Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Well, this is it. My last blog as a 20-something. Turning 30 isn't difficult or depressing for me. I think the thirties are fantastic. 29 was the hard birthday for me, it's when I knew 30 was coming and I think I got my apprehension out then. I spent the last year looking forward to 30. Today though, I was really struck at the milestones--the last time I'll wake up in my 20s, the last time I'll give the kids a bath in my 20s, the last time I will cook a meal in my 20s. I even asked Beo to take a picture of it. It was a good one: Mollie Katzen's Samosas. They were a flashback to a wonderful first that I celebrated this past weekend: my first girl's weekend, and I couldn't have celebrated it with better folks. I got to hang out with my beloved Virtual Veggie girls in Kansas City. It was quite a treat! I don't know if it's just that this is the first change in decade that I am mature enough to truly consider and appreciate, or it it's that I really feel like this one is the real transition to adulthood, but either was, I do feel it's a momentous occasion. After all, after this post, I'll be changing the heading on my blog so that it will no longer read "not-quite" 30. Since this is one of those years that my birthday falls on Thanksgiving, I'm especially struck at how thankful I am for my past 30 years--what a wonderful family I was raised in, what an incredible husband I have, what a great family I married in to, and what an amazing family I'm raising. I'm looking forward to the next 30 getting more and more spectactular.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


My degree is in Anthropology, and my related studies delved into archaeology as well. My favorite study in that field was that of pseudoscience and pseudoarchaeology. The "scientists" who say that certain Inca carvings show that they had space travel and communicated with aliens; that the Mayan pyramids prove that the Egyptians sailed the ocean long before common science says humans did, and taught them how to build pyramids. While some of it sounds silly, there's plenty of pseudoscience that's quite damaging, that people believe wholeheartedly, such as the "science" behind many Creationist arguments. I digress. When one of my favorite professors was introducing us to the subject, we read two 'articles'. One described an archaeological site found 2000 years from the present. It was thought to reveal a ritual site at which some highly socially ranked individual was making a sacrifice. Of course it was obvious to us that it was a frat boy hugging a toilet. The second article purported to use mathmetical equations to show that if everyone kept saving their issues of National Geographic, the earth would eventually not be able to stand the added volume, and there would be grave consequences. I wish I could find the joke-article, so I could remember what all was going to happen. A change in the gravitational pull of the earth? Tidal waves, earthquakes, eventual collapse? I want to know, because I'm afraid it might happen--not with National Geographic magazines, but catalogs.

I don't know where they all come from. Some I have actually ordered from, and they're fine. Others I've ordered from and I get two or three catalogs from because they have my name misspelled or un-hyphenated, etc. Others seem to think that they need to send me a catalog every week in case I've lost mine. Some are connected behind the scenes. I order from a toy catalog and come to find out that the clothing catalog and home furnishing catalog I receive are owned by the same company. I would have to guess at where all of the liberal catalogs got my name--there are plenty of suspects. I'd like to know who sold my name to Pottery Barn, Pier One, L.L. Bean, Land's End, and a myriad of home furnishing catalogs, which started showing up in our mailbox shortly after moving into a new subdivision. The mortgage company? The home builders? Who was it? Regardless, I'm receiving about a dozen catalogs every day now. I go through the rigamole role of sorting through them, making piles of "Might Order From", "Approved and Just Like to Look at", "Already Unsubscribed", "Must Unsubscribe". I can only handle 2-3 removal requests at a time. I have to jump through hoops, and the response is always that catalogs are pre-printed, and I'll receive 2-3 more catalogs before they stop. Just enough to get me through the holiday season I suspect. So far I've resisted giving in too much to the advertising aspect of it. Even with "Free Shipping!" and "$10 off your $65 order!" I've remained fiscally solvent, which is quite an accomplishment for me.

Besides the advertising being shoved into my mailbox, the environmental aspect bothers me immensely. There are only one or two of the two day haul pictured above that are printed on recycled paper. What a waste, to picture the resources that went into that catalog, and that's duplicated across the country. It's shameful. Of course I recycle all of my unwanted catalogs, but I'm nosy and can't help but wonder what my neighbors do with theirs. Do they buy that pig shaped casserole dish, which they never knew they needed so much? Do they suscribe to the wine of the month club? Do they order the Super-Low-Price toys without a second thought to why they're Super-Low-Price? Perhaps scariest of all, do they recycle them? Or do they pile up in the back room, collecting dust, moving towards the day when the piles of sheeted ink will cause Earth's gravitational fields to shift?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Holy Ravioli!

A while back I read an article about roasting butternut squash. One of the suggestions for the finished product was making ravioli filling. It sounded just heavenly, and has been in the back of my mind ever since. The back of my mind, rather than on the table, because it seemed like an awful lot of work. My mother-in-law suggested using wonton wrappers to make the ravioli, but after fruitless searching for the aforementioned shortcut, I decided to go ahead and make my own pasta. I don't have a pasta press, so as was suggested by a beloved Virtual Veggie, it was quite an upper body workout.

The first step was to make a mound of 2 cups of flour, make a well in the mound, and break in 3 eggs. I was going to take a picture of this volcano-looking step, but my eggs quickly mucked onto the counter and didn't look so pretty. Next time, I will defy the experts and do this step in a bowl. Whisk the eggs, then gradually work in the flour. Once you've incorporated the flour into the eggs, knead the dough for about 5-10 minutes. My dough was still very dry, so I added a tablespoon-ish of olive oil. I divided the dough into 2 balls and let them rest, covered, for 10 minutes. Next, I rolled out the dough. The instructions (all which used a pasta machine) said to get the pasta thin enough that you could see your hand through it. Well, I could, if I held it up to the light. I rolled out each ball in 2 separate sections. On one section, I brushed an egg/water mixture. I then spooned about 1 tablespoon of filling (roasted butternut squash with a bit of finely mined onions) onto this section, about bit about 2 inches apart. Next, I laid the second layer over the filling, and carefully pressed the two layers together in-between the mounds of filling. I used a ravioli cutter to cut the squares apart, but a pizza cutter would work as well. To be sure the ravioli was sealed, I simply used the tines of a fork to press the edges together.

Voila! The entire process took about an hour to an hour and a half. It was quite time consuming and tough on that upper body! I kept the finished ravioli covered with a damp paper towel until I was ready to cook them. To cook, I simply dropped the ravioli into boiling water for about 6-7 minutes. To highlight the ravioli, I served it with only a touch of butter and a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan. (Sides were pan roasted beets and steamed broccoli, both still in-season, making for a very local meal.) It was really quite good. The pasta was thicker than it should have been, and thus a bit rubbery. I wouldn't do this again without a pasta press. Also, though I tried to keep the filling kid-friendly, the kids were skeptical, so next time I'd spice it up with some garlic and what else but garam masala. I hope to try both in the future--the one where I own a pasta press!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

"Embracing the Ebb"

The following is entirely quoted from "Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy" by Sarah Ban Breathnach. November 1.

There once was a mighty queen with a short fuse. One autumn, as the year was beginning to ebb, the queen fell into a deep melancholy. She could neither eat nor slumber, and tears of an unknown origin fell frequently, which infuriated her, triggering angry fits that made those around her quake in fear.
Each day the queen summoned a new adviser from her esteemed circle of sages to explain the cause of her baffling condition. In they came and out they went: the court physician, the stargazer, the psychic, the alchemist, the herbalist, the philosopher. All were dismissed as chalatans for their inability to unravel the mystery of the royal black spell. They counted themselves lucky to have only their illustrious careers shortened.
"Surely there must be one among you who knows the source of my suffering," the queen cried in despair. But her pathetic wail was greeted only with akward silence, for all were wary of her wrath. Finally, the royal gardener was moved by compassion for the poor woman and slowly approached her throne.
"Come into the garden, Majesty, beyond the walls of your self-imprisonment, and I will disclose your dilemma." The queen was so desperate, she did as she was bid. When she went out to the garden for the first time in many weeks, she noticed that the bright, vivid colors of summer had faded and the garden seemed bare. But it was not, she saw, wholly bereft of beauty, for it was regal in autumn's brilliant hues of crimson and gold. The air was refreshingly cool and crisp, and the sky, pure blue. "Speak, gardener," the queen ordered, "but choose your words carefully, for I seek the truth."
"Majesty, it is not your body or your mind that is ailing. It is your soul that is in need of healing. For while you are a mighty and powerful queen, you are not Divine. You are suffering from a human condition that afflicts us all. Earthly souls ebb and flow in sorrow and joy according to the seasons of emotion, just as the seasons of the natural world move through the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. These are the days to be grateful for the harvest of the heart, however humble it might be, and to prepare for the coming of the year's closure. Even now, the season of daylight diminishes and the time of darkness increases. But the true Light is never extinguished in the natural world, and it is the same in your soul. Embrace the ebb, my beloved queen, and do not fear the darkness. For as night follows day, the Light will return and you will know contented hours once again. Of this I am sure."
The unhappy queen considered this wisdom thoughtfully and asked the gardener how she possessed the secret knowledge of inner peace during the seasons of emotion. The gardener led her to a brass sundial. It read:
This too, shall pass.