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Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Culinary Curve

Good evening, dear readers

Sorry for not writing for the past few days. I've been busy with the baby and catching up on several seasons of Ghost Adventures. It was nice to see Zak and his fellow stooges come to Arizona and check out some places around this state.

All this week, my husband has been finishing up some community service at a local soup kitchen. Some months back, he was popped for speeding by a red light camera and was given community service in lieu of payment. He finally finished his community service today and the ticket was closed out for good upon delivery of the confirmation paperwork.

On Tuesday, after finishing his shift at the soup kitchen, the director let my husband take home some vegetables that had been delivered by a farmer's market. The bounty included fresh-picked spinach, snow peas, onions, a bag of pre-made salad and a small bag of cilantro. I was delighted with the spinach and the snow peas, since I eat spinach in my salads and the snow peas will go well with a stir fry I plan on doing this weekend, but the cilantro confused me. I like cilantro, but I'm the only one in this house who will eat it. What could I make with it?

Since the cilantro needed eating relatively quickly, I scoured the internet for some recipes. Some cilantro-lime or Thai chicken would have been good, except we don't have chicken (and rarely buy it raw because it's a pain in the ass to cook) or hot Thai chilies. I then stumbled upon a cilantro lime rice recipe, similar to what the Mexican food chain Chipotle uses in their famous burritos. I decided then that this was what I would make. I had all the ingredients on hand already.

Tonight's dinner. Those lumpy brown-looking things on the right are my limes. This is what happens when they sit in the fridge too long: they don't rot, they just dry up.


Unfortunately, my limes had been sitting a bit too long in the crisper drawer and were pretty dried out. I was determined to utilize what I could out of them, but some adjustments would need to be done to the whole dish to compensate. After diligently washing the rice, I began boiling it over medium heat. I cut the limes and then got some powdered chicken bouillon and garlic powder. This was an impulse move that was inspired by some other recipes I encountered while cruising online. I wound up putting a teaspoon of bouillon and a teaspoon of garlic powder into the boiling rice water. When the water had boiled down a bit, I started squeezing in what lime juice I could and including a fair bit of the pulp. Finally, using some kitchen shears, I cut the cilantro into the rice and added a spot of olive oil to keep the rice from sticking to the pot too much.

The result: edible, but not good.

You win, Chipotle


As it turned out, I put in WAAAAYYYYY too much cilantro. About 1/4-1/3 of the bunch in the picture would have been adequate for this one-cup batch of rice. To utilize that whole bunch, I should have scaled up the rest of my ingredients significantly to balance out all the flavors. Fortunately, the baby didn't seem to mind. She ate it along with me, but my husband wouldn't touch it. However, being the supportive husband that he is, he encouraged me to try making cilantro lime rice again some other time but with different proportions. Given that I'm learning almost from scratch how to cook, I counted my blessings that the overall dish wasn't rendered inedible for one reason or another.

Such mishaps, as minor as they are, are an expected part of learning how to cook. I'll have my brilliant moments, and my flops. This is how it is when learning what ingredients go well together and in what proportions. Even the best chefs in the world made a few dud dishes on their way to culinary greatness. The learning curve is generous.

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Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter Weekend

Happy Easter to all of you! Christ has risen, indeed He has risen!

Like Christmas, it has been an exhausting 24 hours. In a move of boldness, I did something I never thought I would do for Holy Saturday-I wore a hijab to church.

The day I donned a hijab


What propelled me to do this was a combination of fashion (I was wearing an abaya-like Kashmiri kaftan and that tan pashmina shawl paired well with the garment), piety (my Carmelite confessor suggested a penitential activity for Holy Week, and I decided veiling my hair would be it), and homage to Jesus' Semitic roots (contrary to the popular narrative, the term "Semite" is not exclusive to Jews. It encompasses Arabs and North Africans as well).

Despite watching many a Youtube tutorial on how to wear hijabs, my hijab wasn't particularly well done because I'd put it on while in the car with only my hand mirror to guide my pin placements and it was my first time ever doing this. It was also hot and kind of itchy because it was made of wool. I was admittedly a little worried about wearing it in public because I thought somebody might mistake me for being a Moslem and shoot me, given how badly maligned Moslems are in American society. Fortunately, no such thing happened and it was a huge relief. In fact, nobody even paid much attention to me. Besides, I've worn saris and babushkas to church, so why should a hijab raise a stink?


Canon Bill (in purple cloak) getting ready to bless the fire

In what may be an ominous sign from God, the priest and the novitiate assistant had a tough time getting the Easter candle to light

Finally!


The Holy Saturday Easter vigil is a VERY long service. It starts, however, with the holy fire. Basically, the priest blesses a special fire and lights the Easter candle with its flames. Canon Bill, however, had a tough time getting the starter candle lit. He would get it close to the hot coals and flames, but the wick wouldn't take and the candle was fast becoming a melted mess. My husband speculated to me that God was telling us something, though he wasn't quire sure what the message was. I speculated that the message was to get a lighter or a stick since this candle was pretty well useless now.

Lumen Christi, Light of Christ (note: the church is completely dark; this was just the flash from my camera)

Canon Bill blessing the baptismal water

Blessing the baptismal water

The baby INSISTED on crawling around in the kiddie ghetto


After enough tries and a new candle, the Easter candle was finally lit and we then proceeded to enter the church. We got candles to hold and we lit them from the Easter candle. It was at this point, however, that we had to go up to the kiddie ghetto because the baby became quite restless. We spent the rest of the Mass up there. Fortunately, there was only one other family with children so it wasn't too crowded. We did periodically take turns going downstairs to get a break because the baby absolutely wore us out with her crawling and noisemaking. My husband finally took the baby outside because it was becoming uncomfortably hot upstairs in the kiddie ghetto and she was really starting to act up. She wasn't the only child who was misbehaving, though. The small children of other families were acting up too. Even I was becoming restless. It's hard to sit still for three hours during a religiously intense service like Easter vigil. People can bitch about bringing kids to church, but how else can you expect them to learn how to behave in church if they don't go?

Needless to say, when we got home, we were all pretty exhausted.

The altar at our Carmelite church all decorated for Easter

Today, Easter Sunday, was spent at our Carmelite church. It was a much happier time with good music and an inspiring sermon. The baby behaved herself mostly well and slept through the last third of Mass. Afterward we purchased a few sacramentals from the Holy Land, which were being sold outside in the courtyard by a few Palestinians. Our cholomobile got a specially blessed crucifix and my husband got himself a new rosary. From church, we then went to Panda Express and got lunch to celebrate Easter since it was too hot to cook and neither of us knew what to eat.

Me wearing my famous pink sari. This being the holiday of Easter, I'd normally wear my red and gold silk one, but it was too hot outside for silk. This pink one, being made of polyester, is lighter.
Happy Easter everyone!

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***Note: before anyone starts accusing me of shit, let me make this clear: I am a Catholic, not a Moslem and do not have any intention of becoming a Moslem. However, I do sympathize with the plight of Moslems in America because they are today what Catholics were just prior to the Iranian Revolution when Islamophobia became officially etched in stone on the American psyche: persona non grata and to be viewed only with suspicion. Also, when I go to church, I make it a habit to dress modestly, which includes covering my hair. This stems from Paul's letter to Timothy reminding women to dress modestly. A hijab looks different than the chapel veil or mantilla more commonly seen in Catholic churches in the West, but it fulfills the modesty requirement, as do saris and babushkas all of which I've worn on different occasions to church. From the cultural appropriation standpoint, a hijab is not that far of a stretch from other traditional European headdresses (particularly in the Balkans). The garment has just been politicized by the powers that be for their own sinister ends and as a result we all suffer.  Any unkind comments will be deleted and dealt with accordingly.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday

A blessed Good Friday to you all, dear readers!

Despite our best efforts, my family and I were unable to go to Good Friday Mass since our bout of the norovirus still has us feeling a little off. Successfully, we were able to go to Stations of the Cross at our other Carmelite church. This is always an event we look forward to because the procession goes around the property and its very involving.

I got many pix of the procession, though not at all the stations. It was quite lovely to do this little procession on one of the holiest days of the year.

The altar of repose, where the Eucharist is placed to symbolize Jesus' burial

First station, led by our homeboy padre (in red stole) and two guest Carmelite brothers from the seminary in California

Carrying the cross

Our padre invites the men in the crowd to join in carrying the cross

My hubby is at the front of the cross, barely visible from this shot

Second station, hubby (in headband) holding up the cross


Third station. The man in suspenders is a visiting priest from the UK, though he's in plainclothes today.


Our padre invites the women to carry the cross. I'm at the end in the white shirt and black-and-white hat.


Me helping to hold up the cross at the Fourth station


Our homeboy padre leads the kids in carrying the cross

The youth/young adult group carry the cross

Eleventh station. We sang the Salve Regina at this station since our padre had been leading us in a Rosary in addition to the traditional prayers and this was the end of the Rosary

Thirteenth station. Almost done

Hubby helps carry the cross inside to the Fourteenth and final station.
As an added bonus, we got to show our homeboy padre our cholomobile. He was pleased to see it since a vehicle of that vintage would have been a common sight in his childhood. He gave us a blessing and we went on our way. It would have been nice to stay for Mass, but we were totally beat. That being said, it was nice that the Mass was gonna be in the evening, unlike the absurd morning hours which were set for the Stations and Mass at the Latin Mass church. If we had been in better health, we definitely would have stayed for the Mass.

After we got home and ate fish for dinner, hubby and I put the baby to sleep and watched "The Passion of the Christ". This is an annual tradition of ours that began on Easter weekend in 2012, before we were married and were still in the friendship stage of our relationship. This movie is also tied to our relationship because it was after we finished watching this movie that I asked my then-friend now husband why he'd never been married and he responded that he'd prayed for a wife but she never came. It was then that a voice, completely unprovoked, came into my head which asked "what if I'm meant to be your wife?" That question would be answered over the course of the next few months, but it was the beginning of my first real relationship and my liberation from my family.

Have a blessed Good Friday and Easter weekend.

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Picture of the Day

Hello, dear readers

Tonight, I write while laying in my bed feeling woozy. Yesterday, my husband and I came down with what we suspect to be norovirus, likely contracting it from the baby (how she got it is a complete mystery). While the baby was just fine, hubby and I endured waves of nausea and severe vomiting as well as diarrhea. My muscles ached tremendously as well, and for most of the day, I couldn't keep down anything. Fortunately, by the end of the day, I was able to start drinking small amounts of Pedialyte and water. It was kinda scary because I honestly thought we were gonna have to go to the hospital. Today, I felt much better, but still dehydrated and woozy. What led me to think we had norovirus was that I came across some articles on Gawker about people on cruise ships coming down with norovirus, and that spurred me to start looking into the disease's symptoms to see if they matched ours. Sure enough, they did.

Me, yesterday, at both ends. Pic found here


Due to our health, we were unable to go to Holy Thursday Masses at either of our churches. However, we should be fine tomorrow for Good Friday, which is good because these next three days are holy days of obligation.

While resting, here is a picture I took of my cat, Cruiser and my hubby

Cruiser thinks he's ceiling cat


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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Tires

Good evening, dear readers

Today was the day we FINALLY got the tires changed! Thanks to a number of delays and missed opportunities, we didn't get the other tires until last week and one of them was shredded from a blowout. This morning, my husband went to our favorite neighborhood "llantera" (Mexican tire shop) and got the blown out tire redone. The second tire we were given had a leak, so the boys at the shop patched it up and made sure it didn't leak.

Man at work


When he got home, it was time to get rid of those damned spoked rims and replace them with the proper balloon tires that were just fixed up. My husband also rearranged the tires, putting the larger tires on the back and the smaller ones up front in a more traditional arrangement.

How to take off a cholo tire


As part of my continuing education in car repair and maintenance, my husband let me have a go at changing one of the rear tires.

This tire was changed just in time. The spoked rims were beginning to shred these bolts too.

Out! Out, damned tires!


Unfortunately, I had to stop after one tire. The baby was becoming fussy, but it was also very sunny, windy, and incredibly hot. I suspect the heat was messing with her a bit too since she was throwing up and had diarrhea all afternoon, though it was conceivable that she may have ingested something which didn't agree with her (being a VERY active 10 month old baby, she puts EVERYTHING in her mouth). I spent the day intensely hydrating the baby with water, Pedialyte, and breastmilk. She's been keeping food down and had no runny stool all evening, so I think she's in the clear.

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Rearranging

Happy Monday, dear readers!

Today I began the formal rearranging of the bedroom to make room for the new crib. Unfortunately, my husband didn't get a chance to get the paint and wheels for the crib because he had to come home and scream at the insurance company. Like most insurance companies, they're playing games with our payout and delaying its send out for various BS reasons or another (note to everyone reading this: Omni Insurance is the car insurance company from hell and should be sued out the ass for fraud). The agent told my hubby that the check should be coming by the end of the week, but we'll see. I have the contact information from the Southern Arizona Legal Aid Society on hand so we can take these motherfuckers to court and make them pay up once and for all.

While my husband dealt with the insurance company on the phone, I began taking apart the cradle. It wasn't hard to do, but I felt a little sentimental doing it because I remembered borrowing my husband's ratchet and putting it together when we moved in. It really put into perspective how much time had flown since the baby was born. One thing I'm truly grateful for is that we even got to use it. It would have been absolutely devastating to have gotten the cradle, put it together, and then have to take it apart again because the baby did not come home from the hospital alive.

Work in progress

All done. The cradle is no more



After I put the remnants of the cradle in the shed, covered in a plastic garbage bag to protect it from the elements and the cats, I proceeded to take down the religious pictures and sacramentals that hung above where the cradle once was. I then cleared everything off the top of the dresser, took out the drawers, and moved it to the spot where the cradle used to be. It was not easy because the dresser is heavy, but I managed to pivot it and walk it over. I suspect the original occupant of this trailer had a dresser in this same area too, since the layout of the room limits the way it can be arranged. At any rate, it was nice to be able to see the window across from our bed again, and also to see that we had an extra outlet which I had forgotten about. When my husband came back into the bedroom and saw me putting the drawers back in, he was surprised and pleased by my work. Together, we found new places to hang our religious items back up.

Physics is your friend


Though she didn't like it at all, thank goodness for the baby jail because it kept the baby out of the way while I was moving furniture around the room. Once I was finished, I let her out of the jail and allowed her to come back into the bedroom to continue playing.

A friend gave us this play mat. There are supposed to be things dangling from the bars, but she couldn't find them when she gave it to us.


Tonight, I'll research what kind of paint to get and how much it will cost. I want something non-toxic since this will be going on a crib and the baby will likely chew on the sides as her teeth grow in.

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Palm Sunday

Happy Palm Sunday, dear readers!

Today marks the start of Holy Week, a week of intense prayer, fasting and abstinence as a means of preparation for Easter. On this day, we commemorate Jesus' entry into Jerusalem where He was greeting with palms and shouts of joy. His fellow Jews thought He was going to liberate them from the Romans and upon realizing that was not what Jesus was about, they had Him executed a few later on Good Friday. It's quite bipolar when you think about it, how quickly He went from being celebrated to crucified. It really gives an insight into the mindset of humanity post-Original Sin, as Canon Bill phrased it during his sermon today.

Daddy and the baby, looking cute for church


As is customary, we got palm leaves and went on a procession around the church. It was nice to be able to witness our faith being displayed for all to see.

Follow the priest and altarboys!

Canon Bill (in red) and the altar boys leading the procession

The choir

Kids with palms

Home stretch towards the front

Follow the leader

This part is where the priest and the choir recreate a dialog between the Roman guards and Joseph of Aramathea to seal the tomb where Jesus is laid



Back inside. Notice how the statues are shrouded. This is done during Holy Week as for devotions and the statues are then unveiled during the Easter Vigil Mass.


Canon Bill reads the Gospel.


This was also the first day we got to drive our cholomobile to our Latin Mass church and show it off to our friends and fans there. There was another debut too-we finally upgraded the baby's car seat from the baby carrier to a proper forward-facing car seat. We knew the time had come when the baby's feet started hanging over the edge of the carrier and it was getting harder to buckle her in. Since the carrier has been retired, she now gets to ride sitting up and facing forward in the stroller like a big girl.

In Arizona, primo parking is wherever there is shade. Our cholomobile is in primo parking under the palo verde tree
Cruising in style like a big kid


Unfortunately, the baby became very fussy during Mass so we had to go up to the kiddie ghetto. It was just as well that we did, because my husband spotted an ex-associate of his tailing along at the end of the procession and going up into the kiddie ghetto was the most convenient way to get away from her. This is not the first time this woman, or another crazy person from my husband's past showed up at our Latin Mass church, likely to spy on him. The University draws alot of people like them to the area, but I also think of the Parable of the Two Churches. Where God is present, the devils swarm like flies because He is there.

After Mass, we joined our longtime family friend at a nearby Waffle House for brunch. This may be the last brunch we all have together because a serious issue that had previously been quietly simmering in the background with our relationship is beginning to become more and more prominent. My husband is doing a novena to the Holy Spirit to discern how to proceed with this matter, but it will have to be confronted soon. For now, however, we wait and pray.

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Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Crib

Good evening, dear readers. I hope your Saturday went well.

The time has come. We need to upgrade the baby's bed.

Before she was born, some friends from church gave us a baby cradle so that she would have a place to sleep when she arrived. It was made of solid wood and had a pin that could come out so that the cradle could rock. It couldn't fit in our old shitty trailer, but when we moved into this one just before the baby was born, we had much larger living space and the cradle was actually the perfect size for this room.

The cradle. We wound up never using the bumpers because at the hospital, they told us it was a suffocation risk. This was taken shortly after we moved in, hence all the mess


For the first 9 months of her life, the cradle served the baby well. Though she prefers sleeping in the bed with us, something I don't mind letting her do because it makes breastfeeding and tending to her at night easier, the bed is getting mighty crowded now that hubby and I want to start making a sibling for our little girl. Also, the baby is quite large for being 10 months old. She has quite literally outgrown the cradle, and with her mobility improving day by day, I'm terrified of her waking up one early morning like she usually does and pitching herself over the edge of the cradle and onto the floor.


Here she was as a newborn, taking her nap in the cradle


A few months back, the son and daughter-in-law of a couple in my Catechism class were moving from Arizona to Kentucky because his job transferred him there. Before they left, they gave us their daughter's old crib and mattress. She's only a toddler, so the crib wasn't very old. We didn't have room in our bedroom for the new crib, so we kept it in parts in the shed, until now.

Unfortunately, the weather elements have chipped the paint on the crib, so it needs a paint job. I spent the evening pressure washing the different parts of the crib to get as much of the old paint off as I could before I proceed with the painting. I also want to put wheels on the legs so it can be moved easily in the room. Even after rearranging the furniture, the only place we have room for the crib would be directly across from the foot of the bed, right up against my husband's side of the closet. For there to be room for the closet door to open, the crib would have to block the back door, which we can't have because that's a safety hazard. Hence, the need for wheels because when its in use, the crib can be parked in front of my husband's closet door, and then moved when he needs to get into it to get his clothes.

The new crib actually looks like this. It's an Ashleigh-model crib by Graco. Pic found here 


While searching for assembly instructions to download (not that a crib is all that hard to assemble, but instructions have their uses, even for someone like me who hates reading them), I was pleased to discover that the crib is actually a 4-in-1 convertible, so it will change from crib to toddler bed to day bed to a regular bed. I'm pleased to read this because it means that we won't have to buy her a new bed for a while. At least until her and her siblings are old enough to sleep in bunk beds.

First thing on Monday morning, I will take down the cradle and have my husband pick up a small half-gallon of white latex enamel paint while he's out running errands. I will post pictures of this project as it unfolds. There's no time like the present to do it.

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