I Don’t Know Anything About Basketball

The opposing team all were wearing yarmulkes, except for the two huge black boys who could not possibly be in middle school. It was game three of way too many for one summer, and the high school gym, where these boys dream of playing for real one day soon, was soupy.

The last buzzer sounded and as the gym began to clear I leaned over to David and whispered, “This is when you politely ask the parents to ‘give you a minute’ with the team and rip every single one of those boys a new one. But what do I know, I don’t know anything about basketball.”

I don’t know anything about basketball, but I do know when people are phoning it in, and I know when the adults have abdicated to kid-rule. I am beginning to think that “Oh, you’re going to LOOOVE the coaches! They’re so nice!” is mom-code for “Your child will not be pushed, and no one will make them feel bad by correcting their bad sportsmanship and poor manners.”

I wish I was talking about the opposing team, but I am not.

If only the two boys who play the entire game EVERY SINGLE TIME were asked to actually run down the court when they are given the ball (which is always).

If only they would actually look at where their teammates are before chunking the ball half-heartedly somewhere away from themselves.

If only there were more than three of the eight of them willing to actually RUN AT THE BASKET, breeze past the flailing arms of potential foulers, and take a fucking shot.

If only they were told, in no uncertain terms, that they would be shaking hands and making eye-contact, at the very least, when they congratulate the other team at the end of the game.

If only someone would worry more about building a team rather than taking a time-out every 7 minutes to make yet another sketch of the play the kids are supposed to be running. A play which does not seem to be working for them, at all. Like never. It was so predictable last night that the other team seemed to be shaking their heads about it, as if they regretted stealing the ball from the same lazy kid, half-heartedly running the same unsuccessful play every.single.time.

David kept forgetting that we were the “orange team” and started clapping for the “black team.” Except for the four minutes Matt played. He looked terrified. He is the only 6th grader on the team, and these boys are a terrible example. We’ve had to come down hard on him about his attitude.

After the game, Matt described the other team’s play as “beautiful.” He was in total admiration of the team who, despite coke bottle glasses, double hearing aids, and the glare off their sisters’ barrettes holding their yarmulkes in place, beat them like a native drum circle. Good. He should be.

I don’t know anything about basketball, but I know a team of winners when I see one. They were passionate–which is what made them better. They moved widely and freely, and owned the space like a 26-year-old owns their first home. Matt was right, it was beautiful. What if our schools felt that way? Our people? Our government?

I’d settle for my son and his team moving in that direction.




The Amazing Vegetarian Dinner I Made, Only to Cancel It Out Yesterday at the Ball Park

What weighs about 3 pounds and will not stop sloshing around like Gilligan in a typhoon? The hotdog-soft pretzel-beergarita (in a 16 oz CAN, for Christ’s sake!) that I ingested at the ball park yesterday. My afternoon was “all that and a bag of chips.” Literally. Then I had to march around Ikea with the Mister, looking for shelves and curtains–he was having a Martha Moment. I finally had to say, “really, after the beergarita I am not thinking too well, just pick what you want.” Can’t wait to see where he takes me next time after an afternoon of minor league ball.

But, Friends, Saturday night I made a vegetarian feast! I wish you had been there! I have been wanting one of those “spiralizer” gadgets that turn vegetables into long curly noodles. What I didn’t want was more crap with a bunch of little parts to clean. Then I found this–the julienne peeler (thank you, Oh She Glows!).  I got it for $8.99 from Amazon.

I also had a gorgeous head of cauliflower, a chunk of fresh mozzarella, too many tomatoes, and an assortment of almost-gone pantry things. Here is what I made:

  • Cauliflower Parmigian
  • Julienned Zucchini with Fresh Tomato Sauce
  • Cucumber Salad with Lemon and Feta

I think it took about an hour from start to finish. Here’s how:

Make the Tomato Sauce: I had about 1.5-2 pounds of tomatoes, a mix between big ones and grape tomatoes that did not make it into lunch boxes last week. I cut them up and cooked them down in about a quarter of a cup of olive oil with some red bell pepper. Added garlic, wine, and crushed red pepper after everything was soft, then a handful of fresh basil, oregano, and thyme when it was almost done. I used 3 cloves of garlic, a half a glass of red wine, and plenty of the crushed pepper. Also some salt. I think some onion would have been great, but I had caramelized all that I had, in beer, to go with these quinoa patties. photo

 About midway–with garlic and wine, but no herbs yet.

Zucchini: While this is cooking down, julienne your zucchini. I used three small ones for the three of us. I think a larger zucchini would have been easier to use, and I stopped peeling when it got dangerous–I used the left over bits of the zucchini, chopped, for hash browns the next morning. When the sauce is finished, put a couple of large spoonfuls over the zucchini, leaving most of the sauce in the pan.


 I love them. That is all.

Cauliflower: Hopefully at some point you have washed and cut up your head of cauliflower. Spread the remaining sauce around the bottom of the pan and put the cauliflower on top. Add dried tomatoes, garlic, more red pepper, salt, dried and/or fresh herbs–whatever you want, and top with mozzarella, panko, parmesan, and a drizzle of olive oil. Put in a 350 oven. I think I left it in there about 20-30 minutes.

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All done! Maybe some olives next time?

Cucumber Salad: Slice a cucumber and spread it out on a plate, squeeze a half a lemon over the top, drizzle with olive oil, crack fresh pepper over the top, add a tiny bit of salt, and top with crumbled feta. It’s one of our favorites. If you want to be fancy, peel the entire cucumber into long thin slivers–very elegant.

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All three of us enjoyed all three dishes. I thought Junior might squawk at the raw zucchini but he loved it. It was a great spring transition meal, and by going easy on the cheese (I used three kinds, but sparingly) we kept it in the decidedly healthy category. Sometimes cleaning out the refrigerator/pantry can be a challenge, but this one came together nicely. This could very easily be vegan, just leave off the cheese. The vegetables and herbs had plenty of flavor on their own.

For next time: David suggested cutting the cauliflower into “steaks,” which I have seen on Pinterest, and layering it with the tomato sauce, cheese, etc. I also want to try a cashew cream sauce, another recent favorite, to hold it together like béchamel.

So, next time you are heading someplace where you might lose all dignity restraint, think about what’s lingering in the vegetable drawer. It might help your day-after rationalizations.


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Teacher Appreciation Week

Suzan Pitman:

Some days I really miss teaching. Happy Teacher Week to my friends with the Super Power!

Originally posted on Pitman's General Store:

Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week, and in between doughnuts in the faculty lounge and PTA luncheons I went through the journals I’ve kept over the years and found a few treasures. I left the classroom, and premature aging, behind five years ago this month. I loved my students. I did not love having 180 of them all at once, and I did not love the endless bureaucratic demands that are the back-breaker of classroom teachers. I have kept much of the “I ‘heart’ Pitman” ephemera; the variety of coloring pages and map-penciled hand-drawn signs that grace many teachers’bulletin boards and computer monitors in classrooms everywhere, and recently rehung much of it on the bulletin board behind my desk in my office. I am the support person for over 100 teachers, but it is the students who still get me out of bed every morning, and I do not want…

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