Entries from September 2011

No Kids Allowed (sort of)

September 30th, 2011 · 25 Comments · Dinner, Domestic Affairs, Entertaining, Pork and Beef, Posts by Andy

If you come to our house for a grown-up dinner party, there’s a good chance it’ll be just after 8:00, and our two kids will greet you at the door. If all has gone according to plan, they’ll be bathed and pajama’d, their teeth will be brushed, and with a little luck they’ll be in bed, out of sight, 30 minutes later.

It’s not that we worry about the girls being un-presentable or that we fear they’ll pillage the crostini plate before our guests have taken their coats off. (OK, maybe we do worry about the crostini thing. It’s a problem.) It’s that usually the people we have over for dinner are parents, too. Parents who have already spent the waking part of their day doing what parents do – suffering through another Wa Wa Wubbzy marathon, doling out snacks, pretending to lose at Uno – and probably, if they’re being honest, don’t feel a real powerful need to spend valuable babysitting hours doing the same with someone else’s kids.

In our experience, what our guests are looking for is a cocktail with plenty of ice, some tasty food, and a conversation that does not begin with the words, “I am counting to three…” So usually, after our kids make their Dinner Party Cameo – the key with kids, like food, is to leave your guests wanting more — one of us will take them upstairs and shepherd them through their bedtime paces, while the other sets the table and puts the finishing touch on whatever has been braising away all afternoon in the Dutch Oven.

Very often in our house, it’s short ribs. We love braised short ribs for three reasons: one, they’re unstoppably, almost obscenely good; two, they’re impossible to screw up; and three, they require no hands-on time once the guests arrive. Entertaining, for us, is all about not having to start from zero once the kids are in bed, chopping and blanching and reducing – and sweating — while our guests stand in the kitchen, hungry, with one eye on the clock. It’s about having a glass of Barbera and diving into a dinner that is ready to go, but that also feels simultaneously casual and special. And when everything goes right, you can almost forget — for a few hours, at least — that there’s a Thomas the Train track running through the living room, and that you have to be awake at 5:30 the next morning to perform a sock puppet show. – Jenny & Andy

This story appears in the current issue of Bon Appetit. Head over to their website for the Short Ribs recipe, which is a simplified version of an old Balthazar favorite. Photo by Christopher Testani for Bon Appetit.

[Read more →]

Tags:··

Let There Be Rock

September 28th, 2011 · 33 Comments · Children's Books, Gifts, Culture, Domestic Affairs, Favorites, Posts by Andy

I spent fifteen years after high school pretending Led Zeppelin sucked. I was apparently too cool for Everybody Knows This is Nowhere. Something happened to me when I went off to college – well, a lot of things happened to me when I went off to college, but the most egregious was that I stopped rocking my a*s off. Not that I was ever in a band or anything. The closest I came to actual shredding was air-guitaring to “Whole Lotta Rosie” with my Arthur Ashe tennis racket in the paneled family room of our house in the suburbs of Northern Virginia. But college messed me up. Suddenly, music, like the books I pretended to read (waddup, Günter Grass?!) under trees on the quad, had become social currency, a signifier of intellectual heft. Suddenly, I was into the Cure and the Cocteau Twins, 10,000 Maniacs, and a moody Scottish troubador who called himself Lloyd Cole. I took long hangover naps to the gentle strains of Talk Talk. I DJ’d a radio show and inflicted Jesus Jones on the poor souls of Western Massachusetts, whose only crime was turning on their radios on Saturday morning, hoping to hear music. By the time I graduated, I was afloat in a warm bath of ambience and interesting lyrics.

A brief history of my descent, from there: In the late nineties, Jenny and I got married, and in the inevitable process of accommodation and compromise, my musical tastes changed again — Lucinda Williams, Matthew Sweet, Norah (gulp) Jones, Sheryl (double gulp) Crow, Ryan Adams, and many others I’ve no doubt repressed – and the soundtrack of my life down-shifted into what I call Music Couples Can Cook To. Then came kids, and I’ll spare you the grisly account of how my iPod was violated over the five year period that my kids were becoming sentient beings, but let’s just say that I know a few songs by Laurie Berkner. If we ventured outside of kid music during these years, it was into territory that felt family-friendly and safe yet still adult, that – if deployed in a car traveling at 60 mph – could lull a cranky child to sleep. In other words, we’d moved into the Music That Won’t Ruin Dinner Parties phase of life. This was thoughtful, smart stuff, sung by dudes in skinny jeans; this was literature set to music. And I participated, suffering through Bright Eyes, M. Ward, Andrew Bird, Jenny Lewis, Jeff Tweedy (solo), Neko Case, Elvis Perkins, and…holy crap, I nearly fell asleep just typing that list.

Then, in 2006, I was saved.

One day at work, a friend handed me a copy of the newly-remastered Live at the Fillmore East by Neil Young and Crazy Horse. I put it on at my desk, and in the course of the COMPLETELY BRAIN-MELTING SIXTEEN MINUTE AND NINE SECOND VERSION of “Cowgirl in the Sand” that ensued, something powerful rose up from the depths. It was like having spent ten years watching decent high schoolers play pepper, and then going to batting practice at Yankee Stadium. Oh, right. So THIS is how it’s done. The shock of recognition, the glimpse of your old, pre-kid, pre-married, less Starbucks-y self: that stuff is for real. I don’t want to overstate things, but something awoke within me that day, some long-lost part of the old me who enjoyed a gratuitous guitar solo and didn’t feel like wearing a scarf or being bummed out. Interesting lyrics are interesting, but I’m borderline middle-aged, with a full-time job and two daughters and a gray crossover vehicle, and I could use something more than interesting. Down the rabbit hole I went, digging up old CDs, trolling youtube for jams, burning tons of Stones and James Brown and Led Zeppelin , ditching the singer-songwriters and diving deep into anything that sounded good loud, from the three-guitar onslaught of The Drive-By Truckers to Jack White to “Check Your Head”-era Beasties to My Morning Jacket to The Jam to, yes, Duane F’ing Allman. And here’s the thing: For the most part, the kids came right along with me. I started playing this stuff in the car, on the way to soccer games and playdates – and with rare exceptions (see: Burma, Mission Of), I heard very few complaints. Instead, I heard, when the song ended: “Again.” Instead, I saw, in the rear view mirror, during those first thirty seconds of “Custard Pie”: Abby, her window down and her hair blowing back, doing her guitar face. She couldn’t have looked happier. Because kids, instinctively, know what feels good. Don’t believe me? Put on some Mason Jennings, and then put on “Hotel Yorba,” and turn it up. See what sticks. – Andy

Rock & Roll Illustration by Phoebe.

[Read more →]

Tags:

Fall Ball

September 26th, 2011 · 15 Comments · Pork and Beef

It’s not that I’m not an autumn girl. I do love how the backyard Japanese maple turns canary yellow and my kitchen window frames it like a painting. I love the crisp air thing. And even though I complain about the weekend-eating game schedule to anyone who will listen, I love the return to soccer. Not a whole lot thrills me more than watching pony-tailed girls sprinting down a field in uniforms.

It’s more that, at heart, I’m a summer girl. And so for me, fall means the end of summer. The end of evening swims, sundresses and flip-flops, lazy nights drinking Dark & Stormies by the grill, tomato sandwiches. The end of coming home from work and feeling like there are still hours and hours left in the day to actually see the kids, make a nice healthy dinner, and in general, have a life.

Not Andy, though. He practically sprints to the calendar on the day he gets to flip the page from August to September. Back when we were in Brooklyn, he used to make a point of cranking up the volume when he sat down to his first football game of the season. (I always wanted to answer “No” when Hank Williams Jr. screamed “Are you ready for some footbaaalll?”) For Andy, if he can get through the first week back after Labor Day, September marks the beginning of a beautiful stretch of bourbon, baseball playoffs, and, of course, braising. I think it was in the middle of this past July — you know the month where New York had 15 straight days of 90-degree days — when he started talking about braising meatballs. When the weather turns, he’d say, I’m going to make pork and sage meatballs. Through August, his vision gained momentum, as though thinking about how to make them (lemon zest! he said driving north on the Saw Mill River Parkway one day) might will the weather into dropping 30 degrees, and he could be back where he belonged: Calling the lines of a soccer game in the late-afternoon autumn light; walking around in fleece; being surrounded by Cortlands and Honeycrisps at the farmer’s market. The market was where he had the final epiphany about his meatball magnum opus. (Apple-cider braised pork meatballs!) And last night when we finally ate them, even a summer girl like me had to admit he was onto something.

Pork Meatballs Braised in Wine and Cider

Using your hands, mix together all the following ingredients and form into golf-ball size meatballs.

1 1/4 pounds ground pork
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
2 teaspoons salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 eggs
3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs

Set a medium saucepan or Dutch Oven over medium-high heat and add a little olive oil. Brown meatballs on all sides (in batches if necessary) and remove to a plate. They do not have to be cooked through.

Add 1 large shallot (chopped) to the pot and cook 1 minute. Add 2/3 cup white wine, 1/2 cup apple cider, 2 tablespoons cider vinegar, a little salt, and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low, add meatballs back to the pot. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes.

Remove balls from pot, whisk 1 tablespoon heavy cream into the braising liquid. Serve meatballs with sauce spooned on top.

We served them with “confetti” brussels sprouts.

[Read more →]

Tags:···

Extremely Graphic Content

September 22nd, 2011 · 22 Comments · Children's Books, Gifts, Culture, Posts by Andy, Rituals, Uncategorized

It’s hard to know who was more excited when the Amazon box landed with a thunk on our doorstep last week, Phoebe or her parents. We knew from the heft what was inside: All 640 pages of Brian Selznick’s new book, Wonderstruck. We’ve spent many dinners and car rides and bedtimes discussing Brian Selznick. His last book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, for me, was one of those books where you just think, Wow, that’s amazing. I guess I’ll never write a children’s book! I mean that in the nicest possible way: it’s hard to imagine even attempting to create something that transporting and beautiful, let alone succeeding at it. If you gave me a different brain and some artistic talent and a million peaceful years to make it happen, no. But that’s just me. For Phoebe, our resident dreamer and book critic, Brian Selznick is something different: he’s a writer who has taken her beloved graphic novel form and turned into something bigger and better. Phoebe just seems to love the added layer that imagery adds to a story, the way she can keep going back and getting more out of it. This is not to say that she doesn’t like chapter books, but if you asked Phoebe to pick her ten favorite books, a hundred bucks says all ten would be graphic novels. I kind of hope that never changes. Wonderstruck is not a graphic novel, just to be clear. I don’t know what to call it. It’s a chapter book with hundreds of luminous, moody, full-bleed illustrations, which unspool in these amazing ten, twenty, thirty page stretches, like the greatest flip book ever created. As Phoebe says, when asked why she loves it so: “He makes you feel it.”

We thought we’d use this book’s arrival as an excuse to round up our latest favorite graphic novels for 8- to 12-year-olds. And, like always, I’m going to turn the mic over to the reader herself. – Andy


Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick: “If you liked The Invention of Hugo Cabret, you’ll like this book. I can’t really explain it, because this author makes his books really complicated, but it’s about a deaf boy and a deaf girl. It makes you think about how hard it must be to be deaf. It’s half pictures and half words; the girl’s story is pictures and the boy’s story is words. He puts so much feeling into his stories. And there’s a surprise at the end, which is always good.”

Phoebe rating: 9*

Parent note: Why not a 10? Because Phoebe said it wasn’t quite as good as Hugo Cabret.

Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity by Dave Roman: “This is one of my favorites. I read it like three times on vacation. It’s about a school in space and it’s cool: they have anti-gravity drills and time-bending watches and things like that. Everything that’s impossible on earth is possible there, pretty much. It’s funny and adventure-y. My favorite character is Miyumi San because she has a watch that lets her travel in time and because she acts tough. She’s like a tomboy.”

Phoebe rating: Half 9, half 10*

* Parent note: I assume this means 9.5.

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword* by Barry Deutsch: “Okay, this is a tale of knitting and pig-chasing. Weird, right? It’s the story of an Orthodox Jewish girl named Mirka who has nine brothers and sisters and she’s always wanted to fight dragons and trolls. I know all this sounds really strange, but if you read it, it’ll make sense. This is a good book for people who like adventure. It makes you want to go grab your own sword and start fighting some trolls!” (more…)

[Read more →]

Tags:·····

Detox Dinner

September 20th, 2011 · 8 Comments · Dinner, Quick, Seafood

And so the question is, what does one have for dinner the night after she swears off eating for a year? The answer: Fish in Parchment Paper. We had a ton of vegetables left over from the shoot (if anyone needs to borrow an onion, I’m your lady) so Andy sliced them up, arranged them on a cutting board, then asked the girls to top their flounder filets with whatever topping they wanted. We’ve written about these before (“fish presents“) but I was reminded of how flexible the recipe is — we never make it the same way twice. Last time we wrote about them, we went in an Asian direction with bok choy and sesame oil. This time we went in a more classic (if slightly purply) direction: purple peppers, purple potatoes, shallots, asparagus, haricot verts, kale, lemon slices, olive oil and sea salt.

Fish in Parchment Paper, A Refresher Course

You’ll need one square of parchment paper or aluminum foil per filet. (Again, we used flounder, but you can use any fish you want: sole, salmon, tilapia, sea bass, snapper, you can’t go wrong.) Lay the fish on the paper, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cover with thin slices of lemon and shallots.

Layer on your desired toppings (see photo above) drizzle with olive oil, then add herbs (parsley, chives, cilantro), a squeeze of lemon, and a final dash of salt.

To “wrap the presents,” lift up the sides of the parchment paper until they meet above the fish. Turn down a few times and  fold the ends under the fish — picture the way the deli guy wraps a sandwich — creating a seal so the steam doesn’t escape. Slide the packets onto a cookie sheet, and bake in a 400°F oven for 20 minutes. (It’s hard to overcook the fish when steaming it like this.) Remove from oven and serve on plates. Be careful when unwrapping, though: steam is hot.

[Read more →]

Tags:··

My First Book Party

September 19th, 2011 · 10 Comments · Dinner, Dinner: A Love Story, the Book

On Friday night at 6:00, we decided to invite two families (total: six grown-ups, six kids) to our house for an impromptu dinner party. Since we only had a little time to prepare, the menu was a no-brainer for us. This is what we served: Meatball sandwiches, grilled steak, salmon salad, chicken pot pie, chicken soup, pasta with a ragu, braised pork loin with cabbage, a 10-minute baked chicken number, homemade rosemary focaccia, some corn and tomatoes, buttered haricot verts, and for dessert, a log of chocolate cookie dough, cut into slices right on the dining room table and served without even being baked.

What?

I’m serious! That was the menu. And it was impromptu. And we didn’t know we were having the party until 6:00, which was right about the time I turned to Andy and said, “I don’t think I am going to eat again until 2012.”

Last week, I’m proud to say, was the photo shoot for the DALS Book. Among other things, this meant having 20 pounds of meat in my basement refrigerator, cooking about 35 dinners in four days (I wish I took a picture of Andy grilling steak at 8:00 AM while drinking his morning coffee), returning from a grocery shop with a receipt that was almost as tall as Abby (I know I don’t have giants for kids, but still), and every night looking at the saran-wrapped results of what we shot and deciding who should partake in the feasting.

There was a small team of people helping out — you’ll officially meet them later — but the shoot took place in my house in between soccer drop-offs and cello rentals and it rocked. I’ve been on many food shoots in my magazine career, but I never get tired of hearing myself say things like “Do you think the green bean is at the wrong angle?” or “Do we need more pork grease on the platter?” But by Friday, I think we were all ready to swear off food for the year — even though we had a veritable hotel buffet in our refrigerator waiting to be devoured. And lucky for us, we have friends who were up to the task. (more…)

[Read more →]

Tags:··

Kitchen Inspiration

September 15th, 2011 · 85 Comments · Kitchenlightenment

I stumbled upon an inspiring photo in Elle Decor a few years ago when we were in the process of renovating our kitchen. It was just the corner of a room, but unlike a lot of the spaces featured in shelter magazines, it looked like someone lived there. There was childrens’ artwork on the refrigerator (tastefully arranged), some raffia wallpaper covering a small desk area, and a round table surrounded by red Eames chairs. The Eames part of those red chairs was not in the budget, but I stuck that photo to my bulletin board and it got the ball rolling on the designing. Nevermind that I didn’t pay an ounce of attention to the dishwasher door blocking the cabinets (forcing us to put away our glasses in two steps) or the fact that it will be the year 2029 before my children will be able to reach to the ice tray in the freezer or be able to open the 200-pound pull-out pantry door by themselves. I got my red chairs and I love my kitchen to this day.

But I love the kitchens featured in Design*Sponge’s at Home — the book based on the blog that everyone except maybe two people in the world are obsessed with — even more. Grace Bonney, the founder and author, takes the concept of inspiration to a whole new level here with page after page of gorgeous personal spaces along with personal stories that explain how the lucky owners managed to execute their visions. The kitchens, of course, were my favorite. For instance, if I had stumbled upon the photo above a few years ago, there is a 100% chance that I’d be sitting in a yellow kitchen with a painted checkerboard floor right now.

Artisan was nice enough to send along a sneak peak of some of the kitchens featured in Design*Sponge At Home and to celebrate its publication, DALS is giving away a free copy of the book to one lucky commenter below*. Winner will be chosen at random next week, but special consideration goes to anyone who shares a cool family kitchen design idea. Even special-er consideration goes to any commenter who follows DALS on facebook.

I love the red on red here. It’s the 2011 answer to Julia Child’s museum-worthy pegboard. (more…)

[Read more →]

Tags:····

Fry-up!

September 13th, 2011 · 11 Comments · Entertaining, Pork and Beef, Posts by Andy, Rituals

At what point do I stop feeling that pit in my stomach, that gnawing sense of dread, when summer ends? Is it me, or was last week officially the longest four-day week in history? Okay, maybe that’s overstating things, but still: I was hurting, in a real back-to-school way, and I’m a grown-ass man. Back behind my desk, staring at the screen. School lunches to be packed. Bills to be paid, rising anxieties to be tamped down, alarm clocks to be set, soggy basements to be dried, soccer and piano schedules to coordinate, times tables to be memorized, reality to be reckoned with and, most crushing of all, vacation officially over. We did a little posting from our trip in August, but in case it didn’t come across: we had fun, and were extremely fortunate to have had it, and were unbelievably bummed to be back. We had so much fun, we kept looking for ways to relive our trip once we were home — inflicting our pictures on polite friends (“hold on, you gotta see the sandwiches we made for that picnic in Place des Vosges”), making epic photo albums, leaving our souvenirs around, in prominent places, to remind us of where we’d been, replaying our favorite moments (walking up the Eiffel Tower, hiking the South Downs, napping on trains, watching a clueless, jet-lagged dad try to pay for a crepe in Paris with a ten dollar bill) with the kids around the dinner table.

If you were to call this a form of denial, you wouldn’t be wrong. Two weeks after coming home, we’re still denying, still holding on. This weekend, in homage to the few days we spent in England on the way home from Paris, we had a fry up — cardiologists and vegetarians, avert your eyes — and kicked off our Sunday with an absurd plate of runny eggs, sausage, bacon, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, baked beans, and toast. Of all the unhealthy things we ate in England — to name a few: rock cake, apple tart, banoffee pie, Cadbury bars, clotted cream, rose and chocolate eclairs, scones, currant scones, cheese scones, lamb shoulder, beef roasts, fish and chips, Victoria sponge cake, summer pudding, maple pecan ice cream, etc etc etc — none was more bald in its unhealthiness, or more satisfying, than the fry-up. It’s one unapologetic, greasy, bursting plate of deliciousness. We’d like to live long enough to see our kids reach their teenage years, so we’re not making a habit of this, but man (blimey?): the Brits know from breakfast. I love this, particularly with the beans. I love vacation, particularly with the kids. Can it be summer again? – Andy (more…)

[Read more →]

Tags:···

R.O.D.

September 9th, 2011 · 53 Comments · Dinner, Rituals, Rules

In my next life, I want to be Brooke Reynolds, creator not just of the inspired family blog inchmark, but of the kind of life where kids have hand-sewed mongrammed ballet and book bags; where families have color-coordinated reunions (and seem to genuinely like each other); and where there is no such thing as a detail that is too small to be made special. Brooke, a former designer at Martha Stewart Living, is a big believer in eating dinner with her brood (her husband and three kids) and here she guest-posts about a few rules laid down for the family table. And yes, she is responsible for the beautiful artwork as well. See what I mean about simple made special? –Jenny

We love family dinner at our house, I’ve got three children ages 1 to 7 and that moment when we all sit down together to eat a good meal…it really is my favorite moment of the day. I’ve been loving all the recipes and great tips I’ve learned from DALS, and I’m happy to share our Rules of Dinner — some ideas that have helped my family enjoy our dinners together.  (more…)

[Read more →]

Tags:··

Top 10 Quick Dinners

September 7th, 2011 · 21 Comments · Favorites, Organizing, Strategizing, Planning, Quick

If I didn’t know that September was here by the first-day-of-school butterflies, the sudden, almost primal urge to re-organize my bulletin board, or the to-do list spinning through my brain like a slot machine at 3am, I’d know it by looking at my DALS email inbox. Help! You all write. I need quick dinner ideas for the back-to-school scramble. I started replying one by one, but then I thought almost everyone out there would be interested in my suggestions. So here they are, in no particular order.

1. Pretzel Chicken Courtesy of City Bakery (pictured Below).
2. Chicken and Rice for Beginners. You’ll never go back.
3. Pork Chops with Kale A Bugiali favorite.
4. Angel Hair with Corn and Bacon Your window for sweet summer corn is about to shut — take advantage of the fresh ears as much as possible!
5. Sausage Stew with Kale and White Beans I’m making this tonight.
6. Avgolemeno Insane how creamy this lemony Greek soup tastes — without using any cream at all.
7. Salmon with Brussels Sprouts and Ginger-Scallion Sauce  Superfast, superhealthy.
8. Quick and Easy Pork Fried Rice Easily made veg by omitting the pork. It’s almost too easy!
9. Turkey Sloppy Joes with Melted Cheddar For nostalgia night.
10. Chicken with Artichokes in a Creamy Mustard Sauce This is in danger of becoming my new “Stairway to Heaven” of Dinners. It always makes whatever list I’m compiling. But I promise it’s more satisfying.

Quick Dinner #2.

[Read more →]

Tags:···

The Napkin Note

September 6th, 2011 · 34 Comments · Rituals

Every year around this time, when I’m about to embark upon a year of school lunches, I have the same thought: Have the girls outgrown the napkin note? Do I bother with it? I don’t know exactly how they feel about the message or picture tucked into the lunchbox saying “I Love You” or “I’ll Miss You!” or “Have a Great First Day!” but in my own mind, it goes a long way towards reminding them I am pulling for you. I am thinking about you. I am still holding your hand through the day even though I’m not even with you. (I have a hard time picturing where all this rah-rah-ing ends up: greasy, chocolate-stained, buried under a crumpled bag of Cheetos in the cafeteria trash can.) But the problem with the napkin note — besides the fact that it is one more thing to think about during the back-to-school madness — is that it feels like an all-or-nothing-proposition. Because if you go to the trouble of writing “xoxoxo” on Day 1, your kid will expect it on Day 2, and if she doesn’t find the same number of x’s and o’s, her heart might sink just a little. Which seems to be the opposite of the point. A few years ago, I got myself sucked into the napkin note spiral, dreaming up different messages or drawings every day for both the girls’ lunch boxes. When Phoebe was into Greek Myths, I signed them from Athena. When Abby was studying poetry, I wrote some verse. Do I even need to mention here that I was working full time and dealing with serious guilt issues?

If anything can chip away at the guilt, though, it’s the napkin note. I will never forget a story in Calvin Trillin’s book About Alice, eulogizing his wife. (If you haven’t read the book or the New Yorker essay that inspired it, please remedy this immediately.) Alice volunteered at a camp for sick kids, and one summer found herself captivated by a sunny young girl who was severely disabled. When Alice happened upon a note that the girl’s mom had sent her, she decided to read it. “I simply had to know what this child’s parents could have done to make her so spectacular,” recalled Alice. “To make her the most optimistic, most enthusiastic, most hopeful human being I had ever encountered.” The note said this:

“If God had given us all of the children in the world to choose from, we would only have chosen you.”

Alice, the mother of two girls herself, took the note and handed it to Calvin, who was sitting next to her. “Quick. Read this. It’s the secret to life.”

I never found a note from my mom in my Holly Hobbie lunchbox. For a good chunk of my elementary school years, she was going to law school at night and was more interested in Civil Procedure and Torts than drawing smiley faces on three napkins five times a week. (Maybe she was smarter than me and recognized an all-or-nothing situation when it presented itself.) But later, with the advent of email, she managed to make up for this in spades. She always emails me on the day in April when we turn our clocks forward because she knows how happy an extra hour of daylight makes me (we are both summer fanatics); or sends me poetic missives about things like the 100-year-old Elm tree being cut down in my childhood back yard (“It’s so much sunnier — and I thought I’d grieve.”) And then there was the follow-up note she emailed after visiting my office, saying how proud of me she was. I could tell you what she wrote word for word  – not only because it is pinned to my office bulletin board, but because it is seared into my memory. It was the napkin note equivalent sent when I was 35 years old, and when I re-read it last week, I knew what I had to do with the lunch boxes.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

[Read more →]

Tags:··