Friday, 19 February 2010


so saturday night i was hunkering down to do some writing after a morning of swimming and an afternoon of yoga, when my friend jen txt'd me and told me she was at a roller derby. it doesn't take much to keep me from writing, and roller derby might just keep me from eating sushi (okay, not really, but seriously, roller derby? how awesome!)

so i quickly got dressed and headed out to the dc armory --

this is how the street looked during the sunset . . .

in case you were wondering:
Roller derby is an American-invented contact sport—and historically, a form of sports entertainment—based on formation roller skating around an oval track, with points scored as certain players lap members of an opposing team. In past decades, roller derby had been primarily a professional or paid sport for both women and men. Contemporary roller derby is international, predominantly female, typically operates on an amateur (or unpaid) circuit, and has a strong do it yourself ethic often features both athleticism and a punk third-wave feminism aesthetic*.

* if you, like me, have no idea what "third-wave feminism" is here you go (simply there are many -ism's about them) = A post-structuralist interpretation of gender and sexuality is central to third wave ideology. Emphasizing discursive power and the ambiguity of gender, third-wave theory usually incorporates elements of queer theory, transgender politics and a rejection of the gender binary, anti-racism and women-of-color consciousness, womanism, post-colonial theory, critical theory, postmodernism, transnationalism, ecofeminism, libertarian feminism, and new feminist theory.

i mean, i probably could be called a third-wave feminist, but i am not sure defining a theory through a long list of other theories is the best way to go.

any way, here are some photos:

jen and ben
pretty much too cute really

for obvious reasons,
this both cracked me up
captured the ethos of the evening

and here is kinda what it looked like
it is really hard to capture all the motion with my little camera
i saw the cherry blossom bombshells play scareforce one
not really feeling "scareforce one"

teams get points by the one player with the star on her helmet
passing the opposing teams players
so she can get 5 points for each pass . . .
seriouly, i only kinda get the rules

it looked like fun. and the people watching at this thing was amazing . . . it is definitely something to check out at least once!

Monday, 15 February 2010

plumbing -- the saga continues

some of you may remember the fiasco with the babywipes in sept. of 2008. well the situation came back with a vengeance. someone, who will go unnamed, but is not the writer, put some feminine products in the toilet which caused an unfortunate $800 trip from the plumber.

they dug out tampons and this
about 10 feet of a snake that had been lodged in the pipe for years

2 weeks ago this was taken care of, at least that is what i thought.
i woke up saturday morning to water on the floor in the dining room
it was obvious that the toilet overflowed.

i sent an email to master plumbing the guys who had fixed it 2 weeks earlier:
hi billy,
on 1 feb master plumbing came out and unclogged my main drainage pipe. you may remember, your guys found a huge chunk of a snake that someone had broken off in the pipe. i woke up this morning with water all over my first floor and the basement. i am hoping that you can send someone today. it seems that the original problem is still not fully resolved. i can be reached at 202. . .
i received this response a couple of hours later (completely unedited):
you may need to vidio your line

they worked long and hard on your sewer. We have been closed all week. You may have a problem
that the vidio can see.. once a sewer is clear someone or something stops it up. We are not open till
monday . Please feel free to call monday am to discuss
so i called this morning at 8:30am. the first thing billy told me was that they did "don't guarantee main drains, because we aren't responsible for what goes into them" (which he told me a number of times).

i asked him why i hadn't be told this before, either when they came the first time or in the email over the weekend?

he told me it is on the back of my receipt.
i explained that I wondered if after they had pulled out the old snake if maybe the guys just didn't go back and try cleaning the line one more time. i knew that they hadn't allotted as much time at my house and they still had another job to do. my guess is they rushed to get out and forgot to make sure that the line was clear.

Billy even admitted that after two weeks a cleaned drain should not be backed up. When I called his attention to what he was saying and how he was making my case he told me I didn't understand.

so long story short, i called a different plumber. this time her came out but was too scared to go in the crawl space to access the main drain (i am not kidding) so he went through the first floor toilet (not without a lot of drama, because most plumbers don't know how to work with low flow toto toilets, but won't admit it until they have messed something up.

it was a long arduous fight. that ended with the plumber telling me the line had to be video'd so they could see where the problem was. that after about 13 feet, he couldn't get the snake through. though somehow he said he fixed the problem. then we had to haggle over me paying him even tho the job wasn't finished.

it is a policy that no job is paid for until the job is completed. i have learned that the hard way and it just doesn't change for anyone. NO MATTER WHAT! it took a long while, but i just held my ground and he went outside to talk to his manager a number of times but finally agreed.

at any rate. tomorrow morning they are coming back to video the line . . . should be exciting . . . UGH

sometimes i love owning a house, and sometimes it really really sucks. it kinda sucks right now!

to be continued . . .

comfort food -- beans edition

so during the long snow-break, cheryl and i made lots of food. and cheryl CRACKED THE CODE to making beans.

i bought all these beans from rancho gordo, but had never really made them right . . . cheryl took the time to do her research and found these instructions

There is not one single method of cooking beans. At its most basic, you want to simmer the pot until the beans are soft. Soaking can speed up the process and vegetables or stock will make them more flavorful. It's really that simple.

Normally on a bean cooking day (which frankly is everyday at Rancho Gordo), I put the beans to soak in the morning, after rinsing in lots of cool water and checking for small debris. I cover the beans by about an inch or so.

If you haven't soaked, don't fret. Go ahead and cook them, knowing it will take a bit longer.

Heirloom and Heritage varieties don't need a lot of fussing if they are used fresh, which I'd define as within two years. You can use a ham bone, chicken stock or as I prefer, simply a few savory vegetables.

A classic mirepoix is a mix of onion, celery and carrot diced fine and sautéed in some kind of fat, often olive oil. A crushed clove of garlic doesn't hurt. If I'm cooking Mexican or Southwestern, I will sauté just onion and garlic in mild bacon drippings or even freshly rendered lard.

Add the beans and their soaking water to a large pot. You have been told before to change the water and rinse the beans. The thinking now is that vitamins and flavor can leech out of the beans into the soaking water you are throwing down the sink. There is no scientific evidence that changing the water cuts down on the gas.

The beans will have expanded, so make sure they are still covered by at least an inch, maybe a bit more. Add the sautéed vegetables and give a good stir. Raise your heat to medium high and bring to a hard boil.

Keep the beans at a boil for about five minutes and then reduce them to a gentle simmer, then cover. I like to see how low I can go and still get the occasional simmering bubble. When the beans are almost ready, the aroma will be heady. They won't smell so much like the vegetables you've cooked but the beans themselves. At this point. I'd go ahead and salt them. Go easy as it takes awhile for the beans to absorb the salt. If you want to add tomatoes or acids like lime or vinegar, wait until the beans are cooked through.

If the bean water starts to get low, always add hot water from a tea kettle. The tap produces disgusting water for food.

So you're done! Once you've mastered this method, go ahead and try some different techniques. Your bean friends will swear by this or that method and you should take their advice, keeping in mind there are few absolutes when it comes to cooking beans, only that is very hard work to mess up a pot of beans.

and this video also helped: victory will soon be yours!

then she made this out of the beans! YUMMY

Easy Meal-in-a-Bowl Pesto, Pasta and Bean Soup

The Washington Post, February 1, 2010

Comfort Food

  • Course: Soup


Fresh basil and chives aren't always on hand this time of year, but if you're lucky enough to have them, coarsely chop a handful and toss them in at the end of cooking. They'll lend a garden fresh flavor that's downright irresistible in the dead of winter. Of course, if you've got fresh basil you can also make your own pesto. Yes, the homemade is better than store-bought, but I find the commercial product a convenient and acceptable alternative.

For a slightly meatier soup, stir in about 1/2 cup diced ham or roasted chicken meat when you add the tomatoes and their juices.

MAKE AHEAD: Refrigerate the cooled soup in an airtight container for 3 or 4 days. Add broth or water as needed when you reheat the soup.

4 to 6 generous servings


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup peeled and chopped carrot, celery or onion (or a combination)
  • 4 to 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth (may substitute vegetable broth)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme or dried marjoram
  • 1/2 cup 1 1/2-inch-long pieces broken-up dried vermicelli or other similar thin pasta
  • Half a 6-ounce bag fresh, ready-to-use baby spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 14- to 15-ounce can white cannellini beans or great northern beans, rinsed and well drained
  • 1/4 cup store-bought basil pesto, or more to taste
  • 1 15-ounce can diced garlic- and basil-seasoned tomatoes or regular canned diced tomatoes, including their juices
  • Generous handful basil leaves or chives, coarsely chopped (optional)
  • Water, as needed
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Combine the oil and chopped vegetables in a 5- to 6-quart pot over medium heat; stir to coat. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, then add 4 cups of the broth and the dried thyme or marjoram.

Increase the heat to high and bring to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until barely al dente.

Add the spinach, beans, pesto, tomatoes and their juices; mix well, then reduce the heat to medium (a gentle boil). Cook for 5 minutes to blend the flavors. If desired, add the basil or chives; cook for 1 minute, stirring. Use the remaining cup of broth or water to thin the soup to the desired consistency. Season with salt, pepper and additional basil pesto to taste.

Divide among individual bowls; serve hot.

i made southern french beans:

i cooked the beans for an hour with a slice of bacon.
while they were simmering, i put about 4 garlic cloves in a very small bowl with olive oil that hit the middle of the cloves. then i smashed the garlic. cut up 3 dried hot chili peppers into the oil and let the oil infuse for the entirety of the time the beans cooked.

then i drained the beans. poured the infused oil and stuff over the beans and cut up fresh oregano over the top and tossed. we ate it with freshly backed bread.


Sunday, 14 February 2010


we all woke up the next morning with minor injuries. my boss told me "you aren't 7 anymore". it is true, but i am never going to stop living life and fully as someone who is 7 does. i, frankly, think the injury came out of a one of the curses of experience: you know the potential for pain, so you tense up for it. had i just been relaxed, which i did for the extra rides i took post-injury, i would have never been hurt in the first place.

being in your 30's means you know that you can get hurt, but doesn't mean you have to live in fear of it. why can't it also mean, you understand that healing happens??

anyway, here are some fun photos and the video is going to soon be a classic :)

the sled master arrives
& the crowd goes wild
luckily, because i am the best,
i only have to come to half of practice

joe at the top of the practice run

please notice jessica's perfect toboggan birthing position

perfect 10 for leg extention

moving into forward luge technique

catching BIG air

jess is the our Qst toboggan olympic team's
best hope !
the level of difficulty for that full body twist,
face plant dismount is hard to explain
just trust me

if that isn't the grimice of an olympic champ,
i am not sure what is

Q st's male sledding champ!

teabelly giving the tobaggan a ride
please note the amazing scissor legs
and this isn't even my sport
i am a sledder

attempting a toboggan trick

except for the rotation of my legs
that was an awesome 180°

best of all the action shots!

Saturday, 13 February 2010

what some called SNOVERKILL -- i called PARADISE

i think the whole metro area felt like it was time to drop the "sno ____" puns. and i have to say, i did not feel like the 2 wave was overkill at all! I LOVED IT. i am pretty sure it was my first blizzard. it was so awesome, i really hope it was not my last!!!

this is the snoverkill meets paradise soundtrack:

i do have to qualify this a bit the limitation of iMix's is that only songs you bought on iTunes can be shared so . . . the mix starts with:

  • walk out to winter -- aztec camera
  • geppetto -- pinback
  • l'isgone -- musiq child
  • salvdor sanchez is miss me blind -- boy george

this is what it looked like out my window when i woke up . . . seriously, so hard to capture

i decided to go to yoga
one of my favorite things about yoga district,
in addition to awesome teachers,
is that everyone lives in the neighborhood
so no blizzard would keep people from
(see what i mean?)

after getting BEYOND bundled,
this is what it looked like out my door.
please note that i have a 5" step into my house
also note the drift at the door

the walk to the studio
(4.5 blocks)
i had to keep my eyes closed most of the time
i needed ski goggles
my sun glasses just didn't cut it
and the snow was blowing so flippin hard it hurt
but was also super awesome

i have to say,
yoga was awesome! and i am so glad it was there for me
but my body needs cardio at least every other day
by day 7 i was ANTSY!

this is what it looked like on my way home from yoga
i was going to go to timor
(which i heart)
but it looked closed
and walking the extra block there and then having to walk back
seemed crazy because it was a BLIZZARD

on the way home, i was going with the wind
which made a huge difference
speaking of zen . . .
going with the flow is much easier

i loved how the snow was collecting on the windows
i think it really demonstrates the wind
this was awesome!

once i got to Qst, there were abandoned cars
apparently this fedex truck and 2 other cars
just couldn't go any further
more on this fiasco later...

this teabelly was super in love with the snow drifts . . .
even on the doors

who knows what the real total was
i had marked where i had been measuring,
but the wind really mucked things up . . .
lets just say,
it was a HECKUFALOT of snow

and my orchids bloomed
seriously, does it get better than this?

i just loved how my garden tools looked in the snow

this helps paint the picture of the power of the wind and the snow drifts
lets just say
everything was aerodynamic
towards the east

these are the icicles out the office window

why did i take a photo of the garden thru the screen??!!

i loved these icicles
please note their east pointing direction
also, please note that they are going the opposite way from the last storm
that is the difference with a nor'easter
most storms in DC some from the southwest
but nor'easters come from the north-east
(as evidenced by the name)
and they tend to linger
they get in some type of warm/cold trap that makes them move MUCH slower
to really understand it you would need to read at least this
($10 says you don't)

the drifts the day after

and this is what happened to the cars that just gave up

apparently, the dude in the BMW ended up spending the night in his car.
bad idea!
but my street is so rad,

the peeps all dug the dude out
then they plowed the road and trapped the other car and the fedex truck in
b/c that is THE most sensible thing to do ?????