12 December 2008

Shabbat Menus

For lack of anything better to write about tonight, but in keeping with my custom of blogging when I have other writing to do, I will give my Shabbat guests (and the rest of you) a sneak peak at the food. Assuming I make it all in time.


  • roasted lemon-herb chickens (with celery, onions, carrots, and parsnips)

  • roasted mixed potatoes and sweet potatoes

  • green beans with herbs and tomatoes

  • cranberry sauce

  • perhaps a kugel contribution from a guest

  • apple-cranberry crisp

  • vanilla soy ice cream (bought)


  • persimmon and avocado salad

  • dafina (this is an experiment for me)

  • a mustard-less, vaguely Moroccan take on this chicken (in case one experiment goes bad, rely on another)

  • something vaguely Moroccan again, involving green beans, because I bought a lot of them when the menu was fuzzy

  • a kugel from the freezer, or else Thai-style quinoa - whichever I think will clash less

  • chocolate cake

  • strawberry sorbet (making this myself was a waste of time, I think) (and also possibly not the best option when the high will be several degrees below freezing

Ah, and rimonlimonana to drink, though unfortunately not with fresh mint.

It's possible that I should be either cooking or sleeping now. Or writing something other than a pointless blog post.

20 November 2008

Ten Years

Ten years ago last night, I was frantically trying to wrap up a final project for my 200-level modern poetry class. The assignment (I believe we had a choice among several) was to select ten poems we'd analyzed that semester, choose a musical artist/band to perform the poem as if it were lyrics to one of their songs, and (of course) explain our choices. Ever the clever one - or perhaps just still stuck in high school cre8tiv mode - I asked a tech-savvy friend to burn a CD with a representative song from each musician/band, and I made up liner notes (with the "lyrics") and cover art for the jewel case. At least I had the good sense to submit the thinking portion of the assignment in standard 8.5 x 11 format.

Ten years ago today, somewhere around 2 AM, I swung by the Young Israel House at Cornell to pick up my mix CD. There was a quiet buzz about some recent alumnus coming to visit for Shabbat; I filed it away in the back of my brain. I had much left to do for my (clever!) project, and probably other work to do besides, and only about eight hours in which to do it all. I snagged my CD and hightailed it back to my sorority house.

Ten years ago this morning, wired from a night without sleep, I proudly presented my final project. Some weeks later, I was amused to receive the graded materials back from the TA with a note that it was a "real treat" to hear Rabbi Carlebach sing A. R. Ammons's "Small Song" in translation. Shlomo Carlebach had been dead for four years, and even while he was alive I doubt he would have indulged such a request. Ammons was still alive then. I may or may not have napped that afternoon. Probably not.

Ten years ago, about an hour later than I am writing this, I finished stuffing pajamas and a couple changes of clothes into my overnight bag. I hopped into my car and admired the sunset (sunset!) as I drove past Carl Sagan's house (okay, also dead) residence and over the Stewart Avenue bridge. I made it to the House just before Shabbat, and probably left my car in the driveway. I can't remember exactly why I didn't go into the small shul in the back of the Kosher Dining Hall - maybe I was helping with something for dinner? - but I do remember chatting with Alisha during that time. Oh, there's some alum in town? Oh, really, I think I've seen him on the composites. Yeah, I'd like to meet him, talk about how the House used to be.

I think it was Alisha who pointed Julian out to me ten years ago this afternoon. It was definitely Josh who was chatting with him in that area where the shul and the dining room and the kitchen all spill out by the sinks. Yep, Josh is the guy who failed to introduce me to my future husband, when I stepped up all polite and smiling. Josh just kept on talking, and eventually I broke in with, "Hi! You must be Julian. I'm Shanna." Stuck out my hand, pulled it back. He could be shomer negia. I probably looked rather more right-wing myself, in a full, tiered, ankle-length skirt (size 6, it was my mom's) and a black turtleneck sweater. Simple pearl earrings and a single strand of them around my neck - I wore the latter on our wedding day.

Ten years ago I sat with about fifteen people at a dinner table big enough for eight or ten, because that table had the "good" wine (Baron Herzog White Zinfandel) and an interesting guy named Julian. After dinner, a couple dozen people moved upstairs for a tisch. Not that any conclusion should be drawn about underage drinking, but it's possible that Julian offered me a beer. Perhaps more than one. Hard as it may be to believe, I turned them all down, on account of extreme sleepiness. I also credit the extreme sleepiness with causing me to turn down a lunch invitation from Julian's weekend hosts. Silly me thought he'd be eating the in dining hall, and insisted I had to be there (though of course I didn't tell her why).

Ten years ago tonight, even though I'd already been awake for close to thirty-six hours, I stayed up late playing durak and talking about Billy Joel (I had changed into a concert T-shirt). I proclaimed my criteria for a future husband (easy to pronounce last name, waits no more than three hours between meat and dairy). Julian brought me over to one of the composites hanging in the living room and challenged me to pronounce "Gorfajn." (I got it wrong.) At about four o'clock in the morning, the five of us (including Matt) wrapped it up for the night. I slipped into a bathroom to change into pajamas, and by the time I'd gotten out Julian had left. Somewhat dejected, I confessed my new crush to Beth, my roommate-for-the-night, who prompted called me an idiot for turning down the lunch invite.

To make a long story short (too late!): I crashed lunch, we fell in love, we got married. Ten years and two wonderful children later, I couldn't be happier.

16 November 2008


You know you're up too late when you realize that if you hit the delay cycle button on your dishwasher, the dishes will not be clean in time for breakfast.

14 November 2008

What, Me? Cryptic?

It's all about intellectual stimulation, really. My brain was starting to atrophy. Rita and Rafi are wonderful and delightful and brilliant, but at the end of the day they are still a couple of toddlers. Their greatest accomplishments include eating soup without spilling, correctly identifying all the animals in "Polar Bear, Polar Bear," and making it to breakfast without three rounds of "Rafi pushed-you me! Time-out." (Usually said by Rita when she did the pushing. Though, to be fair, she will sometimes put herself into time out: walk into bedroom, close door, wait thirty seconds, then start screaming.)

So I'm kinda-sorta working now. Maybe. It's freelance, it's not in the legal field, and it's a task with which I don't have much direct experience. It involves words, though. I can do words. They're what you get when you put all those pretty letters together in little groups with spaces in between. The real question is whether I can pick the right words, in the right order, and make something good come of it.

I didn't use words enough, though, in the past twenty-one months. Twenty-one months - almost twenty-two by now. My children are almost two years old, and written records of their infancy and early toddlerhood are spotty at best. We have pictures galore, but it's not the same. Sure, there are scattered emails and the like, highlighting this or that adorable event. I can probably pull something comprehensive together if I really try. But it's just not the same. Rafi, Rita: I'm sorry. You have no baby book detailing your first words and first steps. But perhaps I can sum it all up with this: you are lovely and loved, and ever will be.

Right - maybe instead I should just blog the cute things as they happen?

10 November 2008

Isn't It Ironic?

I may start blogging again. And wouldn't you know it - it's not because of politics (yay Obama!) or recent legal developments (boo Prop 8) or my children's neverending adorableness (of course). Nope, it's only because I have other stuff I'm supposed to be writing. Of course.

Let's see where this goes.

08 May 2008

Chag Atzmaut Sameach!

(Happy Independence Day!)

My friend Aliza wrote a particularly good bit about Israel in honor of the day. I can't say I agree with her 100%, but I also doubt I'll put up anything nearly as worthwhile to read, so you should go read her stuff instead.

05 May 2008

Vote Tomorrow

There is a town election in Brookline tomorrow. On the ballot is a two-part override question regarding an increase in real estate and personal property taxes. The increase will go toward additional funding for police and fire departments, the public library, schools (including a longer school day), and maintenance of parks, streets, sidewalks, and town buildings. Part 1B of the question involves a slightly higher tax increase, which will also fund the World Language Program for grades K-6.

I know that by voting for higher taxes, I am totally losing whatever libertarian credibility I may ever have had. I still, in theory, would prefer low taxes for bare necessities and pay-per-service assessments for most other things. On the other hand, I really like my local library and plan to take advantage of the children's programs offered there for many years to come. I also appreciate this opportunity to participate in local politics, to be part of the process of deciding whether to raise taxes and where to spend the money. Tomorrow I plan to take advantage of this opportunity by voting YES to both parts of the override question.

The neverending Democratic primary season is slowly making me disenchanted with the political process - not that I was a huge fan to begin with. But politics, and government, don't exist only on the national level. Local elections bring about local results. There are real effects in our schools, our crime rates, our safety, and the beauty of our environment. If we don't participate, we lose credibility when we complain. Learn about and take part in your local government, and vote in every election for which you are eligible to do so. And if you live in Brookline, go out and vote tomorrow.

My 60-day Challenge

I've signed myself up for Round Two of Moxie's 60-Day Take Yourself Seriously Challenge. One of the challenges I've given myself is to post here at least three times per week, at least one of which must be substantial (defined as 100+ words). Because I'm a wuss, I'm counting this post as one of my three.

21 March 2008


We put lots of thought into our Purim outfitting this year, and have come up with some wonderfully subtle costumes.

I am dressed as an exhausted mother of twins. This costume is similar to that of an unemployed lawyer, but varies from the latter in that I am not carrying around a dog-eared law review and casually hidden stack of business cards with my contact information on one side and a miniature resume crammed onto the back.

My husband will be going as a working-from-home engineer. This costume is distinguished from that of a working-at-work engineer by the absence of an employee identification badge; all other aspects of dress and personal grooming remain the same.

My daughter is dressed as a boy, because when she woke up this morning, the cutest clothes remaining in the dresser were all in shades of blue. Never mind that we dress her like this on a regular basis.

My son is an abstract representation of a backyard organic vegetable patch, in that he is wearing a brown shirt with a carrot on it, captioned: "Home Grown." The effect is somewhat diminished by the presence of ice blue pants, but in order to enhance his costume we plan to allow all dirt that accumulates on his face and hands to remain there for the duration of the day.

Chag Purim sameach!

20 March 2008

My Ki-gdom for a...

I have just discovered how difficult it is to live without the key to the left of M/to the right of B. Stupid opposite-of-old laptop.

06 March 2008

A Special Kind of Dumb

Scene: Trader Joe's, me with the kids in their stroller.

Random woman walks up to me and says, "So I recently read that mothers of twins really get tired of people stopping them to comment on how adorable their children are." Pause. "Your children are adorable."

Oh, and then she kept talking...