Saturday, September 29, 2007

Buying off our guilt

On Thursday when I was driving back from the airport, I had the joy of hearing this piece on Talk of the Nation. Peter Schweizer talks about carbon off setting, exploring other ways we could offset our guilt, such as, maybe you could eat as much junk food as you want and get as fat as you want, but offset it by paying for someone else to go to the gym. In case you can't tell, I think offsetting is a crock. I remember when it came out that Al Gore uses a lot of energy and he responded that he offsets it. Ok, I love Al, but this made me angry. I live, with my husband and two kids, in a 1,000 square foot house. We've been debating for over a year about whether or not it would be appropriate to add 300 sq. feet to our house since that would contribute more carbon to the environment. So to hear about Al Gore and his huge house rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe instead of paying someone to plant trees in India, he could quit driving an SUV or maybe install some solar panels.

But I shouldn't be so hard on him. We all have our little environmental secrets. I hate to chop veggies. I love the idea of gardening and getting fresh produce from the Farmer's Market, and I love the flavor of fresh veggies, but Kirk has to chop them up or I'll let them rot in the refrigerator, in spite of my best intentions. Janisse Ray wrote this article about preaching to the choir. We environmentalists like to complain about the "others" who are doing horrible things to our world, but it probably wouldn't hurt for us to look in our own closets a little.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Flowers in Autumn

So summer's officially gone, but no one told my crapemyrtle. This one's just recently opened since it's a bit more shaded than the ones in the backyard. I forgot the variety because I relied on my memory instead of writing it down and who knows where the tag is - probably on a pile somewhere in the basement. The small blue flowers on the right are a variety of (perennial?) ageratum that I received at a plant exchange with my former coworkers. I haven't checked to see if it's spreading by roots or re-seeding itself, but either way it's prolific and the blooms last several weeks. I'll have plenty to give away next spring if anyone's interested. There might be other plants as well.

This used to be a strawberry patch that was delicious the first year, but has declined to just a handful of runners. I'm going to make this more of a perennial flower garden and let the strawberry plants intermingle should they continue to grow. In the backyard there are a handful of cherry tomatoes on one of my two tomato plants (that was the extent of my vegetable garden this year) and although my vegetable garden of yore is now grass I plan to makeover and expand an existing flower bed to make room for a few more vegetables next year. I just can't let well enough alone. I think Joe's got a bit of the gardening gene as he told me last week where his garden is and, pointing over there, told me that that's my garden. With my encouragement he's very aware of where and when I've planted seeds or moved plants and sometimes let's me know when the plants grow & change.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Flash from the Past

I was stunned when I looked in my mailbox to find a postcard from my high school classmate, Rick Uhlig. He had written a book, Last Dance at the Frosty Queen, about coming of age in a small town in Kansas in the 1980's. My first reaction, obviously, was hoping that he had written nothing incriminating about me. I got ahold of the book as quickly as possible and gobbled it down. There was nothing incriminating about me. This reminded me that my high school lifestyle really was not the stuff of novels.

It was an entertaining dark comedy about being different, figuring out the opposite sex, dealing with your family, and the realities of small town life. It was well written, if a little over-the-top.

What was fascinating to me was seeing glimpses of people I did know. None of them matched exactly and no real names were mentioned, so it was still in the realm of fiction, but some were clear and not always flattering. This made me wonder: how fictional is any fiction? There must be little nuggets of true stories everywhere. How do people feel when their story is written down and saved for the ages?

Best of luck to Rick. When I forgot about this being the town I spent my last years of high school in, it was a good story.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Speaking of baking...

In case you didn't already know, the New York Times has ended (yea!) it's fee-only access to archives and some articles. In case you didn't copy it down last November, now you can access this recipe - it's towards the end of the article. If you're a visual person, you can watch the video. It really is as easy as it sounds and the bread is delicious. Amaze your friends at your next potluck.


I have missed movies so much. Because of the ways the boys sleep we just haven't been able to watch them. I realized recently that I could watch for a 1/2 hour or so after the boys go to bed. (I know, I should have thought of that sooner.) So I subscribed to Netflix since it's also difficult to get to a video store and spend time browsing. I love it, love it, love it!!! I am so thrilled to watch films again. Please start sending good titles my way, I'm so out of touch. I used to be the person that people would ask, "What have you seen lately?" They stopped since I'm still recommending Waking Ned Devine. So let me know about titles and if you call around 9:00 and we don't answer, just leave a message. We'll call you back at the end our our alloted break from the world.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Indentured servant?

As Rhonna mentioned in an earlier post, I'm working part-time (about 3 hours a week) and we agreed that the money I earned would pay for a new oven. After saving a fair amount, I told her that I was only going to look and as I left the house I really meant it. Well, we found a deal that was really too good to pass up. After re-reading Consumer Reports, making several trips back to the store and a quick tour of Sears, we decided to go ahead and get the KitchenAid. See, it was last year's model and nearly 40% off and it has all the features I'd considered, but assumed would never actually be affordable (yes, convection). Before I continue I should mention what we had been using. It came with our house and was, quite literally, the basic of the basic - 4 burners, an oven, 5 dials (within easy reach of walking babies!), and two lights. That's it. Nothing else. To give it some credit, it did work, but after 8 years it was time for a change. Funny thing is, it's sort of inspired me to start baking - or at least make plans to. Rhonna brought home a great book from the library about sourdough breads. Now if I can just find the time, I'd love to try some of the recipes and I only have to work 20 more hours to pay the balance on the oven!

Want to read another blog?

So I was asked to contribute to a blog about living in Manhattan and offer the perspective of a long-term resident. So far it mostly discusses the oft heard frustrations encountered by folks moving from a more urban environment who then are amazed at how Manhattan can be a college town without the cultural/gastronomical/environmental amenities that they enjoyed in their previous residence. I've often wished for many of these same alternatives myself, but after visiting other places - Portland, Austin, Chicago, San Francisco, DC, to name a few - I return home thankful that I have all I really need right here. (Excluding, perhaps, my brief visits to England and Germany, but, as there's no chance of my moving there in this lifetime, they don't count for this discussion.) Sure I'd love a wider variety of restaurants, but there's no way I could eat out often enough to do my part to ensure their financial survival. All of the aforementioned cities are great places to visit but when I comes right down to it, I wouldn't want to live there. Here we have plenty of sunshine, plenty of rain, dynamic weather with 4 distinct seasons, no traffic congestion (really, no matter where you live here you can get across town in about 15 minutes or less), no smog/ozone alerts, good folk concerts, jazz concerts, McCain performances, numerous lectures, a fine library (ok 2, but I wouldn't know much about Hale as I haven't used it since it was called Farrell). If you really need a change of scenery then Lawrence, KC, St. Louis - wherever, even KCI - aren't that far of a drive and if you drive on a road other than I-70 you'll probably find something along the way to pique your interest. The point is, either you like it here and find ways to appease your whims, or you decide Manhattan will never be good enough and you start looking for a new job. Naturally, that could be said of anyone in any town, but some of us like it here and should aid those who are new to town in discovering that it's pretty good here once you really start to look around.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Picture Update

I've been informed that I should include more pictures of my beautiful children and less politics. I'll put in more pics, but the politics must stay. But for this one time, I'll just write happy newsy things. Both my boys just had their birthdays. Isaac is one and Joe is four. Joe just started preschool and he loves it. Isaac still isn't saying any words or walking on his own. He has taken his own sweet time with all developmental milestones since birth. Just when we start to worry he catches up. I've stopped worrying. I take him to his appointments and when his doctor or Parents as Teachers educator tells me to worry, then I will.
I am very excited that my brother and his family are moving to town! They bought a house just down the street, so the kids will go to school together and all that good stuff. My only cousins are much older and have always lived far away, so I'm very excited that my boys will have some so close by. I also really like my brother and his wife, so it's all good. Now if we could only get Kirk's brothers to move back. Don't worry guys, I'm not holding my breath.

Thursday, September 6, 2007


Our fellow church member Elfrieda died this week. She was an amazing woman who loved music and travel. She was open, kind and welcoming. She will be missed.

You may have also heard that Pavarotti died this morning. In honor of 2 great voices I offer you this link. It's just beautiful music.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Proclaimers Fans, Enjoy

Here's a link to a live Proclaimers show. Listen soon as it's only available until Thursday.