Mar 14 2010

More Photos

A couple more photos from the California Academy of Sciences:

Robin and pupfish

My mom took this picture of Robin admiring the pupfish. And here she is with Mark on the Academy’s “living roof”:

Nanita and Marqueño

Mar 12 2010

What’s for Dinner

Using our vegetables this week will be a challenge, as we’ve been eating out a lot with Nanita and Marqueño. But our box this week was super exciting: after the long winter weeks of endless chard, kale, squash and leeks, we’re starting to see the first harvests of spring. Not that we didn’t get chard and kale—in fact we got chard and two different kinds of kale—but we also got some things we haven’t seen in months: cauliflower, and asparagus, and shallots. We also got carrots, kiwis, and a bag of lovely little red potatoes.

Wednesday night I made chicken pot pie for everyone (I didn’t make that last week, which is good, as then I was able to use the carrots and shallots from our box), but last night we went to eat at the new Yemeni restaurant that opened up down the block: I wrote them a good review on Yelp. And tonight my mom and Mark have offered to babysit Robin so that Sam and I can have a “date night.” We have reservations at Rue Lepic, a little French bistro that I’ve been interested in for ages—and one that’s a bit too nice for a two-year-old. So that’s exciting.

Tomorrow Nanita and Marqueño are going home, and I’ll be out for my D&D day with friends. I think we’re wrapping up early, though, so I might have time to cook afterwards. I think I’ll buy a flank steak today and put it in the fridge to marinate, and then when I get home tomorrow I can pan-roast it quickly, and roast the asparagus in the oven at the same time. (Mmm, roasted asparagus! I’m so ridiculously happy about the asparagus—my friend Robyn who gets her CSA box from Full Belly Farms mentioned a while ago on Twitter that they were getting asparagus, and I’ve been seething with jealousy ever since.)

Then Sunday I want to try the recipe for blue cheese macaroni with kale that Molly suggested: if I up the proportions just slightly, I think I can probably cram in both bunches of kale. And Robin’s good about eating strongly-flavored cheeses; he loves dairy fat in pretty much any form.

Monday we’ll have a veggie dinner of roasted potatoes and cauliflowers with sauteed chard, and then Tuesday can be leftovers night as usual. So despite two nights of eating out, I think we’ll get to all the vegetables by next Wednesday.

Mar 12 2010

Whoa! Fwee!

Nanita and Marqueño are in town, and Robin couldn’t be more thrilled. It breaks my heart a little bit every time we’re able to visit any of the grandparents, to see how strongly and eagerly Robin responds to their presence and attention: he’s a lucky little boy to have three sets of adoring grandparents, all of whom he loves to the very limits of his little heart: but as I’ve written before, it’s one of my enduring regrets that we haven’t been able to settle closer to any of our far-flung extended family. Robin gets very upset every time we say goodnight to my mom and Mark, obviously because he knows very well that the day will come when they say good-bye and don’t come back again for months.

Anyway, despite my apparent ability to inject mom-guilt into even the nicest of situations, Robin has been having a wonderful time. Yesterday we all (all except for Sam, who has this thing called “work” that sounds like a real bummer, man) went to the California Academy of Sciences for the day. I took my camera and then forgot to take any pictures at all, except for this one of Robin walking along sweetly hand-in-hand with Mark:

For the Buffy fans, I think of this outfit as Robin’s Riley Finn costume.

Anyway, we’ve been to the Academy of Sciences before, but Robin was too young to take much in then. He didn’t respond very strongly to many of the exhibits. This time—was different.

We walk in the door and Robin (after initially getting a bit scared of the big T-Rex mold by the entrance) spots a fish tank. “Fwee!” he cries happily (fwee means fishie), and runs up to get a better look. “Oh, kiddo,” we tell him, “this is nothing, let’s go show you the aquarium.”

We made very slow progress, as to get to the downstairs aquarium you pass by several tide pools and swamp-habitats with fish in them, and each time Robin wanted to stop and gaze at them for apparently indefinite lengths of time. It struck me, as we cajoled and dragged him forward, as pretty funny that his attention span was apparently so much longer than ours. Anyway, eventually, we got downstairs to the “Water Planet” exhibits.

“Fwee! Fwee!”

There were a lot of fishies. So many glass tanks for Robin to run up and press his nose against. So many fishes to be counted and catalogued (“yewwow [yellow] fwee!”). Again, we had to chivvy him along, because we knew what was waiting:

The Philippine Coral Reef. This is a sunken auditorium with a floor-to-ceiling glass wall holding back 212,000 gallons of water and literally thousands of tropical fish.

Robin took this in and rendered his verdict: “Whoa.”

He said that again and again over the next twenty minutes: “Fwee! Whoa!” It was pretty hilarious, because he so badly wanted to talk about the fishies, but his vocabulary is so limited that he was basically just exclaiming the same few words over and over and over again. “Whoa! Fwee! Fwee, Nana!” (Fishies, Nanita!)

He would have stayed there for hours. It’s possible that he would still be there if he had his way. I thought, of course, of Robin’s uncle Jesse the marine biologist—he sent Robin a pop-up book of ocean life, which has apparently taken deep root in the kid’s little brain.

Eventually we dragged him off to see the penguins, and those were a delight as well: Robin loved running back and forth as the penguins swam by, trying to give them kisses through the glass. It was very cute.

Today he’s wearing his penguin shirt that his Pappy and Nonna bought him the last time we went to the Academy of Sciences. He doesn’t have a word for penguin but he did point to the picture and smile. We’ll definitely have to go back soon.

Mar 4 2010

What’s for Dinner

Yesterday in our veggie box we got: kale, two different kinds of chard (white and gold), collard greens, broccoli, a pound and a half of leeks, six kiwis, and a bag of fingerling potatoes. Last night we had boiled potatoes and peas along with a salad (incorporating the broccoli); tonight I’m doing yet another run of that polenta-with-chard recipe. I’ve been making it a lot lately, but Sam always seems happy to see it, and by modifying the recipe very slightly I can use up both bunches of chard and most of the leeks.

Tomorrow I think I’ll do another retread, this time the bulgur salad with kale and salami (and I’ll throw in the collard greens too). That’ll take care of all the veggies, and then I can branch out into fun stuff for the rest of the week: I think Sam would be pleased with chicken pot pie on Sunday, and maybe homemade pizza on Monday.

Breaking News: What I had taken for a bunch of skinny leeks turned out to be only half leeks, and half narrow stalks of green garlic. I used them all in the polenta and it was delicious. That is all.

Mar 1 2010

What the Heck

After what I’d perceived as a long period of everyone gradually getting saner about pregnancy—especially people mostly recognizing that a pregnant woman is still a free adult, retaining both her decision-making faculties and her basic human rights—it looks like portions of the United States have abruptly decided that, no, they’d actually rather treat their pregnant mothers as breeding cattle.

If it was just one incident I could write it off as an aberration; two, a coincidence; but three is conspiracy, right?

Well, horrifying exhibit number one: Samantha Burton. Twenty-five weeks pregnant, she came to the hospital when she began experiencing premature contractions. After examining her, the doctor prescribed full bed rest—effectively telling her to spend the next fifteen weeks confined to a hospital bed. Samantha, a working mother with two other small children to care for, objected that this would be impossible for her.

At this point:

Burton wanted to leave and get a second opinion, but the hospital blocked her departure and set up a hasty court hearing in her hospital room. Burton was sworn in and handed a telephone, with Leon County Circuit Court Judge John Cooper on the other end of the line. She had no lawyer and no legal experience, but Burton was expected to argue her case against her obstetrician and the hospital’s attorney.

Her request to go to another hospital was denied. The judge ordered Burton to remain in Tallahassee Memorial and submit to any medical treatment that doctors decided was necessary to preserve the life and health of her fetus. And because the fetus was in the breech position, the judge also ordered Burton to submit to a caesarean section whenever her doctors said it was time.

Burton, who had broken no law, was essentially imprisoned at Tallahassee Memorial and denied control over her medical care. Three days later, doctors performed an emergency cesarean section, but Burton’s fetus was dead.

Appalling. Utterly appalling. Samantha Burton was legally imprisoned, stripped of all powers of self-determination, and subjected to forced surgery—all because, apparently, she made the mistake of being pregnant in Florida.

Don’t get pregnant in Iowa either. Horrifying exhibit number two is Christine Taylor, who in her second trimester accidentally fell down the stairs.

Paramedics rushed to the scene and ultimately declared her healthy. However, since she was pregnant with her third child at the time, Taylor thought it would be best to be seen at the local ER to make sure her fetus was unharmed.

That’s when things got really bad and really crazy. Alone, distraught, and frightened, Taylor confided in the nurse treating her that she hadn’t always been sure she’d wanted this baby, now that she was single and unemployed. She’d considered both adoption and abortion before ultimately deciding to keep the child. The nurse then summoned a doctor, who questioned her further about her thoughts on ending the pregnancy. Next thing Taylor knew, she was being arrested for attempted feticide.

Christine Taylor spent two days in jail before she was released. The D.A. investigated her for three weeks before ultimately declining to prosecute. All because she shared, in what she thought was confidence, her doubts and fears with the medical personnel that were supposed to be caring for her.

Now obviously all of this is happening around the margins of the abortion debate, so I should say that I have really mixed feelings about abortion. I don’t think there’s a magic line at birth, or between the second and third trimesters, where something that was previously an inhuman, unfeeling bundle of cells suddenly becomes a real baby: I think it’s a real baby pretty early on, actually. I’m not sure abortion is ever a good choice (although sometimes it is the best available choice).

But even when it’s not the best available choice, even when it’s a bad choice, even in situations that I personally would consider immoral: I’m still pro-choice. I still believe in allowing women who want them access to safe abortions, because otherwise we create a world where pregnant women who take “suspicious” falls are thrown in jail. Or a world where teenagers hire men to beat them into inducing miscarriage. If this happens in places where abortion is legal, at least theoretically—although access to safe abortions is still highly dependent on location and wealth and, for teenage girls, may not exist at all—I don’t have to think very long to imagine what kinds of horrible situations develop when desperate women have no safe recourse for ending an unwanted pregnancy. In fact I don’t have to imagine at all: we already know perfectly well what happens when abortion is illegal, and in my moral calculus those societies are more horrible than a society where we allow some babies to be killed before they’re born.

I can understand, however, those who weigh the same issue and come to a different conclusion. I can understand it very easily. Even pro-lifers, however, generally shy away from the idea of punishing women who have been driven to seek abortions. They want to criminalize the doctors who perform abortions, but as the pro-choicers have been pointing out recently, anti-abortion activists generally don’t want to see desperate women jailed for the crime of seeking to end their pregnancies.

Well, except in Utah. For horrifying exhibit number three, we return to the case I linked above, of the pregnant teenager who hired somebody to beat her up in an attempt to induce miscarriage. As it turns out, although the Utah authorities did jail her and tried their best to prosecute her, “the charges were dropped because, at the time, under Utah state law a woman could not be prosecuted for attempting to arrange an abortion, lawful or unlawful.”

They’d like to fix that now.

A bill passed by the Utah House and Senate this week and waiting for the governor’s signature, will make it a crime for a woman to have a miscarriage, and make induced abortion a crime in some instances.

According Lynn M. Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, what makes Utah’s proposed law unique is that it is specifically designed to be punitive toward pregnant women, not those who might assist or cause an illegal abortion or unintended miscarriage.

The bill passed by legislators amends Utah’s criminal statute to allow the state to charge a woman with criminal homicide for inducing a miscarriage or obtaining an illegal abortion. The basis for the law was a recent case in which a 17-year-old girl, who was seven months pregnant, paid a man $150 to beat her in an attempt to cause a miscarriage.

In addition to criminalizing an intentional attempt to induce a miscarriage or abortion, the bill also creates a standard that could make women legally responsible for miscarriages caused by ‘reckless’ behavior.

In other words, if god-forbid I were to lose my pregnancy, under this new law I could be convicted of murder and jailed for life. After all, I eat soft cheeses and lox bagels: many authorities would tell you that’s “reckless.” Or as women’s rights advocates have pointed out, a wife who fails to leave her abusive husband could also be prosecuted and punished, if his beatings cause her to lose the baby. It was reckless of her to remain in that situation.

Moreover, “Utah’s bill would apply throughout the entirety of a woman’s pregnancy. Even first trimester miscarriages could become the basis for a murder trial.”

This is just so insanely wrongheaded, it’s hard to believe it’s happening, even in Utah. And the cumulative effect of all these cases is staggering to me. What is this, the war on pregnant ladies? What the heck is going on out there?