April 29, 2008

Singing Fish

Jeff asked, "Is this the fish song?" Answer: Yes.

One of the doctors long ago explained that Jeff has an elipical way of speaking. True enough. He makes elaborate connections, but he doesn't bother to articulate them. Rather the onus is on the listener. So an ordinary mortal would respond to that question appropriately, "Whaaaat?"

But I have known Jeff long enough to jog along with his mental and verbal locutions. He recognized the song, TAKE ME TO THE RIVER, by a few introductory notes but what he really remembers is that he once saw one of those singing fish. When you pushed the button, Billy Bass did indeed sing this very song.

What is he going to do when I am not around to translate or help to sort through his mental file cabinets?

April 25, 2008


I love Passover!," I told Jeff's tutor when I saw her a week ago. She sighed and I immediately regretted my words. For Orthodox Jewish women, Passover is an enormous undertaking, requiring weeks of house-cleaning and shopping, not to mention the onerous task of changing over every single utensil, dish, cup and cooking surface from those used the rest of the year.

I did not always love, or even like, Passover. The Passover week of my childhood was fairly tortuous. In the small Midwestern city where we lived, there was minimum of Passover goods available and even had there been more, my mother would not have purchased them. We bought a box of matzah, a can of macaroons, hard-boiled a few eggs and called it a day, or rather, a long week.

It occurred to me that this attitude is completely contrary to the spirit of the holiday. While everyone does a fair amount of complaining after a few steady days of matzah-eating, this week is about freedom and redemption, and not at all about deprivation. There are vegetarian seders, feminist seders and chocolate seders. It's humbling to imagine historical seders of American abolitionists, Spanish conversos (Jews "passing" as Christians to avoid the Inquisition), World War II gatherings and so on.

This year, Jeff and I were at my youngest brother's house. He cooked up a magnificent feast. As the big sister, I could only marvel, "Who knew?" Upon our return, I renewed my intention to fend off incessant complaining from the boys with special Passover-only goodies. So far, it has worked. I hauled out a number of Passover cookbooks and have whipped up a number of well-received dishes, none of which I have ever made before. The fritatta has been such a success that I have made one every day with a different vegetable. I made soup from scratch and matzah balls (from a mix). Hart requested what I assume to be mushroom farfel and I dutifully whipped up a batch which met his approval. Even the roasted potatoes and asparagus passed muster, although I did not tell the boys that it isn't strictly a Passover dish.

The result is that our week without restaurants, breakfast cereal, sandwiches, cookies and pasta has been, dare I say? enjoyable. The downside has been lots and lots of pots, pans, mixing bowls and utensils called into service. A small price to pay. Still, it beats the lone box of fruit slices of my childhood--then the only culinary highlight of the week.

April 9, 2008

Techno Tuck-In

At fourteen and a half, the boys think they are too old for me to read bedtime stories, but I am not about to give up on the joys of leisure "reading" quite yet. So the bedrooms are equipped with a boom box and a few "high-interest" audiobooks from our local public library.

Yesterday, I was the first one to check out something new, PLAYAWAY®, from the library. For the same loan period as a print copy or recording, a borrower can check out a small, dedicated MP3 player with a recorded book. So now, Jeff is proudly several chapters ahead of his classmates in THE GIVER by Lois Lowry.

The boom box is still getting use--I put on Newbery Award-winner, RABBIT HILL by Robert Lawson, this evening.

"What's happening so far?" I asked after about twenty minutes of listening.

"Oh, the bunnies are just talking."

April 8, 2008

Inky watches FLUSHED AWAY (photos)

I just love those cute little rats!

Do you mind? This is my favorite part.