Monday, June 30, 2008

travelin' 2

There was definitely a lot of this over the weekend. Saturday, I opted not to to do the (potentially slower) cutaway through smaller roads in Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. As a result, we ended up with a lot of high-speed merges at very slow speeds. By the time we got to New Jersey, I was fried, Banana was cranky, and nothing seemed better than cooling our heels there an extra day. Our single adventure en route involved a stop at an old-school Baltimore seafood joint.

It was the sort of place where the walls are hung with pictures of local notables from decades past who have written nice notes to the now-deceased owner about their wonderful dining experiences. The sort of place where I was—by a generation—the youngest patron there, and Banana may have been the first child in ages. Besides a few obvious regulars, there was the requisite table of blue-hairs enjoying manhattans and white wine before their house special crab cakes. Presiding over it all were two of the sketchiest wait-people I've seen in a while. Their white shirts and black pants were mostly clean. The man's teeth were so bad that Banana even talked about them later, and the woman was in that indeterminate window of thirtiesh-with-a-very-rough-history. All that aside, the crab cake was very, very good. And very, very large. Really. A good two and a half inches thick. All crab, no breading, just mayo, eggs and Old Bay seasoning to hold the thing together. In the end, Banana and I did just fine sharing the crab cake, and it made for a good break between traffic jams.

Fast forward to Monday... We hit the road early Monday morning after a day chilling out with the cousins in Montclair. I'd prepped Banana the day before that I was buying food at Whole Foods for breakfast and for the the rest of the trip. Though I probably didn't save any money with the Whole Foods run vs. fast food on the road, I can report that we lunched on caprese sandwiches—fresh mozzarella, roma tomatoes, prosciutto, and pesto on excellent crusty bread assembled at a rest stop—instead of anything prepackaged. When it came to snacks, we had cherries and local blueberries, among other things.

That's all well and good, and the rest of the drive to Maine was uneventful. Unfortunately, I am now certain that Banana is fighting something. When we arrived, she was still moody, then she rejected a smoked salmon appetizer—this from a girl who never rejects any kind of salmon. Then she decided she was too tired for dinner. As she fell asleep, she was sweaty and feverish. Hmmmm...

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Monstrous traffic on I95 today kept us delayed and turned a five and a half hour drive into almost eight hours. Made a brief stop for lunch in Baltimore at an old-school seafood joint. Full account to follow soon.

UPDATE: Terrific, low-key day with cousins in Montclair. Banana's been a bit of a challenge, and I'm starting to wonder if she's feeling all right—low energy and low appetite are not her usual bag. Full account to come after we get to Maine tomorrow... and to answer May's question: we will only be staying until next weekend. Such is the workaday life now.

Friday Fun - the late edition

It's been a crazy week between work, play while Banana was with Banana mére, and preparations for the trip to Maine tomorrow. There were some bright spots, though, including this particular contribution to the Friday Fun fun. Stay tuned for some travel blogging — more time, woohoo! — and a reintroduction of the Freddie the Frog blog. Banana needs to stay on the edge, right?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

a sad day

Today's ruling by the Supreme Court should not surprise me. The court has been pushed so far to the right, so far in the direction of "strict constructionism" that the results are likely to stay with us for generations. Still, even though it shouldn't surprise me, the pain in my shoulder reminds me every day of the effects of readily available guns on our society. I survived not because I had a gun to protect myself, but because I was lucky; others with guns to protect themselves have not been so lucky. The self-defense argument means nothing.

Monday, June 23, 2008

political geek meets design geek

This is very cool.

22nd Amendment from Andrew Sloat on Vimeo.

from the "I'm getting too old for this" annals...

That's it. I'm getting old--too old to bounce back from a weekend with pool time, a party, and a show.

The National @ The National

The band at the eponymous venue was—to put it bluntly—excellent. The energy and orchestration pulled out some interesting rethinking of tracks from their last two albums—which constituted most of the show.

That said, the eponymous theater is a hell of a space. But it still takes a good band to make anything work...

Other notes to follow when I'm not on the verge of passing out...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Forest Hill Farmers Market, again

So, this week's haul was a little smaller since Banana will be staying with Banana mére for the week. That said, the purchases included:
  • Raspberries, black raspberries, and blackberries (as Chris Vaughn noted, the latter were probably not grown in VA. Bummer.
  • Green leaf lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Baby radishes
  • Coffee beans
  • Sunflowers

My apologies to Jesse at Faith Farms for not getting any of the ribs she pulled out of the cooler for us. I had a moment when I realized, wisely, that we wouldn't be able to use any new meat for almost a month.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

a frog's life

So, Leapy the tree frog has (or rather had) a waterfall. The motor burned out recently, and I decided to replace it with a different kind. It was the same size and appeared to have the same connector for the hose. The replacement also claimed to be more powerful and be able to withstand an owner's occasional forgetfulness about filling the fountain reservoir. The only problem: the connection wasn't the same.

I tried to make it work by cutting the tube. No dice. So I returned the pump and headed to Petsmart to get the exact replacement. Great. Problem solved. Except it wasn't. In trying to make the other pump work, I cut off an essential centimeter of hose. Now the new, correct pump won't sit properly.

This means that my quick, supposedly more efficient fix has forced us either to replace the whole waterfall (three times as expensive) or to let Leapy go without a fountain.

The lesson? Sometimes we break things by manufacturing solutions rather than accepting the obvious answer.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday Fun - a cracked Muppets edition

Light week for the blog. Heavy week for work and schedule shifts with Banana going to camp—and catching the bus at 7:45 a.m.

I'll try to make up for it later, but in the meantime... this may be one of the funniest bits ever from The Daily Show. Watch it. Seriously.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

energy crisis surprises

Or not... It was pretty much guaranteed that this was coming:
"With gasoline now over $4 a gallon, tomorrow he will explicitly call on Congress to also pass legislation lifting the congressional ban on safe, environmentally friendly offshore oil drilling," Perino said.

Because everyone knows that an uncertain fix that's not likely to pay off (if it does) in the short term will fix the supply-and-demand problems. My favorite phrase in the piece? "Sensible standards of environmental protection."

Monday, June 16, 2008

monday muppets

Well, since I missed out on Friday Fun, here's a bit of mania to get the Monday going. Without further ado, Marvin Suggs...

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Banana gave me the best Father's Day presents ever...

First swim:

And first lost tooth:

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Forest Hill Farmers Market, again

The market continues to grow. This week, a new farm and a pasta maker arrived. There were, of course, new craft vendors, but I have yet to be drawn to any of the craftspeople.

We're well into the growing season now, with shifts in what is in season, as well as what has been affected by the intense, early heat. Lettuces, strawberries, and asparagus are going out of season. Cucumbers, summer squashes, various berries, carrots and tomatoes are coming in. The success of the market has, however, taken its toll on some of the vendors. Faith Farms, for instance, has found that they can't keep up with demand. They're not unhappy about it, but it has forced them to rethink their business a little bit. It's a good problem to have. And it forces the buyer to be more creative — rather than coming with a set list of items, sometimes you have to cook with what's available.

That said, our market haul this week:
  • baby lettuces, probably the last for a little while
  • scallions
  • baby carrots — last week's were phenomenal
  • mixed basket of squash
  • cucumbers
  • sunflowers — Banana's treat
  • locally roasted organic Yergacheffe — Blanchard's is roasting some really nice beans these days, but as a Rostov's regular, I feel like I'm cheating.
  • a whole chicken — spoiler alert for vegan friends: it was slaughtered yesterday.
  • raspberries
  • the first tomatoes of the season
  • green beans

It's a decent haul. We're still not being as adventuresome as I'd like, but I'm still limited in my cooking time these days. And it's hard to tell what even a foodie 6-year old will eat, sometimes.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


One of the best parts of any creative project--whether design or writing--is researching random components and ideas. In this case, I'm about to try a layout based on the phrenological map. Sometimes work really is fun.

night terrors

Or something very much like that. And growing pains.

I was continuing the random elements of life--laundry, Bushmills, scribbling out ideas for a project at work, dishes, and so forth--when I heard a loud "No!" come from Banana's room. She was tossing and saying "No" over and over again. I woke her after a few minutes, deciding it was better to break whatever dream she was having, and got her up to go to the bathroom. I figured she would want to go to my bed afterwards--a habit we've mostly broken now--and wanted to avoid the possibility of potty accidents.

When she climbed into my bed, she started crying again. I asked what was wrong, and she held her leg and said, "It just hurts."

"Oh, you're having growing pains," I said.

"I don't like growing and having pains," she said with every bit of the attitude you'd expect from a little girl woken up in the middle of the night by achy shins. Then she rolled over and went back to sleep.

Fun stuff, this solo parent thing.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Life Lessons – a bit of growing up, and other tid bits

Like much of the eastern half of the country, the Richmond area has been boiling the past few days. Though I'm not a great fan of triple digit heat, I spent good chunks of Saturday and Sunday outside. Air conditioning felt great whenever I went inside, but I didn't feel compelled to be in the humidity- and temperature-controlled spaces.

Fast forward to this morning when I woke to find the temperature in the house at 81 degrees, and the central air was making no effort to kick on. The morning routine got thrown for a loop — of course — as I messed with the electronic thermostat, went in search of our breaker box, and frantically called the landlord. (Side note: these are the moments I am glad I'm not a homeowner yet.) The temperatures were slated to hit triple digits again, and I was worried about Reilly among other things. I also watched Banana's cheeks get pink, and her brow get a little sweaty even after a cool shower.

I toughed my way through some obscenely hot summers in Boston and New York without AC. Some of those nights on Fresh Pond Parkway, on West Fourth Street, on Degraw Street were more sweat than sleep, but I never fully broke down and took the step to air conditioning. Now, I apparently can't live without it.

Sure. I sit here writing, not feeling particularly bad, but I'm sweating. And I can feel the air trickling in from the outside, as much as ten degrees cooler than the 88 degrees the thermostat currently reads. There's a primal, martyrish feeling to toughing it through, but the reality is that I had to remind myself that we could make it until tomorrow when the new motor would be installed, that we didn't have to call friends and stay with them. What a wimp living in the south has made me... Sheesh.


Banana continues to be a bit of an emotional roller coaster. She wants more Mommy time, maybe a little less divorce still. Ah well... On the bright side, Banana Mére and I talked about the situation today. We're on the same page as maintaining the stability on the basic schedule, with a little more time shifted to mommy-daughter time. Talking helps most of the time.


I paid $4.19 for regular gas this weekend. A basic birthday card cost almost $4. Bit by bit, I see my grocery bills going up — even when we shop at Kroger. I have this queasy feeling that things are going to get worse before they get better.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

catching up on the weekend

Richmond hit record high temperatures this weekend, and at least one of my market finds was among the casualties of the heat. Strawberries at the end of their growing cycles just can't handle any length of time in the ninety-plus degree heat my berries were subjected to. By the time I got them into the refrigerator, the majority of the quart had begun to rot. Thankfully, they were the only casualties. The rest of the market finds included:
  • pac choi
  • arugula
  • summer squash
  • small cucumbers — very spicy!
  • baby carrots — tender and flavorful, a revelation in such a common item; the grower who produced these also grew some remarkable micro-greens
  • basil
  • green garlic — lent an unusual spice to a batch of pesto
  • eggs
  • goat cheese
  • sirloin tip steak
  • flowers — to make up for the bouquet I neglected to get Banana a week ago at her dance recital

Friday, June 06, 2008

Friday Fun - A Mighty Wind edition

Classics that came up in a conversation earlier today...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

rough mornings

Nobody said single parenthood after divorce would be easy. Regardless, the rough times always seem to catch me off-guard. Lately, there have been bunch of rough mornings. It's partly the age—five and three-quarters is no picnic—but it's also partly the situation.

Still, understanding that and understanding that empathy is essential doesn't make it any easier when the kid is, without warning, lying on her bed crying and saying, "I want mommy." Or saying, "It's not fair that you're divorced. It makes me feel sad when I'm at other kids' houses and they have their daddy and their mommy." Nothing has quite prepared me for what to say or do at those moments. Anybody have any suggestions?


Back to work.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Watching the Clinton and Obama speeches tonight, I can't help but notice the shift in rhetoric. Both candidates have shifted to a conciliatory tone that honors their accomplishments. To wit: "I am a better candidate for having had the honor to compete with Hillary Rodham Clinton." Fascinating.


10:31 update: Obama just won me over.


Crazy coincidence: "What Did I Do (To Be So Black and Blue)?" just came on my iTunes. For those who don't get the reference, look up Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison.