Thursday, December 27, 2007


It was a good Christmas after all. I was a little worried. All our friends left town. It was just the two of us. I was worried it'd be no different than most other days off, we'd sleep in, take a walk, read a little, make dinner, play poker and go to bed. True, there would be the half an hour of presents in the morning, which would be very very awesome, but other than that, what would make it compare to the many day hoop-la I'm used to at home? Somehow it compared. Somehow it still felt like Christmas.
We continued some traditions that I grew up with: a midnight Christmas Eve church service, then Christmas morn Zeb wasn't allowed to get out of bed until the Christmas music played. Then we had to clean up the whole house before we could open presents. I heard my eternal childhood question echoed in Zeb's voice when, after ten minutes he said "Is the house clean enough yet?"
We made presents stretch out as long as we could, examining each one for at least ten minutes before we moved on to the next. Zeb was in kit heaven. I had sent out a sly email saying what a sucker he was for kits and hot sauces, my family took me very seriously. He received a hot sauce making kit (just add garlic, peppers, oil etc), a fudge kit (just add butter), a beer making kit (just add water - this won't be the best of beer), a put up your feet and relax man kit (just add chips), a golf ball monogramming kit (add golf balls), a cigar kit and another five or so other bottles of fancy hot sauces. As I said, he was in heaven.
I received many wonderful things, my favorite being a beautiful new, long, warm coat from my husband. I had been eyeing it for quite some time on the J Crew website. Zeb says it makes me look like a ninja which is his highest compliment (I translate it to movie-star in my head). I loved it so much that we had to take a walk right away and we spent a nice hour down by the water.
By this time it was mid afternoon so the west coast was finally up and the virtual Christmas began! First there was a flurry of texts to an from everyone we knew. Then we were put on speakerphone while my family opened the gifts from us. An hour later we received a video of those same gifts being opened, and we could even hear ourselves on the phone. The best part, the video camera turned toward the computer and we could see and hear Valerie live in Germany on Skype! We sent pictures of ourselves and our gifts to Oregon, and it actually felt like we had all participated in Christmas together.
We finished the evening, of course, with steak and poker and our new Alison Krauss Robert Plant CD. We watched 'The Nativity Story' in bed and we said, 'That actually felt like Christmas!' A new kind of Christmas, but it was still filled with family, cozy pjs, thoughtful gifts, good food, and the birth of Jesus. To answer Camille's question, yeah, it was a good Christmas.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Whoa Baby!

Welcome Caleb Henry Temple!!!!!!!

Link: "What's Wrong With The American Essay"

I used to feel guilty about my apathy toward essays. Now I feel vindicated. Spineless essays are evidence of a greater malady.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Way Too Excited About Our Christmas Tree

It seems like such a big step, like owning your first car, or inviting another couple over for your first stab at entertaining, or buying life insurance. It's not a little table-top Christmas tree to get by until we get to mom and dad's where there's a real one, it's large and sappy and it makes this little third story flat feel like a legitimate household, and me feel like a legitimate adult with responsibilities, like, say, watering the tree every few days.
I'm pretty proud of the decorations. They all, in total, cost $10 from the Dollar Tree. They only go half way around the tree but really, if I hadn't told you you'd never know. Who snoops around the back of a Christmas tree anyway?
Josiah (or was that Natalie and Joanna?) and mom have asked for pictures of the apartment, my excuse for taking a few too many pictures of the Christmas tree is that I need it from every angle to give you more views of the room. When the dining room, bedroom, and kitchen get anything near as cool as a Christmas tree I'll take pictures of them too.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Five Plus One

Anniversary Day at the Turner exhibit - Zeb's favorite artist, now perhaps challenging Klimt as mine.


Zeb and a "Nude Woman"

S and Z Forever

Friday, December 7, 2007

The good, the bad, and the good.

There is quite a bit of news this week. In the good news - Zeb started a new job on Monday. A huge weight was lifted immediately. He's working at a real estate development company that handles all the government housing projects in Baltimore. He, of course, has a lot to learn but he thinks he will enjoy it. Perhaps not start a career enjoy, but definitely make a year or two interesting enjoy. It snowed! It's pretty. Zeb finished his final paper meaning he's pretty much done for the semester!
In the bad news- I lost my job. The restaurant is closing for an extensive remodel until the spring. We have three weeks to either file for unemployment or find new jobs, which is not as easy in this town as it might seem. That pesky weight came back again. You can whip out the prayers if you want.
In the good news- I got a promotion right before I lost my job. All sorts of benefits that would have started in January right as we're now closing. Ironic. But nice to be appreciated. Best of all the Culvers turn six months old on Sunday. And, as the boy texted the other day "It is impossible to be in love and to be poor...and we love each other."

Monday, December 3, 2007

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Oregon anymore!

Overheard: "Our subdivision doesn't want us to cut down trees and I hated to do it but I just had to make room for our pool, I just had to. I told the guy helping me to hurry and get that wood outta there before anyone saw how healthy it was."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Peace Talks: Update

I tried to go Christmas shopping and ran into a rally or protest, I'm not sure which. Some people are smiling, some people are yelling.

Middle East Peace Talks

This morning Zeb made lattes for the Israeli secret service. Together with US security there were about thirty guns in Starbucks and a reporter to cover each one. I awoke to the sound of Marine One landing across the street with the President on board. I walked out onto my porch and this is what I saw. These men look scary but are very nice and since we've chatted they let me pass up and down my street whenever I want. The rest of the neighbors get stopped and asked for ID when they try to leave or come home. I'm thinking of selling my living room window to a reporter for a few hours, it's a fine view. There are five security agents in this picture, can you find them all? Living here still amazes me.

Monday, November 26, 2007


This will be my first Christmas without my (blood) family. But my first with my new family. All alone here we want to create traditions for our new family. At home (the coast) we forewent turkey for ham, an exchange I heartily support since I never liked turkey. My new family and I decided, though we like ham, it's not our favorite, so our family Thanksgiving fowl will be duck. We both worked on Thanksgiving. It was hard to feel thankful not sorry for ourselves. Zeb got home mid afternoon and put the duck in the cranberry stoneware dutch oven (thank you Cindy Swanson) in the oven. He was excited - it was a DUCK KIT. He's a sucker for anything with 'KIT' in the title. It came pre-wrapped with a heat-n-serve l'orange sauce and a pop up timer and cooking instructions. The instructions said remove the neck and giblets before cooking. He wasn't quite sure what all that was or how to remove them. He opened the kit and the neck and giblets were neatly packaged in a plastic bag inside the duck's skeletal cavity. He followed the instructions and removed (tossed) them. This is why he loves kits. The only worry was that our fifty year old oven wouldn't heat up in time, but by the time I got home from work at 8 pm I could smell in the air that the kit was a success. Duck is the meat of the gods (until Christmas when we have steak). I brought home an Oregon Pinot Noir, I could tell I was homesick. But Thanksgiving dinner was wonderful. We laughed and talked and cuddled and marveled over where we are. It was as meaningful as a new tradition could get. And I reflected on what I was thankful for last year - it was him bein' around. And this year, now that I actually have him and get to keep him - how much more thankful.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Chocolate is a many-splendored thing

Zebulin would eat burritos all day every day if he could. Or chips and salsa. Or really just anything Mexican. Me...not so much. Before yesterday Mexican would have been my last pick. Along came El Toro Bravo and Chicken Enchiladas with Chocolate Sauce. Sounds disgusting? It's delicious. I couldn't quite believe my eyes when I saw this dish among the standard Mexi fare, but the nice server boy brought me a taste of the sauce and I was sold. It was a sort of savory chocolate that perfectly complemented corn tortillas and beans and onions and chicken and sour cream. Now I'll be begging to go out for Mexican food.
The chocolate enchiladas remind me of a dish we made on our honeymoon - Wild Mushroom Ragout. The base sauce was unsweetened chocolate with nutmeg, cardamon, white pepper and cloves. We dumped it over rice and had steak on the side. It was fantastic. It's gustatorily confusing at first to try chocolate out of its traditional dessert context but it's rich and versatile and makes one happy - why not use it whenever possible?

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Coup

The boy has a lot on his plate. He's got a full-time job, he's got six more months until a Master's degree, and he's got a wife always asking him to take out the garbage or put another quarter in the dryer. He doesn't need a blog as well. Well, actually he already has one (Killpoets), he doesn't need a second. So I'm taking over. But don't worry (Dave), you'll still hear plenty 'bout him from me.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Project Tarragon

It's tarragon week. 1 ounce of fresh tarragon has so far contributed to: Asparagus with Tarragon-Lemon Butter, Veal Scallops with Tarragon, and Baked eggs with Tarragon (Thank you Melanie for the Ultimate 30 Minute Cook Book). There are approximately .75 ounces of tarragon left. Any ideas?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A week in short.

In our news this week: Sarah acquired a Maryland drivers license forcing Zeb to admit that they actually live on the East (wrong) Coast now. That landlord bought apartment number #10 a new refrigerator that's just as sleek, modern and stainless-steel as Zeb could ever hope for. Sarah is wondering if she can make it look homey-warm by covering it with red paper. At least the food will stay in the 'safe zone' now. Joining the herb plants is a Oncidium Twinkle Fragrance Fantasy Orchid. Anyone know how to keep one of these alive? Zeb is still reading Lobachevsky, and Sarah is reading lots of Gertrude Stein.
Coming up: Zeb wakes up at 4:45 am for the, oh, tenth day in a row? No, think its the twentieth. A big trip to the Post Office tomorrow: Write Like Hemingway, pounds of coffee for Jem, a roomy belly coral shirt for Ax, and Camille's long lost pants and flip-flops. Promise. Tsunami/Lemongrass opens in Baltimore and somehow the Culvers got in on the red carpet testing gala. Fantastic food and drinks and bowling for free? OK. Best of all - the Culvers turn 5 months old on Friday. 5 months of non-stop happy. We are lucky in love.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

We might be warm.

All of a sudden, delightfully, it is fall, perhaps winter. Last night was chill - I couldn't feel it under the down comforter, but the boy felt it at 5 am as he walked to work and I saw it when my breath hit the air. I spent the morning repeatedly blowing the circuit as I frantically plugged in space heaters, cursing the laid-back landlord who I was sure was basking at home in heat while neglecting to turn ours on. Then, at 5 o'clock there was a noise in the kitchen, something like a pot of water boiling over combined with the gas leaking. Upon investigation - the old Victorian, silver painted radiators have come alive! What had been a rusted, ugly cleaning challenge became the most quaint and comforting thing in our home. They are hissing steam, and exuding smells I can only describe as warm, and best of all, the temperature outside is freezing literally but inside I am wearing flip-flop slippers!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Fall hits.

I think we turned off the air conditioners for good yesterday. Yes, it is almost November.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The beginning...

"Inside those years, they had no reason to hurry. They were young. Their world was clean. It was church on Sunday. It was reading books, soaking in the bathtub. Picking wild berries and making jelly at night, when the white kitchen was cool with a breeze, the windows up. They always knew the phase of the moon, but seldom the day of the week." Diary - Chuck Palahniuk

Monday, October 8, 2007

Coming... soon as we can think of something to say.