All posts by Mary Anne Mohanraj


Minutiae of the semester starting. Have made Blackboard classes accessible to students. Have sent welcome letter to students. Need to figure out what room my classes are in, add that to the syllabus, and then proof syllabi one more time and post them to Blackboard. Then print copies for first day, along with first day in-class materials. And upload readings for second day to Blackboard. I have my new folders, I have my new dry-erase markers.
Have to check that I actually have copies of all the books accessible I’ll be teaching from accessible — I’ve run into difficulties before with leaving a book I need on campus, or at home. Hoping to avoid that this year by having copies of all of them on Kindle and just keeping the Kindle with me at all times. I’m not sure I want to try to teach right out of it — the books I’ve taught before are marked up with my notes, and it’d be a bit of a pain to reproduce that. But maybe I should just switch to marking up electronic copies going forward. Any teachers who have tried teaching out of electronic copies who want to weigh in, please do.
All of this somewhat complicated by the fact that Anand has something wrong with his eyelid (it’s swollen), so in about fifteen minutes, when they open, I need to run him into his pediatrician and see if they can tell me what’s up. Sigh. (It doesn’t hurt him, thankfully, but I felt like I couldn’t just send him into school like this.)
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Spent half an hour weeding and cleaning up the hellstrip this morning. The autumn sedum have started to bloom; I think this one might be Autumn Joy, but not positive. It’ll bloom from now until November, is drought-tolerant and generally requires nothing more from you than that you enjoy it.
I also continue to really enjoy the pink achillea / yarrow — it mostly went brown a month or so ago, but I trimmed those off, and it’s now put out a second big flush with lots of bright pink blooms.
I may have gone a little pink-heavy in the hellstrip, given that the Fairy rose is also blooming there, but that’s okay. I should think about what would be blooming blue or purple there at this time for next year. It’s not quite dahlia time yet.
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Hopper batter made and set to fermenting for tomorrow. Working on finalizing syllabi for an hour, then hopefully an hour of writing, then make batter for inipu thosai (supposedly needs to sit for a few hours before cooking, though I’m planning to test that). Then getting dressed and heading into the city to do a radio interview with Niala Boodhoo for the 21st about Jaggery, which is launching its 10th issue (my last!) today.

On the way home, plan to stop at City Escape and look for fall annuals for the hanging baskets and planter (and crossing fingers, perennial asters); switching over a little early because my summer baskets were underwatered while I was traveling and got crispy.

Come home, make inipu thosai, and relax for a bit. At six, hosting a queer women’s potluck at the house, somewhat impromptu — it came out of someone posting on a local women’s list, a queer woman married to a man, looking for community. OPALGA is great, but does tend to trend more towards gay men at the moment; sometimes it’s nice to be in the company of queer women.

Should be a nice day.

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First day, 2nd and 5th grade.

Baby’s first color. Kavi has been asking for pink hair for a while — first she wanted a streak, but later she switched to tips, because it’d be easier to cut out if she doesn’t like it or gets bored with it. She had been hoping for something a little more hot pink; this is kind of a reddish-pink, but she still likes it a lot.
Kavya was very bouncy this morning — she tries so hard to be a good girl, so much of the time, and if I love one thing about the hair, it’s that I think she feels like it gives her permission to be a little less ‘good.’
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Portrait of a library board member who should be tired after the meeting ran an hour longer than normal (yes, I just got home at 10:45 p.m.), but who is actually still kind of buzzed from arguing about the budget for three hours. Okay, we didn’t argue about the budget for the whole meeting, but for at least a solid hour of it. And with more to come.

If you had told me that arguing about how we set priorities for the budget of major institutions would rock my world, I would have…I don’t even know. It would have been unimaginable to me. Fiduciary responsibilities turn out to be fascinating, because in the end, it’s all about people.

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New Semester

We’re heading into new semester mode here, which is a little like New Year’s — a time when we make all kinds of resolutions and attempts at lifestyle changes, some of which stick, and some of which don’t. Kevin has grand plans for how we will all be on electronics less and together as a family more, which I support in theory but in practice I love my screens…

I have one more week to try to finish off this cookbook, which has been making healthy eating a little difficult (see, I have to make three batches of idlis in order to get them right, for example….although admittedly, I’ve been freezing a lot of what I make). Masala dosa scheduled for tomorrow,which is super yummy, but is also starch + starch.

I’m planning to start the semester next week with a burst of healthy eating and exercise — eat as you mean to go on, hopefully, with more fish and vegetables and fruit in my diet regularly, which honestly makes my body feel notably better than a starch-heavy diet. We’ll see. A little pricey, so I’m going to try to get in a Costco trip at the end of this week.

Today’s plans: straighten up, unpack, finish final proof of Jaggery, make young jackfruit curry. Assistant Chris comes from 10 – 3, and after he does his initial hour of helping to get the place in order (dishes, recycling, etc.) we’ll work on SLF WordPress website updating, Jaggery publicity (launching new issue today), SF reading series organizing.

If I have time / energy, I may try to draft a 1000 word short story I’ve promised to the Prize folks, but we’ll see how the day goes, feeling a little drained still from the weekend. In the afternoon, taking the kids for first day of school haircuts, and taking Kavi to open her first bank account, which we’ve been meaning to do for a while. Things to teach the ten-year-old this fall — how to crochet, better soccer skills, how to cook an entire meal, basic financial literacy.

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My parents have a big finished basement, and have moved various pieces of furniture down there. Here is the 70s (red and cream zigzags, quite worn), here are the 80s (massive blue-grey sectional), here are the 90s (little flowered loveseat). In the living room, there’s the peach set (also from the 80s, I think), a long couch paired with little comfy chairs on wheels.

In the family room is the small black apartment set that Kevin’s parents got for him, that we passed to Mirna when we needed bigger furniture after Kavya was born, that Mirna passed on to my parents because two of the pieces were still good, eventually paired with another long black couch. And now I’m scoping out that set and wondering whether it’ll still be good when Kavya goes off to college and needs her first apartment afterwards.

You could do a history of our family in couches.

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Book Book

Talked to Steve at Lethe Press, and if all goes well, we should have pre-order links live soon for Perennial (garden / cancer / romance) and A Taste of Serendib, 2nd edition (the cookbook), with the books scheduled to be out before Christmas. Mark your holiday gift lists and wish lists.

The cookbook is going to be on the expensive side for the print edition, since it’s twice as big as last time, and POD printing means we don’t get the economies of scale that regular printing would. But on the plus side, Lethe is planning to send everyone who buys the print edition a copy of the e-book as well (the e-book will have all the photos, which are too expensive for us to print; I’m also planning to have the photos available on my website, in case that’s helpful).

So a print book that’s nice and cozy to curl up and read, and an e-book that’s handy for pulling up recipes on your tablet in the kitchen, if that’s how you roll. Best of both worlds, hopefully.

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Sunny California

Heading back to Chicago today, after eight days visiting Kevin’s family and our friends in the Bay Area. Pics below from lunch yesterday with Jed at Social Policy. I love the pretty crosswalks in downtown San Jose — are those supposed to be circuit boards? Cool.

Thanks to everyone who came out to board games at Jed’s on Saturday — I didn’t take any photos because I was so busy (and so happy) talking to you all. Great to catch up with Thida, Susan, Debbie, Dan, Nadya, Kam, Kevin, Cliff, Shannon, Alex, and oh, I’m forgetting some people, sorry, my mind is a rush of packing right now. Particularly great seeing all your gorgeous kids, who have gotten SO BIG. Some of them are taller than me already. I can’t even. And thanks to Jed for hosting!

Also great doing more board games with Alex and Jed yesterday (Fleet Command is fun, even though I lost both times — I did fight a valiant rear-guard action to the bitter end, though). It’s been a lovely trip, and we hope to come back soon.

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Pleased to invite you to hear me read as part of Censored: A Banned Books Reading & ACLU Benefit, at the Public House Theatre, 3914 N. Clark, on Monday, October 2, 2017, 7-9 p.m.

Ticketing details are still being finalized, will post when they are, but please save the date. It’s a big space, so let’s pack the house and raise some money for the ACLU! They could use it right now.

Presented by Third Coast Review/Kill Your Darlings. I’m tentatively planning to read from _This One Summer_, a YA graphic novel by Mariko Tamaki, one of the top ten challenged books of 2016.

“This young adult graphic novel, winner of both a Printz and a Caldecott Honor Award, was restricted, relocated, and banned because it includes LGBT characters, drug use, and profanity, and it was considered sexually explicit with mature themes.” (

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