Thursday, August 31, 2006

Party Time

Sling has a new template. Let's celebrate, shall we?

Congratulations, Sling. Welcome to the Exalted Order of the Koihead.



It would appear (and I'm saying this very quietly so as not to provoke any malevolent computer deities) that my email is working again, both ingoing and outgoing. My joy is unbounded.

Also, the fruit fly situation is not yet completely resolved but it seems that some of my strategies have mitigated the strength of the insurgency. Their leader, Droso Philia, has issued a statement claiming some sort of "moral victory" but I go by the numbers. There are a lot fewer of them today and that makes me the winner. Neener neener.

Bring it On

There is no denying it. Nature, being a lass who cares very little for human trifles like clocks and calendars, has decided that autumn will come to the Northwest sooner rather than later.

It is a clear, lovely morning. The warm sun is winking at me just over the roofline of The Neighbor's house, coyly peeking through the massive cherry tree. But a cool breeze is blowing and for the first time all summer, I have to wear a sweater while I sit out here with my coffee. It's not a cooling breeze, like the sort we prayed for in the dog days. It's the sort that is eager to start pulling leaves to the ground. The apples are beginning to blush, the grapes - well, just look at those grapes. One more warm week and I expect it will be time to make the first batch of jelly.

I wasn't ready a week ago but I am now. Whenever I sit to plan the week's menu I'm drawn to the recipes for chicken & leek pie and burgandy stew. I grow weary of inventing one more twist on grilled chicken salad. Instead of cool fruit tarts I want to make a big, hot plum cobbler. I should send The Child and Best Friend out berrying.

It rained yesterday. Not a lot and it came inbetween a day and early evening of sun but the ground is still wet. The grass, which has been dried into hay, seems relieved. It might well be ready to try turning green again.

It has been a long, lazy summer but I'm ready for a change. I'm ready for regular bedtimes, for sending The Child off to master algebra and read Shakespeare while I keep to my quiet, empty house. I'm looking forward to long blocks of uninterrupted time with books and papers. Autumn is coming and that means baking bread, seeing BBB married off, pulling out sweaters and fresh episodes of "Gilmore girls". I'm ready.

Change is good, especially the rhythmic changes of the year. Autumn is coming and she's welcome.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Best Friends Since First Grade

She was a gift.

Halfway through 1st grade she joined the class. Already guaranteed popularity by virtue of the fact that the class was desperately short of girls, all the little misses reached out to her.

There was a potential glitch. The other girls, as I think I've mentioned in previous posts, were brats. Excluding The Child was one of their favorite games. Maneuvers to annex the new girl were in full swing. But it didn't work. She took a shine to The Child. And when she was told (yes, this really happened because BF told it to me) that she shouldn't have a playdate with The Child because "she's weird and you won't like her" she ignored them. With a little trepidation mind you, but ignored them. "And," she told me, "she was so funny and imaginative and nice and I had so much fun with her and I thought, 'What are those girls talking about?'"

So despite the plotting of evil little wenches, New Girl became Best Friend. Nearly every day for 2 and a half years either she was at our house or The Child was at hers. Weekend sleepovers were practically guaranteed. Best Friend preferred to come here because she was living with 3 brothers and a little sister and she liked the "peace and quiet". She became my other child. I loved her, not just because she had befriended my child when she most needed it but because she was a fun, sweet, helpful, darling kid. She fit into our crazy family and it almost seemed wrong of a Friday night to have our pizza and a movie if Best Friend wasn't there.

The two of them were quite a pair. Best Friend was tall and always looked at least a year older than she was, though she's only 3 months older than The Child. She has long, thick, dark hair and big brown eyes and a round face. The Child by contrast is blond and blue-eyed and thin as a rail. She was also a good foot shorter than Best Friend, a gap that has been made up in the last year so that they are almost the same height and I expect The Child will end up being the taller of the two. Best Friend has a gravity to her, as the oldest girl in the family, that The Child doesn't possess. But Best Friend brings it out in her and The Child, of course, pulls out all Best Friend's silliness and imagination.

From the time they were 6 they could practically read each other's minds. They flow in and out of play and projects and dancing as if they are one person. Seriously, I can only ever remember 1 fight between the two of the them. They might snark at each other from time to time but they have always, from the beginning, been able to work things out without convening a summit.

After 3rd grade, Best Friend's family moved to the other side, just barely, of the mountains. This was the saddest, most devestating thing that could ever have happened to The Child. She mourned for weeks. It broke my heart, too. (And frankly, that's when I should have moved her to a new school but I didn't, hanging in there for one more year. Bad mommy). But here's the thing: those girls really were true friends. And true friendship, even if you find it when you are little tiny, is not something easily threatened by distance. They stayed in touch, calling each other regularly. There were visits back and forth, sometimes for a day because the family happened to be in town, sometimes for a week of visiting each other during the summer. They both have made new friends but the bond holds. And I think it is an amazing thing, really. I have friends who I only see but once a year, if that, and when we are together it is as if no time passed. But that is because our friendships are based on shared values and interests as well as history. But children, so often, base their friendships on shared experiences as much as anything. Which would argue that The Child and Best Friend would grow apart over time. But it hasn't happened yet.

They are only 12. A lot can and will happen in the next 6 years, in the next 26 years. Childhood best friends don't always stay best friends, especially when they aren't living in the same town. But Best Friend has been a beautiful gift to The Child and to our family. No matter what the future holds we all have the fondest memories. I'm just glad that for now the girls are still making more of them.

A Frustration and A Dream

The email troubles continue. This morning I booted up my computer to find that my incoming messages are now no longer working. I know this because I always start my day with with an inbox containing the NY TImes and the Writer's Almanac, a dozen messages from and myriad spam messages. Today? Not so much as one hot stock tip or means of acquiring pharmaceuticals cheap. I need a backup email account.

I slept through the alarm, thus missing my morning workout. This owes in no small part to having lain awake for several hours in the middle of the night mulling over things over which I have no control (HATE that) and when I finally did fall back to sleep I had a very weird dream:

Some chappie with an odd name came to tell me that a friend wasn't what he seemed and was actually living in a state-run facility in one (very undecorated) room because he was a perverse danger to society and should be avoided. I couldn't believe that on the mere word of this strange chappie who seemed to know so much and sure enough, a little investigation proved that the friend had been bugged by the NSA and they put him in this jail-like situation because he was on record as hating George W. Bush. So I spent most of the dream trying to free my friend but in the meantime I went to a mall and bought cigarettes for The Child (????? - I know, even in my dream I thought that was pretty whacked. Maybe I bought them for the imprisoned friend but it is still weird that I would give them to her to hold). Anyway, the smokes had to be hidden because on our way to the elevator we ran into an old college buddy who was shopping with his parents and then I was at home (and no one was smoking, so that's a relief) and the Very Creative Neighbor down the street came through with a pack of children who were fundraising for their school by erecting a cardboard set on your lawn and singing "Another Opening, Another Show". It was pretty good so I went into the house to get the checkbook and looking out the dining room door saw that the roof of the Neighbor's house was covered with wet toilet tissue. I was just getting ready to yell at The Child for what was obviously her idea of a prank when I realized the tissue was in our yard too and then I looked up and it was actually snowing big, fat, blanket-the-world-in-no-time flakes, which was lovely so we (meaning us and The Neighbor) all gathered on the deck to watch it and The Spouse started sobbing and saying, "Why didn't I put up the Christmas lights? It would be so Norwegian!", meaning the glow of the lights on the new-fallen snow and then I woke up.

So I missed my workout. Which is unfortunate because we had pasta AND garlic bread for dinner last night, which isn't really in my diet plan at the moment. But The Child's Best Friend Since First Grade is visiting us and I wanted to make her favorite pasta. Unfortunately, tonight, she has requested pizza. I have to take The Dog on a power walk. Maybe 3 power walks. And not eat. Yeah, that's the ticket.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Routing the Insurgency

If I've learned anything in life it is that it is easier to quarterback from the sidelines than it is in the game. That's what makes war so hard. Well, one of the things. Because you might be very clear about your objectives. You might be sure of the rightness of your cause. You might have confidence in your generals and the strength of your troops. But you are still up against an enemy, an insidious enemy. Just when you think you have figured them out, they come up with another strategy. You destroy a stronghold and they find 3 more. You plug away, throwing the best you have at them, the body count grows but they just keep coming at you.

So despite the fact that I have put all the fruit and vegetables in the fridge, am taking all peelings and cores straight to the compost, despite setting cider vinegar traps that fill with their floaty little bodies, despite whacking wildly with a giant fly swatter, we still have a fruit fly infestation going on that is just bugging the snot out of me.

Despite my frustration, I will spend all day, if I have to, armed with intelligence from Google, to ferret out their hiding places, stop their little meetings and break their stranglehold on my kitchen. I could just wait for a killing frost but that could be weeks, even months from now. I can't cut and run because I'm responsible. Oh, but what was I thinking? Why did I think it was a good idea to leave out a bowl of plums in the first place? This could really hurt my legacy.

Curses, Foiled Again

So it turns out that my outgoing email isn't working. It has been down or uncooperative or whatever since the weekend. Which explains why:

Jon might think I don't want to tell him stories.

Edy could be wondering if I'm dodging an accountability pact we made.

Ree is desperate about the dinner she wants me to help her with on Saturday.

Dana suspects I've forgotten we're to have lunch or something when he's in town next week.

JP is saddened to think himself unworthy of joining the Exalted Order of the Koihead.

Of course he isn't. (I like the jaunty way he wears that, don't you?)

And, of course, I want to share stories, keep pacts, help with a teaching dinner and go to lunch.

I also want to make my book deadline today. Fortunately The Neighbor is plugged in and letting me use her computer for that.

I suppose there is something dangerous about being so plugged in that I feel dysfunctional without my email. But with friends strewn throughout the world it is a necessary part of modern life. I feel lost without it. Hopefully, we'll get to the bottom of the problem before too much longer.

Oh, and yes, Edy, I really didn't get my driver's license until I was 40. Any other blog worthy questions?

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Monday, August 28, 2006


Today will be a write-y write-y day. I have a new assignment from the Real Moms Speak editor, with a deadline for tomorrow. Meanwhile, The Child and I have some editorial work to do on her otherwise very well done book reports so that she can print them up, tuck them into her fresh new homework folder and spend the next two weeks just hanging until school starts.

Today will also be a clean-y clean-y day. In the summer months I’m not hyper conscientious about things like sweeping and dusting. People drag grass and sand and what-have-you into the house all the time and it just doesn’t seem important to stay on top of it. More will be coming tomorrow and besides, we spend most of our time outdoors anyway so who’ll notice? But despite my efforts to ignore it, fall is in the air. The mornings are cool and there is that thing, that snap at the back of the breeze, even on hot afternoons, that signals we’re tilting away from the sun after all. There’s still a wisp of summer left but the move back indoors is upon us. And that makes me more diligent about attending to smudges and dusty molding and even, Heaven forefend, mopping.

The sick and twisted thing about this is that I really love cleaning my house. I don’t necessarily love every little bit of it (scrubbing the bathtub springs to mind) but I love the results. I love the peace and order of clean counters, wine glasses twinkling on a shelf, being able to see the ebony black shine of the piano when it is free of dust. I love to walk into the house and see the dining room table with a fresh cloth, a bowl of flowers, the candle sticks and nothing else; no stacks of mail, no pairs of shoes left up high out of The Dog’s reach. I enjoy looking out a window free of dog nose smudges and handprints.

I’m not obsessive. You will likely always find sticky spots and dust bunnies and you won’t have to look hard to find them. You cannot, I repeat, you cannot eat off of my floor. There is a definite line between the pristine look of a house that suggests no one is actually allowed to live here and the acknowledgement that life is, in fact, lived and sometimes messy. Very messy. I think I negotiate that line pretty well. My house doesn’t have to look as if it is about to be photographed for House and Garden. I simply take a lot of pleasure in having it look inviting and peaceful. I keep the jangle of clutter off the coffee table so that you have room to put up your feet. Coffee?



Editor's Note: It's like I always say, girls. If you can, marry a programmer. Thanks, Spouse, for the assist. All is well.

I added two new links for those of you who are as into Project Runway as The Neighbor and I are. However, both of them blog in typepad and while the links are there, clicking on them won't take you to their page. Anyone know what I need to fix in the code to resolve that?

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Saturday Morning

I was without my email yesterday. I hate that. It makes me feel very out of touch. I also had trouble with Blogger and was very surprised to see that my post had actually published because when I hit the "Publish Post" button I got a "cannot find the page" screen. Imagine my surprise when I finally got my email and saw all the comments. I also couldn't get to most of my favorite blogs and if I could get to them, I couldn't leave comments. I have decided to blame all of this on the fact that Pluto is no longer a planet and this demotion is now wrecking havoc with my astrological charts. Talk about a disturbance in the Force.

Poor Pluto.

According to my calendar, which is more reliable than my astrological chart, this is the last weekend we have before things start getting crazy. September is already full. So much for the lazy, hazy days of summer. I intend to savor the nothingness of this weekend to the fullest, right after I go help The Neighbor pick out fixtures for her pending remodel.

Oh, and the Great Window Crisis of '06 was happily resolved yesterday. Mr. A has a spanking new window and The Child very cooperatively swept off his driveway, the initial act of the Pound of Flesh I'll be extracting from her. I've decided that she is going to be responsible for detailing my car once a week for which she will be credited $10 toward the $500 it cost to replace the window. Yes. It will take her nearly a year to pay off the debt. But she needs to understand the full weight of that expense. She does, however, continue to get big snaps from everyone around her for the responsibilty she demonstrated through this experience. I'm very proud of her.

Have a great weekend.


Friday, August 25, 2006


That’s Edy's word, shorthand for the subject of calls and emails that won’t be published. They aren’t secrets necessarily, just bits of life too personal for general consumption.

What’s interesting to me about this is the variable notion of standards for what one won’t blog about. It doesn’t matter to me what you chose to tell. It’s not a judgment. Just because I don’t doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. I’ve encountered some blogs wherein the writer tells everything. Nothing is sacred. It’s not that I find such entries particularly shocking; it’s just that there are things I won’t even put in the old-fashioned leather and paper journal I still keep.

Anyway, I started thinking about what I won’t blog about.

Fights with The Spouse. They don’t happen very often anymore, though we’ve had our periods of unmitigated hooha. (We’ve been married for nearly 15 years and we’re both strong willed. You do the math). I could see it being appropriate some time to blog in a general way about those periods, why we were tense and how we got through it. But the snarky “he said, I said”, not so much. In the first place, it wouldn’t be fair to him. In the second, I’m not as perfect as my writing about such an event would lead you to believe. In the third, he has his own blog.

Bodily functions. Unless I had to take a random drug test and failed because they found traces of opium (I like poppyseed dressing), I can’t imagine that to be an interesting topic.

Illness. More specifically, the details. Sure, I’ll tell you if I’m sick but you’ll likely be spared the manifestations of that illness in all it’s Technicolor glory because, ewww.

Super personal stuff about The Child. She knows I blog about her. She knew, for example, about yesterday’s window post. (And she appreciated everyone’s kind words of support for her good choices. And thank you for that because there’s nothing so powerful as affirmation). But one of these days she’s going to fully consider the implications of Mom having a public blog and she isn’t going to want me to tell you everything. So I probably won’t. If she asks me not to. And I feel like compiling.

What won’t you write about?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Late Afternoon Musing

I was catching up on some long neglected ironing this afternoon. It is one of those rhythmic tasks, the sort that lulls you into a quasi-meditative state. My mind was running through assorted yet-to-dos: thawing chicken for dinner, planning the menu for next week, finding the number for the optical department at Costco. But as I ironed, as the wrinkled became smooth, I found myself considering deeper things, ineffable things. Things like what the leaders of the G8 would look like as koi head....

Rite of Passage

It was bound to happen.

I sent The Child off in the early evening with bags of hand-me downs for the M St. Gang. She returned and called out, asking if she could speak to me in her room. She sounded just fine and I figured she was going to angle for a sleep-over or something. But when I got to her room she was engulfed in sobs, clutching her stomach, face distorted in pain.

"Oh! Mommy! I broke a car window onaccidentandI'msososorry! I'll pay for it! I'll do whatever I have to do, Mommy...." and then she was overtaken again by crying.

I told her to stay in her room and went to check my car. Which was fine. A glance at The Spouse's jeep showed all was well there, too.

I returned to her for clarification. "No, Mommy. Not our car. Someone else". By this time, by the way, she had retrieved her piggybank and was clutching it to her belly.

We went out of the house and she took me down the street to a neighbors, lovely Orthodox people who live in the house that Kenny G grew up in. (Yeah, our block's claim to fame). And it's bad, my friends. It looked like she'd put a bullet through it...nice big hole with all -and I mean all - of the safety glass pebbled and frosty, just ready to collapse at the merest vibration.

"You know what you have to do, right?" I asked her.

"I have to tell Mr. A and tell him I'm sorry," she sobbed. "I swear I'll pay for it, Mommy", she added, holding out the piggy bank as evidence of her sincerity.

I took the bank from her. "Honey, trust me, you don't have enough in there. We'll work it out".

So we go to the door and Mr. A comes, still chewing as we'd interrupted dinner. The Spouse, who'd joined the procession by now, took the lead and apologized for the interruption but that The Child had something to tell him.

Still hysterically crying she sobs out, "I'm so sorry Mr. A. I brokethewindowofyourcar. I'msososorry".

We go to survey the scene and Mr. A, like me, was a little surprised at the extent of the damage. But he put his hand on her shoulder and said, "Alright now. You can stop crying, honey. It's just a thing and things can be fixed". (God bless Mr. A and all his decendents forever. Selah).

Of course, he's about to leave town with his wife and the car was going to be used by his son who'll be watching the house so The Spouse is making the arrangements today for one of those auto glass places with vans to come and deal with it as soon as possible.

Back home I do some hugging and consoling while The Spouse looks at on-line quotes. Then he and I have a post-mortem conference.

"It's going to cost at least $500".


A pause to absorb it all.

"She feels really bad".

"I don't want her to feel bad. Things like this happen".

"No," I said, "I'm kinda glad. It means she has a conscience. It means she knows right from wrong. It's good that she feels remorse and told the truth right away and took responsibility".

"Yeah. I guess we're teaching her the right things. I still wish she didn't feel bad".

Nice daddy.

Later, she told me that she wanted to bake a cake for Mr. A but she can't because they keep kosher. So she's going to write a note and draw a picture of the cake she'd make him if she could.

We've all done it, haven't we? Put a baseball through someone's plate class window, knocked Great-grand Nana's heirloom teapot to the floor while scrounging for cookies we were told we couldn't have. It's a part of growing up. There's nothing quite like it, though, the first time you really wish you could turn back time and alter just one little thing so something much bigger and worse doesn't happen. And if you're fortunate, the neighbor isn't a bad ass who yells at you and makes it worse and your parents don't cane you for being, well, a kid.

Oh. And how did she manage to bust out the window in the first place? Skipping rocks on the sidewalk.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Just for Iwanski

Ask and it shall be given. Within reason, of course.

Thank You, Blogger

The Child as koi.

Mario's pork goodness.

No Big Deal

There is a universal law of parenting which states that a child's behavior is negatively modified in direct proportion to the degree a parent audibly acknowledges positive changes. Therefore, if you say, "I think she's turned a corner" or "Hasn't he been a dream lately?" the child about whom you made that comment will immediately melt down, act out or otherwise remind you that you should have bitten your tongue and been content to offer up silent thanks.

This law is in operation regardless of your motives. You don't have to be bragging. You don't have to be thinking (very naively, by the way) that you're permanently over any sort of developmental hump. You can, apparently, think it all you want. Just. Don't. Say. It. Out. Loud.

So the recent evening of drama was a completely predictable result following The Spouse making aforementioned corner turning comment. It was, I hasten to add, however the first significant drama trauma of the entire summer. Which would give credence to his comment. He just shouldn't have said it Out Loud.

Therefore, when I tell you that The Child has been making her bed and getting dressed first thing every morning, I'm just making conversation. When I note that, after 5 years of her wanting to grow out her hair without bothering to brush it, she is now coming out each morning perfectly coiffed, it is of no consequence. The fact that she is done with two of her book reports? A trifle. Her getting up at 6:30 this morning of her own accord and settling down to finish reading the last of her books without being told? A mere little nothing. Her clearing the dinner table last night without argument? (Big yawn of piffley boredom).

I note these things with insouciance and even a dollop of indifference.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

We Have a Winner!

Congratulations to Grish, who guessed that it took 3 hours, 47 minutes and 23 seconds to redo The Child's room yesterday. Impressive calculation, dude. The actual time was 3 hours, 45 minutes and 27 seconds. Well done! You will be receiving your prize shortly, a lovely collection of dust bunny covered beads in assorted colors and some shiny star shaped barettes. You also receive immunity in the next challenge, which is cleaning out the contents of her dresser drawers. Thanks for playing!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Hazard a Guess

How many hours do you think it took to rearrange/reorganize/bail-out/clean The Child's room?
Factor into your calculations:

She was helping.

We stopped for food.

No such reorganization is possible without eventually having to play some variation on "Trading Spaces" and/or "While You Were Out".


The Weekend Report

It is the nature of the Blogger gods to be capricious. Therefore, you will not be regaled this morning with photos of The Child as koi, a photoessay of the Columbia City neighborhood parade (for which The Child was dressed as koi) nor mouthwatering photographs of the luscious Italian meal we prepared last night for our friend Sarah and her new husband, Erick. More's the pity:

Because The Child made a very cute koi. One of our neighbors, who is very active in the community, had the idea to create a "peace bridge" (apparently this models one in the Japanese Gardens) which would wheel down the street, stopping at intervals for spectators to cross. She found someone to engineer the thing and then spent the summer making koi costumes for a bunch of kids, who would "swim" alongside. It was actually rather moving, when all is said and done, and was a big hit with a crowd. They won the award for "Most Creative". (Possibly not hard to do when most of the other "floats" were things like hydroplanes being pulled on trailers behind plumbing company trucks, but still).

Because the parade itself, for all the hydroplanes and drum corps, was a little slice of Americana and frankly, I never really think much about the importance of neighborhood identity and celebrating history. Our 'hood is our 'hood and it has a lot of wonderful attributes but one just takes them for granted. It was lovely to see everyone coming together, participants shouting out to the people they knew in the crowd and all that. It was fun. And we got a 2 for 1 coupon to Geraldine's, which is a restaurant we like very much. All good.

Because the dinner last night was fantastic. Sarah used to be our neighbor in our old apartment and has known The Child since birth. She moved to Phoenix years ago, went to law school and is now a city prosecutor. She married a terrific guy and we liked him immediately. Wine flowed, much food was consumed and laughter was the lynchpin of the evening. It's always nice when your friends marry someone you can like as much as you like them.

But I can't show you the pictures so you'll just have to take my word for the cuteness of koi children, the charm of a neighborhood parade and the bon appetiteness of the meal. It was a good weekend.

Here's the recipe for last night's entree, a recipe from Mario Batali:

Braised Pork in the Black (Barsato di Maiale Nero)

1 (4 pound) pork loin, tied at regular intervals with butcher's twine
2 t. kosher salt
8 fresh sage leaves
2-1/2 oz. pancetta
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 c. flat parsley leaves
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups red wine
1 (28-oz) can tomatoes and their juice, crushed
black pepper to taste

Season the pork with the salt, rubbing it into the meat, and place the sage leaves around the loin, secured under the twine. Set aside for 30 minutes.

Mince together the pancetta, garlic and parsley to form a smooth mixture. In a large, cast-iron casserole or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and add the pork paste, cooking until it has melted into the oil. Place the pork in the pan and brown on all sides so that a uniform crust is formed. Add 1 c. red wine and reduce by 3/4. Add the remaining cup of wine and the tomatoes, cover, and bring to a low simmer. Cook for 2 hours, until meat is fork tender.

Remove meat from casserole, allow to rest 15 minutes, and remove string and sage leaves. Serve in 1/3 inch thick slices and top with tomato sauce from casserole.

The Menu
Almond Stuffed Green Olives with Orange Zest
Grilled Figs with Proscuitto on Rosemary Skewers
Braised Pork in the Black
Tortellini in Tomato Cream Sauce
Green Beans & Fava Beans with Onion, Bacon and Orange Zest
Italian Plum Tart
I forgot to serve the en salade misto. No one cared.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Why I'll Need a New Hobby

In 2001 the Seattle Mariners were the American League champions, having won 116 games in the regular season. The only other team to have won that many games was Chicago, in 1906. (And technically, one of those games was a forfeit so the Ms actually have a better record, in my estimation). Right. It is my firmly held conviction that, had 9/11 not happened, the Ms would have gone to and won the World Series. Unfortunately, the first team they faced in the playoffs was the New York Yankees and I don't care what anyone said at the time, it was a series of pity losses.

In 2002 and 2003 they finished the season with 93 wins. They haven't managed to do anything comparable since. The team has changed substantially since 2001 (way too many chaps from the 2001 team are in Yankee pinstripes) and up until yesterday, there were only 2 guys still on the team for whom I had any particular affection.

And now the Ms have traded Jamie Moyer to the Phillies. Jamie is in his early 40s, rather "old" to still be in the game, especially as a pitcher. He hasn't had a great season, 6-12. But in the 11 years since he's been with the team he has a record of 145-87. And he's a great guy. A stand up guy. A guy who is very involved in the community. He's got a slow, soft pitch but when he's on his game the best hitters in the game can't figure out what do with it. But he's old, the Ms stink and apparently 2 right-handed minor leaguers offer more hope for turning the team around than he does.

So it goes.

But this means that the only guy left on the team who I even care about is Ichiro. And he's young, he hates to lose and my guess is that as soon as his contract is up he's going to want to go somewhere else. Probably to the fracking Yankees. Which would really hurt.


Saturday, August 19, 2006

Quotations of a Tweenage Drama Queen

"Everyone was picking on me!"

(Translation: "You wouldn't let me unpack the precious china that Uncle Payson sent but I kept trying and when you finally raised your voice Papa came in and told me to find something else to do").

"It's allllll my fault!!!"

(Translation: "My friend's snake died and even though I haven't seen the snake for 3 weeks and have absolutely nothing to do with it's care and feeding and even though stuff dies eventually I feel bad for my friend plus it reminds me of the time my frog died because it was too hot").

"You don't understand! You NEVER understand!"

(Translation: "I am really pissed off that you won't late me stay up until midnight watching a bloody show on the Disney channel, even though we both know it will be rerun 412 times between now and noon tomorrow").

"Now I'm going to fail!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

(Translation: "I can't find my 3rd book report book even though it's got to be in here somewhere. I'm just so tired and angry and frustrated and sad for my friend that I can't see straight).

(In a baby voice): "Tell me a story, mama".

(Translation: "Tell me a story, mama. When I get like this sometimes it scares me. I need to know that you still love me no matter what, even when I act like I'm insane").

So I told her a story about a dandelion eating unicorn who, after being rebuffed by a cat, fell in love with a beautiful young woman and who, upon kissing her, turned into Dylan Sprouse, star of that fabulous Disney sit-com, "The Suite Life of Zach and Cody". I know my audience.


Friday, August 18, 2006


Warning: The following post will only be interesting to the girls in the audience. Thank you.

The Child and I had lunch today with another former boss of mine, Heidi. I'll have more to say about her (very good stuff) in another post. Suffice for now that after a very pleasant lunch, The Child and I returned to all the stores I'd perused the other day, looking for my Mother of the Junior Bridesmaid dress.

We went into Ann Taylor and The Child took over, informing the shopgirl that her mother was going to a wedding (that she was in, by the way) and I needed something nice to wear, maybe in brown (because the colors are apple red and chocolate brown and my dress is red, by the way). Shopgirl was very sweet and very able. She pulled a few things, mostly from the sale rack (don't you just love her already), I found a few things and off we went to the dressing room.

I tried on a nice enough dress but it was a little fancier than I wanted and I have plenty of fancy clothes. But the second try was IT. It wasn't brown, it wasn't a suit (which is what I'd been thinking of all along) but it was the most perfect "little black dress". It looked very plain on the hanger, with thin straps, a fitted bodice and a simple pleat in the front. It's a cotton/silk blend (which is going to get me in dutch with those who enjoy quoting Leviticus) and at the waist there is a grosgrain ribbon with a tiny bow in the front. It is so Audrey Hepburn (the real one, not my sister) that I can hardly stand it.

See how pretty? And not only was it the perfect dress, not only did it look super fantastic on me, not only was it a size 8 (I'm kvelling now) but it was on sale! On sale as in "I couldn't have bought it at the Gap for less" on sale.

So now I'm all set for the big day, and many subsequent big days plus cocktail parties and late lunches not to mention, since I love it so much, cleaning the house, shopping for groceries and attending parent/teacher conferences.

Inside Joke

So the other night, a bunch of us bloggers got together. Charlie was just back from holiday, having gone to China to hunt cats. JP had been missing him so he called up me & Amy and we decided to take him down to the local for a pint. We knew Pat would be there anyway so off we went.

It was very spur of the moment but I still don't think that excuses Amy and I pulling off on our way there to do our makeup in the Chevron ladies room. What were we thinking? The lighting was horrible and in our excitement to see Charlie again we totally neglected to apply a little foundation on our necks. Mary Kay is spinning in her grave.

Not that it mattered. JP is gay, Charlie was tired and Pat, well, Pat was a little deep into the sherry if you know what I mean. He didn't even mention my superfantastic hat and he usually always notices those sorts of things. Actually, it's a good thing he didn't notice our makeup...he can be really vicious when he wants to be. And besides, we weren't there to be glamor pusses. It was all about sitting at Charlie's feet (which Pat took literally as the night wore on), listening to his tales in that fantastic Scottish brogue and wishing like hell we were all half as talented a writer as he is.

I wish I hadn't had that 3rd fried Mars bar and I'm not sure Amy enjoyed the haggis-tini as much as she said. But we forgot all about our discomfort when JP got up on the table and did a medley of his favorite Hillary Duff tunes. That boy loves his pop music. All in all, a great evening.

Editoral Note: Ok. I suck at photosmacking. What are you going to do? And I couldn't find a decent picture of Pat on his blog so I kypped the bandito from his brillant photo essay on immigration instead. I think that's pretty funny (both the use of Bandito and the essay). I am easily amused.

Editorial Note 2: When I said I couldn't find a decent picture of Pat I didn't mean to imply that he looks like a hodag or something. The photos were all just too tiny. So I used Bandito instead. And besides, he's using one of the bandito shots for his avatar so he obviously feels a kinship with the little fella. It's symbolic.

Editorial Note 3: We so did too try to call you. It's not our fault if you had your cell turned off. Next time, ok?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

June & Edy

I had lunch yesterday with June. I worked for her, way back in the mists of time, when she ran the Continuing Education program at my alma mater. It was my first gig out of college (after a horrible summer of unemployement, frustration and pain, mitigated only by the Sonics winning NBA championship. Unfortunately, that was in June and it was the high point).

When I first took the job, June scared the crap out of me. She struck me as very humorless and strict. Kinda like a school marm. There was another young woman in the front office with me, also a recent hire, and we bonded. One day we took it in our heads to start updating systems and organize things more efficiently. June came in on us blithly tossing out files. She just about died and I thought for sure that she was going to fire me on the spot. But she didn't. She started to figure out how smart (1) I was and pretty much gave me free rein. If I had a new idea about how to manage a system she'd say, "Go to it, Quiche". Yes. My college nickname was "Quiche". You had to have figured that out by now. June is the only person on the planet who still calls me that. It's adorable, coming from her.

June got married for the first time at the age of 60. The "girls from the office", who had all mostly left by then, gave her a shower. I asked her what made her want to get married now, at 60, after a very full, rich life as a confident, accomplished single woman. "It's an adventure I haven't had yet", came the reply. And that pretty much sums her up. We still get together for lunch once or twice a year. She always pays and she always shoots me the withering look that used to scare me so when I suggest that it's my turn. After lunch yesterday she wanted to do a little shopping so I walked with her to Crate and Barrell. At the table she had seemed just as vigorous as ever. When we started walking I realized she is slowing down. She took my arm as we walked in very slow, careful steps. And you'd think I would have been feeling all melancholy about her advancing years and feeling sorry for her but I wasn't. For over 20 years I have had the priviledge of being challenged and encouraged by her. That hasn't changed. I'm just thankful to have her.

She just recently disconnected her Internet so asked me to copy out some of my blog posts for her. I told her about the projects I had been working on and she took my hand and said, "I am so proud of you, Quiche. I love you so much for doing what you always said you wanted to do". Almost made me cry, y'all.

After lunch (and buying a new pepper mill) I took The Child to a friend's for a sleepover. When I got home there was a message on my machine from Edy at Hodgepodge. Edy and I have been emailing each other for several months but we've never spoken. She had a story to tell, something that really needed to be shared but that she couldn't blog about. (Oh, wouldn't you like to know...) I rang her up and she immediately starts in with this very hysterical tale and we laughed like a couple of drunk hyenas and then we started talking. And it was the coolest conversation because it wasn't one of those, "now that I have you, let's get to know each other" talks. We've done all that in email, anyway. No, we talked the way I would talk with ChouChou or The Neighbor, with all the ease and joy of two friends who have known each other forever. Which we haven't and yet, because we are kindred spirits (or separated at birth...I still have to check that possibility with Dame Judy) it was a delightful, familiar time.

I adore Edy. If you don't read her blog you really should. She blogs mostly about her cancer treatment, which is coming to an end. I know what you are thinking: "Eeww, that's a downer". In lesser hands it would be. But Edy writes about this phase of her journey with honesty, warmth and no small amount of humor. It tells you a lot about the spirit of a woman who was a survivor long before she beat cancer. (Which she is doing, thank you very much). She's an awesome person and you should make her acquaintance. I promised her that when she got the "all clear" I would come make a celebratory dinner for her. She'll probably get that news as the snows start to fly in Minnesota so, given my flying issues, the party will probably have to be next year but I can't think of many things I'd rather do than feed this remarkable person and celebrate life.

1 (June's words, not mine. In fact, she especially asked that I please tell you that she never meant to scare me and thought I was a "very smart cookie". Also, she wants you to know that she loves me a lot).


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Bucket of Money

This is my new signature phrase (right up there with "here's the thing" and "this is the third time I've asked you to clean your room"). Before I go any further, let me say that I am content with our lot in life. We have a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs and good food on our table. It's not like we're destitute or anything. I realize that millions of people all over the world would be extremely comfortable with a fraction of the worldly goods we possess. Blah blah blah. But sometimes I can't help it. I look around at all the little (and larger) projects I'd like to do around here and that's when I say, "You know, if I fell into a bucket of money I'd....."

If I fell into a bucket of money I'd:

Rip off our back deck and build a terrace instead. There would be wide stone stairs leading down to it. There would be a built-in bbq area and a brick bread oven. And I'd replace our sliding doors with French ones.

Paint the house a deep, gorgeous charcoal grey with red and white trim. I'd also put shutters on all the windows, pop out the living room about 4 feet, put in a bay window and add a proper porch. I'd have the front garden completely fenced in and hire a landscaper to do all the things I still envision for the garden so it was just done. And I'd replace the trailer trash cyclone fence in the back with something lovely. And install a gate between our house and The Neighbor's because it would be far more convenient.

Refinish our hard wood floors. (It's not the refinishing itself that keeps me from tackling this project. It's the whole moving-out-everything-we-own-and-living-somewhere-else-for-two-weeks thing. But if I had a bucket of money we could have movers put everything into storage and stay in a nice hotel downtown).

Get a shelf for above the Viking. (This is probably the most doable of all the projects. We thought about getting one when we bought the stove but it was pricey and we were closing in on our budget ceiling so we figured we could do without. We were wrong).

Do some other things in the kitchen, specifically hire a cabinet maker to enclose our laundry appliances and actually finish the ceiling, which we didn't do when we remodeled because we figured we'd just paint but the patching we did after installing new duct work and such made some areas that just can't be painted over. I'd like to install tin ceiling tiles. Wouldn't that look awesome?

Buy a new sofa and replace the leather chairs we have (which I love but The Dog, when puppified, chewed big holes in the arms of both of them, which I now cover with throws. A reasonable solution and yet, it bothers me knowing they are there).

Hire a phalanx of handy people, painters and designers to do something with our family room. Ah, the family room. When we bought the house we were so excited to have this room. Finally, things like the computer and the television could be hidden away (I don't like electronics in the living room). We had room for over-night guests. It was super fantastic. But that room has become the room where things go to die. Nothing matches, it's crowded. It's a mishmash of computer crap, books, DVDs & videos, file cabinets and guest linen. It's a nightmare. And nothing I do mitigates that. But it is so full that even to paint and put in some proper bookcases (which would be a vast improvement) would require so much effort that we just don't do it. Unhooking and storing the computer equipment alone would probably take a day. And I don't see The Spouse getting jiggy with that proposal anytime soon.

Although, all of that would be solved almost instantly if I had a bucket of money so we could just build a master suite on the north end of the house. This design would include a small hallway off of which would be a powder room and a small studio pour moi. Then The Child would move into our room, her room would become The Spouse's office and viola, three-quarters of the crap in the family room would move elsewhere and then I could go in there and design a nice, cozy family space/guest room.

Now that my brain has been dumped all over my blog, I think I'll convert this into a proper to-do list. We could probably manage to do all of these things, incrementally, over the next few years if we were just focused on them. I'm just impatient. That's why I would rather fall into a bucket of money and just make it all happen. That, or find a fairy godmother. That would work, too.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Uh Oh

I'm in one of those moods. Who knows what exactly brings it on?

The Spouse will say that "the gland is secreting" but that really only applies to those times when I suddenly rearrange all the furniture in a room.

Today's mood is different. This is the mood that sends me into cupboards and drawers, tossing and organizing. It's the mood that results in 412 pounds of recycling and a pile of stuff on the parking strip with a sign that reads "Free", because I'm in such a mood that I don't even want to keep the culled stuff in a box in the garage for the next time that Community Services has a truck in my neighborhood.

I am in a mood to divest myself of stuff.

I'm not a clutter kind of girl. Never really have been. If I replace a pillow or can opener I toss the old one. I don't have shelves full of Hummels. My wardrobe is pared to basics that all go with each other. I don't have "fat clothes" or "5 more pounds off and I'll fit into these again" clothes. But even so, stuff accumulates. And when it gets to a certain point I have to deal with it. I like knowing that there isn't anything in the house that isn't useful or beautiful. Beautiful to me, anyway.

I have already cleaned out my Big Notebook of Organization, the one in which I keep things like volleyball schedules and grocery lists. I have tidied out the drawer where all the plastic storage containers live. Next stop is the coat closet and then I'm taking on the linen closet. After that will probably be the Detritus Drawer, the one in the kitchen where we keep hammers and rubber bands and half-used tubes of SuperGlue. That'll be reduced to essentials by noon. There may even be a session with The Child, wherein we try to reduce by half her 2 baskets of toys and general kid crap.

Sometimes I think my organizational fits are a response to world events...trying to make order when chaos swirls all around. Maybe it's just the 10 degree shift in the weather that has brought a cool, cloudy morning. Or maybe it's the passage I read this morning in a book called A Well-Kept Home:Household Traditions and Simple Secrets from a French Grandmother by Laura Fronty and Yves Duronsoy. (Edy and Renee, I think you would both love this book. You would, too, Jonathan). Anyhoo, here's the quote:

"I will describe her life and her home to you as I remember it: the rooms where life was lived; the bedrooms drenched with sunlight in the morning; the floors festooned with apricot, red and ochre Oriental rugs inherited from her mother-in-law, which seemed to absorb the light and retain the heat despite their age. There were books, dried flowers and cushions inspired by the colors of Matisse; and objects sparkling with an authenticity that, had they been owned by an ancient community, would have been placed in graves for the next life: crystal dice, bits of stag antlers, amber pearls, boxes, sculptures, wooden balls..."

James Salter, Un Bonheur Parfait (Perfect Happiness)

Of course, I think bits of stag antler would be nasty and I would never have dried flowers because they are dust-catching, moldering things. I prefer my flowers fresh. But you get the idea.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Lazy Days

I am feeling very, very lazy. My initial thought was that this is a holdover from the delightfully idle weekend we just passed.

Saturday night The Neighbor and I hosted a bridal shower for BBB, beginning with dinner at a Caribbean place in the 'hood and ending with waffles and mimosas on Sunday morning. Inbetween we gave ourselves spa treatments, drank wine, watched wedding movies and giggled a lot.

I waddled home yesterday and spent the entire afternoon in my jammies until I realized with a start that guests were arriving at 4 and so perhaps I should rouse myself to sweep, cook something and oh, yeah, put on real clothes.

We have a dear friend, Father RT, who we've known since before he was ordained. He's been in Rome for the last 3 years and has just taken an assignment in Austin, TX. He is currently checking in with family and friends before officially assuming his duties and, as we always do when he's in town, we had a house mass. There is something really intimate about a house mass, a very early-church-Acts-of-the-Apostles sort of thing that is beyond lovely. The "dialogue" of the Mass is very poignant when you are actually looking in the eyes of the person across the table.

After a good churching up we passed a very convivial evening with the assembled group, drinking wine and talking while the chicken finished spinning on the rotisserie. Then we sat down to aforementioned chicken, eggplant gratin (shut'd love it) and a big salad that included a few tomatoes from the garden. The evening was temperate and we dined al fresco (which was the only concession to things Italian as Fr. RT came back to the US tired of Italian food. I can't imagine that but there it is).

I woke this morning well aware of all that requires my attention: restoring order in The Child's room, which has still not recovered from Molly's visit, pungling and weeding and ironing. There is a Parent Association function this weekend that needs some planning. There are half a dozen emails that need answering. But all I can really be bothered to do is fetch another cup of coffee and contemplate the list some more.

Then I figured out what's driving my indolence: summer is winding down. Technically there are still 4 weeks until school starts. One whole month. But just at the moment I'm poised between reflection and urgency. It has been a lazy summer with very little rushing around and virtually no structure. The Child and I have been lying around, reading things and watching things and eating things. We go to bed when we want and rise when we want. (I still get up fairly early but only because I want to, not because I have to). In fact, there's been an astonishing lack of "have to" about this summer. But lately the calendar has been filling up with people coming to town and other bits of things and I feel the inevitable slide toward fall and it makes me melancholy. We haven't even played a game of boules yet this summer. We haven't sat near enough nights under the stars naming constellations and searching for meteors. I have yet to make a berry cobbler. There are still quintessentially summer things to experience before the days grow short and the nights too chilly to eat outside.

It's funny to feel urgent about this. Hardly in keeping with the happy lolling we've done already. And besides, I adore autumn and the routine that comes with the start of school. I look forward to getting the house back and attending to bigger writing projects. But not yet. There is still a month of summer and I want it to be as lazy and fine as the previous 2 months have been. So I dally with my agenda and responsibility, doing just enough to keep us from ruin without engaging so much that I lose track of time and the summer is gone. I am sitting around as much as possible, knowing full well that my sitting around days are numbered.


Saturday, August 12, 2006

Friday Night

Last night The Spouse went to his 30th high school reunion. I didn't go with him, having satisfied that obligation back on his 20th, which also happened to fall on our 5th wedding anniversary. There are few things in life more boring than attending someone else's reunion. Just saying.

The Child and I were all excited to have a Girls Night In. We were going to eat macaroni & cheese, have caramel corn for dessert and watch a chick flick.

"What are we going to watch?" I ask The Child.

"I don't know," she said, perusing the DVDs on the shelf. "Harry Potter?"

"Strictly speaking, Harry Potter is not a chick flick," I said. "Which one?"


"I could watch Harry Potter 4," I said, "as long as you understand that it is not a chick flick".

"Sure it is," she said, pointing to the cover. "It's a flick. This is a chick," she said, indicating
Emma Watson. Then she pointed to Daniel Radcliffe and said, "And this is a hottie".

I stand corrected.

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Op Ed Piece

I thought this editorial from yesterday's NY Times was very good.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Big Day

I am very excited to write this post. It's my blogoversary! A year ago today The Spouse sent me a link to Blogger suggesting I check it out. I am soooo glad he did that and glad that (for once) I listened to him.

As you may remember, I used to write a column for the parent newsletter at The Child's school. I loved that gig. I had an editor who helped me find my voice (thanks forever, Julie) and a monthly deadline, which provided this undisciplined soul with the structure needed to get something written. But when we moved The Child to St. G the gig went away and I missed it. Starting a blog would, I thought, give me a necessary dose of discipline (publish or perish) and maybe, just maybe, by committing to posting 5 times a week, I would find my way to a writing life.

Wow. In the past year I finished the draft of a 10 year old book, contributed to an on-line writing project about moms which will be published next year and had work accepted to the forthcoming Unbound Press journal. My 5xweek goal was exceeded as this is my 546th post. "They" say that to be a writer you have to write. I'm a writer, now.

In the beginning I sent the link to 3 or 4 people who would read the blog, thereby assuring the accountability needed to provide fresh content. The blog is now averaging 65-70 hits a day. Even after subtracting repeat hits from people coming back to check on comments and such, that's still more than the original 4. I have readers all over the US and Canada. There are readers in the UK, Europe and even one in Dubai. Since attaching the site meter in March I have logged (as of this very second) 9, 486 hits with 20,928 pages read. That is kinda cool. My favorite thing is to look at the site map with all the little dots spreading across North America and out into the world and think about the amazing global community that has come together to read this little blog full of snippets, recipes and random observations of just one ordinary woman. It is astonishing.

The best thing about this blog is all of you, especially the tight little group of blog buddies that has been formed; incredible, talented, funny people like Jon, Iwanski, Pat & Sling. There's darling Edy from whom, it turns out, I was separated at birth. There's Grish (as lovable a geek as The Spouse), Swede & Czech (the first blog buddy I've met in person) and Amy (the wind beneath my photoshopped wings). And of course, there is the Pied Piper, Charlie, who claims that he attracts nutters. (Some of us qualify).

And not to play favorites or anything but I have to devote a separate paragraph to the inimitable JP. I found him by the very random device of the blogroll on Blogger. "All Things Bitter" sounded like an interesting title so I clicked on it. There I found a clever, hysterically funny writer who quickly became the first stop on my daily blog tour. I made The Spouse teach me how to make links just so I could link to him. He was the first person to honor me with a link. Since that time he has become - and I know this sounds crazy since we've never met - a good friend. And not just because I can ask him for coding help. Omaha, Nebraska was never high on my list of Places to Visit Before I Die but it is now. (I'll stop now because if I start gushing he might get all melty and sappy and that would seriously mess with his bitterness. We wouldn't want that, now would we?)

( I puffy heart you, JP and you know that. Word.)

It occurs to me that I shouldn't have started listing people by name because the band is going to start playing the "your time's up" music before I get to everyone. If you are linked over there to the right, rest assured that I love and esteem you. I love reading your blogs and am honored that you come to read mine. I am a better writer because of you as I strive to make it worth your while to keep coming back.

My first year in Blogtopia has been an unmitigated gas and my little Pollyanna heart is full of gratitude. Thank you for all your support and encouragement and thanks for being such great writers yourselves. You inspire me. Belly up to the bar, kids. First round is on me. (Hey, can somebody give JP a lift home later?)

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Birthday Shout Out

On this day some years ago (more than 40, less than 70) my mother, Dame Judy Dench, was born. I would like to take a moment to honor this ocassion because she is the best mother in the world.

She was a mere slip of a young thing when I was born and while I know that all my siblings have a special bond with her, ours is unique. It's a bit Gilmore-ian in that we've always been friends. She was my mom and I respected that about her, but from the time I was teeny tiny and bald to this day (when I am neither) we have always been able to talk. In my teen years, when I was a smart-arsed know-it-all, I knocked heads frequently with my father but very, very rarely with my mother. I can really only remember one big argument and that was actually when I was in college. There may have been others but I don't recall them so I don't worry about them.

It wasn't just that I could always tell my mom things (including things which she has since told me she rather wished I'd kept to myself) it was that she always "got" me. I have always, always, always felt understood, protected and adored by my mum. Always.

It probably also deserves notice that to this day I have women friends who tell me how lucky I am in my relationship with my mother. More than one friend over the years has told me how they wish she could be their mother.

Dame Judy is intelligent, well-read, funny and kind. She likes all things British (especially Colin Firth). She is an excellent cook (hmmm). She is super creative. She can take the proverbial sow's ear and turn it into a Kate Spade bag. She can see potential in the barest of bones and has engaged all her life in that most divine of tasks, creating something from nothing. I could write several posts about her clever solutions to thorny design problems. She had the "shabby chic", country cottage vibe going on way, way before it became a known design asthetic.

As her children married, she opened her heart and home to the newbies, having sworn a solemn vow not to be a controlling, harassing mother-in-law. A vow she has lived up to admirably, by the way. She takes pride in her children, joy in her grandbabies and is, as Molly just said, the sweetest Nana ever.

Here's to you, Dame Judy. I'm so glad you were born so you could be my mommy. I love you! Happy birthday.

Connecticut Primary

People with better honed pundit chops than mine have plenty to say about Joe Lieberman's defeat in the Democratic primary Tuesday. I'll simply add that I think Senator Lieberman is a bit of a crybaby.

And you are apparently judged by the company you keep. Just saying.

"And There was No Blog, and No Blog and Still No Blog"

This was The Spouse's lament when he came home last night. By then I had, in fact, managed to post but too late for him to have seen it. And it was amusing to me because the "gotta blog" thought persistently cycled through my mind all day. I thought of The Neighbor, who only a few days ago said something about not knowing what she'd do if she didn't have my blog for a little mid-work-day entertainment.

I had actually written most of the post before getting The Child off to choir camp. It just needed some tweaking before publishing. I sat down to it and Molly got up. And Molly and I started talking. And at 11:30 we went to Mass to hear The Child's choir. And then, because we were downtown, we went for lunch and I bought a shower gift for a friend and then we found the most super fantastic dress shop that I'd never been in before (Bebe) but now I need to fall into a bucket of money so I can go back in there and say, "I'll have one of everything, please". Plus I found what I think is in serious contention for my Mother-of-the-Junior Bridesmaid ensemble for the wedding in September, which made me dizzy with joy. And then we poked around some more shops until I realized that it was nearly time to fetch The Child so we went to Starbucks and I got some mint tea because my tummy, accustomed as it is becoming to healthful food choices, was rebelling at the very delicious but uncharacteristic hamburger I'd had for lunch and Molly and I sat outside the cathedral waiting for The Child until a yellow jacket landed on my thumb and I threw my mint tea all over my neice in a flailing effort not to be stung.

So I was a little late getting the editorial work done. It won't happen again.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Campaign Contribution

I was at Maria's yesterday for the usual 2 hours of envelope stuffing. This is work that has the potential to be mind-numbingly boring but I look at it as a chance to improve my personal best. I enjoy figuring out the best way to organize the pieces so as to maximize output. And I'm pretty good. I can stuff 3 envelopes to someone else's 1. I can get a sheet of mailing labels onto "thank you" post cards in about 60 seconds. Plus I get a kick out of the atmosphere, all the earnest young kids and the wonky talk. But yesterday I made what was perhaps my most profound contribution to date.

A new staffer, Daniel, came into the conference room, asking how to make coffee. The interns who were present disavowed any knowledge of the process so I said, "Come with mama," took him to the kitchen and began to unfold to him the mysteries of the coffee maker. Which was all well and good until we got to the brand new tin of coffee and couldn’t find a can opener. Daniel said he’d look for one so I went back to my stuffing and labeling, telling him to come get me when he was ready.

A few minutes later an intern came in with Daniel behind her. The poor thing was wringing her hands, her eyes hollow with desperation. "I really need coffee," she said, her voice shaky with what seemed like impending tears. "I really need coffee and we can't find a can opener!"

I remember there is a Swiss army knife in the car and flinging a look of sympathy in the intern’s general direction I rush to the car and back. Within seconds I’m in the kitchen, wearing off my arm as I slice –up and down, up and down – through the (very large) lid with the barbarously simple (and not in a good way) can opener. Daniel, who I might add is quite the strapping youth, stood behind me saying, “Wow. Amazing.”

Finally, the scent of coffee (Trader Joe’s Fair Trade Nicaraguan, I believe) gushed forth, Daniel cheered and I proceeded to show him the correct ratio of coffee to water for the perfect pot o’ joe. And for the rest of the morning I was looked upon with unfettered admiration and appreciation.

Did you ever have one of those moments where all your life experience, all your abilities and all your passions converge in a perfect synthesis of sublime expression? I hope so, because there is really nothing so fabulous as standing, however briefly, in the warm, brightly lit knowledge of one’s raison d’etre.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Busy, Busy, Busy

The languid nature of our summer thus far has made me just a wee bit pudding-like. Haven't had much of a schedule, haven't had much to do beyond the essentials that must be done (such as keeping clean clothes in the house and feeding people). Consequently, today will present a challenge as I will actually have to be "on it". For example, within the next 30 minutes I have to rouse The Child, feed her oatmeal, make her a sack lunch and dress myself for the office. Then I have to take her to choir camp and myself down to Maria's for a couple hours of envelope stuffing.

When I get home I need to ready a guest bed and prep dinner because my precious neice Molly is coming to visit for a few days and I'm leaving at 6pm to pick her up. Which means dinner needs to be ready to go when we get home so we can sit in front of the TV and eat some kind of Mexican pork thing and tortillas while watching reruns of "Gilmore girls". (During the regular season, Molly and I talk on the phone after the show. I'm so excited to be able to watch it with her. It's one of our "things").

So I don't have time to bloggety blog at the moment but I'll try to come up with something for later in the day.

Meanwhile, it should be noted that I had been thinking about yesterday's post for a while before the incident of the weekend prompted me to finally write it. But last night I remember one of the characteristics of The Spouse that I felt important to note and I forgot all about it until last night when we were watching the hummingbirds. And that is, that he regularly makes sugar water to lure aforementioned birds into our garden. And I think that is cute.

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Monday, August 07, 2006

A Tribute

This weekend we had the unpleasant and upsetting task of dealing with a woman who was being abused by her husband. (I shall spare you the details because it is not something I'm inclined to revisit. It's not good for my blood pressure). The ensuing converstation was reminiscent of every Oprah episode that ever treated the subject and the saddest bit of all is that the woman is clearly not yet ready to do what she has to do for herself and her children. But, as is so often the case, even bad experiences have their uses. It gave me ocassion to reflect on my own marriage and the man with whom I have shared almost 15 years.

There had been plenty of nights, prior to meeting The Spouse, when I cried myself to sleep, wondering if I would ever find someone who would have the courage to love me for who I was. And when I finally met him, he seemed like a gift from Heaven. (Because he was). By the time he came around, my lofty List of Things Which Comprise the Perfect Man was reduced to a handful of essential items. He had to be straight, spiritually inclined and care about food. He had to make me laugh. Everything else was pretty much negotiable. The Spouse filled all these requirements and then some.

The funny thing about marriage, of course, is that after years of longing and waiting, after being presented with the fulfillment of all one's hopes and desires, real life sets in. In the midst of earning a living and pursuing dreams (individual and collective), with the advent of children and the ever-present challenges of managing a home and money and social calendars, one sometimes forgets what is important. It can be easier to focus on the imperfections and annoying habits of the other person rather than to look at them full on and say, "Wow! There you are! I don't have to cry myself to sleep because you are here". I've been as guilty of that as anyone.

The thing that got me thinking this weekend wasn't so much the glimpse into an abusive marriage but The Spouse's response to it. As we talked with this woman it became crystal clear that The Spouse just didn't get it. He did not understand how in the world a man could ever lift a hand to a woman. That sort of violence (and the cowardice from which it springs) are absolutely foreign to him.

He and I both have very strong wills and it would be a lie to tell you that he and I have never argued. We have had some raging good ones in our time. We probably will again, although after this weekend I'd sure like to try to not. But even in the worst times, when we have been at bitter odds, full of anger and frustration, never once has he diminished me as a person. He's slammed a door or two (as have I) but he has never remotely come close to harming me, emotionally or physically. He is a good man. He is a very, very good man. And I feel inclined, out of my profound gratitude, to make a list of just some of the ways in which he manifests this goodness. These are presented in no particular order as every item is, in itself, reason enough to love him.

He makes me laugh a lot. Deep, crazy laughter. His humor spans the spectrum from the intelligently witty to the completely whimsical.

He comes home every night.

He is a good cook and he appreciates my cooking. He enjoys entertaining as much as I do.

When I am sick enough to take to my bed he takes the best kind of care of me, even when that means forcing me to take Robitussin.

He is a good father.

He is a good provider. Not only because he makes good money but because he has willingly assumed the responsibility of being sole breadwinner so that I could stay home with The Child and pursue my writing.

He is the most supportive and encouraging of all those who support & encourage my writing. Everything I ever publish will be dedicated to him and if I should ever have ocassion to accept an Academy Award I will not forget to thank him.

He's a good lookin' hunk of a man.

He acts like Mr. Tuffy McTufferson but he watches chick flicks with me and he cries when Beth dies in "Little Women".

He doesn't mind admitting that he cries when Beth dies. (In fact, it's shorthand. If he tears up in a movie I say, "Aw, honey, did Beth die?" And he still doesn't mind).

He's really, really smart.

He is Mr. Fix-it and has saved us, over the years, thousands and thousands of dollars in repair bills because he can do it himself. Which included doing all the finish work on our electrical system when we remodeled and our electrician turned out to be a flake.

He has really soft feet.

He has surprised me over the years with some very thoughtful and romantic gifts.

He would never leave me for Angelina Jolie.

He is a man of integrity. His word is his bond.

He is very creative.

He likes my family and is even warm and open to the ones that drive the rest of us crazy.

He is a man of deep, though quiet, faith.

And when it is all said and done, he is like the proverbial bottle of good wine that continues to improve and deepen with age. He is growing and maturing in ways that make him even better than the man I married.

He calls me "Fluffy". And "Pookie". And sometimes "Pookie Fluff".

And I'm going to stop now because by the time he's read this far I'll betcha Beth will have died.

I love you, Spouse. You're the best.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Guess How Much We Raised this Morning?

$251, that's how much.

I was all astonishment.

AT's wife MT came to help (and ended up being the big spender of the day), The Child was very cute helping little kindergarteners try on sweaters and, oh, yeah, people showed up. Plus AT left the work party he was at to bring us all hot dogs.

So there you go.

Guess What I'm Doing this Morning?

I'll wait.

Mmm, this coffee is delicious.

Have a guess?

No, I am not dancing in the next Pink video. Lobbying Congress? Puleeezze. Enjoying a nice, quiet Saturday morning with The Family? I wish. Give up? I am going to The Child's school where I am going to sit for 2 hours selling used uniforms on behalf of the Parents Association.

All week I have been faithfully laundering and sorting bags of used and abandoned uniforms. I have organized polos and blouses, skirts and trousers and pounds and pounds and pounds of Mayfair Blue cardigans and pullovers (what you Brits call 'jumpers') into two categories: "like new" and "need mending". Then, last night, I solicited the help of The Neighbor and J-from-Reno, who's visiting, to figure out my price structure.

I have made signs and price lists, collected shopping bags and a calculator and made The Child extremely happy by telling her she could come with me. The sale itself is only going to last for 2 hours and anything that's left will be sold at the first Parent Association meeting. We'll go an hour early to set up. It's really no big deal. Except I don't know if anyone is going to come. The whole project was sort of thrust on me right at the end of the school year and only one other Board member is able to help (what with it being fracking Seafair weekend and all that, and no, obviously, I wasn't paying attention to that when we set the schedule). One flyer went out but it was in the Big Envelope, the one that came last week with the school schedule and supply list and tuition envelope. Who knows how many people actually saw it?

So The Child, AT and I could just be cooling our heels in the Parish Center for a couple hours, swapping stories of the summer so far. Which I guess wouldn't be a complete waste of time.

So, in the immortal words of Annie Hall, "Oh well. La di dah. La di dah". The next few hours will pass and there will still be goodly amounts of time to just hang before we dress up and hasten out to a 40th birthday celebration for Special Ed. It's a casino theme, we're to wear black and white attire and I'm sure it is going to be a raving good time.

Have a very nice Saturday. Please.

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Ooh La La

Diane made some comments yesterday about the use of rosemary skewers in cooking and it reminded me of this totally delicious recipe. (It is also very impressive, presentation-wise, should you be in need of impressing someone). The original recipe came from Jamie Oliver - a British chef who you either love or find extremely annoying. (I love him). He's the one with the floppy hair, the lisp and the crusade to ban nasty, un-nutritious lunches from Britian's school.

Strawberry Kebabs

4 long branches of fresh rosemary
6 strawberries, per person (look for good sized, firm but ripe berries)
8 tablespoons water
1 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
9 ounces mascarpone cheese
1 lemon, zested

Strip nearly all the leaves from the rosemary branches, just leaving a tuft on the end. Reserve some of the leaves, chop finely and set aside. (Use the remaining leaves for other recipes). Cut the tops off the strawberries, then thread 6 onto each rosemary stick. Place the sticks on a wire rack over a tray.

Put the water in a heavy-bottomed pan with 1 cup of the sugar and bring to the boil. Gentle swirl the pan once or twice but don't overdo it and don't stir it with a spoon. The mixture will clear, then bubble and then slowly get darker and darker. Keep an eye on it because once it starts to turn to caramel it can go very quickly from ready to burnt. It's ready when it's a golden brown. Pour caramel over strawberies.

Whisk the mascarpone with enough sugar to make it sweet (probably about 2 tablespoons, but you may need a little more or less). Add in half the lemon zest.

To serve, spoon some mascarpone in the center of each plate & sprinkle lightly with chopped rosemary. Lay a kebab on top, and sprinkle with the remaining lemon zest.

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Friday, August 04, 2006

Here's Another Thing about the Blue Angels

I forgot to mention something else about having the Blue Angels in town. That would be the ritual attempt to photograph low flying jet fighters as they zoom over my house at speeds of 120-700 mph. Kind of a fool's errand when there's a couple second delay on one's camera. So yesterday, after dozens of futile attempts to point the camera skyward and photographing nothing but, well, sky, I decided to take a picture of my pitiful rosemary supply instead:

Sad, isn't it? Now you understand why The Spouse gets so frustrated with my spendthrift use of it in recipes.

DC Update

There's lots of good news to report out of the other Washington today:

1) Yesterday a federal appeals court panal said Tom DeLay has to stay on the ballot in Texas, even though he resigned from his congressional seat after being indicted for all sorts of nastiness. Ever the bulldog, DeLay has said that under the circumstances he might consider active campaigning. Wouldn't that be a hoot. "Hi. I'm under indictment for all sorts of nastiness and would probably not be able to do my job because I have to go to trial and then, well, might end up in jail. But vote for me". Look for his picture in the dictionary next to "arrogance".

2) The GOP had come up with a very cynical piece of legislation that tied a federal minimum wage increase to permanent estate tax cuts. It needed 60 votes to pass and got 56. Close, but in politics and horseshoes, close is good enough. Homegirls Patty and Maria were among those voting against this bill. I've already emailed them both a "thank you".

c) If you decide to lunch in a Congressional cafeteria anytime soon be sure to order French fries. Yes. "Freedom fries" quietly became a thing of the past this week. That makes me laugh on so many levels I can't even begin to tell you.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

It's That Time of Year Again

This weekend Seattle has an annual summer celebration known as Seafair. For all the years I've lived here, which is most of my life, I have never understood this fete. Hydroplane races are prominently featured, as are the beer and sausage companies that sponsor same. There is an evening parade that starts things off, called the Torchlight Parade, to which I've never gone and never intend to. There are Seafair Pirates: business men who dress up and carouse from bar to bar, harassing beautiful women. There are Seafair Clowns: business men who dress up and carouse from park to mall to street corner, harassing young children. And sometimes beautiful women. The fleet is in town. 'Nuff said.

I have to keep my opinions to myself in this house. The Spouse has dreadfully fond memories of Seafair as a kid and he loves taking The Child down to the lake to watch the hydro races. I don't grudge him any of that or his passion for this "uniquely Seattle" celebration. I just have never understood it. Especially because more than anything what we seem to be celebrating is noise.

The hydros are really loud. We can hear the races from here. And more to the point, Seafair isn't Seafair without the Blue Angels. Who are dive bombing my house as we speak and freaking out The Dog.


Poor little fella. Because when I say they are divebombing our house I am not exaggerating for dramatic effect. They are practising for their weekend show, which takes place over Lake Washington. Which is right by our house.

Now the Blue Angels, as The Spouse tells me every year, are the best of the best. These guys know how to handle a jet plane. And I believe him but seriously, like right now when they are flying some formation that has 2 planes going one way and the rest the other and they happen to be on either side of my house, it scares the crap out of me. And The Dog. Poor little trembly fella.

Plus, I admire the artistry of what they do, because it is an art of some sort. They have one formation where they fly straight up in the air and then branch off from each other, leaving vapor trails that look like a fleur de lis. It is very impressive. But it is so scary loud! And even though this is an air show over a benign little city-wide fair, it also is showing off our military what-have-you which creeps me out a little (even though I'd rather an air show than a bombing raid). And you know, with everything that is going on right now I can't help but think about this noise and all the civilian populations right now stuck in the middle of misbegotten wars and how they listen to stuff like this day and night. Plus explosions. And I don't find that enjoyable.

Poor Spouse. He's going to feel like he has to defend his beloved Seafair and Blue Angels. Go ahead, honey. You know I mean well. It's just so creepy, scary loud and your puppers is very unhappy.

Every year there is a new crop of Letters to the Editor, complaining about the Blue Angels and the militarism and the noise. I'm not one of those people. I understand that all this has meaning for others, like The Spouse, and I'm not one to get all high and mighty about the superiority of my viewpoint. I don't get Seafair but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be held. It's one weekend out of the year. Coping requires that I remember the following:

1) Use an alternate route out of the 'hood because my usual street will be choked with traffic.
2) Afternoon naps are out for the next four days.
3) Someone must be present at all times to cuddle The Dog.

A very happy celebration of Very Loud Things to you all.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I've Got Nothing

I'm trying a new experiment wherein rather than making a Things To Do list I'm keeping track of Things Done. This makes me feel very accomplished.

Here's another picture of Bill Clinton because yesterday Blogger only allowed me to upload 3. That is, apparently, it's limit.

And speaking of limits, apparently Mel Gibson has issued a second apology for the anti-Semitic tirade he unleashed when pulled over for DUI. This time he actually apologizes to Jews. And I think that is dandy but he really needs some therapy.

Ralph Waldo Emerson may have believed that "consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" but I wouldn't be able to function if I didn't have certain daily and weekly routines. (Or as The Neighbor and I are calling them, liturgies, because routine sounds so boring but we both like liturgy). Although I haven't been at all liturgical about gardening. However, after looking at the photos of Horizon's garden I have decided that rather than start an international incident over my jealousy of her gorgeous beds and borders I will just try to do what I can to improve my little bit of land. It'll never be in House and Garden but it could look like someone gave a rat's behind.

And here's what we're having for dinner tonight.

Provencal Stuffed Peppers

1 ½ pounds sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
1 ½ c. coarsely grated zucchini (about 1 large)
½ c. finely chopped red onion
1/3 c. minced fresh parsley
¼ c. fine dry breadcrumbs
1 large egg
1 t. ground black pepper
¾ t. salt
½ t. minced fresh rosemary
4 medium-size red bell peppers, halved lengthwise, seeded

Fresh rosemary sprigs for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix first 9 ingredients in a large bowl until well blended. Fill pepper halves with sausage mixture, dividing equally and mounding slightly. Arrange in 13x9x2 inch baking dish. (Can be made one day ahead, covered and chilled).

Bake peppers, uncovered, until tops are browned and thermometer inserted into filling registers 165 degrees, about 1 hour. Transfer peppers to platter. Garnish with rosemary and serve.

Now I'm going to go yank some mint out of my rose garden and then I'm in the mood to tidy out some cupboards.

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Ladies and Gentlemen, President Bill Clinton

The mood of everyone at yesterday's event with President Clinton was upbeat, to put it mildy. Other descriptions might include enthusiastic, electric and all agog.

I had the happy job of being a greeter and directing people to their table. This allowed me to hear the fabulous performance of the Sons of Thunder gospel choir from some church in Tacoma as well as see all the excited faces of arriving guests. I got to squeeze the toes of a very cute baby girl. And I was highly amused by a very sweet, earnest soccer mom type who had driven all the way from the red side of the state to volunteer at the event. She was so cute. I asked if it was hard being a Democrat on that side of the state. "Oh, goodness!" she exclaimed. "You can't imagine. But I'm getting bolder," she added, showing me a tiny peace symbol hanging around her neck. Later I saw her greeting a few gentlemen in cowboy hats and asked, "More members of the support group?" At one point she looked around the burgeoning crowd and sighed, "Are all these people liberals?" she'd gone to heaven or something. I laughed and said, "No. But they are all Democrats".

Just before the program started one of the staffers approached me and a couple other volunteers and asked if we wanted to sit. We were still in the back of the room but we got to nibble at the dinner some rich person paid for and that was an unexpected treat (salmon with apple chutney...yum). I was with a chappie named Ben, who I worked with at the Kerry event, and a young, earnest and adorable kid named Joe.

When the President was introduced it honestly was all I could do not to cry. Mostly because I'm a wet mess normally but I love the guy. He's not perfect, he wasn't perfect. But he was, and I know history will back me up here, one of the greatest presidents of the 20th century. And, like I commented to Charlie yesterday, say what you will about the guy, he wasn't an imperialist and I like that in a President.

Right. So he started his address by saying that he was sick and tired of hearing that Democrats don't know what they stand for and with all the spirit of a revivalist at a tent meeting proceeded to urge us to get out there and start speaking up. He talked about the difference between having a philosophy and an ideology. He suggested that with a philosophy you are willing to question and even admit when you are wrong or don't have an answer. But people who hold to an ideology already believe they are right. Their ideology will take precedence over evidence, eschews argument for attack. He celebrated the Democratic philosophy that believes everyone is equal. He said that Democrats stood for security that was predicated on working relationships, dialogue and alliances and not on "going it alone". He said that we believe in expansion of the middle class and complained bitterly and repeatedly at how this administration has given "tax cut after tax cut after tax cut to rich guys like me" at the expense of our troops, health and education programs and port security.

He also talked about how in order to grow the economy we have to come up with a new class of high wage jobs about every 5 to 8 years. And, he said, the next class is just sitting there, "like a bird nest on the ground". Renewable sources of energy is the way to go, not only because it will reduce our dependence on unstable states and start reversing green house emissions, etc. but because "we'd make a killing".

Probably his best line of the night was when he was citing The One Percent Doctrine, Ron Suskind's new book, in which the White House neo-cons deride those of us who live in a "reality-based community".

"I'm not kidding you," Bill said. "That's how they think. And folks, let me tell you, I grew up in an alcoholic home. I spent my childhood trying to get into a reality based community. And I like it here".

There were people who hated Bill Clinton with a passion way before he did anything stupid. I'm still trying to understand exactly why that is, or why some people still hate him so viciously today that they continue vilify and blame him. But after last night I think part of it could just be plain jealousy. Bill Clinton is a very, very intelligent man but able to communicate in a plain-spoken way that engages rather than alienates. He is really, really funny. He could do stand-up if he wanted. Plus he's charming and looks great: lean, healthy and handsome.

In sorting through the photos I realized there were over 80 pictures. Which is crazy. And most of them didn't turn out because I was at table 113 and he was up by table 6. But I weeded through and found a few to share. They're not great but they'll do. I was especially pleased that I managed to get one with the characteristic thumb gesture.

Hail to the chief.