Archive for April 2007

Thinking Blogger!

I’m so proud to have been nominated for a Thinking Blogger award from one of my favorite foodie-writer mama bloggers; Feed Your Loves writes beautifully, always makes me hungry, and does it all with two toddlers (two!)

So now I get to pass the nominations on. Here, briefly, are 5 blogs that make me think. Go check them out.

Midlife Mama blogs about family life and food, while her blog, Lessons from the Tortoise, covers children’s lit and her other reading, too. Since the award is to the blogger not the blog, I’m linking to both!

Everyday Mom inspires me with her passionate political activism and her quiet thoughtfulness about mothering.

The bloggers at MomsRising make it easy to find out what’s happening and what I can do to work for mom’s rights.

Traveler’s Lunchbox is gorgeous, in its photography and its writing about food. Plus she’s a graduate student (or was — I see that she’s defended her thesis now), and you know I have a special place in my heart for them.

And speaking of higher education, go check out what Bitch, Ph.D. has to say about academia, mothering, and how to buy a bra, too. She makes me think and she makes me laugh.

And now, nominees, go on out and tag some more bloggers:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn’t fit your blog).

Good Riddance!

Another idiot off the airwaves. Thanks to the efforts of MomsRising‘s petition drive, bloggers like Everyday Mom and loads of other thoughtful people (and, of course, worried advertisers), Don Imus has lost his platform.

Good news.

I’m a Hip Mama, now

Check out my little essay, The Cookie, at the fabulous Hip Mama!

Lemon Cake

I keep experimenting with recipes that use whole lemons (peel, pith and all) and having made this twice now (once for my parents, once for my sister and her family, so both times for excellent baking critics!) I think this Meyer Lemon Cake is a winner. You boil the lemons (regular ones or the milder Meyer variety) for thirty minutes or so and then seed and puree them so that you don’t have any big chunks of peel, just lots of intense lemon flavor in a moist cake which uses ground almonds in place of most of the flour.

Try it and let me know what you think!

A Feminist Bunny

The Easter Bunny brings books to our house along with chocolate, and this year I got a sweet Margaret Wise Brown story, Home for a Bunny, for Eli and then finally remembered to get one of my childhood favorites for Ben, The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes.

When I was little, I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes Easter egg logistics that this book details: the “fact” that there are five Easter bunnies; how bunnies are chosen to become Easter bunnies; the palace stacked with Easter eggs, carefully sorted by color, style, and flavor.

As an adult, and as a parent, I appreciate the feminist message in this seventy year-old story. The Country Bunny is told that she’ll never be an Easter bunny because her 21 children take up so much her time. And it’s true, she says, that as babies they do keep her completely occupied. But then they grow, and she teaches them to run the house, assigning pairs to cook and clean and garden and even to dance and paint, to entertain the bunnies doing more “necessary” chores. We’re shown, in fact, that mothering gives her skills that make her more qualified to become an Easter bunny than she might have been otherwise.

All of this is very gently conveyed, not at all beating the reader over the head with its message, for which I am grateful. But the thing that gets me is, why does the Country Bunny need to teach her kids to do all this work? She has a husband, we read (he’s never shown), which is how she comes to have 21 baby bunnies, but then he falls out of the story and the Country Bunny is effectively a single mother. And so good for her for managing as competently as she does. But of course I wish for a story that shows the daddy bunny staying home with the kids while mother bunny follows her career dreams.

MotherTalk San Francisco

I’m delighted to be hosting another MotherTalk at my home on April 22nd, this time with bestselling British writer Santa Montefiore, author of The Gypsy Madonna.

Elegant Anouk, a dealer in American antiques, dies leaving the Metropolitan museum an uncatalogued, multi-million dollar painting by Titian. Her son, Mischa, never even knew she owned it. This mystery sends him on the trail of his own history, back to that French village of his childhood. He expects to uncover the origins of the Gypsy Madonna; he never expects to find himself.

If you’ll be in the San Francisco bay area on the 22nd, and want to join us for a reading, conversation, and good food & drink, leave your email address in the comments box and I’ll send you the invitation!

Fine: On Maternity and Mortality

This month’s Literary Reflections essay first came to me as a submission for the book I’m co-editing, Mama, Ph.D. I was torn when I read the essay: the writing knocked me out, but it didn’t particularly address the writer’s academic career. Happily, Julia co-wrote another essay for the book, and I got to use this for Literary Reflections. Here’s a long blurb:

When people asked me when I planned to get pregnant, I used to say, “After my first book.” I’d chosen to put my energies elsewhere, and I figured publication was such a long shot that I’d have plenty of time to live and write in peace. When a book came and a few people remembered that promise, I had to think fast. “After a second book,” I replied, ridiculous. I know Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin at the kitchen table after her children were tucked in bed, and I imagine that people learn much about life as their children grow. Somehow, though, I still carry the old notion that negotiation is impossible, that a woman must be completely given over to one or another kind of work, and that if her attention ever wavers, terrible things happen.

This message comes from as far back as my first memory, which is little more than a few frozen images. I’m three years old, out behind a farmhouse in Turbotville, Pennsylvania, under a fir tree. The boughs are so thick that the grass is stunted, and long cones like corn cobs clutter the ground. Wandering between them, I see my oxblood, buckle shoes with little cut-out daisies on the toes. I don’t know what I’m doing out here after supper; my dad and older brother are elsewhere; Mom is at work. As I wander toward the place where the lawn drops down a steep bank to the road, I see fields and the next farm’s corn crib on the other side. Something over there rustles the tall grass: Sally Ann, my cat, stalking a field mouse? Suddenly she darts down the bank and, without looking, without thinking, I dash toward her.

Then I see the rounded front of a 1950s sedan, hear a loud screech, and see sky, although I cannot say in what order. Mostly I recall the sky and one red shoe flying against it for a long, long breath.

My eyes open. Stretched out on the grass beneath the branches, I see my father’s face, feel him touch my cheek, my shoulder, “Jules, Jules…” He is more distressed than I have ever seen him. Is he angry with me for crossing the road alone or for losing my shoe? Another strange man stands nearby; later I will learn that he is rushing to the hospital, where his wife is giving birth. The man and my father say “Geisinger” and “ambulance,” but I know I am fine. At the emergency room, I obey the white-coated men who ask me to follow their fingers with my eyes, and I hold still while they take X-rays, but all the while I know it is pointless. I can’t understand why the adults keep saying I am such a brave girl. What this first memory means, I now believe, is that even though enormous things may hit me sometimes, I’ll be OK in the end, and mercifully I’ve always known this in some small, strange way.

But when my mother tells this story, she starts by saying, “The first night I went back to nursing…” For her, it is a story about neglect and what happens when a mother isn’t there to watch her children.

Read the rest of “Fine: On Maternity and Mortality” here at Literary Mama.