When I lived in Paris, every Wednesday the produce stand, the fish guy and the food truck famous for its american style burgers, set up shop in my neighborhood.
I’d walk over with my pull basket, like you see crazy old ladies dragging over here. I’d walk by the handsome valets that stood outside the two fancy restaurants on Rue Pergolèse. Everyone and everything was handsome in Paris. Well, except for the sidewalks littered with dog merde.
The produce stand was run by a Chinese family. They had the finest selection available in well-organized crates. I’d pick out cherry-red tomatoes on the vine that could be popped in one’s mouth for a tasty thrill. Once I bought a type of broccoli that looked exactly like Fibonacci’s Spiral.
I’d stuff my basket until it was bulging and then roll over to the fish monger. His table, stocked with small cubed ice and a sampling of the sea, sat beneath a blue ez-up. I’d say bonjour then point to a whole white fish and flash the peace sign doing my best to say “for two” in French. He’d smile, and ask me if I wanted it descaled while I reached for the Euros in my purse and nodded yes.
With the fish wrapped safely in paper and place atop my produce, I’d cart over to the food truck immediately next to the fish guy. I tried to get there early to avoid the line. Le Camion que Fume was run by an American woman and famous for serving cheese burgers as a delicacy to Parisians.
It was one of two food trucks in Paris at the time and featured in one of Anthony Bourdain’s Shows. I liked it because I could get Cheddar Cheese and a Dr. Pepper. Paper bag in hand, I’d take my loot home, drooling over the greasy delight to be had.
Later, in the evening, I’d stuff the fish with lemon and rosemary along with a healthy bath of olive oil, salt and pepper. I’d bake it at 400 degrees for 20 minutes and it would come out flaky and delicious each time.
I mean let’s be honest part of us had kids just so that we could relive our own childhood. This reason came full circle last night as I sat in the audience and watched my toddler all dolled up in seaquins and tutus perform to Elvis Presley’s Stuck on You.
The best part is she really enjoyed doing it. We are all fearful that our kids will balk at an activity we paid for with money and effort. But she really seem to enjoy taking dance class and it showed last night on stage. She smiled big. She did the steps. She hammed it up.
It took me right back to when I was a young dancer and my mom would get me ready for the big night. All year she would drop me off at dance class where I joined my friends and learned the steps that Miss Linda had choreographed. Then in May, the night would come when we got up on stage and performed it for our supportive family members.
The backstage was one of my favorite parts. Everyone strewn out on blankets applying the last bit of lipstick and mascara according to Miss Linda specifications. Girls chatting and moms nervously checking to make sure they had an extra pair of pantyhose. My best friend always had the best backstage activities. Coloring books and toys to keep us entertained.
Then they would call us up to the wings when our number neared. I remember one year, I was in three numbers and had to wear part of my costume underneath the other and change in the wing. It’s an interesting moment when strangers come together (backstage moms), all focused on the common goal of getting the dancers onto the stage.
With my own daughter I realized that a lot of anxiety goes into relying upon those moms to make sure your child gets up there and back to you safely. Thankfully everyone played their role and after an impressive performance I quickly had her back in my arms (not without a cry and a backing up to get her a sucker but we made it). Her dad was standing by with a bouquet of flowers and a proud smile.
Food is one of my reasons for being both in the literal sense as well as a spiritual one. It’s rare I come across a food item that I don’t enjoy. When I was pregnant with my second I had that pico syndrome where I also liked non-food items such as dirty ice. I craved ice like I was a addict and the dirtier the better. Thankfully that quickly dissipated after baby was born.
My brother and I have always been good eaters. I remember the first time we went to Legal Seafood as kids and my brother tried caviar. He got a huge spoonful and not wanting to admit his party foul did his best to put it back.
Then there’s the story of the time I drink half a bottle of soy sauce. What can I say? I’ve always been a fan of salt. When I had my own children I never even considered that they wouldn’t be good eaters. I thought how hard could this be, I’m the boss (Side note: I am dictating this as we finish our alfresco lunch and my toddler just told me no you’re not the boss you’re the mom).
Turns out these little guys are stronger than their soft skin and tiny toes would lead one to believe. Overall they have been good eaters. Just like they were easy sleepers meal times have not been that much of a struggle other than the tendency for food to get everywhere. I mean they still lean towards the carbs no doubt. But I just keep putting out food and they keep trying it slowly.
My neighbor, who I will call the visiting professor, does a great job of making sure her daughter eats healthy. From the time she was a baby, the visiting professor has been mindful of the amount of sugar her daughter takes in. Crafting cakes for birthdays with applesauce replacing the sugar and so on. It’s impressive and inspires me to do better. Recently I joined her and her daughter on a berry picking trip. We had a great time and came home with a delicious haul. One of those berry picking trips turned into a most tasty blackberry syrup.
I stood in the kitchen with her while she mashed berries and hot water steamed from the pots. Our girls running around finding things to stick in their mouth and toys to fight over. She sent us home with a jar of blackberry syrup and a promise of delightful breakfasts to come.
The next morning her promise came through as the handyman dropped sweet potato pancake batter onto the griddle. It should’ve come as no surprise to me that he made perfectly shaped silver dollar sized cakes. But it did. Hath this mans skills no limit?
My oldest helped by putting dollops of homemade yogurt, also a gift from the visiting professor, onto the pancakes. What followed was indeed a delightful breakfast.
As a data scientist I work with sophisticated algorithms processed by high tech machines. For hours each day my fingers traipse across a keyboard as if I were a concert pianist preparing for my debut at Carnegie Hall. There are times when I am so in-sync with the applications I use to analyze data and solve problems that I am startled when one of my go-to functions isn’t available in the real world.
This is the world I live in and it is no more trite or fulfilling than anyone else’s world. What makes it unique is the work takes place in a late 19th century log cabin. The cabin was used as residence until the 1950’s when it was donated for the purpose of educational pursuits. The bones of the place are just as they were back then. A few updates have been made to make it work as an office space but overall the feeling and I have to imagine the smells are the same.
When I came to this job eight months pregnant, I was uncertain about how I would be able to breast pump in a space in which every room held office workers. Thankfully I knew the law and more importantly the leadership would be supportive and carve out a place. That place happened to be the crows-nest that occupied the second level of the cabin.
It’s a gorgeous room with windows taking up three walls. You look out at lush trees and an expansive lawn. Curtains were sewn by the president’s wife to provide privacy while I undertook the business of pumping. Twice a day I climbed the stairs and hooked myself up to the machine while watching squirrels run across tree limbs.
This wasn’t the first time I had pumped while at work. At a previous job I remember a day that made me feel like a super human. I was interviewing for a position that I was currently serving as the interim director. I sat in a room before a panel in which questions were lobbed at me from four different directions. Immediately after interviewing, I went into the adjacent room and pumped eight ounces of frothy milk for my infant.
My experience is not unusual. Women have been playing multiple roles and multitasking since we put the first baby to our breasts. I do find myself musing about the opportunities I have had to experience time old traditions in nearly as old places whilst interacting with technologies only seconds old in comparison.
Maybe those were the thoughts going through my mind as I sat in my blue and red patterned dress that I picked up from Target. I like to wear this outfit when I’m feeling patriotic but also want to be comfortable. It hangs loose so I don’t have to worry about any pulling or tugging. When I’m feeling like being really comfortable I pair the dress with some navy blue flats. When I feel like taking it up a notch I pair it with some tan heels.
I was three years old when my mom and dad signed me up for ballet at Encore in Stillwater, Ok. Despite my less than natural grace, I enjoyed learning to move to the music. My first recital was memorable not because I was only four and dressed like the cutest siamese kitten ever, but because as my parents filmed on their 1980s Camcorder they captured America’s Funniest Home Video-worthy material.
The child to the left of me had stepped on my tail causing me to go into a literal tailspin. For the remainder of the “We are Siamese” dance routine, I patted my behind and turned in circles looking for my tail. While the rest of the class carried on, I was chasing my tail. What I had not realized was the teacher standing in the wings had stepped in a quickly retrieved my costume piece.
Thankfully I was at the age in which such embarrassments go unnoticed and therefore my dance career continued well into my young adult years. Today, most of my dancing takes place within the walls of my kitchen but I still appreciate an outfit that makes me want to swing my hips adding a bit of flair to the work day.
I came across this black lace overlay dress with a box pleated skirt at Target I believe. Occasionally, I run into some pretty good finds for professional attire at this big box store. The red belt adds pop and gives me a good excuse to wear the shiny red heels I picked up in Paris. The red jacket makes it work-appropriate since the back of the dress has a low scoop (adorable on its own). The whole outfit makes me want to cha-cha-cha across the office and makes the daily data pull a little more fun.
My parents are a month short of 38 years of marriage. They’ve been together 39 years if you count from the vernal equinox. Every since I can remember they’ve been doing glass work. Stained glass, warm glass and hot glass.
From the moment my mom first laid eyes on the windows flanking the fireplace in my 1926 craftsmen bungalow she has been conceiving the art that she would eventually create and place there. Roses were a natural selection. Styling them in the Scottish Glasgow fashion and mirroring them like sisters came later on.
The installation of a glass piece carries the most consternation and anxiety. Many a fine pieces have met demise minutes before declaring themselves successfully installed. Although my mother had spent hours organizing and observing the pieces while in her studio when it came to their big reveal at my bungalow putting them together became an obstacle.
We lost one panel to a crack but the truth is it’s barely noticeable. Once installed the effect will catch your breath. They are stunning and without a doubt belonging to the house.
Growing up some of my fondest memories were of my family camping. My brother’s birthday was the 4th of July and we always did a big camp out around that time of the year. I remember waking-up blurry eyed to the smell of bacon cooking on the green Coleman stove. My dad standing over it in his Disney World shirt sipping on coffee he had just percolated.
The lake behind him dark brown. We lived in Oklahoma, which has some of the most shores of any state but they’re all man-made lakes colored by the red dirt.
I’d fumble for shoes and make my way to the red folding picnic table. It wasn’t long before I had a pile of eggs and bacon in front of me.
This weekend we were supposed to take my toddlers camping for the first time. The rain decided otherwise. I wasn’t going to miss out on the opportunity for bacon and eggs though.
I made them on my beloved griddle and toasted the bread I keep in the freezer. That along with a strong cup of coffee from the stove, made up for the missed camping trip. Besides I still have plenty of Sunday paper to catch up on before the new one arrives tomorrow.