Sunday, July 27, 2008

Church Shooting Update

The most recent update is that it is now being reported that one victim of the shooting has died. Five of the others are in critical condition. Reportedly, the seventh person had not a gunshot but another (minor) injury related to the attack.

It seems you can get frequent updates here, so I will discontinue posting:
WBIR Knoxville, TN

Prayers and love to this church.

Church Shooting

No, I am not back from my hiatus. But I just left worship only to receive an email with news that there was a shooting this morning at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Church in Knoxville during a children's production of a play. Six or seven people have been taken to the hospital. At this point it sounds like they are all people who were sitting in a pew, though details have not been released. The extent of the injuries haven't been reported, but fortunately no deaths have occurred.

May our prayers and thoughts be with this faith community at this time.

P.S. Nevermind what we may think about "Annie" being the morning's worship service. I am sure we all have opinions on that one (I know I do), but let's focus loving thoughts on this congregation.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Intermission Videos

I am taking a break from a brain-intensive project I am doing for work. Thought during my break I'd post some intermission videos (videos you can come back and enjoy as you have the time while I am taking a web and phone communication hiatus).

The video clips here (all of varying lengths) are all related to the following theme: TV and Movie Characters Who Could Just Be on the Autism Spectrum ;-)...

Dwight Schrute




Snape or Luna??

Gregory House



Napoleon Dynamite



(I've never seen this movie...but this video made me cry)

Forrest Gump



Jerry Espenson

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Taking a Little Break

I think I am going to take a little break from online (and phone) communication, including blogging for a week or two.

For one thing, I am not getting enough done this summer and need to minimize distractions. Also, I have a disturbing communication pattern recently in which I seem to be unintentionally offending others, and I'd hate to see this impacting my relationships unecessarily.

I am not sure what is causing this pattern (When I read over the things I am writing, I am often confused by how it is being "heard." That wouldn't be unusual for someone on the neurologically divergent side like myself, as social relationships are a challenge and a source of anxiety and misunderstanding due to differing perspectives and approaches and actual purposes for communication.). But it seems to be another one of those blips in my usual patterns and relationships, so I am going to assume for now that it is temporary and that it may be diminished by the time I begin posting again.

I hope you will stay tuned and rejoin me in early or mid-August for more adventures.

Monday, July 21, 2008

And a Little Something From Children Around the Nation ;)

Study: Most Children Strongly Opposed To Children�s Healthcare

Is this the kind of thing only those of us whose children have had more than their fair share of medical care will find funny?!

Dear Chard, I Forgive You

Dear Rainbow Chard,

I forgive you for being bitter. I am sorry I took you to the smoothie party. Those berries are not your kind. You don't belong with them. They are nothing like you! I've learned my lesson. I can't love you unless I am willing to love you as you are. I can't find out more about you unless I am willing to enter into your own world.

I promise from now on I won't continue to force you to be so out of place just so we can be where I love to be. I promise I will meet you half way. Tonight when I blanched you, so much of your bitterness left, and I am glad I gave you the time of day. I saw how many sides you have today, chard, and I am interested.

You have to understand: I let you nourish me. That is so hard for me to do. You have no idea the history I have with leafy greens. So much time I have wasted by allowing my previous relationships to interfere with ours. So much time I have wasted trying to make you into something you aren't.

I can't change you. I know that now. But I hope you can forgive me for trying and we can move on from here. I want to know who you are.

Masasa of

Friday, July 18, 2008

Neighborhood Walkability

Thanks to my lovely mother for introducing me to On first glance, there seem to be a number of useful applications for such a website, including:
  • Gain some perspective on your neighborhood in the grand scheme of walkability
  • Find out the truth about places you want to live
  • Find great places to live if your options are open
  • Look for a good score to help your market your home when selling
  • Get assistance in evaluating a potential neighborhood when considering a new purchase or rental
  • Find out about treasures you can walk to in your neighborhood that you may not know about or may have overlooked
  • Enjoy some photos and/or reviews of familiar locations
  • Write your own reviews of locations in your neighborhood (just remember you have to confirm your email after registering before you can write a review)
  • Get tips to help you advocate for greater walkability where you live
  • Read "how it doesn't work" for an honest assessment of the website's own limitations, and ideas for other walkability considerations you might want to make
  • Read a blog of interest

Want to Understand the "Oil Crisis" Better?

This is fascinating. I found this link by listening to today's radio show on "Science Friday.". This link is to an educational seminar for journalists on asking helpful questions about oil.

You'll first need to click HERE for the Powerpoint presentation for the seminar to follow along. Then click HERE to hear the seminar.

The seminar is either an hour or an hour and a half long, but likely very useful if you are interested in being an informed citizen, voter, and consumer. If you can't manage to make time for it, though, hopefully today's Science Friday broadcast will eventually be posted online.

CSA: Day 3

Yesterday we ignored the veggies in our fridge, but today we came back on board. G. says she is going to make "eggs in purgatory" tonight (a big bow to the Italian side):

She will be making her own sauce I am sure, so I am assuming/hoping this means she will use up some of our basil. She will likely throw in some of the squash too.

I tried a "green smoothie" this morning with G. and the kids. Hmmm. Not sure what to think. It was more purple than green because it included blueberries (which were too brilliant to be overwhelmed by the green) and strawberries. I only used about a leaf and a half of the swiss chard in a blender full of fruit and yogurt, fearful I couldn't tolerate more.

Sure enough, I definitely tasted the green leafy-ness, and it was bitter and a turn off. I was happy, at least, to be thinking of us all getting some good nutrients, until M. drank for a while and then said firmly, "not good." Argh. But he did finish it off and even had a little more after a break when he saw K. having some (they always want what the other has). So maybe it was bearable. K. seemed to like it, and she asked for seconds. I had to make another pitcher to accomodate her request. However, G. then finished the second pitcher because K. lost interest.

In the second pitcher I added some honey. We did not have any juice, and I thought perhaps we needed some more concentrated sweetness to balance the bitter. Honey made no difference, and apparently the leaves I picked for the second pitcher were more bitter than the first.

I really don't know what I am going to do with all this chard.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Bit Melancholy Today

Recently I posted a link to this song. I am finding it to be of continued great poetic value, and today since I am feeling a bit melancholy, and in the mood to hear it, I thought I might as well actually post the lyrics.

Death took the husband of a neighbor of mine,
on a highway, with a drunk at the wheel.
She told me "Keep your clean hands off the laundry he left,
and don't tell me you know how I feel."
She had a tape that he sent her from a Holiday Inn,
and she never played it much in the day.
But when I heard him say he loved her through the window at night,
I just stayed the hell away.

There is a hole in the middle of the prettiest life,
so the lawyers and the profits say.
Not your father, nor your mother, nor your lover
is going to ever make it go away.
And there is too much darkness in an endless night
to be afraid of the way we feel.
Let's be kind to each other,
not forever, but for real.

My father never put his parachute on
in the Pacific back in World War Two.
He said he'd rather go down in familiar flames,
then get lost in that endless blue.
And some of that blue got into my eyes,
and we never stopped fighting that war.
Until I first understood about endlessness,
and I loved him like never before.


It's lucky that my daughter got her mother's nose,
and just a little of her father's eyes.
And we've got just enough love that when the longing takes me,
well it takes me by surprise.
And I remember that longing from my highway days,
though I never could get away.
It's lucky I decided in the knick of time
that the woman and the child aren't to blame.

Oh the hole in the middle of a pretty good life,
I only face it 'cause it's here to say.
Not my father, nor my mother, nor my daughter,
nor my lover, nor the highway made it go away.
And there is too much darkness in an endless night,
to be ashamed by the way I feel.
I'll be kind to my loved ones,
not forever but for real.

Some say that God is lover,
some say its an endless void.
Some say both, and some say she's angry,
and some say just annoyed.
But if God has a hammer in the palm of his hand,
then God knows the way we feel.
And love lasts forever,
forever and for real.
Love lasts forever.

--Bob Franke

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I Ate It Before I Could Even Take a Picture! (And it had cabbage in it!!!!)

Note: This is not my picture. I, along with the rest of my family, ate mine up too quickly to even think of getting the camera to snap a shot. Besides, this is made from a much more dressed up version of the recipe. Ours was simpler, and looked simpler too. It was not nearly as colorful, but plenty tasty and relatively nutrient-dense for a comfort food. The picture came from:

CSA Day One Report

One thing I learned from my new book, Greens, Glorious Greens is that cabbage keeps longer than most other leafy vegetables. If it hasn't been sliced (which causes vitamin C loss anyway), it keeps for at least four weeks in the fridge. Apparently some gardeners are even able to store some cabbage away for use in the winter. Who knew?!

Because cabbage is the longest lasting out of the veggies we received yesterday, I probably should have tried to cook with the others first. But I found a tempting recipe in the book for cabbage, and it served as too much of a draw. It was for a milkless (???!) version of colcannon. I went online and dug around and found a great variety of colcannon recipes.

Colcannon is an Irish dish that is basically, when it comes down to it, mashed potatoes with sauteed cabbage or kale. Though the version in the book is without milk, many descriptions of the dish include milk as a defining feature of the dish. I found only a handful of recipes for colcannon with milk alternatives, ranging from sour cream to a thick broth. That said, some recipes called for cooking the cabbage in the milk while most involved putting the milk in the mashed potatoes as you might usually. I opted for the latter because it was a much more common recipe and also because I wanted to make absolutely sure I didn't have soggy cabbage on my hands.

The potato most recipes recommended was the yukon gold. I did red potatoes instead because that is what I had on hand. It was very flavorful and I have no regrets at all. In fact, I'd recommend them.

I followed the common recipe using butter for sauteeing the cabbage. Thank goodness! This would have been a very different dish with my usual olive oil sautee. Butter was the right choice for this dish. Along with the cabbage, I also sauteed thinly diced yellow onions. No recipes recommended this, to my recollection, though a few suggested slicing in some chives. I rather liked the diced onions (about 3/4 of an onion), and dare I say they made the dish complete. Not sure I would have liked it without the onion, actually.

For the cabbage, I did not core it as is recommended, in case we wanted to store it for a while for other uses. Instead, I just pulled off a number of leaves, including some of the stiffer inner leaves. I sliced these thinly-- and in some cases chopped them for smaller peices as well-- fearful that the cabbage would overwhelm the dish (it did not). The trick is to sautee these on medium heat just for a few minutes. My onions had not yet started to turn brown. The idea is that the cabbage should add a nice, mild flavored crunch to the dish rather than being a smelly overcooked mess.

I chose a recipe without any spices other than salt and pepper. I am not sure whether having more or fewer spices is more traditional, but because of the move I have few spices on hand right now. I decided to keep it simple. I did not regret this either. If I had expected this dish to be something unlike mashed potatoes, I would have needed to opt for a more spiced version. But I went into this thinking I was going to have something like "enhanced mashed potatoes," and thus the salt and pepper was a perfect, simple pair of spices.

Speaking of treating this dish like a special type of mashed potatoes, it is even simpler to make than the recipes read. Basically, all one needs to do is to make some mashed potatoes (in my opinion, hand mashed was especially tasty), and sautee some green cabbage (or another cabbage, or kale) lightly at the same time. Then mix. The most time consuming part truly was hunting down the right recipe.

In the future, I think I might try making this as a layered dish, rather than mixing the cabbage and onions in with the mashed potatoes. This would better preserve the crunch (though there definitely was still a crunch in some of the cabbage, even after mixing), and it would make the dish a less challenging sensory experience (when there isn't crunch, getting a peice of floppy green stuff in your mashed potatoes may be tasty but can take a lot of adjustment). I also understand that if mixed without any milk at all, the dish can be formed into patties and fried like a pancake for a breakfast version. That sounds yummy too.

I think using this basic green cabage was perfect (might it be "spring cabbage"??). The taste was mild but sweet, there was little if any odor, and the color made me envision making it as a St. Patricks Day dish. By the way, the color holds strong through the sauteeing.

I realized later I could have thrown in some of the parsley for another dimmension for the dish, but I am glad I tried a very simple version first to really get to know the basic dish before begining to experiment. It is truly an ultimate comfort food.

I would be happy to finish off this whole head of cabbage in this same manner. The kids liked it too. M. didn't want any of the bigger chunks of cabbage or onion, but ate a few bites with smaller bits in there. K. ate the whole thing right up, no second thoughts! I like the idea of having some especially Irish food in our diets. Up until now, I thought the Irish diet was mostly meat, meat, and more meat, with a few potatoes and some cabbage thrown in on the side. I had no idea there was anything we'd particularly take a liking to, and I had no idea I could take this much joy in cabbage. This is an ode to the Irish side!

There is a video here where you can see the dish being made. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

CSA Week One

There were delays, but we got our first CSA box this week. It had to sit outside for a while because we were out of town when we got confirmation that we were IN, but oh well. We can pick it up more fresh next week.

Here's what we have in terms of the green leafy things (we also got some blueberries, carrots, summer squash, zucchini, and cucumbers). Continued suggestions...and education...welcome:

This seems to be a pretty straight-forward case of green cabbage.

Here's some swiss chard. This one was labeled.

At first glance we thought this was romaine or green leaf lettuce,
but after getting it out and taking a closer look, we decided it is most likely bok choi.

This does appear to be a lettuce. I am assuming green leaf. Maybe romaine???

I wish I could photograph SMELL. Mmmm. Parsley and basil, of course.

Okay, so not sure about these. We'd assume either is a red leaf lettuce, but there are two, and if you look at the photo, the leaves are distinctly different. Hmmmm(???)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Two Quotes To Chew On Tonight

I have started reading two books today, not sure which I will commit to first. They are both on my 8 x 8 in '08 list. Tonight I was reading the first chapter of The Lost Art of Listening by Michael P. Nichols. Two things have stood out to me so far, and they are as quoted below:

"One of a mother's heaviest burdens is being the primary target of her children's primitive swings between need and rage."

The mothers in the room are surely nodding their heads. I'll have to think about that some more.

The second is a little harder for me to stomach right now. Having struggled much of my life-- at least on an internal level-- with social skills, I have only a very basic ability to be a good conversationalist. One tool I often fall back on is trying to share common ground with the person with whom I am talking. So if they, for example, start telling a story about an awful experience they had the other day at a restaurant, my first instinct is to share an awful restraunt story of my own as commiseration. In fact, depending on the speaker's motivation for sharing this story, this may leave them with the feeling that I am not really just *hearing* them. So, the author says:

"A good listener is a witness, not a filter for your experience."

Huh. Good food for thought as I hit the hay tonight.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Candidates Flip Flopping?

Of course both these videos are highly biased and ridiculously one-sided, but yeah, this is what is out there floating, and I do think it is important to be clear when folks are being incorrectly or correctly charged with being inconsistent.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tears of Recognition

I saw a seizure specialist for the first time today. It was a fiasco getting there. The hospital was completely disorganized, and the right hand did not know what the left was doing. I was sent to three different locations (in two different buildings)-- and had an inquiry by my name placed in two different computers by two different hospital staff people-- before finally being sent to the correct location for the seizure clinic.

The clinic is part of Harvard Medical School. For a good portion of my young adulthood, I wanted to attend Harvard Medical School. Life meanwhile took another direction. It was odd now to be driving past the school as a patient, and to have (presumably) one of its students (a resident perhaps?) conduct my patient interview and physical exam.

After finishing the interview and the exam, this doctor-- who I will call the "interview doctor"-- left the room, and he came back about ten or fifteen minutes later with the doctor to whom I'd originally been referred, who I will call the "recommendations doctor." She made the recommendations for next steps.

Basically, there are two things the "recommendations doctor" would like to do, to get a better understanding of what is happening in my brain. First, she would like to send me home with a portable EEG unit that I will keep on for 48 hours. During this time, it will take intermittent recordings. G. can also turn it on to do a recording if she feels I am spacing out. This provides a panaromic view of the electrical activity in my brain. The EEG I had done a while back was only a snapshot, and although it came back abnormal, provides little information.

The other thing the "recommendations doctor" would like to do is a high resolution MRI. Though the MRI I recently had been done was with contrast dye, giving us a good amount of information, the high resolution MRI will give us even more information.

The "recommendations doctor" explained to me that she is guessing I am having seizures that are impacting a large part of my brain, or indeed the whole thing. My symptoms would be more localized if the seizures were more localized.

When she first came into the room, the "recommendations doctor" asked me some clarifying timeline questions. Since my memory has been impacted in the course of my symptoms, the timeline had been difficult for me in the first place. But basically what I explained to the "interview doctor" was that I don't remember being especially symptomatic until maybe about five years ago. It has gotten slowly but progressively worse since then, and only within the last year or year and and a half was it bad enough that G. was alarmed to the point of forcing my hand so that I would see a doctor.

The clarifying questions were interesting. The "recommendations doctor" was able to use certain periods of time (for example, classes I took in high school) to help me create a better timeline. It was during that conversation when I remembered some experiences in school from early childhood. They may have been early symptoms. Tears began streaming down my face as the memories poured in. For years, those memories were markers of low academic self-esteem. Suddenly, those memories were also transformed into potential markers of a seizure disorder.

I was overcome by the need to apologize to the doctors for my tears. I felt so silly, sitting there in the clinic crying as I remembered little hardships about being a young student. The "recommendations doctor" let me know it was okay to cry. She said, "It seems to me we get a lot of tears around here. I think they are tears of recognition." Indeed.

She said that the seizures can go unnoticed for years and years even if they occur for say, as long as 30 or 45 seconds. She said she felt like intelligence could make up for large chunks of missing time. The brain just does double-time. I guess she was saying I am smart ;-). But this gets challenging as we get older, she explained, because our brains end up doing more multi-tasking as we balance our jobs and our families, and so forth. When we are younger and more focused on something like school, we have more reserves for a brain doing double duty. I don't have that luxury now, which may be why things are progressing and I was finally pushed to see a neurologist. Apparently, this isn't rare.

I had been thinking about my case as a "new(ish) onset" of seizures. Hmmm.

What an interesting day it has been.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Help! Help! I am joining a CSA and I HATE leafy greens!

I am two weeks late, but they said they would let me in for a full share. The price is normally $550, but they took $50 off for the first two weeks. I have to confirm tomorrow. Among my many feelings (Hooray! I found one where I can WALK to the delivery location on a cool enough day!), I am unsure where I will come up with the $500 by tomorrow. I am also doing this, so far, without having consulted G. Finally, I am terrified because I am seriously not a fan of leafy greens. I can put up with small doses of romaine and iceberg lettuce, but that is the extent of it. The problem? In New England, at this time of year, that is pretty much what you get. Eeeeeewwww! Leafy, leafy greens!

Anyone with survival tips on cooking with leafy greens when you generally don't like them? "Oh laaawd, the drama!" you say? I probably am being a little overly-dramatic, but I guess I just need my moment to do the juvenile thing. I am already collecting some smoothie recipes, that apparently folks love even when they hate greens. But what else? I can stand a small, single leaf of almost any type of green on a sandwich with many other flavors. Spinach can go in lasagna if there is a day cool enough to heat up the kitchen making it. (I guess I could blanch and freeze in the meantime???).

But cabbage, chard, and kale have been known to make me vomit...or nearly so! What will I do if they want to send me cabbage? I've only eaten one coleslaw I could stand-- and yes, believe me, I am going to be contacting this church member for the recipe.

I don't want to sautee up a bunch of leafy greens because the slimey texture will make me gag. If I chop it up small enough, I might be able to add small doses to soups and stews, if not now, maybe in the winter (can I freeze everything but lettuce?). What else?! What else?! I am having CSA panic!

Half Tank of Gas

On June 22nd, I posted that a few days prior I had filled up my car with a half tank of gas. Yesterday the needle went to its original position. So that is 13 days, give or take since I didn't keep exact notes (not quite two weeks on a half tank). Not bad considering what I was expecting.

My notes so far:
1. My move consumed a lot of the gas, but...
2. on the other hand, we did not visit the IL's (who live 1.5 hours away) until G. went there with the kids a few days ago in the other vehicle.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I Heart Pool Care

me, playing in a pool as a kid

Caring for my pool right now takes at least an hour every day (lately much more because [a] it has been raining every afternoon and [b] we're fighting a very mild-- knock on wood-- attack of algae). I hear once your pool is under control and you have the routine down, it can take as little as an hour per week. I do look forward to that because carving out an hour from my day without neglecting the precious time I have with my children is hard.

That said, I love my pool and I love doing pool care. I always hated yard work, and was never any good at it. Everything I wanted to grow died. Everything I didn't want to grow was impossible to get rid of. I found the heat unbearable in the summer, even in mild western Washington state, and a lot of sensory aversions were triggered by the work (as with other types of domestic work). I never felt strong or capable. G. liked it somewhat, but never had enough time for it, nor a natural knack really.

Now that we have far more pool than yard, I have a way to really contribute to our domestic life without wanting to leave my skin every minute of it.

Here are the top 10 things I love about caring for my pool:

10. It involves my brain. It involves chemicals. It involves science.

9. It makes me feel like I am outsmarting someone when I discover, for example, that the "shock" compound they sell at the pool supply store for $30 dollars for a few weeks worth of supply is really just 5.25% household bleach that I can get at the store for about $1.62 per week.

8. It is something physical...hard laborious work that I have to do in slow motion. You can't rush through it or it won't be effective. (Moving slowly seems to be my body's ambition in life, but I do like the feeling of being physical in any case.)

7. If I get too hot, I can dip my feet or dunk my head, as long as I am not applying chemicals (which is better done in the evening, when it is cooler, anyway).

6. It's impressive. People who look in the corner with all the pool equipment are overwhelmed by it just like I was at first. Even G. is still a little overwhelmed by it. But so far I am managing pretty well (knock on wood), which boosts my self-esteem.

5. I usually reward myself with a good swim after cleaning the pool. I LOVE swimming.

4. Even if I don't get to swim afterward, usually my family does, and it brings me soooooo much joy to be able to give this gift to them.

3. I really like the hum of the pool pump. It is soothing to me.

2. I don't have to get my hands dirty or touch too much stuff that trigger sensory aversions.

1. I can do it only semi-clothed, which is especially wonderful on hot and humid days when I can barely stand to get dressed to go to work, let alone to do physical labor.

In My Arms (Plumb)

A fellow foster-adopt mommy shared the following song in a discussion on an adoption board. She talked about her intense sadness about the experiences her daughter had in early life, and the equally intense desire to protect her daughter from further harm. I can relate to that sadness and desire.

There are three versions below. The first one is the original. The second and third are two different dance version remixes. The second includes the vocals immediately, in the third you have to wait for it a bit (I might like it better than the second though, I think). The videos were chosen pretty randomly, so it is interesting that they were each a very different take on the lyrics. The second is apparently images from "Final Fantasy." Um, okay, I don't know anything about "Final Fantasy," but I had fun watching it anyway. I apologize, but the third has music only, no real video images. The song lyrics are posted below the video clips. If you do a YouTube search, you'll also find a few folks who have used the song to narrate video and photographic images of their babies.

by Plumb
your baby blues
so full of wonder
your curley cues
your contageous smile
and as i watch
you start to grow up
all I can do is hold you tight

knowing clouds will raise up
storms will race in
but you will be safe in my arms
rains will pour down
waves will crash all around
but you will be safe in my arms

story books full of fairy tales
kings and queens and the bluest skies
My heart is torn just in knowing
you'll someday see the truth from lies

knowing clouds will raise up
storms will race in
but you will be safe in my arms
rains will pour down
waves will crash all around
but you will be safe in my arms

Castles they might crumble
dreams may not come true
but you are never all alone
because I will always
always love you

clouds will raise up
storms will race in
but you will be safe in my arms
rains will pour down
waves will crash all around
but you will be safe in my arms