I have a brand new oven! It is a very exciting development for me, because I am a somewhat obsessive bread-baker.
This is how the bread is supposed to look when it comes out of the oven. This is not how the bread looked when I pulled it out on December 23, when our old oven gave up the ghost mid-bake. Those loaves were pale and sad. I did my best to finish the off in the toaster oven (which is not a culinary technique I am likely to repeat).
Other things being equal, it would be better for major appliances to choose expiration dates other than the ones immediately preceding major holidays. We couldn't get anyone out to look at the oven until December 27, when we paid $129 to learn that the motherboard (more commonly known as the mother!$&#*!) was busted, and that They Don't Make That Part Anymore.
Tomorrow, just in time for the holidays, Santa is delivering to my stocking...a root canal. Thanks, Santa. You're a peach.
I think it has something to do with the fact that I'm Jewish. I have never left out a plate of cookies on Christmas Eve, much less properly cleaned the chimneys that lead to my (non-functional) fireplaces.
This weekend I had a gig with BroadBand, my a cappella group. We performed at Celebrate Newton, a craft fair at one of our town's high schools. We sang a mix of songs: some jazz standards, some pop tunes, a bunch of holiday music. It was a hoot.
I was more or less the person who organized the performance on behalf of the group; but truth be told, I didn't do much to publicize it. Still, it was a community event, and I figured I was bound to run into a bunch of people I knew. I wondered, in particular, if I would see my Alexander Technique teacher. I studied with her for a few months three or four years ago, and she was wonderful, and I learned a ton. My posture, sadly, still leaves much to be desired. But should Lauren happen to pass by, I was determined to be on my very best, most well-aligned behavior.
So as we launch into our first song, I think about my Alexander instructions: I release my neck so I can tilt the crown of my head forward and up. I let my back be wide and strong. I relax my shoulders. And as I do, I feel my bra straps slip right down my arms.
From: The 13 originals (MA, CT, NH, RI, NY, NJ, PA, VA, MD, DE, GA, NC, SC)
To: The other 37 “states”
Date: November 9, 2016
We are sure that you will agree, in light of recent events, that our alliance has grown rather uncomfortable. In response, we have undertaken a close review of our original contract. Article 4, Section 3 of the Constitution provides for the admission of new states purely at the discretion of Congress – a Congress which obviously, in the minds of the framers, included only the thirteen original signatories.
Upon reflection, we have come to the conclusion that inviting the rest of you to join us was a regrettable lapse of judgement – a mistake that we are now determined to set right. In short: the thirteen United States of America have decided to revert to our original membership. The other thirty-seven of you are out on your ass.
Now that I am an empty nester, I finally have the time I have dreamed of for years to focus on my writing -- to blog weekly or more often, to ramp up my song composition efforts, and most important, to get going, at long last, on that musical. Of course I have the time! After all, I am no longer juggling the demands of motherhood and full-time work. I have no more carpools to drive, far less laundry to do, and never again will I be expected to throw a little something together for a bake sale.
Well, one month into the empty nest, and these vast expanses of free time don't seem to have materialized quite yet. The past few weeks have brought the demands of the Jewish High Holidays -- and with them the requirement to bake my own challah and to ensure the proper 3:1, dessert:appetite ratio:
Even without the holidays, there is just so much to do! I have to iron the napkins:
Here I am, two weeks into my life in the empty nest, and I am discovering that I now have lots more time for my many extra-curricular interests. Yes, yes, I know I am supposed to be writing my musical -- and I will start, any day now, I promise! But for now, I am baking bread.
Bread-baking is not new for me. Some time during the year before the birth of my first child, Rebecca, I bought some sourdough starter from King Arthur Flour. In the 24 years since, I have been using this same starter to bake most of our family's bread.
I'm pretty sure that I took a little time off from regular baking in the years following the births of each of my daughters, when I was juggling life with a newborn and full-time work. Those years are something of a blur: I can't remember much of what we did, let alone what we ate. Although I am pretty sure we did eat. At least enough to survive.
It has been two years since my last mammogram. I have been overdue for a check-up, and last week I finally got around to it. It is critical, as you know, to periodically review how things have progressed, to analyze where matters now stand compared to where they were a year (or two) ago.
So I did what needed to be done. I revisited my 2013 "Singing Mammogram" on YouTube, to see how I now rank in the all-important category of Musical Mammograms.
I am about to deliver my younger child to college for her freshman year, thus ushering in this next phase of my life, in which no children will be living in my house. It marks the end of more than two delicious decades in which my most important obligation was raising my two wonderful daughters. It is, as you can imagine, a deeply bittersweet moment.
Along with all the packing and preparing there has been a fair amount of cleaning and clearing. Both of my daughters have, over the past few weeks, done yeomen's jobs (or yeowomen's jobs?) of cleaning out both their rooms and the common space they shared as kids. We have gotten rid of piles of old clothes, dead notebooks, school supplies. And because tomorrow is garbage day, today was the moment to take the big step of emptying the Display Shelf of Three-Dimensional Art.
Now that we’ve closed out August, it is officially true that Boston has just had the driest meteorological summer on record, and one of the hottest, to boot. We are in the midst of a miserable drought. As a gardener, I am a bit bereft. It has not been a good year in my little backyard Shangri-la.
At the end of February, 2015, the city of Newton mailed excise tax bills for our cars. About a week later, my dad died in Florida. I left town for two weeks, and after I got back it was another week before I could bring myself to deal with the pile of backlogged mail on my desk. When I did, I found that I was almost two weeks overdue on the excise tax bills. So I got online and paid them immediately, along with the three or four dollars of interest that had accrued because of the late payment. I got an email from the City confirming receipt of payment in full of everything that was due; I printed it, filed it, and promptly forgot about it.
Until three months later, when a warrant arrived, demanding payment of these same excise taxes, along with a whole host of fees and penalties. I called the City, and they said that the warrant had been sent in error; my account was current, and I should just ignore it. So I did.
Three months later a second bill arrived, also disavowed by the City. When the third warrant arrived I arranged a conference call between the warrant officers and the City of Newton Treasury staff person, in which everyone on the line agreed that the continued warrants were in error and that they would clear them from the system. That was in January of this year. I haven't thought about the incident since.
Until Friday, when a notice arrived from the Massachusetts Registry of Vehicles, saying that they would not be renewing my car registration because......of unpaid excise taxes to the city of Newton.
Now, as anyone who has visited this website knows, I have long been in the habit of dealing with life's vicissitudes by capturing them in song. This little bureaucratic morass, I think, deserves not just a song, but a music video all its own. So midlifemomsongs is proud to present: