Friday, January 13, 2017

Weekend Reading: The Tired of the Rain Edition

It has been a rainy week here in San Diego, which is good from the standpoint of ending our drought and bad from the standpoint of screwing up my exercise routine. The ground was too wet and the sky to foreboding for me to try for a rollerblade today. I went for a short run in my neighborhood instead. That is a poor substitute. Meanwhile, my run on Wednesday was preempted by rain, and I ended up doing one of the 10 minute workouts on an old exercise DVD I have instead. Also a poor substitute.

Like all San Diegans, I am so spoiled by our usually beautiful weather and I am done with this rain.

Anyway, on to the links.

There's a GoodReads giveaway for Caresaway, which you should enter if you want to try to win a paperback version of my latest release.

Margaret Redlich, the author of Don't Call It Bollywood, wants to send you a Valentine's Day card.

Here's a short write up of an idea I've heard about before: students living in nursing homes to provide companionship in exchange for free or reduced rent.

In less civilized news... Our President Elect had a news conference and it was horrible. This was the best reaction: This Is Why You Don't Kiss the Ring.

A former spy weighs in on the infamous dossier and the Trump-Russia mess.

Josh Marshall attempts to parse what is happening. I've mostly given up trying to figure it out, and am just trying to respond to things in face value, and press for what I think is right and fight against what I think is wrong. And I'm hoping that it all works out.

Wesley Lowery found the letter Coretta Scott King wrote opposing Jeff Sessions' appointment to a Federal judgeship back in 1986.

An analysis of the evidence for the opinion that Comey cost Clinton the election. When there is an investigation into this mess, I sure hope we find out why Comey acted the way he did. I cannot understand it. Was it just partisanship? Incompetence? Fear of the hyperpartisan congresspeople calling for Clinton's head? Something more sinister?

David Perry on the end of the Obama era.

The Bush sisters wrote a really nice letter to the Obama sisters.

Ann Friedman on why we should march. I am leaning towards going to my local Women's March. I am not the marching type, but extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, and all that.

A sobering report on the coming post-antibiotic age and how to avoid it.

A sobering report on the opioid crisis and why it is going to get worse.

To put this next link in context, a story:

I had a bit of a meltdown on Wednesday over food. One of the chores that falls to me is planning and cooking our weekday meals. This is a thankless task because my kids are super picky (and my bad karma/genes are to blame) and my husband generally adds hot sauce to anything I cook, which he swears isn't a commentary on my cooking but sure as hell feels like one. But someone has to feed us, and despite frequent attempts to transfer at least some of this task to Mr. Snarky, it still falls to me, for reasons that I rationally know are good and irrationally still hate.

Add to this mess the fact that I'm constantly trying to expand my kids' food horizons by cooking things they might consent to try and might even like. My last notable success on this front was the miraculous pretzel chicken, but that one was so miraculous that I continue to try. One of the food-related sore points in the division of labor at Chez Cloud is that Mr. Snarky does not continue to try and basically just makes plain pasta for the kids whenever it is his turn to cook (i.e., Saturday and Sunday).

This week, I'd picked a nice Parmesan risotto to try on the kids. They like Parmesan. Risotto is creamy and yummy. It seemed like a good thing to try. I found a crock pot recipe and figured I could get it started on Wednesday afternoon, since I work from home on Wednesdays. So, come Wednesday at 2:30, I took a break from work and went into the kitchen. I chopped and sauteed the onions that would probably have made the dish unacceptable to my kids but that I refused to leave out. So I chopped those onions really small.

I got the crock pot ready. And then I reached into the cupboard for the arborio rice I distinctly remember purchasing on Sunday, and it was not there. I tore the kitchen apart. Nope. I called Mr. Snarky, who had helped put the groceries away and he was no help.

And then I lost it. I emailed Mr. Snarky and said I was on strike. I would not be making dinner that night. I did not care what we ate. I would eat cold cereal before I cooked us anything. I was DONE.

My inability to go for a nice, cleansing run made this small meltdown worse. The stupid 10 minute dance workout did not have the same effect. A kickboxing workout would have been awesome, but the garage (where I kickbox) is still a mess with our Christmas decorations and other crap, and so that was out of the question.

So basically, I fumed all afternoon and evening.

And then this article about the division of labor in marriages came across my feed.

Clearly, it is time for Mr. Snarky and me to sit down and work out a new division of labor. I wrote a lot about this back before our kids were in school. One of the most popular posts I ever wrote was on men, women, chores, and relationships. I still think that if things are out of whack, your options are the three I identified in my follow up post, but I think I did not appreciate at the time how much the balance would change as the kids got older and their care became less hands on and more consuming of head space. Oh, I got the concept of mental load and how home stuff can consume that to the detriment of your head space for work, but I didn't foresee how much the mental load would go up as the kids hit school age and how much harder that would make it to balance chores fairly. I suspect some of my commenters with older kids tried to tell me. It didn't get through, or at least not enough to prepare myself for it.

And of course, no matter how much we try to divide the load up (and we do), almost everyone else in the world just assumes I am the main point of contact and so a lot of stuff just ends up in my email inbox by default.

Anyway, this is turning into a full on post about division of labor, and not a links post, so I'll stop and promise that I'll revisit this issue soon, and update my old posts with what I'm learning now. Hopefully, Mr. Snarky and I can rebalance our loads over beers this weekend.

I never did find the missing rice, either. It is a mystery.

In other working parent news, apparently lawsuits for gender discrimination based on differential treatment of parents are on the rise.

Here is some beautiful embroidery art. (Aside: I share a work of art every Saturday on my Annorlunda Books Facebook page and Twitter feed. This is the art for this Saturday.)

And here is a beautiful story about the power of stories. Yes, that's two David Perry pieces in one links post. He had a good week, I guess.

Hooray for triangles guy:

The requisite bunny to end on:

Happy weekend, everyone!


  1. Unless you know the rice got put away after you got home, my guess is that it never made it off of the conveyor belt and into your bag. That happened to us at Whole Foods recently, and because we don't go to Whole Foods very often, I still don't have that pecan pie.

    1. We found the rice! It was in the refrigerator, in the cheese drawer. We decided not to argue about who put it there. I swear it wasn't me, Mr. Snarky swears it wasn't him. But he is doing penance by making the cheesy risotto tonight, so I think he suspects he did but doesn't want to admit it.

  2. Ah, the division of labor, the perennial conundrum. I do the vast majority of childcare (early morning school prep, lunches, bedtimes, all the social/athletics/health/dental planning) and all the food purchasing/cooking/dishes. I now actively hate cooking. The younger two are picky and/or allergic to a whole bunch of foods (mostly picky). Eldest eats almost anything, DH nominally does, but when you remove all the foods that gives him heartburn/gas/is too spicy/is among the vegetables he doesn't like... Basically, whatever I make the younger two won't eat, and what my husband will eat is too boring for me (he likes bland stuff like his mom used to make, which is all bland stuff that is labor intensive to make; I would like Thai and Mexican and sushi, he doesn't eat any of that). So basically I hate food prep and hate cooking and hate that I always have to think of what to make only to be shot down and asked for other ideas. You know how people say you only have so many good decisions in you in a day? Well, I deplete mine with stupid discussions about food. And the afterschool athletic obligations do not help; these days Eldest swims non-stop and luckily carpools and often eats outside with friends. But Monday the younger two swim, and on Wed MB has basketball, on Thu he swims, on Saturday has swimming and basketball. And there are Eldest's swim meets. My DH doesn't like people so I go to all the athletic events. So I have given up, I buy frozen lasagna or tell them to go to McDonald's or Denny's, at least they are happy and I don't have to cook.

    Cooking is the worst. Such a thankless drudgery.

    What does DH do? Laundry (weekends), mows the law (weekly or biweekly in the 3 months of grass growth -- not snowed in or burned due to sun), and cleans the snow (this winter he did it maybe once or twice). He'll also clean the house when he remembers (after huffing and puffing that I don't do it). He has probably 10x more free time than I do and enjoys his video games and watching shows. It's unfair, I know, but shit has to get done, and he is not volunteering.

    Renegotiating the division of labor is something I have given up on. I have fought with him over it way too many times and unless I want to invoke the nuclear option, it is what it is. He's comfortable this way, and he does not have a compelling reason to change it; threatening divorce would be one, but being that I have three kids, and that he's supportive of my career and good with the kids, and he's less controlling than many men, I don't intend to do that any time soon. This is the kids' father and I could have done way worse. Many men insist that the woman's career be second fiddle; he's always been okay following me, and he defers to me in many big decisions (city to live, house to buy, etc.). He is an introvert and has extremely low tolerance for stress, so he needs a lot of time to unwind. Sometimes, I think of him as yet another teen I have to take care of. It's not nice, but that's what it is. But I suppose this division of labor is what it is because I can in fact pull off most of what I end up pulling off; people have vastly different levels of energy and tolerance for stress.

    So to return from the odyssey into my navel, I hear you on your frustration with the meal prep. And I know you are much more sensitive to inequality in the division of labor. I hope you can renegotiate.

    IME, people don't do what they don't like doing without a compelling reason. Sometimes, spouse being upset with you is a reason enough. Sometimes, you know that if you just keep not doing stuff, spouse will end up doing them anyway, and you'd rather not, so there's no harm in just not doing them. Is that a lack of love. Perhaps. I think it's long-term cohabitation and knowing exactly what you can get away with.

    I hope your division of labor renegotiation is successful!
    Sorry to be a negative Nellie. (And pardon any typos and awkward wording, I didn't edit.)

    1. Yeah, I'm not going to threaten divorce over the weekday meals. I did threaten to serve cold cereal all week, though, and I meant it. Luckily, we can usually rebalance with something else, because I don't really want to eat cold cereal all week. It will probably be school stuff that we can rebalance and I'll go back to grumbling about the cooking but not wanting to blow things up over it.

    2. Other weekday meals that I have found to work: 1) soup (from a can or bag) and sandwiches (either I buy fresh bread on way home; bake bread, from frozen; or I make extra on the weekend for school so we have leftover); 2) buy a couple of party trays, one with cheese, deli, crackers, and one with mostly vegetables -- the kids were very much into the party tray idea and ate way more vegetables than I expected; 3) leftovers, always; 4) fry some sausages in a pan and put a bag of frozen potato fries in the oven, and steam random veggies on hand.

    3. I read these kinds of things, also on Ana's page, and am always amazed at how much more complex other folks' weeknight dinners are compared to ours. We'll often have as our only course what other people have as a side dish.

      Also, when DH is away we will often have cereal, or worse, ice cream for dinner. I feel no guilt about this.

    4. Probably the thing that's the most taxing in terms of cooking is that my DH, being from continental Europe, doesn't consider a meal a meal without both meat and a starch. He eats what I cook, but is very displeased and whiny if no meat (and good bread can always serve as the starch in a pinch; we are very particular about bread, I probably buy $30 worth of artisan bread weekly). The older two boys are big meat eaters, too. I see these women online preparing salads or soups for dinner, or meatless dishes, and serving sensible portions, and I know this would not fly at my home, as without meat they all grumble while eating, and then rummage through the fridge within half an hour (and they grumble and whine and complain for days afterwards, remembering the meatless unfairness that life/evil mom subjected them to once in a blue moon).

    5. Anonymous11:54 AM

      I know you can't make your DH plan/cook, but you can make your kids do it. Otherwise they may be jerks to their wives too. First who complains is the next chef. Isn't the legend of moose turd pie from your neck of the wooods?

    6. Never heard of "moose turd pie," had to google it. There seem to be a few variants, like these two:

  3. We do menu planning as a family of four on the weekends right before grocery shopping. Even the four year old picks out a meal or two. We also have more than one meal a week where we'll eat different things that don't involve cooking, generally leftovers. And the children are always free to have cheese and crackers (dc1) or fruit (dc2) if they don't like what is being served, which is generally predictable for dc1 but seemingly random for dc2.

    @xyk--frozen lasagna was good enough for the morgendorfers. They only had penne when jake was unemployed.

    Also remember that kids can take on some of this mental load stuff, even though that often means they forget to do things. But so do DH and I. So we understand.

    1. Rethinking what the kids can do is part of the periodic rebalancing we have to do. Pumpkin is old enough and organized enough that I essentially don't have to check in on her homework at all. Petunia is getting there. It is the random other things- birthday party invites, special events at the school, etc., that land in my inbox. We're working on a division of what I can just forward without thinking about.

      And yes I agree on the frozen lasagna! If my kids would eat frozen lasagna that would be in the regular rotation.

  4. Anonymous2:42 PM

    OMG - your remark about your husband cooking plain pasta really resonated with me. When my husband is in charge of dinner (sadly only occasionally) he almost always does the cheaty/easy option (eg frozen pizza, take out), which makes me mad. I feel like I should get to do the cheat options, since I cook 95% of the time (I usually make an effort to cook something vaguely healthy and save the cheat options for when I am just too tired/busy/fed up with it all).

    1. Yeah, when I threw my tantrum on Wednesday, we ended up eating out.

      My husband is actually a good cook, but a slow one, and that combined with his commute time means that if he does a weeknight dinner we eat after 7. He makes us good and interesting dinners on the weekends, but he won't try and think of things for the kids to try. He just makes what he wants for us and does plain pasta for them. They could try our food of course... but never do. When I make something new for all of us that might appeal to them, there is a better chance that they'll try it, particularly Petunia.

    2. My DH doesn't cook at all, and won't even bother to heat up leftovers when I am away or have a work thing in the evening, if it means leftovers for him and Eldest but something else for the younger two; he always resorts to takeout fast food for all in these situations, which drives me bananas.

      My husband is actually a good cook, but a slow one
      My DH also has these perfectionist tendencies that are really annoying because they are applied indiscriminately to everything ("I can't do things halfway," says he, which implies I do things halfway, to which I tell him he's an a$$ and that not everything calls for perfection).

      For instance, I have taken over wrapping Christmas presents (he buys them all, for which I am very grateful), because he takes FOREEEEEEEEEEEVER, and we all know the wrapping will be ripped to shreds in seconds. I do it in probably 1/5 of the time, and I do a good job (no present wrapping awards, but quite nice looking), certainly as good as the occasion warrants.

    3. Anonymous11:49 AM

      My husband was a slow cook until we signed him up for a cooking class that had a knife skills component. No more perfect little cubes, but dicing a carrot no longer takes an hour.

  5. Anonymous8:18 AM

    My hubby also don't cook and I have given up on that. My kids love warm indian style food and will eat it without complaining, but when I try to cook something european style, they will complain as it is not cheesy enough or blend enough or whatever. So I have resort to cooking everyday basic indian food (chapati, lentil daal, rice and some vegetable) with a variation of vegetables daily. My hubby supplements it with some meat on occasion that he buys from whole foods and just warms up. This works for us as it is a routine and takes off unnecessary mental load from me.

  6. Anonymous12:01 PM

    We all really like the Disney princess cookbook for meals kids can do. There's also a fun and healthy kids cookbook (that's the name) that also has a lot of variety and decent food that kids can make. Lots of pictures and more fun to flip through than are grow up cookbooks.

  7. Kristin5:12 AM

    Another option is some outsourcing. We've been using BlueApron, but prep still takes awhile. The kids don't usually eat it, but sometimes they do, and it does make for more interesting meals for adults. Gobble says it's 10 minutes in 1 pan, so quicker prep and some of the meals are 'Certified Kid Friendly'. The nice thing about these is that you don't have to think about what to make or shop, so it takes away some of the decision making a few times a week.

  8. I feel for your dinner situation. I hate that I am responsible for so many things FROM 1000 MILES AWAY. They both call me to ask me where something is in the house. I'm expected to make shopping lists or get things delivered to the house.

    I get calls from the school even though Mark is the POC and is listed first. They call me to pick her up in 60 min or less when she is sick. I tell the school they will be waiting a long time. ;-)


Sorry for the CAPTCHA, folks. The spammers were stealing too much of my time.