30 April 2008

We're having babies!

I suppose I need to clarify...not us, per se, but our dwellers. :)

About 10 days ago, R and I went out on the balcony for the first time in, well, a LONG time (the winter has been COLD) to enjoy the first warmth of spring. I immediately noticed a bunch of twigs in the corner, behind a chair. "What the ...?" Did our neighbors sweep trash under the divider?

I looked over--it didn't make sense. As usual, there was NOTHING on our neighbors' balcony--not a table, a plant, nothing. And the twigs were in kind of a neat little pile...

Well, I guess it was another thing we'd have to clean up before the first party of the year. *sigh* The same day, I put Mandy, the mandarin tree, back out on the balcony, so she, too, could enjoy the sunshine and warmth.

Then, we were busy again, or as always... no more balcony.

On Monday, I went out to water Mandy. I was startled to see a pigeon waddle slowly, almost sleepily, out from the corner, behind the chair! I looked, and THERE, on top of the twigs, was a beautiful, perfect little EGG!! It's a nest! (Wow, living in Manhattan for 7 years does something to some of our instincts...)

I froze; I almost started crying. I tried to tell her that it was OK, that I wouldn't hurt her, but she kept moving away, still slow. I went inside quietly and quickly ran to the computer to look up everything possible on pigeons and their eggs--just in case I scared her so badly that R and I would be raising a new chick. And I called R in emergency.

Contrary to popular belief, they do not carry diseases, and they are actually not dirty. They mate for life--bet you didn't know THAT! Their incubation period is 18 days, and the little eggs have to be kept at 97-102F (like human body temp, I told R--you know, we had to be prepared...), and they usually come in pairs.

These last three facts gave me so much anxiety I could barely go through the day. You see, we have a party planned for the 17th, and I scared mommy away, and I only saw ONE, solitary egg.

Most importantly, Mommy pigeon had to come back, so I was looking out the window constantly. This was fruitless, as the nest is exactly UNDER the window, and there is a ledge, so unless she sticks her tail or head out, or adjusts, I am unlikely to see her. But, FINALLY, the next morning, I awoke R, "She came back!!"

#2, there should be siblings. So, last evening, R and I quietly went out to look. Mommy was there, and she wasn't terribly scared of us. She left the nest, but only went about 3 1/2 feet away, to the edge of the balcony, where she stayed, while we looked, from about 5 feet in the other direction, at our trophies--TWO little eggs. YAY!!

Now, the last thing, the party. We have decided to go ahead and have it. The chicks should pip (break out of their shells) by then. We will block off that area of the balcony, and we figure our friends are good people. They will probably like to see our little friends, and we have faith that they will go unharmed. That is, of course, if they are even still there! (I have a feeling they will be.)

Something else really cool: Mommy sits on the eggs to keep them warm from late afternoon through the night until mid-morning, at which point Daddy takes over and does the day shift.

I will keep you posted. I may even try to take some photos. I just don't want to scare them too much. :)

25 April 2008

Of Carrots and Love...

I believe this story deserves some sort of honorable mention.  

Husband and wife argue.  During the argument, the man chucks a carrot (?! I guess it was the closest thing to him.  Wait, I got it, now, he was EATING the carrot during the argument.) across the kitchen--about 20 feet--, which happens to hit the woman squarely in the EYE, of all things.  

This results in one ruptured eyeball, then a glass eye, and (apparently) life happily ever-after.  They are still together!!  (It's been close to two years, people.)

ehem, I just realized that in my previous post, I used 'carrot' as a euphemism.  Please forgive, and there is no correlation...

21 April 2008

What Motivates Us?

Is it money? prestige? recognition? helping others? a means to an end? retirement? some carrot, to be sure. But sometimes it is quite difficult to define that "carrot." Assuredly, it is different for each individual.

R and I talk about this quite a lot. Neither of us being our own boss, working in large companies, answering to supervisors, and their supervisors, can often be tiring... not to mention, frustrating... especially since we are both outspoken and intelligent; we know what we want. The problem is, we sometimes can see problems arising leagues ahead while others are concerned about what is just in front of their noses.

Case in point, at our most recent all docs meeting, our chief spoke of his dream of making our (physicians!!) group a franchise like McDonald's: a franchise that can deliver 'quality, low cost food in a clean environment... as a unique (medical) experience.' I have nothing against McDonald's, but I see SO MUCH wrong with this statement. Yet, it was as if I was the only one that heard it, out of 300+ docs. No one reacted. The rest of the time (more than 2 hours) was spent in various shouting matches regarding paid vacations.

For me, I don't mind so much the knowledge that I will always have to answer to my patients. That's a given. That part is easy. I care about them, and they know it. Answering to 'the others' is a challenge, especially since they often are, quite honestly, less educated, unionized, 'untouchable,' so to speak; and the ones that are well-educated seem to be caught up in... I don't know? numbers? cash-flow? statistics? so much that they are also seemingly untouchable, unreachable.

Some people, it seems, are happy, content to be followers. Others are, well, simply put--NOT. They need to be leaders, their own person, so to speak. I think R and I fall into that category. So, this is what we strive for. Yup... definitely need to get going on that private practice.

Maybe, for us, the carrot is just the knowledge that we answer to ourselves...

20 April 2008

Easy Bread

I know, it's been a while. Not quite what I promised. Work (and life) has been, well, busy. So, I decided to give you this, for now, as a friend asked if I could email this recipe, and I thought this might be... not easier, but more fun, somehow. So, here it is:

This recipe will make two nice-sized, loaves. It is quite easy, and therapeutic, to make.

You need:

3/4 oz active dry yeast (3 packages) or 1oz fresh yeast
2T honey
2C warm water (or a little more, as needed)
7-8C flour (I use a combination of about 6 cups all-purpose unbleached, and the rest whole wheat. But if I have almond, or other, flour, I'll throw that in to equal the 8C) I mentioned, before, the experimentation...
2T salt
a little extra flour for dusting, etc.

You do:

1. Dissolve the yeast and honey in 1C of the water. Do not make the mistake I made the first time I did this (as the other times I've made bread, it was without honey). Let me tell you, the yeast LOVES the honey, and will grow, grOW, GROW quickly. So, do NOT walk away, do not make coffee, have breakfast, kiss your love on the cheek... move on... to measuring for step 2.
2. Measure out the flour and salt on a large surface (or in a large bowl) into a big pile. Make a well in the center.
3. Pour the yeast mix into the well. Work (with your hand) out from the center to mix the dry flour/salt into the yeast. Pour in the rest of the water to bring in all of the flour. Adjust the quantity of flour as needed to make a moist dough.
4. Knead for about 5 minutes. Use extra flour as necessary. The dough will become elastic and stick together (to itself) and less and less to your hands.
(You can do #2,3, and 4 in an electric mixer. My KitchenAid Artisan set at #2 setting with the dough hook attachment was amazing. Then, I pulled out the dough and couldn't resist kneading a bit more-it's fun, after all!)
5. Form the dough into a ball (of sorts) and place in a lightly greased bowl. You can score the top with a sharp knife, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap to speed the process. Leave to rise to about double-this takes about 45-90 minutes depending on the temperature of the surroundings.
6. Now, punch down the dough, and divide in two.
7. Shape and leave to rise again to double. (If you plan on filling the bread, this is where you'd do that.) If you leave the bread as-is, in loaves, it is best to score the tops again. This is also the best time to preheat your oven-for basic bread, 425F is the temp.
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes. You can tell it is done when you tap the bottom, and the bread sounds "hollow." (This makes perfect sense the first time you hear the sound.)
9. As hard as it is, leave the bread on a cooling rack for about 1 hour before slicing or eating.

At #7, you can roll the bread out, fill with meats, spices, and/or olives, raisins... pesto (home-made, of course)... olive tapenade (ditto)... herbs and olive oil... nuts and dried fruits... the possibilities are endless, really. Then, roll back up, and leave as is, or cut (with a very sharp knife) into 2cm slices and place side by side in a pan to rise for the remainder of step 7. If you do the latter, your baking time will be reduced to about 20-22 minutes. Your cooling time is also reduced (about 30 minutes)-BONUS!!

Eat well... :)

10 April 2008

Listeria in Pennsylvania Milk

Well, the (written) boards were last weekend, so I can breathe a little now.  Maybe, I'll even be a little more present here.  :)

First thing that I need to let you know about, though, is another FDA recall--this one is specific to Pennsylvania, but quite frightening, so please be aware.  If you buy milk from these farms, then please make sure to check when you purchased the products, as they may be tainted with the unfriendly bacteria, Listeria monocytogenes.  

If there is a chance that you may have been exposed, or have reason to believe that you are ill as a result of Listeriosis, please contact your physician immediately for care.