what am i going to make for dinner?

that was the thought in my mind when i woke up this morning at noon. after looking through the recipe books, the choice was obvious: spicy parsley-clam linguine! one of the few things i've made that had a happy ending. it'd also be easier to prepare a dish i've tried before instead of taking a chance on something new. i had wanted to do something korean, but i didn't have time to walk (sidewalks still icy) to the nearest korean convenience store in union square (about a mile away).

mountain laurel


icicles in
drainage spout

i spent the next hour cleaning the house in a frenzy of domesticity. i vacuumed, i scrubbed the toilet and the sink, i did the dishes, i rearranged the kitchen cabinet items, i put some stuff in storage in the basement, i even did a load of laundry. i got a chance to slip into the snowy backyard and grab some winter snapshots, with none of my snowflake photos came out very well. afterwards i went next door to buy some groceries, pick up the ingredients i'd need for tonight's dinner. i became that babushka that i always knew i could be! tipping over with a shopping basket heavy with food items, i paid and walked back home.

alex wong had arrived just as i got back. he honked at me from his sporty red car but it took me a while before i recognized him. he was in the neighborhood, visiting tufts university, laying down the foundation for a potential long term freelance gig. he left to go to sasuga and the porter exchange, i put away the rest of my groceries.

renata called around 5pm, asking what time she should drop by and whether or not she should bring anything. "drop by anytime, don't bring anything," i told her. soon afterwards she showed up, right during spongebob squarepants, with a bottle of wine (raise your hand if you know why this is ironic) and some ingredients for making a salad. i gave her a tour of the house, her first time being at my place. we chatted, i made her a fruit elixir (although i called it a "smoothie"). she told me where she's been the past 6 years after we both graduated from tufts, i told her what i'd been doing. she told her about her magical 2 weeks in baja california this past summer (whales, sea turtles, dolphins, bioluminescent plankton/algae). we went back to the living room to chat some more, things about our families (i showed her that photo of my parents that my mother hates so much, the one with her eating corn on the cob), about her cross-country drive back from san francisco with amy littlewood (they even visited the mythical land of st.louis), and the people (classmates and teachers) we knew from our belmont public education system days. close to 8pm, it was back in the kitchen to make dinner. while i made the pasta, renata prepared the salad. clam sauce linguine is actually something her mother makes, and something renata makes for herself as well - does everyone know how to make this dish? and here i thought it was a closely guarded secret! well, i use chicken broth in mine, do you? renata was my culinary supervisor, making sure i was doing everything correctly. i was proud to show her my amazing chopping skills, tranforming half an onion and 4 cloves of garlic into finely minced ingredients. i had secretly taped a list of ingredients by the kitchen sink before she arrived so it'd appear i knew everything from memory, but renata told me she saw it when she washed the lettuce. when the linguine finally finished cooking, we ate at the dining table, music (93.7FM, i heard "jenny on the block" again!) playing from the stereo in my room, chatting some more. i told her about my trips to western china and turkey, she told me about her own personal voyage to asia, and how she and her then bf got terribly sick in japan after leaving thailand. i told her about my own desires to visit afghanistan and costa rica. renata even tried a sip of pepsi blue, that carbonated antifreeze resembling beverage. after dinner, it was back in the living room, where i showed renata my abbreviated slideshow of my trip to western china. by then it was 10:30pm, and being a kindergarten teacher and having to wake up at 6am (some nights i'm still up and about around 6am), renata bid her fond farewell (a bit cold though, she revealed she likes to keep her apartment 72 degrees while i had my thermostat set to 65 degrees without taking into account the poorly insulated walls), with tentative plans to meet again sometime soon.