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August 2011


Images This is a picture of the Saw Mill River Parkway after Irene. It's the main road I take to get around Westchester. Again, I am so grateful that we were not personally hit harder, though I have to say that my whole house is starting to smell like mildew from the basement flooding.

This morning my friend Libbie is coming over for a warm shower, coffee and Internet access. Like roughly half the people in town, she still has no power. She was over here yesterday for a few hours, and I must say it was kind of fun to have company in my home-office. She also brought over food to stash in my refrigerator and told The Weatherman and me to help ourselves.

Which brings me to the Food Pantry - ack! No power since Saturday, so all the food in our refrigerators and freezers have gone bad. Also no power in the church where we are housed. The bakery that gives us end-of-the-day donations had nothing to give us yesterday evening, because while they had power, so many folks don't, that they sold out of all food. The Pantry is supposed to be open tonight, but if there is still no power, it won't be safe. Obviously we are worried about our clients and scrambling to think of alternatives.



Images Yes, there is weird mold growing on my basement walls. And The Weatherman spent hours wet-vacuuming down there to keep up with the rising water. But I am so grateful that we had relatively little to deal with during and after Irene. Everyone safe.  We kept our power. No big trees fell on the house or cars. 

A friend of mine is coming over this morning (hopefully she can get through town - as of yesterday, all main roads were closed) to have a hot cup of coffee and get some work done on her laptop. Half the town still doesn't have power and the downtown was apparently under several feet of water by midday yesterday.

Grateful, grateful, grateful. Now to start to making calls and getting on waiting lists to deal with that funky black mold. The whole house smells like mildew.

Santa Fe 2 - Like another country

My friend Sally used to live here in Santa Fe, so she knows about some amazing places to visit. In the morning, we visited Chimayo, an old town with strong Spanish roots. Wandering around, you not only feel like you are in another country, but also in another time. Here are a few scenes: 

 The Sanctuary, said to house dirt with healing powers

Sanctuary at Chimayo
Me and drink at Rancho de Chimayo
Much of Bandelier National Park is closed because of both fire damage and flash flood warnings, but we were able to do one of Sally's favorite hikes, at Tsankawi, where they have ancient cave dwellings, and the footpaths are grooved into the rock.

View from inside a cave dwelling (sorry it refuses to flip vertically, despite all efforts, but you get the idea)

View from cave in Tsankawi

Scenes From Santa Fe

Evidently I am missing a lot at home - earthquakes, approaching hurricaines, and a scary incident with My Daughter, who is OK. But Santa Fe is like another world. Everything feels different - the air, the light, the pallet of colors. Here are a few scenes:

Our hotel:

Our hotel

St. Francis in a court yard:

St. Francis in court yard
 The local flora and fauna:

Sage in garden
The evening view from the Santa Fe Opera House:

Pretty view SF opera house

Girls Week Out

6a0133ec7bcea3970b0133ecbe67bb970b-500wi That's right - not girls' night out, but girls' week out. Once a year, my freshman college roommate and best friend Sally and I go on a trip together. We have had some fabulous trips - hiking in Vermont, beaching and dancing in the Dominican Republic, rafting in West Virginia.  We have also had some real dogs of trips, like the time we found ourselves in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. Don't even ask how we ended up there, but I can still remember that the Mexican restaurant served french dressing on their tacos.

No matter where we are, one thing remains constant. We laugh. Oh how we laugh. The kind of laughing when no noise comes out, tears roll down your face, and you can just squeak out an occasional gasp. 

Anyhow, we are heading to Sante Fe today, which should be gorgeous. She is coming from North Carolin, and I'm traveling from New York. We're meeting in Dallas, and then the fun begins. Stay tuned...


Book Phase 2 - Publicity

BWF_2007_Book_Signing Tomorrow I am meeting with the marketing and publicity folks at the publishing house. Incredibly, the book is not being published until March, but evidently, one needs to start creating a buzz long before the book is actually available.

What this exactly means, I don't yet know. An increased web presence, certainly. Setting up speaking engagements with groups who might be interested in the topic? Probably. Securing blurbs for the back cover of the book - absolutely. The bound galleys are in, so tomorrow I will see the manuscript in actual book form.

I am still shocked by how long and slow the pace of publishing a book is, as compared with journalism. It reminds me of the final month of pregnancy, when you think the baby will never, ever come. These days, people I run into say, "Hey, weren't you writing a book?" or "Didn't you once write a book?" 

But tomorrow's meeting represents continued progress. Onward.

Launching The Boy

Images Today is The Boy's first day of his new job. Over the weekend we helped him move  to the city where he will be teaching. He is sharing a house with other people in his fellowship program. He has one roommate and a shared kitchen and common space with 5 other guys in the program. 

The Boy is quite well organized so I didn't do much to help him get ready before he left, other than helping out with some laundry and cooking up some good farewell meals. He had sheets and towels from college that he packed along with his clothes. But there was one thing I hadn't anticipated, and it was totally out of character that I didn't focus on this - food! Of course The Boy is no longer on a school meal plan and will need to make his own breakfast, lunch and dinner. Will he starve?

I doubt it. The Boy and I have logged a lot of time in the kitchen together over the years and he has watched me cook countless meals. He has long been capable of making a meal for himself, and can get quite creative in a pinch. Of course, that usually counts on the fact that he is operating out of an already well-stocked kitchen. Yesterday, The Weatherman and I took The Boy to a grocery store where he stocked up on basics, from olive oil to pasta. As we cruised the aisles I gave him a mini-crash course on different ways he could use the ingredients. 

He'll be fine. He's already at work now. Wonder how he's doing and what he made himself for lunch?


Tomato Pie

Tomato pie

This recipe showed up on my google home page in my daily recipe feed from "Simply Recipes." Perfect for summer tomatoes. By the way, it looks like quiche but tastes like something entirely different. It's slightly sweet, both from the carmelized onions and the great summer tomatoes. So yummy!


1 9-inch pie shell.

1 cup onion, red or yellow

3-4 tomatoes, cut in half horizontally, squeezed to remove excess juice, roughly chopped, to yield approximately 3 cups of chopped tomatoes

1/4 cup sliced basil (about 8 leaves)

2 cups grated cheese (combination of sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack, or Gruyere, or Mozrella)

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon (or more to taste) of Frank's Hot Sauce (or Tabasco)

salt and pepper to taste



-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place pie shell in oven and cook 8-10 minutes til golden. (I use Pillsbury Already Pie Crust, and only cooked it about 7 minutes.)

-Squeeze as much moisture as you can out of the chopped tomatoes, using either paper towels, a clean dish towel or a potato ricer. (Do follow the directions on top about squeezing the tomato halves before you chop. This dish would be messed up in the tomatoes are watery.)

-Meanwhile carmelize the onions. This simply involves cooking them in olive oil, until they are browned nicely.

-Sprinkle the bottom of the pre-cooked pie shell with carmelized onion. Spread the chopped tomatoes over the onions. Sprinkle the sliced basil over the tomatoes. (Hint - to cut the basil, lay the leaves on top of each other, roll up like a cigar, and then slice then crossways into thin slices.)

-In a medium bowl, mix together the grated cheese (I just used mozarella), mayonnaise, hot sauce, a sprinkling of salt and freshly ground black pepper. The mixture should be the consistency of a really gooey snow ball. Spread mixture over the tomatoes.

-Bake in oven until browned and bubbly, about 40 minutes.

Looking Ahead at My Financial Future

Images Let's see.... you've got this headline: "Stocks Suffer Sharpest Drop Since 2008," with phrases like "free fall," "stalling economy," "downgrade," and "few options to increase growth.

Then you've got:"Publishing Gives Hints of Revival, Data Show." E-book-articleInline Some key phrases include "challenges the doom and gloom,""resurrgence" and "printed word is alive and well."

The uptick in publishing is basically credited to e-readers. The plummeting of the stock market - which obviously has much more ominous and enormous implications - is a complex brew of lost investor confidence.

Well, perhaps I can put my woes in perspective with the news out of Somalia or Syria. Sigh. 


Grilled Rosemary Chicken and Roast Corn With Manchego & Lome

Overview chick and corn salad
Trying to move away from the same old, same old. Both of these recipes came from the August 2011 Bon Appetit. The chicken was really tasty, but the corn salad - oh boy! It was labor intensive, but not difficult. My only regret was not doubling the recipe.

Grilled Rosemary Chicken

2 3-4 lb. chickens, each cut into four pieces, backbones removed.

3/4 cup olive oil, divided

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice plus one lemon

12 rosemary sprigs, divided

10 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

1 large pinch smoked paprika

(The original recipe calls for a homemade tomato jam, but I couldn't be bothered and the chicken was delicious without it. It was great hot, cold and at room temperature. Trust me, I tried all three)

Arrange chicken in a glass baking dish. Drizzle with 1/2 cup oil and lemon juice. Coarsely chop leaves from 10 rosemary sprigs. Toss chopped rosemary and garlic with chicken to coat; season with salt, pepper and paprika. Cover: chill for 3 hours or overnight. (I marinated overnight and I think it makes a difference.)

Build a medium fire in charcoal grill, or heat gas grill to medium high. Let chicken come to room temperature. Brush off marinade: grill chicken, turning occasionally, until browned and almost cooked through, about 20-22 minutes for legs and thighs, 16-18 minutes for breasts. Pour remaining 1/4 cup oil into small bowl. Dip 2 rosemary sprigs in oil; occasionally baste chicken with sprigs until cooked through, about 5 minutes. (I cheated here - just chopped 2 sprigs of rosemary and added it to the oil and basted with that, using a brush.)

Let chicken rest for 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Cut lemon in half lengthwise, then cut thinly crosswise into half-moons. Add to chicken with an left-over basting oil; toss to coat.

Roasted Corn With Manchego & Lime (says it serves 8 but 4 of us ate it in one sitting)

6 ears of sweet yellow corn, unhusked

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 jalapeno, seeded, finely diced

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1 lime, cut into 4 wdeges

1 cup finely grated Manchego cheese

1/4 cup thinly sliced chives

2 tsp. finely grated lime zest

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roast unhusked corn on a baking sheet, turning occasionally, until heated through and crisp-tender,about 15 minutes. Let cool. Shuck corn and cut kernels from cobs. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add corn kernels and saute until heated through and light golden in spots, 3-5 minutes. Add butter;stir until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer corn to a large wide bowl or deep platter; sprinkle jalapeno and crushed red pepper flakes over. Squeeze lime wedges over; sprinkle with cheese, chives and lime zest. 



The Boy To Start Work!

Male-teacher The Boy, aka my baby, is about to commence life in the real world. He was accepted into a teaching fellowship program and will soon be both tutoring and training to be a teacher. Last night he was reviewing small flashcards he had made for himself. Each one had a photo of a student he'd be working with on the front, with the child's name written on the back. He is expected to know all the children's names before he begins work. He will be tutoring and ultimately teaching very little ones - pre-kindergarteners and second graders. All of these children are ESL kids - English as Second Language.

Needless to say, I am very proud of The Boy and will watch his career unfold with interest. I am also counting the days until he moves to New England to take this job - and it is not a happy count down. My whole family jokes that "Mom has a little trouble letting go." It's true.

PS That is not really The Boy in the photo - just a random male teacher.

Just Say No

Images-2 Ten percent of ten-year-old boys now take daily stimulants for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Another half a million children take anti-psychotic drugs. Between 1993 and 2004, the number of children diagnosed with "juvenile bipolar disorder" (a diagnosis that didn't exist just a decade earlier) jumped forty-fold.

Those are just some of the startling statistics in a frightening but compelling two-part series that appeared in The New York Review of Books (June and July of 2011). I am certainly a believer in good psychiatry but this series, which takes a look at the science and business of psychiatric meds,  is an eye-opener. And make no mistake - it is a business - psychiatrists receive more money from pharmaceutical companies than any other speciality.

The stats on children being medicated is just a small part of these articles. Overall, it looks at the brain science of how these drug work - or don't work - on the general population. It also provides a pretty scary look at who influences the formation of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders): the Bible for psychiatrists - and, in turn, insurance companies - for defining what constitutes a mental illness.

The medicalization of boyhood is of interest to me because of my book; but the overall picture is deeply alarming.

Summer Reading

Images I don't know what makes summer reading different from reading any other time of year. I'm not sitting on a beach, or lying in a hammock or even curled up on a sofa leisurely making my way through books. I pretty much always read books (as opposed to newspapers and websites) at the end of the day, lying down in bed, no matter what the season. Nor have I been devouring "beach reads" or particularly trashy novels - my choices are just as eclectic as usual.Nonetheless, there is still a different feel to reading in the summer and if anyone has any insights into this phenomenon, please let me know. Images-1

Among recent reads: "You Know When The Men Are Gone" by Siobhan Fallon, a series of short stories about American soldiers and their families, based in Fort Hood, Texas; "State of Wonder" by Ann Patchett, a novel that follows the quest of a woman to track down a posssibly crazy rogue scientist in the Amazon (a kind of modern day "Heart of Darkness"); "A Stolen Life" by Jaycee Dugard, the memoir about her 18 years of being held hostage (I had to read this after reading "Room," a fictional depiction based on the same idea) and "Say Her Name," by Francisco Goldman, an elegant and moving memoir about the life and death of his young wife, the writer Aura Estrada. Currently, I am reading "Who's Body?" an old Lord Peter Wimsey detective novel by Dorothy Sayers which I somehow missed decades ago when I was devouring everything Sayers had written.

Maybe it's the complete lack of connection and serendipity of these choices, but whatever it is, I've been particularly enjoying the literary ride over the last month.

Another Graduation

Images All graduations make me cry and yesterday's was no exception. One of the  teenage girls we hosted for the summer scholarship program completed her final year, and there was a ceremony with a keynote speech, comments from each graduate, and the usual mix of laughs and tears.

I was SO proud of "I," who has stayed with us for the last three years. When she first arrived at our home after her freshman year in high school, she was almost painfully shy, and when she did speak, it was so quietly that it was difficult to understand her. My heart was  pounding  in the moments before she stepped up to the microphone yesterday - I was really anxious for her. Then I watched this confident young woman get up at the podium and speak clearly and articulately about what she had learned and what the program had meant to her. I was so moved. 

I know that even though she has graduated from the program, this isn't "goodbye" for us. (After all, this is a girl who gave me a Mother's Day card this year!) This fall, "I" will apply to colleges and I can't wait to follow her progress, and see how her life unfolds. I'm told that other host parents have sometimes attended college graduations and even weddings of their former students. Oh no, I'm getting tearful again - why must they grow up so fast?!