Sunday, February 28, 2010

Lemon Ginger Scones, Part 2

I made lemon ginger scones last Thursday to say thanks to a friend for helping with my computer. They were so delicious, I made some more yesterday! I used this recipe, with slight modifications (surprise): I used about a tablespoon of fresh grated ginger instead of the crystallized ginger, and I used a yogurt/milk blend instead of buttermilk.

I also didn't bother with the egg wash because I'm not a fan of that sort of thing and I'm lazy. When I made them yesterday, though, I did make a simple lemon icing (powdered sugar & lemon juice). Yum. I also used the zest from two lemons this time, instead of one, to make them extra lemony. And next time, I will either use a lot more ginger, too, or perhaps skip the ginger and try some sort of lemon lavender scone. Or lemon blueberry. Lemon almond. And on and on.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Finally, our very own Snowpocalypse!

I hope everyone is safe and warm. I know that some folks have lost electricity. Ours flickered, but never went out. We've got extra biscuits and cocoa, if you need some.

I'm glad we finally got a real storm. And now Spring is just around the corner.

Maybe I should rethink the hat...


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rain or Snow?

I took this picture this morning when I had just come back from dropping off the girls at school. I like the way the hayed garlic row stands out. The dusting of snow has already melted in now, two hours later. The weather folks haven't yet determined whether we'll get rain or snow from the storm that's passing through this afternoon. Even though yesterday a 5yo friend and I spotted a bunch of crocuses, daffodils, tulips and hyacinths sprouting in the schoolyard flower beds, I still hope for some big snow before it's officially Spring. What a strange winter it's been, with Winter heading south for the winter.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

White River Junction

Okay, everyone said it was gritty.

Everyone was right.

Some time ago, I was googling Jason Lutes, looking for the collected Berlin, when I discovered there is a cartoon college in White River Junction, Vermont, and Jason Lutes teaches there. Ever since then, I've been trying to make my way up there to check out the college and the town (always in the back of my mind is the dream of moving to Vermont).

This past week was February vacation for the girls, so we decided this was it. Unfortunately, the 7yo caught a cold, with a bad cough, so we were hunkered down here until she felt well enough for an adventure. Finally, Friday morning, she did. Time to head north. It's about an hour and a half drive from here, so I was mostly thinking it would be a day trip, especially since I thought the 7yo should sleep in her own bed. As we were driving, though, the girls let me know that they planned on staying overnight in a hotel.

When we got to White River Junction, it didn't look like much of a town. We stopped by the visitors' center to ask for lunch recommendations, and the woman there was less than encouraging. We wandered over to the Center for Cartoon Studies where my image of an idyllic cartoon campus was dashed by the glass of a simple storefront.

The girls and I went next store for some very greasy pizza, while we planned our next move. I knew there was going to be a talk at the college about a new Amelia Earhart graphic novel, but I didn't think that the girls would be interested. I knew they wanted to see the Vermont they've heard me describe, and I knew that Woodstock was nearby. We finished our lunch and went to take one last look around town. There were three students standing in front of the college, so I chatted with them a bit. I asked if Jason Lutes still taught there, and they said that he came to town a few times a week. When I asked where he lived and they said Woodstock, that was good enough for me. We said good bye to White River Junction, and at least for now, to the fantasy of moving there.

Then we headed for Woodstock.

We stopped in to this shop to visit with the cute tea set, and other handmade toys and gifts. I asked the woman working there if she could recommend a place to stay. Of course, every quaint Vermont town is littered with bed & breakfasts, and Woodstock is no exception. She said she was friends with the folks who run the Charleston House, and that's where we ended up staying.

In the morning, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast, then we strolled around town. The girls decided the town is perfect, and would like to move there.

I'll start saving now.


Picture of CCS found here (read the whole piece for someone else's review of a first visit, almost exactly two years to the day before mine).

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Over the Rainbow

I'm still feeling discouraged since my daughter's recent run-in with parent-led bullying at school forced me to confront the realities of our community.

Yes, "No Name Calling Week" sounds like a good idea, but when I think about it, it's like a crash diet as opposed to good nutrition and exercise. It's obvious to me that you shouldn't call people names, that all children should feel safe at school. Why isn't it obvious to everyone?

It's too easy to hide behind slogans and so hard to work for real change. When Obama was elected, I saw in him someone who looked the most like me of any president in my life time. Particularly striking is that, like me, he has two young daughters. That is where I put my hope for change: so much of my life now is focussed on my children's lives and future, I feel so strongly my responsibility to do what I can to improve it. Certainly Obama, with the considerably greater power of his office, would act on his responsibility. Yet as my favorite witch, Hecate, is fond of saying, "...that sure was a cool youtube, with Will.I.Am & Scarlett Johansson biting her lip..." People who are insulated from hardship don't seem to understand others who struggle. All of our fat and sassy senators can argue and lobby and wheel-and-deal about health care reform, and now health insurance reform, without having it affect their lives or their health in any way. It makes me want to run for office! (Again I feel it's important to acknowledge I recognize that compared to many, my life is very comfortable. Even so, my family is much closer to the bottom than we will ever be to the top.)

This morning's disappointment was to see hypocrisy in an online friend who writes eloquently about issues that are important to me, who appears to share and articulate my values, yet sends her children to private school, and now is anxiously awaiting the lottery decision of the local performing arts charter school for one of her children.

Would I see it differently if I had the resources to have a choice for my children? Possibly. It is one thing to argue in the abstract about the value of public education, it's another to sacrifice your own children to a seriously flawed system while you do all that you can to improve it for future generations. It is so painful to realize that there are opportunities that my children will never have.

Someone commented that charter schools are public schools, but I say no they're not. They're private schools that are free. But that money comes from somewhere. And since my children are at public school, I know where that somewhere is, and it's not over the rainbow.

Update (from an online conversation):

ProfWombat: My 13 yr old, adopted from Kazakstan at 4 1/2 and possessed of language based learning disability, goes to a very well thought out school designed for such. She can go there because Dr Mrs W and I investigated, found the local program inadequate--being teased as a 'stupid SPED kid' only goes so far as an educational stimulant--hiring a lawyer, having her privately tested, and so on. Good for her, of course. I meet most of the parents, who are generally professional, upper middle class, highly educated, committed people, and wonder about the discrepancy between the private partial solution we've found and the broader question of the needs of those not similarly empowered. And, I might add, the utterly inadequate program she'd been in was the pride of one of the richest towns in Massachusetts' flagship school.

Me: ProfWombat--Yes, you see exactly the problem. It's parents with the resources to recognize/accurately diagnose a disability as well as hire a lawyer to get their child's needs met at their current school or elsewhere who I envy.

ProfWombat: Yup--and that's a small group. The home district defends itself--after all, they're on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in alternative programs, and these are lean times--at the risk of ossifying their inadequacies, while the vast majority of parents can't do what we've done.

On the other hand, more folk vote for being tough on crime, longer sentences and more prisons, than for sped funding...

Gromit: I have a cousin who teaches middle school in Massachusetts. It sounds like the whole system of special-needs education is very messy, and really does require an attorney to help get the right thing done for kids in public schools. And that, in some cases, parents with money and attorneys game the system to the advantage of their own kids at the expense of those who need the services more, but don't have the dollars to hire the advocates.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

More Snowpocalypse Envy

Alessandro Di Meo/EPA

Of course, I also have Roma envy.

Picture of Snow in Rome found here. (h/t Moonbootica).

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Happy Snow Day!

My friend Henning posted this video on facebook this morning in anticipation and celebration of today's snow. The Fawns are a local band fronted by Henning's partner, Lesa. I looked around the website for confirmation and couldn't find it, but I think Lesa is also the songwriter for the band.

When Henning shared the song this morning, he remarked that he didn't remember school ever being closed preemptively when he was a kid, as it was today. Of course, I grew up in southern California, so there weren't any snow days.

It's possible that preemptive snow days happened back then, even if he doesn't remember--certainly a kid's memory of a snow day would be all about playing in the snow, like the children in the video, not whether the snow started before the start of the school day or after. I wonder if he remembers school ever being dismissed early because of snow. One obvious difference between then and now is better technology for tracking and predicting storms earlier, so that schools even have the chance to cancel school preemptively.

As I understand it, schools hate dismissing early these days because getting all the transportation safely sorted out is impossible. So if a storm warning is in effect, they'd rather cancel school before the storm starts -- that way no one is stuck at school.

I wonder if it's just further evidence of our changing world, our misplaced priorities. I'm guessing that when Henning was in school, many fewer mothers worked outside the home,* so there would be someone available to pick him up if school had to close early. Also, schools were probably more willing to let children go home with a classmate's parent even without signed written permission, so that one parent from a block could round up all the children. And hey, as long as I'm romanticizing the past, even though schools have always been underfunded, they were so much better funded then than now that there were neighborhood schools. In every neighborhood. So if school had to close early, the children could just --gasp!-- walk home from school! Alone!

These days, in our town, there are only a few schools, and many children live far enough away from their school they need to be bussed. There aren't enough buses to go around, even though parents have to pay for their children to ride the school bus. So schoolday start-and-finish times need to be staggered between the elementary schools, the middle school, and the high school. If the district had to dismiss school early because of snow, there would be mayhem because they wouldn't be able to provide buses to bus all the children home at the same time. Also, parents who were already at work would probably find it trickier to get out early to go pick up their children midday. Not to mention, if indeed the messiest part of the storm is supposed to be the afternoon, who would want the roads suddenly filled with buses and cars transporting children?

And don't even get me started on liability, one of the strange and powerful words that (mis)guide our society.

Enough with the ranting, go watch the video, sing along, and meet me outside later for a snowball fight. As I write this at 10:00am, it is not yet snowing. The girls are upstairs in their room playing. And we in this house are all hoping that this is a snowpocalypse.


*I just want to be clear that I am not advocating a return to some patriarchal fantasy where all families consist of married heterosexual couples and their biological children, where only men work outside the home, and all women stay home to raise children, bake cakes, and clean house. It just seems to me that the current patriarchy that we're still soaking in continues to deny that raising children is actually valuable work, and someone has to do it. They squeeze the so-called middle class so that both parents in a two-parent household have to earn money and they shred all safety nets so that single parent families and low income families are struggling to survive. In the Ina Universe, the broken social contract would be repaired. We would recognize that it is in society's best interest that we all contribute to the welfare and upbringing of all of our children.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I'll be over in the corner with Kafka

I recently attended my first PTO meeting. They had responded to requests from me and others to hold a meeting right after school, instead of at six thirty at night. There was a great turn out at the meeting, with a bonus of a lot of teachers attending, too. Hearing so many of the teachers tell us what they are doing in class definitely left me feeling more positive about my daughters' school than I have in a while.

I have also been attending a Friday morning meet-the-principal coffee hour once a month since the group was started this year. That has helped me connect with other parents who want to do what we can to make the school experience the best it can be for our children, for everyone's children.

While I was running a home daycare, I did not have the luxury of being on campus much, and my impression of the school was not flattering. I frequently referred to it as a prison with worksheets. Having the chance to see parents, teachers, and administrators daily has helped improve my outlook somewhat, but it still constantly reminds me, as many of the current debates in our country remind me, how class-based our society is, how it impacts everything we do, how hard it is to escape. And most painfully, how blind those at the top are to the challenges, great and small, the rest of us face. I recognize that I have it easy compared to many.

Image of book found here.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I Have Snowpocalypse Envy

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

If Washington, DC looks like this, where is our snow?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Hourly Comics

Update: I colored them! (don't forget you can click on the image to enlarge it for easier reading)...

Online somewhere Sunday I saw someone mention this, and I thought I'd give it a try. It's been a long time since I've drawn comics, and heck, truthfully, I don't think what I used to draw as comics would even be called comics by anyone but me. But that didn't stop me! Have a look (don't forget you can click on the image to enlarge it for easier reading)...

Have a cupcake, I'm going to bed...