Monthly Archives: September 2009

Peanut noodles with chicken

Now that Fall is here, I’ve been cooking again.  I found this basic recipe in Good Housekeeping magazine, and doctored it up a bit.  Everyone liked it – Emma even took leftovers of it to school for her lunch. (And her friends asked for copies of the recipe.)

1 lb. spaghetti or linguine

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced ( I use garlic from a jar. Saves time.)

4 med. skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

1/4 c. rice vinegar

1/4 c. soy sauce

1/3 c. smooth peanut butter

3 Tbsp. water

2 tsp. grated fresh ginger

1/2 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced

1 bag shredded carrots

1 medium red pepper, thinly sliced

lots of cilantro

1. Boil water. Cook pasta according to directions. Rinse and drain pasta.

2. Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet, heat garlic and 1 inch of a water to boiling on high. Add chicken, reduce heat to medium-low and cook chicken for 13-14 minutes (until it’s not pink. Pink is bad for chicken.) Remove chicken from skillet and place in a bowl of ice water for 5 minutes. Throw out the icky water.  With hands, shred chicken.

3. While chicken and pasta are cooking, in a large bowl whisk vinegar, soy sauce, peanut butter, water and ginger until smooth.

4. To bowl with peanut sauce, add pasta, shredded chicken, cucumber, carrots and pepper; toss to coat.  To serve, garnish with lots of cilantro.

The last time I made this, I added some steamed broccoli to it as well, as both David and Margaret are eating broccoli these days, and request it early every day. I do not know why – it totally came out of the blue.


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Our cat, Mick, wasn’t doing well.  He was old. Somewhere between 15 and 20 years old.  (We don’t know for sure because he had several owners before Tim.)  He was blind, he was down to skin and bones (maybe 4 pounds soaking wet), and this weekend, he could no longer jump on the couch.

Last night, when I got home from a church meeting, Emma told me Mick was worse. He wasn’t moving much, wasn’t eating, he had a pretty serious eye infection, and to be honest, he didn’t really look like the same cat as before…it was like he had already started to cross over.  So I planned to take him to the vet first thing in the morning.

Except that when I woke up, I couldn’t find him. We looked everywhere (actually, I looked everywhere. Emma refused to look under the beds.) I finally saw his big fluffy tail sticking out from under the shelving in the utility closet in the basement. Not moving. Not responding to his name.

This presented me with a dilemma. I didn’t want to leave him there to die if he wasn’t already dead.  I owed him more than that. If he wasn’t already dead, I wanted to hold him while he died. But I really, really, really didn’t want to pick him up if he was already dead.  Eeewww. So I started pacing. And making phone calls for moral support, hoping that someone would say something that would give me the nerve to pick him up.  And that helped, but I still couldn’t pick up the cat. Then I went to get Stephanie for moral support, but she was as scared and skeeved out as I was.

So then I did what any strong, independent woman would do.  I went around the neighborhood to see if I could find a man who was willing to pick up a potentially dead cat to see if it was actually dead.  Unfortunately, no one was home. Not Tom or Matt or Joe.  But luckily, one of my neighbor’s lawn service guys overheard me talking and offered to help me. (Thank you, lawn service guy whose name I don’t even know. He didn’t actually have to pick up the cat, because as we were walking down to the basement, Mick moved, so I knew he was alive.)

It turns out he wasn’t dead. But he was close. He was barely breathing.  He wasn’t moving much.

So I drove to the closest animal hospital that was open. (Not our regular vet.) The receptionist was so kind.  I told her that it was Mick’s time and she explained to me what would happen.

Then the vet came in and this is where the experience took a bad turn. She cheerily asked me when the last time was that he had blood work. I’m sorry…was this a date I was supposed to remember? And she said, you know, maybe he has something treatable. We could do blood work to find out.  To which I said, no thanks, I know that this is the right thing to do. It’s time.

And then. And then she rolled her eyes and sighed a loud sigh. Yes, she did. And then she thrust a piece of paper at me and said in an exasperated tone of voice, “Okay, then, sign this.” And I wanted to yell at her….please tell me you didn’t just do the eye roll thing.  As if. As if I woke up this morning, and said, you know, this cat is really a nuisance. I think I’ll kill it today.

To be f air, she was much more compassionate and kind when she came back in the room to give him the shot. I don’t know why. Maybe she hadn’t actually seen him and the condition he was in before she suggested the blood work. Maybe she got over herself. I don’t really know. I was ready to give her a piece of my mind if she still had the attitude, but it wasn’t necessary.

So here’s my question….at what point did the expectation become that we’re supposed to go to extreme measures to prolong the life of a dying pet? And at what point did someone decide that any pet owner not willing to do this is cruel and heartless?  I don’t think it makes me a bad person because I wasn’t willing to do blood work on a cat that was clearly dying, and had, in fact, gone off to die in a place where I had trouble finding him. I know that I did the right thing. But did I really need a guilt trip from a young, holier-than-thou vet at that very moment?

My lasting memory of Mick will be of him sprawled across my abdomen as I was lying on the couch, when I was very pregnant with David. Mick was incubating me.  (I have no memory of him doing this when I was pregnant with Margaret. I think I was too busy to lie down.)

He loved soft, comfy blankets, and human companionship.  His favorite place to hang out was next to a warm radiator.  He loved us and we loved him.

And we will miss him very much.


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A list of things I can’t do

1. Fix a balloon animal when it starts to fall apart, or unwind, or whatever it is that balloon animals do when they stop being the shape that the balloon animal man created. 

2. Go back in time and make things be different. (As in, BUT I DIDN’T WANT YOU TO CUT MY SANDWICH!!!!!) (But won’t in be a happy day for everyone when I develop the capability to do this?)

3. Throw a baseball. (Kick a soccer ball…this list could go on and on.)

4. Make Teletubbies appear on the TiVo (it’s not on TV anymore. There are some things that I’m happy I can’t do. This is one of them.)

5. Make Apple Jacks miraculously appear in the cupboard without actually going to the store. (BUT I WANT APPLE JACKS!!!!!)

6. Remember to check David’s backpack every day. (Yes, I’m still flunking kindergarten.)

7. Make the damn weeds stop growing the backyard. (I keep KILLING THEM and they keep reappearing.)

8. Fix trains. (But thank goodness for Joe, our next-door neighbor, who is a train fixer.)

9. Get the Sharpie stains out of the carpet (but we’ve already been through that. Still trying.)

10. Make my kids eat peas. (Or any vegetable, for that matter. But I keep trying.)

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Things I learned this Labor Day weekend

1. A blue Sharpie in the hands of a 3-year-old is a very bad thing.

2. Blue Sharpie does not come out of tan Berber carpeting, although Mr. Clean Magic Eraser makes it less noticeable.

3. Blue Sharpie does not come off Mac keyboards.

4. When using a wet Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to try to clean a Mac keyboard, you should first unplug the Mac keyboard from the Mac.

5. If you don’t unplug the Mac keyboard from the Mac before using the wet Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, it fries the Mac keyboard and makes it unusable.

6. A fried Mac keyboard makes a sound like you’re continuously pressing down a key. (It can probably make other sounds as well, or no sound at all for that matter, but I don’t know for sure.)

7. There’s  a lot of stuff available for resale on Craig’s list, including used Mac keyboards.

And that’s what I learned this Labor Day weekend.

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The hardest part

The hardest part about adjusting to kindergarten is not the new routine. It’s not all the new kids and the new teacher (Ms. Weigel, whom David refers to as “Miss Waggle.”) It’s not remembering the backpack every day (although I confess that I forgot to check the backpack on Friday and therefore didn’t realize that David had homework that was due on Monday. Less than a week and I’m flunking kindergarten already. I don’t remember Emma having homework in kindergarten. But I digress.)   

No, the hardest part is having to be somewhere at 8:00. On the dot.  When the bell rings.  To be clear, it’s not that it’s 8:00. It could be 7:45 or 8:15 or 8:30.  It’s having to be somewhere AT A CERTAIN TIME.  With preschool, we could just roll in when we were ready, somewhere between 7:30-8:45.  But not so wth kindergarten. Be there at 8:00, or it goes on your Permanent Record.  Tardy.  Get a note from the office.

This morning, David had two meltdowns. First, because he couldn’t finish watching the Mickey Mouse Club, which doesn’t end until 8:00. Then, because Margaret “called” the song she wanted in the car (the first song on Bruce Springsteen/The Pete Seeger Sessions) before David did.  So by the time we got to play  David’s song (The Dixie Chicks “If I Fall You’re Going Down With Me”; his favorite song used to be “Wide Open Spaces”, but his musical tastes have deepened), we could only hear the first verse.  (Yes, okay, we live close enough to the school that we don’t even get through two songs, yet we drive instead of walk most days. What can I say…we have to be there by 8:00 on the dot.)  So he had a fit because we couldn’t sit in the car and listen to the rest of the song because The Bell was going to ring.)  

He was still screaming and crying when I left.

My friends tell me that we will be used to this by the first of October. And far be it from me to wish away time.

But is it October yet?

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