Friday, September 28, 2007

Chinese Moon Festival

On the 15th day of the 8th Chinese month each year, the Chinese Moon Festival is celebrated. (That means Sept 25 for people like me.) Princess and our family will celebrate with other adoptive families tomorrow night. Moon worship was known to have existed in China about 4000 years ago, and for centuries there have been stories of the lady who flew to the moon and now lives there - Chang Er. It's a time to celebrate togetherness and abundance. Moon cakes are the favorite food and should be eaten under the fullness of the moon.

The last few nights in NC have been very clear, and that big harvest moon has been shining brightly - my favorite time of the year.
Here is a recipe for Moon Cakes from

Easy Chinese Moon CakesIngredients: • 1/4 cup sugar • 2 egg yolks • 1/2 cup salted butter • 1 cup all-purpose flour • 1 cup strawberry (or your favorite) jam (traditionally red bean paste is used so if you want a more authentic version, you can use a can of red bean paste instead of the jam).Directions: 1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 2. Combine the butter, sugar and 1 egg yolk and stir. 3. Mix in the flour. 4. Form the dough into one large ball and wrap it in plastic wrap. 5. Refrigerate dough for half an hour. 6. Unwrap the chilled dough and form small balls in the palms of your hand. 7. Make a hole with your thumb in the center of each mooncake and fill with about half a teaspoon of jam. 8. Brush each cake with the other beaten egg yolk and place on a cookie sheet. (We didn't have a brush to do this, so skipped the brushing step) 9. Bake for about 20 minutes or just until the outside edges are slightly brown 10. Makes 24
To make them look a little more authentic, brush diluted red food dye on the top of the cookies or mark a Chinese character on the top. Have fun!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

'Bout fell out of my chair

So last night I am getting the crock pot ready for this morning (for dinner tonight), and sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor. It's getting late - a little after 9pm. (and that's late for me these days!) Sonny Boy's phone rings and I hear him talking. I was just about to invoke the "no talking on the phone after 9pm" rule when I heard him telling his best friend about a school assignment. Then I heard him say these words,

"You know you really have to write this stuff down in your planner. You won't remember your homework unless you write it down, and they're not going to tell us the assignment more than once. We're in 8th grade now."

I'm just speechless. After all these years and all this fussing, is he actually listening to me now?!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Of course it's Monday

When the alarm went off this morning, I just could not believe it. I felt certain I had only been asleep a couple hours. Yet, I dragged myself out of the bed, made breakfast for the kids, got a quick shower, ran Sonny Boy down when I realized he had forgotten his lunch, walked Princess and the dogs to school (brought the dogs back), changed clothes and joined the massive traffic to work.

Then I worked at my desk all morning until it was time to walk across campus to teach my class. It's one of those gorgeous fall days - cool breeze, sunny sky, just perfect. I'm walking along, thinking what a perfect day, and just thankful I can be out in it for a few minutes. Then an acorn dropped on my head. I reached up to knock it off, but instead my hand was damp. Then I noticed that the sleeve on my cardigan had bird poop all over it. Well, it is Monday, so what else should I expect?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Last Legion

Imagine my excitement a couple weeks ago when I found out Colin Firth had a new movie and it has elements of Arthurian legend, Roman legion outfits, and kick-butt action. It's a small movie, and not easily found in this day and age of mega-multiplexes. And then reviewers were averaging Cs in the grades.

Do people not know what a good movie is these days? I need escapism, heroes, quite good acting, the ultimate ideal man in a soldiers' outfit, action that doesn't take over a movie and isn't too gory, a reincarnation of Xena warrior princess, and some humor to ensure the movie doesn't take itself too seriously.

And that was what I got. If I have watched Kull the Conqueror 5 times (and I have, and I even paid at a movie theater - but my Mom was with me), then you can bet I'll see The Last Legion more times in the future when I am given the opportunity. My grade - a solid B.

Check out the trailer, and then rent it if it doesn't come to a theater near you.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle

I have thought for many years that if I could be another person, it would be Madeleine L'Engle. Ms. L'Engle passed away from natural causes at the end of last week. The NY Times had a wonderful article about this incredible woman. She was a gifted writer and worked in many genres - children's fiction, adult fiction, sci-fi, spirituality and theology. Her A Wrinkle in Time series is probably her best known. I can't really name a favorite - so much of her work has revealed real truths to me.

I had the great joy of being with a small group of people to meet and interact with her one day. I was 23 years old and a student at Duke Divinity School. Ms. L'Engle was a guest speaker. She visited some classes and spoke, and then she was in our Divinity School chapel (a small, wood-filled rectangular room) for conversation. She was wearing a flowing dress (think Ab-Lib in Asheville), dangling earrings, and sandals. I thought she looked so cool. All the students were in chairs with her chair in front of the wooden table that served as an altar. She was having problems seeing all of us from the same level, so she plopped her behind on the altar and talked with us from there. Naturally, some people were scandalized and talked of nothing else for days. But for me, it was one of the most enjoyable memories I had from my three years there. I'm sure she will continue to be an inspiration for me and many others for years to come.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Novak Djokovic as Nadal and Sharapova part 1

Last night was a very memorable night at the US Open. My beloved Carlos Moya made it to the Quarters, 9 years after the last time he was there. Unfortunately, he had to meet Novak Djokovic, a 20 year old Serb who beat Roddick, Nadal and even Federer in consecutive matches this summer. Djokovic certainly has game - big time - but he also has personality. Commentators are speculating that he may be the first Eastern European player that Americans really take to during the time on tour. (I know we love Martina know, but back in her day American fans were always pulling for Chrissie.) At the end of last night's match, the best tennis interviewer ever, Michael Barkann, asked Djokovic for a couple imitations. The kid does have a lot of personality and is becoming known for his gift of imitation. He had Nadal and Sharapova down to every little tic. Definitely one of the most memorable events of the US Open in a number of years!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Tennis, Animals and NYC

The US Open in NYC continues for this second week. The fashion is not quite as exciting as last week when it was all new, but Bethanie Mattek knows how to keep things interesting. She was defeated in the second round of singles, but thanks to her doubles game, she has been able to reveal more interesting outfits (among other things she reveals).

Skimpy outfits, animal prints, shiny metallics... I think this would be enough to make Sonny Boy a fan.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Sonny Boy's schooling days

Sonny Boy became an 8th grader last week. I believe I will always think of him as a mischievous 3 year old running around, so the boy who is my height and with monster feet still surprises me every day. He called me after the first day of school. I was sitting in my office chair at the computer. "How was school, honey?" "Awesome!" I just about fell out of my chair - don't think he has said that since he was in 1st grade.

As the days went by, I have been able to flesh out what "awesome" really meant. He does like the freedom of changing classes and figuring out the combo lock on his locker. He's always thought he was a grown adult, so this suits him well. But I think what really makes school awesome are the hot 13 year old girls. (It hurts just to type that!) Friday evening we were watching the US Open on tv and he suddenly burst out, "Guess what happened today Mom! It was great." I'm thinking it must be that he did well in class. "This hot girl, Alexa, came up and said she remembered me from Promenade." (Yes, I made him do the 6 week session of Promenade to learn some manners and how to dance and not look like Napoleon Dynamite.) "She told me I was a good dancer."

"Honey, was that so great because a hot girl spoke to you, because she remembered you, or because she thought you were a good dancer?" He thought for a moment, the eyes twinkled, he grinned and said, "I guess all three!"

Whatever it takes...