Friday, March 30, 2012

Afghans and Other Sources of Warmth

I am a knitter.  Those of you who knit, or have some corollary obsession, might relate to what I’m about to write.

I have a friend.  A good friend.  He lived here for quite a while.  While he was here, we spent a lot of time together.  We went jogging (with him egging me on, because I am more of a “whiney limper” than a “runner”).  He made my kids potato tacos and apple salad and some amazing concoction of mango, chiles, and lime juice.  (And he gave one of them the aforementioned Piscivorous Turtle of Longevity).  He was a core part of my salsa-dancing group, shielding me from dancing with whatever random lecherous guy might have taken a shine to me and valiantly, if ultimately unsuccessfully, trying to teach me to cumbia.  He explained to me--with that perspective that only comes from having lived one's whole life somewhere much, much, less pleasant than the U.S.--why southern California traffic is simply not worth stressing out.  Or using bad language.  He was, in short, an integral part of the fabric of my day-to-day life.

And then, rather abruptly, he was not.

When it became apparent to me that I quite literally might not ever see him again, I did the only thing I could think to do:  I knit.

I had an idea for a blanket.  A blanket that would keep him warm, a blanket he could snuggle up in with his son, a blanket I could fill with warmth and color and good wishes.

I made it out of leaves, long chains of leaves, in every color a leaf might be, from “nature’s first green is gold” to “boughs which shake against the cold.”  I arranged the chains so they pointed in both directions—coming and going, beginning and ending and beginning anew.

I knit as meditation.  I knit as prayer.  Each stitch, a memory, a wish, a thanksgiving.

Eventually, I finished it:

Technical knitting specs, for those of you so inclined:
Needles: US 10
Yarn: Traveller, DK-weight 100% superwash wool.  280 yards/4 oz.  Available from Cephalopod Yarns, Verdant Gryphon, and Dragonfly Fibers.  17 skeins, yarn held double. Cascade 220 would be a fine replacement. 
Gauge: One leaf, blocked: 8” long x 4” average width

The pattern is available for sale through Ravelry—you do not have to be a member of Ravelry to purchase it.  Through the month of April, I will be donating $1 from every sale to Cruz Roja Mexicana, the Mexican chapter of the Red Cross.

Friday, March 16, 2012

New Parenting Strategy: Give 'Em Something to REALLY Rebel Against

The adolescent is doing her homework.
Cruel and unusual homework, involving being forced to read books of questionable entertainment value, and math that she is never going to use, and history that is totally irrelevant.
I try to be sympathetic.  I remember what it was like to feel like you were squandering your precious youth slogging away under the dictatorship of institutionalized education.
But then it starts.  The Tirade: “I hate school!  And I hate homework! And this is stupid! And I hate reading!”

Friday, March 9, 2012

To Celebrate Women's Day, Beyonce Covers Breast with Baby

Singer Beyonce’s breasts are once again causing commotion.  While she and husband Jay-Z were dining at New York's Saint Ambrose Cafe and Espresso Bar in the West Village, the no-longer-single-lady incited a near-riot among the city’s famously conservative and discreet residents by exposing less of her breast than she has in most of her music videos while engaging in the protected-by-law action of public breastfeeding.  Coupled with the recent solar flare activity, the non-controversy sparked a firestorm of media attention.
Sharp-as-a-tack CBS-2’s reporter Kristine Johnson exposed the singer’s obvious faux pas: She didn’t “opt for the privacy of the bathroom.”

Monday, March 5, 2012

Whales and Other Buried Treasures

As I might have mentioned, I grew up in northeastern Ohio.  Not the best place for (among other things) whale watching.  The very thought of whale-watching seemed impossibly exotic to me.  I mean really.  Which is why it took me off-guard yesterday when I heard myself casually saying to someone who solicitously offered me a spot at the railing of a whale-watching boat, “Oh, don’t worry about me, I do this every chance I get.”
Have I become blasé?
Not really.  But…I do do this every chance I get, and I want everyone else to get a chance to do it, too.
I saw my first whale (outside of the confines of the Ohio Sea World) when I was 27 or so, and my older daughter was a baby.  It was my first Mother’s Day, and my husband had arranged for us to go whale watching.  We saw orcas, a huge matrilineal family of them, in their native habitat.  In a year clouded entirely by a post-partum depression so severe I wasn’t sure I would survive it, that one sun-lit day gave me hope.  (It also convinced me that I would never again patronize a Sea World.)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Recipe, uh, Whenever: Sardines. For real.

Yes, sardines.  Really.  I feel like I should say, “They’re not that bad!” but—truth be told—sardines are like many other foods—quite tasty when prepared properly, potentially emetic when not.  (If you doubt this, just think about canned peas versus fresh ones.)
Anyway.  I mention sardines not just because they’re an under-loved source of protein and Omega-3s.  Sardines are, as far as animal protein sources go, one of the most environmentally friendly choices around.  And they’re usually cheap.
You see, most ocean fisheries are being critically overharvested—many marine scientists now fear we are verging on the collapse of global fisheries.  For many Americans, this means little more than righteous indignation at the price of shrimp cocktail; for much of the developing world, this means disaster.
Wild-caught Pacific sardines make the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s “Super Green List,” which includes seafood choices that are low in both mercury and PCBs, high in Omega-3s, and sustainably harvested. (The Aquarium also produces handy, regional, downloadable “pocket guides” listing the best and worst seafood choices.)
So what do you do with sardines?  Try this easy, simple recipe to get started:
Faux Lox
For each serving, you’ll need:
½ bagel (go for whole-grain if you’re feeling all healthy)
1 T. cream cheese
1-2 smoked sardine filets
Thinly sliced red onion
Chopped fresh parsley
Lemon wedge
Salt & pepper

Toast the bagel. Spread the cheese.  Layer on the sardines.  Garnish.  Et voila! A high-protein, high-calcium, lots-of-random-minerals breakfast.  Just brush your teeth before you go about the rest of your day.  Just sayin’.