Tuesday, July 7, 2015

And so the (pre)-teenage years begin

LOML and I have tried very hard to say, almost every day, almost every morning and evening, to Boo and to Skibo, "I love you".  We say it in the morning when we leave, or when we drop them at school, or in the evenings at bed time: and they say it back, and kiss us. 
And tonight, telling Boo to turn out the light and stop watching youtube at 10:15, the response was a (pre)-teenage sullen stare. I know tomorrow she will be back (temporarily?) to her usually lovely self, but for me, temporarily, I am

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


LOML and I went visiting some local organic farms with friends this weekend.  We had a lovely time, cut short by having to pick up Skibo from the movies.  One of the things that we scored was a zucchini, of a type we've never seen before.  I think that I am going to stuff it and cook it for dinner tonight.

To give an impression of the size of it, that's a full sized lazy Susan that it is sitting upon.  And yes, it's much more spherical than it is cylindrical!
Yours, also more spherical than cylindrical these days,

Boo's Blog (private for now)

Boo has decided to start a writing blog!  For now, it will have to remain hidden and private, but I'm enjoying seeing her develop as a writer, and as a skilled computer user.
In addition, I bought a book in our local craft store this weekend: a book to teach children to code, and both she and Skibo have been working through it.    It uses Python, and incorporates the Turtle language: they've both drawn octahedral flowers constructed from 8 octagons rotated about a single vertex, and Boo has written simple code to ask a user to input their name, and their favourite food, and then have the program output " likes ", and then report what the first and last letter of the name are.  
This latter task involved her understanding that in Python, name[-1] will return the last element of  a string or list, and understanding that it indexes from 0.  The name[-1] fact made her squeal with delight!

Yours, terribly proud of both of them!

Friday, May 1, 2015


Making this tonight: quite delicious!

Carnitas, my adaptation of several recipes

6 lb pork shoulder, boneless (I had a few bones I removed)
1 quart chicken stock
Orange juice
Zest of an orange
1 small can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 stick cinnamon
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Cut the pork into 1-2 inch cubes.
Put in a heavy pot, add the chicken stock, and enough orange juice
to cover the meat.  Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil,
stir and reduce the heat to simmer.  Simmer uncovered for 3 hours,
and add more salt to taste.  The pork should be very tender.

At this point, I still had a lot of liquid left, and the recipe I
was using suggested that it should mostly have reduced away by now.
So, instead of slavishly following the recipe, I heated the oven
to 450, removed the pork from the liquid, placing it in a roasting
dish, and turned the heat on the liquid up to high.
I put the pork into the oven, turning it occasionally, until it
crispened up nicely.  When the sauce was reduced to about a cup or
two of thick liquid, I added it to the pork, and stirred it to
distribute it well.

Served with small corn tortillas.

Yours, in anticipation,

Sunday, April 5, 2015


Posting this so that I can find it on my phone....  This is a rather good recipe for
squash casserole.

Squash Casserole

4 lbs yellow squash, sliced lengthwise, then cut into 1/8 inch slices
2 medium onions, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
Olive oil
3 eggs, lightly beaten
Half cup heavy cream
2 cups grated cheese (e.g. Italian blend, cheddar, parmesan....)
2 cups crushed buttery crackers (I used Town House Wheat crackers)
3 tablespoons melted butter.

Preheat the oven to 475 F.  Working in three batches, toss the squash
in olive oil and salt and pepper, spread out on a foil lined baking sheet,
and cook on a high rack in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until lightly colored
and beginning to caramelize.  Set aside and allow to cool while cooking
the other batches of squash.

Set the oven to 350.

Spread the onions and bell pepper on the baking sheet, and bake 8-10 minute
until the onions are just beginning to turn color.
Mix together all the vegetables, 1 cup of the grated cheese,
stir in the 3 lightly beaten eggs, the cream and one cup of the
crushed crackers.

Pour the mixute into a buttered 13x9 baking dish. Stir the crackers in the
butter, and stir in the remaining cheese. Top the casserole with the mixture.

Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or so (checking to make sure that the topping
doesn't burn --- I ended up turning the temperature down after 20 minutes).

Yours, done chopping, now to mix and bake,

Monday, February 2, 2015

Climbing the stars

Boo has written another story, a metaphorical delight!

Climbing the Stars

I walk through the door out to the open air.  I heave myself up the wall to the roof.  I lie there on the roof, staring at the sky, and the stars, and the galaxy.  And slowly, slowly,  I rise to my feet.  I stand tall and proud, a small but powerful little girl.  I stretch my arms like I do in yoga with Mommy.  And then I start to jump.  Little hops at first, then higher, higher, higher!  Then I reach while I jump.  And then suddenly, I'm not jumping and reaching, but grabbing.  Grabbing on to the closest star, I pull myself up.  I jump again, grip the next star, and pull myself up.  Again and again, higher and higher I
climb, until I can't climb any more.  I've reached the top of the sky!  I reach out and touch the heavens.  Then, slowly I spread my arms out wide, and fall off the very last star.  I feel myself drifting from the heavens, so I spread my wings and land on a star.  And then, carefully, I make my way down the stars, and climb back into my safe little bed.

Yours, delightfully inspired,

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Amateur Genealogy

Genealogy becomes possible for everyone, these days.  All sorts of web tools, together with massive amounts of data, and millions of ordinary people sifting through it, together with the ability to automatically merge their findings, and things can happen.
Mathematically I am not surprised by this: suitable models of random graphs predict this.  Nonetheless I was quite surprised this morning to see that a few extra ancestors had been added to one root of my tree: and following back, I found it went back, and back, and back.....
It is said (with quite a lot of justification) that all people of European descent have a line back to Charlemagne: I didn't find that --- but I did find that the line went back through various people in France, back through Italy, with one branch purporting to start in 80AD.  Not sure how much credence to give to the data --- and it means nothing about who I am as a person, but it fun to pursue it back:-)

Your, in line,

Friday, May 2, 2014

And we're off....

Or will be in a few hours.  Skibo and I leave after the school day is over, spending two days at camp.
Wish me luck --- it's my first time chaperoning!

Yours, in tow,

Banding together

Last night we got to attend Boo's second band performance.  She's been learning the clarinet since last Autumn, and the progress that she (and the other hundred or so students from the four elementary schools in our district) have made since the Christmas concert is incredible!  At Christmas they were essentially playing in unison, with very few chords: today they were playing pieces in which there were more complex harmonies, and pieces with complicated stops and starts.  Mostly the tempo was still all in unison: but still, incredible progress!
We're looking forward to next year when she and Skibo will both be in band together, although we don't yet know what he's going to play.

Yours, immensely grateful for the incredible teachers giving Boo this amazing opportunity!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Huge loss to the acting world

I was very saddened yesterday to learn of the loss of one of the all-time great actors of the small and silver screen:  Bob Hoskins was so good in so many things that all over social media friends were posting their favourite movie or show or scene, and there were countless different things being chosen: Roger Rabbit, Mona Lisa, The Long Good Friday, The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, Mermaids, to name but a few.
Personally, I remember him best for one of his earlier stunning TV appearances, in Pennies From Heaven in 1978.  According to Wikipedia's page for the show, it was his breakout role: and even now, 36 years later, I can still recall how good he was in it.

Yours, raising a glass to his memory,

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Weather or not

For the past three days the weather channel has been forecasting that we'll get massive storms coming our way.  I'm beginning to suspect their forecasts: this year has been particularly full of dire warnings (a couple of months ago they threatened 8-10 inches of snow, and we got a dusting) which have failed to come to pass.

I don't mind the fact that we haven't had the side effects of the storm system: the tornadoes have been bad in other states, and I definitely don't miss having them here.

I understand the difficulties of weather forecasting, the inherent instability of the systems they need to predict.  But surely a forecast of "100% chance of rain" three days running should come through at least once?  Perhaps the percentages could be downgraded to 90% instead?  After all, a three day dry spell would only be a one in a thousand longshot!

Yours, probably bemused,

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


I'm sure that that is what will be going through my linear algebra students' heads in a couple of hours time: I've just handed out their final exams, and they have two and a half hours to convince me that they've learned all they need to know this semester.
And it really would make me really very happy to give them all A's: all they have to do is earn it!

Yours, pulling for them (but not hopeful...)