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Allergic to what?

Friends, after sixty kinda-pricks today during my first-ever appointment with an allergist, I found that in addition to dust mites and pigweed, I’m somewhat allergic to cockroaches which, for your additional disgust, are grouped in the molds category.

Apparently, lots of people are allergic to cockroaches (order: Blattodea or, alternately, Blattaria; aren’t those gross names just perfect? They must derive from the sound a roach makes upon being squished by a freaking-out woman or the person (in my case, my father or T) she’s called in frantically to do her bidding) and their nasty, moldy, crunchy, spurty, filthy selves). My allergist blamed my reaction on having grown up in Louisiana; there are that many there, of both the flying and solely locomotive types. Perhaps my geographic heritage also explains my slight reaction to oak trees and sweet gum trees, though those results made me awfully sad and I refuse to acknowledge them.

I mean, what, pray tell (other than a Redwood but they don’t speak to me in the same way), is grander and more awe-inspiring than a century-old Live Oak in Louisiana? Very, very little. At least in the tree kingdom. Maybe a baobab, but I digress.

Although I miss much about Louisiana, I do not in any way miss cockroaches. They are a repulsive scourge with no reason for being. Like mosquitoes, but much uglier and creepier.

But anyway, dust mites. Now I’ve gotta encase all my pillows, mattresses and such, BUT doing so will reduce my exposure to those buggers by 30% (or so I’m told), so maybe that’s one less experience with Hitler-chap and man-voice than I currently plod through each year. I’ll take it.

The elderly and driving

Y’all, I loved my Nanny more than most folks, and I’ve always treasured the many, many older people in my life whom I’m lucky to call friends. But I simply must say that north of seventy, most people need to relinquish their driver’s licenses. It would be a full time job for me to accurately tell you how many older peeps I see blowing through stop signs every day. Stop signs are NOT suggestions, y’all. They are simple visuals to relay one simple message: STOP.

I have a great-aunt who drove through the front windows of a Cold Stone Creamery; she was certain she should retain her license. I regularly see l’anciennes driving more slowly than Nutmeg strolls, weaving over the land dividers and back with not a care in the world. This is dangerous, friends, dangerous.

You don’t, at a certain age, say Happy Birthday to yourself by deciding you no longer need to follow the rules of the road. I’m just saying.

Great game for 7+-year-olds and dinner

The boys ate nearly a pound of ground beef in hamburger form for dinner. Plus broccoli, peaches, milk, buns… It’s really UNbelievable how much males can consume. That’s all good though; it just takes me aback sometimes.

More interestingly, before dinner, Jack and I played a new game: Forbidden Island. All players are on the same team, and the goal is to acquire the four treasures and helicopter off the island before it sinks in flooding waters. I admit to being on the edge of my seat at one point while Jack drew “flood” cards. Would we survive? Would we have time to procure the Chalice of the Earth before flying to safety?

I highly recommend it. Made me Gamewright, a Mensa select … T got home and we grilled pizza and cooked yet another plum tart.

Hubs has just wooed me with an episode of House of Cards. I’m off!


Y’all have got to try this salad. It is one of my favorite creations! Farro with gold beets, spiced pecans, feta and chive-sage oil dressing. Unreal! It sings of freshness and fall. The farro is both chewy and tender, the chives are the main vocals while the sage sings back-up. The gold beets both glow and add a sweet, earthy nuttiness. The interplay of cayenne and maple syrup atop the pecans is sublime. And the feta lends a creamy tang that makes the whole even better.


Farro with Gold Beets, Spiced Pecans, Feta and Chive-Sage Oil Dressing




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It’s just past the flux point in Italy when you start to greet people with Buona sera, “Good evening”, rather than Buon giorno, “Good day”. It’s funny how often, in the afternoon, I muse on that whit of knowledge. I suppose it’s in part because my sister lives in Italy, and when I’m there, I try to speak accurately. But I also like that inflection in their day; it’s an acknowledgement of what is past and what is shortly to come. Buona sera can only be used for so long; soon enough you’ve got to switch to Buona notte, accepting that nighttime is upon you and il giorno will alight anew in the near future.

I’m sitting in AROMO. The door swung open, and I left it that way; better to hear the rustling leaves, chirping birds and cadenced crickets in chorus outside. Nutmeg is perched on this little hut’s railing, ever-hopeful that he’ll catch a bird or insect as it flits past. The kids are playing happily inside with a sitter, and I’ve come out here for a sliver of time to myself. It’s been too hot lately to spend much time in this space. I’ve missed it.




I like the solitude and the simplicity that sit with me in this room. I love that I’ve carved a spot within it -rug, desk, lamp, chair- but that reminders of the boys remain all around. Newspaper clippings, pens, notepads and a tiny stapler are within my reach; beyond, are planks of wood decorated by children in the thrill of being able to paint on walls. A blackboard hangs in the corner, a rainbow of broken chalk lining its narrow tray. Nonsensical labels crafted by last-year Oliver “tell” us what certain items are. From the old peg board hang dusty tools, wands and an odd bin of miscellany.

Out here I feel disconnected in a way that I don’t inside. It’s a mere fifteen feet to our basement door, but that bit of physical distance is important: in my cozy annex, I’m home but only kind of. Our Wi-Fi reaches me, but I choose to ignore that fact; why is so hard to do that inside? What makes this space different?

I think it’s because of how AROMO came to pass; a homebody mother recognized that she needed a sanctuary and her children no longer used the playhouse she’d built them. She brought the structure to its initial fruition for them but then along with her as she evolved. A full circle sort of event.

T laughs when he sees me come in here, but I don’t care that I have to duck slightly to enter. Once inside, I can stand tall and stretch out, in myriad ways. This little space is in the center of the Venn diagram of many things I treasure: my home, nature, proximity to my children, my kitchen. What’s not to love?

Out here, my breath slows, my shoulders drop, my mind opens. It’s so weirdly easy to forget my to-do list. Inside that thing haunts me like a needy ghost, but in my own room? Poof.

I stole away today because I have been working hard. I wanted to escape the pings of others’ needs and sit with myself and my thoughts for a while before I must head out again. Simple rejuvenation of the best sort.

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This morning at 8:34am, I looked up at the clock, fully expecting it to read something north of 10:30. Imagine my chagrined shock to find us still in the eights. Sweet lord. Ol joined talking forces with Jack today, and I swear to you that by noon, T and I were twitching. I suspect he dissociated briefly at the farmers market but he tells me that’s not what the odd manner and stare and aimless gait were about.


Sunday sky (iPhone HDR on)

We went to said market because after a storm last night blew out the steamy humidity fest that was DC, today was spectacularly beautiful, and I wanted to get out of the house and eat. Knowing the boys would eagerly snarf a Red Zebra pizza and some Pleasant Pops, we started with those. T got a pizza too and nearly licked the box clean. I went for a trio of tacos at Chaia and was not disappointed. We arrived too late for chicken, darn it. Eco-Friendly foods sold out hours earlier I was told. Boo. More chicken next week but today’s was never-frozen and next week will have spent a week in the cold store. Ah well, at least I’ll get me some.


another sky shot (with iPhone HDR off)

Once home, we planted the children in the basement in front of a lengthy movie. I hauled it upstairs with Cat and T went to the gym with some mystical energy he summoned. Then we moseyed to Jack’s first baseball game of the season and cheered them on as they won, 9-3. Amazing how those kids have grown and actually learned to play good ball as a team. Back a few seasons ago, I’d perhaps not have bet on such a turn-around. ;)

Tomorrow is a largely responsibility-free one, and I couldn’t be happier about that.

1) The Knick is such a fabulous show. My Cinemax-oriented prayers were answered because, indeed, a Knick played last night and waited patiently for us on our DVR.

2) Inglourious Basterds is a great film. Is Christoph Waltz not a brilliant actor? He is so simultaneously charming and full of shit. Love.

3) It was so great to make a real dinner once more. This rapini so floats my boat, and these shrimp -from my Shrimp Tacos- are fab as a stand-alone dish.


rapini with vin cotto


shrimp tacos shrimp

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Jack has literally talked nonstop to me for the past four hours. Much of this verbal vomit has been about Pokémon and some new, made-up creation called Gadget Gallery, an app for one’s watch that has different settings like time and laser. I’m glad the boys are back to school, because while I appreciate his creativity, I think his “time” feature of a watch setting is indicative of terrifying simple-mindedness. I mean, watches are time, yes?

I keep asking him for a minute’s reprieve to which he responds, “In a second. I gotta finish telling you X/Y/Z.” The finale never comes. Concurrently, because I promised him I would, we have been playing Monopoly. We did take a break to walk Percy down to Wagshal’s where I picked up some shockingly expensive but not-from-Vietnam shrimp for dinner. We have Gulf shrimp just 1,200 miles away y’all; why do I want shrimp farmed and flown in from across the world. It’s like crab from India. Wha??? I refuse.

While at the market, because I am not one who carries my pets into stores like I’m exempt from the rules (and also, because NO one would believe Percy is a seeing-eye or emotional support dog), I tied Percy up outside. Yes, it is one million degrees today, but we live about 4 minutes from Wagshal’s AND he was in the shade AND we were inside for all of five minutes AND despite my frequent complaints about Percy I don’t want him to die of heat stroke AND he pees inside if he doesn’t get a walk, it seemed prudent to take him along.

Some imperious lady who I’m sure was sincerely concerned about Percy but who did not attempt to ascertain anything about the situation found us INSIDE the store and asked with such dripping disdain oozing from her voice like sap from a tree,

“Is that your dog out there?”

“Yes,” we said, “it is.”

“You know, it’s really hot for a dog to have a walk,” she sputtered before basically spitting at Jack and me. Even Jack had a WTF look on his face, and the cashier gave me such an empathetic look.

“I know, and we live very close by and are going straight home,” I replied politely. She didn’t respond but rather turned on her heel and flew out of the door with disgust. Like I said yesterday, the heat is making people angry. Jack calls it “hurious” because hangry is already taken. I thought heat + furious = hurious was quite clever. Madame Imperial was mos def hurious.

So we got Percy home, where, by the way, he immediately asked to go back outside to eat tomatoes from the low-hanging plants on my deck, and resumed Monopoly while drinking lemonade and chugging cinnamon gummy bears (well, Jack did the latter). Tom got home from the gym and decided to bond with Jack by helping him strategize. Next thing I know, I’m down several hundred, have lost my railroads AND J has hopscotched over all of my houses eight times straight.

I’m gonna be honest in telling you that my competitive nature got the best of me and I started to feel extreme pissiness rising up from within. I tried to keep it on the DL because role-modeling and all, but Jack was still talking and Tom was reminding him to seek rent when really that should be Jack’s job because otherwise how will he ever learn to pay that kind of attention by himself.

Oliver, just back from a birthday party, then attempted to climb onto my shoulders while waving a new magic wand, and I, in the nicest way possible, erupted just a little and ran for the front room. Cat followed me which made me happy, and T fixed me a glass of wine which also made me feel nice.

I refuse to do bedtime, a decision about which I feel totally grand and of which I feel very deserving. I’m gonna cook the shrimp, make my rapini with vin cotto and pray to Cinemax that The Knick resumed last night.

my rapini with vin cotto, as featured on Food 52

my rapini with vin cotto, as feature on Food 52

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