Proof I live in a good neighborhood.


The doorbell rings, and I, rightfully curious, answer the door. (I’m not expecting any packages or such for another few days, at least.)

Standing at the top of the steps* is a slight, middle aged brown man, who simply says to me, “Keys are in the door,” smiles, and walks on.

*This is, for my half-basement apartment, standing away from the door, not standing right on the doorstep as it might be in any other configuration.

Edited to add: I don’t normally say anything about the search terms used to reach this blog (when I remember to check them), but whoever got here by Googling “reconciling atheism with spirituality”, I hope it helped.

I suppose I could write, FFS.

This is one of the oddest things about pregnancy so far: that I have copious amounts of time, awake, late late in the evening. I’m usually dead asleep by at least eleven, and yet that has become the earliest time I actually turn in. I’ve spent, or tried to spend, a lot of that time online, usually reading message boards and hoping someone would post something, or hanging around in a chat room or eagle-eyeing both my Twitter feed and Google Reader, just in case someone posts something I can sink my teeth into, or at least amuse myself with.

I really don’t know what to do this late at night. I’ve never really done it before.

But, you know, I’ve had this thing called a blog for some time. Were I so inclined, I could, you know, write something.

I’m getting to the point, post-move, of having enough energy and concentration to start thinking again — real thinking, the kind I can devote to study or self-examination or pondering the universe. Being eight months pregnant is (much) tougher on my body than my mind, and, although I spend a lot of time being tired or sleeping because of the strain of carrying around a rather localized 25 lbs., I also am starting to get a little stir-crazy for something to sink my mental teeth into. I’ve considered brushing up on Latin/Yiddish/[Insert Language Here], or finding something to translate, or going to the library for some good feminist theory or general history to study, and yet the time hasn’t quite been right for any of these things yet.

There is yet much organizing to do, unpacking to accomplish, and I could theoretically do some of that in the evenings as well, although Joel might find it rather difficult to sleep while I’m bustling around. Besides, that’s not quite the kind of pursuit that my mind is looking for, although making things fit into spaces does get my analytical side going somewhat.

I feel like I’m waiting to settle down a bit, like there are a few more pieces that need to fall into place before I can act. It’s odd, because I don’t have any sense of panic or hurry; it’s just Not Time Yet.

So I write, here, in the hopes of getting going whatever it is needs to be started; in hopes of finding whatever it will be that will be enough.

One week in Philadelphia

That’s how long I’ve been here. It feels like at least two.

Friday last – entirely devoted to air travel with a very scared orange cat. I did manage to have enough energy to walk down to a little restaurant a few block from our apartment called Mama Palma’s. We had beautiful, delicious pizza (Margherita) and salad (spinach with bacon, walnuts and Gorgonzola) and discovered $7 beer (yay for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board).

See the pretty pizza and my serious tired.

See the pretty pizza and my serious tired.

Saturday – We headed out to IKEA (for furniture, because we didn’t bring so much) about 9:00 Saturday morning, and, lo and behold, there was a farmer’s market not 100 feet from our front door.

Taken from my front stoop, looking north to Fitler Square.

Taken from my front stoop, looking north to Fitler Square.

We did achieve furniture (two chairs and a bedframe), and it was all delivered and assembled before we went to bed Saturday night.

Sunday – Sunday was a long walk through our neighborhood up to Rittenhouse Square, where we were hit up by petitioners with voter reg forms (I filled out the voter registration, and neglected the petition itself), had brunch at DiBruno Bros. (which was pretty good), and took a walk from there to Trader Joe’s. By the time we walked home, we’d gone about two and a half miles on foot, not including the places we went into and walked around. Needless to say, preggo-woman was tired, and dinner was take-out.

Monday through Wednesday – I began my independent exploration of the neighborhood, taking some time for internet browsing at the Good Karma Cafe, a neat place a block from the house, which serves Equal Exchange coffees. I hadn’t quite caught up on rest, though, so I pretty much stuck to the cafe, the hardware store, and the grocery three blocks down. We cooked the first meal in our house Tuesday night (a pasta and chicken concoction). Another farmer’s market was running Wednesday afternoon at a park four blocks away, and I got a LOT of organically grown (if not certified) produce there, most of which is still waiting to be used in the fridge. We also discovered a halal butcher shop a block from the house as well, and managed to cook some chicken chops for dinner Wednesday night that we’d purchased there.

Thursday – One of Joel’s coworkers, Liz, took us on a driving tour of Philly that afternoon, which was really quite fun. Parking the car when we got back, however, was quite the feat — or rather, finding a parking spot was. Joel dropped me off and it was a full fifteen minutes before he found a spot. Reason #72: Why We’re Selling The Car. It’s really more trouble than it’s worth.

Which leaves me with today. So far I haven’t done much of anything, and I don’t really plan to. Energy has been sporadic lately, and I’ve been sleeping more, from pure physical exhaustion (yay pregnancy!). I’ll be figuring out something to cook for dinner (not a problem, with the surplus still in the fridge from the farmer’s market Wednesday).

Besides, we’re going to the Reading Terminal Market tomorrow. I plan to bring lots of yummy stuff (including pictures!) back from that.

General updates, plus (even more) fiber geekery.

    First, the updates:

  1. Kiddo kicked hard enough to visibly shake my belly last night. It was kind of surreal, and definitely made me laugh.
  2. We’re probably staying in Lawrence, provided Joel can get enough of a job for us to live off of here. As soon as he’s hired somewhere, I’m going to start looking for cheap apartments for August.

Also, I’ve found yet another two patterns to try to knit, but I think this time these are the right ones for my next projects: a summery cardigan for myself (knit like mad, woman! there’s only three months of the summer left!) and the other is a colorwork project, a pair of gorgeous fingerless gloves.

The sweater (as seen here, on the pattern author) should work nicely for me and my preggo belly:

The mitts will be a challenge, because they involve some pretty serious colorwork, and are on (for me) Tiny Needles:
as made by the pattern creator.  This is her photograph, k?

The afghan should be finished by July 1 (ambitious, I know, but it is going fast now!), so I’ll have a month (or so) to make the sweater for myself.

I also noticed what looks like a Ravelry widget in the sidebar on flintknits’ site, which is powered by WordPress. Must investigate this.

Finally, a blog post that doesn’t begin with “F”. Oh. Wait.

Yes, nothing to report on either food or fiber geekiness, except that the butternut squash soup is still sitting in my fridge (project completion grade: EPIC FAIL) and I’m gradually plugging away at the afghan, waiting on that crucial One More Color so I can finish all the strips I’ve started so far. It may be that I just do without it in the afghan (the woman from whom I bought it just had knee surgery, and it has yet to appear in my mailbox) and do some minor rearranging in the order of colors I’ve written out for the seven strips as yet in existence.

Otherwise, I’m starting to feel like I need to have some really good thinking time, possibly informal study, possibly just reading something challenging in German. I’m still in need of the hiatus from most of the feminist blogs I’ve been reading over the last year and a half or so, simply because it’s taking all my emotional energy to take care of myself during the last three months (yes! really!) of pregnancy, and a hyper-awareness of how shitty the world is isn’t exactly what I want to be obsessing over when my child comes into it. This is partially the reason why so many of the last posts here have been about physical projects: there are serious claims on my mental energy, and these projects are a form of release or distraction. I’m basically keeping busy to stay sane.

And it is helping. A lot. Which is why I don’t particularly feel like changing things up right now.

So, there will be more pics in my Flickr account of the afghan, and maybe some more cooking projects documented, although I’m not going to get into anything big when I only have one day for planning and execution before having to go back to work next day. Standing on my feet for 8 hours pretty much does me in these days, at least for the rest of the evening, anyway.

Food Geekery: Banana Pecan Bread Pudding

At long last, I remember I have a blog.

I’ve got a couple of projects I want to tout, the first by request from Marilyn, who wanted to see how the banana bread pudding turned out. It wasn’t too bad, all things considered, although I have some changes I want to make for next time. Oh yes, there will be a next time.

I started out with possibly the best bread for pudding, ever: Challah (this loaf was from Farm to Market in KC, and had been waiting in my freezer for just such an event).


Sliced and beautiful, it needed drying out from the freezer, so I cubed it up and let it get toasty in the oven for a bit. While that was going on, I mixed up my usual egg batter: whole eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla extract and (this time, freshly grated) nutmeg — plus one innovation: the idea of bananas and bread pudding together sounded really rich and heavy, so I tried adding some lemon zest as well to the batter.

The finished product was layers of bread cubes, slightly too-ripe bananas, and pecan halves. Drizzling the top with melted butter and a little turbinado sugar and more nutmeg on top finished things off.

Banana Pecan Bread Pudding, finished

The resultant pudding was tasty, if not quite sweet enough, and not quite as saturated with the egg mixture at the top as I’d like. The lemon zest added a brightness that balanced the caramely sweetness of the bananas nicely. A little vanilla ice cream on top (of course!) and it made for a fulfilling dessert.

Bread pudding with ice cream

I’ve published the recipe at Open Source Food, if you have an interest.

Addendum: I found a wonderful sounding recipe for ‘bread and butter pudding’, apparently the British appellation for this dish, via Possibly Related Posts: Bread And Butter Pudding (with a lemon variation that I can’t wait to try).

Food Geekery: Back in the swing of things.

It is all your fault, Marilyn.

If you hadn’t invited us over to your lovely home (complete with dream kitchen) and made a splendid meal, simple yet elegant, I wouldn’t be doing this now.

Graduate school was good for me in many ways, but the time it greedily consumed kept me out of the kitchen for a couple of years at least (all told), and got me out of the habit I’d cultivated, especially while living in Germany, of thoroughly enjoying both the process and the results of cooking a meal.

Now, in Stuttgart, I had company. Six of us international students got together and made meals, every Saturday night, and we took turns collectively providing each other enjoyment and, well, nourishment. One week I and the other two women did the food, the next week the three men did; whoever didn’t do food brought wine.

The problem coming back to the U.S. from this relative Eden was living alone. It’s much more difficult to arrange these things for a table of one, when you’re quite used to serving and seating six. Joel soon joined the party, however, so that number expanded to two, and I generally got back into what I call survival cooking, and only truly relishing all sides of the culinary experience when I made meals for special occasions.

I’m not sure if pregnancy hormones are playing a role here, or if recent changes in Joel’s employment status are completely responsible for me re-adopting the food frugality I learned from my grandmothers (both children during the Depression), or if awareness of the food shortages plaguing so many areas of the world aren’t simply making me more mindful of, grateful of, and conscientious with the bounty we can truly enjoy here, especially at the beginning of the local producing season. No matter the reason, cooking virtually every meal at home has become one of my top priorities.

The effort I put into enjoying that process is, however, as I detailed above, entirely Marilyn’s fault. Sharing a leisurely meal with her and her family reminded me just how much I delight in culinary undertakings, from start to finish, and that it was worth investing time and mental energy into preparing and enjoying good food.

I’m also, very occasionally, taking pictures of what I make. A post is coming up (probably) on tonight’s experimental dessert: banana pecan bread pudding.

My creativity is coming back in the kitchen, and a heap of joy is following.

FA, HAES and Pregnancy.

I’ve noticed something about people, since I’ve gotten pregnant.

They like to commend me on my lack of appetite for sweets. For those of you who know me personally, you understand precisely how bizarre a turn of events this is for me, and that it must be dictated by pregnancy hormones, because I would rarely pass up on the opportunity for dessert, or something sweet, no matter the reason, occasion or time of day.

People say what a Good Thing (TM) it is, that I don’t want a lot of sweet foods these days. They congratulate me, like it’s some sort of moral achievement or personal victory.

Newsflash: I’m just eating what my body tells me, just like I did before I got pregnant. It’s called Intuitive Eating, folks.

The problem that is tangled up with all this is the (erroneous) assumption that there are Good Foods (TM) and Bad Foods (TM). I can assure you, that from the standpoint of a pregnant woman’s stomach, the only bad foods are the ones that sound like they’d do a number on my digestion, i.e., foods that would not be the best choices for me at the moment.

That, however, is absolutely NOT what is meant by Good and Bad Foods (TM).

We have somehow come to this notion that foods have some sort of moral value. If it’s something you’d eat to try to lose weight, it’s Good (TM). If it’s something you’d be told to avoid on a diet, it’s Bad (TM).

Food doesn’t have moral value. It has nutritional value. Any food. Anything that your body can derive energy from (described as “calories”) is food, and if your body can fuel itself with it, then it’s got nutritional value.

I see, so often, in discussions of FA/HAES, this formulation when discussing Intuitive Eating or refuting the Good/Bad Food assumption:

“Sometimes I eat X, sometimes I eat Y.”

In these instances, the given value of X is “some food associated with good health and/or dieting” and the given value of Y is “some food associated with poor health and/or fat shaming”. I don’t think that FA advocates are missing the point when they use this phrasing — I think it’s an attempt to communicate with others who are still under the delusion that some foods are morally good while others are not*, when all that distinction is used for is trying to bully people who don’t fit the mainstream ideal “Thin” into complying, or to bully folks who DO fit the ideal into continuing to comply.

There’s something complicated in all this too — about keeping people in line, oppressed, although I can’t quite tease it out yet.

So, if I say, as I might in normal conversation, “I don’t really want any Y; I don’t have much of a sweet tooth these days” — that is precisely what I mean: Food Y doesn’t appeal to me at the moment, thanks. It has nothing to do with any moral value others may ascribe to Food Y, nor does it stem from any desire of mine except what my stomach dictates.

Believe me, I miss sweets. I can’t wait until half a cup of homemade pudding doesn’t give me heartburn, or the thought of chocolate cake doesn’t turn my stomach or simply not appeal at all. I take no particular delight, as others seem to expect me to, in the fact that I can’t enjoy the foods I loved before I was pregnant.

There is no “side benefit” to not wanting dessert. I don’t want to lose weight. I’ve long since given up on the dieting myths that say self-deprivation is the way to socially-accepted health status. My goal is my actual health — not some outside view of what that should look like.

This is Fat Acceptance. This is Health At Every Size. That I get to define, for myself, what healthy feels like, and do what I consider the best things to achieve and maintain that health. Weight is an arbitrary number, and size is not an automatic indicator of health. I’m more healthy now, because I listen to my body and do what it tells me it needs to do, than when I was starving myself in high school or trying to avoid the candy dish so as not to top 150 lbs.

Because I love my body, and want it to last a long time, I do what it indicates is good for me, instead of trying to force it to be one way or another. I, and my health, are much better for it.

*Leaving aside people’s personal beliefs regarding moral eating practices. Veg*nism, religious beliefs, etc., aren’t something society at large touts as moral food choices, at least not in the U.S.

Blogroll Love, and Calling Out The Trolls; plus Bonus LOLcat!

The delightfully blaming Cara-he has a new blog, and she’s blogrolled me AND reprinted one of my more ranty posts. I’m flattered and abashed and proud and everything!

It was a happy happy thing to wake up to this morning.

The other comment sitting in the moderation queue wasn’t quite as fun, at least not as ego-bloating. On an old post (I was immediately suspicious), I saw that it was made by an actual blogger, and wasn’t the typical spammity spam I get on rants three months old.

So I decided to give it a whirl. I approved the comment, and replied. Have a look, if you like.

EDITED to add this:

Indy Cat

This is all it takes to get me started

It’s a simple, step-by-step process.

  1. Check Google Reader.
  2. Click “The Girl Gamer” feed.
  3. See title: “Behold my army! They are small and plastic!
  4. Look at the cute FFVI sprites in those funky melt-with-an-iron beads.
  5. Remember playing the original FFon the NES.
  6. Google Image-search “Final Fantasy NES Sprites“.
  7. Click on something that looks like a shirt.
  8. Click on ‘How to make your own NES cross stitch
  9. Spend 10 minutes manually downloading all the FF sprites from Video Game Sprites.
  10. Try to justify starting ANOTHER project when I’m already supposed to be knitting hats for the nephews/niece for Christmas.
  11. Blog the steps necessary to reach this point.
  12. Rince.
  13. Repeat until exhaustion or reader revolt.