Katryna’s Birthday Party


Our shows at the University of Hartford where we recorded the DVD were much better than I expected. I feel like I just finished a semester at college or something; I am that relieved for it to be over. Well, almost over. Ed wants me to film the real Molly the Donkey at the farm, so tomorrow I think I will take Elle over for an organic farm visit. It will be her birthday, and I wanted a special mother/daughter outing anyway.

By the way, I think Elle has overheard me talking about how I changed her name for the purposes of this blog. Tom just said that as he was putting her down for her nap, she said, “I want to change Mama’s name, Dada.”

“Why?” said Tom. “I like Mama’s name.”

Elle looked around the room and fixated on her John Lennon quilt above her bureau which has his fanciful designs of African and Australian animals all living together in peace.

“I want to call her…Elephant!”

I haven’t been writing about food activism for months now, and it doesn’t exactly fit into the Ven Diagram of motherhood and the arts/music, but this whole thing with swine flu has me focused on the topic again, so forgive me while I rant.

Apparently the pork industry is up in arms because its product is getting a bad name. They want to make sure everyone knows that you can’t actually contract swine flu from eating pork. Which is true. But still, the industry totally deserves to have a virus named after it. My understanding, based mostly on the writings of Michael Pollan is that these animals are raised on CAFO’s (Confined Area Feeding Operation) which are essentially cities comprised of one kind of animal: cattle or swine, and are stuffed to the gills with foods they wouldn’t normally eat (mostly corn and soy products which have been subsidized by the US government and themselves grown in conditions that don’t support the land or water) and create huge lakes of their waste, which they sometimes swim in. These conditions are ripe for viruses (virii?) and bacteria to mutate and create strains that are resilient to the antibiotics the animals are perpetually kept on (because their conditions are so unsanitary that if they weren’t constantly on antibiotics, they would all be too sick to eat.)

If this disturbs you so much that you want to become a vegetarian, I say fabulous. I love vegetarians and am grateful for them. Eating commercial meat gives you a higher carbon footprint than driving a car. But I don’t think it’s necessary to give up meat or fish or fowl entirely in order to live sustainably (or without guilt, which is always my bent). I don’t buy or order commercial red meat at restaurants, and I try to do the same with poultry. I try my best to eat sustainably farmed or caught fish, too. We are lucky in that where we live there are several grass-fed cattle farms that sell hamburger at our farmer’s market in the summer, and at our co-op I can buy local organic chickens. Yes, they’re more expensive, but that helps me to eat less meat, too.

But back to poop. Did I mention that George Harrison eats his poop? And our kids’ diapers? So today, Elle came downstairs with the inner portion of her potty seat, filled with the contents of her digestive system. She apparently wanted us her mom and dad, to see what a good job she had done. Which she has. I can’t believe that a month ago I was in despair about her ever becoming toilet trained. Anyway, as she carried the little plastic bowl carefully through the dining room en route to the downstairs bathroom where it would be dumped in the toilet, she turned to the dog and said, “Don’t eat it, George!”

We had a party for Elle this morning, which was really just an excuse to get together. My parents were in town for the third weekend in four weeks, so they and Katryna and Dave and their kids came over for brunch. At first I thought I had nothing in the house to serve them, but in the middle of the night I remembered I had one can of chick peas and an unopened jar of tahini from the pleistocene era. I also had garlic and lemon juice and salt, and therefore all the ingredients for hummus, plus a half box of Triscuits for dunking. My basic hummus recipe is:
-find a recipe online, any recipe that has these ingredients and little else
-multiply the amount of tahini by 8 and garlic by 3 but otherwise follow the recipe exactly

Also, just to remind you that I am not a vegetarian, I found three frozen chicken breasts, a package of frozen cod and some frozen wrapped catfish in the freezer and a jar of Trader Joe’s Korma sauce. I marinated all three together for an hour and then baked for another hour. I steamed a lot of asparagus and heated up the leftover Indian rice from our take-out dinner on Friday, and voila! A fancy and delicious luncheon.

Overheard as I passed the children’s table. (Note: “Bill” is what I will call Katryna’s son. Note also: he is not a dog.)

Elle: No, Bill, don’t stand up! Sit, Bill, sit! Good boy.
Bill: Elle, I am taller than you.
Elle: Yes, you are.

Last night after the DVD taping, our whole family gathered at a restaurant in town and celebrated Katryna’s 40th birthday. We rented a private room in the basement. At one end, the kids gathered to watch DVDs on a portable DVD player: “The Little Mermaid” and “Finding Nemo” which Elle called “Grinding Nemo” and pronounced, “Just a little scary, but not too much. If I’m scared I can hide my eyes.” Which she demonstrated.

Katryna is so generous that she insisted on sharing the birthday cake with our twin niece and nephew who just turned five last week, and with Elle whose birthday, as I said, is tomorrow. Katryna even let the kids blow out the candles.

Here’s the song I “wrote” for her: it’s to the tune of “What A Wonderful World.”

What A Wonderful Girl (For Katryna on her 40th birthday)
C Em F Em
A baby was born to our family
Dm7 C E7 Am
Lovely and strong; we called her “Tree”
Ab Dm7/A D7 C / C+ / Fmaj7 / G7 /
And I think to myself, What a wonderful girl.

C Em F Em
You grew and bloomed, we sang and played

Dm7 C E7 Am
Life lessons learned; dear friends you made
Ab Dm7/A D7 C / C+ / Fmaj7 / G7 /
And I think to myself, what a wonderful girl

G7 C
The way you draw a picture, the way you sing a song
G7 C
The way you show the children how they can sing along
Am Em Am Em
Are the ways that you share the gifts God gave to you
Dm7 Edim7 Dm7 Edim7 Dm7
Are the ways you tell the world, “I love you.”

C em F Em
I have known your smile, and I’ve known your tears
Dm7 C E7 Am
I love you more with each passing year
Ab Dm7/A D7 C / C+ / Fmaj7 / G7 /
And I think to myself what a wonderful girl
Dm7 Dm7 G7b9 C F6 C
Yes I think to myself, what a wonderful girl.

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