Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Bloggity Blog

I still feel blechy but everyone was so nice yesterday that the desire to rally and blog something is stronger than blech.

So, let's see.

It's been icy and frosty the last few mornings, with gorgeous, clear & bright but very cold, days. As a consequence, there is still a glob of the gigantic snowball still hanging around. The Child and I go check on it every day. Maybe it will last til spring. That would be cool.

Today is Teacher Appreciation Day at school so the Parent Club thought it would be nice to provide a nice breakfast for them. Yours truly volunteered to make crepes. Leah would do yougurt parfaits and Jen was in charge of scones. We were going to meet at 7am in the teachers lounge. File this under "Ideas That Sound Great at The Time".

Last night I made the (ham, cheese, & spinach filled) crepes. I got up at 5:30 this a.m. to preheat the oven (which takes 30 minutes because it's gas so I went back to bed). Got back up at 6 to put the crepes in to heat and to make cheese sauce. Got myself ready then woke up The Child at 6:45 so she could get herself ready while I ran the stuff to school and helped set up and then ran back to pick up The Child (who thankfully did get herself up and dressed and fed AND made her lunch. She so gets snaps) and fetch the other 2 children for whom I provide a ride. Then it was back to the teachers lounge to help with serving and cleanup and all that until the bell rang and then we all sat around for a while shooting the breeze and eating parfaits. It was all very nice, the teachers felt mightily appreciated but next year I'm voting we make them lunch. Or cocktails. Ooh, an after school cocktail your talking.

Anyway, the good news, besides making the teachers happy, is that there's all sorts of filling and batter left over so I'm making Crepes Florentine for dinner tonight. Yum.

Oh and hey. You know when I was shooting my mouth off about using a timer and accomplishing things 15 minutes at a time?
Yeah, I've so been doing it. Seriously. I have something like 8 chapters edited on that bloody book, which is chief among all the other things I've gotten under control and am generally feeling smug about. Having the evening "accomplishment" session with The Neighbor is really good, too. Accountability and a glass of wine...totally works for me.

I found a Canadian dime in my desk drawer. Should I just throw it away?

Oh, and remember the Bloggies? Yeah, well, the nominations have been whittled down to finalists and let's just get this out of the way right now, none of the worthy and incredibly well-written blogs that I nominated made it. Plus, and I don't really know anything about this silly things and how they work, but clearly the selection process is less than...well, let's just say that there actually doesn't seem to be a whole lot of effort into finding new and interesting blogs to expose to the light of day by virtue of this contest. One look at the political and entertainment nominees will tell you that. So I'm sorta over that whole thing and I promise not to inflict it on you again but if you really hate Perez Hilton (who I won't even link to in this post because I hate him so much) then you might want to go to vote for someone other than him. Just saying.

Now I need to take a little restorative nap.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Icky cold. Feeling blechy. But not so blechy that I should be in bed. Don't even want to be in bed. Just want hot tea. Toast. Words. Words would be good.


Monday, January 29, 2007

I Am Really Annoyed

This weekend I posted about a dream wherein The Child and I were walking on a muddy mountain road in the rain and she was naked and pushing her bike and how she kept wandering to the precipice from which I kept having to call her back, not wanting her to plunge over the edge. It ended with some (insanely clever) comment about how well I was handling her turning 13. And people left very nice and supportive comments.

So today I went to that post to add a label and then hit "enter", because that's a pretty ingrained sort of thing to do, you'll admit, and Blogger totally ate my post! And it didn't so much as burp or say "thank you", it just ate it up - poetic description, wit, comments and all.

And as long as I'm on it, because it has been a while since I complained about Blogger, sometimes when I save a post as a draft it completely disappears and doesn't save at all. Has anyone else had that happen? It's done that about 3 times now. (And yes, the solution is of course to compose in Word and cut/paste over here...I know that. I hardly ever do).

That is all.

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Direct Quotes

Favorite part of the weekend: "Having a sleep-over with L".

Favorite gift: "The money, because I can do anything I want with it".

(Well, sort of. Half of it is going into savings for France, the other half is being hidden in a secret vault at the Bank Of Mom and will be accessed only after the proper forms have been filled out and notarized. Maybe not quite. But she's not going to piss it away on bake sales at school, I can tell you that).

"And my second favorite was the Bratz doll from L. OH! And the Jar O' Wisdom"1.

"You don't have to say that just because I'm blogging this".

"I'm saying it because I do like it. Oh! And tell Uncle JP that his was the first wisdom that came out of it".

Favorite thing eaten all weekend: (with eyes lit up and sparkling) "Sushi!!!!"

Favorite dessert: "That sweet & sour chocolate mousse thing at that restaurant".

(The godparents treated us to a lovely meal at a very fine restaurant. The Child behaved as elegantly as she is able, although she was coming down with a nasty cold and as a consequence, was having to blow and spew fairly often. Which she nobly attempted not to do at table. The mousse, which was in fact "bittersweet" chocolate, not sweet and sour, came in a Florentine cookie cup. It did look delicious but I didn't try any, because I was preoccupied with my poached Pear Helene, served on a plate swirled with both caramel and fudge sauce).

She says that she doesn't feel any different. She did, however, tell me yesterday, "I'm going to go rest for a bit and do some journaling"2. Oh, reeeally? That's new.

Now we are 13.

1 Couldn't find a keepsake box I liked so went with a jar.
2 Dame Judi sent her a very nice journal plus a Venetian glass pen and ink set. Yeah. I'm jealous.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Last Night I Had a Dream

I was on a mountain road, walking with The Child. It was raining and the road, which was unpaved, was deep with mud. She was naked and pushing her bicycle alongside me. She started to go toward the edge of the road, which of course, fell off into a deep, deep place. I called to her to come back to me and at first she did but she kept going back over to the edge and I was so fearful that she'd slip in the mud and be lost to me forever.

Apparently, I'm handling her transition to Teendom just great.

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This is Only a Test

Today I sneezed.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

They Say It's Your Birthday

The Child woke up at 6am. Color her excited.

At this moment, 13 years ago, I was in the home stretch, birthing-wise. It had been a particularly uneventful birth. It actually wasn't that bad. Don't get me wrong; I'm not a fan of pain. But the contractions weren't that horrible, probably because I had expected them to be so much worse. And the thing I didn't realize about contractions is that when you're not actually having one, you feel just fine.

We'd had a good time. Our labor nurse, Ina, told us that she'd never laughed so much during a delivery in her entire career. The Spouse was doing Monty Python bits ("And this is the machine that goes, 'ping'"), my best friend Lorene was there in doula mode, we were cracking jokes, listening to music and ocassionally I'd stop, writhe with pain, and then we'd get back to cracking more jokes. Plus, I got a dose of some nice little narcotic about halfway through, to take the edge off. After it had run its course, they put me in a jacuzzi tub. What's not to like about that?

The hard part was the actual pushing. Not the most fun I'd ever had. But that only lasted about an hour and then, accompanied by the Grateful Dead playing in the background, Miss Thing made her entrance. And she was beautiful.

She was 10 days post dates. That should have been a sign. She likes to do things at her own pace, in her own way. And she wasn't coming out until she was damn good and ready. They cleaned her up and put her in my arms. She wasn't crying. She had one teeny tiny hand on her face, a contemplative gesture, and looked right into my eyes with an expression that said, "Oh. So you're my mom, huh?" She didn't seem impressed. And I knew right there, in that moment, come what may, she was her own person and she would have her own mind about things.

Boy, was I right.

It is a very big deal to her that she is 13. It is a very big deal to me. I've been paying pretty close attention for 13 years but I'm still trying to wrap my head around the idea that it's actually been that long, that she's a teenager for heaven's sake and yeah, legally, we only have to take care of her for 5 more years. I've been here all this time and I still don't get how that tiny baby with the chubby chubby cheeks and a dearth of hair turned into this tall, lean, beautiful creature capable of cogent thought (sometimes), full of promise and well on her way to adulthood.

Of course, the thing about being a mother is that the kids may grow up, but you are a mom for life. I once heard my 80 or 90 something grandmother remind my mother to wipe her feet when she came in from the garden. Hello? By that time Dame Judi was a grandmother in her own right. I heard Grandma say that, looked at Mum and said, "You're never not a mom, are you?"

She smiled and said, "Nope".

I didn't have a kid at the time but it prepared me. They go into your heart, those little devils, and even when sometimes you want to ship them off to boarding school, you love them like no one else on the planet. And usually, it takes them becoming a parent themselves to realize the depth of that love. Which is as it should be.

So here we are, officially in Teendom.

Suddenly, I need a drink.

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It Takes a Village, Part Deux

"Eek Ack!", as my sainted grandma used to say.

I just realized that when I said advice for the Box o' Wisdom would be collected until 2ish PST what I meant to say was "2ish PST on FRIDAY".

So if you've got somethin' for The Child, leave a comment!

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

It Takes a Village

JP offered some excellent advice on my last post, advice so excellent that it absolutely must be included in the Box O' Wisdom. Then I started thinking, "Hey, I have many brilliant bloggie buds..."

So if you have some words of wisdom appropriate for a 13 year old, something that has helped you along the way, why don't you pass it on? Leave a comment or email me. Contributions accepted until around, oh, 2ish PST.

Uncle JP, you so rock.

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Problem Solved

First of all, thanks to Mollie, BALT & Dana for offering creative suggestions to my gift giving dilemma.

Second of all, God bless Kina.

She just called with a brilliant idea. She suggested that, since I'm a writer and all that, I write something for The Child about what her birthday means to me, the promise it holds for her and such like that there. She then suggested that I put it in a little keepsake box or some such.

This idea is fab for a couple of reasons, not the least of them being the fact that I was also planning to take The Child to dinner in the next couple of weeks, just her and me. Only when we get to the restaurant we would be greeted by the other women who are important in her life, like The Neighbor, Seattle Coffee Girl, Kina and ReeRee, for starters. The purpose of this dinner would be to ritualize the fact that she has all these amazing women in her life who have and will continue to support and guide her as she makes the journey from childhood to womanhood. Women who will share their advice and experience whenever she needs it. (It has always been very important to me that she have other women in her life, for those inevitable times when talking to me won't feel like an option). I had thought that they could all bring a piece of advice that has served them well, written on a note, that she could keep against the challenging times ahead.

So there you go. She's getting a Box o' Wisdom for her birthday. And maybe some earrings.

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I've Got a Problem

Tomorrow is The Child's birthday and I don't have a present for her.

Dame Judi and Sean are probably giving her a gift card to some cool store.

John and ChouChou are giving her 13 $5 bills.

Her godparents are taking us all out for a superfantastic dinner at a superfantastic restaurant AND they want to give her a spa day outing.

I. Got. Nothin'.

She really wants a cell phone but she isn't getting one of those until she needs it. Which she doesn't. Not to mention I'm not shelling out bucks for something that she's going to end up leaving somewhere. Because she will. This is a kid who is still not always remembering to bring home her coat and lunchbox. An iPod is out of the question, for the same reason.

When she was little it was no big deal. A book, a toy, a cute little was easy. Just walk into a shop, swing a dead cat and buy the first thing I hit.

But 13 is a big deal. It requires something more or less memorable. Doesn't it? Of course, I don't remember what I got for my 13th birthday.

She has a watch. Which she never wears. I could give her some nice earrings but she always loses those, too. She has all the Harry Potter paraphernalia a girl could want. She has all the current CDs of all the music she's into. She doesn't need a computer game and Lord knows I don't want to get anything just to be getting it.

So what do I get that will commemorate this auspices occasion, that won't break the bank, that won't just be some "thing" that will sit around in her room until I toss it out in a frenzy of decluttering?

A trip is out. She's going to Chicago this summer and France the summer after.
She's too young to drive and if we ever do give her a car it's going to be because I've upgraded and she can have my old one. She has a bike, she doesn't skateboard or ski. She's got a dog and a cat and we don't have room for a pony. She's still too young for a training tiara.

I'm completely, thoroughly and overwhelmingly stumped.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

SOTU Recap

Best line of the night:

"I'm one 'Iran' away from bingo", uttered by The Spouse, who did in fact win. The Child and I tied for second. No one got a blackout.

The President looked like a deer in the headlights coming down the aisle. Then the talking heads pointed out that he usually speaks to friendly, hand-picked audiences. Having to address a majority of Democrats would have been a little nerve-wracking.

He gets snaps for so graciously congratulating Madame Speaker Pelosi. It was very lovely. It might have been nice if he'd gone one step further and acknowledged that she succeeded in accomplishing, with sterling bi-partisan effort I might add, the "First 100 Hours Agenda" that she'd laid out:

Ethics reform
An increase in the federal minimum wage for the first time in 10 years
Enactment of the 9-11 commission's recommendations
Expanded stem-cell research
Government negotiation of prices with prescription drug companies
Student loan interest rates cut in half
The elimination of billions in subsidies for big oil companies

But you take what you can get. Interestingly, one of the words that he never did actually use was "bi-partisan". I fully expected him to make a much bigger deal of working with Congress but not so much.

For obvious reasons, however, he devoted the first half of the speech to domestic issues and programs which Dems are jiggy with. He left out a few things, like when he was talking about tax breaks for people who pay for their own insurance or don't have any. He failed to mention the part of his plan wherein insurance paid for by an employer will be treated as taxable income. Details.

It would also be nice if when he called on Congress to re-authorize "No Child Left Behind" he had pledged to fully fund it...something he still hasn't done. But again, details.

The second half of the speech was about foreign policy. That was infinitely more disappointing, given how he clings to his failed policy in Iraq. "Fear, fear, fear. Is that all he's got?" muttered The Neighbor. Yes, yes it is. Not that it's working anymore. With only 18% of the population still supporting the war, it's clearly not working. People have finally wised up to the fact that the "war on terror" is something altogether different from the mess in Iraq. I really don't understand how someone can hold so fast to such a bad idea, an idea not even supported by most Republicans, by most of the military and the vast majority of the people. How many kinds of wrong does one person have to be before he wakes up and smells the java?

But Sen. Jim Webb, who gave the Democratic response, delivered a fine smackdown. He spoke of the military service of his father, himself and his son, who is in Iraq as we speak. Then he said,

"We owed them (our leaders) our loyalty, as Americans, and we gave it. But they owed us ­ sound judgment, clear thinking, concern for our welfare, a guarantee that the threat to our country was equal to the price we might be called upon to pay in defending it.

The President took us into this war recklessly. He disregarded warnings from the national security adviser during the first Gulf War, the chief of staff of the army, two former commanding generals of the Central Command, whose jurisdiction includes Iraq, the director of operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many, many others with great integrity and long experience in national security affairs. We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable ­ and predicted ­ disarray that has followed.

The war's costs to our nation have been staggering. Financially. The damage to our reputation around the world. The lost opportunities to defeat the forces of international terrorism. And especially the precious blood of our citizens who have stepped forward to serve.

The majority of the nation no longer supports the way this war is being fought; nor does the majority of our military. We need a new direction. Not one step back from the war against international terrorism. Not a precipitous withdrawal that ignores the possibility of further chaos. But an immediate shift toward strong regionally-based diplomacy, a policy that takes our soldiers off the streets of Iraq's cities, and a formula that will in short order allow our combat forces to leave Iraq".

You go, Jim!

I only yelled at the President a couple of times (it's what I do). Laura Bush looked like a doll next to that big huge basketball player, who was the first "ordinary citizen" that was recognized. (Never heard of the guy because I don't follow the NBA. Also had never heard of the chappie who saved that guy on the NY subway. I have, apparently, been living under a rock. But I always think those little acknowledgements are kinda nice. Corny, but nice.)

So that's pretty much my take on the SOTU. What did you think?

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I Also Watch the Oscars

Even though it's probably been 5 years since I'd actually seen any of the nominated films prior to Oscar Night. No matter. The point is that the nominations came out today and Helen Mirren was nominated for best actress in "The Queen". Let's just hand her the statuette now and get it over with.

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4th Tuesday of January

It's time again to play State of the Union Bingo!

The Neighbor is joining us for sausage risotto (get it...risotto, SOTU...just me? 'K) and the game.

I always watch the State of the Union address. It isn't always easy, of course, especially when it means listening to W. But for some bizarre reason I feel like it's my duty as a citizen to subject myself to 40 minutes of lies, justifications and obfuscations. It's the American way. Plus, it will be kinda fun tonight because there will be more Democrats in the chamber than Republicans. Which means fewer standing ovations and interruptions for applause. Probably won't even take 40 minutes, considering that.

I'm making our cards for the bingo game. (I found some on line but I had better words plus I factor in camera shots. Look for shots of John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. I still remember fondly 2 years ago when there were about 3 different shots of Ted Kennedy just sitting there shaking his head in disgust at what he was hearing. Good times).

For some reason, maybe because I was thinking about words, I started picturing this video and it seemed appropriate somehow.

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Growing Up

The Child has been a little, shall we say, volatile lately. I know it's because of her impending birthday. The other night she told The Neighbor that she still wanted to be a kid.

"You'll still be a kid," she replied. "I'm still a kid at heart. So is your mom. Your dad is still a big kid".

I added that I'd felt the same way and that one of my biggest concerns about turning 13 was that I was afraid my mom would come and take away my stuffed cat, Algie, with whom I still slept.

"So I can still sleep with Lovey*"?

"Hey, I slept with Algie until your dad came along!"

She was relieved, but the worries persist. So yesterday, after school, we sat down for a snack, a few rounds of mancala and a little chat.

"How are you feeling about turning 13?"

She wiggled her hand in that motion that means "so-so".

"Anything in particular making you concerned?"

"Well, it's a lot more responsibility," she said.

"I suppose. What sort of responsibilities are you thinking about?"

"Like having more chores".

I had to wait a beat. I was expecting something big, something to do with periods or boys or even making decisions about stuff like smoking and drugs.

"So let me get this straight. You're worried about turning 13 because you think you're going to have to do more stuff around the house?"

She nodded.

"Well, if it helps, I don't have any plans to wake you up on Friday morning and give you a list of stuff to do. In fact, I'm pretty happy with the fact that lately you are very willing to help when you're asked. As long as you keep pitching in like that and keep your room clean, I don't see any need to give you more to do".

She breathed a sigh of relief.

"Anything about turning 13 that you're excited about".

"Well, it's one year closer to cool stuff".

"Such as?"

"Being able to drive, having my own house. Oh, nothing personal, Mom. But you know. And it's a year closer to being a mom".

"You're right about that. 13 is a lot closer to a lot of really great stuff. But you know, honey, the good part about getting older is that it doesn't happen all at once. You have time to adjust. It's not like you'll turn 13 and bam! you have to be grownup. And you know, when you were little and took your first steps, papa and I didn't say, 'Ok, you can walk now. We're done carrying you'. For what it's worth, we're still here for you".

She smiled. I think she feels a little better.

* A stuffed unicorn.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

15 Minutes of Accomplishment

Assuming, well, assuming all sorts of things, today might actually be "normal". It's been a long time.

"Normal" means getting up early for coffee and prayer (check), unloading the dishwasher (check), getting The Child off to school without incident (check). So far so good.

Now what it means is getting something accomplished. There's a lot that hasn't been normal lately, with the weather changing routines and all that. This has only compounded the struggle with my own little devil, the one named "Procrastination". Here's an example of how it gets me. Say I need to pungle some bills (which I do). That usually also requires entering stuff into Quicken, possibly reconciling the checkbook, adjusting my cash flow projections...all of which take time. Usually too much time, because I procrastinate. I procrastinate even when I know there is money to pay the bills, although I know part of this is a hold-over from the days when I didn't have money and every bill paying session was accompanied by a clenched stomach, dry mouth and shaking hands. The other part of it is just that because I put it off there is always a ton to do and I feel overwhelmed so I just don't do it at all. Which means that there is even more on the pile the next time I think to tackle it.

Or take editing that liturgy book. I finished the manuscript last January. I've done very little on the editing. Because it's a big job. It's going to involve some re-writing. I don't enjoy that so much. So I put it off. And I also put it off because I think that if I can't devote a couple of hours to it then I shouldn't bother at all. Which is why the job isn't close to being completed.

I've mentioned Flylady before. I've adopted a lot of her common sense principles to good effect but one of the things I haven't heeded as much is her "15 minute" rule, to whit "You can do anything for 15 minutes". More than that, she emphasizes that once you've logged your 15 minutes, you're done. She encourages people to not stress if the whole project isn't completed right away. Which makes particular sense when you're talking about something like paperwork or ironing or some other quotidian task that's still going to be there tomorrow no matter what.

So I'm going to focus on that 15 minute thing...dedicating little chunks of time to projects that don't necessarily thrill me to the marrow but can't be ignored forever. Doing certain things every day for 15 minutes (like book-keeping) will necessarily result in having less to do over time. As for bigger projects, well, yes, the first thing my little devil voice said was, "You can't get a book done by only editing for 15 minutes a day". To which I replied, "15 minutes is a damn sight more time than I'm spending right now". What's the old do you eat a bite at a time. (Hopefully cream sauce is involved).

For additional incentive, The Neighbor and I have adopted a new ritual of sharing our daily accomplishments when we have our evening glass o' wine. Because we both have a tendency to focus on what we didn't do. This way, we celebrate what we have done, however small or insignificant it may be. And because we know we are going to be sharing it with someone else, it prods both of us to make sure we actually have something to share. Yay us.

So as long as a blizzard doesn't start or The Child isn't suddenly taken ill or The Dog doesn't run away from home, I may be able to have a "normal" day. And get something done.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

(Nearly) Teenage Drama Queen: Epilogue

We all know what I was expecting. The Child would fail miserably, be humiliated and just possibly in the midst of such a tragic fall, learn a lesson.

She competed in 2 rounds. She ranked 2nd in both. She received terrifically high marks. She got affirming, fabulous comments. None of the judges said a critical lick about her presentation, only offering helpful hints for doing even better. In short, no crashing, no burning, no humiliation.

She floated to the car on the proverbial cloud of bliss.

I may be the worst mother in the world, but I am not going to be one of those parents who is so hell-bent on making the point that the bubble need be burst too soon.

So she glimmered and glowed and cooed for a bit. And I told her that I was very proud of her. Then, oh so casually, I began to share with her the conversation The Neighbor and I had about procrastination. ("What's that?" she asked. I gave illustrations from my own life. They are myriad).

And then, as gently and sweetly as I could I asked, "Given what I've just shared with you, is there anything you've learned today?"

"I learned that I can do pretty well!"

Not the answer we were looking for, was it? "Yes. You did very well and I am extremely proud of you. But Child, think about it. You ranked second without practising very much. What do you think would happen if you spent a little time every day on this?"

"OH!" Her eyes gleamed. "I could probably win an award!"

Ya think?

So I challenged her to spend 15 minutes a day on her speech between now and the next competition, which is in 2 weeks. And she accepted. In fact, she started practising right there in the car. A few minutes in she looked up and said, "Mom, I just love speech!"

Color me speechless.

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(Nearly) Teen-age Drama Queen: Act, um, I've Lost Count...

The Child, being 12, is still working out the whole "priorities" thing. Yesterday morning she explained to me her "game plan".

"When I get home from school I'm going to do my homework and then practise, practise, practise my speech".

This was a good plan as she has a speech tournament today and was not super majorly prepared. This isn't entirely her fault; the disruptions of illness and snow meant she'd missed some speech club meetings. But she's still supposed to be practising on her own time and really only began in earnest this week.

Whatever, right? I am officially at the place of backing off and allowing her to sink or swim. I can nag but a) she is only going to hear that Charlie Brown "wha wha" voice and 2) she just has to start stepping up. Mama isn't going to follow along and clean up her messes forever. I figure that if she's not fully prepared and doesn't do as well as she could, well, that's how she's going to learn that you can't phone in these things.

Right. So I get her from school and turns out she has no homework. Excellent. More time to practise. We get home and lo, a phone call comes from a friend. To come over and watch a movie.

"What about your speech?"

"Well, AM and I practised twice today already. And I'll just run over for a while and then I can work on it".

"But you're making dinner".

"I know," (and that was not uttered in a benign fashion. It was a teenage "I know", full of drawn out vowels, rolling eyes and a tone of "could my mother be more annoying?"). "Mom, I will still have plenty of time".

I had two choices. I could have put my foot down, made her stay home and forced her to practise her speech. Never mind that doing so would have meant eating up valuable practise time with the inevitable shouting/door slamming/crockery heaving/invective slinging of a child denied her fun. So I opted for Door Number 2.

"Fine, go. I think it's an unwise choice but if you really think you can be prepared then go. Be home by 6:30".

Which she was. (I was having Friday night wine and deep conversation with The Neighbor but The Spouse was monitoring the situation). And she started the pizza dough. And then she sat down. To play computer games.

We have our pizza, we watch our movie and it's bed-time. It's also 11pm. And she realizes, with tears, that she's left the book, containing her speech, at her friend's house.

Would you like to know who is responsible for this?

Dad, for making her start the pizza dough, me for not typing out the selection earlier in the week. Dad, for telling her she shouldn't have taken the book out of the house in the first place, me for suggesting that had she practised when she got home like she'd went on and on. You know who wasn't responsible for any of this? Her.

Poor little pawn of fate.

I think she cried herself to sleep.

I got up at frakking 6:30 this morning (freaking out The Spouse who thought for one bleary moment that his alarm had failed to go off). I needed some time to myself before the potential drama of the morning ensued. I woke her at 7. She was going to try and call the neighbors in hopes someone would be up that early on a Saturday morning. If she could retrieve her book, fine. If not, she was going to have to forfeit and deal with the consequences.

She got her book, she's at the tournament and all is well. Or at least quiet.

According to Article 6, Section i of the "Worst Mother in the World Handbook" I need to ask her what she's learned from this experience. Where did I put that body armor?

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Friday, January 19, 2007

A Mess O' Random Things

Things I Bought at the Grocery Store Today

Wisconsin sharp cheddar cheese. We always have a large thop of Tillamook medium cheddar around the house but ever since Legal Alien sent me his electoral debt I've been jonesing for some nice sharp cheddar with my evening apple. I'm sure it won't be as good as the stuff LA sent but it will make me happy.

Stuff for pizza. The Child has taken to making dinner on Friday night. Trader Joe's was out of pepperoni so we'll have proscuitto. Pizza and a movie. Is there much better than that? Well, yes...having a night off from cooking myself.

A "1" candle and a "3" candle. Someone in this house has a very important birthday next Friday. And may I just say, for the record, she is feeling every inch of that impending birthday, alternately embracing it and freaking out. Which is to say that she has been a wicked pain in the ass most of the time. When she's not pulling faces, yelling at us or pushing boundaries like she's getting paid for it, she is a cuddly booface. Last night, for example, after entirely too much stürm und dräng, she wanted me to sing her a lullaby. And that's why they invented boarding school.

A tin of cookies. But not just any tin. I'm a sucker for packaging. Sad but true. Trader Joe's had tins of French butter biscuits from Brittany. More to the point, they were in a charming faïence (also known as Quimper) tin. With a rooster on it, no less. And you now how I am about French stuff. And chickens. Hello? It was calling my name. See how cute?

I don't know if the cookies are any good and I don't even care. They've already been transferred to the cookie jar and the tin is now on my desk holding unattractive but necessary desk items. And all for $2.

When we were in Nantes for Nicole's wedding I mentioned wanting to get a piece of Quimper before I left. One of her French friends was disgusted. "Oh, that crap!" he exclaimed, "Why would you want something so tacky?" He likened it to visiting Seattle and coming away with a Space Needle snowglobe. I politely begged to differ but I think from that moment on he assumed I must live in a trailer park.

Undeterred, I bought a sweet vase for something like 75 francs.

It especially nice when filled with daffodils or tulips.

Other stuff:

During the snow we put down cat litter on some icy spots and now whenever anyone comes into the house they track these ghosty white footprints through the living room. I really need to sweep that stuff up because this mopping every day thing is so not my style. Although my floors haven't been this clean since we moved in.

The Child has a speech tournament tomorrow. This is of no consequence to me as we established last time that she doesn't want me around. I'll drop her in the morning and pick her up in the evening. Thus there will be no interference with my VJ duties over at "Here's the 80s", which is all I care about on Saturdays. I'm excited about this weekend's theme, mostly because I'm going to get to play a bunch of artists that I really like. Plus it's going to be fun to see how long it takes anyone to figure out the theme, which must be stated in the correct phrase in order to win the big prize. "You should definitely come over and play", she said, jumping quickly onto the Shameless Self-promotion bandwagon.

Good News/Potentially Bad News
In talking with our principal yesterday it turns out that we probably won't have to make up any snow days, partly because we have a longer school day than many of the other Catholic schools plus have the equivalent of 2 emergency days built into the schedule. So we haven't cut that much into our required hours for the year. She has proposed to the archdiocese that we have full sessions on the first Friday of the remaining months of the school year (usually the kids get out at noon on First Friday) and if they approve then we won't have to change the last day of school. The bad news? The Farmer's Almanac predicted that this would be a hard winter here. It correctly predicted all the rain and snow in November, the Big Blow in December and the snow we just had. Guess what it has to say about February? And I quote, "The heaviest snow will fall in mid- to late February". Out of the woods yet, not so much.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Things I Wish

I would like to be Benevolent Dictator of the World. I would take on this job for a small stipend and a superfantastic tiara*. That's all. Countries could still even have their own leaders, provided those leaders were able to play nicely with others. If they couldn't, they would get a time out. I am tired of stupid leaders, tribal atrocities and global warming. Someone has to do something. I think I'd do a good job. Plus everyone would have all the applesauce cake and 80s music they wanted.

I wish that whenever The Child asked for the 412th time for some stupid thing that I'd already told her she couldn't have my head would convert into a large blue neon "NO" that would blink on and off until she stopped begging. (I am now convinced that she will become a lawyer and go to work for a big lobbying firm. This does not please me, but she is obviously gifted).

It would be nice to have a force field around the stovetop so that The Cat would bounce off of it whenever she tried to jump up to eat something that is thawing up there. (Getting rid of the cat is not an option, Charlie).

There should be new episodes of "Gilmore girls" and "Battlestar Galactica" every week, in perpetuity, until I grow weary of them. (There is a new episode of "BSG" on Sunday. I. Can't. Wait.)

I would like my neighborhood to stay exactly as it is except that it would look like a French village and there would be a fabulous boulangerie next door. A girl should be able to get pain au chocolat whenever she wants.

I want a pigmy goat. Also chickens.

I think that's everything.

* By the way, Neighbor. You know that superfantastic birthday party you're planning for later this year? Yeah. I really want a tiara. Totally serious.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Inching Back Toward "Normal"

There is a little stone cherub who reclines, head on hand, in my kitchen garden. Last night I noticed that, after sleeping under a blanket of snow all week, he'd finally popped his head out. I almost took a picture because it amused me, just this little cherub head floating on the surface of the snow. But I didn't.

This morning I went to check on him and now his shoulders, hips and top leg are airing out. That means that about 1 inch of snow melted overnight. The slush season has begun.

School is starting 2 hours late today, but it will be in session. Cars are driving at normal speeds in front of the house. All the fabulous icicles, which I also neglected to photograph, have dripped away. Bare patches of grass are peeping through the snow. The Big Chill has moved on. I'm okay with that, save for the temptation to climb on the roof of The Neighbor's carport and make a snow angel in the last pure patch of white.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Whataya Do With The City's Largest Snowball?

Make the city's largest snowman, of course.
He measured 7 feet, 3 inches.
He's a big Seahawks fan. Poor fella.You can also build snowchairs.

That way, you can sit and contemplate the city's biggest snowman.

Ah, but the Chinook, she is blowin'. Everything is turning to slush now, and the snowman soon will return to the earth. It's the circle of life (she sang).

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When Life Gives You Snow



Another storm warning was issued yesterday. This warranted some discussion. The Neighbor mused about how she would get to Tacoma for a meeting if that were the case. But we didn't take it too seriously. The fact is, every few years we have some snow fall and then it warms up and it rains until June. That we still have snow in our yards after a week is a little crazy but surely we'll get back to normal soon enough.

The only thing I worried about was the side streets, which still bear a fair amount of snow and ice from last week's storm. To get to The Child's school I have to go up and down some significant hills. The main arterials are all clear and have been for days. It's getting to them that can still be a challenge. If it did snow, even a little, that could make the morning communte nerve-wrackingly slippy-slidey.

I needn't have worried. At 5:30 The Spouse gently shook me awake. "Look", he said, singing his little "la la lalala" to the tune of "Sleigh Ride". The snow was coming down. Hard. And it's supposed to snow like this for at least another hour. The reports are suggesting that it will turn to rain later today, which, if it clears the roads and doesn't freeze over tonight, means we'll get back to normal tomorrow. Or we won't.

Things to Do Today:
  • Eat a big bowl of Scotch oats with lots of brown sugar and maple walnuts.
  • Make a snow angel. Maybe 3.
  • Bake something. Maybe some brioche, or some cinnamon rolls.
  • Make a big pot of soup for The Child's lunch.
  • Do something academic with The Child. She is going to be dumb as a brick if this keeps up. Perhaps I should just plan on homeschooling her until spring.
  • Enjoy the beautiful, pristine landscape as long as I can.

A lot of people have grown weary of all this. Some reporter was even talking about kids who were disappointed to see more snow. (I doubt they are upset about the snow, per se. It's the prospect of being in school into July that is no doubt weighing on them). But I'm not yet weary of the pristine views, the quiet days punctuated only by the crunch of intrepid kids looking for a new sledding spot. I like that the bare patches in the back garden, churned up by The Dog, are all frosted over again. I like that it is so frosty brisk outside and so toasty warm inside. This snow is a rare and beautiful gift. So long as I don't have to drive in it, I don't mind a bit.

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An Open Letter to My Midwestern Readers

Dear Midwestern Readers,





Monday, January 15, 2007

I Have a Dream

I've been struggling with this post and just realized it's to do with always feeling that, as a white person, I have nothing meaningful to say about discrimination. But then I remember that I am a woman and as such have had my share of experiences wherein who I was counted against me. I realize that what's holding me back is "liberal white guilt", something I don't actually indulge in. Because it is an indulgence. "Look how progressive and concerned I am; I hate myself for not having suffered". Well, bollocks.

So here's what I want to say.

Today we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, and with good reason. He had a dream and he dared to share that dream with America and his vision took us to a new and better place. We're all well aware that the dream has not been perfectly fulfilled. The winds of Katrina showed us that, if nothing else. We can all point to any number of places in American life where racism still holds sway. And that stinks. But to act as if we've made no progress is a little silly, too. In a little more than 40 years we've gone from a situation where blacks weren't allowed to vote to a black man being seriously considered a candidate for the presidency. We've travelled from a world of separate drinking fountains and "whites only" dining counters to a place where people of color are leading lights in every area of of our society.

It's taken us too long and we still have a long way to go to get to the mountaintop that Dr. King dreamt of but we're getting there. And that is something. It is a marvelous something. And we just need to keep plugging our way there, lit by the fierce light of justice. Whenever we see where we are falling short we need to speak out against it and act to change it. Racism is like a morning glory weed. It needs to be vigourously rooted out anytime we see a little shoot of it coming up. We all have to be diligent. But the fact that it still exists shouldn't blind us to the fact that the world our children are living in is still very different from the one we knew.

I look at my child (my very blond, very European little child) and I have hope. I think Dr. King would look at her and say, "That's what I'm talking about". She and many of her generation are our best shot at moving to that next level, the one Dr. King was talking about when he said that he dreamed of the day when his children would be judged "not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character".

It's not that The Spouse and I have done the world's most agressive job of teaching her about civil rights and injustice and all those other big concepts that "liberals" are so het up about. Mostly, what we've tried to do is just show her how to live in a way that honors the dignity of all people. Because if you believe that everyone has dignity and worth, then you can't discriminate.

It probably helps that we live in a big city. "Multi-culturalism" isn't a concept so much as a familiar way of life for The Child. She lives in the most racial, economically and religously diverse neighborhood in Seattle. Her parish church is full of color. She has been the minority in both of the schools she's attended thus far. She has friends who are black and Asian and white. She has, from the beginning, been side by side with lots of children of lots of backgrounds and that familiarity makes "diversity" almost a no-brainer. She's been on the recieving end of prejudice. She's been mocked for the color of her skin. And she did not like it. All this goes to inform a conciousness of acceptance, tolerance and an innate sense of justice that pushes her closer to the fulfillment of The Dream.

One day she came to me and said, "I think it's stupid to call people 'black'".

"Why is that?" I asked, being very restrained and not wanting to jump down her throat too soon.

"Well, it's not very accurate is it? Because my friends have lots of different colors. Jackie looks like a chocolate kiss but Jaimie looks like a latte. Myra looks like cocoa with whipped cream in it. And I'm not white...I'm pinky white". She was 6.

Maybe that's just an artist's eye, but I think it goes to something more. The color of a friend's skin is remarkable in the way the color of her hair or eyes are; it is a part of how she looks, but it isn't to do with who she is. And it's that sort of thinking that's going to get us that much closer to the mountaintop.

If you have a little time today, and if you haven't already encountered this clip 412 other places, watch Dr. King state his vision for the future and then embrace the continuing call to bring it to fruition.


Saturday, January 13, 2007

I'm Living in a Currier and Ives Painting

It's snowing again. Has been for the last 3 hours or so. Amazing. They said that it was going to warm up to a "balmy" 40 degrees by Monday. They said that it would be clear and cold through Wednesday. They even went so far as to note that if we had 4 straight days of sunshine it would be the first time since October. They obviously don't know what they are talking about.

The Spouse is splitting wood. The Child is getting ready to go sledding. Again.

This is the wackiest winter ever. It's actually winter. Go figure.


Friday, January 12, 2007

Bearer of Glad Tidings

It was the standard routine. The Spouse kissed me goodbye, then kissed The Dog, whispering softly into his shaggy ears, "I'll miss you most of all". (Yes. He really says that. Right in front of me). As the door closed behind him my alarm went off. The Dog had started to lick my nose so it was easier than usual to rise right away and besides, it's grocery day and I haven't planned a menu yet.

Here was the plan: have some coffee, plan the menu and make the grocery list, rouse The Child, leave the house by 7:30 to pick up a classmate in order to get to school by 8 in order to get to coffee by 8:30, assuming certain road conditions or what-have-you. Because I've been late for coffee the last few weeks and that's not good.

Then I noticed that there's still a bit of snow on the ground and the temperature had dropped significantly last night. Best check the news because school might have a late start and there's certainly no way I'm going to rush around and force The Child to hustle out of bed if we don't have to be there until 10.

The ticker on the morning news was just getting to King County private schools when I turned on the TV. There was a long list of "Our Lady ofs" before the saints started. But there was a clear trend: hardly anyone was starting late. And then St. G flashed on: school closed. Just like all the other iced over private schools. Closed, closed, closed! Another snow day!

I would make a terrible school principal.

The Child went to bed assuming there would be school, thus she will be sleeping for several more hours. When she stumbles out with a wondering expression I'll be able to tell her the superfantastic news. And since she's caught up on her home work and since it's a 3 day weekend anyway because of Martin Luther King Day, she now has 4 days stretched before her. And snow is involved.

This so rocks.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Obligatory Snow Photos

This was our back deck after about an hour of snow last night.

The Neighbor's apple tree.

The kitchen garden.

Garden pots.


The rose garden.

The Dog, it turns out, is quite a snow dog. He had the best time running around and nipping at snow flakes.

The Spouse took him and The Child out for a night-time walk. Check out the snowballs that gathered on his furry little paws.

Our Lady of the Snows.

The Japanese maple.

The birdhouse on the playhouse.

The Child off for a morning of sledding.


You Know What I Love?

I love lying in bed in the dark of the early morning, listening to the gentle voices of the NPR hosts. I especially love it when they say, "Seattle Public Schools closed", because if the public schools are closed, so are we. Snow day!!!!!!!!!!

The snow started to fall around 4 yesterday afternoon. First it came in fat pellets of snowy hail. But after laying a nice crumb coat of icing, the snow began in earnest and it fell until at least 11pm.

Our snow blanket is 4 inches thick, with drifts that are even deeper elsewhere. But 4 inches is enough to make everything beautiful. Everything. I love that about snow. The Psalmist said, "Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow", the most apt of apt metaphors. Weedy gardens are smooth, lush with snow. Bare branches and the empty rat-tail vines of the hop plant are rounded with blooms of white. The snow is very powdery and little blizzards occasionally blow from tree branches and rooftops. A small group of tiny black birds gathered in a tree across the street and I'm pretty sure one of them said, "Oh, this is why we're supposed to fly south for the winter".

The light has a blue tint and the air is quiet. Even now, at the height of the morning, there is that particular hush that only happens when it snows. The only sound is The Dog, barking furiously at the children walking past, dragging sleds up the hill. (Sleds around here could mean anything from an actual sled (rare) to a large slab of cardboard (more common)).

The Child has been out since 8am with neighbors. She would have gone sooner but I was trying to enjoy the luxury of sleeping in on a school day. Funny how I have to use a cattle prod and air horn to rouse her on any given morning but today she was up at 6:30, watching the news and waiting, as only a kid can wait, for assurance that school would be closed.

The sky is perfectly blue now. It is still very cold but that is small comfort. Around here, snow disappears as quickly as it comes. Last night the street was full of families, making snow angels while the moon shone, because there wasn't even a guarantee that there would still be snow come morning. Now we all expect it to be gone by evening and the landscape will resume its dark, sodden January appearance. But for now we get to enjoy the luxury of perfected landscapes, the giddy pleasure of marking virgin snow with a footprint, the delectable comfort of hands chilled red, cupped over a steaming cup of cocoa. Snow day!!!


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I'm Still Not an Expert

But I am a published author.

Yesterday I received my copies of the inauguaral issue of ""Unbound Press". Both Amy and Charlie had been emailing to see if it had arrived yet and I was starting to get anxious. But arrive it did, in a driving rain storm.

I took it into the kitchen and sat at my desk. I opened it carefully. I held it in my hands for a minute, just looking at it and then turned it over. There was the list of contributors. There, right at the bottom (alphabetical order, don'tcha know) was my name. My name. In print. I opened it up and started looking, leafing through the photographs and poetry and writing of others. I'll get to them later. And there it was, on page 159. My essay.

It's a slim enough volume but it has weight. It has, more specifically, the heft of accomplishment. I wrote something and someone else thought it was good enough to commit to print. I told Charlie that now I was going to be insufferable. (That's apparently my new favorite word). But really what it makes me feel is humbled. And really, really inspired.

Amy, S1 and Charlie did a rocking good job on this first issue. They hope to do more but these labors of love need capital. Please go check out the website and order a copy. (And no, I'm not being paid to say that).

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I'm Not an Expert

I've been thinking a lot lately about experts. It started with (cue the shameless self-promotion) "Here's the 80s" . JP and I started that blog for one reason and one reason only: we love the 80s. We don't consider ourselves experts. We both have favorite bands that we know a lot about and could, in those cases, be considered experts on some level. But we don't know tons of stuff about who produced who and where groups got their names. We do not have all sorts of information about the time that Biff McBifferson, lead guitarist for Smarty and the Pants, got into a bar fight with bassist Chuck Chuckerson over his dalliance Lola, the 3rd backup singer from the left, and so he left to form ChaCha and the Dogs and how their first big hit "Scratch This" is really all about what a lout Chuck was. Most of the time, if we have factoids like that, it's because we read it on Wikipedia right before publishing the post.

But we have a very enthusiastic and knowledgeable fan base, who seem to be full of such information, and while I can't speak for JP on this, it sometimes makes me feel a little I should spend the next several months immersing myself in the history of the 80s so I can do a better job of pontificating about the details of the era. But then I think, "Hey, this isn't public radio". I don't think people are going to come to our site and stay there because we're founts of information. I think they'll come because it's fun. It's eclectic. It's a place to spend an average of 12:51 listening to great music from a great era. Period. And frankly, I think if we got too heavy on the information it would be a lot less fun for the people just looking for a good song.

There are some things I know a lot about: cooking and entertaining, for example. But I'm not Martha Stewart. I know how to save a broken sauce, which herbs compliment which kinds of cuisine and am a fair hand at pairing wine with food. I still think red Hawaiian sea salt tastes exactly like kosher salt. I just use it sometimes because it's super pretty. I love giving people cooking tips, but I try to do it only when they ask. Because while sharing information is fun I don't want to seem like an insufferable know-it all.

I am not an expert on gardening. I go to my friend, Lorene, for that. I certainly can tell when someone has a lovely garden but I can't identify every plant and I don't know any of the Latin names for any of them. (Except sage, which in Latin is salvia). But Lorene tells me that it doesn't matter if I know the Latin name for plants because even if I did they wouldn't come when I call them.

I know quite a lot about Henry VIII and his 6 wives but couldn't have a meaningful conversation about the economic forces at play in the Tudor period. Idaho is the Gem State. Deciduous trees are the ones that lose their leaves. White vinegar makes a good non-toxic cleaner. You can power a clock with a potato. Gerald Ford was our 38th president. Lincoln was the 16th. 3+5=8

I know things. But there are a lot of things in which I am constantly engaged about which I know virtually nothing. Parenting, for example. Totally making that up as I go along. I can give good advice to friends who are pregnant or have small children, owing to the "been there, done that" principle. That still doesn't make me an expert. I couldn't sell out seminars to people clamoring for my wisdom. I'm still learning how to write. I spell well and know enough not to split infinitives. But every day I realize how much is left to learn.

So what is it about experts? Why do some of them seem so interesting and others are just plain insufferable? Why do we rely so much upon experts in lieu of figuring things out for ourselves? This is not to say that having experts is a bad thing. It's not. We need experts to fix our computers, help us address the problem of global warming and guide us over the rocky shoals of raising a teenager. Experts have the ability to inform, empower and challenge. They can also bore you to death.

I've been listening to a lot of experts lately and here's what I've figured out. I love the ones who are so passionate about their topic that they just can't help sharing. People like that make even the most obsure subject fascinating. That's a good thing. I just don't like it when people share their knowledge because they want you to be impressed with their "depth". It's sad when someone needs you to be impressed with how much they know. People should have a more profound definition of themselves than that. I don't want to be known for knowing things. I want to be known for loving them.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Illness, Not a Lot

The Child is going to live.

She slept most of the afternoon yesterday and so did I. General headachiness and feelings of bleh abounded. It seemed perfectly reasonable to take it easy now and possibly ward off worse contagion and that's what we did.

Took her to the doctor today to have a tetnus shot as she managed to scamper over a rusty nail on Sunday. That'll learn her not to listen when Mummy says, "Those really aren't the best shoes for playing outside". (Open toed sandals with heels...what was she thinking?)

We just finished watching Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth". She's planning on doing a project on global warming for the school science fair and when I told her about the movie she asked to see it. Just happened to have it at the top of my Netflix queue. If you haven't seen it, you really must. The science is presented in understandable terms, it's amusing and as angry as some of it can make you, it also ends with a very positive "we can turn this around" message full of practical points on how to do so. Highly recommend the film, highly recommend acting on the information presented.

"Why wasn't he our President, Mom?" she asked when it was over. I'm too tired to explain that again.

Time for another preventative nap and then The Child asked if we could pretend that we are Hermione Granger and Ginnie Weasley cleaning up Grimauld Place as a surprise for Harry Potter. Grimauld Place being her room. Whatever works.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

May I Have Your Attention, Please?

I truly appreciate how y'all are stepping up to accept responsibility for possibly infecting my household with flu.

For what it's worth, I would rather that you just refrain from infecting us in the first place.

Thank you.


Oh Great.

School just called. The Child is coming down with the flu.


Adding It Up

A friend was bemoaning her lack of achievement in the last week or so; projects that had stalled, things left undone, decisions to be made that had become burdensome.


A recent conversation with The Neighbor went something like this:

Her: "I picked out a light fixture for my bathroom. And I finally cleaned out my fridge".

Me: "I blogged".

On Saturday The Spouse cleaned out the garage and made enchilada sauce. That night he went to bed and burned through a fever.
It's January.
I always expect to be in a "fresh start/clean slate" mood the first week of January but it doesn't really kick in until around, oh, now. That first week is a loss leader. Too much effort is expended just in the mere effort of getting back into a routine. Plus, I really think that those of us in the Northwest aren't just dealing with the pleasant disruption of the holiday season. Everyone seems to be walking around in the same miasma composed of equal parts holiday whatevers, astonishing amounts of rain (even for Seattle) and post-storm recovery. It's taking all of us longer than expected to get on solid ground. Yesterday I'd just gotten home from church and went out in the north garden to check on something. My heels sank into the ground to the soles of the shoes. It was an apt metaphor.
This morning's NY Times had an article about how NW residents are looking differently at trees since the storm. That's certainly true for us. Seattle is one of the most wooded metropolitan areas in the country. We know they are there but they are part of the background. We used to take them for granted. Now The Child and I will be driving to school or such and see big trees and wonder "why didn't that one come down"? I notice a big tree in front of a house and think if that were mine I'd seriously consider it's removal. What used to be a noble, spreading expanse of carbon dioxide consumption now looks like a threat.
And even though there hasn't been anything on the magnitude of the Big Blow, we are still having windstorms and it's weird because we notice them. And we watch the trees. And we really, really notice when the wind stops blowing. I'm sure the skittishness we're all feeling will pass, eventually. But maybe not. Turns out, that whole experience was a big deal.
This morning it is calm and clear. The house is back to normal. Everyone is where they are supposed to be. Perhaps today will be the beginning of getting something done. I hope so. It would feel nice.

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Scenes from Twelfth Night

The Three Kings finally arrive at the crib....bringing gold, frankincense and myrrh. The Child and The Neighbor sharing a holiday moment.Chimichangas. Told you they were bigger than your head.
Searching for the charm. Look who found it!*Once the charm is found, it's a lot easier to dig into your cake.The Neighbor enjoyed hers. Until she couldn't eat any more, what with the whole "bigger than her head" chimichanga that she'd gamely worked on earlier.
The Dog did not understand why he couldn't have chimichangas or cake. Isn't he part of the family, too? He paid his queen homage, but probably just because he thought maybe then he'd get a treat.The paperwhites lasted through all the 12 days of Christmas.

*I was really only queen by proxy. As the evening wore on The Spouse wasn't feeling well, though he was gamely entering in to the festivities. After cake was served he beckoned me over with a "come here, honey", gave me a kiss and popped the charm in my mouth. Yes, he'd found it, but he knew he wasn't up to reigning, with all that it required. So I ruled in his stead. Please don't tell The Child.

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

12th Night, or Morning as the Case May Be

I will be baking cakes today. Lots and lots of cakes. You may recall that I had baked a dozen mini eggnog bundt cakes to give our to the teachers and staff at The Child's school. That same night the worst storm in 412 years blew in, disrupting our lives for a week. Which meant that the cakes were given out to neighbors and hungry linemen.

I had decided to make another batch by the time school began again but the general laziness of Christmas week prevented me from caring. So I figured, hey! I'll make 'em for Epiphany. Which is today, but the point is that there will be a little token of appreciation for all the nice people at school come Monday and won't they be surprised what with Christmas being over and all that?

Then we also need a 12th Night Cake for dinner. I'd hazard a guess, because I could care less about researching it, that there is a traditional recipe for 12th night cakes and I'll just bet you lots of dried and/or candied fruits are involved. Which would make that a non-starter around here. So every year I make up a nice light orange cake that is very delicious and which looks very pretty when baked in the bundt pan that looks sort of like a cathedral and then sprinkled with confectioner's sugar. All I have to do to make it into a proper 12th night cake is remember to stir a charm or coin into the batter. The person who finds the charm (hopefully without breaking his or her teeth) is the King or Queen of the Feast. And since 12th Night is falling on a Saturday, we'll actually be able to give the King/Queen their proper due, which is to be allowed to choose the entertainments for the evening. Oh! And I need to make a crown. There's some tinselly stuff around here somewhere.

The Spouse will shortly be making enchilada sauce. The Child is going to help me "make the table small", one of the final of the Christmas rituals, as it turns out. For 2 weeks now it has been stretched out full, all leaves in, surrounded by chairs and taking up quite a lot of room. It has accomodated a lot of friends and food and that's been very nice. But 12 days of feasting really is enough, thank you very much. It will be nice to take down the very last of the Christmas trappings, burn the greens from the mantal on the fire tonight and sit cozily around a table sized for four.

The Neighbor will be joining us for our last feast, which will be lovely. (And which makes me think that this year's Cake should be individual bundts because with just 4 feasting we might have to eat our way through a lot of cake to find the charm. Eating a lot of cake may sound like a good thing but The Spouse is making his amazing bigger-than-your-head chimichangas for dinner and there won't be a ton of room left for cake. Trust me).

Hope you have a very nice Saturday...come on over to Here's the 80s for a little musical fun. That's likely where I'll be the rest of the day.

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Very Early Saturday Morning Quiz or Why Am I Not in Bed Yet?

Which SciFi/Fantasy Character Are You?


Possessing a rare combination of wisdom and humility, while serenely dominating your environment you selflessly use your powers to care for others.

Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

Know why this makes me happy? 'Cause I love Cate Blanchet.


Friday, January 05, 2007

Attention Please

My neice Molly, one of the coolest young people on the planet, turns 17 today.

I. Can't. Stand. It.

Oh, she was such a funny little tiny peanut thing, with a head full of curls and the pixiest of expressions. And that was just yesterday. Now she's a graceful, talented, lovely woman. She has a huge heart, a deep faith, a gorgeous sense of humor and, I'm running out of superlatives but suffice to say she makes me proud. Being her auntie is a joy. And I adore her.

Happy Birthday, Mols!


On the 11th Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me

A front room all full of pine
Needles, that is. And I expect they will keep turning up until September. As is the way of pine needles.
Did you happen to see Michael Chertoff on the news the other day? There was a ranking of major cities according to their preparedness for an emergency. Seattle is right smack in the middle. I don't usually agree with anything that comes out of the current administration but I can't argue with this one. Unless it's to suggest that we should have ranked lower. Apparently our key areas of weakness are in not having a comprehensive plan and lack of communication. Ya think? With the sting of the Big Blow still fresh in our minds, I'd agree that the utter inability of city agencies and utilities to talk to each other would be a huge problem. Apparently we have to clean up our act if we expect a lot of homeland security money. Get on it, people.
Last night I was flipping through channels and found C-Span just after my homegirl, Maria Cantwell had been sworn into the 110th Congress. I did a little happy dance. Then I got to see good old Dick Cheney swearing in the next group of senators, which included Hillary Clinton. Must have been a tough day for the old boy. Not that feeling sorry for Dick Cheney is something I'm wont to do, either.
What else? Oh. Right. Tomorrow is the big inaugural launch of Here's the 80s, JP's and my new blog. "Inaugural" might seem like a strong word for something we've been posting on for a week. But this week we've just been trying to get up all the videos I posted through November and December. Tomorrow we start with all new videos, all new commentary and all new fun. Be a part of it, won't you? It's going to be huge and you'll want to say you were there. Tell all your friends. In the meantime, a big shout out to Evangeline, Red7Eric, Barista Brat, Sling and The Spouse for being so faithful already. (We had something like 80 hits yesterday so there are other people reading and we appreciate you, too. But those are the folks who've been commenting). And for those of you who might have been put off by my pissy little rules about what I would and wouldn't play, fear not. Hair metal is definitely being played. And yes, Iwanski, there will even be rap. (You might want to make some requests, since we don't really know the genre).
Anyhoo, putting the blog together has been a ton o' fun. Although last night we hit our first glitch. Turns out Blogger has an algorithm that alerts them to blogs with lots of daily posts. It's how they snoop out spammers. So we've been blacklisted until they can look at our blog and see that we're not trying to sell penile implants and pharmaceuticals. But every once in a while we manage to post new stuff so we're going to keep trying until our own personal McCarthy era comes to an end. Where is Edward R. Murrow when you need him?
Also in Blogtopian news, the 2007 Bloggies will be awarded soon. Nominations are now being accepted. Go check it out and nominate your favorite blogs. I love a good awards show. I wonder if they can get Jon Stewart to host.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Christmas. Day 10. The Big Wind-Down

I'm over my dumpster hysteria of the last couple of days, having made prodigious advances toward the reclaimation of space and sanity. This involved, though was not limited to, taking down the Christmas tree. I like the idea of leaving it up until Epiphany but when the ornaments start jumping off it on their own accord, I can take a hint.

The aforementioned drama with The Child was taking place while I was bundling up the ornaments, which made me sort of sad because I would have liked the moment to have been as sweet and happy as when the ornaments were first placed on the tree. Oh well.

By the time I'd hauled out the tree and swept up the plethora of needles, she was calm again. She helped me get the decoration boxes up into the attic and then made cocoa.

One of her 12 days presents was a certificate for us to take cocoa and go on a car ride to look at Christmas lights. I really wanted to do it yesterday because for most people Christmas is over already. We found some very nice displays and did plenty of "oohing" and "aahing" and talked very nicely about many things. Not school. The cocoa was delicious and the time was even sweeter.

Her gift today was a wooden artist's model of a cat.

We saw 4 houses that had put up lighted peace symbols. That was very cool.

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Allow Me to Save You a Few Bucks in Therapy

It actually isn't all your mother's fault.

Here's how I know.

You'll recall that The Child has some organizational issues. Some of it owes to her dyslexia and the generally messy way her flawed but brilliant little brain works. Some of it is just pure cussedness. Plus, like most of us, she applies herself when inspired but pretty much ignores that which she deems pointless or boring.

You'll also recall that after last year's academic performance we told her that she was going to have to step it up and since she's perfectly capable of C work or better, that was what we expected. Further, she was told, a D or lower in any subject would result in the loss of any extracurricular activity in the following trimester. We were clear about this. It was repeated throughout the summer and the first trimester and even as recently as Tuesday morning on the way to school because report cards were coming out.

Yesterday she came home with a flyer for a month long after-school music program that she really, really wants to do. And I said, "No".

"But why?" she asked, a long, mournful, protracted whine on the "why".

"Because there are 2 Ds on your report card".

And then it started. Oh my yord. There was yelling. Acrimony. The accusations flew. Here's a short list of my failings, as hysterically expounded to me yesterday:

I'm not fair.
I expect her to be perfect.
I'm focusing all my attention on 2 "little" Ds and not celebrating all the other good grades.
I don't understand.
I don't want her to be a good singer.

And then, because we just hadn't had enough drama, she gave me a look which managed to be both tearful and scathing at the same time and cried, "You know, Mom...maybe you just need to accept that I'm not like you! Why can't you just accept me as I am?"

Because apparently I am the one who is confused about perfection vs making a frakking effort.

Thus it's entirely possible that someday she'll be blaming me for holding her back from what would have been a brilliant career as a blues singer because all I "cared about" were her grades. I'm just going to have to live with that.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Here's a Fun One

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Literate Good Citizen

You read to inform or entertain yourself, but you're not nerdy about it. You've read most major classics (in school) and you have a favorite genre or two.

Dedicated Reader
Book Snob
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz