Showing posts with label Dinner. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dinner. Show all posts

Saturday, February 10, 2024

seven on Saturday

1. Happy Lunar New Year! At a New Year celebration lunch this afternoon, EM told me we're supposed to rest today and do a minimal amount of work tomorrow. I can do that! 

2. The kids got little red envelopes of cash. I'm so touched when work friends and family friends treat my nearly grown-ass kids like their own niblings.

3. I got a nice ramble with L in Baker Woods today. It has been weeks since I hiked with L--She said she missed me, and I asked if it was my silliness she missed. "I missed all of it, Maya." She said diplomatically (and lovingly!). 

4. I got a long walk with Big A--it was grey and windy, but we did a "Super Sparty" and it felt nice to be able to stretch my legs after sitting at my desk all week.

5. At came to dinner tonight so I gave the kids their Valentine's Day presents a bit early. When will they be too old to get V-Day presents from me? I hope never.

6. In a first for us--we're now mooching off At. They subscribed to the Criterion Channel and logged us in on the big TV so we can watch it too. I like all of it.

7. Pic: The Red Cedar is kinda plain today. But the mallards are enjoying it and so are we.

Thursday, February 08, 2024

on not meeting expectations

I don't like my grade the student says
You're not from here, are you?
the student says

So where are you actually from? 
(India!) I thought so...
student smiles

I got the assignment wrong because
of your language (English?) 
the student says

It is so rude of you, the student says
to say... that my assignment 
didn't meet expectations

Note: This came from a long and unsettling office-hour exchange with my one disgruntled student today. It felt demeaning and I was so... crushed. Luckily, it was also the day our PR team had alerted me to an alumni interview which spoke glowingly of me, so I had some balance. But I'd been working on a new version of our land and labor acknowledgment, so it also felt like I'd been wrestling with issues of prejudice all day. 

Pic: No pic today--it was too, too hectic. My Thursdays are so long that they've become standard Subway-for-dinner days--Big A picks them up between his clinic and hospital shifts.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024


I like the way the kids are using "mid" to describe things that are stuck in the middle to mediocre range. Here's my mid list for today.

*    Another day of freezing rain and grey skies... but not quite as cold and there was a fair bit of a thaw too.

*    I won't have my car back for five weeks (they have to order a part from Germany)... but they gave me a newer model as a loaner.

*    I headed to the gas station for the first time in years (Bluey is all electric). It felt spend-y to fork over 50$ for gas... but I found a lucky penny.

*    Last semester, I grandly agreed to give a talk in January 2024... and now it IS January 2024 and my talk is on Friday.  Thankfully, I was able to use my writing group time to get some slides done... but it did mean that I didn't get any new writing done.

*    I love, love, love teaching... but I'm on two search committees (SIX campus interviews--four more to go), three committees that meet every week for a total of four hours, on deadline for two career reviews, on deadline for recommendation letters for people's grad school applications, on deadline for rewriting our land acknowledgment, making final arrangements for two different guest speakers to visit campus (PBK and Women's History Month), arranging travel for the student honorary convention, vetting papers and programming the WGS portion of the MASAL conference, CASA report due next week... And the list for the next month goes on and on. Each of these things is important and has its own bulleted to-dos, and by itself, each would be something I enjoy doing. But cumulatively, having them all clustered together like this, feels overwhelming. One day at a time, I guess.

Pic: I cropped out guests' faces since I didn't ask people if I could post. But now the focus is on the happy plates (everyone is in the clean-plate club!) from our dinner party on Monday. There were two writers with new books out at the table (Sophfronia Scott and Jan Shoemaker) and I enjoyed introducing them to each other and felt a little bit like I was hosting a salon. Bonus peek of Nu at extreme right. I'm the black blob next to the blue-purple sweater (Big A) at the head of the table. Huck and Max are underfoot. 

Monday, January 08, 2024

of "off-bouts" and going off 'bout sleep

Off-bouts: One of the nicest things about talking to colleagues from other disciplines is learning something new. Today, I hung out with the biologists and learned the word "off-bout"--as in the time a mother bird spends away from her nest and eggs. I feel like I'm on a bit of an off-bout myself this week as I will not be home for dinner with the fam until (at least) Friday. 

Going Off 'Bout Sleep: Gillian, Nicole, Engie, Nance--how lucky I am to have your kindness and caring in this world! I'm sorry I seem to have distressed you a bit with my offhand remarks about sleep. I'm fine. I certainly look less haggard when I get more sleep, but I genuinely don't feel any other negative effects at the moment. I usually wake up before my alarm goes off on weekdays and wake up at dawn even on the weekend. Perhaps this is wishful thinking, but... I count these as signs my body is getting the sleep it needs? I love my fam dearly, but I also absolutely cherish the late nights and early mornings when no one else is up. And I feel too set in my ways to change now! 

Pic: I didn't take any today. It was a doozy of a day--I did a new exercise and my back is all tender and twinge-y, and everything is a struggle--I thought I was going to pass out when I tried to get my socks on this morning.

Sunday, January 07, 2024

8 - 8 - 8? Not quite.

Since the new semester starts tomorrow, I've been thinking a lot about the old socialist motto of "8-8-8" or "eight hours' work, eight hours' rest, and eight hours of what you will." My own day divides up differently: work is easily ten hours or more +/- two hours of commute time; there's a lot of "what I will" in my life--family, walks, reading, friends, cooking, entertaining, exercise, "chit-chatting"... so it's not surprising that it's rest/sleep that suffers a deficit. Arguably, those family-time things are restful too, so if I can get four hours of sleep at a stretch, I'm generally good. 

At least it's preferable to any of the available alternatives.

Pic: Out with Max by Scout's memorial this morning. Snow is still scanty, but it's supposed to snow all week... perhaps we'll get there after all.

Friday, January 05, 2024

Five on the last Friday of break

1) Everyone should get a couple of weeks off at the end of the year to rest, reset, and restore themselves. I think I've done all three this time. Happy to report that I'm not clawing myself or pulling out hair--my literal scars are healing. 

2) I'm SO excited to meet my new (and old) students and get started on my new (and old) courses.

3) Committee work will make it tough this term--my standing committees meet late on my teaching days and because I'm on a couple of search committees, I will be on campus until late every day next week either wining and dining candidates or doing a chunk of video interviews. Big A and Nu are going to have to step up to dinner every day next week and at least twice a week after that.

4) So. Many. Meetings. And these are such a big responsibility. It might be just one of the many meetings in my day, but it could be the most important meeting of the other person's day, and that's something to take very seriously. (I do, which is why they're so depleting.)

5) Pic: Max and Huck say they're not mad; they're just disappointed break is over. 

Thursday, January 04, 2024

Slow Learner launch

Today was a long day at work, made a bit longer by checking in with people who are attending the MLA. But I got home at a reasonable hour, and after feeding my pack their dinner, I was so happy and honored to attend the book launch for Jan Shoemaker's new book of essays, Slow Learner. 

First, I picked up L--who had introduced me to Jan--and then we picked up the copies I'd preordered, and found a place to sit. The space was jam-packed and they ended up having to add more seating. Jan, who used to teach English at a local high school, read a pandemic piece titled "Caper." It was characteristically hilarious and suspenseful and I can't wait to read the rest.

The following is from an old essay I found on the internet called "Where the Water Is". It gives some idea of how Jan uses wit in ways that are sharp and searching.

"One of the uncomfortable things about living with a person who suffers from Alzheimer’s is that it makes you confront your own character flaws. Just when you thought it more or less clear from all the times you’ve sent money to public radio and boycotted Wal-Mart that you were the incarnation of Albert Schweitzer, or Gandhi, or both, you find out you’re really just a slightly bitchier version of Martha Stewart. Your well of compassion and patience, which was never very deep to begin with, is now just an empty cistern."

Pic: Jan at the lectern at the Slow Learner launch today.  

Friday, December 29, 2023

Five on this Friday

1) I'm starting 2024 with most of my medical appointments made and met. The last thing on the med agenda was today--Covid boosters and flu shots for me and Nu. Based on my previous reactions, I fully expect to be completely out of commission tomorrow. (And the day after too.)

2) I'm so ridiculous sometimes. As I did a pull-up, I idly wondered if I should stop because what if my arm got so muscled that the tech couldn't get the needle in. As if!! I have really unrealistic and exaggerated notions about my arm strength!

3) An acquaintance (someone I know mostly from meeting at conferences) lost their spouse to cancer on the evening of Dec 25th. They were a beautiful young couple doing good in the world (teaching, organizing, community building) with very young kids and I'm so saddened and sorry about this loss. Also, how terrible for their kids to have Christmas permanently linked to this. 

4) I usually don't plan meals in advance, but I've made sure I could feed the fam until at least Tuesday, because I do not want to go to the store until the new year is well and truly here.

5) Pic: Max and Huck were over being sent to their room with wet paws and decided to make "snow" by killing a throw pillow. It was a cute one too with a Keith Haring dog on it. I hope the sun comes out tomorrow. We're all going a little stir-crazy in this soggy weather.

Monday, December 25, 2023

This Christmas

The fluffiest breakfast pudding was made and consumed, mulled cider was quaffed with and without whisky shots, pears that arrived as a gift were shared, Whamageddon was repeatedly and intentionally lost, presents were opened, exclaimed upon and loved, every gift bag, sheet of wrapping/tissue paper, and gift box was saved for next year, walks were undertaken despite the soggy day, some difficult conversations tackled, Zelda was played, grandparents were called, Christmas biriyani was made, a raucous dinner had, and the non-resident kid's laundry was folded + kid and laundry were delivered to their residence.

My favorite presents were the picture of me and Scout (it's already been placed at the family altar), a HUGE donation made for medical relief in Gaza, and a coupon for a drawing from Nu. So many books! It was so sweet that At gave me books that had duplicates (Vengeance is Mine, The Berry Pickers) in the big haul from Big A (Judy Chicago! Vauhini Vara! Gusto Obscura!), so I'll keep At's copies and return Big A's.

Pic: By Big A. The many branched antlered human reindeer made a reappearance this Christmas.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

my good companions

Nu was a bit under the weather this morning and wanted to stay in bed. While I was getting peppermint tea and oatmeal to them, Big A took a look at me, gave me a tiny nibble of a treat and took me off for a hike on the Potawatomi Trail

By the time we got there, I was nice and mellow and then we spent four hours just scrabbling up and down the trail. It was slow going; on a flat surface we'd have logged 15-16 miles in four hours, but we got in just over ten miles because there was a significant amount of climbing. 

We were being silly and singing songs wrong and laughing and talking for the first couple of hours--we were mostly silent the last couple of hours as we tired, but that felt good too. 

We got back late + Nu didn't want to go + At forgot some meds and would be delayed, so we decided to stay home from the candlelight service at UU. Instead it was dinner and Rocky Aur Rani ki Prem Kahani (with just a little explaining about the old money-new money angle and the snatches of old film songs). 

When Nu was ready to head to bed, we did our traditional pajamas and books presents for the kids and they went off to bed happily laden with new books as usual. I prepped the breakfast pudding for tomorrow and then Big A helped me bring the kids' presents downstairs and put Max and Huck to bed. On to Christmas in earnest now. I am grateful I get to share this life with people who care so much for me.

Pic: Big A waiting for me at the top of a rise. I love how the tree roots criss-cross the path to make natural steps and terraces. Because The Overstory and Braiding Sweetgrass live in my head, I kept wondering if the trees do that to catch us in case we fall.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

hiding in plain sight

At the lovely dinner party this evening, no one spoke of Gaza although I know that every single person at the table is agonizing about it, whether because we've been talking about it (Big A, Nu, LB, and TB) or because I know from their socials how upset they are (AH, KG, LV). It's like we have a disease and everyone knows about it, but we have to bravely carry on without discussing it at the dinner table. I played along beautifully.

I was all full of effing holiday cheer in my Rudoph the reindeer overalls with the jingly red nose. And every time someone remarked on it, I was hard pressed not to sing this song

Because that would also be inappropriate for this group--some of whom I know from work. Something very much on my mind, because after years at this point, last night I dreamt about the person I brought a Title IX case against. No current students remember him probably--he was asked to leave on the cusp of the pandemic--but in my dream an alumnus visiting the department was curious as to why there was no picture of the abuser in the faculty "gallery." I let it go on for a while, and when the alumnus asked again, I burst out: "Because he was a serial abuser. We don't have his picture up because he abused people." 

And then my dream veered off into a seaplane ride and since the only time I've been on one was near Seattle, that's how it looked. And the only point of the ride was to ooh and aah over some baroque Christmas decorations visible from the air. 

Speaking of which, I am almost ready for Christmas! In fact, I was almost ready last week, but I wasn't happy with the way I'd wrapped some presents, so I went in and did them all over again. No one will notice except for me. But it kinda makes sense to me. I'm so excited to give people their presents.

Pic: A blue tit (I think?) hides among the red winterberries along the Red Cedar. Walk with L. 

Monday, December 18, 2023

up and down and around

Yesterday's party is put away. And I vacuumed and dusted and cleaned the entire house. Do other people also clean the house after entertaining?  We used to have cleaners--sometimes twice a week--before we moved here. We're in a bigger house now but I'm the main cleaner. I feel we're going a bit in reverse here. 

Big A has been in Milwaukee for work for the past three days. I couldn't wait for him to get home... and then we promptly squabbled within the first half hour after he did. (All good now. I thought he was egging on Huck and Max who were playing fighting. I probably went too far when I brought up Michael Vick.)

Otherwise, a slow and quiet day. The all-day misty drizzle inspired me to make a big pot of soup. I'm so chuffed that Nu (the baking enthusiast extraordinaire) likes my cranberry-pistachio shortbread! I took a a long walk with L, a long soak by myself, and have all the cookies I can handle for dessert. 

Pic: These koi at the Radiology Gardens aren't coy. Haha.

Friday, December 15, 2023

sentimental offerings

Another festival of lights at CB's "Winter Warm Up Party." It was beautiful--my neighbors J and E from across the street sang the blessing (I'm more used to reciting it) as we lit the menorahs (I did two). 

Big A's in Milwaukee until Sunday, so I took Nu with me. As always, they protested having to go and as we walked home, raved about how glad they were that they went and how much they love "community." I guess I do know best after all. Ha.

I am a sentimental mess just from reading Nicole's account of The Small One (Q: Is this the first time I've cried at a Wikipedia entry? Ans: No.). I love its theme of offering up devotion in whatever small way one can. "Little Drummer Boy" is another great example of this. And now I'm thinking of "Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame" that I first encountered in Anatole France's version in my French textbook. And now I'm thinking of how much my mom loved that story when I shared it with her, and how she connected it to the story of Kannappa who did all the taboo things (offered meat, spat water, put his feet etc. on the deity) out of love and devotion. And this in turn reminds me of a scene in a Tamil movie whose plot and title I've forgotten in which the Hindu heroine who is in love with a Christian boy goes to church to pray for him. But she doesn't know any Christian prayers, so she recites the entirety of an 8th century hymn-paean written for Durga in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary. It's a moment my mom and I found both funny and sweet. It's a hymn my mom and I love. And now I miss my mom.

Pic: A forest of candles at CB's "Winter Warm Up Party."

Sunday, December 10, 2023


After krampus-ing hard yesterday, JN declared this a DND (do nothing day). I guess it works as a "Do Not Disturb day" as well. I love it. I'm going to use it. Someday.

Final grades are due soon, so it wasn't really an option to do absolutely nothing. But I built lots of nice stuff into the day--I got a massage, I went on a ramble with L, a long walk with Big A, then family dinner with At.

It was DND lite.

Pic: Goodbye from the puppet theater. My parents gave the kids this puppet theater when they were little--I think Nu was less than two years old. It showed up to lots of birthday celebrations and we accumulated quite a collection of hand puppets and finger puppets all put to great use by the "narrOator" (At's version of "narrator" 🙂💗). It lived in the rumpus room for a long time and then in Nu's Room for years. But for a year now, it's been hanging out in the upstairs hallway because no one wants it. I've known it should go to another house where some other kids can love it, but it was a bit difficult letting go as it bears so many memories of the younger versions of my kids, my parents, me... 

Anyway, when At came to dinner this evening, I got a few last pictures of them together at the puppet theater. I'm lucky my kids are so indulgent.

Sunday, December 03, 2023

outtake/best take

We got the tree up (and by "we," I mean At and Nu) and tried to take a picture for the holiday card.
We usually take a video and then pick a frame or two, but it proved impossible yesterday. You can't even tell that Big A and I are wearing pajamas that match the kids!

I hope you can tell we're all wearing Christmas-tree hats. Although it took me a minute or two to understand why everyone was shying away from the "white, pointy hat." :D 

Pic: Not the best frame, but I think it represents everyone trying to hold it together the best.

Friday, November 24, 2023

And now... leftovers

Things I forgot (or was too tired) to say yesterday.

* There were no in-laws or international students yesterday, and I really missed the expansiveness they usually bring to the table.

* My awesome MIL was the one who told me that I should let people help with the meal if I wanted them to feel at home, and it's very good advice.

* Nu made the biscuits this year and they were terrific--I'd bungled them last year.

* A pinch of turmeric in the pumpkin gravy and regular gravy gave them some extra color and antioxidants. 

* Nu decided to go with a beige palette for dinner--just biscuits, mashed potatoes, stuffing, chicken, gravy. No cranberry sauce, pumpkin gravy, roasted root veggies, or lemon-dressed salad for my baby, apparently. I insist everyone eats their five colors every day, so occasional beige meals are ok. I guess?

* At was so late getting here although they'd promised to arrive early. I fumed for a while, but when I saw At getting out of the Uber (linked to the family credit card) over three hours after texting "OMW," my annoyance somehow melted. I raced towards the car yelling "pumpkin emergency! pumpkin emergency!" At was so bewildered! It was hilarious and it totally made up for everything. I mean... no one wins when you're mad at a kid, anyway.

* We watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special and a charming 2017 movie I Don't Feel at Home in this World Anymore (recommended, but has flashes of unsettling violence).

*Huck showed Max, whose first Thanksgiving this was, all the ropes on where to position themselves for the best treats and whipped cream licks. We missed Scout--who showed up on multiple So-Thankful-For sheets. We're going to miss Scout extra hard on Christmas because that puppy liked to go BONKERS on Christmas Day.

Pic: Colorful leftovers from yesterday's feast is what's for dinner today.  Pies, not one of which I made, are further down the counter. (And I didn't realize Big A and his computer are kind of photobombing a bit too.)

Thursday, November 23, 2023

chuffed + stuffed at Thanksgiving

I am so thankful for family, friends, and community this year. 

And I'm feeling like a Thanksgiving pro today. After years of hosting, I have a stable menu that pleases and serves everyone. Fifteen years ago, when I started hosting, I'd be in such a dither about what to make--now I know exactly what I'm making and how long it will take. 

In fact, around 11, I realized I was a bit ahead of schedule and that I should save some tasks for when people came around so they could feel like they'd helped with the meal too, so I hit pause. This means that I was able to sneak in a walk and a soak despite the busyness of the morning. Also, I was able to pull all of meal prep off with nary a cut or a burn. 

I didn't get enough pictures, what with orchestrating the ovens, trying to dissuade Nu from cheerfully and charmingly trying to cheat at every Thanksgiving game, and Max going bonkers with first Thanksgiving energy.

Pic: My place setting with the hand-turkey Nu and At made over a decade ago...

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

that's so 90s

I shopped, I prepped, I read, I soaked, I fired up my Brittney Spears essentials playlist, and walked and walked and walked. 

While I was making our dinner, Big A and I were talking about how Brittney had always been sort of a guilty pleasure for me amidst my largely alternative and classical Carnatic catalogue. There was always just so much tabloid noise around her that was distracting... and I'd felt like I needed to distance myself from that.  

And while we're at it, I feel bad now about laughing at Monica Lewinsky jokes back in the day. I'm happy she has been able to reinvent herself as an anti-bullying advocate. I wish I'd been feminist enough to see the media pile-on for what it was in the moment.

Pic: Beal Gardens, celebrating its 150th anniversary, is always a delight.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023


I took myself out for a long walk before work this morning and it helped me figure things out. I remembered an agency I could approach for someone's emergency housing situation and the way to change the settings on a program that has been causing the first years some grief. 

It also solved the problem of what I'd be making for dinner: I made a white bean chili with rice.

Apparently that's what happens when you add leftover veggie pulao and rajma in a pot with fresh tomatoes and spinach and the jalapeno-elote appetizers you served over the weekend. After Nu and Big A had remarked on how tasty it was, I told them the alternate name for it was Diwali leftovers soup! Suckers! They didn't see that coming!

Pic: Geese and ducks on the Red Cedar. Shouldn't they already be headed somewhere else for the winter?

Sunday, November 12, 2023

blast off!

It was amazing! 

I fed everyone, talked to everyone, and everyone seemed to have fun. I had 48 of those silk pouches with diyas as favors for the grown up guests, and now they're all gone--I hope they'll bring light and delight in their new homes. 

I've been thinking how Diwali (diya = lamp; wali = chain) so we're supposed to light lamps, but not singly--light one and pass it on... like kindness or empathy.

Now that that's done, and everything is tidied and put away, I want to have small dinner parties so I can linger around the table and chat. But I'll break that to Big A another time. Ha.

Pic: Fireworks at the end of the evening.

bleak week

I'm having a tough time this week. It's not that I can't go on... I am. But I keep feeling like I can't... On the surface, t...