Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Random Tidbits

Last night I subbed as conductor for a rehearsal. When I agreed to do this back in August, the tentative plan was to have me work on A Ceremony of Carols, which I know pretty well (I've conducted 2/3 of the SSA version, and sung the full SATB version before). Naturally, plans changed, and I ended up rehearsing some really difficult pieces that I'd never seen before: 8-part divisi, dissonant harmonies, tricky rhythms. The choir and I managed to survive the evening. And now I can get back to my regularly scheduled life--maybe I'll have time to read the Sunday paper tonight. (And the Monday and Tuesday papers, too.)

In gardening news, someone came by last night and removed the tops of my geraniums:Geranium Brookside nibbled by deer

The culprit also nibbled one of the echinaceas, but not any of the other four:Echinacea Monroe nibbled by deer

And, for some reason, there are flies lurking outside our door today. Every time someone opens the door, they sneak in. Since arriving home 1.5 hours ago, I've killed five, and I can hear a sixth buzzing around.

Dinner tonight (at 4:30 pm) is another crock-pot experiment: Korean-style BBQ ribs with rice.

(Thanks to mundungus42 for today's title)

Update: A total of ELEVEN flies were dispatched in the house this afternoon. I'm beginning to wonder if one of us has a corpse in the closet!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Relaxing Weekend

I got a bunch of stuff done this weekend, but of course, not everything on the list (the bookcase straps will have to wait for another day). Saturday morning, I chauffeured the kids to their respective fencing and ballet schools, and stopped by Costco in between. In the afternoon, DH took both kids (plus some of B's friends) to the Cal football game, so I had a very relaxing afternoon. I read for a while, then went to Target. After stocking up on paper towels, soap, and juice (among other things), I went window shopping at two of my favorite stores, The Container Store and Sur La Table.

Sunday was chore day. I bought groceries, deadheaded the roses, washed six loads of towels and sheets, folded the six loads of clothing that were washed last week, and planted 25 saffron crocuses in the flower bed by the porch. The crocuses were a little bit of a pain. I have most of my bulbs in chickenwire cages, but the Dutch irises have already started to come up, so I had to carefully uncover the rightmost cage and open the top while trying not to break off any of the plants sprouting through the holes. (I only broke one, so I didn't do too badly.) About half of the crocuses are in the cage, and the other half are not, so we'll see if anyone eats those.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Chore For The Week

Last weekend, I finally started securing all of our tall furniture to the walls. Yes, we moved to the Bay Area nearly two years ago, and no, I hadn't gotten around to it yet. So far, I've done the two tall bookcases downstairs, and the IKEA bookcase in M's room. This weekend, I'm hoping to get to B's craft armoire, the three tall IKEA bookcases upstairs, and M's loft bed. That should take care of the tall stuff. I just stopped by Home Depot and picked up some more straps while M was at his piano lesson today.

Are you ready for a quake? I read somewhere that 55% of the injuries in the Northridge quake were caused by falling objects. Not just those of you in California--the Midwest has had some big ones in the past. I'm slowly working on stuff, and hopefully I'll be mostly finished by the time the Big One shows up.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Changing Seasons

Summer is my favorite season. It's warm outside, the sun shines, and there are so many different kinds of seasonal fruit to choose from. Today, the calendar has caught up to what I've been thinking for the last week or so: summer is over. The leaves are falling in our yard, the heat is on in the mornings, and I've started cooking more cold-weather food. (Since we don't have air conditioning, I try not to use the oven in the summer.)

Last night we had one of our favorite casseroles, Broccoli Rice Casserole. DH and I first tasted this at Threadgill's Restaurant in Austin, Texas. In Austin, you can buy the casserole at the grocery store. Once we left Austin, we had to make it ourselves. I finally picked up a copy of the Threadgill's cookbook a few years ago, and cut the recipe down to manageable size (which is why there are weird amounts like 2/3 can of soup). I usually bake this in a 9x13 pan:

Threadgill's Broccoli And Rice Casserole
1.5 cups long grain rice [uncooked]
1 Tb butter
2/3 cup diced onion
2 heads broccoli, chopped medium-coarse (use flowerets and softer part of stalk)
1/3 cup cold water
2/3 lb Velveeta, cut in 3/4-inch cubes
1 can sliced water chestnuts
6 oz mushrooms, sliced
2/3 can cream of mushroom soup (undiluted)

Cook rice and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, melt butter and sauté onion. Add water and broccoli to skillet. Cook over medium heat [covered], stirring occasionally until broccoli is slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in cheese, water chestnuts, mushrooms, cream of mushroom soup, and cooked rice. Place mixture in covered casserole dish and bake for about 25 minutes. Stir and bake 25 more minutes.

Adapted from Threadgill's: The Cookbook, by Eddie Wilson

Friday, September 19, 2008

Forms, Forms, Forms

The beginning of a new school year always brings with it an onslaught of forms to fill out. I don't know how people with more children deal with all the paper that comes home! I had thought that we were done filling out forms for a while (since school started at the end of August), but in the last week I've had two field trip forms (one multi-page, since it's for an overnight), and B just returned from ballet class with her Nutcracker permission slip. Off to consult the calendar now, to try and figure out which sets of rehearsals & performances we can actually get her to!


Happy Talk Like A Pirate Day!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Setting Goals

Last night was Back To School night at B's elementary school. On one wall of her fourth-grade classroom, the teacher has put up a little writing project by each student. Clearly, the instructions were to write about their goals for this year, along with drawing a self portrait. Most of the kids want to improve things like their reading, multiplication, division, etc. One kid wants to learn to play the clarinet better. Our daughter's goal for 4th grade? To learn to run faster:

I will learn to move my legs faster and my arms faster, while of course staying on the track.

I guess this sums up her school experience pretty well. She's a bright kid, who already reads fluently, writes better than her mother, and has no trouble with math. What else is there to improve, besides her running?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Only In Berkeley

Last tree sitter has descended.
Photos courtesy of Nick Matze:

UC Berkeley police negotiating with tree sittersAround 10:15 am: The campus police chief, other officers, and
someone with a camera are in a box dangling from the crane.

UC Berkeley scaffolding going up around tree sittersAround 10:30 am: The scaffolding going up

Crowd watching removal of tree sitters at UC BerkeleyAround 11:15 am: The crowd
The scaffolding has reached the lower platform. The white-coveralled scaffolding builders have been joined now by others in dark clothes, who are removing more branches from the tree, along with the tree-sitters' possessions. The three tree sitters who were on the lower platform are now clinging to the tree.
After 21 months, it looks like the Berkeley tree sitters are finally going to be removed. DH and I drove by the stadium on our way to work this morning, and saw workers in white coveralls bringing in scaffolding. We took a break about two hours ago and hiked up the hill to watch for a while. Police everywhere on the ground (we watched some guy being handcuffed and patted down), police in a cherry picker, police in a box dangling from a crane. Of course, we forgot to bring a camera, but one of DH's students was there, and he promised to send photos. I'll post them when they arrive.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Earthquake Country

Anyone else feel that 4.0 that just occured? (http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/recenteqsus/Quakes/nc51207740.php). Epicenter was about two miles east of M & B's piano teacher's house (she's not home this week). M thought it was cool.

DH grew up in California, so he instantly identified it as an earthquake. I was reading in bed with B, and my first thought was "What just hit our house?" I suppose I'd better get used to these, living in the Bay Area.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Back To School Night #1

M's school had Back To School Night tonight. It was fun to look around the middle school, and go from class to class following his schedule. The school very thoughtfully stationed eighth-graders all around the school to direct lost sixth-grade parents.

Two of his teachers have VERY appropriate names. During first period, he is taking "Cycle," which is an exploratory class for sixth graders (different subject every seven weeks). He is currently assigned to wood shop, under the care of Mr. HarWOOD. Second period alternates between P.E. and choir, which is taught by HARMONY Murphy.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Scheduling the Family Dinner

We are trying out a new schedule for Tuesdays and Fridays this year, which involves family dinner at 4:30 pm. I'm not sure if I like the schedule (it was very rushed today, trying to get dinner on the table), but the only other time we can eat together on those days is 8:00 pm, which is B's bedtime. The problem is that this year, B's ballet classes are much later: 5:30-7:30 on Tuesday and Friday, 6:00-7:30 on Monday. With the 20-30 minute drive, that pretty much precludes having dinner at a normal hour.

Mondays I've given up on--there is no hope of having anything resembling a family dinner. The kids both have late-afternoon activities, in two different cities, and I have an evening rehearsal in yet another city. We're still trying to figure out the best arrangement for who's taking who where in which car:

   4:30 Leave for M's fencing class
   5:00 M's fencing class begins
        (30-40 minute gap for errands)
   6:00 B's ballet class begins
   6:30 M's fencing class ends
   7:00 My carpool to rehearsal departs
   7:30 B's ballet class ends