Friday, March 28, 2008

Notes from Seattle

My friend Brian sent me this:

with a note reading, "So plant 'em yourself!" A friend in need is a friend indeed.

However, check out the view from our balcony today, March 28:

Yes, yes, I know the cherry tree is lovely. But look, look to right, where I have drawn a very very dim circle (I still haven't mastered Photoshop). I know it's hard to see, I know the tree is pretty and distracting. But let me tell you: it is snowing. Hard. Big, fat, wet flakes that aren't sticking, but it's snowing. Last night I slept with three comforters on me.

I would plant the seeds anyway, since they say to plant them 6-8 weeks before last frost, but we'll be leaving on our honeymoon soon, and there will be no one to water them.

Oh, and one last shot:

I've begun knitting again. No, my shoulder isn't any better. But the latest Vogue Knitting arrived, with a pattern I had to try. And I had the perfect yarn for it. And I have nothing to do but sit around the house, unpack, job hunt, and twitch about being unemployed. And do my taxes, but doing my taxes would involve finding my files. And, you know, doing them. My hands needed occupying. This picture represents about a week's worth of knitting. I tell myself that knitting is better for my shoulder than sitting on the computer all day.


Friday, March 14, 2008

Miracle pill

My eyes have been itching a lot lately. I have allergies, hay fever, mostly, and the way it most affects me is in terribly itchy eyes. If it's really bad, the inside of my mouth and my tongue also itch. Sinus problems are either less severe or less annoying, I don't know. I notice the eyes the most.

For years my allergies were at their worst in May and June. But the last two years or so, I've noticed I have symptoms all year round. Since I've moved to Seattle, they've been pretty bad, especially the eyes. I'd blame it on Seattle and its plethora of flowering trees (there are two outside our building, but I am not complaining: I love flowering trees), but I have to admit I first noticed it getting unseasonably bad in New York before I left. I thought it was all the dust kicked up by my moving, but who knows? Anyway, it was so bad that on my very last day in New York, I came up with the following song celebrating my #2 Drug of Choice (#1 being Excedrin), Benadryl.

(Sung to the tune of "Spiderman")

Benadryl, Benadryl
It's my favorite miracle pill.
Clears my nose,
Clears my head,
Nothing else will do instead.
Oh yeah! Bring on the Benadryl.

Is it strong?
Listen, bud
It courses through your allergic blood.*
Takes on cats,
Takes on dust,
It's an absolute musty must.
Oh yeah! Bring on the Benadryl.

When your eyes, in Spring,
Drive you wild, 'round the bend,
You don't need a thing
But your pink little friend!

Benadryl, Benadryl
It's my favorite miracle pill.
Clears your nose,
Clears your head,
Nothing else will do instead.
Oh yeah! Bring on the Benadryl!

* This line provided by my friend Laura.

Hey, nothing else is going on right now: unpacking, unpacking, unpacking. Ugh!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Toto, we're not in NYC anymore

Photo from

This is broccoli rabe, also known as rapini or broccoli di rape. It's an Italian vegetable, bitter, leafy, with flowers that kind of look like broccoli. According to Wikipedia, it's related to turnips. It's an acquired taste, as it is quite bitter; for many years I didn't like it, until I learned the secret: blanch it first.

My sweetie loves broccoli rabe, and it was a staple in our New York diet: easy to cook, readily available year-round, not expensive, healthy. Saute it with garlic and olive oil and you've got a side dish; toss it with some pasta and you've got a quick and easy meal. It goes well with Italian sausage, peppers, chickpeas. When I don't have a lot of creative energy but want a tasty meal with vegetables, I choose broccoli rabe. It is a vegetable I can cook without a recipe.

For my first cooked meal in Seattle, it seemed natural to use some broccoli rabe. Imagine my astonishment, then, when I went to two grocery stores and was unable to find it. In the second grocery store, I even asked the produce guy for it, and he asked a second guy, who asked a third guy, and they all agreed that, not only did they not carry it, they'd never even heard of it. Flabbergasted would not begin to describe it. Broccoli rabe is something you can find in the crappiest grocery store (and there are many crappy grocery stores) in New York. Not having it is almost equivalent to not having spinach.

Have I mentioned there are a lot of Italians in NYC as well as Jews?

One of the fun things about moving to a new place is seeing what is different in the grocery store--in my wanderings looking for broccoli rabe, for example, I saw bok choy, something you can't get in the average store in NYC--but, wow. No broccoli rabe. I learned to love broccoli rabe in NYC, so I honestly cannot say if it was readily available in California. And I'm not saying NYC is so much better because it has broccoli rabe; I'm just...stunned. I had not realized the extent to which broccoli rabe had become my go-to vegetable until I could not go to it.

I bought mustard greens instead. They're bitter, too, but not as yummy, or as substantial, as broccoli rabe. Sigh.