Friday, May 23, 2014

Government efficiency

My sister and brother-in-law are traveling abroad in August.  They sent their old passports and applications for new passports in one envelope.

This is what they got back.

PS Did you know if you check gmail on your phone, even if its in safari, you can just swipe and boom you're on your next email??? Whoa.  

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Overheard, over coffee and cupcakes

Conversation between two girls at the coffee shop:

Blue shirt girl: Yeah, so when we were hanging out, he was like, I had a nice time, and I was like, me too, and he said, let's do it again, and I said, yeah, okay, but I just thought we were just hanging out, and then he texted me and wanted to get coffee!

Black tank top girl: Yeah, you were just being friendly, and he thought...

BSG: Yeah, he thought I was into him!  He, like, wanted to get coffee!

BTTG: Ooooh, noooo!

BSG: So I said I had a lot of school work and stuff, and that was true, and that I already had plans, and that was true, too, but then a few days later he asked again.  

BTTG: Ugh, that is terrible.

BSG: And then the next time he texted me, I was already getting coffee with another guy!

BTTG: Super uncomfortable

BSG: Yeah, I know.  And then I saw him, and he was there, so I was like, hey Trevor, and he was really short with me.

BTTG: He took a hint.  That is respectable.

BSG: Yeah, he took a hint real good.  It's super respectable.  But it was, like, really uncomfortable.

BTTG: Yeah, totally.  It's not like that guy that just showed up with Matt when we were all hanging out and then asked for my number.  The guys were like, he's really cool, but I was like, CREEPY.

BSG: Yeah.  Umm, no.

So, not to get all Seraphic Single on everyone, but, a guy asking you out is not a tragedy.

Or a marriage proposal.

It is called coffee, and it lasts about an hour.  I know, I know, huge deal.

A guy showing up to a group hang, possibly to see you, and then ask for your number, is not creepy. How else is he supposed to figure out if he's into you? Or see if you're into him? Or date ANYONE, ever?

 If you liked him, you would love it.

A tree, because they make babies zen.  Maybe it'll make me, zen, too, instead of getting unreasonably angry at these girls I don't even know.  They are just, like, being intentional and everything.  

UPDATE for single men: most women are NOT like this.  Coffee is not a big deal.  Ask a girl out if you might be interested.  If she responds like this, you don't want her anyway, no matter how cute she is (and, yes, these girls were cute)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Reviewing books on food (and some poorly lit photos)

Farmer's Market Greens

In the last few months, I’ve read a number of books on food and eating well: two for book reviews I’m writing, one as a reminder of how to loose my pregnancy weight, and one in preparation for feeding Sofia something other than mama’s milk.  Each book is distinct and offers fresh insights into our complex relationship with food.  I’ll sum each book’s central advice below.

Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image and God:
-       - Cook your own food
-       - Buy seasonal, local ingredients when possible
-      -  Eat your vegetables
-       - Enjoy your meals
-      -  Don’t eat too much

Eat With Joy: Redeeming God’s Gift of Food
-    - Cook your own food
-       - Buy seasonal, local ingredients when possible
-      -  Eat your vegetables
-       - Enjoy your meals
-      -  Don’t eat too much

French Women Don’t Get Fat
-           - Cook your own food
-       - Buy seasonal, local ingredients when possible
-      -  Eat your vegetables
-       - Enjoy your meals
-      -  Don’t eat too much
-       - Walk

The Lost Art of Feeding Kids
-      -  Cook your family’s food
-       - Buy seasonal, local ingredients when possible
-       - Serve your children vegetables and expect them to eat it
-       - Enjoy your meals
-       - Don’t eat too much


Each book certainly adds a lot to Michael Pollan’s advice: Eat Food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants. 

Buttermilk Biscuits!

(N.B. If you are interested in reading all or any of these books, they do each offer something unique, despite the fact that their main perspective on eating is the same)

On a more serious note, I recently interviewed Melissa Musick Nussbaum of the Catholic Catalogue for paid work I'm doing.  On eating, she said “If there is one thing that I could encourage it is to eat in community.  To have a house and eat together.  Eating in a restaurant schools you in preference and kind of pickiness.  Eating together schools you in sharing, in learning to put aside personal preference: I don’t really care for beets, but my sister loves them, so I’ll try them; teaches you how you eat from a common bowl, common pitcher, you converse, you share you may get angry and ask for forgiveness.  Learn you have to be silent when someone is speaking.  Learn from common table it’s an important part of being human, which is what is finally what being a Catholic is, being a fully human as God meant us to be, as Jesus was.”

Links! Or nostalgia. I don't know.

Comic Book Heroes and the author of the best book on education I have ever read (or, Hollywood actors holding signs for an obscure Catholic intellectual)

My friend Maddy on the book, The Mistakes I Made At Work

Apparently I failed as a bride: I didn't get a spray tan, I didn't hire a trainer or even change my eating and exercise habits in the months prior to being wed (I just continued to eat healthy and walk... though I did pay extra attention to tan lines when I was out of doors)

And while I did have my lovely haircutter (is that the right word??) try out the 'do she'd do for the big day, that was all.  We didn't even try alternate styles.


But I still looked awesome.  My postpartum self is jealous of my past self's good looks. 

My husband picked out the BEST flowers for my bouquet, right?

And my haircutter (again, word??) attended the wedding and worked her hair magic in between ceremony and reception so I had TWO fab styles that day

Sorry, men, for the unexpected, girlie wedding post.

Don't know where it came from, but it won't be back for awhile.  You're safe to return.  


My parents have this magical house.  At first it seems like your typical fairly large suburban home, with two living rooms, a too-small kitchen, a separate dining room, and a few bedrooms.  If you go upstairs, you immediately see a bathroom, a laundry closet, and three bedroom doors—but then you round the corner and see down a long hallway a fourth bedroom door.  The house is bigger than you thought: a four-bedroom house with a surplus of shared living spaces.  But then you keep exploring, and you realize that one of the bedroom doors opens to two rooms and a second upstairs bathroom.  Downstairs, off the dining room, instead of a garage, there’s an enclosed office and a master bedroom, complete with its own bathroom, for a total of seven separate rooms that could be used as bedrooms.  While we have had about thirty people sleep there on New Year’s Eves past, the house can sleep seven couples with privacy, or four couples, three babies, one child, and one single adult.  This is what we did last week, sharing in each other’s grief. 

The last outing with everyone (babies present but hidden behind people)

The mornings were slow, with parents groggily and babies happily arising from bed.  Every morning someone made coffee; most mornings someone else went on a Starbuck’s run for lattes and cappuccinos.  Midday could find us all in and out of the kitchen, warming food that people brought by.  This is when my uncle and grandmother would appear, my uncle setting up shop on the kitchen table with his computer, putting together a slideshow of my grandfather’s life. 

The four of us spending the week with Nana and Abba
In the afternoons, people would take turns disappearing: to walk, to nap, to try to nap, to cry, to read.  The house, along with the babies, would sleep.  In the evenings we came back together, around the table, to nourish our bodies and, in the latter part of the week, to share stories of the wake, the funeral, and Abba himself. 

Many people have a hard time eating when they are mourning.  Others, like my sister says, “Want to eat everything: comfort food topped with marshmallows and chocolate.”

Or what my sister did: comfort food—warm bowls of soup or cheesy chicken cordeu on bleu casserole followed by marshmallow-y chocolate on graham crackers, warmed to the perfect ‘smore in the microwave.

Or my younger sister, who peaked in the freezer when the gallon of cookie dough ice cream was gone and exclaimed, "Is the ice cream GONE?"

Or my sister-in-law, who had the gallon of cookie dough ice cream out, for her second (and third) helpings.

The women ate too many sweets while the men drank beer.  We talked and joked.  It began to feel like Christmas, when we were gathered around the table after the babies were in bed.

But then we were stung again when we remembered that Abba wasn’t sitting contendedly next to Nana, his eyes laughing, as he did at Christmas.  None of us can yet understand that he will never do this again, until we are together in the afterlife.

Even in our grief, we shouldn't forget it is Easter.

Abba gazing adoringly at Nana, circa 1993

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Abba Abuelo

My grandfather, whom we called Abba, passed away last Friday afternoon.

His funeral was this morning, followed by a lunch reception prepared by his fellow St. Joesph's parishioners.  They decorated the parish hall with lights and table clothes; they used real silverware.  They provided food for all who attended the funeral.  A friend of mine thanked them, and one of the women responded, "Of course.  The grandfather of the universe was buried today."
That sums him up better than his obituary (which I wrote).

Rehearsal Dinner at My Wedding

My siblings and I co-wrote his eulogy, which my brother bravely delivered at the wake on Tuesday evening.  Here it is, edited to reflect me as the first person:

We called Ignacio Abba, which I think came about because my brother – his first grandchild – couldn’t say Abuelo.  Abba was quiet, not because he was shy or nervous, but because he really valued silence. On one of his recent wedding anniversaries, both he and our grandmother, Nana, were asked to give their advice.  His advice: silence.  El silencio.  This silence was evidently something he practiced in his life, and lived with contentment.

The result was that when you were with him, you learned to value that silence too.  Even as a child, when you were with Abba, you could see that stillness allowed him to be present to the moment, to God, to the people he was with.  And it made you still, too.

And so much of what we remember about Abba is small moments.  He and Nana took one of us to Puerto Rico for a month or so every summer for several years, while Nana taught summer classes there.  While she was teaching, we got to spend time alone with Abba.  Much of this time was spent watching Abba serve; he’d buy us a comic book or book and a coke and then take us to the laundromat, and we would sit, read, and wait for our clothes to dry.  He never said anything about his serving; it was just understood, between us and him, that it was something he did that he joyed to share in with us.

It was also in these small moments when his humor came out.  His eyes always sparkled when he heard a joke, or saw the humor and joy in some part of life. As a child, when we visited Puerto Rico, he taught us to pop the petals of a Caribbean flower.  He would enjoy the loud “pop” sound as much as we would.

He also loved to pick mangos as we walked, and showed us how to pick the ones ready to eat that day.  He loved to walk and to teach us about the island through everything we saw: the lizards, the flowers, the coquis calling at night, the empanadas sold at the beach.  Because he valued silence, he noticed and cherished all these things.  And as a result, we did too.

He did not lose this as he got older.  His great grandkids – the oldest of whom is 3 – loved being silent with Abba as much as we did.

He was also the best whistler any of us have ever heard.  I think it started out as a way to avoid singing – which he wasn’t great at.  But we loved it.  When he whistled a song, it was better than some of the best singers singing.

And Abba was brave.  He and Nana once had the fiercest beast anyone has ever known: a cocker spaniel.  And we were terrified of that dog.  But he always saved us from it, even when it meant carrying multiple grandchildren from the threshold of the door to the safety of the monkey bars (which the dog wasn’t very good at).
Monkey Bars

I’m going to close by talking about Abba’s eyes, because most of what we cherish about Abba can be glimpsed through his eyes.  His green, Castilian eyes. 

His eyes often contained silence, the stillness that he held within his soul.  The contentment with the gift of his life and his family. 

I can think of no better way to finish by quoting something my husband, Travis wrote about Abba’s eyes after he had met Abba twice, wrote: “Still, hushed, and sidereal, like an oculus in the dome of a cathedral at night, they bear no attribute of color or depth.”

His eyes radiated the love he had for his family, often overflowing with happiness at our mere presence- and especially the birth of every one of his great grandchildren.  With the announcement of my pregnancy last May, his eyes grew wet, brimming over to his cheeks, as they did with the birth of a greatgrandaughter.  But it doesn’t seem accurate to say that he cried: water, like happiness, just appeared in abundance.

Abba, thank you for teaching us to love silence and, in doing so, to love the world.  We love you.

Winners of the Anniversary Dance at Our Wedding

Winners and Losers of the Anniversary Dance

Washing Caramelo

Silent contentment

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Baking Soda is NOT baking powder.

For all of my formative years of baking, I correctly distinguished between baking soda and baking powder.  I made delicious cakes, cookies, waffles, and scones, all with the correct leavening agent.

Until Saturday.

Saturday morning, I dreamt of my favorite Apple-Walnut Waffles.  Oh, the nuttiness!  Oh, the light texture!  The bits of apple-sweetness!  A delicious morning treat that managed to keep me full until lunch, even in my nursing-crazed hunger.

All ruined in one swift mistake.


With the baby back asleep, I set to work: crumbling the brown sugar, measuring ingredients- including a slightly greater proportion of wheat flour than originally called for, chopping the apples into the perfect, fine pieces.  With the waffle iron heated, I began scooping the batter, multi-tasking by doing the dishes while the waffles cooked through.

And then I had the foresight to taste-test.

Bitingly bitter.

At first I thought it was the added wheat flour, so I attempted to counter-act this by adding more honey, but to no avail.

I drowned two waffles in syrup, choked them down, and realized what my mistake must have been.

Seventeen waffles, including two apples and the last of my wheat germ, wasted.
Thirty baby-free minutes, wasted.

Until next time, apple-walnut waffles.  Until next time.

UPDATE: My sweet husband would like it known that he ate more than a few of these disgusting waffles.  Because he loves me.

And he doesn't waste food.

It's Friday, Friday, Gotta Get Down on Friday

Remember that song?  Yup, it was weird.  Some girl's parents paid for her to produce a video, and it worked.  She became a YouTube sensation.

Everyone said they watched 'cause it was funny.  But then it got stuck in their heads.

Years later, here we are, remembering an embarrassing percentage of the lyrics.

Or maybe that's just me.

Anyway, here's some links!

My Q&A with best selling author and popular food blogger Molly Wizenberg in the Tulsa Voice.  We talked about art, blogging, Oklahoma, and her new book Delancey.  

How to Pull An All-Nighter (how I wish I could follow these guidelines!  New mothers=tougher than special forces)

Take a Hike! (or at least a walk)

What Mommy Bloggers* Want For Mother's Day. If you're a toddler, wondering what to get your mama this Sunday, this list is for you 

An Old Soul in a New Age: Brilliant Piece of Student Journalism from the University of Central Oklahoma 

How to Tear^ Up Your Own Jeans (because apparently we not only want to do destroy our clothes, but we need instructions on how to do so)

McNellie's Pub, Midtown OKC

*Does anyone else still think it's strange that "Mommy Bloggers" is a Thing?

^For the first time ever, I realized this is spelled the same as water that comes from your eyes when you are sad. (Or happy.  Or almost anything but asleep when you have a little baby.)

My friend Meg.

My friend Meg travels around the country speaking to youth groups and college centers*.  She passes through Oklahoma every few months, and we like to see her and make her dinner.

She writes a blog, where she writes things and prefaces them, "Another piece written entirely from theory and not at all from experience."  A necessary preface, often absent from other philosophical ponderings.

She graduated an elite university early, got a perfect (??) GRE score, then went on to graduate school before many of her classmates finished undergrad.

But I want to talk about another, lesser known skill of Meg's.  Even those who know Meg well may, perhaps, be unaware of her brilliance as a cheerleader.

Meg, on her last Oklahoma visit
Meg was in town during the marathon.  My brother and sister-in-law's house sits along the marathon route, so we enjoyed the lovely weather on their porch as we cheered on the runners- and, later, the walkers.

No one cheered quite like Meg.  Both her volume and her brilliance went unmatched.  

Upon seeing a woman in a purple Vikings t-shirt struggling to finish, Meg called out, "You can do it!  The Vikings love you!  You are beating Green Bay!"

To others, she reminded them of the food awaiting them at the finish.
Her most frequent cheer, however, was "America loves you," seconded only by the message of her talks, but stated in an entirely different manner, "Jesus loves you."

Well, Meg, Jesus and America love you.  Especially Captain America.
Isn't she lovely?
Three cheers for Meg!

*From what she says, she's really good at it.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Adventures in Baby-wearing

Walking around town wearing a baby may elicit a number of reactions.  The kind landscaper at Oklahoma City University pauses and nods as we walk past, preventing the grass from flying in our faces.  Many students and professors glance and smile at us, often greeting us with a cordial, "Good morning." 

Others, however, have different reactions:

"I'm going to get one of those when I have my chocolate boy."
- lady at the Social Security office

"I need to get my one of those for my dog."
-check-out lady at Wal-greens, referring to the Ergo (not the baby or what I was buying; I clarified)

The baby chewing on the Ergo as we walk.
"You're looking good. You're looking real good for having a baby.  You got a boyfriend?"
 - man driving down the street

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Puff pastries! Strawberry sandwiches! Carmel-apple handpies!

So, you know how I'm the best at making oatmeal? Well, my sister Michelle is pretty great at making fancy-schmancy food and pastries.

She basically just catered a wedding shower... for our other sister's friend.  She's pretty awesome. 

If you live in the Oklahoma City area and need a small party catered, contact her!  

She's catered wedding showers, baby showers, and romantic dates!  She can cater for anywhere from two to forty people.

Or, you know, one.  If you just want to eat this chocolate-carmel tart by yourself, I won't judge.* 

Michelle Scaperlanda McWay can be reached at  Follow her on instagram: ScapMcWay

Chocolate-Carmel Tart

Strawberry Sandwiches
All of the Food
Salted Carmel Handpies
Rasberries and Crème-Fraiche
Strawberry Sandwich

*I'm talking to you, Mary Scaperlanda.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Basil, the Great Mouse Detective

The Great Detecitve

As a commenter pointed out on my earlier post, the name Basil should conjure images of the greatest detective to ever live, the Great Mouse Detective.  As a detective, Basil's powers are unmatched, solving the most difficult crimes (and climbs, when, in the end, he scurries up Big Ben's clock tower).  As a character, he has inspired countless spin-offs, from the ubiquitous Sherlock to the comic Psych.  His knowledge of London is unparalleled, in part because of his small stature and corresponding ability to maneuvor into small spaces.  Three cheers for Basil, the Greatest Detective! 

Richard Wilbur is my favorite poet.

Richard Wilbur, Harvard scholar and Pulitzer-Prize winning author.  His Collected Works were the stuff of my courtship: my now-husband gifted me with his second and more complete copy, precipitated by our mutual love of blackberries, shared by Mr. Wilbur.  We read aloud his poems to one another on lazy afternoons, and his clear style quickly accelerated him to a high stature in my mind.  Now, he is quite possibly my favorite poet.
The poet himself, circa 1965, in some grass

After all, he writes such insights into reality such as:

The opposite of duck is drake.
Remember that, for heaven's sake!
One's female, and the other's male.
In writing to a drake, don't fail
To start you letter off, "Dear Sir."
"Dear Madam" is what ducks prefer.

In snowball fights, the opposite
Of duck, of course, is getting hit.

An Earlier Photo


What is the opposite of mirror?
The answer hardly could be clearer:
It's anything which, on inspection,
Is not all full of your reflection.

For instance, it would be no use
To brush your hair before a moose,
Or try a raincoat on for size
While looking at a swarm of flies.

Another opposite from Wilbur.

Wilbur, Richard.  Opposites, More Opposites, and a Few Differences.  Orlando: Harcourt.  2000

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Gardening = almost free food...

If your garden looks like:

OCU Community Garden

But not if it looks like:
My Garden

P.S. Check out the latest issue of The Rotary Dial, page 8.