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Sunday, October 31, 2004

Happy Hallowe'en! 


Thursday, October 28, 2004

86 The Curse 

So there's a expression "to 86," which means "to abandon" or "to reject." There are a lot of folk etymologies for the expression — the name for a frequently raided speakeasy during Prohibition, diner slang, Cockney rhyming slang (86 = nix), etc. — but I don't think there's a definitive answer. But that doesn't matter. What's important is that this is 2004, and 2004 is 86 years since 1918. And ...

The Red Sox Won the World Series!


I don't know if it was "Tessie" or just the wisdom of Theo or what, but we beat the Hated Yankees to win the ACLS and we swept the Cardinals to win the Series. I've been hearing some talk about how this was an uninspiring series because the Beloved BoSox dominated, but it sure didn't feel like it. The last three games were only three-point affairs. Until that last out, I was on the edge of my seat worried that something would happen to twist it all back on us.

But it didn't happen. Evelin said she knew this was the year because if we could end up having a baby — and especially one without all sorts of medical intervention — then the Sox could win it all.

Celeste was there for most of the games, although she did sleep during a lot of them (although not too restfully; every time I applauded a play, she would jump). During Game 4, she spent almost the entire game sleeping on my chest and shoulder, but I made sure to wake her up to watch Foulke's last pitches to Rentería. She may not remember it, but she saw it. The whole world saw it.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Can I Breath Again? 

Celeste is in a growth spurt, I think; she was up a lot between 1:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. last night, so I'm a bit wiped out, but I have to say: THE RED SOX WON THE PENNANT!

I haven't said anything about the ACLS for fear of jinxing things. I tend to be a little superstitious anyway, but when it comes to baseball mojo there are many, many rules that must be followed.

Last year, it was the old beaten up ball that I had as a gris-gris, this year it was the rally cap. Honkey Cracker explains:
the Rally Cap is a device employed by losing baseball teams all around the world. The players turn their hats inside out and put them back on their heads. This is supposed to be good luck or something.... I don't know.
Well, let me tell you: Do not taunt the rally cap. The rally cap is the gris-gris needed to win; it is the juju that guards against curses.

After Game 3, I was down, but committed to watching the rest of the series. As the Beloved BoSox clawed their back in the 5th and then saw their lead disappear in the 6th, I turned my hat inside-out. And it stayed that way until just after midnight this morning. The way I saw it, being in the hole 3–0 for the ACLS, the rest of the series was all one big rally — a never before seen four-game rally — and last night the rally cap paid off in spades.

That was part of the beauty of this ACLS: It had the lowest of lows and the most dramatic of comebacks. Karma was flowing freely, finally giving those who were long, long, long overdue what they'd rightfully earned. And it was about redemption.

The night of Game 5, I kept finding a single tune running through my head: Bob Marley's "Redemption Song".
Old pirates yes they rob I
Sold I to the merchant ships
Minutes after they'd took I from the bottomless pit
But my hand was made strong
By the hand of the almighty
We forward in this generation
Triumphantly

Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom
Cause all I ever had
Redemption songs, redemption songs

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds
Have no fear for atomic energy
Cause none of them can stop the time
How long shall they kill our prophets
While we stand aside and look
Some say it's just a part of it
We've got to fulfill the book

Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom
Cause all I ever had
Redemption songs, redemption songs, redemption songs
It seems apt, in so many ways; after Game 3, this team needed redemption and it came with the expected bat of Señor Octubre David Ortiz and the unexpected bat of Mark Bellhorn, and, last night, with the much-too-quiet-of-late bat of Johnny Damon. It also came with the literally stitched together ankle of Curt Shilling, the back-to-back-to-back appearances by Keith Foulke, and — never to be forgotten — the arm of Derek Lowe, who had long been given up for dead. Adding to it all were the acrobatics of Bill Mueller, Orlando Cabrera, Doug Mientkiewicz, and Trot Nixon; the speed of Dave Roberts; solid performances from Kevin Millar, Jason Varitek, and Manny Ramírez; and clutch appearances by everyone in the bullpen, even Pedro (who had me sweating when he came out last night).

For Game 7, "Redemption Song" found itself alternating in my mind with "Tessie" (mostly the Dropkick Murphys' version, but sometimes the original, too). I guess that's a sign of the calmness that overtook me for the end of this series. Now, unbelievably, there is more baseball to play. I stopped breathing a few times at the end of Game 6; I'm not sure how I'll make it through a World Series ...

Keep the Faith! Believe!

Monday, October 18, 2004

Game 4 and the Garbage Disposal 

After Game 3 of the ACLS — like most of Red Sox Nation — I had pretty much given up on the series. Despite that, I still figured that if any team could come back from a 3–0 hole, it would be this bunch of idiots. Even with that bit of hope, it was almost nice to have a bit of distraction in the third inning (with the Hated Yankees up by two).

However, the distraction I got, was a giant mess in the downstairs bathroom caused by a leak somewhere in the kitchen. At first, I figured it was the dishwasher, which had been running, but the water was under the sink, not in front of the dishwasher, so I had to reevaluate.

Pulling the various cleaning supplies out from under the sink, I found that the tops of a lot of things were wet and that things on the side by the dishwasher were dryer than stuff directly under the disposal.

After emptying the cabinet, I tempted fate and turned on the faucet. Water was going pretty much straight through the disposal onto the floor.

Long story short: There was a bit of cursing, a depletion of our supply of paper towels, and a banged knuckle or two, but I disassembled the disposal only to discover that none of the Home Depot or Lowe's around us are open at 9:30 on a Sunday night.

After plugging the pipes and putting a big bag over the sink to keep anyone from accidentally trying to use the thing until morning, I went back to the game in time to see a rally to tie and then a long while until David Ortiz sealed things up for us.

I went to bed around 2:00 a.m. I'd already called in "sick house" to work since I knew I needed to fix the sink), but Celeste had other plans. I didn't see much of her during the game, because I was either under the sink or running out to closed stores, so she decided to rectify things. Most of the 2-o'clock hour was spent alternately comforting her, changing her, and setting off the horizontal alarm.

In the end, Evelin pulled out the cosleeper and we put her in our bed. It's cool to have her in bed with us, but the cosleeper does really crowd the bed (even though we have a queen-sized mattress). She ended up sleeping until almost 7:00 a.m., so I think I'm going to have to live with either a cramped bed or a lot of nighttime waking.

Around 8:00 a.m., I ran out to Home Depot, picked up an In-Sink-Erator Bader 5 Plus; it is a small upgrade from the old Emerson unit we had (from a 12-horsepower motor to a 58-horsepower one, and it's a bit quieter). All in all, it turned out to be a three-trip job: the initial purchase; the return to the store for a new slip-joint washer; and the third trip to return the dishwasher connection kit that proved unnecessary.

Including all the trips back and forth (and the inordinate amount of time it took me to get the rusty old snap ring off the old mount), I was done with the job in about 3.5 hours, which was longer than it should have taken, but I can take some solace in the fact that I didn't curse too much.

Since the day was half done (and Game 5 was set to start in a few hours), I decided not to go in for a half day. Instead, I ran some errands and did some chores around the house. (Evelin already had plans to meet a friend to walk the babies around Lake Artemesia.)

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Horizontal Alarm 

Celeste has this neat trick of knowing exactly when we're putting her down to sleep. If she falls asleep on one of us or while being held, she's fine. But if we then lay her down in her crib, it takes two minutes (or less) for the horizontal alarm to kick in letting her know that she's been abandoned. At that point, the wailing component of the alarm system kicks in and doesn't stop until she is no longer horizontal. A similar version kicks when we lay her down on the changing table, although that one sometimes adds a spraying mechanism to the wail.

Despite this, Celeste does have a cute cry; it's getting louder, but it's still cute.

The Baby Monitor

Just a stray observation: When the baby monitor is placed too near another electrical device (clock, lamp, laptop, etc.), it will start to pull in SportsTalk 980. Any noise from Celeste will overpower the AM signal, but the station is still audible.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Back to Celeste 

Celeste Gets Political Okay, after last night's digression about beans, I need to offer up at least one Celeste story (and a picture).

The biggest thing for us right now is her sleep cycle. She's still a wee thing, feeding on demand and sleeping in between, but she does have some long wake periods. The trick for us has been trying to figure out how to deal with that sleep:wake ratio. We aren't trying to force her onto a schedule and sleeping or not sleeping through the night isn't a real problem at this point (well, Evelin might disagree, especially at 5:30 in the morning), but we were having an issue where Celeste didn't want to sleep if she wasn't being held.

Evelin blames the grandmothers who spent a lot of time holding Celeste when they spent their respective weeks with us after I went back to work. Plus I would spend a lot of time holding the sleeping baby when I got home from work.

No more.

The edict came down on Wednesday. Tuesday night had been a particularly rough one, so Evelin did some reading and googling and deciding and now when Celeste starts to get drowsy, she has to go into her crib. If she wakes up we can retrieve her, but otherwise sleepy Celeste goes in the crib. (Obviously, if she falls asleep in the carseat or stroller, we don't have to head home to get her into the crib, but no more naps on daddy during a ballgame.)

Wednesday night worked out pretty well. She was feeding when I got home and decided to be up for a while afterwards. We watched the first hour of the BoSox game and then switched over to the debate. (The game stayed live on MLB Gameday, which kept me from flipping back and forth.) Every 20 to 30 minutes, I'd have to run upstairs to put Celeste into her crib, and then return five minutes later to pick her back up, but in general it worked. After the debate, we switched back to the game and Celeste decided to go down for good late in the 8th. Other than waking up a bit after midnight, sometime around 3:00 a.m. and again as I was getting ready for work, she spent the rest of the night in the crib.

Last night it was similar. A bit of awake time playing on her playmat, some hanging out on the couch reading (mostly Shel Silverstein, but I did just get the new translation of Don Quixote, so maybe we'll see how she likes Cervantes some other time), and then to bed. There were fewer waking periods (probably because Celeste knew the Sox had a travel day) and that held true over night. She did have a very wet diaper around 5:00 a.m. that got her a bit fussy — and it didn't help that a sleepy set of parents didn't think to check the diaper until the third bout of complaining — but otherwise it was a fairly straightforward night with one late night feeding, one middle of the night feeding, and waking up when I was getting ready to go to work.

Of course, since I'm blogging this, tonight (and the weekend) will lead to all sorts of sleep changes and probably not for the best. There should be a <knock wood> tag in HTML ...

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Beans 

First off, Celeste is doing well. I have much to blog about about her — sleep, no sleep, growth, pacifier concerns, her first trip to a restaurant, generally great baby stuff — but instead I'm going to blog about beans. (I hope that doesn't make me a bad father; I view it as a list of things that will inspire me to be a better blogger.)

So, beans. Not pinto or black or red, but green and lima. This is the story of Sunday.

Two weeks ago, while on Celeste's first trip to the Takoma Park Farmers Market, we picked up a pound of green beans. In buying them, I thought I'd make loubieh bi zayt (the Levantine green beans in olive oil dish that we've been enjoying for a while now); however, Evelin said she'd rather have something like the fasolakia we had at the Greek festival a few weeks ago. It seems the less complex spicing of the Greek dish is more in line with Evelin's taste than the multilayered bhār spice mix in the Levantine dish.

After checking my one Greek vegetarian cookbook, I found nothing that looked like the right balance of dill, green beans and Greek goodness, so I started googling various spellings of fasolakia and φασολάκια with little luck. In the end, I found a recipe for okra in dill and tomato sauce that looked like a good starting point.

In the end, I went with:Sauté the onion until it starts to get translucent, add the garlic and sauté a little longer. Add the dill, tomato and green beans and simmer 15 to 25 minutes, until the beans are tender. Season and serve.

It turned out pretty tasty. I'm not sure this recipe will completely replace the bhār version, but Evelin may feel otherwise.

The next bean dish also has its genesis at the farmers market.

This time, Evelin and Celeste stayed home while I ran out early enough to make sure the eggs weren't sold out. I also picked up fresh dill for the fasolakia variant (I didn't have a recipe at the time, but I knew I wanted dill), a nice baguette, some asian pears, muscadines, and a bag of shelled, young lima beans.

I wasn't sure what I was going to do with the lima beans, but I thought I might I find something. Instead of the Internet, this time my cookbooks turned up a winner. Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, (basically, The Joy of Cooking for those who don't eat meat), had a nice, basic recipe for beans (generic) in olive oil. The preparation assumed dried beans (boil with aromatics — a quartered onion, bay, shallots — until tender) and that step probably didn't add much to the fresh lima beans, but I did boil them until tender, I just don't think the aromatics had enough contact with the beans to lend any flavor.

The real recipe begins with the cooked lima beans, which are then tossed withIt's then served room temperature (or warmer) with a lemon wedge, which adds just the right flavor. The book recipe suggests diced shallot or green onion with the rest of the dressing, but we didn't have any and I could go either way about adding some next time. They turned out very nice, and I suspect we'll try the same basic recipe with frozen lima beans at some point when fresh ones aren't available.

For both dishes, I used the Spanish roja garlic we planted about this time last year. It has a great, assertive flavor.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Feeling Guilty 

Not about not posting (I guess I've had a few spare moments where I might have put in an update, but if I did, I can't really say when they were ...), but about work and baby-tending' duties.

On the work side, I've had deadline after deadline after deadline since coming back from my all-too-short two weeks of paternity leave. I'm keeping up with the editorial director paperwork, but there is no time to look around the department to try to address long-simmering issues: It's more a matter of keeping flare-ups to a minimum. Plus, before Celeste, I typically worked at least a nine-hour day; I'm trying to limit myself to eight hours now, but it's nigh impossible to get everything I need to done.

Which leads to the home-front guilt.

I'm still getting home later than I'd like (and when I'm home, I'm sometimes trying to edit things or to proof pages or something), which limits what I can get done to help Evelin.

I do some baby-minding in the evening, and I get the dirty diapers out to the trash and the trash bins to the curb each garbage-pickup cycle, but beyond trying to get one load of laundry done each evening, I don't feel like I'm helping as much as I should.

Part of it is that I can't do the one big thing in Celeste's life — feed her. (I had been giving her one bottle a night, but since the doctor said she's clear of the jaundice, we're trying to go back to 100% breastmilk.) During the night, I wake up sometimes to help change her or to hold her while Evelin gets positioned for a feeding; and I try to forestall her waking in the morning to give Evelin a little more sleep as I'm getting ready to go to work. Evelin says I'm holding up my end of things, but it feels like I should be doing more.

Tuesday was Celeste's one-month check up. She declared jaundice-free without having to have a blood test and got her second Hepatitis B vaccine shot. But the exciting news was the measuring: 6 pounds, 8 ounces (almost a full pound above her birth weight and up nearly 1.75 pounds from her lowest weight).

Last night, while Evelin got a post-9 p.m. feeding nap, Celeste and I hung out downstairs, listening to the end of the New York–Twins game on the radio while watching the start of the Beloved BoSox–Angles game on MLB Gameday.

Celeste also had a good play bout on the playmate. She was swatting her monkey and elephant toys and pushing the hanging Taggie around, too.

We were both a little upset by the way the Twins game ended, but (after checking the score during an early morning feeding) we were very happy to have the Sox up 2–0 as we head back to Fenway.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Celeste hat nicht gern die deutsche Sprache.* 

Part of it is because I stumble over words a lot (it's been years since I've had to speak German and in university I always did a better job with my accent and pronunciation than I did with remembering vocabulary), but there's just something about German that makes the little girl cry.

I want to at least expose Celeste to the sounds of other languages while she's young. I can't claim fluency, but I am trying to talk to her a little in German, Cajun French, and Spanish, as well as stray phrases I remember from other languages. Much of it is babbling, trying to convince her to go to sleep or just telling her how beautiful and smart she is or how happy her mother and I are to have her around, but hopefully, if nothing else, it will give those language mapping sections of her rapidly developing brain a little exercise until she's old enough for us to start trying some variation of Baby Sign.

But, getting back to the title of this post, for some reason, Celeste really doesn't cotton to German. For the most part, I'm speaking it in "parentese," but phrases in German seem more likely to encourage crying than to stop it. It could be she's just embarrassed by my efforts, but I'm not sure.

For a while a Cajun lullaby caused her some distress, but that might have been because I used it to try to calm her when she was getting her heel stuck over and over and over again while in hospital for the jaundice treatments. Now that (or variations on the fais-do-do theme) seem to calm her.

But telling her what a good little girl she is or how pretty she is, if I say it in German, just get little huffs that build to a full cry. Go figure.

*Assuming I wrote that correctly: "Celeste doesn't like the German language."

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