on making tea

L. made tea for me yesterday. Now, let me preface that with saying I only drink tea when I’m sick, homesick, or there’s nothing else on the menu that I want. (And then it has to be some kind of green tea. Black teas? Rooibos? Not my thing.) So it’s a rare occasion, and I suspect that if I went home and asked for tea, my family would stare at me in shock.

Actually, it would be more accurate to say that L. tried to make tea for me yesterday, but he grew up Mormon and doesn’t actually know how to make tea. Case in point, his kitchen is incredibly well-stocked. Need a crockpot? Rice cooker? (Cup)cake pans? Waffle iron? Salad spinner? Cast iron skillets? We’ve got you covered. Kettle? Not so much.

So I grabbed the saucepan to boil water in, and fetched tea bags from the cupboard, and tied one around the handle of the cup, and steeped it for the right amount of time, while L. watched quite attentively. And it just got me thinking: tea was such fixture when I was growing up. The kettle was on multiple times a day, when visitors came you asked whether they’d like coffee or tea, and every day at 8PM, the pot was filled and everyone came down for a cup (or a glass of orange juice for people like me, who don’t actually like the stuff). The cookies that went along with tea time, though, those I liked, and thus I learned to make tea for the others.

This social ritual doesn’t work as well in Utah, for obvious reasons. And sometimes I miss it. I don’t think this post really has a point, except that apparently making tea is a little more existential than it looks. And now L. knows how to do it, too.

Mt. Tamalpais (California recap part two)

Though the Giants game was obviously the highlight of my fall break, this expedition takes a deserved second place: a hike at Mt. Tamalpais State Park, up near Muir Woods and Mill Valley. It was beautiful.

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It was also brutal. The trail wound up and down in the hills, and I could still feel the ache in my legs three days later. Worth it, though, for the views alone.

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well, that was exciting

I had two days off teaching last week (fall break!), so I took advantage of that and flew to California to visit my dad. What was on the agenda, you ask? Well, book stores, coffee houses, crosswords, a hike, and…a Giant’s game. The fifth game in the national league championship series, to be exact!

On our way to the stadium, someone heard us talking Dutch and asked where we were from. This gave my dad the perfect opportunity to use his favorite line, “I flew six thousand miles to see this game!” It’s true, too–dad always plans his trips around baseball and football. (You should have heard him complaining the one time a European colleague of his had organized a conference on Super Bowl weekend. Never again.)

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Before the game

We had seats in the bleachers, as far up as you could get. The game wasn’t electrifying all the way through, there were stretches where you could tell the teams were evenly matched, at least at the moment. But at the end, oh, at the end, when Ishikawa did that all-important home run? Screaming ensued, pure chaos erupted, and the Giants were headed to the World Series.

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It’s hard to do it justice: my dad recapped the game for my sisters in an email, and I’ll quote him here, “The photos that I took don’t do right to the atmosphere, anyway. If you really want to know what it was like you should look at them and at the same time put your fingers in the outlet.” Yeah, that seems about right.

Taken right after the win. I was too excited to hold my phone steady enough for a non-blurry picture.

Taken right after the win. I was too excited to hold my phone steady enough for a non-blurry picture.

things I ate that you might like to eat too

After a bit of a cooking dry spell, I’ve been taking advantage of Pinterest and finding some new recipes to try out. Here are my finds:

Grilled Moroccan Chicken with Garlic Sauce. Nope, still not Paleo, so I sub out regular ingredients for the Paleo ones when needed. I didn’t marinate this nearly as long as I was supposed to, since I made it on a whim. Good, though.

Spicy Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw and Lime Crema. Mwah. It was fine, but we weren’t at all impressed. I’ll have to try a different recipe next time I want fish tacos.

Spinach Pie Quesadillas. Spinach and cheese, what’s not to like?

Creamy Pasta with Prosciutto and Basil. We totally failed on the poached egg thing, but turns out it’s good with a lightly fried egg, too. The prosciutto we got at Costco and it was surprisingly good for the price.

And, of course, an old favorite: chickpeas in tomato sauce with feta and eggs. Not only does L. like this, it also passed muster when my sister was here: she and her boyfriend are both good cooks and foodies, so that’s high praise indeed.

And on the menu for this week:

Apple Cider Sage Pork Chops with Caramelized Apples. I’ve never made pork chops before (I tend to go the veggie route when cooking for myself), but there’s a first time for everything, I guess.

Grilled Chicken with Lemon Basil Pasta. It’s a Pioneer Woman recipe, so I’ll be cutting way down on the butter and cream involved, but if should be good.

on public spaces

On Saturday, I was waiting at Trax (public transit) when a guy came up to me and starting talking to me. I was reading my book, but he either didn’t see that or didn’t care, and kept telling me I was attractive, he liked my dress, and other such statements. He ignored my verbal and non verbal hints that I would rather be left alone, until I explicitly said it. At which point he became offended and told me to learn to take a compliment. Sigh.

The episode left a bad taste in my mouth, even though nothing really happened. It made me both roll my eyes and feel highly uncomfortable. Why do some men feel the need to comment on and value my appearance, and why do they have to do it in such a way that they’re crowding my space? This guy stood in front of me, effectively blocking me from standing up and moving away. I mean, it was light out and there were other people there, so I didn’t feel threatened or anything, but it’s ridiculous that I have to think about things like that in the first place, right? And the other day, I came across this drawn post about this very issue. It’s steeped in feminist language, but if you’re either familiar with that or can get past it, I think it does a useful job at explaining how no, women are not just being “sensitive” when they complain about harassment in all its shapes and forms.

I’m still relatively new to things like this–until I lost weight a couple years ago, I was more likely to get comments on how I shouldn’t be eating whatever I was eating or wearing whatever I was wearing than these semi-creepy comments framed as compliments, or the glances that go on a little too long, or the myriad other uncomfortable things that can happen when you’re female in a public space. And I’m not sure what to do with it. How do you let men know you’re not interested, you just want to read your book, and your body is not theirs to comment on? I can handle the characters on public transportation that just want an audience and a friendly chat, but interactions like these leave me stumped and uncomfortable.

and that is why I love reading

On Thursday, I went to a lecture at the Salt Lake public library about James Audubon.

Screenshot 2014-08-08 17.01.15The City Library has a copy of The Birds of America, with 435 life-sized, hand-colored aquarium prints featuring 497 species of birds. After yesterday’s lectures, I could tell you a lot about both Audubon and the way the books were produced, but I’ll resist. You can always go read the Wiki entry.

The people at the lecture were mostly members of the Great Salt Lake Audubon Society, with a few other bird watchers mixed in, and me. No, I haven’t suddenly become a bird watcher. I went because I read  and loved Okay For Now, in which the folios play a big part. Months ago, I stumbled upon the library’s copy, which is under glass on the fourth floor, immediately flash-backed to Okay For Now, and spent fifteen minutes poring over the illustration. When I saw the lecture announcement, I decided to attend. And that is why I love reading: one chance encounter with a YA book and there you go, I know more about Audubon than I would ever really want to.