Friday, August 31, 2007

No More Popcorn Lung

I've gone back to making my popcorn the old-fashioned way. Well, if you call stove-popped "old fashioned." (No, not Jiffy-Pop, kids.)

I am proud to report that about a month ago I swore off microwave popcorn--even BEFORE I read the report yesterday that the chemicals that give it its buttery flavor are making the factory workers ILL. Yeah, I've always known microwave popcorn was bad for you in a brazillian ways, but I'm slow when it comes to addictions. Aren't we all?

How do you make this reasonably healthy snack? Put some vegetable oil in a pot over medium heat, cover the bottom with a layer of kernels, and pop! Pour on some melted butter and fine salt, stir, and you are set for a couple hours on the couch with the husband and dogs. If you are lucky, you will be watching a Jeeves and Wooster DVD.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The August Transition

So. August.

In my household, this month is filled with looking ahead, preparing for fall and winter. My hands are chapped from washing, peeling, shelling, chopping, parboiling, and freezing the hot and heavy produce from the orchard and farm fields around here. Several bags of peppers--Hungarian banana, baby yellow, orange, and red bells, jalapeno, and regular red and green bells--wait in the crisper. Most will be chopped and frozen raw, the rest roasted for use over the next week--until the next few bags arrive next Wednesday. I'm preparing this salad tonight, with edits: bulghur for farro, double the favas, and no peas.

Apprehension grows as preschool looms. Children deny that lazy summer mornings will come to an end. I feverishly scan their warm-weather wardrobes, needed through October where we live: which shirts are stained? which jeans have holes? More importantly: which stores still have summer merchandise on the clearance racks? Around here, clothing departments are brimming with corduroy, fleece, and jack-o-lanterns, to my dismay.

Speaking of holidays long off, the year's first Christmas-cover catalog arrived in today's mail. Today, August 16. A new record. Woe be unto LTD Commodities, some new-to-me wholesaler, who apparently thinks I might buy these heinous porcelain grandparent dolls. I don't have anything against transvestism, but I'm not sure the manufacturer meant for the grandpa's clothes and hair to be on the grandma's doll head and body, and vice versa. I suppose it would be the perfect gift for the gender-bending octogenarian. The tome is already in the recycling basket.

August's MasterCard bill shows that the medical bills from the first half of the year are nearly paid. Girl, mother, and dogs are (knock wood) for the moment functioning. W goes for teeth cleaning, nail trim, and tumor excision Monday, so another $400 or so pending...

...which means August is also the month for Draconian belt-tightening. Our emergency fund has done its job over the past year--put a new roof over our heads, a new floor under, covered surgeries and medical tests--such that at this moment the account is as useful as a deflated life-raft.

So we entertain ourselves with free activities: museums where we are members or whose admission is free, outdoor parks, gatherings of other moms and kids for play in each others' homes. We've been lucky to receive many generous invitations from friends and family this summer, and those whom we host are treated with comparable generosity, I hope.

But how to make up the deficit? Maybe some eBay sales, hopefully more editing jobs, perhaps even a foray into paid freelance writing. Ultimately, as much as I dread the thought, I'm beginning to see myself (gasp) heading back to the classroom--the front of the classroom, that is. Not for this school year, but perhaps for 2008-09. I resigned from full-time professoring at the end of fall semester 2004 to stay home with my children (one of whom was still baking at that time). Admittedly, I've done little to keep up with changes in my field or to stay in touch with my colleagues, situations to be remedied in the months ahead. Is four years away too long? Ask me next August.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Young Lives Cut Short

I am so sad about the four kids shot in New Jersey. Three were killed; one is in fair condition after being shot in the head--shots that killed the others.

They were due back at college here in Delaware. But they won't be returning now.