Monthly Archives: November 2008

Giving thanks in Apartment 2024

The business end of the turkey
Yesterday, I hosted Thanksgiving for the second time in my life. The first was several years ago, when all my Philly family decamped for the Columbia River Gorge. This year, needing to take Scott and his mom into the equation, we planned for a small dinner at our place on Thanksgiving, with a larger family follow up on Saturday at my cousins’ in the suburbs.

Being that I enjoy cooking, handling the bulk of the Thanksgiving meal was a pleasure for me. I’ve prepared this same meal in tandem with my parents many times and so it was really fun to take that knowledge and be the primary one to stuff and roast the turkey. Scott helped me with the actual stuffing of the bird, and I have to admit that I got a little frustrated with him when 1. He wasn’t able to anticipate my every move (the nerve!) and 2. When my plans for how to close the stuffing into the turkey cavity didn’t work out as I wanted at first. Thankfully, he was fully prepared for the fact that I was going to yell at him at least once during the day and so didn’t hold my momentary frustration against me. It helped that I also apologized a little later in the day (and made a special batch of stuffing that had no mushrooms in it, just for him).

Dinner was really lovely, with the perfect combination of chaos and order. Scott’s mom Joan chopped potatoes, later Jean spent a good half hour pushing them through the ricer and Dan did a skillful job of carving the turkey while I ran around and put the finishing touches on the veggies (roasted brussels sprouts and peas and carrots). It was really fun to have both the kids there, Derek was entertaining and personable, while three month old Juliet was totally mellow and good-natured.

Best of all, I now don’t have to cook for days, as I have plenty of leftovers.

Refreshed chairs

chair before and after

Last night, Thad and Angie came over to help Scott and me recover the chairs I bought in Chestertown, MD over Labor Day Weekend. We’ve been using them ever since I bought them, but they were hard and uncomfortable with no discernible padding and horribly ugly fabric. I finally bought foam for padding on Saturday and the reupholstery began.

I will be the first to admit that Thad and Angie did the lion’s share of the work (thanks guys, you are truly some of the best friends ever). I fed them beef and barley stew, butterscotch squares and did what I could, but they came in ready to power through the work. I am astounded at how much better the chairs look and that, coupled with the progress on the hoosier cabinet, means that the apartment is starting to look like a better version of itself than it has in years. Just a few more things and I may actually be ready for Thanksgiving next week.

Close calls

Yesterday I ran home during my lunch hour, to grab some food and start a batch of soup in a slow cooker. I was in a hurry to chop and saute the veggies before tossing them in the pot, and in the process I got a little careless. At the end of the leek, the knife slipped and came down on my left pointer finger. I redirected as soon as I felt the bite of the blade and waited for the wave of pain. Oddly, it didn’t come and so I put the knife down and looked at finger. I had managed to slice my fingernail down to the quick and shaved off a single layer of skin, but managed not to draw a single drop of blood. I took a moment to let my heart rate return to normal and then continued to make the soup.

Half a hour later, the soup was in the slow cooker and I headed back to work. The parking garage in our building has been under construction for the last five months, getting the four stories of concrete ramp replaced. They recently put scaffolding up in the back of the building, where I walk at least twice a day (and sometimes more) as I come and go to work and home. Yesterday, just as I walked out from underneath the scaffolding, a hunk of concrete the size of a baseball fell from one of the levels of the garage. It missed my head by about half a second. I stood there and stared at it for a moment, adrenaline racing as I realized how nearly I was hit by it. I spent a moment imagining the pain I could potentially be feeling and playing out the possible scenarios – concussion, bloody head, a trip to the emergency room or even worse.

I looked around, to see if anyone else had seen how close I had come to being clocked on the head by a falling piece of cement, but there wasn’t a single person who had been a witness. I glanced up, to see if anyone was peeking out from the parking garage, to see where that errant piece of stone had gone. Then I realized I was just fine and headed back to work.

It was interesting to have had two moments within the period of an hour where I came so close to being injured and yet was totally fine. It made me appreciate the integrity and health of my body, as well as the inherent frailty of being human.

Fork You: Our Daily Bread

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I had grand intentions of participating in NaBloPoMo (in which you post a blog post every single day of November). However, as you may have noticed, starting last Thursday, I’ve been stumbling a little in pursuit of that goal. No matter, I’m getting back up on the posting wagon and am posting this to show you that LOOK! We’ve got another new episode of Fork You for your viewing pleasure. After so many months without an episode, this feels like an embarrassment of riches.

And, if you’re looking for even more Scott and Marisa food video, we’ve been posting these short little episodes over at ParentDish for the last few weeks.

A corner of my kitchen

Salt and pepper shelf

I have mixed emotions about many parts of my apartment. I feel fortunate to have such a safe, comfortable place to live, but there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t find myself wishing for a little pocket of outdoor space. I also frequently sigh in resigned frustration at the shabby, 22-year-old carpet and the bathroom that is serviceable but bordering on truly ugly.

However, there’s one corner of the kitchen that always delights me. This is the spot to the right of the stove, where I do the vast majority of my regular mealtime prep. There’s an Ikea butcher block there, as well as an assortment of salts, peppers and a 1 cup measure of garlic (the contents there ebb and flow, at the time when this picture was taken, I had just been to the farmers market and restocked).

The Art Deco style salt shaker was a birthday gift from my mom four years ago. She has one just like it that I have always loved, and so when she found a matching one at a Portland antique shop in July, she grabbed it and squirreled it away for the following May. I wept happy tears the day I unwrapped it. To the left of it sits a sugar bowl filled with kosher salt. It belongs to the set of fancy china that my grandpa Phil bought for my grandmother in the fifties. She never liked those dishes, but she loved Phil so used them until she died. I like having a little bit of them in the kitchen with me.

The two metal pepper grinders belonged to my Aunt Flora. My cousin Betsy gave them to me when I helped her clean out Flora’s apartment. The silver grinder is an ancient Peugot and it works like a dream.

The little shelf where everything is perched is half of an orange crate that my dad sliced in half to use as a spice shelf in my parents’ kitchen a couple of houses ago. It’s quite handy. It also helps keep everything within easy reach, which is the most important thing when in the midst of getting dinner together.

My third presidential election

Today, I cast a ballot in a presidential election for the third time in my life. I was 21 in 2000 and so voted via absentee ballot from college for Al Gore. I remember the feeling of nausea when I had to eventually go to bed that election night without knowing who was going to be the president. The nausea stayed with me for all the days that it took to determine that George W. Bush was going to be president.

Today is election day

When I voted in 2004, I had high hopes that John Kerry would pull out a victory but I was disappointed once again.

My ballot

After eight years of inept leadership, I am so absolutely delighted that my candidate has finally won an election. I feel like this outcome has given me back the right to be hopeful for a brighter, kinder future. May wisdom, compassion and love guide President Obama through the next eight years.

My new Hoosier cabinet

Assembled Hoosier Cabinet
Growing up, I was something of an unusual kid. From an early age, I spent considerable time wandering thrift stores and antique malls with my mom, and so by the time I was nine years old, I could tell the difference between a pie safe and an old ice box. I could spot an oak veneer from five feet away and aspired to one day own a Mission-style hall tree.

When I graduated from high school, I had a list of furniture pieces that I longed to own. Included in that list were an old iron bedstead, an antique wash stand and a Hoosier cabinet. Tonight, after long last, I crossed the Hoosier cabinet off the list. I’ve been antsy for a better storage in my dining room lately and I haven’t used the corner writing desk since I finished grad school last December. I mentioned my dissatisfaction to Scott and he suggested we buy a new piece of furniture (he has the ability to instantly simplify the things I create mountainous issues from).

So yesterday afternoon, I took a glimpse at Craigslist and found a Hoosier cabinet for sale for $100. I responded to the ad, made a phone call and in the space of aa couple of minutes had committed to buying a cabinet, sight-unseen.

Scott rode out to Hatboro with me tonight to pick up the cabinet and we managed to fit it into the back of my very handy Subaru wagon. Driving back into the city, I was a little giddy with the excitement of finally having something I had wished for since 1997. As we unloaded in back of the building, a neighbor stopped us to exclaim over the cabinet. He commented that it was in great shape and said that many years ago he had had one in his own kitchen.

I’m planning on painting it white (I’d love to strip it down to the original pine, but I don’t have the space or proper ventilation for that project) and will probably get a few new drawer pulls. The enamel counter, which slides in and out, needs a little WD-40. But essentially, it’s a very solid piece of furniture, especially for one that’s more than 80 years old (it is dated September 24, 1925 on the back). I am delighted and will post pictures of the finished product as soon as it’s done.

Now with extra jumpy

Lately, I’ve been unusually jittery. I used to like TV shows with a little bit of suspense, but right now, the tiniest bit of uncertainly leaves me chewing my cuticles and leaping around on my square of couch cushion. I can’t read anything that contains forms of fighting or conflict. You can tell where I’ve been in the apartment by the trail of half-read books scattered around, abandoned because I couldn’t handle feeling the emotions of the characters. My elevated level of generalized anxiety is especially highlighted because Scott is the original unflappable man. He is not fazed by that which leaves me writhing with worry and simply continues to cast confused sideways glances at me as I bounce in my seat at the movies.

When I was much younger, I went through stages similar to this one, where I found myself wracked by sympathetic pangs of embarrassment or discomfort for the observed experiences of others. Watching TV as a six-year-old, I’d have to hide my face in a pillow when Michael J. Fox found himself humiliated in Family Ties or Teen Wolf (even if I knew that by the end of the show or movie, he’d have the last laugh). Watching a classmate trip and fall on the playground, I’d need to turn my head and pretend I hadn’t seen it lest her mortification become my own.

I’m hoping that this heightened state of antsy, unsettled, nervousness passes soon. My best guess says that it’s coming from the election and the general uncertainly that the nation is currently feeling in light of the economy, a historic presidential race and an endless war. Toss in there the elevated state of emotion in Philadelphia that came as a result of the World Series win and the fact that my parents moved out of their house over the weekend not entirely because they wanted to, and I’m swimming around in a potent mix of untamed emotion. I have got to get out of this pool.

Pictures from the Phillies parade


Yesterday felt like New Year’s Day. Starting at 7 am, we could hear the thousands of people already out lining Market and Broad Streets, waiting for the noon-time parade to start. They were hooting and yelling, screaming with voices hoarse with multiple days of victory celebrations. When I left for work at 9 am, everyone outside was dressed in red and were equipped with beer cans and bottles in hand, getting their buzz on early.

Most of my co-workers left for the day at 11:30 am to see the parade before heading down to the ceremony down at the stadiums. I headed out of the office a little while later, to snatch a glimpse of the parade and take an extra-long lunch (we got an extra hour). I had my camera with me and so wandered between 18th and 19th, taking pictures. While the parade was running, I wasn’t able to get within half a block of Market Street. I stood back, enjoying the energy and enthusiasm of the crowd. Some people tried to keep up with the parade and so ran along Ludlow Street, trying to catch multiple views of the players.