"Some calls it madness...I calls it HiDeeHo." - Cab Calloway
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Saturday, April 19, 2003


Yes, it's true. Josh and I have gone in on the purchase of a car. I only want to drive it because it has a CD player AND a tape deck. Otherwise, I'm mighty attached to my car. This Echo fits Josh to a T. It's smallish, indigo blue, goes zoom zoom, and most importantly, is very very low maintenance. Perfect for him.

My dad is going to want to play with it, though.

If buying a $15,000+ car with someone doesn't rattle me, why should anything else? I'm in the ultra-competent ultra-confident Provider zone. I have most of what I want and I don't see why those I love should do without when I can help.


Josh did a bunny-based story time this morning. Of course.

Morgan just finished painting the top halves of her eggs. When they're dry, we'll flip them over and do the bottoms. I, the non-artsy-fartsy one, used just the simple vinegar-food coloring method. I remember having the fizzy tablets and glitter-swirly egg dyes when I was a kid, but my mom and dad never let me paint them with a brush. I'll impose no such restrictions on my little artiste.

Bach is on the stereo. Most of J.S. Bach reminds me of spring with the obvious exception of that D-minor piece. Maybe we'll do some Vivaldi next.

The weather is just about perfect here...60, humid, half-sunny. We now have forsythias and even the lilac bushes are putting out buds that look like clusters of purple and green grapes. The pussy willows haven't yet faded. Purple finches, siskins and chickadees are paying visits to my living room window because of the bowl of millet and sunflower seeds I left out for them. We're going out for a walk later on, after I hammer out some more reports and do some cleaning.

Sigh. I'm in my happy place. I love spring.

posted by Julie Neff  # 4/19/2003 12:48:00 PM

Friday, April 18, 2003


As Josh noted, the bageling was a relative success. Okay, so, I didn't have high-gluten flour and used butter instead of shortening. The recipe notes that these are not meant to be heavy, excessively chewy on the inside or solid. They are not. They taste rather like buttery sourdough, with a slightly pretzely-eggy crust that, despite being crunchy fresh out of the oven, does soften up and get chewy on cooling.

There is a technique note I have to make, though. Bagel dough is very sticky. You can't put in enough flour or butter to make the dough easier to handle. You have to squeeze off a few tablespoonsful and pull the gluten cloak tight and smooth before poking the hole and stretching it out. This is not easy. Before that, you have to let the dough rise for an hour at room temperature, punch it down, and refrigerate it for at least four hours, during which time it will rise again, and it gets even stickier. You have to have a hot steamy oven, and opening the door of a 500-degree oven with a cup of standing water evaporating into your face is a bit of a shock if you haven't baked professionally (which I kind of have). You also, and this is the really important part, have to boil the sticky little rings of dough in a baking soda and sugar solution. This is what gives them the outside texture.

I did not succeed in making the bagels quite smooth on the outside, but other than that (which will come with practice), I'd say I did well.

This comes on the heels of one of my more hurried and less inspired meals of Lipton noodles and sauce with broccoli. Josh is making dinner tonight. I'm beat.

posted by Julie Neff  # 4/18/2003 07:28:00 AM

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Found this morning in my email from Rick: The ultimate in perspective extremes.


This reminds me of a song from Sesame Street that went, "The big becomes the little when you move it back a bit...that's about the size of it." Or something. It had a crumb being picked up by an ant, which was almost stepped on by a boy and a dog, who were at the zoo near the giraffes, in the city, somewhere in the US, on Earth, in a galaxy...but animated and with a folk-song track.

You can never have too much perspective, I always say.

posted by Julie Neff  # 4/16/2003 09:50:00 AM

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

You know what flowers are up and out at this time of year in southeastern Wisconsin? Pussy willows, skunk cabbage, marsh marigolds, some very brave daffodils, box elder (silver maple), birches, cottonwoods, poplars and in consistently sunny and warm spots, dandelions. The maples and forsythia, already going strong out east, are coming next.

Last night felt like summer. I dragged Josh away from watching his Nordy report (Bob and Sarah would know this one) to look at the moon with me. It wasn't quite full, but it was full on-blue-white bright. There were a few stars not dimmed by its brilliance. It must have still been 70 degrees, and we were standing on pavement but near grass, so we got the residual heat plus the scent of soil and new vegetation. There was something about the combination of incongruously bare trees with lush summerlike heat, a nearly full moon with the ragged edges of sunset still fading, the western half of the sky Maxfield Parrish blue, my Pooka right in front of me with that boyish-wondering look, the wind finding its way under my skirt and into my shirt...it was a very unstuck-in-time kind of moment, as though we could have been anywhere, any time. It was deja-vu. I had felt this exact wind and seen that exact moon with that exact man/boy/creature...but not in this location and not in this time frame. I think he wasn't wearing a T-shirt and cutoff shorts either.

Regardless of rationally knowing that we live and die in one lifetime, and probably don't carry anything with us if we end up back here on this plane, the feeling I've known Josh over many such lifetimes persists. Wherever we came from and wherever we're going, we're together.

Like clownfish and anemone, Josh and Julie are an entity of mutually beneficial coexistance. I may bring some material and domestic comforts his way, while he brings further whimsy, wonder and lust for life my way.

I love you, Pooka mo chroi. I just thought you should know.

After having had genuine NYC bagels, I've decided to try my hand at baking my own. I have a recipe from Lauren Groveman, a renowned baker. Yes, the recipe calls for the dough to be boiled in baking soda/sugar water. I'm gonna do it up right.

I made challah once, on a whim. It was excellent. It was just like brioche, but better. I think I'll wait to make that again until after Passover, just out of deference. I'll make a sheet or two of fresh matzo though, just because I can.

After that, but before the weather gets too hot, I'm also going to have once again at the one thing I can't make; puff pastry. (Curses!!! Pie crust again!)

posted by Julie Neff  # 4/15/2003 02:19:00 PM

Monday, April 14, 2003


Now it's Monday and I'm STILL decompressing and processing. Everyone was so great, and there were SO MANY PEOPLE, I don't know what to say. J&S, thanks for putting us up (or putting up with us, whichever, heehee)...to the rest of the family and mishpokhe, I'm glad to have such a roisterous and intelligent family to join (eventually). I'm not sure if Josh will be as impressed with my side as I was with his. C'est la frigging vie.

Both Josh and Stacy have put up entries about this weekend, and there's not too much I can add. My perspective is that a city that huge allows some very intriguing possibilities for anonymity and urban hiking (I wore comfortable shoes, but I think if I were to hike Brooklyn or Manhattan, I'd want my trail boots with Dr. Scholls). People are, despite all evidence to the contrary in lit. and media, rather nice no matter where you go.

I ate more this weekend than I did on the visit to Kansas City back in September. Damn, they have some good food there.

I saw a snowy egret on the way into the city while riding the New Jersey Public Transit.

Morgan declared to me that she LOVES New York. She LOVES the buildings and the pigeons, and I think she even liked the subway rides. She did get to see the Statue of Liberty from the train when it came above ground, and I saw it from a block or two away from Jeremy's and Stacy's place. Check one more thing off the list. I saw and heard musicians (sax and hand drums) in the subway too, but none of them had hats or boxes with which the public could donate. That was odd.

Watching Mo bond with Jeremy and Stacy made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. She's never had a cool aunt or uncle before, especially ones who will play with her and tease her affectionately. Heh. Matter of fact, she spent equal time on walks between stations and shops and restaurants holding hands with one of the four of us. At the restaurant, after Joan's birthday lunch (which was fabboo) Rachel (the other cool aunt whom Morgan will follow anywhere) dragged her outside. I sat at the window wondering, "Are we really here? I mean, HERE? Is Morgan really chasing pigeons in Washington Square Park?" Yes. Yes we are. Yes she is. Damn.

Again, let me state that this family is one that I'll be proud to name as in-laws. Give me a pop quiz sometime. I can recall some names and faces together, really...

Now...it's nearly 80 degrees outside. It's time for some clean fresh CowTown air and a walk to WallyWorld for Mo's Easterlike-Holiday sugar binge and another bottle of vinegar for egg dye. Catch you on the flip...

posted by Julie Neff  # 4/14/2003 01:42:00 PM


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