Monday, July 30, 2007

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Every night at bedtime, I ask the Bean "what was your favorite part of today?" Tonight, lying on her bed between her Daddy (home from his trip, hooray!) and me, she thought for a long beat before answering, "well, some days are so special that it's hard to choose a favorite part, because the whole day was my favorite."

Our hearts swelled. Daddy's first day home was so special. She missed him so much! She's so happy he's home!

"Was today one of those special days, Bean?" I ask, smiling.

"Mmmm... no." (cracks up laughing)

Where does she get it.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Because I'm boring.

Someone asked why my blog doesn't have a cute name. I know what they mean. I've been surfing blogs, and a lot of them have very cute names. Puns. Witty plays on words. Excellent little gems of phrases I wish I'd thought of myself.

But I have no imagination, is why.

There's an old Star Trek episode called The Trouble With Tribbles in which Captain Kirk is being harangued over the intercom by an intolerably annoying person with a lot of complaints, and he signs off with something like, "as for [your concerns], they have been...(exasperated pause, Shatner style, and I type it rather than let you infer it because that's what he would do, no?)... noted and logged." At least that's how I remember it. Captain Kirk doesn't have time for that shit. The Enterprise is knee deep in tribbles, for cryin' out loud.

So, not knowing what kind of blog I'd be writing (it isn't a mommy blog, it isn't an issue or place blog, it isn't a hobby blog...), I went with Noted and Blogged, rather than be forever paralyzed because I didn't know what to call it.

There ya go... dull as dirt.

But I was a sedimentologist, in another life. Dirt is fascinating stuff.

Everyone talks about the weather, but... know what I think? After years of quiet suspicion, I'm going to type it out loud: I think the summer weather forecasts here on Cape Cod are fucking LIES. I don't think they just get it wrong, I think they deliberately lie, to make people think summer on Cape Cod is constantly delightful. (In fairness, it is even worse everywhere else.)

Today for instance. A high temperature of 81F -- lovely, right? -- was forecast on the local news station (more rants about that bunch of morons are forthcoming) this morning. Well it was over 90 in the shade before noon, folks. And that happens routinely, every summer. I know, because my mood turns to poison (yes, I'm aware) when the temperature is over 90 in the shade and the humidity is so high that merely breathing outdoors is unpleasant. So I keep an ear out for forecasts like that. And they NEVER HAPPEN. Yet winter forecasts don't have that problem... when they say it's going to be in the 20s, it generally is.

It's a conspiracy, I tell you.

Must I do my own weather forecasting, too? Is there NOTHING IN THIS WORLD I can reliably leave to other people to do properly?

Hot and Bothered, with Control Issues

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Sad Girl

You don't have to live in a small town for long before everyone looks familiar. Took me a while to get used to that (let's just say I'm much more careful about, say, gesturing at other drivers than when I lived in slightly more crowded places, such as Los Angeles). With the girls' activities our circle of acquaintances has become huge and I'm rarely out and about without running into a friendly face. I spend a lot of time in the car trying to figure out how I know the person I was just talking to, and what the heck her name is, again.

Anyway, one of the girls we see pretty often gives me pause. She's four. In the two and a half years since we met, I've never seen her smile. Not at preschool, the gym, the library, the children's museum. Now, anyone who's run into us has a decent chance of witnessing an exchange that ends in "I don't listen to whining. Please stop it. Now. WHAT DID I JUST SAY?!" We are not all giggles. But this little one... shoot. I've never seen her scolded, she just always looks so profoundly miserable it takes me aback. It would be less unsettling if I saw her crying all the time (then she'd be merely annoying. KIDDING! sort of). But she doesn't make a peep, or change her expression. It makes me wonder what's up. I don't get the same sad vibe from her older brother. Poor little one. Cheer up, kiddo! It's not that bad. I hope.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Words I Love



Wait! Don't go! This isn't a hissy fit like the compost thing yesterday. (Sorry 'bout that. I am myself once more. Not quite cheerfully tending the compost, but no longer swearing at it.)

This post is to confess that I am living in fear. Not because the Secretary of Homeland Security has a tummy ache. Oh no. This is serious. I am treading carefully online, skittishly avoiding certain conversations in person, because:

I am afraid someone will tell me what happens in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Why don't I just get my eager paws on a copy and plow through it? One sleepless night ought to do it, and the tots can make their own dang breakfast, right? Well no, but that's not why. Why is because I promised Mr. Sandy I wouldn't. Years ago, reading Chamber of Secrets, I could tell he'd love these stories, and knew he'd never read them. So I backtracked to Sorcerer's Stone and read a chapter a night aloud to him, and that's how we've read all the subsequent ones. (Evidently I do a good Hagrid voice.)

I was right -- he's hooked. Now not only do I have to wait till he gets home from Far Far Away to get Hallows, but I will then have to read it one chapter a night. That's a long time to avoid spoilers. I'm surprised and pleased at how considerate everyone's been about it, but it can't last, it can't last.

I'm not listening, though. I'm brushing up my Hagrid voice.

Monday, July 23, 2007

I won't do it and nobody can make me.

Mr. Sandy is on a long trip to Far Far Away, and the single mom gig is enough to fray the strongest nerves. Anyone unused to it, such as I, will crack. It's only a matter of how long it will take. The household just cannot run at the same level as with two adults participating. Some things have to give.

This trip has been long enough that I can tell what some of those things might be.

So you might've expected this post to be a mildly amusing anecdote about something one of my girls refused to do. Negative, captain. I'm the crankypants of the moment, and I absolutely fucking refuse to:


Our setup is to have a canister on the counter into which I put all the day's food debris. From my perspective, the waste goes away and the empty and clean canister reappears on the counter. A lovely seamless process. Someone takes care of that.

Mr. Sandy, of course, empties it into a garbage bin outside that's been dedicated to the cause. The bin's lid is held on securely by two bungie cords, intricately criss-crossed to foil the raccoons, who are ingenious, and have time on their side. Well, Mr. Sandy must fucking love composting, because emptying the canister is highly unpleasant. Lid off canister, check. Lid off bin... not so easy. The bungies of course pop completely off the thing and disappear behind all the other stuff next to it, or perhaps even under the deck, from where they are not easily retrieved. The compost bin itself is swarming with horrid bugs industriously breaking down all the crap that gets dumped in there, but when you open the lid, they swarm up from the vile-smelling, rotting depths to about oh, face level. Then the goop in the canister inevitably won't come out in one motion, so you can't just dump it and go, and of course you haven't thought to put gloves on, and of course some of whatever it was runs down the outside of the canister, and so on. I know, I know, call the whaaaambulance. But the whole process puts me in an intensely foul mood. So for the record, and for the good of myself and my family, I hereby quit composting.

Now I know composting is the Right Thing To Do, and I know it makes great soil for the garden, but guess what's second after composting on the list of things I don't give a rat's ass about and won't do on my own? Gardening. So there.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

OK, I'll consider it: Ummm... no.

Your Mind is 86% Cluttered
Your mind is incredibly cluttered. You have so much going on in there, it's hard to think straight.Consider talking to a therapist. It's a good idea to sort through your thoughts, if only to see which ones are worth hanging on to.

Another title I considered for this post: No Shit, Sherlock.

Take this silly quiz and find out how cluttered your mind is.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Where the (sorta) Wild Things Are

We get the usual mix of suburban "wild"life at our house. Racoons eat the girls' playground balls if we don't bring them in overnight, and skunks do their stinky thing every so often. We've had a half dozen deer in the yard more than a few times. I'm sure that coyotes see us, whether or not we see them, although one day a big one loped down the driveway casual as anything, right as I was unloading the groceries. I yelled at it to scram and it just stared at me like "uh, you and what army?" Yikes.

Yesterday during breakfast, the Bean hollered that she saw a REALLY BIG BIRD! ON THE CAR! Given that she hollers like that when she sees so much as a moth on the screen door, my first thought was "sparrow." But sure enough, there was a big ol' bird of prey just hanging out on top of the car. Quick, to the window! We stood very still watching it for a while. The novelty of a hawk chillaxn (heh) on the sunroof a few feet from the house warranted a few moments of video (Mr. Sandy is away with the still camera, dang it! I can't post a pic!). It stood, sat, stood, sat, shifted its weight around, and settled in for a while. So long that the girls went back to their raisin toast and told me to alert them if something interesting happened.

People just don't say about me, "now there's someone who knows her raptors," and that's probably not going to change any time soon. Paging through my Peterson's guide to Eastern Birds, I now see that I noticed all the wrong things, if I want to be able to tell hawks apart. It had bright yellow legs! Yah. They all do. It had brown and white flecked belly and brown upper parts! Yah... all the immature ones do. It had a banded tail! Yah... they mostly all do. I failed to notice whether it had yellow or red eyes, a notched or rounded tail, a stripe over its eye, or any other critical identifying characteristic. I'm quite sure it was a young 'un, and I hope it was an endangered species, cause we have a family of four of them thriving right in our woods and it would be especially cool to see that. But it's probably the Exceedingly Common Cape Cod Woodland Hawk, or equivalent.

We are always glad though to see anything in our yard... hawks, snakes, owls, anything... that eats mice. Mice carry deer ticks, which carry Lyme disease, and if you live on Cape Cod, your risk of getting Lyme is many times what it would be if you lived most anywhere else -- greater even, I think, than if you lived in Lyme itself. Also, mice nest in the cars' air vents, then proceed to die a gruesome death there when the fan is turned on, then proceed to smell awful, then proceed to cost us $35 to get the air vent cleaned out. (Loathe to spend the $35 yet again, Mr. Sandy did this job himself once, and said it was the most disgusting task he ever did, no contest. Mike Rowe he ain't, but still.)

So bon appetit, birdie, whatever you are. But dude, no pooping on the car, I just waxed it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The post that wasn't

I think Life in Hell was probably the funniest comic ever. OK, The Far Side was pretty damn funny. OK OK, Dilbert is also very good, though context matters. Once you leave the cube farm it loses some of its ooomph. I know a lot of people adore Calvin and Hobbes. It just never grabbed me.

This was going to be a longish post about "the culture wars," but I got distracted... hey look, something shiny!

BTW today's stuck-in-the-head song is Bob Marley's "Stir it Up."

Eeek! Socks!

After seeing the Bean off to day camp this morning, my Peanut headed down to the playroom for some quality time alone with her trains. I sat down to drink my usual 2/3 cup of tea (I swear one of these days I'll finish a cup of tea without having to reheat it). After about ten minutes silence, I got a frantic, near-tears summons: "MOMMY! There are some SOCKS in the playroom that are SOMEONE ELSE'S!" Hmmm, thinks I. Sometimes we get a spider, but invasive socks are definitely unusual. I shall investigate.

Sure enough! There is a pair of socks in the middle of the room, not even trying to hide. They look harmless, but one can't be too careful. I pick them up to examine more closely.

"Peanut," I say to my barefoot little one. "These are YOUR socks. Did you take them off when you got downstairs?"

Confused silence. "But they're big," she says.

Evidently she can't keep up with how fast she's growing, either.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


So I joined another book group. Optimistic of me to think I might have time to read two novels a month, but what the heck. This group is a bunch of moms who like to read, and like even more to hang out at the beach (knocking back a few) discussing what they've read, and watching the sun set as the tide rolls in. Let's just say it's an easy fit for yours truly. (For any of my new friends who happen across this blog, this will explain why I took a picture of my shoes...)

We read Frangipani, by Celestine Vaite. It's the story of Materena, a strong, proud and wise Tahitian woman, and her smart, lively and challenging daughter Leilani. The novel explores themes of personal growth, conflict and love in mother-daughter relationships, family, change across generations both in Tahitian culture and for women in general. Its subject plops it squarely in the chick lit market, which I'm loathe to even acknowledge as such. Still, I found Materena an engaging character and Frangipani a charming if undemanding story. It made a lovely excuse to spend an evening on the beach talking (ultimately of other things). A teacher of English in the group recoiled in mock horror when I said it reminded me thematically of The Red Tent, so much a women's book group favorite that it essentially defines the genre. Red Tent is certainly a more literary, more ambitious work; Frangipani is maybe more suited for mature young adults. What do I know, I majored in rocks.

At any rate, as a mother of girls, it is always heartening to read strong mother-daughter relationship stories. I'll find it again in ten years and ask the Bean and Peanut what they think. Here's hoping they're still speaking to me.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"This-is-my-favorite-chicken" Chicken

I didn't intend to do back to back recipe posts, but evidently I'm batting a thousand with dinner this week. The Bean raved about tonight's chicken so much ("I love this! I would like to have it tomorrow night, too!*") that I wondered if she could be entirely sincere. Surely she's too young (4) to be playing me so masterfully ;). In any case this dish earned astonishingly high praise from her, so maybe you and yours will dig it too.

My Bean's Favorite Chicken
1/4 c. packed dark brown sugar
1/4 c. low-sodium soy sauce
1 T. lime juice
1/4 t. curry powder
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs

Put everything together in a big ziploc bag and marinate for however long you've got.

Aside: I heard somewhere (NPR?) that someone (a chef?) experimented to see if marinating overnight really makes meat taste better than marinating it for much less time. If I remember right, the point of diminishing returns was something like 20 minutes. That made me feel better about all the times I'm "supposed" to have marinated something for most of the week or whatever, but didn't defrost it in time, so settled for an hour-ish and couldn't tell the difference.

Now that you're done marinating, empty the ziploc into a 13x9 dish and bake at 425 for 40 minutes.

Or grill the chicken, but if you do, boil the marinade on the stove for at least a minute, then use it to baste.

I served this with wild rice and peas, but I think it'd be better with mashed potatoes and carrots.

*I fully intend to call her bluff. Tomorrow night is Leftover Clearinghouse chez SandyShoes.

Black Bean Lasagna

Well, Noted and Blogged is going to have something for everyone. I've decided to post recipes for dishes that 1) are at least sort of Good For You, and 2) have gone over well with both kids and adults in the SandyShoes household. If the Peanut clears her plate without being told to Take Another Bite, then woo hoo! we have a winner.

The inaugural entry:
Black Bean Lasagna (modified from a Cooking Light recipe*)
2 c. chopped onion
2 c. chopped bell peppers; I like to use 2 different colors but it doesn't matter which ones.
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 t ground coriander
1.5 t ground cumin
2 c. chopped tomato
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained (I use low salt beans)
3 T chopped fresh cilantro
8 oz. lowfat sour cream
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 16 oz. bottle salsa (I use mild so the kids will eat it)
1 8 oz can no-salt added tomato sauce
12 oven ready lasagna noodles
8 oz. Montery Jack cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 375 F.
In a large deep skillet (or small Dutch oven), saute onion, peppers and garlic 5-6 minutes.
Add coriander, cumin and tomato, cook 3 minutes.
Add beans, cook 3 minutes.
Remove from heat, cool 10 minutes.
Stir in cilantro, sour cream, and egg.
Spread 1/4 of the salsa and half the can of tomato sauce in the bottom of a 13x9" dish.
Put in 4 lasagna noodles.
Top with 1/2 of the bean mixture, 1/3 of the cheese, and another 1/4 of the salsa.
4 more noodles.
Rest of the bean mixture, 1/3 of the cheese, another 1/4 of the salsa.
4 more noodles.
Top with the rest of the tomato sauce, salsa and cheese.
Cover, bake 30 minutes.
Uncover, bake 15 minutes.
Let stand 5 minutes.

Not super quick, but easy, tasty, and loaded with vegetables. Bonus: Mr. SandyShoes gets a couple days' lunches out of the leftovers.

1) Rather than follow the elaborate procedure for including jalapenos (cut, seed, flatten, broil, seal in plastic bag, let stand, peel, chop...I have time for this?), I eliminated them. But if you like jalapenos a lot, then do all that to 4 of 'em, then add them to the pot with the beans.
2) I added the little can of tomato sauce to ensure there's enough moisture to use the oven ready lasagna. Why cook lasagna noodles? Really.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Tale of Two Jurors

This morning on the local radio news I heard that our Senator and fellow Cape Cod resident Edward M. Kennedy had jury duty today, and reported to the Barnstable County Courthouse accordingly. The news report said that Sen. Kennedy and others were excused, as enough jurors were empanelled before their numbers were called. All this prompted me to shake my head, half baffled and half grateful at what passes for news in these parts, and then forget about it.

Until: this afternoon on ABC national radio news, I heard that "a Cape Cod resident" angered a judge today by trying to get out of jury duty. Evidently he wrote of himself on the prospective juror questionnaire that he's a "racist, homophobe, and habitual liar."

Probably just a coincidence.

Edit: 1) CNN says that the racist homophobe juror thing happened yesterday, not today; 2) just in case I'm being horribly misinterpreted and need to type this out loud, I'm not calling Kennedy a racist homophobe liar. How I heard these stories today just struck me funny.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Word Wars (2004)

Some of my most favorite movies ever are the Christopher Guest "mockumentaries" This is Spinal Tap, Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman, and A Mighty Wind. (For Your Consideration, the sad exception, fell completely flat.)

Had I not known better I might've mistaken tonight's laundry-folding movie (Monday is wash day, dontcha know) for one of Guest's masterpieces.

Word Wars is a documentary about Scrabble competitions. Yes. The movie follows four players through some preliminary tournaments and to the 2002 nationals at a San Diego hotel. Apparently filmed without irony, it is wonderfully rich with phrases like "the Tiger Woods of Scrabble," and some excellent footage of players guzzling antacids, getting high, and practicing elaborate pre-game rituals. A gem: players burst out of the tournament room with a finished Scrabble board and plop down on the floor to conduct an animated "post mortem" of the match. A few yards away, a lovely bride, clearly waiting to make an entrance on her own big day, looks on in confusion. You can all but hear her say "wtf, Daddy?!" Whoever neglected to mention the Scrabble tournament being held the same day as her wedding is clearly going to pay. Other gems include a player showing the custom board he brought for "after hours action." Hoo boy.

The movie follows four competitors in particular. Joel is the acid reflux (among other things) guy. It is clear he has difficulty in social situations. It is unclear what he does in life besides play Scrabble. Marlon is from a tough East Baltimore neighborhood. He's rough around the edges and seems the unlikeliest entrant until you meet his grandmother, who takes no prisoners. Marlon spends time teaching elementary schools kids to play Scrabble, and takes a side trip to Tijuana during the tournament. Matt is a word fiend who also does stand up comedy. He takes fistfuls of supplements and talks about himself an awful lot. Joe is the defending champion and pregame Tai Chi enthusiast. He once took a job as a night watchman for time to read the dictionary, but these days only has time to study notecards while driving to and from work.

If you like Scrabble, you still might not like this movie. But if you like Scrabble and you liked Best in Show, don't miss it. Don't worry, I won't tell you who wins.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Today's Musical Menace

Lord help me, the song of the day is One, from A Chorus Line (click at your own risk).

Why, why? I've never even seen the damn show.

Gaaaaah, I hate musicals.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

blog, blog, blog

Since I started this wee blog, such as it is, I've been reading more of others', just to see what's out there.

Some conclusions:

There's a tremendous amount of badly written crap out there. But we knew that. The good news is that there are also more funny, sharp people typing away than I could ever get to read. So, cool.

However. No matter how intriguing the author profile, I won't read blogs with white type on a black background. Just won't. Even the ones that aren't in a tiny font, though a surprising number are, make my head hurt. Me, I'm delighted to have readers at all, and consider it common courtesy not to give you migraines if I can help it.

I'm disappointed at the number of blogs with the same templates. I like this one well enough (despite some formatting quibbles), but so do approximately 839,712 other bloggers. I'll be looking for something less commonplace as soon as I figure out how to do that.

Blogs seem to be either subject oriented or whatever-the-author-is-thinking oriented. Although this one is the latter, I think subject blogs are more accessible (unless the author comes complete with fan base). Readers already know whether they've an interest in cake decorating/caribou migrations/parasailing/politics/physiology (ahem), but how do you know if you like a person, unless you've invested too much time reading her various yammerings? So I expect my readership will be limited.

S'okay. I'll still do my part to be sure that if you have a headache, it won't be my fault.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Day

Happy Independence Day, fellow Americans!

This year's 4th of July brought the SandyShoes family a bit of everything: picnic, fireworks, small town parade, birthday party bbq, the whole nine yards. We have one tired Bean and one tired Peanut, long since fallen asleep to the distant strains of the neighborhood party band playing "I'm a Believer." From here it sounded like the version at the end of "Shrek," but hey, it's all good.

Part-serious person that I am, I do take a moment on the Fourth to revisit the Declaration of Independence, and consider the risk the men took who put their names to it. Had Britain laid hands on them (and at the time, it often looked more likely than not) they'd have surely been hung. It must've been terrifying, but exhilarating. Can you imagine?

What would you be willing to die for?

Monday, July 02, 2007

Syriana (2005)

(First of all, who *cares* that George Clooney gained 30 pounds for this movie? Yay George and all, but big deal. We give more respect to actors who gain weight for their jobs than to... well, I don't know to whom, but people who would deserve it more. Not that he didn't do good work in the role (though I have to say I wish Harrison Ford hadn't turned it down). But still.)

Syriana is an ambitious movie about a complex question: What Is The Price Of Oil? The film follows several major characters whose storylines eventually become entwined. It can be hard to follow, especially in the first hour or so. That's OK. I don't need to be spoonfed. But it's important to pay attention. No fair running upstairs for more wine and then asking "what happened?" ;). Here's the setup:

An American energy market analyst (Matt Damon) becomes the emir's elder son (Alexander Siddig)'s primary advisor, a role maybe more dangerous than he thought. Meanwhile, a CIA agent (He of the Hyped Heft), just home from a mission in Iran during which a missile got into unknown hands, is assigned to arrange the elder son's assassination. Meanwhile, a D.C. attorney (Jeffrey Wright) works to perform due diligence on the proposed merger of two American oil companies, one of whom just lost a contract awarded to the Chinese by the emir's eldest son. Meanwhile, the emir's younger son, with the discreet help of another powerful American attorney (Christopher Plummer -- is it me, or is he appearing more and more often in these sinister roles?), is angling to become the next emir. Meanwhile, Pakistani oil field workers lose their jobs when the Chinese take over. Frustrated, demoralized and unable to find work, they are drawn to an Islamic fundamentalist group.

The plot is complicated, tense, intriguing. If you didn't think so already, you will certainly come away seeing that there are more layers, dangers, consequences and agendas involved with The Oil Problem than it might at first seem.

But you did think so already, didn't you? As interesting as Syriana was, and as good a movie as I think it is -- do see it if you haven't -- I just don't think it's quite the Important Film it believes itself to be.

climate vs. weather

A micro-rant, if I may. In understated, civil language, even.

I'm very tired of hearing people scoff at global warming just because it's a relatively cool day outside. Must we make fun of Al Gore every time the temperature dips below 90?

Similarly, a hot summer day does not climate change make.

Also: Michael Crichton is a novelist. Novels = fiction. Fiction = MADE UP.

Thank you. That is all.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Happy Canada Day

The Dominion of Canada was created by the British Parliament on 1 July 1867.

Happy anniversary, neighbors!

Here's something I thought was interesting: In Quebec, July 1 is also called "Moving Day," because most leases there begin and end on that day, and lots of folks are moving. Wikipedia says that "Federalist Quebec residents who oppose the popular sovereigntist campaign for an independent Quebec joke that Moving Day is scheduled to ensure Quebecers are too busy moving house to celebrate Canada Day." Heh.

I wonder if ibuprofen sales in Quebec spike on July 2, what with all the Moving Day mal au dos. Zut!