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So it’s getting warm around here, and no one really wants to stand over the stove for any longer than absolutely necessary. Also, until we reinstall Pretty Pretty Princess Land,* ain’t nobody at No. 208 interested in sitting down to a hot meal. So! In the same way that autumn soccer season means soups, summertime means cold salads. And over the next few weeks, I shall share with you, dear reader, our favorites.

This tomato salad was introduced to me by a couple of poets who were up from Texas touring a few years ago, and who were kind enough to cook for us. The use of fresh oregano** instead of fresh basil was a bit of a surprise, but the result is pretty spectacular – fresh and fruity, and a little bit peppery. This meal is super satisfying without being heavy – perfect for the hot weather.

Tomato Mozzarella Saladfeeds 3

3 large roma tomatoes
8oz fresh mozzarella
2 1/2Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
2-ish Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2-ish Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp small capers (optional)

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Let Us Speak About Meditation

Ok, so I want to talk for a hot minute about the slightly off-key chorus of balloon animals that resides in my head.

If you’ve ever been around when I’m hosting a slam somewhere you’ll hear me mention during the MC Spiel something or other about NO FUCKING BALLOON ANIMALS. Comes with the territory. At least I’ve stopped requesting that someone build me a paper hat. Rachel Hyman actually made me a paper hat once upon a time ago at a Java Hut slam – it was the Best Slam Evar, as far as I am concerned. But I digress.

So, yes, the talking balloon animals. Or the Radio, I sometimes call it. When I was in social work ages ago, people I worked with referred to it as The Committee, tho’ that label really implies a lot more about judgement than the other names. What I’m getting at is the ceaseless chatter of the mind which goes on ad nauseum, shifts topics with no warning, and distracts like a baws. Sometimes it’s got some judgement, but most of the time it’s more like a 1992 Honda Civic stuffed with some busy eight-year-olds who’ve been up since the crack of omigod eating Cap’n Crunch from the big bowl – Where we going? Are we almost there? Are we there yet? Can we buy candy when we get there? Don’t forget about that book you read in 1987 – I liked that book a bunch. Oooh! This is a good song – I’mma sing along with Avril Lavigne! Holy carp, what time is it? Are we there yet? Where are we gonna go tomorrow? I might be hungry – what’re we having for dinner? You start cooking dinner by getting a clean pan – no no wait – you have to wash the dishes fist. We’ll do the dishes and water all the plants right after yoga. Speaking of plants, the strawberries need to go outside – the windowsill just isn’t cutting it, and the bigger cat keeps referring to it as, ‘salad.’ Are we there yet?

Which is to say, when that shit is turned up, it takes some doing to concentrate.

And I’m trying to learn how to meditate, did I mention?
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Seriously, I cannot believe I never posted this recipe up. I went through all the Om Nom Nommies tagged entries, and it astounds me that my rice omelette never made it into here. So, um, let’s remedy that right now, shall we?

Have you ever seen the movie Tampopo? Will Dearest and I like to call it a ramen noodle western, and it’s one of our favorites. A japanese film from the eighties, it’s one of the very best movies about food I’ve ever seen.  It has a number of vignettes about food, weaved through the story of a woman who wants to open the best ramen stand in all of Japan. Nestled in there is this little gem about a hobo and a little boy who break into a closed restaurant kitchen to make an omelette –

And when I watched this with a friend who grew up in Japan, I was like, What in the world are they doing? Ken explained to me that rice omelettes were something he grew up with, a ketchupy delight, a treat. And I didn’t believe him – until he decided to prove it to me in the best of all ways, with breakfast. True story: zomg, rice omelette is for treat.

Many years later, I had a similar discussion with Will Dearest, wherein he gave me the suspicious eye about plans for dinner. And I would have said whatever and made something else,* only the cupboards were kinda bare, but for the leftovers and a carton of eggs. Among the leftovers was some yellow rice with Ro-Tel from the chicken and rice that we had eaten for dinner the night before. Well! Guess what? The rice omelette is now a dinner staple at No. 208, it was so well enjoyed.

The rice omelette I make is not the traditional ketchupy business, but it certainly can be made with white rice and ketchup instead (skip the cheese). I could also see it made with plain buttered and peppered rice with some veggies chopped up in it, or with leftover fried rice from chinese carryout (again, skip the cheese). So here’s the skinny:

Rice Omelette makes one omelette

2-3tbsp leftover rice**
2 eggs, beaten with a dash of water
a sprinkling of shredded cheddar cheese
butter for the pan

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Ok, so that sewing kitty gif sat up on the blog for over a month before I felt like I had something urgent enough to talk about to actually write up an entry.* It’s been that kinda of spring, so far. Thank goodness sewing kitty is adorable. Also, if you’ve come to this blog, according to my stats page, there’s an eighty percent chance you’re hungry,**  and there are plenty of recipes on the site, so really I haven’t been terribly worried, right?

Anyway! It’s not just that the rain has had me a little bit slow (holy, carp, I’m tiring of the grey weather!) it’s more than that. I’ve been working on some stuff that has my head in other places, and some days it’s really hard to hone myself to a clear focal point for the blog. Aside from the fact that soccer season is back in swing and I haven’t really adjusted to the schedule change yet, I’ve been working on another book.***

And this book is new to me – loosely, you could call it sci-fi, or urban fantasy (there are no spaceships, but there’s both tech and magic in it), and outside of a handful of short stories, I’ve never really delved into trying to put something like this on paper. I’ve always wanted to (one day I’ll write dragon fic!) but haven’t ever figured out how to navigate the doing. This is seat-of-pants stuff, and as a task-oriented person, and as someone who really likes to have a clear vision of what I’m doing, a little harrowing at times. (Also, I’m one hundred percent sure that this is not a book that I could show to at least four people whom I love very much, as they would cough at the content.)

Which is to say, the going has been slow – I think I started this thing some five years ago as part of a NaNoWriMo attempt.† I put it down for a year someplace in there, when I got stuck. I’ve been picking at it intermittently for what seems like a dog’s age, and cussing at it occasionally. There was a whole summer when I sat in bed and whined something to the tune of, “If I only knew what my staaaaatement iiiiiiiiiis – wahhhhh!”†† I wrote three short stories that happen in the same world, after sitting down to work on the novel and getting sidetracked. I made file after file of drafts, and made a bunch of print-outs. I sat down and made a synopsis. And then another one. I had an idea of the ending, but was fairly hopeless about the execution of said ending. And then I put the thing away again, and didn’t touch it for a while – four months, five months, maybe. Incidentally, that’s kind of a long time for a project  to sit, y’all.

But listen – something has shifted. Someone once described writer’s block to me as the time when your imaginary friends stop talking to you. Well, all of a sudden, they’re talking to me again \o/ And they’re rather chatty, actually. I’ve been nosing into my google docs while on break at work. I’ve been toting a paper printout and a notebook to the soccer pitch when Our Man Cub has a practice. I’ve been keeping a notepad on the bedside.

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(crossposted to Worcester Poets Asylum)

Sad news this morning from the New York Times (obit below the fold). Beloved poet and children’s author, Maurice Sendak has passed away.

Maurice Sendak has always held a very special place for me. One of my earliest memories from childhood is reading Chicken Soup With Rice in kindergarten – I distinctly remember the librarian at the Ethel McKnight School in East Windsor, NJ, holding the oversized book open for us to all see the pictures as we crowded in to hear her tell the story. I remember being read to when I was small enough to still fit on a lap, and the bright pages of Where The Wild Things Are taking up more space than the room possibly could hold.

And when my own son was born, we read every Sendak book we could find together. We started reading together before he was even old enough to understand that books were more than just delightful on the gums. When he was a couple years old, Where The Wild Things Are*, In The Night Kitchen and Outside Over There became our very favorites.

Just this weekend, I picked up a copy of Bumble-Ardy for my nieces, barely daring to wonder to myself if this would be his last book. In an NPR interview last year, he just sounded so sad – he cried through the interview with Terri Gross (Fresh Air, September 20, 2011), lamenting the passing of his partner of fifty years, Eugene Glynn, as well as other friends whom he had outlived. He said, “I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can’t stop them. They leave me and I love them more,” and I started crying too, there in the car, on I-190, weeping and driving, and hearing how he sounded so lonesome.

Oh, Maurice – thank you for your words, for your pictures, for these beautiful pieces of childhood and parenthood that you gave us. I’ll miss you. The wild rumpus will forever be changed by your passing.

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May 2012