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Aah, my darling nephew (mio nipote; and also my fabulous sister and her fabulous husband) arrived this afternoon. We are all so happy to see them, and they us. I made a scrumptious dinner of salad and that seemingly omnipresent caramelized shallot, cabbage and tasso tart; we have no leftovers so I’ll take that as an affirmative that all was well-liked.

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Oliver, Elia, Leone and Jack

 

I also wanted to mention the random dessert I made last night which was both a result of a thorough freezer cleaning and delicious: warm biscuits with a sour cherry-currant compote all drizzled with cream. Outstanding!

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warm biscuit with sour cherry-currant compote and cream

Why the thorough freezer clean you might ask? Well because yesterday, while Ol was home sick and I was rummaging through the fridge looking for something that might constitute lunch, I discovered an insidious black mold in the way-back-bottom of our fridge. Dis-gusting. My Sherlockian suspicions believed this gnarly fur to have grown from a large maple spill that, when I discovered it, had become an intractable, crystalline shellac. When did that happen? I unloaded everything, shelf by shelf, and decided to spin the left turn to nowhere into a positive: how old was that teriyaki sauce? What was that now-gelatinous blob?

After a half-hour, I’d had no luck removing anything but the Styrofoam inserts I think were meant to be permanent. My pink, 1950s-housewife gloves got a hell of a workout, as did an array of toothbrushes, sponges, scrubby brushes and cleaners. I even called in the A-team troop known as bleach and later decided to move on to the freezer just because I’m that girl.

Later glad was I when, having thrown out all things freezer-burned or unrecognizable, I was left with sour cherries, currants and biscuits. Hence this dessert which I will most definitely replicate, purposefully, in the future. Lemons into lemonade, y’all.

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Mushrooms + Benton’s bacon + shallots -n- garlic + cheese + herbs
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Toasted challah or pizza dough

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Delicious dinner!!!

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mushrooms on toast with goat cheese

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mushroom flatbread with mozzarella and bleu cheese

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Because Friday with a little one at home sick!

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Y’all must read about this incredible kindness.

The back story: You might recall that a few days ago, yet another neighbor found Percy and returned him to us. This guy, a young man, maybe early 20s, mentioned that he takes care of two dogs in the neighborhood and if ever I needed help with Percy I should let him know because he and his brother have just started a dog-walking business to make some extra money.

Today, home with a sick Ol and trying to get the house clean and ready for my sister, brother-in-law and nephew -LAMBY!- to arrive tomorrow, I felt like I’d treat myself and call on this guy. As a stay-at-home mom, I’ve never considered hiring a dog-walker because it seems wildly extravagant. I have my two legs and bought Percy, for the love. But, as I did two years ago when Tom was out of town, it snowed to beat sixty, the kids were home and I was sick, I considered that treating myself, helping myself, is sometimes the best thing to do. On that day, I said “Yes!” to the guys who came around offering to shovel my steps (though I did negotiate a better deal!). Today, I called Jose.

His brother came, walked Percy for twenty minutes and then refused even a dime. This guy doesn’t know me from Adam, walked over in the middle of his day to take a small job, and then simply said, “It really was my pleasure to help you. Your son is sick and I just ate at Chipotle. It works for all of us.”

I tried to pay him again, he refused again, and I then decided to simply accept the very sincere kindness he was offering. Really, that’s the best return sometimes, to just accept grace with equal grace. I mean, how good do you sometimes feel doing something for someone else just because?

My dear friend, M, brought J home from school and walked him to the door just to check on us all. My heart is full right now. Thank you!

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Nutmeg returned home this afternoon with a “gift;” a dead bird. Oliver opened the back door and was like “WTF?!” in a child-appropriate way. “There is a dead bird here, Mom, and it’s WHOLE.”

“Oliver, are you serious?” Obviously I thought he was pulling my chain.

He was not. There was a darling, seemingly woundless, dead little bird on my doormat, and my heart broke a little. The kids wailed, “PUNISH, NUT, Mom.” Like I can punish a cat. So instead I tried to explain instinct and evolution.

“Boys, cats hunt. It’s what they do. I mean, how would Nutmeg eat if we didn’t feed him? He would go find food and kill it if need be.”

“But WHY? We FEED Nutmeg.”

“I know, honeys, but it’s what he’s evolved to do. It’s like, when you were born, how did you know how to nurse? No one taught you, you just knew.”

Oliver: “I don’t know.”

Jack: “Mom, duh, it’s NOT like we put our mouths on your boob!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

I’m thinking, “Well, actually, that’s exactly how it works. How does he think it works?” And then I realized anew why it pays to stay silent sometimes because…

Jack continued: “I mean, Mom, you put on the machine with the straw and stick that into the baby’s mouth.”

I love the knowitall’ness of kids. I mean, this description of nursing is ludicrous, and yet it makes perfect sense to Jack. Enough so that he “DUHs” me repeatedly with his eyes and tone whilst relaying his knowitall’ness of nursing. Which is not even something he’ll ever do. It was great.

I cleared things up lest Oliver’s single take-away of this conversation be, “Mom once fed me with a straw attached to her boob.” And I feel even more strongly than ever that kids be taught all about their bodies and babies and reproduction and so forth because otherwise they think babies nurse from boob straws (Jack) or that you can get pregnant by touching butts with someone else (I actually believed that to be true, many moons ago).
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Tonight for dinner, I attempted my own version of the potatoes with piquillo sauce that I had last Saturday at The Black Sheep. I smoked a sweet red pepper and then cooked it down with a Spanish onion, some parboiled russet potatoes, garlic, olive oil, a bay leaf and some pimentón. Before serving I stirred in some crème fraîche and to go alongside made coffee-rubbed steak. Not bad, not bad at all.

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prepping for the pimenton hash

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pimenton hash

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coffee-rubbed steak

 

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No school today because of report card-writing. Early on, Ol had a playdate as J and I were supposed to go and renew his passport. I knew on the way to the post office that although I had multiple copies of forms and photos as well as all legal documentation of Jack’s life so far, things weren’t going to work out. And indeed they did not. Because Tom could not come with us, we needed some specialized form signed by him and notarized in addition to photocopies of both his and my driver’s licenses, front and back. Sigh. I swear I read the website (travel.state.gov). We have another appointment in a few weeks.

To obtain a new or renewed U.S. passport for your child under age 16, you will need:

  • an appointment (at a passport office or a U.S. Post Office that issues passports) as you must apply in person
  • a fully completed DS-11 Application for a U.S. Passport form
  • a passport-regulation photograph which is a 2″ x 2″ color photo taken within the six months prior to your appointment (bring an extra just in case)
  • your child’s birth certificate or other legal evidence that proves his/her relation to you
  • your child’s old passport (if you’re renewing) and/or other proof of U.S. citizenship
  • a copy of the front and back of each of the child’s parents drivers’ licenses (even if both are in attendance at  the appointment)
  • a DS-3053 Statement of Consent: Issuance of a U.S. Passport to a Minor Under Age 16 form, if one parent cannot attend the passport appointment; This form must be signed by the parent who’ll be absent and then also notarized.
  • cash or a check for passport issuance/renewal fees (credit cards are only accepted at certain facilities, so check)
  • If you’re getting the passport for a planned or tentative trip, t’s also helpful to have on hand the dates of and countries to which you’ll travel.

Lemonade out of lemons, J and I went to the mall for new jeans as he is shooting up from and/or busting through the knees of his “old” ones (by which I mean six months old) and then decided on an early lunch: falafel for him, and because clearly I didn’t eat well enough in Richmond, a lobster roll for moi. At Lobster ME, I got the Connecticut which is poached lobster in just a bit of melted butter.

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Lobster ME lobster roll (the Connecticut)

This was damn good, friends, damn good. I was not sorry when Jack turned down my offer of a bite. The roll was perfectly toasted -lightly so but with golden, just-crunchy sides and a perfect crumb within- the lobster fresh and not at all chewy. I was in hog’s heaven, and it was a very sweet date.

We then met up with Oliver, recovered Percy from a kind neighbor (whom we’d not yet met) who rescued him during one of his frequent puggy escapades, bought the boys new sneakers, finished Revenge of the Sith and rued the purported snow that is to arrive tomorrow. It’s a good thing I’ve begun stocking up on puzzles!
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Two recent exchanges between the boys that cracked my junk up:

1. Jack: “Oliver, that is NOOOOTTT what I said. BE QUIET!”
Oliver: “You be quiet. You told me the wong thing.”
Jack: “AAAAAHHHHH.”
Oliver: “”
Jack: “Oliver, I am sorry. I want you in my trailer.”
“Oliver: “Jack, you don’t want me. You need me! I am so upset.”

Are they dating?

2. Oliver: “Jack, remember when we were children?”
Jack: “Duh, Oliver, we still are children.”

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