Saturday, September 17, 2011

Shower rod

Victor and I spent a huge portion of our day working on the oval shower rod for our clawfoot tub. Because of the cathedral ceiling over the tub, we had to find rod supports with pivots (hinges). It was frickin' hard to get them in the right places, especially when the house just is not plumb!

I bought that shower curtain at least five years ago; it waited in a drawer until today. And then we installed the mirror and white-knob hooks and bars (see below). Now I have to talk to my dad about getting the clawfoot clock (atop the stool) to work.

Ethics again

Yesterday my supervisor horrified me at work. The parent of our client ended up coming in and asking her to stop. I was ashamed that I had not already done so. She was giving arbitrary commands and managing the child's responses physically and forcefully. She was confusing him (and me), frustrating him (and me), and refusing him any opportunity to regroup.

While she debated with mom whether what she was doing was appropriate, the child tuned them out, looked at his schedule -- trying to make sense out of his session -- and said to me, "Now we play Hi-Ho Cherry-O?" The poor kid. I tried to put as much warmth and compassion as possible into my "Sure, let's play."

I have two interviews this week. I have to believe that other organizations are not being horrible to their clients. Having family members who are or were compromised and who sought treatment, I tend to treat children with developmental disorders like they're family (during session, anyway; my boundaries are strong). Honestly, I think that's how it should be done.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Personal Cookbook II

I'm finished cumulating all those recipes. They now reside in a file box, organized by type of food (e.g., Meats, Sauces).

As a result of being "done" with the project, I can turn to the huge pile of untested recipes that I've pulled out of periodicals, for our October trip to the Outer Banks. (Yesterday visitors were allowed on Hatteras Island for the first time since Irene.)

Following is the master list of Soups, Stews & Chilis:
Soups, Stews & Chilis
beef mole chili
black bean cannellini soup with cilantro & chiles
calamari stew with red wine, potato & hot chiles
carrot parsnip curry soup
carrot yogurt cumin soup (Moroccan)
corn zucchini chile soup
curry soup
lentil soup with pepperoni
lentil stew with eggplant & ginger
mushroom Madeira soup (shitake, oyster, crimini & white mushrooms with onion)
Myron's chili
pork chili verde with potato & red salsa
pork tequila chili verde
red pepper garlic cream soup
shrimp hot & sour soup
-->Again, if anyone wants a recipe, just let me know. I'd love to share b/c Vic and I both endorse these recipes whole-heartedly.


By the way, I did apply for some of those jobs I was talking about before. Got a call back on one the other day, too. However, it turns out that they employ a method that my recent class in ethics (where ABA is concerned) roundly denounced. I didn't feel comfortable proceeding.

ABA is dedicated to evidence-based practice...which makes my current supervisor's comment over the summer, that she finds that "often evidence-based practices don't work," stand out. If a practice does not work, then there won't be evidence of positive effects, with proof that the practice itself causes those positive effects (necessary in ABA). Will there? Exaggeration of effects or fudging the proof is supposed to be disallowed.

I'm feeling unsure that, ethically, I can even justify working where I work.

A different kitty

I feel like I just posted about my cat's age, talking about watching for behavior, and suddenly he's changing. He has taken to spending the night in our bedroom all of a sudden. He has never done it before -- tho' he has slept there often during the daytime (see pic). For 3 or 4 nights now, he has slept in our room, next to the bed (in a laundry basket).

At least he's not isolating. That would be a sign that he feels like he's near the end. But what's behind this new dedication? Is he seeking our protection?

Labor & Columbus Days

Vic and I got in our kayaks on Labor Day and paddled over to Ten Pound. As ever, we collected sea glass -- a lot of it:

My favorite pieces from that trip appear below.

Remember, the thicker the glass, the older it is. When was the last time you handled a bottle that was as thick as the piece at rear left, below? I don't think I *ever* have.

I now have to go through all my glass and choose those pieces that will come with me in a few weeks time to New Jersey. It's the next national sea glass festival! Go ahead, laugh. I enjoy myself there. I'll be away October 8 till Columbus Day.

Friday, September 9, 2011


My mood is so variable this week; my self-esteem wavers. Is it the approach of 9/11? It really could be. On the 5th anniversary, I was in Florida with my husband. I went, alone, to a cinema to view the movie World Trade Center. A true story, it featured first responders who got trapped in the wreckage. I cried and cried. This week I've read dedications and remembrances and watched documentaries that left me sobbing. Note, I feel like it's my duty as a citizen to absorb whatever authoritative information, sanctioned by smart people, is out there about 9/11. Which came first, my mood, or the anniversary?

I seem to be OK if it's not a "big" anniversary. But I get such a sense of sad astonishment to realize that those events were actually 5 years ago, now 10 years ago. On Wednesday I downloaded several job listings, with ideas for cover letters dancing in my head. I updated my resume and went to bed, imagining the productive next morning and how well suited I would be to most of the jobs. The next day I was too tired and sad to even try. Before going to bed, I posted a message on Facebook that consisted of words that I'm not supposed to say in public. Today I had to write down what's on my To-Do list b/c I don't trust my head to keep track.

On that day in 2001, my daughter was living in a hospital, kept safe by its remoteness. My son, however, was in high school. I phoned the high school to say: 'You know that the country is under attack. This is new territory. We do not know whether Boston and its environs are targets. Will you be sending the children home, so that they can be with their parents and loved ones?' I imagined, not without reason, that this day could be our last, and I wanted to be together. Although I tried and tried, I could not reach my parents, touring the coast of Maine. But my husband was on his way home... In the end, the kids were not dismissed -- leaving me feeling a certain kinship with those who could not reach their relatives in tall buildings, to confirm life and love.

When Mike returned at the end of the school day, he said that in his final period of the day there was an announcement. The principal via PA system let the student body know of the events of the day. The announcement concluded with, "However, I want all of you to know that Malden High School is a safe building." As Mike succinctly put it, "Yeah right, they smashed into the Pentagon, but Malden High is a "safe building.""

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Personal cookbook I

I'm putting real effort into gathering together *all* of the recipes that, over the last 20 years, Victor and I have greatly enjoyed. Well, all of the recipes that, for one reason or another, are not part of a bound cookbook.

For all of that time, I've been collecting recipes that are found in periodicals, Swart family favorites, and versions modified by me for various dietary reasons. I can't believe how many of our favorites are desserts! I thought I was hopeless at making desserts.

If you like the sounds of any of these, send me a message. I'm happy to share.
almond honey cake
ancho apple pie
apple cake
bananas Foster (rum banana coconut flambe)
bananas with rum & ginger
bread pudding a la caramel
chocolate buttercream
chocolate cake with bourbon, currants & almonds (Reine de Saba)
chocolate flourless cake
chocolate ganache
coconut mini cakes
crème brulee with brandy & coffee
dried cherry chocolate oatie-Os
figgy pudding with brandied hard sauce
lemon chiffon pie (graham cracker crust)
peanut butter & cocoa oaties
peanut butter cookies
pear & brandy cream cheese tart
pear steamed pudding
strawberry lemon tart
strawberry rhubarb crisp
strawberry yogurt popsicles


I made a yummy eggplant caponata yesterday, using tomatoes and eggplant from the garden, exclusively, and raisins, onions, and capers from the larder.

I harvested one additional white eggplant for the dish. Victor really likes the white ones, more than the purple. They don't have any bitterness. And we still have a number of delicious Brandywine tomatoes on the vine.

As for squash...I'm really wishing now that I had been making fritters from these blossoms throughout the last few months. We have had not one single squash, zucchini or summer, over the whole growing period.

Prior to rain

These are not the last blooms that we will have -- I still have a bush with blue flowers that is only now in bud. However, their display is close to being the final garden show.

The rain has pounded to earth these and other last-gasp flowers around our yard. After Irene, Vic was able to prop up one of our sunflowers. I fear that the current round of rain may collapse it again.

The white hydrangea is going pink, as it does around this time every year. Irene knocked its trunk off vertical by a good bit. (While it is a tree, it's a small tree, and the trunk is a lot more like a broad stem.) Vic and I will have to carefully reposition it when the soil is dry. I'm hoping that the additional moisture in the soil -- Katia moisture? -- does not cause the whole tree to collapse.

Storm damage (not VT)

I just found this picture on an Outer Banks website. (I know, I keep looking at the OBX; we are barely more than 6 weeks out from our intended visit.) The photographer was facing west. To the left of the picture, out of frame, is most of the Bonner Bridge and the northern tip of Hatteras, Pea Island. To the right is Bodie Island, the southern tip of which is depicted.

The hurricane cut through a popular fishing ground, *at* an existing inlet. That's truly weird. You can see, at bottom left, the waves of the vast Oregon Inlet. What would force water through at an angle, so close to a broad channel? Was it the sound, unable to push against the ocean tide?

Around the house, post-Irene

Over a couple of mornings last week I snapped a few pictures that I like. One is of our vase full of sunflowers, which were knocked down in Irene:

The other is from our side door, a picture of a squirrel. I tried to snap a pic of him when he was atop the fence post, munching grapes that, along with a piece of vine, had come down in the storm. But just as I tried to photograph him, he nearly dropped the segment of vine. He caught it well before it hit the ground:

U-Mass glass

Alexandra took us at high tide to a beach near her apartment that was covered with glass. Few of the pieces had much burnish from time in the water -- but it was HIGH tide. The pieces that we could see were rarely covered by the water.

We found TWO pieces of true yellow, including the one depicted here (I gave the other to James, who loves yellow). I have never found such true yellow glass anywhere. I would really love to go back at LOW tide!

15 times

Mike, Liz, Victor, and I have been to a Bertucci's 15 times over the past 14 years on or near August 15. The first time we went, we were driving north from Rhode Island, hungry and tired, bringing the children and all their belongings to our home. They joined our family that day, August 15, 1997.


Vic, Liz, James, and I went to see my niece at U-Mass Boston on Sunday. The main portion of my birthday present to her had arrived at last, and Liz had not seen her in months and had gifts to give.

James, my nephew, had not yet seen his sister's college environment with furniture and residents. His tour proved an opportunity for us all to tour the harborfront.

The location of Alex's apartment is spectacular. The top picture below was taken standing near the shore, looking toward her building; the bottom one was taken in about the same spot, looking toward the shore.

Our son Mike and his boyfriend Dan joined us near 5pm, and we all (including Alex's friend Lily) went to a lovely Dorchester restaurant for dinner. Indian food, yum! It was a good visit.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

My niece & my Mom

This week I helped move my 'newly 18' niece into her truly gorgeous apartment, just off campus at U-Mass Boston. She has ocean views! One of my contributions to her apartment was a small digital frame, loaded with family pictures. (We also contributed, from our home, her futon couch and her desk.)

The idea hit that maybe my mother would like to have such a frame. The one I bought for Alexandra was only 3.5"; the one I bought for my mother was 7" wide. I expected that 7" would be a good picture size for her failing eyesight.

Well, she could not see it, even when it was positioned barely more than a foot from her face. So I moved on. I had also brought her a lemon ice, which she adores. While I was feeding it to her, she suddenly vomited. Asked to step out of the room during cleanup, I shoved the picture frame in its box -- the cord would have been in the attendants' way. Of course, out in the hallway I dropped it, cracking the frame.

Vomit and breakage of a costly brand-new item... these do not constitute my best visit with Mom. She is more frail and less functional; even when I expect those things, they are hard to see. Today, Vic and I will pick up our daughter and our nephew and return to Boston and Alexandra. Our daughter and nephew have not seen her place, and our daughter has not transferred her birthday presents. So it will be, I hope, an *enjoyable* visit.