Monday, June 30, 2008

Nostalgia, Part 2.

I wanted to get all excited about how Stanley Fish blogged about missing the Democratic Primary, too, but, honestly, I was worrying too much to finish reading it. I was distracted by and worrying about the article about Al Queda in Pakistan and the New Yorker article my husband told me about last night in which Seymour Hirsch outlines, apparently, the potential for an invasion of Iran. I write "apparently" because I haven't yet read the article. Still I find myself wondering if Bush and Cheney are still President and VP enough to do this. Do you know what I mean? Could they really start a war with, like, six months left on their watch?

A Small Place

Last week, I was at a friend's house in Philadelphia and there on the living room floor was the most recent issue of Lapham's Quarterly. In it, I read an excerpt from Jamaica Kincaid's A Small Place. The passage was so beautiful, so clear, so choked with feeling, that I had to get the book. I got it on Friday. It's a short book, and it's stunning. Kincaid's language, her control, her use of parenthetical remarks, it's astonishing, all the more so because what comes through the gorgeousness of her words is, primarily, rage. It comes at you like a blast from a furnace, but the language is so gorgeous and sly that it's a little hard to assimilate what's happening to you at first. Like, you don't realize right away that the words on the pages of the book in your hand aren't inanimate strokes of black on white with curves and dots to guide you. They're not that benign and they're not that dead. Individually, they bristle. Taken together, they hurl themselves at you, elegantly. All this to say: You must read this book.

And Lapham's Quarterly, too.

Friday, June 27, 2008

What's in a Rule?

Yesterday, my husband sent me the link to this article by Marjorie Ingall. In it, Marjorie, a fabulous writer whom I can call by her first name because I've known her my whole life, mulls over her feelings about keeping kosher. She writes that she's always been sort of kosher and "sort of" for a long time meant vegetarian. But she's no longer a vegetarian. And she's committed to eating as much seasonal, local and ethically produced food as she can. So what should she do about meat? Because the biggest producers of kosher meat adhere to God's law but not ethical standards of treatment toward either workers or animals.

The question for Marjorie seems to be should she buy ethically raised and produced local meat that isn't kosher technically but feels kosher emotionally? Or, should she buy meat that's technically kosher and ethically produced but whose cost is virtually prohibitive for anything but an annual brisket?

Here's a quote:
"Some friends of mine are starting a share in a cow. Someone knows a farmer. The farmer’s cow leads a pure life, injected with far fewer chemicals than most of our major-league ballplayers. The cow will be killed painlessly, but not by a shochet. Do I want in? I think the last unkosher beef I ate was a Ball Park Frank at a Pawtucket Red Sox game when I was 6. But sometimes I think: If kosher is unkosher, why not go ethical? If I make the effort with fruits and vegetables, why not with meat? And if not now, when?

On the other other hand, I do understand what most Orthodox authorities are saying: Kashrut is entirely separate from oshek, the oppression of workers that Judaism forbids. And a cow staggering around with a slashed throat may have been killed within the letter of the law. The reason for kashrut, they say, is because God said to do it. Period. Ours is not to reason why. And yet I do."

I read that and thought, "Hmmm, there are all sorts of thing that either God says or the rabbis say God says not to do that many progressive Jews do, or don't do, as the case may be. Many progressive Jews don't pray three times a day. Many are gay. Many use electricity on the sabbath or wear shorts and tank tops on a hot day. We pick and choose all the time. So what is it about kosher that's so different?

It's not that I don't get the dilemma. I don't keep kosher, but I don't buy pork chops because I don't want my kids to think it's OK to eat them home. Out? You choose. That's how I was raised. Kosher in the house, not-so-kosher outside of it. And from where, or, more accurately, how I sit, that, while apparently crazy, actually makes (some) sense. Because I take the laws of kashrut to be an expression of difference. This is what "we" eat; this is what "we" won't eat. Like it, lump it, discuss.

After all, Jews have lived in diasporic communities for thousands of years. During all those years, what they chose to eat and how they chose to begin and end their meals were ways to maintain a sense of distinction from the culture at large in which they lived.

Because food is sustaining, but it's also differentiating. We make choices all the time about when, how, what and where we'll eat. Those choices are defining. I don't eat at McDonalds. I shops at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's (coffee), Farm Markets and Fairway. Didn't you run into me there last week?

Beyond food allergies and preferences, food choices reflect who we are in the world and with whom we identify. If you're going to eat according to rules, should they be the rules of the mostly seasonal, preferably organic and primarily locavore or the Jew? If you choose the former and you're a Jew, what separates you from anyone else of any other faith commitment? How does what you eat reflect your identity as a Jew, an identity you might wish to share with your children, if it doesn't comply with Jewish law? If as a Jew you/I don't choose kosher meat, are we all just melting into a great pot of progressive, if sometimes cranky, leftiness? You know: Peace Now, Barak Obama, and grass-fed beef!

In my own home, as I said, I've decided not to keep kosher. If I buy meat, it's only the gently raised kind. But that only solves the question of dinner. It doesn't begin to address the much bigger issues of identity, community, or difference. In spite of her kosher dilemma, Marjorie seems to have got that stuff covered. Me? To quote her: "I dither."


Yesterday I blogged about my facial. Does anyone else secretly miss the democratic primary? Just a little tiny bit?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Facial

Yesterday, I took all the money I saved on that Orla Kiely bag (and then some) and threw it at my face. Literally. I had a facial during which Dona, the amazing facial-giving owner of Rescue Spa in Philadelphia, steamed, scrubbed, and sanded the skin on my face. Then she stimulated it with electric paddles, which made my mouth taste like a melting metal spoon. But my skin? Gaw-juss. Seriously. I first went to Dona about a month before we moved from Philadelphia to New York City, and my skin had never looked so good. I've continued to go to her, -- if once or twice a year facials can be called "continuing" -- and I've bought the products. Oh have I bought the products. But my skin?! Seriously. Today, after the facial, I look like I'm 37. And I never had skin with pores this small before. Even my mom says my skin has never looked better. When she tells me this, we fall into a discussion of what we'd do to our faces when and what options are available. My mom, like her mother, has gorgeous skin naturally. She's one of those women who could shear vaseline on her face and it'd look beautiful. Me, not so much. Which is to say, the products, the facials, they're worth every penny I lavish on them. But it also means I have to wear a hat. Always. Because you can't cough up the change for the products only to singe your skin in the sun, can you?
So I mostly have much better skin than ever before, but sometimes I look silly. A reasonable trade-off, don't you think?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Juice Bag

I'm bad at bags. They make me nervous. They're so expensive! And I never know what to do with them once I'm in a restaurant. I never have the right bag for an evening out, but during the day, I do OK, mostly because my days are extremely casual and because last spring I bought this bag. I liked it so much I got one for my friend E. for her birthday, because I figured it was just the kind of thing she'd like, too. I wasn't wrong about that. What I wasn't prepared for, though, was how much everyone else would like this bag. Just this morning E. called to say that when she pulled out the bag for summer, her fashion quotient went way up. Everyone gives her props! She lives in Philadelphia, and I live in New York, but I've experienced the very same thing here. People on the subway, in stores, in restaurants, tourists, hardcore New Yorkers, older people, 10-year-olds, you name it, they've complimented me on this bag. I've never seen the likes of it. Nora Ephron described a similar phenomenon in I Feel Bad About My Neck, for her it was the result of an MTA bag. I thought of Nora the other day when I saw an Orla Kiely bag that I really liked. The colors, the straps, the shape, it was all very appealing. It was also $198.00. Not outrageous in the spectrum of bag prices (although it's outrageous that I think $198 is not an outrageous price for a bag), but a heck of a lot more than my fantabulous Basura Bag made of stitched together juice boxes that would otherwise clog the sea. I may even buy another juice bag. Just for fun. After all, I saved $198 the other day when I didn't buy that other bag......

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Michelle Obama on The View

I know I should have said something about this last week, but the fact that I didn't tells me something. The "this" in this case is Michelle Obama's appearance on The View. Can I just say? I do not care about how Michelle Obama is fashioning herself into a first lady. Or, more honestly, I care that she has to do it and I wish she didn't. I think we'd be lucky to have someone as tenacious and accomplished as she filling the role of first lady just as she is -- whether she wears an off-the-rack dress or not. I'm just not so interested in watching her turn herself into someone more "first ladylike" -- whatever that might mean. I don't actually know what it means because I didn't read anything about Michelle Obama on The View (OK, I read one blog post, but I really didn't like it), and I've seen just one headline tauting her image revamping. But it's enough. I know what's going to happen. She's going to become wifely. When Hillary Clinton tried to do that early in Bill's first term, I actually wrote her a letter. Swear to God. After reading an article about how HRC, as she was not yet known, invited the editors of women's magazines to the White House to talk about her image, I wrote her a letter saying how sad I thought that was. That I'm even still writing about this because of Michelle Obama a bazillion years later (OK, maybe 14) is just so, what is it?, sad. Or maybe pathetic. But there it is. We in America, we like our wives wifely. Maybe that's why no one liked Bill all that much this go-round. He just wasn't much of a wife. Maybe he should have gone on The View.

Friday, June 20, 2008

And now, Bananas

In case you missed this, I give you the demise of the banana. Sigh.

Birth Madness

I know I don't write much about the pregnancy/birth stuff, but I think about it a lot, and I recommend you check out for some thoughts about the anti-home-birth madness in the medical world. I'm all about being aware of what's a choice and what isn't in birth and being connected emotionally to the experience and not disrespecting one side or the other, but these guys in white coats? I've got to say it: Nuts.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cookies from The River Cottage Family Cookbook

Tonight, while my kids were watching Max & Ruby, I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies using a recipe from The River Cottage Family Cookbook. Now, I make chocolate chip cookies a lot, and there's one recipe I'm particularly fond of (so is everyone else). I want to say it's from the July 2003 issue of Martha Stewart, and it totally rocks. But it makes a lot of cookies. This recipe, in The River Cottage Family Cookbook, promised just 12. It took about half of everything I'm used to seeing in a chocolate chip cookie recipe, and the small batch meant it could be assembled and baked quickly. I was curious. But here's the thing: Every other chocolate chip cookie recipe I've ever made calls for baking soda. This one? Baking powder. I followed the recipe, and the cookies are OK, but a little cakey, and they definitely don't look like the picture. Could baking powder be baking soda in England? Does anyone know? I'm tempted to try them one more time with the soda, because it was super quick and easy.....but would that be gross? I guess since I can't ask Melissa, to whom I direct all my random cooking and baking questions because she's just too busy, there's only one thing to do. I'll report back when I make them again with the soda.

Update: I spoke to Melissa about the recipe. Apparently, baking soda is typically used to offset something "acidic, like brown sugar." OK! So brown sugar is acidic! This recipe calls for more white sugar (1/2 cup) than brown (1/3 cup). In my favorite recipe, there's more brown sugar than white, and there maybe be a 1/2 tsp each of baking powder and soda, but I have to check that. All this to say Melissa says I could "absolutely" try the same recipe with soda and see what happens. My husband thinks I should just stick with my favorite recipe, but where's the fun in that?

The Reading Problem

I've started reading a Muriel Spark novel called A Far Cry From Kensington. It's brilliant. Like the other Spark novels I've read, Memento Mori and The Comforters, Kensington is extremely economical. Spark's sentences are each and all just so, the characters are perfectly drawn with a flick of the wrist, and the story is a little bit weird. I mean, it's just a little bit weirder than real life but no so weird that it feels impossible. And, like I said, she's economical. Her books aren't gorgeous the way Penelope Fitzgerald's novels are short and devastating and so beautiful (check out The Bookshop), but this novel, like the other two, has taken me in and won't let me go. Oh, and it's funny. I mean, funny in every way funny can be. Which means it's hard to keep up with other stuff. The problem is there's just too much to read and not all that much time. I know everyone has this problem, but I'm really feeling it these days and I think it's because if and when I fall completely into a book, I get greedy. I want to read more and more books and like them more. Which means I have to read all the time. But I also want to knit. And sometimes I'm too tired to read. And then there's my husband, I have to have conversations with him -- I like him so much! And if there are phone calls to make or cookies to bake, The New Yorkers pile up, the New York Times gets left unread, and my book pile becomes insurmountable. Never mind the web. So it goes. I love A Far Cry from Kensington, and soon enough, I'll be sad that it's over, and then I won't know what to read.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Don't Clean That House!

I wish I were the type of person who had something really insightful to say about this article by Sandra Tsing Loh about working moms in the new Atlantic and this article by Lisa Belkin in this week's Sunday Times Magazine. But when I stepped back from both the moral of the stories, which are both well worth reading for different reasons, seems to be that if you're a woman and you have children and a romantic partner and a job and you want to maintain a hint of balance and sanity, then stop cleaning, even if you don't want to or can't hire help to do it. Not only stop cleaning, but stop caring about how clean your house is. If you're a gay woman, then the data show you benefit from the probability that your partner will report doing about the same amount of housework as you and, by extension, you two will probably share the same tolerance for mess (this is from the most interesting section of the Belkin article). But even if you're straight, then to get more done -- to blog, to read, to do the work that has to get done and to spend time with the kids -- then the thing that has to give is the living room floor.

Now, you'd think this is a gimme. That oh sure that's not so hard to not clean the living room. But just yesterday, after I'd read -- and ranted about - the Tsing Lo article, I asked my husband to take my kids to a birthday party because I needed to work. When they left, I looked around the apartment, and I'm no neat freak, but I had to squash down the extremely strong instinct to clean up before I sat down to work by quoting the closing line of Tsing Loh's Atlantic piece, "You can have it all, if you think like a man." So, I did. I sat down and I worked and I let the mess sit, but it wasn't a gimme.

Now, I could go into how weird it is that it's so important for people --and now for me--to have a relatively neat house, but I won't. Because just like there's a time to stop cleaning, there's a time to stop wondering about how important it is to clean, and that time, is now. Maybe I'll think about it more later. What do you think?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Top Chef Not Spoiler

OK. So I watched the finale last night. If you haven't watched it yet, you might want to stop reading. All I'll say about it is I'm so glad the winner won. And I'm also fascinated by the person whose ambition totally got in the way. Same thing happened last year with Casey. Like, if you add too much freight to what you're doing, you set yourself up for failure. That's what happened on the show. And the person who could've won but didn't? Finally that person wasn't grumpy and competitive. Still would rather that person wasn't there....but it's interesting, no? Tomorrow, I may write more, and with pronouns, so you're warned!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

To the Garden

For some reason, this article about home gardening really cheered me up this morning. It actually made me think: "Take that Monsanto!" I know it's a ridiculous thought, that a handful of home gardeners could take a bite out of the corporate seed monster, moreover, I know it's entirely besides the point. But I like so much that people are just going out and digging into their own backyards. It's the kind of thrift and industry that David Brooks would approve of. After reading the whole article (even the repetitive parts), I turned to my husband and said, "This makes me want to garden." He gave me a look. Because he knows full well I've never wanted to garden, and the kind of follow through required by gardening has never been my best thing. Besides, we live in an apartment without a real windowsill, so I can't even have a window box with an herb garden and even if I could I probably wouldn't. But in a few years we might have a backyard. In a few years, I might have more time to garden and I might be better on the follow through. And maybe I'll put up some laundry lines so we can hang laundry out to dry, too! But I won't can. And I won't dry flowers. Dried flowers make me sad. In books they're always falling out of old bibles, and those scenes always make me weep, and gardening will be all about blooming possibility and composting for the future. Huzzah!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Health Update

I have strep throat. Used to be when I had strep throat I'd stay home from school and watch TV all day long. Today, not so much. But I did have a near perfect lunch: Heirloom tomato salad, nicely dressed, lot of fresh basil, big hunk of brown bread smeared with herb butter. Since I couldn't have matzah ball soup because the restaurant's chef must have thought 90-something was too hot to make it, that salad was exactly what I wanted. While eating, I tried to focus on how much I was enjoying the salad and forget about how much I was paying for it. I did an OK job of that. But, sadly, even though I loved every last bite, I'll probably never order that salad again. It was a little outrageous. Then again, if I have strep, again, and once again can't stay home and watch Merv Grifffin. Now Merv, that show of his was chicken soup for the strep strapped soul.

More Bad News

First sushi, and now salmon. Not that I haven't wondered about all that salmon everywhere, but the corruption and dissolution of our food supply combined with the run on foods touted in the media as "healthy" just makes for a, like, total bummer.

One Last Thing about HRC

If, as Hillary Clinton claimed throughout her campaign, she knew just how tough a general election could be. If she were prepared for all the hardballs that the other side would throw at her and if all of her dirty laundry was already out there, then why wasn't the woman who suffered through sexism from high school on prepared for any sexism in the campaign --from Republicans or the media? Why was it sexism that sunk her campaign and not just a bad campaign? Call it a generational divide, but to me it sounds like a divisive excuse probably thrown out as a cynical aside during an "if you lose which you won't" conversation. I'm so over it.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Is It Bad?

That this morning, instead of scanning the news about Hillary Clinton I spent my five free minutes considering Go Fug Yourself and their description of the boob yarmulkes on Candace Bushnell?

Is it also bad that I can't stand it when people call Barak Obama "Barry"? I know he used to call himself that, and I know that public figures all get dumb nicknames in the press, but Barry? The man is not a dentist!

Finally, I can say this with 100 percent confidence. It is bad that Antonia was knocked off Top Chef last night, and the sulky, pouty, gloaty, she-had-to-cover-her-mouth-to-keep-from-smiling- on-camera-when-she-wasn't-sent-home-and-then-no-one-
congratulated-her-and-she-was-pissed Lisa stayed.
That was rally bad.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Food for Thought

I know I should say something about Obama and Clinton and how Jeffrey Toobin said it was only the Clinton's "deranged narcissism" that let Hillary think the night was about her and not Obama. I know I should mention that as astonished as I am that a woman could be taken as seriously as Clinton was as a presidential candidate, I am equally astonished that a black man is the Democratic nominee.

Writing this now brings me back to an argument I had in a discussion group my first week of graduate school. (In a past life I was a doctoral student in Biblical Studies at the University of Chicago Divinity School.) A fellow student, South Asian woman, whose name I don't think I knew then, argued with not a little force that white women in this country have more power than men of color because they're white. This kind of comparison made me peevish -- frankly, it still does. Because by power, what exactly did she mean? I could go through a list of places where power plays out -- boardrooms, bedrooms, universities, speeches -- and none of it would matter. I happen to think that women in leadership positions aren't taken as seriously as men in this country, no matter their color.

But I also think that when you're talking about government leaders, corporate leaders, policy makers and big think kind of people, it almost doesn't matter. Yes, racism and sexism are deeply ingrained in our culture and ourselves. But someone who ascends into a public leadership role has done something that many other people have not. White men have the absolute easiest time doing that, but everyone has to overcome something. People who take on these roles are driven individuals and the discussions of racism and sexism and which is a bigger barrier just get tiresome. They're both bad, OK? They both make life more difficult for everyone. They both sap our public life of talent and opportunity. Can we all agree on that? Can we all agree to try to do better? Good. Let's sing!

Now, having written more about politics than I meant to and less than I should have given my chosen topic, I'll move on to what I was going to write about in this post: The food I ate in graduate school. I was inspired by this when I checked out a link from Jenny Davidson's blog to this blog. Looking over the latter post, I got all nostalgic for the really sad foods I ate as a grad student. Ramen, of course. I also ate something called "Pasta Stew" which was a devolving riff on a recipe from the New York Times that P.'s mom had ripped out and mailed her. It involved vegetables and pasta and oil and parmesan cheese and stock from the pasta, and I loved it, but, objectively speaking, it was gross. My friend N. would always mix her salsa with cottage cheese, which i thought was crazy delicious but once I dropped out of grad school, it didn't occur to me to do that again until I got pregnant and had to eat, like, buckets of protein every day. Finally, I now remember that it was only after I dropped out of grad school that I became interested in cooking. My friendship with Melissa flowered then, she taught me an awful lot about hands on cooking (my own mom taught me a lot about watching someone else cook; she is a masterful cook, my mother, but when it comes to how she is in the kitchen, C is for cooking and controlling), and I gave myself 10 years to learn to make better food. I bet if I tried that vegetable pasta stew now, it'd be a good bit less disgusting. If only I could find the recipe...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The River Cottage Family Coookbook

A friend from Brooklyn sent me this cookbook, and I LOVE it! I love the pictures, I love that the recipes call for heaping teaspoons of things, I love that kids can cook and learn from it and I can, too. The only problem is it makes me want to live in a rambling country house through which animals walk and outside of which I'd have a kitchen garden. My hands would be red and my nails ragged, my cheeks ruddy, my hair frizzy, and my Christmas dinner would be all about brussel sprout gratin and Yorkshire pudding. It doesn't mater that I don't celebrate Christmas, I'd know what to do with suet! That's what I love about a good cookbook. It creates a world that's completely unto itself, with its own rules and obligations and wherein it's perfectly reasonable for a child to gut a fish.

Can't you see it? There's Trevor with the fish knife and I'm in the kitchen shaping my bread dough into a loaf for its second rising. Georgie, Trevor's sister, is feeding the rabbits, the baby is napping and my husband is off somewhere doing husbandly things while the sheets dry in the good strong spring breeze.

Now, I'm off to clean up the play dough and pack the bags of Puffins for snack. The apples are peeled, the strawberries sliced and there's nothing left to do but wait for the TV show to end, dress the children and slather them in sunscreen. Is there a cookbook in this life?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Flowers on the Rug--If You Dare

I'm writing this post because of a dare, and while I think it's a perfectly reasonable subject to blog about, I want everyone to know that I blog this with the full knowledge -- indeed the dare -- of one of its main characters.

That character is P. (It's appropriate to call her a character, because when one writes about someone, that someone is as much a character as a person -- actually a little bit more character than multi-dimensional human, which is sometimes an unhappy and always a confusing situation.) In any case, this post isn't actually about P. as much as it's about how adults who don't have kids relate to and view the actions of small children.

P. doesn't have children. She likes children, she's very playful with my kids and adores her nieces and nephews. However, when it comes to children in public places or how people with children in this city act with their own kids, she, like many, has some very firm opinions and preferences. Like, if you're at a restaurant having brunch with your kids, your kids shouldn't make loud noises. I say, sure. And I also say I'm sure most parents would agree with this ideal, but struggle with achieving it in reality.

Now, I've blogged before about how people in this city can be child-unfriendly. And I think adults in this country pretty much hate the inconveniences and disturbances caused by children, humans, under 5, even if they're similar disturbances to those other adults can create.

When I took an Amtrak train with my kids, grown men rolled their eyes, refused to move, and made rude jokes about us -- as if they themselves had never been small or as if the sounds from woman across the way yacking on her cell phone wasn't more disturbing than the noise my children made. A few weeks ago, I was walking alongside another woman and we were both pushing single strollers. A man approached us and, saying nothing, simply waved his hands so we would know our job was to separate and create a space for him. It was horribly rude (and I told him so). Would he have done the same thing if we'd been walking dogs? My bet is no.

This brings me to the subject of this post. So the other day I was at P.'s apartment with my daughter Helen. Helen had some flowers with her that we'd picked in the park, they included one a big marigold that we shouldn't have picked but did and why we did is a long story that's not relevant except for me to disclaim that it was reasonable to pick it. Anyway, towards the end of our visit, Helen, who is 3-1/2, started plucking orange petals off the flower and dropping them on P.'s rug. Granted, not ideal behavior, but not exactly the end of the world. But before I noticed what Helen was doing, I saw that P. was eying Helen with a funny look.

Now, before I go on, let me say that Helen adores P. and P. loves Helen. This is not abut their relationship. It's about how people perceive and categorize the actions of small children.

Back to my story. I notice P. watching Helen and I ask her if something is wrong. She says, "Nothing. I'm just wondering if those things (the flower petals) are going to stain my rug." I said no. I bundled up Helen and said we were going. We were laughing, but P. could tell I was annoyed and that's when she dared me to blog about this. (We'd been talking about my blog and what it's focus should be.) So, here's what I'd like to point out in this dare-post.

I would point out that if P. herself had bought some mums or dahlias or Gerber daisies and if those flowers had started to die and lose their petals on her rug, she wouldn't have worried about her rug getting stained. But people see small children doing things in a house and they assume that what they're doing will stain something, break something, mess things up. Because that's what small children do, right? They make messes that make stains.

Like the men on the Amtrak train who assumed my kids would be noisy and disturb them more than an adult on a cell phone; like the man on the street who assumed he could wave a small group of humans away with a flick of his wrist and not even a please or a thank you; like the people who think children in restaurants should always be seen and not heard and complain about it loudly to their companions, never mind that that woman at the table over there has a grating laugh or that that man over there is arguing loudly with his table mate; if children do something that's in the same category as what adults might do - make noise, make a mess -- it's worse. P. seemed to assume that because a child dropped the flower petals, the consequences would be childlike. Which is to say not just messy but stained. Because at least with adults you can have the fantasy of saying something about behavior that seems unacceptable. With children, there's no recourse. Besides, it's hard to control children and it's hard to talk about the ways that we wish adults would control them and the ways we think we would control them if only they were our kids.

I was wrong not to notice Helen plucking the flower petals sooner. It was a mistake not to ask her to stop and not to clean them up when we were leaving. But I wasn't mistaken that they wouldn't stain. Petals on the rug, whether they fall from a dying flower or a child's hand just lie there. It's just that an adult is ultimately responsible for and can control one, and the other, not so much.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Bread Alone

I ate so much bread this weekend. I don't usually write about what I ate, but, really, it was remarkable. It all started with the challah. When I got it from the bakery five blocks from my house (Silver Moon), it was warm. And this challah is, like, the best challah ever. Seriously. Friday night, my husband and I ate half of it. Then Saturday morning rolled around, and I had half a bagel from the best bagel shop in the history of human kind. Why the bagel? So I wouldn't eat the challah. But then I made challah French toast for my son, and he wouldn't eat it, so my husband and I split it. (David saved some for Elliot, our boy, who deigned to try it after downing his fried egg. It didn't even occur to me to do that.) Then, Saturday night I had bread for dinner (along with blue cheese and this garlic spread). Oh, and Saturday for lunch I had pesto and pasta on a playdate, which is kind of like having more bread. And today was like a parade of bagels. Until dinner, when I had a salad, after extensive post-playground noshing. If I hadn't had that salad, I would have simply morphed into a loaf of bread. If that happens, I hope I turn into the round milk bread with raisins from Silver Moon. I love that bread, too. Maybe I'll buy some next week instead of challah. You know, so I won't eat the challah.