Archive for September, 2010

Happy salad

I promised I’d write about something happy so I won’t go into details about how I spent most of yesterday with Brian in the ER. He seems to be on the mend, though we’re still not sure what was wrong — they just ruled out the serious stuff, which is always helpful.

Then I went to the gym and came home and made an interesting salad, while Brian enjoyed some leftover oxtail stew while still a little loopy from pain meds. Food makes me happy, so let me tell you about this salad:

First, let me say that I’ve forgotten everything I read in my new camera manual so I’ve retained nothing about taking good pictures. Until I learn something, you’re stuck with some rather bad pictures — sorry.

I visit a lovely food blog sometimes called 101 Cookbooks by Heidi Swanson. It’s a great place for vegetarian dishes and yummy baked goods that use alternative flours and no white sugar. I hate Heidi right now because she’ s in Italy renting a house with her husband for a week, taking lovely pictures and eating things like this salad.

The salad called for haricot verts (thin French green beans) and arugula. Heidi can use arugula all year round because she lives in California. I used regular green beans and watercress. I also used a purple cabbage instead of a regular one, pecans instead of walnuts, brown rice vinegar instead of white wine vinegar, and I didn’t do the croutons. I also didn’t soak the golden raisins in Muscat wine because who has an opened bottle of Muscat lying around?

So, okay, I basically made an entirely different salad than Heidi’s, and even though mine tasted great, I recommend you stick to her recipe because it’s probably better. The only thing I didn’t like about mine was the green beans — they’re better thin and tender and mine were thick. I was too lazy to slice them all length-wise.

And late have I loved thee, oh golden raisins!! Particularly the kind I have now, which sound like something grown in Nepal or Tibet, but I can’t think of what they’re called exactly. Where have these raisins been all my life? A tragedy, I tell you.

The most interesting part of this salad is the dressing. Sounds kind of strange, but it’s actually delicious: you boil an egg, mash it with a fork, add creme fraiche, olive oil, white wine vinegar and sea salt, and whisk it up well. Voila.

That’s my happy news for the day: salad.


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I haven’t been in much of a blogging mood lately. There are a million things I could write about on any given day, but sometimes when I sit down, nothing’s there. When it comes to our adoption there’s nothing to say either except to vent my fears, and I do plenty of that already.

We had a lovely Sunday… it was rainy so we couldn’t get outside and do what we planned. But we finally put together the utility shelf upstairs, and discovered a fabulous new brunch place, and met our new pastor who we’d heard is a man of integrity and kindness. We also just got to hang out and be goofballs, and that’s our favorite thing to do. Frankly, we have more fun doing absolutely nothing than I care to admit.

It was great to have a carefree weekend since last week was full of financial irritations. It started with someone stealing the mail out of our mail slot. I usually leave envelopes right before the mail carrier comes by. On Monday, she happened to be very late and I happened to have an envelope in there with four checks — three of which were not mine. It’s really fun to call people you don’t know and tell them their checks have probably been stolen. It’s not so fun when the only reason you’re mailing other peoples’ checks somewhere in the first place is because you were trying to do a good deed. Long story, but believe me, it was the wrong day to steal my mail.

On Tuesday, I spent most of the day on the phone with our bank and mortgage company trying to straighten out the mess caused by the stolen checks on Monday.

On Wednesday, I got a parking ticket because my bank card still wasn’t working yet (due to the mess above) and the only change I had for the meter machine gave me 5 minutes less than I apparently needed.

On Thursday, Brian received three letters in the mail from the state of Maryland’s collection department claiming he owes them over $4,000. For what, we had no idea. I called and spoke to a rude woman who would give me no info because I am just the wife. So Brian called.

Turns out, the state claims that back in 1999, he let some insurance lapse on a vehicle that was registered in MD. They apparently sent one letter in 2001 to an address he hadn’t lived at since 1995. Then his account went dormant, for nine years, until they decided to open it now and send us three letters representing three fines. It all makes no sense, and we still have no idea how we’re going to fight it, but fight it we will because we don’t have $4,000 for the ridiculously incompetent state bureaucracy.

Dealing with this kind of stuff irritates the hell out of me.


Debbie Downer

P.S.  I’ll try to write about something happy soon. Really.

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False Alarm

Our friend Irene stayed with us last night and as I was saying goodbye to her from the front step, I heard the phone ringing. I missed it, so I checked the caller ID and it was from an area code I didn’t recognize:


Then it hit me like a bolt of lighting… 206??! HOLY CRAPDOODLE!!

And then my heart was suddenly in my throat because 206 is a Seattle number and we don’t know anyone in Seattle except for our adoption agency. 206 is the magic number everybody’s always waiting for.

In the throes of a panic attack, I picked up the phone to see if there was a message. None. So I ran out to pick up some lunch for Brian, determined not to say a word until after he ate something… he’d never be able to eat if I spilled the beans.

I can be such a good actress.

A little while after that, while making another call, I heard a call coming in, but I couldn’t take it. So I finally told Brian. (He’d eaten by then.)  The look on his face was pretty much what mine must have looked like: Panic. I don’t think we’re supposed to look and feel panicked when we think our agency is calling with a referral.

Brian insisted we call our case manager and find out. I left her a message and thankfully she called us right back. Apparently, she never called earlier. And she said that although there are some kids coming into their care in Ethiopia, there are still no siblings that match our request. So… our referral is not imminent.

It now appears that the 206 call was either a wrong number or a telemarketer.

And now I find myself feeling relieved…. and disappointed.

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Today my heart skipped a few beats reading posts from parents who’ve been dealing with RAD — Radical Attachment Disorder — in their adopted children.

Generally you hear more about RAD in children born in Eastern Europe and Russia. Mainly because orphanages there can be so bad and children deeply traumatized. However, children who’ve experienced severe disruption in primary attachment relationships in any country can suffer from it. Including Ethiopian children. And when RAD is severe, it’s pretty scary.

We were prepared for stuff like this back in our training, but nothing can really prepare you. I’ve read enough about it now to know that there’s serious brain impairment in these children because attachment is necessary for emotional and behavioral development. There are specialists who can help parents deal with these issues, and children can heal. Still, when you read the stories of the brave parents who deal with RAD you say a silent prayer for them. And immediately following that you find yourself also praying, Please God, not us.

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Gala week

Oh. It’s busy this week.

It’s the 11th year I’ve organized a big fundraising gala in downtown D.C. and there are many details swirling around my head at the moment. Of course the one I’m really stuck on is what I’m going to wear!

Every dressy thing in my closet is too formal because the event used to be black tie. Now it’s semi-formal, which basically means cocktail attire, which means all I have is the dress from last year.

However, I barely remember wearing it last year because I was having a kidney stone attack and developed a raging kidney infection in the middle of running around the historic Mayflower hotel. So, this time maybe I can at least be conscious of what I’ve got on. I’ll try different jewelry. That will trick everyone.

A thought crossed my mind today… It would just be our luck to get THE CALL Thursday, driving into DC for our busy day of events and we’d have to say: Can you call us back tomorrow? Proving that we’re bad parents already.

These are the things I think about when I’m supposed to be working on seating charts.

You can expect silence around here for the next couple of days. Carry on.

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Yesterday we celebrated the 30th birthday of my friend, colleague, and cooking buddy, Mags. She decided to throw her own party and invite some of her favorite people. We provided the venue.

Being a southern gal, Mags decided she was craving barbecue and the trimmings, so she ordered a Boston butt from a local farm. I kept calling it a back butt. Not sure why. I mean, it’s not like there’s a front butt. And why call it a butt at all when it’s actually a shoulder? Weird.

Anyway, she then tried to rig up Alton Brown’s homemade slow cooker… which involves large terra cotta plant containers and a hot plate and wood chips. Apparently, it didn’t quite work out, but luckily the oven did the rest of the job. And a fantastic job at that. I have mixed feelings about eating pigs, but since this was already a dead one and cooked like nobody’s business, I dug in.

Truth be told, every last morsel of that pulled pork was porked down. Even the vegetarian in the group went a little crazy. The homemade barbecue sauce there on the right and the pickled squash and onions were perfecto with it.

I contributed two side dishes… a favorite homemade cole slaw (recipe from Brian’s dad, Jack) and a corn, tomato and scallion dish. The latter has got to be shared because not only is it one of the most gorgeous dishes you will ever see, but it’s delicious. And simple. Here’s the recipe. (I used some white balsamic in there, btw.) I can’t believe I don’t have a picture to show you.

Drinks were homemade ginger lemonade (with optional whiskey or bourbon) and Resurrection, a favorite local beer that’s not always easy to get because they make it in small batches. I don’t like beer myself, but I appreciate others’ love of the stuff.

Mags also made red velvet cupcakes for dessert. Sorry the picture is dark, but here she is getting ready to blow out her candles:

One of the more fun parts of the evening was when she opened her gift.

Thursday night Brian came up with a brilliant gift idea for our birthday gadget girl: an iPad. She has been coveting one so badly, but couldn’t splurge. Hal (Mags’ beau) loved the idea and in less than 24 hours, we raised enough from Mags’ family, friends, and colleagues to make it happen. We then wrapped it in a large box to disguise it and voila, we had one surprised birthday girl:

Tomorrow is her official birthday… happy 30th, Mags! Stay cool, and enjoy every moment of your 30s… it’s a grand decade for a woman if you ask me.

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Happy new year!

Today we don’t just remember a great tragedy that happened in our country, but we celebrate something exciting in another country — new year’s day in Ethiopia!

Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar. There are 12 months compromising of 30 days, followed by a 13th month of five or six days, depending on leap year. This means that it’s now 2003 in Ethiopia.

The new year is called Enkutatash. Here’s the description our case manager sent us about how it’s celebrated in Ethiopia:

On New Year’s Eve, small torches are set on fire in front of houses as families sing together.   The next morning, families go to Church wearing traditional Ethiopian (Habesha) clothing. After Church, there is a family meal of Injera (flat bread) and Wat (stew). Children go from house to house singing New Year songs for money or to sell pictures that they have drawn. In the evening families go to visit their friends and share their hopes for the New Year while the children go and spend the money they have earned. Commonly, the holiday is not only religious but is also a wonderful time of year to exchange new year greetings and flowers with friends and family.

Originally we were going to celebrate Enkutatash with some adoptive families at a local Ethiopian restaurant. But we’re helping to host Mags’ 30th birthday bash in our courtyard today. (Stay tuned for some great pics!) Next year, we will be celebrating it with our kids and I hope to follow some of the traditions. This year, I’ll be thinking about them, their birth family, the wonderful Ethiopian adoptive families out there, and oh, Ethiopian food!

Happy 2003!

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