Friday, June 30, 2006

Happy Anniversary, Mr. & Mrs. Healthypants

Lords and ladies, please be upstanding for a toast to Mr. & Mrs. Iwanski on the ocassion of their 10th wedding anniversary. May you have many more decades of wedded bliss.

(For your anniversary gift I pledge to babysit -for free and on alternating Fridays when I don't have anything else going on -any subsequent Iwanskis, assuming you don't mind dropping 'em off in Seattle).

Happy anniversary you crazy kids!

Photo Album

Blogger is such a booger. One's ability to upload pictures has become completely random. There have been several times earlier this week when I'd upload a picture, be told it was "done" but nothing would show up on my post. Argh! Now, today, for the moment at least, it is co-operating. So here are some of the pictures that were intended to accompany some prose. I feel better now.

Me & The Cardinal at dinner:

My new coffee mug:

Latte bowls, old and new:

The new wine glass with an old bistro glass:


All I Have to do is Dream

I kinda have a thing for Anthony Bourdain. I've never watched an entire episode of his show on the Travel Channel, never read any of his books*. My feelings for him have none of the depth I reserve for my next husband, Steve Martin. But there's just something about this guy...

He's kinda handsome in a Lurchy kind of way. He has a deep, groovy voice. He's got a bit of a hipster/bad boy thing going on and for all I know he could be a big jerk (although someone who understands food and eating on the level that he does cannot possibly be all bad). His writing style, at least his food writing, is fairly casual. But I heard him on NPR the other day and he blew me away with his cynical, self-deprecating humor and articulate use of the English language. (I'm big on articulate people being not so much articulate myself. I repeat myself alot and never seem to have handy the word I want when it's needed...thus my admiration for people who can say beautifully what they mean to say).

Last night I dreamt that I was trying to clean wads of dough from a big, white plastic tub. I was very intent on the job, which wasn't going well, but was very calmly sticking to it. Looking up, my gaze went through a doorway into a vast kitchen. Anthony Bourdain, in a white chef's jacket, was manipulating a large sheet of very thin dough, like for a strudel. He radiated the peace of a Zen master, intent on what I would deem a thoroughly thankless task. He was fully in the moment and the sheet of dough thinned and rippled out over the large marble table, exactly as strudel dough is supposed to do.

I've watched people make strudel dough. It is an experiment I will never make. Life is too short.

The interpretation of this dream wouldn't be too difficult. It doesn't matter, though. There was something very lovely about that image of Mr. Bourdain making strudel. That's all.

*Update, as of March 2011 - I have seen all his shows and read nearly all of his books. And now I love him even more.

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The Purest Form of Activism

In our house, The Spouse has political opinions and he votes. He is a very good citizen. I'm the one who takes it a little step farther with the activism, although it's hardly like he's married to Cindy Sheehan or anything approaching that. One thing I do, about which I feel very strongly, is contact my representatives on a regular basis.

Even before I was involved with on-line groups like MoveOn, True Majority and Faithful America, I called my reps. Now I do it more often. It is the quickest, easiest way to be involved in the process, it is effective and it is my way, and yours, around all the lobbyists and PACs and smokefilled backroom deals. Sure, sure, deals will be made and shenanigans will continue but at anytime I can call a senator or representative's office and tell someone exactly how this constituent would like to be represented. (Plus, I love calling and saying, "Hi, I'm a constituent in Seattle"....) Those calls are logged and tallied and the information matters to our legislators. Those calls can be especially meaningful when a rep. is sitting on the fence on an issue. They do pay attention, especially if they think we pay attention. Because that's how it's supposed to work, people. (And, because I wasn't raised in a barn, I'm also very good at calling in a 'thank you' when they vote as I had hoped. Because it's always nice to be appreciated for doing a good job).

So, The Spouse signed Maria's net neutrality petition yesterday but wants to call our senators as well. So for The Spouse and my other bloggy readers in Washington:

Sen. Patty Murray (202) 224-2621 in DC, (206) 553-5545 in Seattle
Sen. Maria Cantwell (202) 224-3441 in DC, (206) 220-6400 in Seattle

(Remember, Maria is on record supporting net neutrality so your call to her can be more in the area of "thanks for your leadership on this and please keep it up").

I'm going to assume that those of you in other states know who your Senators are but in case you don't have their numbers handy go here, type your state in the 1st search box in the top right hand corner and their numbers will be right in front of you in a flash.

Call 'em today about net neutrality. And then call 'em next week about whatever else is on your mind. Power to the people!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Shout out to the 28th

The coolest thing just happened.

When The Spouse goes online to play his war game he is very often plugged in to a headset. He was yakking away to all his buddies while I was trying to watch a rerun of "Friends" (the one where Ross is trying to get a grant from the exboyfriend of his current girlfriend, Charlie. Where the exboyfriend asks the other applicants questions like "How many graduate students wll you need?" and asks Ross "What's my birthday?") So anyway, I'm yelling at The Spouse to shut up and all of a sudden he hands me the headphones and I start talking to all these guys who, heretofore, I have regarded as his "imaginary friends" and there they are...these funny, articulate guys who are asking me about my blog and my child and whatever. We talked about net neutrality and html and, well, just stuff and it was really cool.

So roll on 28th and thanks for keeping my husband out of the bars.

ROTFL: I am Black Coffee

You are a Black Coffee
At your best, you are: low maintenance, friendly, and adaptable

At your worst, you are: cheap and angsty

You drink coffee when: you can get your hands on it

Your caffeine addiction level: high

Net Neutrality

In case you hadn't heard, the Commerce Committee voted yesterday on a big telecommunications package. There was an amendment that secured net neutrality but not enough votes (read Democrats) to get it passed. There were senators, including Maria Cantwell, who voted against passing the bill out of committee without a provision for net neutrality but again, there weren't enough votes to stop that either. The bill now goes to the full Senate.

Listen up, people. This is a big deal. If you haven't looked into it, you oughta. The big telecoms are looking to tier Internet services, which means you'll get content quickly from the companies that can afford to pay. But all the little guys, all the sorts of fun things we've become accustomed to will swiftly fall to the bottom. The big guys are just trying to figure out a way to get bigger. Groups as various as the Christian Coalition and MoveOn support net neutrality and you should, too.

Here's a link to a petition Maria is sponsoring but what I really and truly encourage you to do is call your senators NOW and tell them not to pass any telecommunications legislation that doesn't make a provision for net neutrality. If I haven't been clear enough about what is at stake (and I know I haven't) please go to and get wise before it's too late.

Thank you. We now return you to our rant-free programming.


I'm not a big shopper. I enjoy spending money as much as the next ugly American but shopping isn't on my list of "Things to Do for Amusement". There are maybe 3 times a year when I go on a shopping excursion for the sake of shopping and these are ocassions that are preordained and liturgical. For example, in the summer The Child and I always go to Ms. M's for a light lunch and a swim and then go poke around the shops in the Ballard neighborhood near her house. On the Friday before school lets out for Christmas break there is a Christmas shopping/lunch thing with the Coffee Moms. But generally shopping is done because there is something we need, it is a strategic maneuver and the goal is to get in and out without losing too many minutes of the life that has been given to me.

Yesterday was an exception. My hostess gift from ChouChou and John was a gift card to Anthropologie. Here's something you should know: if you ever want to give me a present, just go to Anthropologie, swing a dead cat and buy the first thing you knock over. I lova, lova, lova this store. A gift card to spend? Oh happy day, calloo callay.

So ChouChou and I met to shop and lunch and it was very fun. I picked up a mess o' latte bowls, in two sizes, some napkins that match a tablecloth The Neighbor brought me from Paris and a little book titled The Perfect Egg and Other Secrets by Aldo Buzzi which is described on the flyleaf as "a tribute to the profound pleasures of food". Doesn't that sound like a perfect thing to read of a summer's afternoon?

As we were poking around the store I admired a number of beautiful stemmed wine glasses but couldn't bring myself to buy them. If abundantly wealthy we'd have dozens of wine glasses but even for the most swellegant of our dinner parties wine is served in bistro glasses. People break things. Especially our people. And when that happens, as it so often does, I want to be able to gleefully shout, "Opa" and then sweep up the bits without a thought. A guest ought not be put in the position of feeling badly about breaking a $15 glass and I don't want to be angry about its loss. (And I think I would be). So we stick to the cheap stuff and that's fine.

But, if you know even a smidge about wine, you know that a hand on the glass warms the wine and this, for enoheads, is a no-no. Since we are usually drinking 3 buck Chuck from Trader Joe's, it's not a huge concern. However, a stemmed glass for white wine makes a lot of sense and geeze, it's summer, so there's more white than red flowing these days. Long ramble longer, I decided to see if there were less expensive glasses elsewhere. Not at Williams Sonoma, I assure you. There were some rather groovy glasses that had pewter stems but all I could think was what practical use would there be for a bunch of pewter stems with jagged glass tops after they'd all been broken? We slipped into Pottery Barn and there were some perfectly acceptable glasses for a very acceptable price ($22 for 6, if you must know, which is a per glass price that beats anything even at Ikea) so I snatched some up. And also some darling little place card holders.

It was a very satisfying experience, which is the only sort of shopping experience to have. I found things I love and will use so there wasn't a smitch of buyer's remorse, which is a very nasty feeling.

More to the point, a lovely couple of hours were spent with a dear friend who makes me laugh and who doesn't mock when conversation turns to my next husband, Steve Martin. We had lunch at a sweet little place called Mom's, that has been at University Village (the shopping enclave wherein we were) for 20 years. Sadly, Mom is closing up shop. The Village used to be a very rank, silly place with nary an interesting shop within it but it's gotten very upscale and chichi and apparently the landlords were not being very accomodating to this established and beloved institution. I hate, hate, hate when that happens and yes, nasty letter to property people will be sent. It's too late to do anything about it but someone ought to tell them that sometimes doing the right thing is more important than squeezing the last drop of blood from a turnip. Or something like that.

Anyway, as I don't go shopping that often the closing of Mom's was news to me so it's good we went when we did. It would have been a very rude shock to go to the Village later in the summer and find Mom's gone. The Child is very fond of the place, too, so we're going back today for a last lunch. Then we'll probably go to Anthropologie because there's still a little balance on my gift card.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Cardinal

One of the cool things about the friends who come to the Solstice and Autumnal Feasts is that they bring fabulous hostess gifts. (I'd invite them anyway because they are fabulous people but come on, who doesn't like prezzies?) This year The Boys brought The Spouse and I super fantastic his and hers coffee mugs emblazoned with H.R.H. on one side and either His or Her Royal Highness on the other. I much enjoy being referred to as Her Royal Highness and now I can have a little dose of esteem and veneration with my java. It's a good thing.

Once upon a time, many years ago, I used to hang out in a wine bar appropriately named Enoteca. This was, turns out, a pivotal spot in my young life for it was here that I met many friends who I still hold dear, including the man who would introduce me to The Spouse. But I get ahead of the story. (Actually, that's another story). One day a waiter arrived at work declaring that he felt "very Russian". It was a cold and dank winter day, I believe, so his sentiments were appropriate. The manager, who we will call Timofey, picked up on the mood and a great walloping lot of Russian references started being bandied about. Everyone's name changed: Michael began Mikail, Peter became Pyotr Petrofskovich and like that. When I arrived for lunch or an after work glass or whatever it was, I was hailed by Timofey as Lorrainskia. And thus it began. Over time Timofey expanded upon this. It was not enough that I be merely Lorrainskia. I must be a Grand Duchess. (This was fitting as I bruise like a Romanoff). Then, because Timofey has more arcane knowledge in his brain than anyone living, I became Her Imperial Highness, Lorrainskia Fabulovna, Princess of Minsk, Pinsk and Irekutsk.

These developments pleased me greatly for I have always thought it would be a good thing to be queen of the world and this was as good a start as any. In my royal capacity I designated Timofey as one of my chief advisors. I made him a cardinal, Cardinal Sin, because he looks good in red.

In fairly short order the Russian fiction faded away from the games we played at Enoteca. But Timofey and I never abandoned our personae, which has provided hours of amusement for both of us over the years. There are many things I could tell you about Timofey, and likely will, but for today, suffice that he is one of the most elegant, refined, intelligent and witty men I have ever known. And I'm not making that up. What I said about arcane knowlege? If you've read his comments to various posts you'll know what I mean. He doesn't have to look up that stuff...he just has it tucked away in a nook of his vast and expansive mind. He is an excellent cook and a delightful guest. He knows about wine without snobbery, he is an expert in the art of Japanese tea ceremonies, he served in the Navy, has fierce convictions but a gentle soul and I have been so pleased to count him as a good friend for just shy of 20 years. A girl simply must hang on to someone who so truly gets her love of the tiara.

Dare to Dream

It is late June. Last night the Mariners beat Arizona 11-7 and in so doing evened up their record. They are now .500 on the season.

It was a dreadful start and I have no illusion that the latest bout of winning will amount to anything come the postseason but you have no idea how long I've been waiting to write that number. I'll write it again - .500. Sigh. Thanks for indulging me. Go back to work.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A Tropical Heat Wave

It's Cocktail Tuesday. I invented this drink today:

In a blender combine a bag of frozen cherries and a few splashes of fruit juice (I used apple/grape because that's what we had). Puree until smooth. Add in 2 oz lime juice, 2 T. sugar, an ounce or two of triple sec and 4 - 5 ounces of light rum. Blend again and serve.

(This is the adjusted recipe...I put in too much lime juice at first and had to add some mixed berries to tone it down. 2 ounces is plenty).

Very refreshing.

We're Havin' a Heat Wave...

The Spouse emails that the little air conditioners are sold out at the warehouse near his office. I volunteer to go to the Costco near us to see if there are still some available. There aren't. Just big honking things. There is a fan that looks roughly like a jet plane engine. I buy it.

On the way back home I think to stop in at Home Depot to see what they have. I buy 3 fans (2 table top and one on a stick), thus allowing me to cool both bedrooms and the family room for the same price as one jet engine. I return the engine to Costco, creating much hilarity at the Customer Service desk as people are not returning fans today.

I take them home and lo and behold, they have to be assembled. Which I do. By myself. I'm a rock star.

Bad Alice Asks

Bad Alice was wondering where she'd get lavendar for the chicken recipe I gave the other day. (You're right, BA, it isn't something commonly found in the produce section but get yourself a little plant from a nursery and grow it in a pot. It will make you happy even if you never cook with it).

I really like lavendar. It's cooking applications are limited and I haven't figured out how to make those groovy lavendar wands that look so very Martha Stewart when placed in one's linen closet. (I found directions once but just don't have the crafty gene). But it is beautiful and fragrant and grows exceedingly well in crap soil so long as it gets lots of sun and doesn't get watered very often. Which makes it the perfect garden plant pour moi. That is why I have it growing here:

and here:

and (cue the Edith Piaf) here:

I also have a quantity of rosemary.


It's Not the Heat....

I have a little trick for staying cool. After the thermometer passes a certain point, say, oh, 90, I stop looking at it. Not knowing how hot it is keeps me from obsessing about the number, which only agitates my molecules, creating additional heat. I bring this up because it was warmish yesterday. Warmish in a "I'm sitting in the shade not moving and yet sweat is pouring from me; how odd" sort of way.

The bad news is, the residual warmishness collected in the bedroom, making it very hard to sleep. The Spouse finally gave up and went outside with a sleeping bag. (The Dog went too, for a while, and it was actually cooler without them. Until The Dog started barking at someone who had the audacity to walk by at midnight (no doubt someone else who couldn't sleep) so I brought him in but I wouldn't let his little furry self near me).

So it was warm. People needed to sleep and couldn't. And all I'm going to say about that is I pray to God this family is never confronted with a real crisis because, well, let's just say that grace under pressure is not our strong suit. (I kept hearing sirens all night so maybe we weren't the only once who were, shall we say, not coping. But seriously, we are a bunch of fracking babies).

So, it looks like we're getting an air conditioner. I suppose, if this global warming thing keeps up, we will have more than 3 nights a summer when it is too hot to sleep so maybe it is a reasonable investment. I do hope to convince people that we needn't run it every time the sun is out to avoid skyrocketing our already astronomical electric bill. And I admit to being less than thrilled that installation of same will make our house look, oh, how shall I say it?, like a double wide trailer. Which will be fine for next week, during our annual Forth o' Juleye Trailer Trash party but afterward not so much. Still, another night like last night would be bad. Very bad.

The morning has dawned fair and no doubt the temperatures will soar, causing us to tear out each other's throats making us a tad uncomfortable if we exert ourselves too much. For my part, I'm heading out under the umbrella, drinking a lot of water, not moving and keeping myself in the dark about the record-breaking June heat. Also, I'm not getting a Hummer after all.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Solstice Feast

Tomatoes, about to be roasted. As was I. Yesterday was very warm and only enhanced by the Viking blasting BTUs for a couple hours. But it was so worth it. Here's what we ate and drank:

Green Olives with Orange Zest
Peach Bellinis

Shrimp, Asparagus and Lemon Zest in Italian Dressing
2005 Hogue Chardonnay
(This was the amuse bouche course, jp, which translates as "amuse the mouth"...just a little taste of something, almost for the fun of it. These were arranged on scallop shells and looked very pretty. See?)


Mesclun Salad with Caramelized Pears wrapped with Proscuitto, Toasted Hazelnuts and a Maple Syrup Vinaigrette


Chicken Paillard with Chevre and Lavendar Honey on Spinach

Roasted Tomato & Ricotta Tart

Melange of Haricot Vert, Wax Beans & Baby Carrots with Butter & Dill

Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare, 2003 & 2005 (we liked the '05 best)

As you can see, there was a great deal of documentation going on. ("Did you get a picture of that for your blog?" The Spouse kept saying). And yet, the entree came and went without anyone thinking of pulling out the camera. This is what ChouChou's plate looked like afterwards, though.

I guess it was good.


There is a story behind dessert. The Boys always bring the pudding and a fine job they do of it, too. I don't tell this story to cast aspersions and you must understand that because I love The Boys, they are lovely people and nothing negative is to be read into this: they made a cake and left it at home. They also made vanilla ice cream and that came with them. Fortunately, The Child had baked a hot milk sponge cake the day before. (She got the baking gene). So The Boys plated up slices of her cake with the ice cream and peach puree left over from our bellinis. It was delicious. They also served us a 2003 Canoe Ridge Late Harvest Gewurztraminer which was nigh unto ambrosia.

This was a happy enough ending but The Boys, as they were leaving, made noises about coming 'round with the double ginger cherry upside down cake that they had made and so we devised a plan and they are coming back to dinner tonight. Ha! We're going to marinate a little rack of lamb chops and grill those. We're going to have shrimp cocktail first and then the lamb with couscous & asparagus (and I'm thinking everything is going to be done on the grill because it's supposed to get into the 90s today) and a big salad and then the cake. So all's well that ends well.

Now, here is my recipe for the chicken, which I made up out of my own little head and which is really, really tasty and I'm not kidding. I'm giving you the recipe for 6 but you could easily increase or decrease the quantities to serve just your own self, a crowd of hundreds or anything inbetween:

Chicken Paillard with Chevre & Lavendar Honey

1 c. clover honey

6-8 sprigs of lavendar

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

6 oz. chevre, crumbled

Place honey and lavendar in a saucepan and heat over low flame for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and allow lavendar to steep in the honey. This can be done well ahead of dinner time.

Place the chicken between 2 layers of plastic wrap and pound out to 1/4 inch thickness.

Heat large pan over medium high heat, add a couple T. olive oil and saute chicken breasts about 4 minutes on each side or until cooked through. (If making several batches, remove cooked chicken to an ovenproof plate and set aside in a low oven to keep warm). Put one cooked paillard on each dinner plate and deglaze the saute pan with a little brandy (or dry sherry or white wine, whatever you have on hand) and spoon a little of the pan juices over each paillard. Then dress each paillard with 1-2 T of lavendar honey and an ounce or so of the crumbled chevre. Garnish with a sprig of lavendar and serve.

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Such a Good Time

We are so blessed. We have the best friends in the world. The feast was swell and I'll tell you all about it in the morning. But it's late and the house is still littered with party detritus and I'm tired. Here's part of the aftermath.


Blah Blah Blah

The Child will be reading some Shakespeare next year so I got her a "Stories from Shakespeare" with accompanying CDs so she could do some summer prep. She's been charged with finding something from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" to read to us this evening at the feast. The feast! The feast! I love the Solstice feast. I especially love it when the day is warm and fair, which today is shaping up to be.

Lots of chopping and whisking and steeping lie ahead but first I must have coffee with The Neighbor and then go with her to Uwajimaya to find soup spoons (destined for the super fantastic little amuse bouche I'm going to serve).

In other news, our BATV is behaving badly so last night found us eating take-out Thai and watching a Hillary Duff movie at The Neighbor's. Do not mock. I a) have a 12 year old and 2) was doing research for my dissertation for Prof. jp. ("Analytical Issues and the Rhetoric of Pop in the Late 20th to early 21st Century: Wham to Duff", in case you don't read his comments section). The movie ("Raise Your Voice"-a "Fame"-like story, without the same level of angst. Although there's angst.) didn't completely suck. Hillary Duff is almost able to act in this one. What's-her-name is in it...the one that looks like Rosanna Arquette but isn't who was in "Risky Business"....Rebecca DeMorney. And Tom Hanks' wife. The chicken in peanut sauce was heaven.

When we got home The Spouse went to play his on-line war game, as he is wont to do of a Friday evening and he suddenly calls out, "Hey, come talk to Grish!". He was playing, too. We had a little IM chat which was very nice. Love the virtual friends.

Have a lovely Saturday. Full festal report tomorrow.


Friday, June 23, 2006

Blogging Stuff Around the House. Or in This Case, Outside.

These are my pudding molds. I collect them from tag sales & shops that sell used things. I don't think I've spent more than 50 cents on any of them. I don't make that many puddings so there's really no culinary use for them but I like their shapes and the way the morning sun glints off their little copper bits.

There used to be a restaurant in the Belltown area of Seattle that had the entire outside covered in such molds. It was referred to as the "Jell-o mold" building. Belltown used to be a hipster neighborhood where grunge bands played at the Oxford and artists had cheap lofts. Then the developers saw the views and in came the condos and swank restaurants. The Jell-o mold building fell to the wrecking ball and there you go. But the spirit lives on in the back of my house. Which could use some paint.

Oh, What a Beautiful Morning

So far global warming is totally working for me. Used to be that June in the Northwest was nothing but rainy. We'd get a few good weeks in late July and then the temperatures would start to trend toward the cool and autumnal. I became quite the pro at making dishes with green tomatoes as it was never hot enough for them to ripen. Those days are gone, it would seem. Not only do I now get ripe tomatoes, I can even grow peppers. Plus, I heard a meterologist the other day talking about some computer model he did relative to the effects of global warming, at its current pace, on weather patterns here and the bottom line is we'd warm up but we wouldn't burn up. I'm so buying a Hummer now.


But I like ripe tomatoes.

So anyway, I was having my coffee out on the deck in the beautiful morning air, delighting in the play of sunlight through The Neighbor's apple trees and planning the menu for tomorrow night. It will be super fantastic. I still have to come up with something for aperitif but at least I know what I'm cooking and, more importantly, what wine ChouChou needs to bring. So that's a load off.

And I finished my stupid writing project and will submit it today and say "toodle-oo and good riddance" to it. Do all writer's feel this grumpy when they finally finish something or is this just a hang-over from yesterday's writer's block? Meh, who cares? I'm done.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

5 Minutes Inside My Head

Ack. The writing deadline is tomorrow. My tummy hurts. I have such a case of writer's block, you wouldn't believe. I just spent 15 minutes searching the Internet for pictures of Suri Cruise. There aren't any. Because she doesn't exist. I've written 2 pieces. I need one more. I have nothing. NOTHING! Maybe I'll just submit these 2. They're ok. Not as ok as they could be. I understand submission guidelines and the need to limit words but 100? Are you kidding me? 100 words is like, well, I'm pretty sure this is already close to 100 words. Cut and paste into Word. Yep. 98. Well, now it's even more than that. And of course one doesn't want to drone on and on. Say what you mean and be done with it. I repeat myself and use "I" too much anyway. Which iconic life-changing teacher was it that warned about the perils of "I"? BJ? Don't remember. But ever since she said that (or he did, it might have been Mr. Yoder) I always comb through my drafts to remove extraneous "I"s. Like nits. Geez, sooooo thankful The Child hasn't yet come home with lice. That would so gross me out. Not so much the hair thing but the whole having to wash everything we own in hot water and putting all the pillows and stuffed animals into plastic bags for 2 weeks. What a pain in the arse. Not unlike trying to reduce essential truths about motherhood into 100 word fragments that make any sense at all. The coffee is gone. Can't make another pot. I promised The Child we'd play school at 10 and then go out for burgers and malts so I gotta write. I hate deadlines. I love them, because without them I'd never get anything written but I hate them. They start out so far away. All the time in the world. Surely I'll come up with half a dozen gems in a month, in 3 weeks, in a week. Ack! It's tomorrow. I've got 2 bits and neither are gems. Not even cubic zirconium. Did I spell that right? And why haven't we seen baby Suri? I repeat: because she DOESN'T EXIST!!!! I saw Angelina Jolie's lips on TV last night. I turned the channel real quick. I so don't like her. Big fake. Geez my desk is cluttered. Like my head. Cluttered with the claufouti I didn't make last night and the need to find concise words to talk about motherhood. Ack.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

June 21st

The family server is behaving stupidly and as a consequence I can't open my email, Quicken or Word. Me no likey. This technical glitch is getting in the way of my productivity as is having The Child home. The school-year groove was quickly retired to a bottom drawer with The Child's uniform. And while it has only been a few days since school let out and we are in a to-be-expected adjustment period, we need to find a groove before these fleeting golden days turn right back into fall.

Ah, but my inner Celt is rejoicing. Today is the first day of summer.

And pomp, and feast, and revelry,
With mask, and antique pageantry,
Such sights as youthful poets dream
On summer eves by haunted stream.

—John Milton, L'Allegro (1631)

We don't have a haunted stream or even a stream, but pomp and feast are on the docket. Our annual Solstice Feast is on Saturday and I haven't an idea what to serve. Our guests for this dinner are the same as for the Autumnal Feast and they must be pleased! Which is to say that they are enthusiatic eaters with discerning palates who appreciate the effort. The best sort of people to cook for.

(Note: Spouse, do not leave comments with menu ideas. Cardinal Sin reads this blog and you know how I like the menu to be a surprise).

Right. I have to try and reboot the server again so I can read my old Summer Solstice menus and make sure Quicken is up to date. Then I'll look for my summer groove. It's around here somewhere.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Little Quiet Book

(Note: The italicized text was written by Katherine Ross, copyright 1989 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. Library of Congress Catalog Card #: 88-62101 ISBN 0-394-82899-2 Manufactured in the US. $3.25 US $4.25 Canada. Sheesh. Happy now?)

When The Child was wee, part of the bedtime ritual was reading stories. No matter what or how many we read, the last one had to be The Little Quiet Book. It began:

Quiet is...
Quiet is a moth flapping its wings.
Quiet is a mockingbird after it sings.
Quiet is a spider.
Quiet is a mouse.
Quiet are the noises in your house.

She loved this book and so did I. It had a hushed tone about it and a musicality. It was story and lullaby in one. Reading it in the dusky, dim room lit by only one light and cuddling my baby was the perfect end to whatever sort of day we might have had.

Quiet is a deer standing still.
Quiet is a rabbit on the hill.
Quiet is the fireplace.
Quiet is a hug. (We'd stop here to give each other a big squeeze).
Quiet is the blinking lightening bug.

The other day I uncovered this book. It's made of sturdy cardboard, like they do for children's first books these days. It's edges are worn away from all the times The Child chewed on it.

Quiet is a chipmunk in the park.
Quiet is the puppy who does not bark.

We read her "the classics": Beatrix Potter, AA Milne, the "Eloise" books and Peter Pan. Sometimes she'd catch me reading to myself and climb up in my lap for a story and I'd read aloud whatever I had in hand, Brideshead Revisited or a Lord Peter mystery. She didn't care. She like words, she liked being held close. Although mommy books didn't have the same staying power as her own, what with no pictures.

Quiet is the dew.
Quiet are the bees.
Quiet is the wind that stirs the trees.
Quiet is the star.
Quiet is the street.
Quiet are the slippers on your feet.

The Child is a bit sentimental (wonder where she got that) and so yesterday, when she found The Little Quiet Book on my desk she picked it up with a sweet, "Oh, Mommy..." and started to look at it. "I'm going to read this to you," she said.

Quiet is the darkness softly creeping.
Quiet is the teddy soundly sleeping.
Quiet is the moon.
Quiet is the brook.
Quiet are you when you close this book.

She was rapping.

Monday, June 19, 2006


I've been thinking a lot about the very upsetting Supreme Court ruling last week which essentially made it ok for the police to smash open your door without warning. (Provided they have a warrant. Not that warrants are mattering much in this country anymore, either). But perhaps I'll leave it to Pat because he's got a law degree and could explain the decision and the implications better than I could. (Would you please?) Suffice to say, this should be keeping you up nights, too.

There is a reason why I am not, perhaps, the best person to comment on matters legal, judicial and/or Constitutional:

I had a college work/study job as a tour guide for the Admissions office. That's how I met Zim, who transferred during my junior year. We became good friends. During the summer between junior and senior year, when we weren't out doing the Hustle or nearly capsizing a tiny boat in Lake Washington, he suggested that I take a Constitutional Law class with him. He was pre-law, I was an English major. There was no good reason for me to take a class in Constitutional Law except that I needed 5 more social studies units and he said it would be like "The Paper Chase". Much as I had a fancy for law, theoretically anyway, I had doubts. "Ah, it's just a lot of reading," Zim said. "You're an English major. You can read".

Within 2 weeks of the start of term Zim dropped the class and a month or so later was kicked out of school for hosting a toga party on campus, with alcohol. (I went to a Christian college so conservative that we couldn't even hold dances on campus). And there I was, surrounded by brilliant pre-law students, reading an average of 3-4 cases a day. And it was like "The Paper Chase" and Prof. McK...who was vaunted among my peers as the progressive member of the poly sci faculty...was John Housman. He employed the Socratic method and we were to come to class prepared to discuss the case, the decision and all opinions, for and dissenting.

I was quickly swamped. Reading both English and philosophy that year, plus writing papers had me plenty busy. There was neither time nor inclination for all that law stuff. I fell behind, so far behind that Prof. McK. quickly lost interest in my public humiliation. My blushing and stuttering did nothing to advance the academic cause of his real students.

Two friends, Matt and Bill, took pity and let me into their study group. This owed to their kind nature and the fact that I lived off campus and stocked beer, not for any intellectual contribution I might make. The one thing I will always remember from these sessions is Matt's hatred of then Justice Rehnquist and how, whenever we had to read one of his opinions Matt would say "Rehnquist, pfft" and pretend to spit to ward off evil. Halcyon days.

I struggled through that class, retaining only some salient points relative to Marbury v. Madison and Brown v. Board of Education. That's it. I read, in the end, maybe 1/4 of the cases assigned but was too stubborn to drop the class. Idiot.

Comes the final exam. I resignedly take my seat, accepting with a nod the well-intentioned looks of pity tossed my way by Matt and Bill. For the 1000th time I curse Zim, open my blue book and look at the 3 essay questions written on the board. We have 2 hours. Happily, the first question has to do with Marbury v. Madison. Triumph! The other two questions refer to cases only vaguely familiar. I wrote for about 45 minutes on the first question and spent 15 more mining whatever I could relative to the other 2. There was still another hour. The other students were scribbling away like mad. But I couldn't bravo sierra my way through 60 more minutes. I got up, collected my things, and tossed the blue book on Prof. McK's desk. He looked at me, then at the clock and back to me. He said nothing. I shrugged my shoulders, shot him a classic "who cares" look and left the class forever.

I took my Con. Law text book, purchased new for the astronomical amount of $50, and kicked it down the stairs. It hit the landing with a satisfying thump so I kicked it again, all the way down 3 flights of stairs. I kicked it past the Commons and down the sidewalk. Great, swinging kicks. Furious kicks. Gangland style "where's my protection money, punk" kicks. It started to rain and I kept kicking. I kicked the book a full 8 city blocks from campus to my house. I kicked it until the binding started to come loose and pages began to tear and be daubed with mud from my shoe.

My house was up a narrow flight of cement steps so now I began to throw the book, heaving it up over my head and smashing it into the cement. The binding was hanging by a thread. I was home but my wrath was not spent. If anything it was only more intense. I hated Zim, hated the Socratic method, despised Con. Law and loathed myself for making such a poor showing.

I grabbed a lid from the trash can, tossed the tattered book upon it and lit fire to the pages. The book burned for 12 hours. In the morning it was a smoldering heap of ash which was then tossed into the garbage where it rightly belonged. The grass beneath the trash lid was burned in a perfect circle which stayed dead all year, a perfect round totem to my hatred of that class.

Constitutional Law. Pfft.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

This Pretty Much Says it All

Happy Father's Day, Spouse.

The Child as Chorister

I Love a Parade

Today we celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi. Here's some Catholic trivia: our tradition holds that the Eucharist was instituted by Christ at the Last Supper. We mark that on Holy Thursday during the sacred Triduum (3 days) leading up to Easter. But since that is a pretty solemn time the liturgy on Holy Thursday is appropriately reserved. Therefore another feast was instituted to celebrate the Eucharist, taking place 2 Sundays after Pentecost (the formal end of the Easter season), when we're still in a party mood.

So, as has been done since medieval times, we make a grand fuss, including a procession after Mass that involves bagpipes, banners, streamers, children strewing flower petals and the Blessed Sacrament carried by our priest under a canopy. The point of this exercise is to literally take the sacrament to the street or as Father put it this morning, "out of the comfortable confines of these cathedral walls and into a world that is anything but comfortable". For a gal like me, who's all about ritual and symbol, this is one of my favorite feasts.


Saturday, June 17, 2006


Regarding the search for the missing Netflix disc:

I knew I'd seen it. I could not justify reporting it as missing because even though it was, in fact, missing it wasn't lost in the mail. It had entered my home and the missing happened after that fact. Sure that it had merely found its way into a pile o' papers (and possibly into a pile o' papers that had since been removed to the recycling) I:

looked through the papers in my desk (minimal amount, mostly already organized but did find a 4th receipt for film left at Costco)

searched through all the papers on the top of my desk (far more serious situation), all the papers strewn throughout The Child's room and the 2nd pile of papers in the kitchen. (Edy, I do NOT usually have this many hotspots...just been a little off the routine the last 2 days).

I then sorted through the miscellany that has accumulated on top of and behind the baker's rack that houses all the A/V equipment. Nothing.

Small items of furniture are moved away from walls. Nada.

There's only one place left to look. So out I go and begin to carefully and systematically remove every piece of paper from the big recycling bin outside (which, by the way, is 3/4 full). Zilch.

Now convinced that I'll have to report the disc as lost and pay $19 or whatever for a copy of "The Chosen" (which I like very much but am not sure I need to own), I throw in the proverbial towel and take The Neighbor with me to Trader Joe's. And Costco.

Arriving home I am greeted by a gleeful Child. "Mom! Mom! Guess what? You know that Netflix disc you lost? It came in the mail today!"

The advancing senility of her mother is of great amusement to her at present. Wait until she has to start spoon feeding me. That'll learn her.

It's Not Even 9 Yet

Odd thing about a week-day rising time of 5:30 a.m.: on the weekends you can sleep in for 2 hours and still wake up "early". Another odd thing, having an official 7th grader in our midst. She claims not to feel any different and requested apple strudel for breakfast. She had to settle for granola.

After school got out yesterday morning The Child and I met friends for dim sum. It was fantastic. Excellent little buns and dumplings abounded, washed down with tea and then beer. Little hard to chat with everyone over the large table and goodie laden lazy susan in the center but I was next to Karl and we talked about food. Specifically the business about how cuisine comes from the peasant class; that the notion of taking something offal (Charlie! I made a pun) and turning it into edible, even sumptuous food came out the economics of needing to use every bit of what one had, citing Anthony Bourdain, remembering elders eating pigs feet and all that. I do enjoy talking about food while eating good food.

Then The Child and I toddled off to purchase an organizer so she can practise with it before school starts again. She was totally on board with this and gleefully examined the variety available. She insisted I get one for myself (specifically the one with the Eiffel Tower and the dancing kitty in a beret that said "Bonjour!"). She was giddy about these purchases, examining both organizers in detail. She rapsodized about the various sections, delighted in the cunning little zipper pocket that contained a bookmark, post it notes and themed eraser (hers has a semi-anime thing going on with a panda and strawberries motif). "Oh," I said, "You and I have the same disease".


"Office Supplyitis".

She laughed.

"Office Supplyitis," I continued, "Characterized by a feverish delight in the constant purchase of notebooks, file folders and various organization systems". I added that there is no known cure for the condition but that symptoms can be alleviated by actually using the organizational items one purchases.

She laughed again. (OK, this is the cool part of your kid getting older. When she isn't thinking you are the dumbest person ever you can totally talk and joke on a semi-adult level. I love that).
Must run. Have misplaced a Netflix disc that we had intended to watch last night and desperately wish to have it in hand for this evening's viewing pleasure. Also must search for a moo-shu pork recipe as have not made it before but has been requested by Child. (Note: last paragraph significantly influenced by fact that have been re-reading Bridget Jones' Diary. v.g.)

Friday, June 16, 2006

Cue the Alice Cooper

Because in 2 1/2 hours "school's out for summer".

The Child and I have been having a lot of conversations about the organizational skills she needs to develop over the summer. (Ok, I've been talking and she's been nodding her head with annoyance). She'll have nearly 3 months to practise as she doesn't go back until the second week of September.

Meanwhile, I'm the one who really has to be organized. My day's are, on average, free flowing. I get a lot done but at my own discretion. If I'm going to keep up with my projects and impart significant lessons in how to be more organized and focused I'll have to model it.

I just hate that part of parenting.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Picture! On Blogger!

It's a miracle. Maybe. Here's the painting I was talking about in my first post. Maybe things are finally looking up in Bloggerland.

Breaking News

Holy moly! Hold on to your seats. Come July 2008 Bill Gates will no longer be involved in day-to-day operations at Microsquish! Says so right here in this press release! This is huge! Monumental! Life changing! Breaking news! Breaking news!

Frankly, I don't think anyone would have noticed if they hadn't said anything. He's not taking the paper clip with him, the software will still freeze up your PC and he'll still be a kabillionaire.

Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

Things I'm Giddy About

1. Battlestar Galactica

We've started the first disc of Season 2.0. Love it. Love everything about it. Love the characters, love the complications, love the way they turn religion and politics inside out, love the acting, love the ocassional humor. Love it, love it, love it.

2. JP

Partly because he hooked me on BSG. Partly because he pretends to having a bitter(sweet) chocolate outside but his center is gooey caramel.

3. New stuff

My friend Payson sent me a giant box yesterday. The return address said "Ralph Lauren Reclaimation Center". He's a wicked saavy shopper and finds the most spectacular deals on, well, everything. He's been cleaning house and sent a mess of shams and throws and such, including a lovely little bit of art which I currently have resting comfortably above the Viking. (I'd show it to you but fracking Blogger still won't let me post pictures. Argh!!!!) I probably won't be able to leave it there because all the cooking will make it icky. But it looks really awesome there so maybe I'll just leave it and wipe it down every evening when I shine my sink. Or move it. Anyway, I love Payson and not just because he gives me thousands of dollars worth of Ralph Lauren (although that doesn't hurt). I just love him because he's one of my dearest friends ever. I hate Texas because that's where he lives now.

4. Summer

School is out tomorrow at 10. (Why they bother with that 2 hour last day is beyond me. All the schools do it. It's nuts). There will still be pencils, there will still be books but there will be a reprieve on teacher's dirty looks.

(That was a cheap shot. I'm sorry. I didn't mean it. Much.)

5. Not cooking tonight.

You know I adore cooking but one still needs a break once in a while. Tonight is the Ministries dinner at church where everyone who's involved in parish programs gets together for a big potluck. It's always a swell time. I'm taking a couscous and black bean salad but that will be the work of 5 minutes so it doesn't count as cooking. Ok, maybe 7 minutes because I have to chop a red pepper. But the point is that when I leave the house this afternoon the kitchen will be clean and it will still be clean when we get home AND we will be home fairly early which means The Spouse and I can probably watch 2 episodes of BSG before bedtime AND I won't have to wipe down the painting. It is a charmed life.

6. The Dog

He's too adorable. This morning when my alarm went off he weaseled his way up to me, licked my forehead and laid his little shaggy head on my shoulder as if to say, "Come on, just 5 more minutes". Then he made a disgusting snorting sound in my ear.

7. Parent Club

We had our final meeting of the school year this a.m. We floated an idea by the Principal and she was all for it so next year we're going to experiment with having our monthly parent club meetings on Sunday after mass. We are sure it will increase attendance and promote community involvement. You see what this means, don't you? NO EVENING MEETINGS! (Except for Curriculum Night, but that doesn't count). Also, we saw our budget numbers and after the final fundraiser (concessions at Safeco Field at Friday's game...I'm not involved) we will have hit our nut for the year. We rock.

8. Support.

Y'all had some great suggestions and encouragement yesterday, which I really appreciate. Most of all, I appreciate that the other parents among you are not the yucky sort who are compelled to parade your perfect children and your perfect parenting before the rest of us. The best thing other parents can do for each other is be honest about the struggles even while celebrating the victories. Thanks for doing that. It takes a village.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Super Mom. Not so Much.

The Child came out of school all boo-boo faced and teary yesterday. Seems that she was told she couldn't go on today's field trip to the Art Museum because she didn't have her permission slip. In a classic case of "Oops, my bad", I went up to see The Teacher. The form has been sitting in my desk for something like 2 weeks and I just hadn't bothered to do my paperwork (this includes various summer activities for The Child. I hate filling out forms).

The Teacher said that she didn't think it was my problem, that The Child should have been in my face about it. Further, she said the real issue is that The Child still has some makeup work to do before the end of school and she's been a real pill about it. Classic example: she wasn't allowed the "fun" of cleaning the classroom because she had to finish a religion paper. She was very angry about it but finally sat down and did it. She turned it in and it was crap. Teacher tore it up, threw it away and said, "Try again". More drama ensued. The Child finally sat down again and 20 minutes later handed in a typed, spell checked and well done piece of work. So well done in fact that it would have received an "A", had it been turned in on time. Here's the irony. The Teacher plugs it into her grading software and shows The Child that, even though it was an "F" it was still worth 50 points as opposed to the 0 a missing assignment would net her. That F rose her grade an entire point.

This made Teacher even more angry. Here's a kid who is perfectly capable of getting "As" but because she doesn't bother to do her work when it's assigned she's getting crap grades. Teacher feels that she should stay in school today and finish her other missing assignments. If she does so she'll probably end up with her lowest grade being a "C" in any given subject. (Maybe not math...I think that's a wash out for this year). I didn't disagree with any of her logic and was on board with the whole not going thing. Then Teacher said the thing that slayed me: "It's your call. If you want to bail her out again you can but I think she should stay here". Bail her out. Again.

That hurt. A lot. Had it come from someone else I might have gotten angry. But I really like Mrs. S. I respect her as a teacher. I think she's been good for The Child. So I had to wrestle with it. Have I become the sort of mother I despise? Am I the reason my child has no sense of presonal responsibility? Because if it's true, it means I've failed. The essential thing we have to give our kids is the ability to manage their own lives. If I haven't done that yet am I going to be able to turn it around in 6 years? Where have I gone wrong?

Two notes: a) I essentially had this same conversation with the Cocktail Girls last Tuesday, which resulted in my crying, rather a lot, about screwing up. b) I don't want all you nice people leaving all sorts of messages about like "Of course you're a good mother and The Child will grow up to be a valuable, productive member of society and please don't beat yourself up like that". Because I have to face that "again" bit of the Teacher's statement.

In her first school The Child was bullied. Badly. It wasn't physical but emotional. Teasing, being told she was stupid, racial stuff, exclusion. I became her advocate. I had to go, repeatedly, to the administration and meet with teachers to get the problem solved. And when it was clear that it wasn't going to be, I took her out of that school. I found a better place for her, a school so markedly different in all respects that I have regretted, often, that I didn't move her sooner.

Then last year there was more advocacy. Adjusting to this new albiet superior environment was hard for The Child. She'd learned a lot of bad habits, socially and academically, at the first school. She had a lot of unlearning to do. Couple that with the dyslexia diagnosis and the result was regular meetings in which I was advocating for my child. It was all legitimate. I had to do it. I don't think that I was making excuses for her, I was just trying to help the teacher understand what we were dealing with.

But here we are now. She's happy at her school. She has friends. She's not bullied. And she's obviously bright enough to be mistress of her dyslexia and get good grades. But she's not bothering. And it's always someone else's fault. At this point my heart would warm with pride if just once I heard The Child say, "My bad".

So what's to be done? There's a line between advocacy and "bailing her out" but I apparently don't know where that is. Which makes me feel abundantly stupid. It's not like we don't require anything of her. It's not like we don't have rules. I think I enforce them consistently. If she loses a priviledge I don't make provisions and back down. So what am I getting wrong? Where does being a booster and helping your kid when she needs it cross over into doing too much?

I don't have any answers. Maybe you do. But it's clearly something I've got to figure out sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Summer Reading List

I don't know how substantive this is but I stuffed 500 envelopes in 2 hours. Considering that it was a 1300 piece mailing, I feel pretty good about that. Also met a nice young intern who went to the high school that's at the top of our list for The Child. He was the ASB president and everything. He spoke very highly of the place, which is always a wonderful thing to hear.

School is almost out but The Child already has homework for next year. Her lit. teacher sent home the summer reading list. She has to read 3 books and write 3 reports, due the first day of school.

I read in the summer, all the time. I'd take a book up into an apple tree and sit there for hours reading. Sometimes I'd lay a blanket under the fig tree and read there. (Easier to nap if the urge struck). I can't even think about The Diary of Anne Frank without thinking of that fig tree, the dappled light and the sound of drunken bees providing such a weird contrast to the tense, confining tone of the book. Even now there is a different quality to my summer reading. This is the time of year when I'm most apt to try on a new author, to step it up and read more than the usual book or two a month that seems to be all I can manage.

The Child's experience of books is so different than mine. She literally devoured books as a mere thing, chewing on the edges of what we called her "nibble books". She loved being read to and would sit still for stories for as long as I could stand to read. All the things you're supposed to do to instill a love of reading in your child, we did. She still likes the idea of reading but the reality is that her dyslexia makes it work. I don't know if reading will ever be the pleasure for her that it is for her parents. And that makes me really, really sad.

The reading list itself is rather amazing. Were you reading Frankenstein when you were in the 7th grade? The short stories of Saki? Hell, I just noticed he's got Dracula on here. (She is so not reading that. I read it as an adult and it creeped me out so much I could only read it in the daylight hours). What else? We have everything from Little Women (that is one frackin' boring book. Makes a much better movie), Cry the Beloved Country, The Count of Monte Cristo...ooh! A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. There's The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros...that's a beautiful book and The Old Man and the Sea. Oh, wow...he's got Emma on here. This is quite a list. I've read 25 of the books on this list (I counted) and encountered only 3 of them before high school. Some I didn't get to until after college. I'm impressed. And a little scared. I don't know that she's ready for the next level of fiction...Harry Potter is challenge enough. But that's why there are books on tape. Marvelous invention that. And what is amazing to me is that when she has a book on tape she totally reads along with's not like she just listens. Those tapes help her engage with the literature in a way she isn't capable of on her own. At least not at present.

It's going to be very interesting. She wants to start with Frankenstein so I've order the tapes. We'll see what happens. I admit, though, I'm kind of excited. Maybe this is the start of a whole new experience for her. Her lit. teacher is, himself, dyslexic. And he loves to read. I remain hopeful.



What I would like to do right now is have a large bowl of steel cut oats with brown sugar and cream. What I'll likely end up with is a pain au chocolat from Starbuck's on my way into Maria's. Just thought you'd like to know. Maybe I'll have something substantive to share when I get back. Or not. Depends on the coissant.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Election Results

A new student council has been elected and The Child is not among them. She and her partner did come in second in their race, which she found rather exciting. My last words on dropping her off this morning were, "Gracious in victory, gracious in defeat and remember, you're a winner to me". When I saw her in the afternoon she was behaving very graciously and didn't seem too disappointed.

Between you and me, I'm relieved. My involvement with the school via the Parent Club Executive Board demands a fair commitment of time to school activites as it is. Can you imagine what it would be like if she were on Student Council? We'd have to keep sleeping bags in the car.

When we talked about it later I admitted to feeling a little relieved. (I was quick to say that I would have been happy for her if she won). She smiled knowingly and said, "I'm glad, too", then came for a hug.

Now she is in the bathtub. She duct taped a mess of water balloons to the wall and popped them "so I can have a water fight with myself". I like a woman who knows how to cope with the vicissitudes of life.

There's always next year.

Shopping Tip

Oh my yord...I just may have to get myself one of these. Much amusement to be had over at the website.

An Open Letter to the GOP: Draft

Dear Republicans,

How are you? I am fine. Is it raining where you are? It is here. But that's what it does in June is Seattle. Have you ever seen "Battlestar Gallactica"? It is wicked good.

So anyway, last week you had that whole Federal Marriage Amendment thing going on. I know practically everyone with a brain the liberal media was all on about how your intent was to be devisive and avoid working on substantive issues. But I admit it; you got me thinking. In the past when you've ranted expressed you concerns about homosexuality in America I've been prone to just say "Piffle". And pretty much that's just because I actually know homosexuals and unfortunately, they're all pretty regular folks. None of them ever said a thing to me about an "agenda", tried to make me "go gay" or wear excessive amounts of leather. Actually, none of them wear leather. One does wear a lot of Ralph Lauren, though. And I guarantee his manicure is consistently better than mine. That, I grant you is, if not perverse, certainly infuriating. But I digress.

You are concerned about preserving the institution of marriage. A change to the Constitution making marriage between one man and one woman is your solution. But I've been thinking about it and here's the thing: at present our divorce rate is around 50%. Only men and women can marry. So, for now, it's the heterosexuals who are the real threat to marriage. I'm hetero and married so I've done some brainstorming on your behalf. Maybe this will help next time around.

1) Outlaw divorce. It's in the Bible, which you should like a lot. (A strict interpretation of Scripture is also going to reinstate slavery, do away with polyester and, sorry to say, criminilize cheeseburgers, but in for a penny, in for a pound).

2) Stone adulterers. (Although I'd like to humbly suggest that we not discriminate in this matter. Adultery is an equal opportunity sin so let's not have any of that punishing the woman and letting the man off scot free nonesense. Takes two to tango).

3) Unemployment is stressful and that stress can take a toll on a marriage. I think a federal ban on outsourcing would be a good place to start. You're going to have to insure that people can work, have a place to live and feed their kids if you want to promote and strengthen marriage. Some of your Big Business pals might not like that but you've got the moral highground here. Working too much can be a problem, too. Any company that doesn't ensure married employees are home by 6 every night should be fined.

(I was going to say you could get all the single people to work the long hours but then they'd never meet anyone and get married and we want that, right? Bit of a pickle but this is where that literal interpretation of the Bible/reinstatement of slavery thing might come in handy).

4) Shut down the chapels in Las Vegas. Allowing people to marry when they've been drinking at the craps table all night is NOT a ringing endorsement of the sanctity of the institution.

5) Provide federally funded marriage counseling. You should spare no expense to keep couples together. In that regard, you should probably do more to make sure people are prepared for marriage, so federally mandated (and funded) premarital programs would be a good idea. Seriously, it won't hurt anyone to have to talk about money and sex before they say "I do". Give people adequate communication skills so the bulk of their marital discourse isn't "I know you are but what am I?" Marriage isn't all romance and flowers. It's living under the same roof, sharing a bathroom and watching the man you love drink all your Mike's. It takes a lot of an ability to confront issues and the skills to resolve them amicably to keep two people together. That and his willingness to go to the store.

6) You're going to have to do something about Ann Coulter. My husband thinks she's hot. If that's not a threat to marriage, I don't know what is.

7) Show some real courage and take a stand on "celebrities" who breed without getting married. Personally, I'm way more offended by lionizing the humanitarian contributions of a husband who leaves his wife for a twice divorced woman with whom he then has a baby with "no immediate plans to wed" than I ever will be about Adam and Steve wanting to legally seal their commitment to each other.

I gotta wrap this up. Oprah's going to be on pretty soon. Feel free to incorporate any of these ideas into your next Marriage Amendment. Might give it more teeth. Now get back to work.



P.S. And when I say 'get back to work' I actually don't mean a federal ban on flag burning. But that's just me.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Oh Man

The Spouse drank my Mike's. And they think gays are a threat to the institution of marriage.

School Picnic

I'm exhausted, my feet are killing me and I'm about to start pullin' on a big tall Mike's.

The picnic ended up not stinking after all. The weather, after days of clouds and rain, turned fair. Better than fair. My SPF 15 was no match for the fairness thereof.

One of the things I just love about our school community is the way people step up. We had done a ton of planning and were on top of all the things we needed to be on top of. But then people started crawling out of the woodwork to supervise games, hand out prizes, make sure people got fed and cleaned up. It was awesome.

The dunk tank was a huge hit, with students taking revenge of teachers and the principal. Then a number of intrepid kids volunteered to be dunked, including The Child, and then got back on line to go again. It was a total blast.

Best of all was how appreciative everyone was. If you've ever coordinated something like this you know what I mean. Too often people come to a carnival or whatever, win their prizes and then beat cleats, as if it all magically just happened. But parents, faculty and kids were busy thanking us for all the hard work and that made it all worth it. I am, however, really looking forward to sleeping through the night tonight. And I'm making The Spouse grill the steaks for dinner. Mama needs to kick back now.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Saturday Musings

Turns out King Juan Carlos of Spain is also the King of Jerusalem. Shouldn't he be more hands-on?

How did I get on a prospecting list for a book club called "American Compass: The Conservative Alternative"?

I was clearing a potential hot spot from the dining room table when I discovered the above mailing. Do you have any idea how disturbing it is to see Ann Coulter first thing in the morning? Without caffiene? Her new diatribe book is called Godless: the Church of Liberalism but the cover is designed so that the word "Godless" is in really big print under a picture of Ann looking all slinky. And that's pretty funny. (Would have been funnier if the word was 'souless"). But I still didn't like seeing her first thing. Or ever.

Woke up in the middle of the night worrying about the stinking picnic. So dumb. Although now that I'm up I certainly do have to check some things off my list, like tally the votes for Volunteer of the Year and make sure we have beverages. I don't think anyone was in charge of beverages. Not good. Oh, and is anyone available to staff one of the carnival booths? Thanks, I appreciate it.

I have to mend a skirt for The Child that has been in my mending stash for months. (Not a huge fan of the mending). She wants it for her campaign speech. Gotta do that.

Amid all the Must Do's and Did I's here's something else I've been thinking about: writing. Specifically:

a) Writer Friend was very generous with his response to my manuscript and also noted quite accurately the one glaring thing I got too tired to fix but knew needed work. Which means I still need to fix it but he gave me thoughts on how to do that so I'm not so daunted. Still kinda sick of the project, but there you go.

b) I have work under final consideration for a book on being a "real mom" and yesterday the editor wrote to ask if I might submit some more material on a couple of specific questions. That was kinda exciting.

As you well know, this has been the year when I've finally taken myself seriously as a writer. Which means this is the first summer that I've been a writer. Summer. It would be real easy to say that I have to be more present to The Child and that my days won't be my own, blah blah. Partly true. Also true that I want to be summertime lazy and sleep in and all that as much as anyone else. But this summer won't be like the last 12. The only way to continue the flow of this whole glorious, unfolding writing thing is to preserve the early mornings. Those hours between 5:30 and roughly 8:30 will be the only assured time to write without interruption. So no weekday sleeping in pour moi. Funnily, I'm just fine with that.

Now I gotta resolve the great Picnic Beverage Crisis of '06.

Friday, June 09, 2006

You're Welcome

In response to our last post blogger JP, of Omaha, Nebraska writes:

"What is this elusive "status page" of which you speak and how does one find it?"

Good question, JP, and thanks for asking. Here's the link. Frankly, I happened on it while randomly poking around the dashboard so can't tell you exactly where it is. Put it in your "Favorites" though because something tells me we ain't out of the woods just yet.

Thanks for writing in. Happy blogging! (Insert smiley face here since fracking Blogger still isn't uploading pictures).

Blogger and Pictures

Just in case you fellow bloggers haven't read the Status page today, they know there's a problem uploading pictures and are working on it. Which is good news for those of us with obsessively large clip art files. For the record, the previous post was supposed to have a groovy black & white photo of a woman voting.

Student Government

The Child is running for Student Council. She and her friend JB are running for "Spirit Team". As I understand it, this will put them at the forefront of event planning and whipping up enthusiasm for said events. If anyone was born to an office, this is it.

I was in student government during college. I ran for Student Body Secretary with the slogan "Process AND Policy". I wasn't going to be just another pretty face taking minutes at Senate meetings, no siree. My ground breaking message resonated with the student population for I won in a landslide. The fact that the only person running against me was that year's student body president, who felt strongly that no one should just walk into a top office, is a mere historical footnote.

I was a good secretary and I DID have an influence on policy. I also got a 30% break on my tuition, met a ton of guys and scored some records. (The school radio station was defunct but we still received albums all the time. This was 1978. Some punkalicious goodness was crossing my desk nearly every day).

I was so compelled by the power of public service (plus all the guys and free records) that I ran for student Senate and served in that august capacity my senior year. I don't remember a single issue we discussed or policy enacted. I think we tried to legalize on-campus dancing.

The Child is very excited about the possibility of being on student council but it will be a tough race. This is one of the few that has significant competition with at least 2 other teams running as well. She's made posters, worked on a cute, spirited little speech and is thinking of taking cookies to her class on Monday with the word "Vote" spelled out in chocolate chips. For the record, she has no known ties to Jack Abramoff.

There's a funny thing that sometimes happens when she tries out for things. Part of me is encouraging. Part of me only wants her to do it if she's going to win. You know, just because I don't want her to be sad. But I keep my mouth shut on that point and she is, as she always has been, game for anything. Besides, win or lose it's a good experience for her. And frankly, this generation is pretty soft. They've been given trophies just for showing up for ball practise and had graduations from pre-school complete with cap and gown. My generation of parents, sorry to say, has been collectively so focused on "building self-esteem" in our children that we have cushioned them from the harder bits of life. Like competition and failure. Everybody, it turns out, is not a winner and we have done a bloody awful job of teaching that. (I'd like to say that The Spouse and I have attempted to distinguished ourselves from our peers in this regard and to some extent we have but it is pretty damn pervasive).

So losing is an option here and I've had to find ways to discuss this with her in a cushioning-for-a-possible fall sort of way without sounding like I don't think she can make it. So I've said things like, "Just because a person isn't elected doesn't mean they couldn't do a great job". To which she replied, "Like John Kerry." She's having fun campaigning and that in itself is fun to watch. And if she wins it will be an additional hammer which I will be able to hold over her head because we've told her that she must maintain a C average next year or she'll have to drop all her extracurriculars. She does not want that.

The election is on Monday and it will be free and fair. Paper ballots are still in use at St. G's and I'm confident the final vote will be legitimate and verifiable by U.N. Legitimate Election Verifier people. There was a Diebold salesman sniffing around in the hedges but The Principal sent Safety Patrol after him. He was pummeled with crossing flags until he cried. Don't mess with kids in hard hats.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Happy Happy Joy Joy

I have a new motto. Goes like this:

If you can't blog, clean.

My house is very shiny.

I'd rather blog.

Here's hoping that all these ridiculous Blogger problems are now resolved and life as we know it can resume.

Now if you'll excuse me I have to go help The Child color Student Council election posters.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Life Lessons

I've had a headache all day plus for some inexplicable reason our power was out for a few hours and Blogger was appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committe so posting wasn't an option. Which is fine. As I mentioned, I've had a headache.

Now that things are up and running again I wish to share something from my experience so that your life might be made just a little easier. I know that we all have to live and learn but certainly we can, if we are wise, learn from the mistakes of others. It isn't really necessary that we all stick our finger in a light socket while standing in a pool of water to accept that such behavior is detrimental. One electrocution should be enough. In that spirit please know that you should never, under any circumstances, buy cottage cheese with "no salt added". It tastes like crap.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Love: Seeing Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) talking on CSPAN about the stupidity of the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment. He didn't actually say "stupid" but you could tell he was thinking it.

Hate: Walking up in the middle of the night and not being able to get back to sleep for worrying about all sorts of details related to the end-of-the-year school picnic; none of which I can do a lick about at 3am anyway.

Hate: Getting up at 5:30 to go work-out, especially having only just fallen back to sleep.

LOVE: That first cup of coffee when I get back. You know those Folgers ads where a man or woman sniffs their coffee cup and then close their eyes in bliss? That's me. Only it's better coffee.

Love: It's a sunny day. June is typically a very wet month here and until yesterday had been holding true to form. This was good for all the little seeds and tomato plants in my garden. But on a day like today, when I have a lot to do, it's somehow easier to get energized when it's not all mucky and grey.

Hate Love: Ah, that's about it. I could say that I hate that today is going to be really busy and that a lot of the busy-ness isn't exactly stuff I feel passionate about doing. But it's all related to things I have chosen to do (Parent Club at school, helping Maria get re-elected) and I don't hate those choices. Plus busy days make me a) more appreciative of the ones that aren't so much and b) helps me stay focused. The fact is I'll probably feel very smug and accomplished by the end of today, when I sit down with The Neighbor and BBB for a Lemon Drop, both of which are things to look forward to.

Love: Babies. Hapamama and her Monkey Man, good friends from church, are welcoming their second child today. Welcome to the world, June Bug!

Monday, June 05, 2006


I gutted up today and sent my liturgy book to Writer Friend.

Hey, Pat

Blogger is acting like it belongs on the short bus today. But I'm not going to get frustrated. You get what you pay for and I'm happy enough to blog for free. So there.

But I also was having trouble leaving comments and I really, really have to say something to Pat. This morning he wrote of having nothing to write, sharing the dialogue with himself wherein he is challenging himself to write that which is profound or amusing or in some other way meaningful but that another picture of his child with a giant fish is hardly blog worthy. (I paraphrase).

My first reaction was simply that if this is the standard then I, for one, am screwed. You'll note that yesterday I posted a picture of a roasted chicken.

I understand Pat's dilemma. I feel the same way and I'm sure most of you do as well. We feel an obligation to our readership and to ourselves. Blogging is many things but for some of us it is one of the ways we work at our craft as writers. We throw stuff out there to see what works, to play with ideas, to hone our craft. Sometimes we bitch about Angelina Jolie. The point is that when we open up that "create new post" screen, we want to say something that isn't a complete waste of everyone else's time. Which is jolly thoughtful of us.

There is, however, also no accounting for taste. Many's the time I've posted something that I think is particularly good, one way or another, and it'll just sit there. Not a single comment. Nada. Zip. Thundering silence comes back to me from Blogtopia and I think, "What, did everyone move?" But hey. Post a picture of The Dog because I've got nothing else and man, does that resonate. I'm just saying.

I'm pretty easily amused. It doesn't much matter to me what my neighbors in Blogtopia have to say. At different times every single one of you have been jaw-dropping brilliant. You've made me laugh until people had to come make sure I was ok. You've made me think. You've made me glad to be alive. And sure, sometimes I'll read someone else's post and think, well, not much of anything. But that's ok. Because frankly, if you were all brilliant all the time then I'd start feeling really, really sorry for myself and no one wants that.

And, as I've made clear, I believe best blogs are the ones that have new content all the time. Sure, I have some links to blogs that don't post every day (I wish they did) and I check them in hopes of something but whatever. They post often enough that they keep me interested. But for some of you, and I think you know who you are, I actually start to worry if there isn't anything new. (And with good reason because I think every time that has happened one of you has been sick or sad and my worry was warranted). I don't care if it's a picture of a catfish in your bathtub...I want to know what's going on with you. I DO want to know that you have a pulse and that things are humming along because I care. And also because I know that one of those devestatingly wonderful posts is around the corner. Because in my experience, part of being a good writer is to keep writing. You have to write a lot of pages to get a few really great nuggets.

Here's another observation: I have encountered an astonishing lack of ego here in our little corner of Blogtopia. Of course we all want to be, in the words of a David Budbill poem:

"known and read
By everyone and have admirers
Everywhere and lots of money!"

But we are also terribly generous with each other. Inclinations to "be the best" take on a different meaning here. Look at everyone's links if you don't believe me. When one of us find a blog we like we don't say, "Oh crap, someone else who's smarter/funnier/more insightful/more talented than me. No one shall ever find out about this, ever, bwahhahhahha". No. We say, "Oh crap, someone else who's smarter/funnier/more insightful/more talented than me. Better share it with the gang". Sometimes I think we share the same brain but there is a lot of talent here and instead of hating each other for it we offer snaps and encouragement. Which at least makes us better people, if not better writers. I digress.

So Pat, all I'm saying is, keep it coming. Keep giving us wonky former Beltway insider observations on politics. Amuse us with those Onion-worthy satirical pieces on popular culture. And yes, between times post pictures of your adorable children surrounded by oversized fish and thug geese because the fact is, we’re going to be stopping by anyway so you might as well have the porch swept and the kettle on.

And that goes for the rest of you, too.


Sunday, June 04, 2006

Perfection 2

"That," said The Spouse, "is what they mean when they say 'rotisserie chicken'".

With some salt roasted potatoes, braised asparagus and a bottle of Chicken Wine (La Veille Ferme, a tasty little Cotes de Ventoux) it was perfection.


I, myself, don't strive so much for perfection. Quite a trap. There's a Russian proverb that says "Perfectionism is the enemy of good enough". This doesn't mean I don't have standards because I do. I'm just not going to beat myself up all the time because I'm not perfect.

I do, however, believe that perfection can be found in the world, in very simple places. It's a subjective concept but I don't expect a lot of argument about the perfection of this:

A perfect rose from my garden.

Friday, June 02, 2006


I get Postgame Alerts from the Mariners. This is because I find it fundamentally unbearable to watch them this season but I need to know.

Tonight's alert: Ms 4, Kansas City 0

This was cool for 1 second. Then I looked at KC's record. They are farking 13 and 39. THIRTEEN wins. So basically, if we can't beat this bush league squad we suck even worse than we already suck. Because at least we are 24 and 32.

One of these days I'm going to tell you about what it was like during the 2001 season and why to this day I blame Al-Queda for our not going to the World Series. For now, all I can say is that a "transition year" isn't supposed to last for 4 seasons.

Thwarted. Again.

Today was supposed to be the start of a long overdue Cat Weekend, with lots of lying around doing not much of anything. These restorative weekends are crucial to our mental health. I was going to have to slip out for a few hours for a fundraiser with Bill Clinton but hey, I was willing to take one for the team. But Bill had to reschedule so the plans for doing nothing were going forward.

Then I remembered that Sunday is Pentecost and we always have a dinner with the Carnevale/Easter collective. But that's almost doing nothing. We have to eat and The Spouse is in charge of the split pea soup (with broth rendered from the Easter ham bone); what's a few extra people around the table?

Then JJ called and asked if The Dog's sister could come spend the night. That hardly interferes with our nothing plans. The dogs entertain each other. It's not like we have to do anything except make sure they stay in the yard and don't bark at the Jews too much.

Then The Child came home with a notice that the oft-rescheduled end-of-the-year volleyball party was going to be tonight and oh, 6th grade parents are in charge of dessert.

So there you go. We're busy after all. When I informed The Spouse of these changes he said, "Well, at least we have a Caturday".

It's better than nothing.


Thursday, June 01, 2006

Head's Up, Miss Healthypants

Here's this week's contribution to the recipe file of one Miss Healthypants. Mostly because she's making Iwanski eat kashi. That's just wrong.

Toasted Bulghur Pilaf

1 c. bulghur
¾ c. chicken stock
1 whole cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
coarse salt
½ c. salted, roasted almonds, coarsely chopped
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground pepper

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add bulghur and toast, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant, 4-5 minutes.

Stir together toasted bulghur, stock, ¾ c. water, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, and ½ t. salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer until all liquid is absorbed and bulghur is tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Discard bay leaf and cinnamon stick (or, if desired, leave in as a garnish). Stir in almonds and oil; season to taste with salt and pepper.