Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Adventures in Food

As readers of this blog might recall, a few months ago for health-related reasons I started changing my eating habits and started being more discerning about the kind of food I put in my mouth. Besides eating more vegetables and fruit, and buying organic whenever we can, we try to eat better quality meats, purchasing grass-fed beef, pastured birds and their eggs. So far we have been fortunate enough to be able to afford the higher prices, and appreciate our food more.

Today I picked up my Thanksgiving pastured turkey, which I purchased from David & Lori Crank at Oaks of Mamre Farm. I have purchased chickens and eggs from them in the past, and I definitely recommend them to anyone who is interested in eating better quality food. I am really looking forward to my family's Thanksgiving turkey meal.

Last Saturday I was at Houston's Bayou City Farmer's Market, and while there I found these amazing, delicious gingersnaps. They are sweet, but not overly so. They are delightfully crunchy. And they have quite a spicy kick! My husband fell in love with them, and declared them his favorite cookies ever.

The gingersnaps are sold by a non-profit organization called The Center Serving Persons with Mental Retardation. The organization has been around since the 1950's, and run several programs that provide assitance to people with developmental disabilities. One of them, Willow River Farms, is an organic farm and artisan community. Residents of the farm make the pretty handmade paper ornaments that decorate the tin cans that the gingersnaps are packaged in.

I highly recommend these cookies. They are delicious and by purchasing them you make a contribution to a good cause. If you are interested, their website is www.gingersnapsetc.org

I am not getting any kind of incentive for writing about the farm or the non-profit, so take these as endorsements as made from the heart, based on my happy experiences with both.

Friday, November 21, 2008


I found this while randomly searching for stuff on YouTube. I liked it very much.

It seems that lately most of what do is post links to things I have found and enjoyed.

Today is a bit of a sad day for me. I don't want to go into details.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Real Estate Downfall

Saw this posted at Alex Balk's Tumblr page and found it hilarious.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday Tirade

I had a horrible weekend. I definitely am going through one of my "down" periods. No matter how many times I have tried, there is no way to accurately convey what this implies. The closest I can come up with is this: it's like someone flicks a switch inside my head and all my shortcomings come into sharp view. I then come crashing down under the weight of unfulfilled expectations, self-loathing and stress.

I am drowning. When I am not picking fights with everybody over stupid stuff, I am crying uncontrollably. I can't stand this.

Friday's incident with Paula, and seeing her report card, set the tone for the rest of the weekend. I can't shake the feeling that this is my fault somehow, that she would do better in school if only I could be more directly involved with school life.

Saturday we went to a fall festival from work and part of the time it was rough. Paula had quite an attitude and I had quite a short fuse. The results were not pretty. I am still reeling from it. I wish I was a better mom, more patient, less angry.

On Sunday I had committed to help Gabe with the formatting of a document he is working on that was due today. It took much more time than I anticipated, and I did not get clean the house at all. My parents are coming to visit on Wednesday, the house is a pigsty and I do not have time to rectify that now. I wish I wasn't such a slob. I wish I did not always bite more than I can chew.

I also very anxious about work. I keep getting new, high-visibility projects thrown on my lap and I feel overbooked and totally out of my element. I wish I was more confident of my ability to tackle the unknown. Learning periods are always so hard for me. Any situation where I feel I do not have complete command is hard to bear.

I feel like such a failure in every single aspect of my life. There is this vision inside my head of the kind of person I aspire to be. She is a great person: kind, patient, even-keeled, confident and accomplished. She does not lose it when she can't find her keys. She does not leave dirty dishes in the sink for days. She plays with her kids and refrains from yelling when they misbehave. The real me just does not measure up at all. I wish I could go to sleep and wake up in two years.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Embellishing the truth

I caught my daughter in a lie yesterday. Someone said something mean to her, and when she told me about it she decided to change the story rather than tell me the truth. I guess my daughter felt what her classmate said lacked punch and I would not get sufficiently upset on her behalf, so she upped the ante in her recollection.

She accused her schoolmate of calling her a terrible name, the kind of foul insult that drives a parent to phone the school principal in outrage over the bully in the classroom. When I told Paula I planned to contact her school over the incident, she panicked and begged me not to. Eventually she confessed that she had exaggerated, and told me what the girl had truly said. It was mean and rude alright, just not at the same level as what Paula said at first. Why would she lie? It is not the first time I catch her in a lie, and it's always so pointless and unnecessary. Why?

To top it all off, we got her report card yesterday. That was not great either. I am disappointed and will be enacting consequences as of today. There will be no more TV in her bedroom; I am unplugging it and taking it out. And she will have no sleepovers with friends until further notice. We'll see if her performance improves.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Bajón de boricua

My parents are coming to visit next week. I can't wait. I need a boost.

Once again I have withdrawal symptoms. I am on edge. I am becoming translucent, slowly fading. I am turning gray. I am becoming a blob.

In December it will be three years since I last visited Puerto Rico. Three freaking years. I miss it so much it hurts in my bones, yet I am so afraid of going back and finding that the gray comes with me, that the stain is indelible.

At what point should I stop kidding myself and admit that I am effectively gone for the long term? What is the cutoff date when it becomes painfully obvious that I can no longer consider myself an island Puerto Rican? Why do I insist of making such a clear cut distinction between islanders and statesiders, and why is it that it upsets me to think that at some point I'm going to have to move from one group to the other?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


The first time I traveled to Houston was in January 2000. I came here for an interview, looking for a promotion, for opportunities not available to me through the local branch of my employer.

I remember seeing Houston from the air, and being surprised at the lack of color. Everything seemed gray, flat, and so very big. It was winter in Texas, the sky was overcast and I was freezing my ass off.

Where were the mountains? Where was the beach? How did people find their way? What were all those rectangular ponds I would see every so often? And how many people lived in this place? Would I be able to make it here?

I learned the answers soon. To see mountains I needed to go to the hill country, a few hours' drive, certainly not a day trip. The beach was about an hour from here, but I was warned that coming from the Caribbean, Galveston would seem disappointing. People looked up directions on the Internet all the time, and drove North, South, East and West. Sometimes they would use landmarks (downtown Houston, the Williams Tower in the Galleria area, etc.).

I would also learn that, at 3.4M (per the 2000 census), the population of Harris County was close in sze to that of Puerto Rico (3.8M per the 2000 census). In some parts it can be as densely pack as the Metro area in Puerto Rico is. In others, there is a lot of room to expand.

There's no moral to this rambling. With time, what was once large and intimidating has become home. So far, I have been able to make it. We'll see what the future brings.

It's over

My mom called me yesterday. She was upset. Her party lost the election in Puerto Rico, and she was taking it really hard. The evil people who want to cut up and give away the island to rich foreign interests have won.

After being away for 8 years, I had forgotten how strong island Puerto Ricans feel about their political party affiliations, and how heated and emotional they can can get, not just on election years but every single day.

I have never felt that pull, that passion while living here in Texas. I know partisan politics exist in the United States too, and that some people identify very strongly with their party. But there is a vast majority that is not affiliated, large numbers of people who do not define themselves by whom they vote for.

A big difference between partisan politics in the US and in Puerto Rico is the fact that, at their core, Puerto Rican political parties are organized on the basis of a specific position regarding the island's political status vis-a-vis the United States. In an election where most voters were reacting to the current economic woes besieging the island by voting the incumbent out, a vote for the winning party will nevertheless be taken as a mandate for them to lobby the US Congress and push that particular political status option. That is what has my mom on the verge of tears. She is convinced this win takes us one step closer to statehood, and the sole idea makes her cringe.

Never mind the fact that this cycle has been repeating itself for decades as the leadership of the country goes from one party to the other. Never mind that in the last 41 years we have had three plebiscites, and yet the question of our status does not get resolved.

Some would say it will never be resolved.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The right to vote

There are some people who say that voting is an exercise in futility, that all politicians are corrupt and on the payroll of special interest groups. I am not one of the jaded. I believe in the right to vote, and I have been exercising that right since my first election in 1988.

It has always surprised that, for a country that proudly claims to be the biggest democracy, voter turnout in the US tends to be on the low side. This year may be completely different, and I am very interested to see how many people get out to vote. Now, if only we could get rid of the outmoded electoral college idea...

Election Day

Nothing like a cheesy 80's video to set the right mood for today's activities.

Saturday, November 01, 2008



I did not take many pictures last night. Here's a couple of them.

Paula was dressed up as some kind of goth vampire. Paula's friend was a devil, and Isabel was a witch. Paula had fake purple eyelashes and streaks of purple in her hair.


Here is our neighbors' young daughter and Isabel.