Saturday, June 30, 2012

Daddy in a Box

I am a military wife.

This is somewhat of an uncomfortable description for me.  I always envision military wives as traditional conservative creatures.  Women who are the backbone of America, organized and resilient.  The military wife likes orders and rules.  And God.  And Country. (But probably not Yale.)

I, on the other hand: Non-white, from MA, a product of the People's Republic of Cambridge, educated abroad, worked abroad, peripatetic, multi-lingual, dual citizen, over-educated, green, godless, feminist, liberal, pro-choice, pro-gay rights.  Didn't take my husband's name (it took Maj. C's brigade three years to get my name and title right).  I don't do pledges or anthems or prayer. I do science, books, and numbers.  Ex-Wall Street.  Ex-academic.  Donates to Planned Parenthood, Dems, and NPR. Wine, not beer. Goat cheese, espresso with lemon rind, and arugula figure prominently in my diet.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Picture time!

25 June 2012 by Snowlet
25 June 2012, a photo by Snowlet on Flickr.
Of late, I'm much more interested in my baby pictures. Until I had my own kid, I was largely indifferent to the photos that my parents so lovingly took of me doing all the usual baby things.

That said, my favorite photos are the ones with my mom, which are few and far between. She was/is the photog of the family. I love seeing how stylish and pretty she is in old photos. . .

I hate having my photo taken. And I'm frumptastic, but I thought I would make an effort.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Wild, wilder, wildest

I'm reading Cheryl Strayed's book Wild.
Who: "At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail [PCT] from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone." (

Or, in other words, she screwed up her life and needed to hit the reset button.  Broken by the loss of her family and identity, she destroyed a marriage with a man she loved with her affairs, becomes a heroin user, and she was directionless and unhinged in a meaningless existence.  She walks the PCT alone, needing to find her salvation.  In short, a promising premise.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

River of Fire

WaterFire: Providence, RI by Snowlet
WaterFire: Providence, RI, a photo by Snowlet on Flickr.
Water Fire in Providence, RI (23 June 2012)
In which we:
1) met the nicest policeman in the world
2) ate a great plate of Lobster Ravioli
3) partook in a well executed arts festival
4) basked in the good fortune of a night that was neither too hot or too cool
5) engaged and indulged all the senses

Saturday, June 23, 2012


It's hot. On days like this, Sloth is not only one of the seven deadly sins, it's a valid lifestyle.  But I live on Cape Cod, so that means summer guests, which we honestly love.  We joke that Hotel H-C is open for the season.  The house is filled coffee, wine, Hendricks, limes, and conviviality. (RoseofAcademe, when are you visiting?)

But guests need to eat.  And Bunny, being a baby, does make elaborate feasts difficult.  This post is about hospitality in the form of the path of least resistance.  I leave food, a jug of limeade, and red wine (I don't need to fuss with keeping it cool) on the table.  Folks drift in and out, helping themselves.  Here is what I do to keep everyone fed. . .

Friday, June 22, 2012

Golden ticket

So.  My sister in law is moving to Kazakhstan.  (I'll post more on that later.  But in the mean time, here is her blog.  I am so looking forward to reading about her adventures).  She just bought her ticket.  She's committed.  She's going.

I just bought our one-way ticket to fly out to CA.  We're now committed to our drive across the country. . .

There is that moment when you plunk down your money, you think, what have I done? Too late.  You've jumped.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Baby love

Today I'm teaching a class on photography at Falmouth Hospital.  As promised on my past post on photography, here are some guidelines for taking better photos.  All of these "rules" should be broken from time to time, except perhaps rule one. . .

Here is the abbreviated version:
1) Have a camera
2) Take lots of pictures (then choose the best ones)
3) Don't forget to look at the background too
4) Turn off the flash if you can
5) Be in the picture

Here is the slightly longer version:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Internal Monologue: Yoga class

"Ommmmmm. Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.  Ommmmmmmmmmmm.  Breathe. Inhale.  Did I send that email?  Exhale. What was the margin on that?   Inhale. I wonder what Bunny is doing.  Things for this weekend: I should move that plant, and move the mulch pile.  And do something about that vine.  What time was that thing?  Exhale.  And weed around the house.  And put down landscaping fabric.  Do I have any landscaping fabric? I need to write that report. I should rework the structure.  I should do a long run this weekend.  I should be a better yoga student.  I should be more present.  Concentrate.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I run because I like to eat desert

Maj. C was once one of the fastest 10 men in the United States in his event.  He ran 90 miles a week, and almost went to the Olympics.  He ran for Nike and the Army.  Maj. C looks like an antelope crossed with a golden retriever when he runs: he's joy in motion.

In contrast, in elementary school, I was placed in remedial gym with the learning impaired.  My parents were amused, but were not really concerned as I could do algebra in second grade. I never once passed the Presidential Fitness test.  I only joined winter track in high school to make my college application look more balanced (I was president of the Science Club).  I was easily the least talented member of the team.

So yes, the geeky girl married the captain of the track team.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Badass Beautiful

My friend Red texted me that someone, a man, thought she was beautiful.

Which didn't surprise me because she is beautiful.  She has amazing Flaming Jane hair (if a company could bottle that color, they would make quite a bit of money).  She's got an Ivy certified brain, perfect porcelain skin, and she is kind and considerate.  She left the Big Consulting Job in Manhattan, to walk the walk and teach History to kids in the city.  She's fun, athletic, and funny.  She reads sci-fi and history.  She's one of my oldest friends.  As they say here in New England, she's wikid cool.

Her response did surprise me: "You know, I never thought that. . "

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Ex Libris

Anyone who knows the C-H clan, knows that we love our technology. We love our Apple products, our biometric lock,  and our Nest.  The Volt sends texts to Maj. C, telling him it is fully charged.  Our solar panels are about to get their own app.  We work hard to have a smart network at our house. For Mother's Day, Maj. C bought me (and himself) a new ipad.  While I didn't "need" an ipad, it has become a hard working piece of technology.  Now I can't believe I have ever lived without it. . .

E-books, at first glance, are a perfect for the C-H clan-- no clutter, green, and high tech. Thus, it might surprise you that we have piles of books in every room of the house.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Photography for the sleep deprived

On the 21 June, I'm teaching a photography class at a breast feeding support group at Falmouth Hospital (a wonderful group by the way: it meets on Thursday mornings).  It will be a short and simple class on how to take cute photos of your baby.  While not everyone can take great photos, I think everyone can take good photos with a few simple techniques.

I thought I would write this entry as a way of getting organized but instead decided to write about what photography means in my life. (I'll write the easy photo tips for new moms on another day.)

I started taking photos in 2007, while in my former incarnation as Senior VP of Global Robber Baron, Inc.  I was working 80 to a 100 hours a week, living in hotels, and planes, and life seemed grey.  Nothing inspired me except work.
Meetings in London

Thursday, June 14, 2012


I'm in the Falmouth Academy PR video.  I'm pregnant and moonfaced, but in the video nonetheless.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


The third law of thermodynamics is particularly muscular in our home: I feel it applies itself more aggressively here than anywhere else.  Tidy and organized surfaces devolve into chaos in about ten minutes flat-- I hear it has something to do with having a kid.  Grad students, I think there is a paper in this.

This is not good as both Maj. C and I hate clutter.  Although Maj. C is the neat freak of his family, I actually hate clutter more than Maj. C. -- my parents once described my taste in kitchens as "autopsy chic." I hate not being organized, I hate having "stuff."  My dream home would be a concrete box with windows, books, an Ipad, and my family (not in that order).

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Divided by Common Language

Oxford by Snowlet
Oxford, a photo by Snowlet on Flickr.

As I mentioned earlier, I had a misspent youth in England.  Although the prospect of voluntarily signing up for years of institutional British food was initially horrifying, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the town of Bovine Crossing.

There is the something to be said about drinking where J. R. R. Tokien had his cups.  Looking at the misty Isis before early morning rowing practice, you could pretty much accept the existence of Middle Earth as fact.  The industrial kitchens of some of the colleges looked like Gormenghast.  And, it amuses me to no end that that I went to graduate school at Hogwarts.

Monday, June 11, 2012

It's alive

The other day, I picked up a free e-book on fun things you can do with your microwave.

Yes, I was the child that stuck steel wool into the microwave (on purpose).  CDs are fun too, though that came later.  As are marshmallows and Ivory soap (fresh Ivory soap works better).  My mother's gold rim china "accidentally" went in there as well (it was ugly).  I exploded eggs on purpose (my poor mother).

Obviously, anything book that promises to teach you how to make an arc welder by dismantling a microwave is up my alley. (Insert disclaimers here: all of these activities are probably not a great idea for you or your microwave).

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Deus Ex Machina

When I started to date Maj. C, I discovered a few character flaws.
  • He would not eat fungi.  (Really, what kind of person doesn't like morels, truffles, or matsutake?)
  • Hot dogs and Chef Boyardee featured prominently in his diet
  • His next car was going to be a Chevy
As character flaws go, aside from the mushroom thing, these are pretty minor. The last one however, was a little perplexing.  It simply did not go with the Maj. C package (his nickname in Bosnia was "Metro Jay"). This was a few years ago, and Chevy's advertising featured bad 80s rock and good ole American chest thumping. The target audience, I think, was a testosterone soaked troglodyte who thought smashing beer cans on one's head was the height of wit.

Maj. C was going to buy a Chevy Volt.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Animal Farm

Thank god for Helena Bonham Carter.  In our media managed world, eccentricity has been ruthlessly plucked and groomed out our lives. Everyone is smooth shaven and waxed, and no warts or bumps anywhere.  Tastefully and safely dressed, we are drowning in everything anodyne.  (To wit, in googling the spelling of anodyne, I found a marketing agency called Anodyne. . .figures).  At least Helena BC  dresses as a "steward of wackitude.  Bellatrix Lestange is, in fact, in fact, the perfect alter-ego name for her -- she's beautiful, she's strange, and some of her trix are for kids."

Thus, I was rather pleased to get Farmer Ron's monthly letter from Coonamessett Farm, the local community farm in my neighborhood, right next to New Alchemy (yes, we're a bit granola here).  You sign up to be a member, and you can go and pick their vegetables, pet their animals, and generally wander around the farm with the aging hippies.  We've been members as it's a fun thing to do with visitors with kids, and the ice cream is very good.

Hi Everyone, 
Before getting to the “meat” of this email I just got back from sea; I was on another Coonamessett Farm Foundation turtle tagging expedition. My hypothesis is that these sea turtles are evil alien creatures sent here to take over the Earth from mankind. The evidence is startling and will soon be published in the National Inquirer unless it is suppressed by the Government. Only the sharks are keeping these beasts from ruling the world. We should be thankful that we are living safely on Cape Cod terra firma safe from sea turtles, sharks, and bears.

One of the first things I do when I get back from sea is skim emails and read the news reports to get an idea of the key issues that arose while I was away.  From this quick review I conclude that key domestic issues we should be concerned about are the missing Romney years (they coincide with his governorship), windmills, and zombies; not necessarily in that order.  On the international scene we just need to worry about zombies.  Staring at windmills can lead to zombie like trances (see Romney above) and it is doubly dangerous if they are offshore windmills as then you become easy prey for sea turtles. 

I have informed you of the above threats so that you can prepare yourself by coming to the farm to pick strawberries, sugar snap peas, broccoli, and lettuce which is all coming in quite nicely. Just don’t stare at our windmill. Picking season for strawberries may end up being very short so put on that rain gear and get on over to the farm.    
I think all CSAs should have a streak of unapologetic crazy. . . Hurrah for wackitude!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Travels with Bunny

My idea of a good vacation is usually one that, at first glance, appears to involve questionable judgement. Fully serviced beach vacation? Kill me now. A city break? Boring (unless it involves good food).  Here are examples of good past vacations:
  • "Let's walk to Zambia this afternoon."
  • "I'm three months pregnant, so let's go to the jungles of Belize."
  • "14 hours on a train in rural China?  Sure!"
  • "Is that a mouse? Uhh no, just a really hairy, really big spider."
  • "So looking at this map, we're hiking 45 miles in the desert carrying our own water.  I'm in!"
  • "I don't know how to alpine ski.  Night skiing down the intermediate slope?  Well. . .OK."
  • "Hmmmm. . . I think that area is mostly de-mined." (Please note that Cambodia is a very safe, and please consider making a donation to the HALO Trust
And here is videographic proof, courtesy of Maj. C (be kind, I'm pregnant and fat here).

But I temper these harebrained ideas with letting loose the strength of my planning Kung Fu.  I go into full research mode (which can be ugly given that I spent way too many years in grad school).  Planning involves lots and lots of lists.  I rehearse in my head what to do in the case of two-tail events.  Maj. C, who is equally a "planner" and versed in battlefield medicine, has a complete plan in case of Zombie Apocalypse.  For example, this is a real question he asked me last week, "Do we need bags of saline and this machete for the trip?"  Me, I know the emergency number, the address of the US embassy, and have a list of English speaking doctors.  I accept that I will pay the idiot tax and tourist tax.  Someone carries a PLB on my long hikes.  

Thus, I'm a well-prepared, well-provisioned person with questionable judgement on vacation.

It might surprise you that our next family summer production is one that is surprisingly tame: "Trans-America road trip!" Yes, that old chestnut, with a few caveats.
  1. We're driving an electric car
  2. We'll have an infant in tow
  3. We'll be camping in a tent with sed infant 
  4. Stay tuned for more details
Bad idea? Glad you think so.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Tilting at windmills

9 October 2010 by Snowlet
9 October 2010, a photo by Snowlet on Flickr.
I saw my colleague Dan Webb the other day, and he looked tired. He owns a wind turbine by my office and wind power is causing quite a controversy in our little town. "The thing is," he said, "I'm spending all my time doing PR."

Certainly some people are quite exercised about the noise, flicker, health impacts, and purported decline in property values. Some folks are angry, and there is a rather effective campaign against the wind turbines. There are signs all over town suggesting that one should "Support our neighbors, Stop the Wind Turbines" -- implying that proponents of the turbines are bad neighbors (you wretch, you.)

That said, I like Dan's numbers: "During its first 22 months of operation, the turbine generated over nine million kWh (9 GWh) of electricity, equivalent to the usage of 690 average Massachusetts homes. This displaced emissions of over 4500 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), as well as 2.5 tons of sulfur dioxide and one ton of nitrous oxides. . ."

Here's my experience: my office is about 1400ft from Dan's turbine. As a recovering workaholic, I spend the grand majority of my waking hours next to Dan's wind turbine. Yes, on high wind days I can hear his turbine, but the incidences are few, and not unpleasant. In contrast, tourist traffic (a major industry in my town) in the summer has a far larger negative impact on my life in terms of noise and stress. Yes, we can see flicker for a half hour for a week in the spring and a week in the fall. How do we deal with this? We lower the shades (which Dan paid for: what a good neighbor). None of my employees have reported health problems from the wind turbine.

Also, I can't help but contrast these "inconveniences" to those of Maj. C, who has gone on deployments to the anti-tourtist capitals of the world (Iraq, Afghanistan, etc) for wars that were ultimately about the geopolitics of oil. He's fine, but many of his colleagues are not. Some never returned home.  Others returned home physically intact but developed other, sometimes fatal, problems and addictions. Maj. C jumps at the idea at wind: "Local power for local people."Added to this, I work in ocean science, so every day I see alarming new evidence of the impact of man-made carbon dioxide emissions on the environment.

I'm not a flag waver and am generally pretty suspicious of the State, but I do feel that this just might be the best way of supporting our troops.

If you are a Falmouth, MA resident, please consider signing this petition.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

It is Born

20 October 2010 by Snowlet
20 October 2010, a photo by Snowlet on Flickr.
Here I came to the very edge
where nothing at all needs saying,
everything is absorbed through weather and the sea,
and the moon swam back,
its rays all silvered,
and time and again the darkness would be broken
by the crash of a wave,
and every day on the balcony of the sea,
wings open, fire is born,
and everything is blue again like morning.

Pablo Neruda

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Message from management

Mr. C would like to be known as Maj. C, his proper title.  And if that is the case, I shall be Dr. H, my proper title.  And our sprog will be known as "Bunny," which not her proper title.

That said, I  shall always be Mrs. C to Mr. C.

Addendum: Maj. C would like it be known that the proper US Army abbreviation for Major is MAJ.  However, due to a misspent youth in the UK, MAJ looks funny to me.  And as this is my blog, I hear by say he is Maj. C.

Monday, June 4, 2012

4 June 2012

4 June 2012 by Snowlet
4 June 2012, a photo by Snowlet on Flickr.
This little creature has transformed my life, our lives, more than I could have ever imagined.

"For maternal love is fire, even if extinguished, can use its ashes to keep the promise." Liu Xiaobo, June Fourth Elegies, trans. Jeffery Yang

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Becoming Mrs C.

It used to be:
Singaporean tranny bars, smelly cheese, hot noodles at midnight, impossibly handsome dodgy men, Grand Dame, air miles and endless, endless hours of work. Gym. Hangovers. And cute shoes.

Center front Colonial, only one (albeit impossibly handsome) man, two cats, and life in the suburbs. Wooly sweaters. Less work, and a different sort. Running by the sea. And L.L. Bean. Too much L.L. Bean. Lots of Malbec.

This blog, in short, is about transformations.

Mostly, this blog will focus on practical magic of the chemistry of gardening and cooking--eg how does cream transform into butter? That said, I thought I would start with my own transformation.

I suppose I'm not the first nor last to make that transition. But I'm trying to live simpler, rather than merely re-channeling my type A personality into my suburban alter-ego. That said, I'm not quite ready for giving up on adventure.

Mr. C. has promised me that our family motto will be "OK, let's do that." Given that, I have promised to become his Mrs. C.

A good trade, no?