Author: Luisa Perkins
•3:15 PM

When I went out to get the mail, the air felt like a caress, not a brutal slap. The Mets open their Spring Training schedule tomorrow, playing the Detriot Tigers down in Port Sainte Lucie. Though we are still wrapped in a (mushy) coverlet of white, spring is on its away!

Which means it's time to start some seeds. Not all of them--I won't start the tomatoes and the asparagus for another two weeks, and the bulk of the things I'm planting this year should be direct-seeded in the garden after the last frost (usually around Mother's Day where we are).
Here's what I planted today: rhubarb, huckleberries, bunching onions, artichokes, and cardoons. Just the smell of the planting mix (peat moss, vermiculite, etc.) brought a little breath of April into the kitchen.
My planting tray will sit on a heating mat until the seeds germinate. Then I'll take the humidity lid off and set up my grow light (just a fluorescent shop light on chains from Home Depot), so the seedlings will get 16 hours of cool light per day. I'm determined to avoid the dreaded Damping-Off Disease this year, as I've suffered heartbreaking losses in years past. Vigilance! Air circulation! These will be my watchwords.
Would anyone like the rest of my seeds? The packets usually contain far more than any normal gardener can use in a season. One can save the seeds in the fridge for next year, but I like to try new varieties every spring. I'd love for the remainder of this year's lot to have a good home; let me know, and I'll get them to you.
Author: Luisa Perkins
•7:37 AM

When I was sixteen, I spent my spare time either looking for the least traditional prom dress possible or trying to prove how smart/cool I was by reading a lot of Hermann Hesse and Ayn Rand. Most teenagers I have known have been similarly preoccupied, differing only in their definition of 'cool' and the group of peers they are trying to impress.

Imagine my delight and wonder yesterday to find a sixteen-year-old not caught up in the trivialities of appearance and acceptance. Ava Lowery is a homeschooled girl from Alabama who spends her spare time working on her informative and heartbreaking blog, There are many anti-war web logs featuring news stories the networks are tired of covering and astute commentary thereon. Mother Jones's website, for example, this month features "Iraq 101," an excellent Cliff's Notes-style article on the particulars of the War in Iraq--highly recommended.
But what sets Ava apart (other than her age) are her homemade videos, featuring tragic photos she has pulled together from all over the web and assembled in professional and affecting fashion. Only 30 seconds of one of her more famous animations, WWJD, was enough to reduce me to a puddle of despair. But I find I don't want to sit and wring my hands any longer. I want to DO something.
Ava Lowery's pieces are not for the faint of heart or for young eyes, in my opinion. But the rest of us would do well to watch a few, then look into our hearts, get together and talk, and discover what we can do to Stop. The. Insanity.
Author: Luisa Perkins
•3:33 PM

Q: How best to handle Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

A: Adriana advocates blood oranges (mixed with a few other ingredients); Patrick uses a light box. Jane takes lovely photos, and Carmen plans (then actually takes) exotic trips around the globe. Jenna does karaoke; Melissa does yoga. We all eat chocolate whenever possible.

The kids aren't feeling it at all; they are cozy on the couch right now, happy as Larry while watching House of Flying Daggers. They're still feeling fresh from a couple of hours outside hurling melting snow at one another with their lacrosse sticks.

I've been feeling logy all day. Adding to my low spirits, the cardigan in the photo above has been taunting me from the top of my dresser. I've been wanting to knit this particular sweater for years. The pattern is from Simply Beautiful Sweaters, by Beryl Hiatt and Linden Phelps, the first pattern book I bought after taking up knitting again about eight years ago. It calls for two luxurious yarns, both by Welsh yarn sorceress Colinette: Fandango, a chunky cotton chenille (I chose Velvet Leaf ), and Zanziba, a funky thick-thin viscose blend (I used the Lilac colorway). It was an easy sweater to knit, but the finishing was very time consuming.

I sewed it together a while back, then realized AFTER weaving in about 7 billion ends that I'd messed up the crocheted border on the right side. Look: the left side is perfectly straight, indicating that I was paying attention as I crocheted approximately two stitches to every three rows of knitting (thank you, Elizabeth Zimmerman and Theresa Vinson Stenersen). I must have done the right side during a particularly gripping part of some movie, however; that buckling you see means I've put in too many stitches. Not quite as frustrating as receiving the critique "Too many notes," but close.

There's nothing for it but to redo that side, which actually won't take long. It's just demoralizing to contemplate, as is the rain falling outside my window right now. Everything is gray and drippy.

My SAD coping mechanism this week has been working on a cardigan for Daniel, using Haiku, another genius knitting pattern brought to you for free by the ever fabulous I'm using Filatura di Crosa Primo superwash wool in bright blue. It's soft, yet crisp enough for great stitch definition, so the box stitch interspersed with a lot of garter looks terrific.

I bought the yarn when I was pregnant with Daniel, intending to make him a tiny sweater. He's now a strapping almost-three-year-old; I only bought four skeins, which means I won't have enough of the blue. I figure, though, that I can do an Asian-type color block thing with another color (maybe a turquoise or a clear yellow; I'll have to see what Penelope has in stock). A trip to Knittingsmith is antidote for almost any problem, I've found.

But I think I'll take a break from Haiku for the moment and see if I can't tackle that Colinette cardigan edge. Finally getting to wear that lovely fiber will definitely help chase away my winter blues.
Author: Luisa Perkins
•10:39 AM

Does anyone from my generation have a cookie jar? We had one when I was little, and during the years that Mom was able to stay at home with us, it was often chock full of homemade cookie goodness. It was ceramic and shaped like a bunch of grapes.

I think I need a cookie jar of my own. Zipper lock bags just aren't doing it for me; I'm trying to wean myself from using them for the good of the planet.

I made the Chocolate Drop Cookies from The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook for the first time yesterday. They should be called 'Chocolate Drop Dead Cookies'--they're that good. I didn't put in any of the fancy stuff suggested (vanilla chips, chopped up Heath Bars, etc.), just a bag of good old semisweet. Fantastic.
Author: Luisa Perkins
•2:51 PM

Get crafty Christian--he saw a Wikihow article on making a model of the Starship Enterprise out of a floppy disk, and he got right to it. All the kids are now enthusiastic Trekkies, since Santa brought all three seasons of the original series on DVD to our house this year. Daniel runs around with an action figure he calls "Mr. Spot." Once or twice a week, the whole family curls up on the den couch to watch an episode or two together. It's been terrific fun. Bonus: the kids now understand just exactly how funny Galaxy Quest is. Or they will once they've visited a real live SF convention.

Speaking of which, I'm about to send off my early registration for Readercon. Years ago I went with my friend Deb to Readercon and fell in love. Deb and I returned the following year, but after that, I was on maternity leave for quite a while.

You won't see folks running around in Klingon uniforms at Readercon, just a lot of really smart people who love good books, science, and conspiracy theories. Sound familiar? Oh yeah, baby; I'm pretty much a pig in mud when I'm there. The panels are terrific and the bookstore is great.

Last year, my best pal Kara and I applied and were admitted to Readercon's Writers' Workshop, led by Steven Popkes. We got a lot of valuable input from Popkes and the other students and came away inspired, energized, and validated about our own writing. The other highlight was the infamous Kirk Poland Bad Prose Competition. There are no words to describe how funny this event always is. It alone is worth the price of registration and the trip to Burlington, Mass. No, REALLY.

Last year's Guest of Honor was that rock star of the SF world, China Mieville. His book Perdido Street Station is one of the best works of speculative fiction that I've ever read (and I've read quite a few). China was even more satisfying to listen to on the panels than he is to read: funny, literate, thoughtful, bold. Note to self: stop swooning at the memory. This year's Guests of Honor look fabulous as well: Lucius Shepard and Karen Joy Fowler. I've just ordered a couple of their books in preparation for learning at their feet (and for getting signed as I tell them what a Big Fan I am of Their Work). Can't wait!

In the meantime, the kids' school has asked me to give a presentation on speculative fiction to the entire second grade in April. I've got to come up with something interactive and engaging to do with 60+ 8-year-olds for 45 minutes. Yikes. I'll keep you posted on my progress.
Author: Luisa Perkins
•10:09 AM

Here's the place I'll be buying our summer shoes: I read about Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS, in Time Magazine; he and TOMS have also been featured in Vogue. Moved by the sight of countless barefoot children on a visit to Argentina, Blake decided to start a shoe company with a unique business plan. For every pair of shoes purchased, he donates a pair to a child in need. He doesn't call himself the CEO; instead, his title is Designer/Chief Shoe Giver.

Modeled on a traditional Argentinian shoe called the alpargata, TOMS come in a variety of appealing fabrics. They look like a cross between espadrilles and the surfer shoes I grew up with called Vans--very hip. They are inexpensive as well, especially when you consider that you are buying two pairs (one for you, one donated) for one price. And how great--Blake is coming out with a line in leather just in time for the fall. We'll have happy feet year round!

Other news in happy feet: Hope is loving her Irish step dance class. She's obsessed with Jean Butler and all things Riverdance, and has been practicing on her own every day. Of course, the cute dance shoes add to the fun (photo above).

And my socks are so comfortable! My Mephisto All-Rounders (the walking shoes I bought for our trip to Italy--the most comfortable shoes EVER) show them off nicely. Patrick has requested a pair of socks for himself (in a quieter colorway).
I hope YOUR feet are toasty and happy this bitterly cold day!
Author: Luisa Perkins
•3:01 PM

Yes, it's St. Valentine's Day, but as usual, we're ignoring that fact. Assuming we still have electricity this evening, we plan to cosy up with the kids on the couch and watch an episode or two of Star Trek, then head to bed early and fall asleep watching the snow fall.

It's not that we're not romantic. It's just that a far better celebration waits in the wings: on the 16th, we'll celebrate 17 years of marriage.

Here's a photo of us that Patrick's brother Marc took outside the Salt Lake Temple. It was so cold that day that the rest of the family refused to go out in the weather for group pictures, so we braved the elements alone.

We've braved a lot of elements since: chronic illness, law school, law firms, not to mention the five forces of nature we brought into the world together. Patrick has made me either laugh or swoon every day (on great days, both) of the over 6,000 we've been married; that fact has gotten us through an awful lot. I'm keenly aware that not everyone gets to be married to his or her best friend; I wish I could share what we've got with the whole world.

Last Saturday, in his capacity as Bishop, Patrick officiated at the wedding of two members of our congregation. (The photo above is of the cake I made for the occasion.) In his counsel to the couple before he pronounced them husband and wife, he quoted a favorite song, one that has inspired us through the years:

We're neither wise, nor kind, nor good;

We'll do the best we know.

We'll build our house and chop our wood,

And make our garden grow, and make our garden grow.

Thanks, hon. It's a beautiful garden. I look forward to many more years working in it together.
Author: Luisa Perkins
•12:22 PM

I've been trying to be better about planning meals lately. For several years, since we didn't know what we'd be getting from our CSA from week to week, I didn't plan at all. I'd just open the fridge, see what was there, and come up with something. As a result, ratatouilles and fricandos were frequently on the menu. Patrick says that the way I cook is like alchemy; he's an excellent cook, but is much more recipe-driven than I am (which is not a bad thing).

Planning failed me today. We're in the middle of a nor'easter, and I just wasn't in the mood to make what was on the agenda. Plus, I had a fridge full of leftover bits of things: half a pound of pancetta (from a pasta recipe last week); about a third of a stale baguette; several egg yolks (from the wedding cake I made over the weekend); and a pie plate full of roasted potatoes, from Sunday's dinner. I also had milk and mozzarella cheese. I turned to my alchemical habits, and here's what I came up with:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heavily butter a 9" x 13" pan. Heat a skillet and start frying the pancetta (cook it just like regular bacon), draining it on paper towels when it is cooked. Coarsely chop the pancetta. Break up the bread, put it in the food processor, and pulse it until it is fine crumbs. Put the crumbs on the counter; now grate about 4 ounces of mozzarella in the food processor.

Layer bread crumbs, the bacon, the cheese, and the potatoes a couple of times, reserving a handful of crumbs. Put the egg yolks (I think there were seven; I added one whole egg, just for some extra binding power) and a cup of milk in the food processor and blend. (I didn't add salt or pepper, since the pancetta is extra salty.) Pour the egg mixture evenly over the stuff in the pan. Top with bread crumbs and bake for a half hour. Serve with green salad.

This is comfort food at its finest--sort of like a breakfast strata. And there was a minimum of mess in the kitchen; all that got dirty was the skillet, the food processor, and the knife and cutting board.
Alchemy requires a certain amount of familiarity with the characteristics of foods and combinations of foods. If I hadn't had leftover egg yolks, I would have used three or four whole eggs instead. I could have used crackers, rolls, or regular bread instead of a stale baguette. I probably would have dried out the rolls or bread in a very low oven for awhile first. If I'd had mushrooms, I definitely would have sauteed them in the pancetta fat and thrown them in as well.
I'm sure I'll be back on plan tomorrow; automating the dinner schedule really does free up my mind for writing and other things. But a little spontaneity in the middle of a snowstorm can be a very good thing.
Author: Luisa Perkins
•3:48 PM

Last Friday night I was driving home from Book Group. It was late and it had been snowing for several hours. I love being alone in a black night with snow; it always reminds me of one of my favorite paragraphs in the world, the last sentences of James Joyce’s The Dead:

A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.

Karen, Melissa, and I had carpooled to Book Group over at Camilla's house in Golden’s Bridge, chatting the entire time. On the way home, after I dropped off my two friends, I turned on the radio. I had for company someone playing the piano. I half-recognized the piece, but there was something so different about what I was hearing that I didn’t make the connection for a minute or two. Then it hit me with a flash: it was Bach’s Goldberg Variations. And played on the piano, not the harpsichord—but it didn’t sound like Glenn Gould.

I find it particularly appropriate to listen to this piece of music when the rest of the world is asleep. Bach wrote the Goldberg Variations for a Count who struggled with insomnia; the Count had asked Bach to write some clavier exercises to be played in the middle of the night, something to soothe and cheer him through long, sleepless hours. The Variations are named after the Count’s talented young harpsichordist, Johann Gottlieb Goldberg; I imagine the poor young man being roused from slumber on any given night to play for his patron, because the Count apparently never tired of hearing them.

The Variations were published in Bach’s lifetime, but for many years afterward were regarded as dry, rather difficult pieces to be played on the harpsichord. In the middle of the 20th century, however, a brilliant young pianist changed popular opinion of Bach’s piece forever.

I know Gould’s landmark 1955 recording of the Goldberg Variations as well as I know any piece of music. I’ve listened to it hundreds, maybe thousands of times. It has been a great friend to me, as the Variations were for the Count who commissioned them. But what I was hearing Friday night was so alien: haunting, personal, almost painful in its execution, where the version I know—lively, technically flawless—evokes a detached, peaceful mood.

Puzzled, I drove on and thought about our meeting earlier. We had had a intelligent and compassionate dicussion of a modern classic: Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner. Its main character, Susan Burling Ward, has chronic myopia when it comes to the life she has chosen; throughout her life, she compares her situation unfavorably to that of her best friend, Augusta. She doesn’t realize that she has within her grasp all the ingredients for a wonderful existence. Her interpretation of herself, the reader easily sees, is faulty. She has, in fact, married the better man; her life of ‘exile,’ as she terms it, has defined and refined her work as an artist, not limited it.

One woman in our group raised a question: How do you know when to be content? In other words, when you are in the middle of living one of life’s countless challenges, how do you stop looking over the fence at seemingly greener grass? It’s a good question, and an old one, one that has given philosophers pause for centuries. After a lot of thought on the topic myself, I think the secret lies in our interpretation of what we’ve been given.

Happiness is a choice; for some it’s a harder choice than for others, but it is there all the same. One need look no further than Victor Frankl for proof of this truth. I myself have been given all the components for a perfect life: good health, every temporal comfort, lovely friends and children, meaningful work, and a dear man who loves me.

But if I’m not careful, I can take the route Stegner’s heroine takes. I can focus exclusively on what I see as being wrong: my weight; brain chemistry that defaults to a baseline level of melancholia; the current state of our yard; the child who is misbehaving on any given day: the list could go on for quite a while, if I let it. But that interpretation of my life is a sure path to misery; I believe this is one of the points Stegner is making in his beautiful book.

Once home, I sat in my dark car in the driveway for few minutes so that I could discover the identity of my mystery musician. At the stroke of midnight, after the last few notes of the Aria died away, Bill McGlaughlin came on the air and informed me that it was, indeed, Glenn Gould playing the Variations—but that this was a performance recorded shortly before Gould’s death in 1982.

This was the same music played by the same artist I thought I knew so well. But the interpretation was so different that it changed the piece completely. Older, wiser, at the end of his life, Gould let his life inform his art and transform it; he put himself wholly into his work, and both were changed thereby.

Stop looking over the fence and start doing all you can to green up what you’ve got. Take plenty of time to rejoice in its verdure, and take plenty of time pay respects to the Source of all that is good and green. It is simpler to write than it is to live, but the secret to happiness is in the interpretation.
Author: Luisa Perkins
•2:27 PM

Good news! Let's have a parade! My blogging idol, Jane Brocket, has gotten a publishing contract for her book The Gentle Art of Domesticity. It's due to come out in the U.K. in October; I can't wait until it is available here in the States. She'll be preaching to the choir when it comes to me (and to you), but as a perennial choir member, I've always enjoyed receiving preaching.

Jane is such a lovely writer--contemplative, articulate--and has the all-too-rare gift of not taking herself too seriously. Her devotion to her family comes out very clearly in all she records. She's also quite talented when it comes to many of the domestic arts--plus, she loves Cary Grant. She's pretty near perfect, in my book.

She has my warmest congratulations. If you want a treat, spend some time going through her blog archives. You won't be sorry; if you're like me, you'll come away inspired and renewed.

I'll update you when the book is available; I'd love to help make it a bestseller here, so that she'll be forced to make a U.S. book tour, and I'll be able to meet her in person (yes, shades of the Brent Spiner encounter). Keep your fingers crossed!
Author: Luisa Perkins
•2:19 PM

I'm starting a Needlework Group! I know that many of us have half-finished (or never-started) projects in closets and cupboards. There they sit in the dark, waiting for us to have a big block of time to get them out and work on them. But we are busy, and our projects languish.

Let them languish no more. The second Monday of each month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., I'll provide my living room, protected from the elements and stocked with good snacks (feel free to add to the stash), as a meeting and working space. We'll get together, visit, support one another's creative endeavors, and eat. Please join me--come when you can, leave when you must. It'll be great.

I look forward to seeing you this Monday, 12 February! Call me or email me if you need directions.

Author: Luisa Perkins
•10:21 AM

Once in a great while, I laze about in bed on Saturday morning, only getting up when other people in the house start moaning about impending starvation. Last week I got up to discover that there really wasn't anything in the house ready-made to eat. To forestall any fainting spells on the part of my housemates, I sent Patrick to the store for some Entenmann's donuts. These were wolfed down in a heartbeat once they arrived home.
Next morning on the way to church, Christian confessed to wanting more of the donuts. I answered that we could make some homemade donuts in the afternoon; he replied that his craving was specific to the Entenmann's. I reminded him what happened when Edmund ate the White Witch's Turkish Delight, and quoted C.S. Lewis from memory: "Nothing spoils the taste of good ordinary food half so much as the memory of bad magic food.”
Anyone who knows me knows that I am not anti-sugar. I do believe, though, that homemade treats trump store-bought (i.e., 'bad magic') most days of the week for several reasons. First, they taste better to all but the most process-jaded palates. James asked me the other day why his friends at school like the cafeteria food and he doesn't. I told him it was probably because they didn't get to eat really good food very often. Poor things.
Second, my Puritan roots influence me to believe that we value more highly what we work to create. My children do stop to savor the food I make, probably because they witnessed (and helped) my labors.
Of course, they balk at some things they are served. Hope has taken a dislike to corn off the cob. James can't abide fried eggs. Tess only eats beets because they make the soup a pretty pink color (and because she's not allowed to leave the table until they are gone). With this many people in our household, at least one person per day is eating something that is not his or her favorite. But not eating it simply is not an option.
Third, I subscribe to the Eastern philosophy eloquently articulated by the Maha Chohan:
"If a woman could see the sparks of light going forth from her fingertips when she is cooking and the substance of light that goes into the food she handles, she would be amazed to see how much of herself she charges into the meals she prepares for her family and friends."
Food is more than macro- and micro-nutrients, more than sustenance. It is frequently a catalyst for bonding; a part of sacred ritual; a celebration of life.
Speaking of celebrations, and good magic food--a friend at church is getting married this Saturday. Her mother, who was going to make the cake, has unfortunately gotten sick, so I was asked to step in. I'm so excited! I haven't made a wedding cake since Roselyn's wedding in Manhattan almost ten years ago (photo above).
For cakes, nothing beats The Cake Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum. I've been using it for years with never-fail, mouthwatering results. I'll be making her three-tier Chocolate Butter Cake (this is the recipe I use for my Chocolate Lace Cake) and using her White Chocolate Mousseline Buttercream for the frosting. For the filling, I'll use the Magnolia Bakery's Caramel Coconut Pecan recipe. Linda wants just the minimum of piping on the cake, since her sister will be decorating it with flowers.
I was so glad to look at my calendar and see that I had nothing scheduled for Friday; the cake will take up the bulk of the day, and I will be able to proceed at a leisurely pace, unhurried by the stress of any other events. A wedding cake is and should be a labor of love, and I intend to enjoy every minute of it.
Author: Luisa Perkins
•9:47 AM

The knitting of hats is an even more addictive subgroup of knitting than knitting itself. Hats are so fast and easy, so pleasingly sculptural as they progress. The knitting of socks is nearly as addictive, save for the fact that one must (hopefully) knit two of a kind. Fortunately, my latest hat will be finding a home other than the shelf of our front closet.

Our nephew Michael is a new missionary in Chicago, and he is as fresh and green as a newly-cut Christmas tree. His emails and letters have been delightful thus far. The winds of Chicago are apparently as fierce as legend portrays; his poor exposed ears are suffering. I just finished a hat for him, knit out of a lovely Malabrigo color called 'Azul Bolita.' I'll send the hat off, along with some treats, via Fed Ex today.

And here is Daniel with an old pilot's helmet on. It weighs nearly as much as he does, but he was somehow able to hold his head up straight. Up in the air, Junior Birdman!
Author: Luisa Perkins
•9:06 AM

Doh! That crafty Michael Pollan has done it again. I've been working on a long musing on how I believe that we as a society should get back to enjoying food for its own sake. Then I open up The New York Times last Sunday, and what's featured on the cover of the Magazine? Yes, another stunning and beautifully written article by my idol of journalism, saying everything I was going to say--only far more articulately.

You may remember that Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma made my Top Ten Books of 2006 list (and many other top lists as well). His research is great, but his writing is even better: funny, insightful, lyrical; never pompous, condescending, or jargon-heavy. I'd love to meet him someday, although I'm sure that I'd behave exactly the way I did when I met Brent Spiner backstage at the Broadway revival of 1776. Patrick chortles with glee every time he remembers it. No, I won't recount it again. Suffice it to say that the sentence "I'm a big fan of your work" is declaimed in worshipful tones whenever it appears that I need teasing.

Another great book on food that I read last year is Nina Planck's Real Food. I emailed Nina after I read it; she agreed to come up and speak at a house party chez nous. Now that the renovation is done and the holidays are over, I need to contact her again and get our schedules together.

Speaking of real food, Tess had her turn at CIA Night last Saturday. What a champ! She grated two whole blocks of cheese for her chosen recipe: Dang Quesadillas. I'm happy to report that no knuckles were sacrificed to the cause; the other kids were in awe of her grating skills. Everyone's geared up for February's sessions. Christian will be trying his hand at Chicken Enchiladas (the famous recipe that prompted a proposal from Patrick); James is trying to choose between Bouillabaisse and lobster (can we afford him?); and Hope and Tess are still deciding.
*Hope: Mom, why don't 'food' and 'good' rhyme?
Me: [Long lecture on the evolution of English phonology.]
Hope: Umm, thanks, Mom. Can I have a snack?