Thursday, March 31, 2011

Our Daily Constitutional

At the table this morning, Emilia and I sat eating our breakfast and staring at the grey drizzly day outside our window, when she said, 'It is almost about to get dark outside, mama! But we're awake!' So you see, all my complaints about grey days are not figments of my imagination. Our own daughter was convinced that at roughly 9:30 this morning (yes, we eat late, alright? -- what of it?) it was almost dark enough outside to be considered night time.

Yet, she still went on to say, 'Maybe we should go for a quick run!' 'But, Emilia, look outside! It's dark and it's raining!' She then countered with, 'But I have my cover, mama!' Fine. She makes a good point. And besides, I told her yesterday (same time, same place) that there was not a chance we were going running in that weather -- cover or no cover. Supposedly we got three inches of rain yesterday, and I'm no nit-wit. I can handle a little rain, but not the bouncing off the roads kind-of rain. It makes for very wet running shoes, don't you know? Or, rather, very muddy running shoes when we make our way up the path by the horses. And we always have to go that way -- it is a nice little hill to nearly knock me flat, with loads of bumps and branches and such (a bit like off-roading, I suppose), and we usually stop for a second at the top so she can get a nice view and we practice our Spanish:
'How do you say horse in Spanish again?'
'I dunno.'
'Yes, you do!'
'I dunno.'
'Caballo! For pete's sake, it's CABALLO! Say hola caballo.'
'Hola caballo. Adios caballo.'
'Now, how do you say horse in Spanish?'
'I dunno.'
And we are off again. To see the chickens and the goat, but we don't stop then unless she really begs, because we ain't out for no nature walk. We are out for a run.

It is fabulous, though, having just discovered the beauty of a cover on the jogger. (It's actually called a Weather Shield for the Bob joggers -- I ordered it on-line while in Oregon with my mom and David before Emilia was even a year old -- and officially just pulled it out of the wrap last week.  Ahem, moving on.)  Typically I get the girl bundled up to the high heavens, because it gets cold out there.  You know, hat, gloves, coat, sweater, blanket, snack, drink, St. Gerard, Mary Magdalene, garage door opener, and anything else we can possibly squeeze into the thing.  We're like an armoire on wheels.  But accoutrements aside, I am officially pushing a third of my body weight in the thing.  I find this is an excellent way to justify my rather slow pace.  Or maybe the slow pace is on account of the fact that I let my husband load up my i-pod with songs he claimed would be great for running. (I've created a play-list for you.  It's all ready to go!')  Here I am running down the street, all excited to have new songs to add to my list of tiresome songs that really need to be replaced, and what I get is -- er, well, not exactly running songs.  I've been referring to them as sex jams, but you can call them what you will.  I called him on the carpet for it, all the while doing a demonstration of the ridiculous running one would likely have to do while listening to them, and all he says it, 'I'm no idiot.'  So I guess it will be back to Eminem for me.  Oh, and Michael is no longer allowed to touch my i-pod.

And so, right when we get home, and the chance that there is nary a raindrop in sight, we quickly take Governor on a walk.  (He, rather annoyingly, refuses to take one step outside if it is raining.)  The jogger goes back in the garage, along with all its trappings, and we head out.  Governor pulling this way and that, and Emilia either running as fast as she can in front of me saying, 'Now I'm going for a quick run, too!'; or, trailing after Governor and lifting her leg in a very rude manner, pretending to be said dog, laughing so hard she nearly falls over.  But there it is, the daily constitutional.  And if not daily, I suppose it should be.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fanouropita Cake for Lost Things (Otherwise Entitled, 'Do You Miss Your Brudder, Mama?')

We dropped my brother Danny off at the airport a few days ago.  Seattle was the last leg of his long journey back to the states, and he was returning to China, the place he has called home now for six going on seven years.  And oh, Dear Reader, I was sorry to see him go.  I suppose it went a bit like this: I stood on the curb at the departures area, while Danny reached in the backseat of the car to give his little niece a great big hug goodbye.  I tried really hard not to cry -- honest, I did, but nothing doing, I cried anyway.  This, in turn, made Danny yell that his street cred was evaporating before his eyes.  Yes, well. 

Back in the car a few moments later, and trying not to look at Emilia too much (on account of the copious tears that were streaming down my face), I sat quietly trying to pull myself back together.  And then Emilia says, 'What?  Are you sad because you miss your brudder, mama?'  'Yes, baby, I'm very sad.'  I miss Danny so much.  We all do.

Our plan that day was that we (that would be Danny, Kari, Emilia, and I) would wander around coffeeshops, bookstores, and wherever else we felt like, before Emilia and I had to drive him to the airport.  Apparently my sister had to say goodbye as fast as she could and then dash, because she couldn't stand it and didn't want to cry.  Meanwhile, she didn't tell me this was her plan until we were talking on the phone two days later.  This is why I spent twenty minutes wandering around Gap, getting highly annoyed, buying Emilia a shirt, and getting ready to accuse her of turning into our mother (who has a serious issue with disappearing the moment you walk through the front doors of a shop -- any shop -- causing you to wander around for the next three hours looking for her...).
Anyway, I will stop rambling on about it, but not until I say this: I wish my brother lived closer.  I wish we were part of eachother's everyday lives.  I wish this wasn't the first time he met Emilia.  I wish we could go and visit him in China.  I wish that our plan to visit him in his city next summer (not this summer coming up, but the one after that) was not so far off.  I wish he could come over for dinner more often, and I promise not to cook up rather dry looking salmon again.  (It's Lent and it was all QFC had!)  And I promise to throw a fit if he ever tries to give me more of that nasty ol' raisin salad he got from Whole Foods on his way out of town.  'Oh Tonya, it'll be way too annoying carrying it through the airport.  You take it...'  Yuck.  And above all, I hope he is alright.  I hope so much that he is happy in the little Chinese life that he is carving for himself.  He is my little brother, after all. *sniff sniff* 

Alright, upward and onward.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Victoria Tea Cake

Alright, alright, I know it is Lent and we aren't supposed to be gorging ourselves on all manner of sweet things, but I am making an exception for this lovely cake because there is no frosting on it.  Goodness knows that no frosting on a cake automatically throws it into the realm of austere (and therefore penitential) and rather boring, no?  But let me just tell you -- this is probably the first cake I've ever made that Emilia devoured.  Even Michael noticed, 'Wow, she's actually going to eat the whole thing.'  (The 'whole thing' would be her slice -- and not actually the whole cake.)  But it is true, the girl loved her 'Torian Sandwich' and has already been asking to make it again.  I'm shocked.

The recipe comes from My Kitchen Table: Mary Berry's 100 Cakes and Bakes, but this is not actually where I found it.  I found it on that scourge that is Facebook.  When Michael goes out of town, I seem to spend a lot of time on-line, very late at night, doing nothing in particular, when I really just ought to be in bed.  And last month when he was in St. Louis, I sat up one night looking at who knows what, and ended up with a fat-wad of 'likes' on my Facebook page.  Anyway, one of those 'likes' (and probably the only one worth a damn) is Boden (you're shocked, I know), and they are the ones from whence I got the recipe for 'The Perfect Victoria Sandwich'.

The cake is a breeze to make as it is essentially a pound cake.  You know: one pound butter, one pound eggs, one pound sugar, one pound flour, all mixed up.  You just need to make sure that all ingredients are at room temperature.  I suppose that you could easily swap out the raspberry jam for whatever floats your boat -- lemon curd, for example, but I have currently gone anti-yellow.  Every picture I take in our kitchen these days looks yellow and it makes me want to hurl.  One of Emilia's favorite things to do is to take pictures with the camera, and I'm fairly convinced that she 'fixed' it somehow so that all the pictures look nasty.  Governor has turned into one of her favorite subjects, and we now have nearly a hundred yellow photos of his hairy ol' can to look at.  Seriously, she thought it was hilarious.  'Look!  I take a picture of Governor's bum! hehehaha!' Or, it could be that Michael put two extra tubes of nasty ol' fluorescent lighting in the kitchen, as per my request, and since then the kitchen makes me nauseous and grumpy.  Everything I cook now seems to look revolting.  Every time I ask him to please please take them out, he rolls his eyes and calls me an eejit.  'But you asked me to put them in!'  Yes, well, I digress.

We had the cake after dinner (which is my least favorite time to have cake, particularly of this varietal), but Michael and Emilia seemed to be happy as clams, so who am I to complain?  But really, I prefer mine in the afternoon with a big cup of tea that is so hot I inevitably burn my mouth and can't taste the cake anyway.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Hope is a thing with feathers

Hope is a thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

--Emily Dickinson

(The chicken's name is Louise, and she is from the book Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken, by Kate DiCamillo.)