Happy Birthday RAB

A special request for a special day:


The Books of 2009

I read a lot in 2009, what with the not having a full time job and not going to school. For the first half of the year I had a newborn and it was nice and sweet to read to him as he nursed or hold him while he slept and read for awhile with a book in my lap. I started keeping a list when it was January and I had already finished five or six.

Here is that list, kind of in order.

- A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace
- The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell
- Rookie Mom’s Guild
- The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
- Northanger Abby by Jane Austen
- Persuasion by Jane Austen
- Emma by Jane Austen
- The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
- Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
- The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
- America the Book by John Stewart and the Daily Show
- Celebration of Discipline (spiritual discipline, not like spanking your kid) by Richard Foster
- The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
- The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
- The Friday Night Knitting Club (sucked)
- Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
- Take the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell
- Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
- World War Z by Max Brooks
- Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
- Story of a Marriage by Andrew Sean Greer
- The Backyard Homestead
- The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon
- Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
- The Mentoring Mom (sucked so much)
- Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

I feel pretty good about it. (Although now that Alton is older and sleeps much less during the day, I don't imagine my 2010 list will be quite so long.) There were only two books that I really didn't like. I finished them because I was reading them with groups—my book club and my moms group. Otherwise I would have thrown them out. Everything else I really enjoyed. Oh, I take that back. I was disappointed with The Wordy Shipmates which I was really looking forward to because I like Sarah Vowell so much. But it was only so-so.

What did you read last year that you loved or hated? Any recommendations for 2010? I've already started a list of books that I want to read this year. What is it about me and lists in January?


Happy Birthday

It's my mother's birthday and so I shot some videos of her grandson today. They may not be that interesting to everyone, but I know she'll love them.

Happy Birthday, Mom.


Alton Goes to Lake Tahoe

Alton turns one this Saturday.

This past weekend we went to Lake Tahoe to take a little vacation and see some family. It is really one of the most beautiful places I've been. Here is a short video of Alton playing in the lake.


Container Gardening

One of my goals this year was to better utilize my patio and balcony space to grow plants — specifically plants that we could eat. Like so many others I have been inspired by the idea of urban farming and local and sustainable eating. So I'd like to say I had high ideals in mind of lessening my carbon footprint and taking my money out of the agribusiness machine, but mostly I just thought it would be cool to try.

I did the majority of my planting around Mother's Day and things have been going very well. I wanted to share some pictures because I'm very proud of myself.

Here's what I planted in the beginning of May:

The top left corner is a potato plant. Next to it is the lemon tree I planted last year that I thought was dead for sure. But I pruned it and it came back. In the rectangular boxes, I planted a bunch of lettuce varieties. They are still growing. I haven't bought lettuce since May. Any time I want to have a salad or some lettuce for a sandwich, I just grab my scissors and clip some off.

In the lower left corner you have some cherry tomatoes which I was uncertain about. Tomatoes need hot weather and a lot of sun. The summer is pretty cold in San Francisco and foggy, so I wasn't sure how it was going to go. But it's worth a try, right?

In the smaller pots are some herbs.

I planted peas and squash on my front balcony. Peas are climbing plants and thry like cool weather, so I figured they could grow up the railing and handle the wind off the ocean.

I did some balcony harvesting last weekend:

Everything was delicious.

The potatoes were kind of cool — I grew and dug and cooked my own potatoes. After I planted it though I learned that I should have done it a little differently. So next time I'll get more than five potatoes. Still it was fun.

In the potato pot, after we dug out the potatoes, I planted kale and scallion seeds. They're still little, but I have high hopes. Notice, in the pot to the right, my fully recovered and flourishing lemon tree.

The tomatoes are growing like crazy. I have lots of little green tomatoes and a lot more flowers. If they ever turn red, it will be amazing. We've had maybe three ripen, so we'll see. Otherwise, we might have to look into fried green cherry tomatoes.

If we ever get a backyard, I'm going to go wild planting and growing (and maybe even raising chickens). If anyone wants to get me The Urban Homestead or The Backyard Homestead for Christmas, they would be used and appreciated.

Now some of you don't care about gardening, I'd imagine, so as a reward for making it through this post, here's a picture of Alton on his 9 month birthday. We went to the zoo. There is a farmyard area where you can pet sheep and goats and sit in saddles. The sweater he's wearing was handmade by a friend in Brooklyn. It's beautiful, Emilie. I get compliments all the time.

And here's one from today. He's getting so big. He'll be 10 months old on Monday. All of you are invited to his 1st birthday party on the 24th of October. Get your plane tickets now.


Crawling Videos

My mother has been asking for videos of Alton crawling. She is sad that the next time she sees him he probably won't be crawling anymore but walking.

So these are for you mom. Enjoy.


Alton's Crawling