wanted him to understand its historical and current use, and I wanted to make sure he wouldn't use it naively, accidentally unleashing a negative power he didn't realize it had. Because absent of context, it's just a word.

And I new he'd understood when he became all teary-eyed, and fiercely said to me, "It's like when Draco calls Hermione a mudblood! I hate him!"

Yes, my darling, that is quite exactly what it is like.

16 January 2011

Conversation hearts

These are my favorite, although I am 1000% not on board with the Sweet Tarts version, and even the regular ones have become a little too fruity. When I think about these things, I think of the old style, slightly chalky ones--that said "KISS ME" not "TXT ME."

We spent the day out and about today. We went to church, then had two hours to occupy until I had a meeting at two, and then after that we made a run to Costco, had dinner at Taco Time (tots!), and stopped at Borders. Nothing overly exciting, but the kid kept saying, "This is a great day." When pressed for details about what he liked best about it, he said, "Just hanging out together."

My great hope is that we can maintain that dynamic as he continues to mature. And I kind of think we might be able to pull it off. Aside from certain recurrent themes, we don't have an adversarial relationship, and have tried hard to create a family environment that emphasizes mutual support. There are only the three of us, and there are lots of occasions where two of us are lending support to the third. That triangulation takes different forms all the time. In the middle of a tough week, I might hear, "Mom, Dad and I decided we should take you out to dinner," or if the mister has had a boisterous afternoon with lots of kids and is a little fried, I might suggest that the kid and I vacate the premises while he recalibrates. The kid knows that the mister and I will think up fun things for him to do. We're not perfect, and we all fall apart, and as parents, we're not afraid to pull rank, but in general, there is an air of collegiality that I hope we can carry forward.

"These things are fun, and fun is good."
--Dr. Seuss

15 January 2011

Always, always good for a laugh

Holy cow, I seriously thought I wrote a post last night, but it doesn't appear to be anywhere. I was so tired; it's entirely possible I either fell asleep in the midst of writing it and then accidentally discarded the draft or that I just dreamed it.

I do recall that I was intending to recap my week, which included:

--a cancelled dental appointment
--finishing the back of a cardigan I'm knitting
--reading 40% of The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein
--a blood donation
--a big wipeout on the ice (tailbone and pride bruised)
--five trips to the gym (this is normal)
--homemade pizza
--nagging the kid to practice his saxophone
--reading the text of, and subsequently watching, the PotUS's exceptional speech
--about a 47 hour work week (I had Wednesday afternoon off)
--ordering a new washing machine
--syncing apps between iPhone & iTunes without incident

It was a reasonably productive week, and interesting enough. I have a couple of great coworkers, I love my family and friends, I pursue my avocations, and I have ways of dealing with stress. Even with a bit of crazy-making nonsense thrown in for good measure...things are alright.

13 January 2011


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12 January 2011


After I got the results of my last complete blood test, I decided it was truly stupid that I'd never given blood. I am blessed with great blood chemistry, and I'm not afraid of needles.

If you are able to give blood, consider it--it's easy.

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11 January 2011

Brussels Sprouts

What is wrong with you people who don't like Brussels sprouts? (earnest answer: you haven't had them cooked properly.)

Tonight I made Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Apples & Pecans from Color Me Vegan. Even with the extra prep of shredding the sprouts, I made this in less than half an hour, and served it over whole wheat cous cous.

I've always been a pretty healthy cook, but I've never had or made food as good as I make now. It's not my special magic: it's just that quality whole foods taste good. Most of what I make has 5-6 ingredients, and hardly anything is processed. And it's not harder, as long as you engage in the tiniest bit of planning.

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10 January 2011

The Quote Book

We have lots of pix of the kid, but no proper baby book. This could be related to the fact that he was the non-sleepingest baby in all the land. But we do have something else: The Quote Book.

We don't make new entries as often as we once did, but it's still in use. Basically, it is a blank book (that we won at someone else's baby shower) in which we have recorded, with dates, various funny (or sweet) things the kid has said. Or, early on, that people said to or about him. Mark occasionally adds cartoons.

Some samples:

I suppose babies are like small mountain villages in the sky. They allow us to breathe the clouds.
--Guido Vermeulen

...and I hope your baby is Y2K compliant.
--Tony Gervais

He's like...a little person.
--Bill Whipple

--the Kid, first word (this)

--1st story, 6/7/2001

Plane crashed. Into da truck. No-no. Plane crashed into da Pentagon.
--the Kid, 9/20/2001

Come on, Redford. You can do it. You're a big furry dog.
--the Kid, 1/28/2002

If I smell a dragon, it could be awfully smelly! If dragons get into a train's boiler, it could cause trouble!
--the Kid, 6/30/2002

And so on.

Up to tonight. He's almost 12 now.

You'd ground me forever for not practicing my saxophone ONCE. Sounds really fair. Also sounds like you're bluffing.
---the Kid, 1/10/2011

Okay, fine, he's right.

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09 January 2011

Tulips are still beautiful in decay

I threatened to reveal my favorite podcasts a few days ago, then was distracted by other things.

Savage Love Podcast
I always listen to this, and have listened to the entire back catalog of episodes. Ostensibly, Dan Savage is a sex advice columnist. What I'm in it for really, though, is the strong, passionate voice of someone who believes in equality even as he acknowledges the discomfort we all have with difference. He doesn't pull any punches, ever, and yet he is truly good-hearted and compassionate. There's sex advice, yeah, but it's the stories of people's relationships that are compelling for me.

Pop Culture Happy Hour
PCHH might be the internet thing that makes me happiest. It's kind of hilarious--I read a lot, and keep pace with some music, but I'm a little out to sea when it comes to television, and don't see that many films at the time of their release. Which is what Linda Holmes, Stephen Thompson, Glen Weldon, and Trey Graham are in the business of discussing. But they are all so smart, and so funny, and convey a sense of beloved camaraderie that I don't want to miss even a single podcast. My eleven year old listens, too.

Slate Culture Gabfest
The Culture Gabfest is a slightly more erudite version of the Pop Culture Happy Hour (or flip that around, really, since it has been around longer). I don't mean that to reflect badly on either show; it's just that the tone of the Gabfest is a touch more analytical. Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, and Julia Turner frame their discussions in fairly academic terms, and they argue a little more heatedly than the PCHH crew. With clear affection for one another, but still. June Thomas is a delightful frequent guest.

The Kindle Chronicles
Len Edgerly began the Kindle Chronicles as a way of sharing his enthusiasm for his Kindle specifically, and e-reading in general. The podcast has expanded to cover all sorts of news connected to electronic publishing issues, it includes technical information, discussions of content, a weekly interview, and listener comments. Len is a fantastic interviewer: he has a great way of really engaging with his guests, rather than simply pulling them along in a predictable direction, and his questions are always thoughtful.

Book Reviews with Nancy Pearl
Beloved librarian Nancy Pearl joins KUOW Weekday host Steve Scher for a rollicking monthly discussion of books. Sometimes the discussions are themed, other times they aren't. There's no really easy way to link to a page you can listen from, but it's worth seeking out on iTunes or Stitcher. If you're an avid reader, Nancy's Twitter feed is worth a follow, too.

Extra Hot Great
More pop culture shenanigans! But with weekly games, and favorite features "Tiny Triumphs," "Winners & Losers," "Quinn's No Middle Ground," and "The Canon." These guys are having FUN.

Gleeful: A Glee Podcast
Josh, Jen, & Ed recap every new episode of Glee, complete with audio clips from the show. Good discussions about character and plot development.

Podrunner Intervals
Fixed bpm music mixes geared toward various running goals. I've used several running podcasts, but I like these mixes best.

That's most of what I listen to. If I'm carrying mail for a full week, I fill in around the edges with NPR--Fresh Air & Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, mostly. I don't always hit everything, but between driving, the gym, and doing the walking portion of my mail route, I have a fair amount of listening time available.

08 January 2011



Delivering the mail today, I drove past a customer who would normally have come to the truck, chatted a bit, and collected her mail if she was outside anyway. Instead, she was clearly agitated, and on the phone. I pulled past her house, and saw the reason why: thick black smoke rolling from under the roof of the shed behind the house next door. Her friend was leading a goat out from the building; I'm not sure what other animals might have been inside.

The photo was taken less than five minutes later from about a block away. The structure was fully engulfed that fast. And I felt exactly the way I felt when the kid was a baby, and we lived in Seattle, and I looked out the kitchen window one night and the house two doors down was a raging blaze. It was a hot summer night, and the kid was splashing in the bathtub. I plucked him up out of the tub, wrapped him in a towel, and ran outside. My urge was pure flight, even though it made no sense at all. We lived only two or three blocks from the neighborhood firehouse, and could hear the sirens before we'd even finished the call to 911. Were we any safer outside the house than in? No. But all I wanted was to have my loved ones with me, and be AWAY from there. Firefighters, I love you, but I sure don't have much of what you have inside you inside me.

07 January 2011

The old sailor's table

Tomorrow, our new dining room table will be delivered. The number of new pieces of furniture we've purchased in our 15 year marriage has been small indeed. It was only a couple of years ago that we replaced our then 25+ year old futon with a memory foam bed.

The table we are bidding farewell to was rescued by me sometime in the 90s. It was in a free pile on the sidewalk outside what I knew as "the old sailor's home." In the throes of flush economic times, Belltown, only a few blocks from
Seattle's business district, had become the hub of a condominium building boom, and places like the old sailors' home (and union halls, and warehouses) were sitting on land the developers wanted something fierce. The old sailors' home was remodeled into a fancy inn, but the table, along with some green tiles, came home with me. (I don't remember exactly how, as I didn't drive then.)

It's served us well, and I have taken many still life photos on its well-worn surface. But its garage sale chairs are in the last stages of their decrepitude, and we need a bigger table for the crowd of gamers who gather here. I'm rather pleased by the prospect of a nice, solid, big table, with chairs that match, but I'm still sad to let an old friend go.

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The Mermaid & the Coffee Cup

I thought I'd take a photo of the Starbucks logo (which isn't broken) before they change it.

Actually, I was just parked out front to piggyback onto the wi-fi in order to download a podcast to listen to on the drive home.

I adore podcasts. I learned to run using the Podrunner Intervals podcast. They keep me company on solo drives, and while I'm doing the walking portion of my mail route. I'm short on time tonight, but tomorrow, I'll detail some of my favorites.

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05 January 2011

I'm sweepy.

I have no business being this tired, except maybe that the alarm accidentally went off at 4:30 a.m., and there was no compensatory nap, and I boosted pace of run and increased weights on a few machines. Nope, no idea why I'm tired.

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04 January 2011


Specifically, Pixar stamps available in August. And all new stamps are Forever stamps, which means we can convert our family fortune into them!

(It should be noted that my family immediately started petitioning for Miyazaki stamps...)

(And that my iPhone has learned auto-complete for "Miyazaki"...)

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03 January 2011

A simple tangerine peel

can improve a day immensely.

I got up late (iPhone-related, but it was operator error), HAD NO COFFEE, pinch hit for part of a carrier's route due to vehicle break-down in single digit temps, dealt with the repair issues, finally had lunch at two, and accomplished very little else that needed attention.

But THEN, the gym, and Kanye and Cee Lo, and spaghetti for dinner, and a tangerine, and knitting, and Mad Men.

Deep breaths.

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02 January 2011


Precious things, those. I've worked six days a week for the past six years, and aside from vacations, there are a handful of instances when one of our holidays is before or after a Sunday, thereby creating a weekend. This year we were lucky in that Christmas and New Year's were on Saturdays.

Sometimes I treat a weekend as a time to be lazy--last weekend, for example, was an Official Pajama Weekend--but other times, it's just a matter of setting my own agenda for forty-eight hours. I did a lot of housecleaning over the past two days, but it didn't feel like a chore. I wanted to tear apart my ofice, and dust, and vacuum, and rearrange drawers.

Personal Kanban has helped me manage my own agenda when time is tight. I've known Jim for a long time, and when he started imagining PK, I was following along with his various musings. This summer, I had the chance to help with early editing of the forthcoming book, which offered a deeper understanding of its flexibility as a time management system. For awhile, I was using a modified version of it (I think it's safe to say that ALL versions are modified versions) via the AwesomeNote app on my iPhone. And then subsequently I decided that the simplicity of the iKan app was more functional for me. (iKan isn't as pretty as AwesomeNote, but I never have to retype anything, which I was doing in AwesomeNote.)

Having my entire, unwieldy backlog of tasks I'd like to accomplish in one place lets me stop cycling them through my brain. I nearly always have my phone with me, so when I think of something, I can add it to the list on the fly. Limiting what I am actively working on gives me a framework for balance--if I have some odious job to tackle, I can assign something more emotionally rewarding to one of the other Work In Progress slots. And having a running list of what I've accomplished has the same resonance as crossing items off a more traditional to-do list.

If any of this is intriguing, check out PK 101-it's a great intro.

01 January 2011

In with 11

2010 was difficult. Trying to stay positive and develop compassion in the face of relentless negativity was a near-daily struggle.

On the other hand I was and am fully conscious of the happiness my family brings me, and the many ways they nurture me. I followed through (mostly successfully) with several fun projects--my almost daily photos, keeping track of my reading, helping with early edits on a friend's book, and finding a gym routine that works for me.

In the new year, I want to move forward with all that brought joy to me and others, and leave behind the angsty bits.

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