Thursday, April 30, 2009

May I Have Your Attention, Please?

The Spouse does not have swine flu.

You may now return to the bacon wrapped ribs, the sausage flan and the pork rinds. More wine, anyone?


Status Update

  • The Spouse is going to his doctor today. He's too late to get the "I was the first case of swine flu in Washington" t-shirt but at least he's going to the doctor.

  • I don't have swine flu. Neither does The Child.

  • I totally neglected to mention that The Child got a really great hair cut last weekend. I finally convinced her. See, she really isn't much for the maintenance and the longer her hair got the more annoying it was that she didn't do anything with it. It was always a mess. Now she has a haircut that's supposed to look messy. Amazing that you can tell the difference between intentional messy and I-can't-be-bothered messy. But you can.

  • Our cat has slain her first rat. She threw it at The Spouse on Saturday...that's how we know. (Hey! Maybe he has rat flu!)

  • It's been really, really quiet at work this week. But that's ok because it's given me lots of time to work on the website. It's looking really good.

  • I'm going to go wash my hands. Again. Then I think I'll eat some bacon.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Of Shellfish and Friends

On Sunday evening we had the privilege of meeting yet another denizen of Blogtopia, the one-of-a-kind Danny Wanny and his lovely wife, Red.

Danny is a fellow blogger (who blogs less frequently than his talents warrant but whatever), who is also a very good friend of the infamous Iwanski. I knew of Danny largely through Iwanski (and the now defunct "Iwanski/Winter Show") and esteemed him partly, I confess, because he was one of the first people to friend me on Facebook. So when he sent a message that he'd be in the area and would we be able to join them for dinner the answer was an unequivocal "I'll check the calendar".

We met at Salty's...a classic seafood restaurant on Alki beach with a commanding view of the Seattle skyline. It is a place none of us native Northwesterners had ever been. So that was fun. So was meeting Danny and Red.

It keeps happening, over and over; I meet these people who are virtual friends and there is nothing in the making them "real" that is remotely awkward or hiccupy. It is my contention, you see, that no matter what one's "schtick" may be bloggery-wise, it is impossible to keep your true self from shining through. So in reading a person you come to know him/her. And if you know him/her through his/her words, than meeting him/her in the flesh is not a shock. It is an easy and familiar thing. The foundation is already laid and it is easy to get right into a conversation about substantive and delightful things. These meetups are never so much about biographical details as they are taking up an on-going conversation with someone you already consider a friend.

We also arranged a marriage. Sure, his kid is a little younger than The Child but with her being an only child it has always been very important to me that her future in-laws be people with whom it will be easy to share holidays and grandchildren. It was nice to get that bit of business out of the way.

The food was excellent (hello? Dungeness crab mac and cheese? Heaven). The Spouse instructed Red on the best way to eat a alive-only-moments-ago crab.

Danny had oysters for dessert. The Child had this:We had an absolutely delightful meal. At one point The Child, laughing at another of Danny's bon mots, looked at me and gleefully declared, "I totally get him!". (Good thing, too, what with that whole future-father-in-law thing). The Spouse perused the post-prandial list and decided we'd do better with scotch at our place so they followed us home for a wee dram.

Friends are a gift and a blessing. And now we have yet another place to crash when next we invade Chicago. Life is good.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009


People in my family are hypochondriacs. I have a second cousin who is probably the best. She once had a heart attack and the plague on an airplane. When she was about 13. She's really funny when she tells it but even her parents confirmed that the child never has an ache or a pain that isn't magnified into something very serious, rare and deadly. She is the gold standard. My sister Audrey Hepburn and I pale in comparison. We just think we have a brain tumor every time we get a headache.

Needless to say, this swine flu thing has me a little edgy.

The Spouse stayed home from work yesterday. I thought he was just giving himself a day off. Turns out he felt like crap. When I came home from work he was in the family room. Coughing. Coughing all over the place where I normally sit to slay zombies. "Oh, my yord!" I cried. "You have swine flu! Cover your damn mouth when you cough like that!"

He slept in the family room last night. I disinfected our bed before I got into it last night. I do NOT want to get the swine flu.

Of course, I am a responsible person & generally keep my hysteria to myself. When The Child started asking me questions about the flu I told her that the worst cases were in Mexico and that the best thing anyone can do with any illness is cover their mouth with a tissue when sneezing or coughing, wash their hands frequently and avoid close proximity to the ill. I told her that people who are sick should stay home from work so they don't make others ill and so they can hurry up and get better. I told her it was no big deal. Then she made the connection that it was the Spanish influenza that nearly killed Edward, hero of the Twilight books. "Well, yes," said I, "but this is way different than that. Now we have so much more information about illness PLUS people are able to get the word out so much more quickly. It's much easier to contain these things".

So she's not freaking out. Because I think the hypochondriac gene skipped her.

Me on the other hand? I have to go wash my hands. Again.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Girl Singers

I have shared before about the challenges of The Child's academic career which has been, shall we say, somewhat fraught. I have also waxed philosophic about the parental struggle to inspire her to her own particular brand of greatness, which need not be manifested in a straight A average but which, nonetheless should also amount to more than a shrug and a "So?" because she has to go to summer school. My maternal struggle is not and never has been about scoring one of those nifty "My child is an honor student" bumper stickers but about making sure that The Child leaves this house with the tools she needs to succeed. Tools like self-respect and discipline. And yes, I would enjoy it very much if she was someone who knew how to think and express that thought in intelligent ways.

Anyrant, academic successes being far and few between with her, yesterday was a red letter day. She was invited -by the director- to join the all-girl choir for next year. She had been perfectly content to stay in the anyone-can-join choir that she sang with this year. You don't have to audition to be in the Singers but the director reserves the right to tell you that you are not ready for it. Which is why The Child didn't sign up. She didn't think she was ready. But her teacher does. And she was veryvery happy and veryvery proud.

Here's another girl singer; a lass whose acquaintance I made through Sling a while back. She's quite delightful.

Lisa Hannigan "Lille"

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Copy Cat

Sling does very creative things on his posts and one of the things I like the most is how he signs each one. For me it evokes a pen-to-paper feel to the blog; you can imagine him sitting with a pad of paper on his knee, scribbling out his wit and wisdom. And he generously shared the website what done makes the signatures. It's, if'n you want to play, too.

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Out with the Girls

Last Saturday night MAB, The Neighbor, Emmers and I went to Gay Bingo. It's a monthly fundraiser for the Lifelong AIDS Alliance...good organization...and since the theme this month was Paris, it was clear we had to attend.
But we couldn't just go and play bingo. We had to dress for the occasion. More importantly, we felt the need to wear hats. Eiffel Tower hats. Which we had to make. So we did. They were grand. This is mine:

The web site where we found the Eiffel Towers also carried Eiffel Tower sippy cups. Had to have those.

We dressed, donned our chapeaux and swanned into the joint, speaking in French accents. Which we managed to do all night, even when we were just talking to each other. And we were fabulous. People were asking to have their pictures taken with us, ooohing and aaaahing over our hats, admiring our sippy cups (it is not easy, btw, to transfer a Cosmopolitan into an Eiffel Tower sippy cup but it can be done). We were photographed for web sites and even invited to participate in the costume contest.

Admittedly, I have issues with the outcome of the contest. We came in second. Second to a couple of dudes who had rented Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette costumes. Puleeezzeee. Anyone can rent a damn costume. To craft chapeaux from cardboard Eiffel Towers? That takes talent. (It was really only annoying after the fact when people kept coming up to us and saying we were robbed. Hello? Were you cheering loudly for us? Because that's what it took. Hello? If you don't vote you can't complain about the government. Or something like that).
But no matter, we still won prizes. Tickets to a burlesque show AND electric martini makers. In all honesty, this appliance represents everything that is wrong with America. It is an electric device that replaces the need to hold a shaker and go "schinka schinka schinka" a couple of times. Completely useless. And yet.....there is an allure. Note there are two settings:

Can you see them?

That's right. "Stir" and "Shake". Oh my giddy aunt.

Anygin, we had a veryvery fun time. Oh! I bingo'ed in the second game and came away with $50! I ended up donated $30 of it back ($10 right away and later I bought a tee shirt that says "Bingo is the new black") but still. I'm not the sort of person who wins things so it was quite a triumphant night.

And did I mention that we were fabulous?

(l to r: some chick who works for a radio station bogarting a sippy cup, MAB, The Neighbor, Moi)

Two bad ass chicks from the Moulin Rouge.

(Ok, actually, I look more like Elphaba from "Wicked" but you get the point).

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Things that Make You Go "Huh?"

This is just fascinating.

You don't have time to read the article? Fine. Some woman in Ireland has a following on Twitter (6,000 before today's article) to whom she sends recipes. I don't Twitter, but a "tweet" is limited to 140 characters. That's right: think about it. This woman reduces complex international dishes to 140 characters. According to the Times author, they are delicious recipes. Kids, I couldn't tell you how to make coffee in 140 characters. This is quite an achievement, considering that they do, in fact, work. Really, you should read the article.

But the thing that smacked my gobs wasn't the fascinating process of reducing deliciousness to a minimum of symbols nor the attendant challenge of unpacking them in your kitchen to make dinner. (It goes without saying you'd have to have to solid cooking basics in your possession to decipher her tweets). No. It was this line:

"It’s attracted a bizarre amount of attention relative to what I consider my serious work,” she said, meaning her life as a poet, writer and anarchist. “Which perhaps is an indication that we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously.”

Anarchist? That pretty, smiling chickey poo standing in a dress @ her stove?

Every anarchist I've ever encountered wore black, sported heavy, threatening looking shoes and scowled a lot. Anarchists are, in my experience, heartbreakingly serious and angry. I think anarchist and picture flaming Molotov cocktails, kicking in Starbucks windows during WTO protests and very bad haircuts. (I also never thought of anarchy as a career path. What's that pay, anyhow? Do you get health and dental with that? Stock options?)

This article blew my delighted little mind on at least two levels. That's a nice way to start the day.

Coffee:Grind 1/4c beans/put in basket/add 10c H2O/press start button/wait.

OK, maybe I could tweet a coffee recipe. But still. I just hope, with all my heart, that if someone convinces her to publish a cookbook it is the size of a cell phone.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Someone Actually Said This To Me Today

"You're like Rob Lowe on the 'West Wing'; except you don't sleep with hookers".


"I'm Very Sorry for Your Loss"

Last week we had three families lose loved ones within a 24 hour period. Oy.

This was the one thing I never thought about when I first took the job. I was too busy organizing linen closets and building spread sheets and giggling with delight about having a job that was all about hospitality and service to others, etc. etc. etc.

MAB and I were talking about it Friday, our hearts bowed down by sadness. She suggested that maybe we get too attached. I thought about that for a minute and then suggested that perhaps we do. Perhaps other managers of other houses keep a careful distance, deliver the rules and hand over the keys with a matter-of-fact briskness and then stay safe in their offices until the work day ends. But, I suggested, that's not our nature. We like to joke and stand around drinking coffee with the guests and when someone looks sad or burdened we ask why and offer hugs and, if we have them, words of encouragement. We like to organize bingo nights and bowling tournaments. It is, we think, part of the job. It is also, I think, part of the reason that our House is such a warm, peaceful, loving place. Our guests make it a home but I think it is MAB's and my heart toward our work that allows that magic to happen. And if that means that when someone like darling Mr. S. passes away we have to be veryvery sad, then so be it.

Plus, our sadness isn't from being "too close". There is a great deal we never know about any of the families who stay at the House. What we do know comes in snippets, shared by a guest as she drops off mail or asks if there is any sugar in the pantry. We're not too close in the way that we could correctly answer 20 intimate questions about any given person. Whatever sense of loss we feel is nothing, no.thing, to what the family is feeling.

But we do care. Can't help but. Ours is a work of caring and it is not in my nature or MAB's to be perfunctory about that. So we end up rejoicing when others rejoice and mourning when they mourn.

Some days we also get pie.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Didja Notice?

I heard something on NPR the other day about the extra money we should be seeing in our paychecks owing to some tax break that we'd been promised. "Hm," thought I. "Extra money?" Today was payday so what better time to check out such a thing. And lo and behold, sho' nuff, not only was there extra money in both paychecks, but this had been going on for 3 pay periods. Now, it's not a ton of money...amounts to about $30/paycheck but in a time like the current time, it was an increase in the proper direction. Factor in that nearly everything is, it seems, on sale these days and it amounts to even more buying power.

Provided one has a paycheck to begin with, of course.

Carla Bruni "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out"

(An aside: I think Mrs. Sarkosy is very pretty and fairly talented but I still think Michelle could take her).

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Literary Moment

I just realized that last year was the 10th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Socerer's Stone...the book, not the movie. Which means, since I was under a rock last spring, that said book has been out in the world now for 11 years.

It just doesn't seem that long ago...until I remember the little 5 year old who snuggled next to me as I read it to her....until I remember that it was 3rd grade when she made the world's most amazing diorama of the same book, by which time the first movie had been released.

And say what you will, the Harry Potter books were the first things that made my dyslexic kid care about reading to herself. For that I will always bless the name of JK Rowling.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Creature of Habit

Remember that on Monday The Spouse and Child had the day off. So things got "back to normal" yesterday. At 6:30 I went into The Child's room, turned on her light and gently said, as I always do, "Time to wake up, Sweetie". Then I walked away from her room to do a thing or two in the kitchen, at which point I realized something very important and hustled back to her room, turned off the light and said, "Oh man, I am so sorry...go back to sleep!" and closed the door.

Because, you know, she's on Easter break. All week.

Sometimes I really am the worst mother in the world.

There's ham sammies on the table. Help yourselves.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Got Ham?

Easter was lovely, thanks. Rained like a son-of-a-gun, prompting The Child to crack wise with the ark jokes, but still. We all went to the Easter Vigil, which meant that we could leave some room for the C&E Christians on Easter morning, which further meant that we had a long, lovely leisurely day before needed to prepare the Easter feast. It was a very good strategery and one that will be repeated in years to come. We planned on 12 for dinner and were 9 instead, meaning that there is a plethora of ham in the freezer.

And I, having refrained from sweety treats for 40 days and 40 nights very much enjoyed the triple coconut cream pie.

Yesterday was the beginning of Easter break for The Child and The Spouse had also arranged to have the day off. When I returned home from work they had restored the living/dining room to order, cleaned the kitchen, stowed the left-over ham AND The Spouse was busily preparing a big pot o' chicken cacciatore and risotto for dinner.

I told him I was gonna have to buy him somethin' pretty.

In other news, I would like to make some remarks regarding pirates:

Hi, pirates. Rumor has it you are a little miffed that the US retrieved one of her captains by shooting to death 3 pirates. Now you're saying that you aren't going to play nice anymore when you take Americans hostage. Because apparently holding people for ransom is the civilized thing to do. Um, hello? You're pirates. Taking anyone hostage for any reason is an act of provocation. That's a big word so let me explain it this way: You started it. You don't want to be shot at? Stop taking people hostage. For that matter, stop being pirates.

Oh, and another thing, pirates. You've seen our ships. You've what kind of shots those Navy Seals are. I know you've got this pirate-y image to uphold and everything but if I were you and I saw a ship running with American colors, I'd pretend I didn't see it, gently hum a sea shanty while looking the other way and keep on sailing.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

What's So Good About It?

The Spouse has the day off. The Child gets out at noon. I have to work all day.

It's ok, though. I get to dye Easter eggs on company time.

I had another Paramore song in mind for today but the only video I could find included clips from "Twilight" and dude, I just can.not. look at that movie one more time. Loved the books, don't get me wrong.

But HMOG, I saw that movie 4 frakking times! 4!

And my child still thinks I never do anything for her.

That reminds me, I really have to call my dad this weekend. I have some ammends to make.

Paramore "Misery Business"


Thursday, April 09, 2009

How May I Help You?

It's not often that I have call to rave about an experience with a company call center but today I'm gonna.

I manage the content for the house website. Just getting the website into a form that makes sense for it's numerous uses (information, story telling and fundraising) has been a challenge, partly because I've been working with a web designer who has been doing this as a volunteer. Ouch. But we finally have the templates where I want them and now it's up to me to add the pages and content that will take the site from a vision to a reality. There's a lot of work ahead (including adjusting a picture the second I get to the office today because I just saw what it looks like on a little monitor) but it will be fun. Lots of writing (which I love) and just enough geeky stuff to keep that side of my brain from atrophy.

That said, yesterday I needed to add a Paypal button to the site. Easier said than done, primarily because the software I use doesn't show me the html. Most of the time I don't need to see code. I'd rather not; I'm not that much of a geek. But in this case, I couldn't figure out how to make the string of code Paypal gave me turn into a button on the site. I called Paypal and they were all, "Uh, ma'am, we don't do that sort of thing". So I called Adobe, makers of "Contribute", which is the software I use.

First I talked to "Georgia", who swiftly turned me over to "Amy". (Those are not their real names. Neither were the names they gave me because I don't know a lot but I'm pretty sure DeAnn and Beth aren't common Hindu names. (And yes, JP, I almost taped the conversation to send to you and Smay)). Now I admit, I have big problems with call centers in India. Big problems. Politically, economically, and frankly, just from a plain old customer service point of view. I want to talk to a person who has a command of the same language I speak (selfish like that) and who actually understands my problem and is not just reading from a script. Fortunately, yesterday that was exactly what I got.

"Amy" knew her stuff and she led me through all my options until we found a solution that worked. (And let me tell you, the final solution was way, way more techie than anything I would have ever thought myself capable of, let alone accomplished with the assistance of someone in an off-shore call center). "Amy" stayed with me through the whole process and voila! there was my Paypal button. And it works. It was superfantastic.

Then I made some changes to the home page. Without any help.

Then I pretty much spent the rest of the day playing with MAB because sometimes we work really hard and sometimes we need to make scrapbook pages.

I have a great job.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Happy Pesach, To All For Whom That Applies

For Jews, Passover starts tonight. For Christians, we are smack in the middle of Holy Week. For Christians who live near Jews, it's chametz time. It amuses me that, even as I'm writing up a schedule for turning on and off the ovens of Jewish friends, I always completely forget about chametz.

Last night, as we were finishing up dinner, there was a "shave-and-a-haircut" rap on the door. The Spouse went to answer it. Jacob from down the street greated him with "It's that time of year!" and handed over a 6-pack of beer.

I wonder if anything else will be left on the porch today. It happens.


Monday, April 06, 2009


Did I tell you that it snowed here on April 1st? Prolly not because if I'd told you then you wouldn't have believed me because it was April 1st. But it did. Wet, sloppy but very blizzardy snow for something like 5 freaking hours. Which meant that the Seattle area has had some kind of snow event for 5 straight months.

The globe, she is warming, and I will smack upside the head anyone who still thinks that can be debated.

On the other hand, this weekend was lavishly springlike and warm. Beautiful, hopeful, singingly springlike.

I almost trust it.

But not enough to go out and pull weeds, lay compost and set seeds. It was the perfect opportunity but every time I'd read a seed packet I'd see those words: "After all danger of frost is past".... and I couldn't do it. I couldn't trust those teeny tiny bearers of life to a cold ground that could easily be colder tomorrow. It just didn't seem right. The thought of their tiny little selves squeezed to death by ice crystals just made me want to cry.

So we'll wait and see if this warm stuff is any kind of trend before we risk the manicure.

It sure was a pleasant change of pace, though, I'll tell you that.

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Friday, April 03, 2009

You Are My Destiny

Good heavens. You wouldn't believe the crap I had to go through to get this up here. You better demmed well like it and if you don't keep it to yourself. Sheesh.

(crumples paper, tosses it in misses and falls into the litter on the floor...she puts a fresh sheet of paper in the typewriter and starts again)

Because I'm still waiting for it to come out on Netflix, I haven't yet seen "Slumdog Millionaire", even though everyone else has and it was Best Picture and everything. Yes, I'm sure it's very good.

Because I have standards, I never listen to anything called the "Pussycat Dolls" which are, as I understand it, one of those totally made up "groups" that come together through auditions and casting as opposed to the way you're supposed to do it.

But when I heard this song for the first time, at the drag show, I thought I was gonna plotz. I have the original, purely Hindi (?) version from the movie on my iPod but I have this, too. Because it just makes me want to dance around, eat some curry and then dance around some more.

Pussycat Dolls & A.R. Rahman "Jai Ho"


Thursday, April 02, 2009

A Photo Essay

I saw all this in Omaha. Nebraska.

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Easy Like Sunday Morning

The last day in Omaha was just the sort of Sunday I like best...lazing in a sun-filled room with nothing-for a while-to do.

I made breakfast.

We drank coffee and, because we are the sort of detectives who are the job, further discussed the case of the stone baby. JP made a copy of the police drawing so I could do some sleuthing back at the Seattle bureau.

At first we were discouraged by news that the coroner was on a golf junket in Cincinnati, thus stalling an autopsy until his return on Tuesday. But there's a lot to be said for old fashioned police work without all the fancy forensics. You see, there was something about this case that bothered me. Our suspect was too obvious. It occurred to me that there was another player with motive and opportunity. We texted our theory to Det. Smay and Agent JP was charged with following up some leads.
That done, I started collecting my things and then an examination of my ticket revealed that we had an extra hour before my flight. Huzzah! One more hour to sit, drink mimosas and talk.

I told JP that he should probably pick a fight with me so it would be easier to leave. This he did, right in front of the TSA guy in the airport. It was excellent. Then I gave him a big hug and kiss and that was that. And, as I mentioned before, as the plane taxied down the cornfield runway, I started to cry.

The flight(s) home were largely uneventful, except for the part where I was misinformed in Minneapolis as to the location of my gate and ended up having to book it all the way from the A concourse to frakking gate 13 in the frakking F concourse which was 412 miles away. I got to my gate just as they were boarding. That was a close call.

It would have been nice to have had some transition time at the house; I thought I was going to get some. But the family returned within minutes of my arrival and suddenly I was back in the whirl of regular life, making dinner and talking about the week ahead. And maybe that was ok. It is my real life, after all, one I enjoy. And after my time in Omaha I felt recharged and ready for it. A good vacation will do that for you.

Thanks again for the wonderful time, JP. You are the bestest host and the bestest friend and I loved every minute of our adventure. I heart you, Poodle. Now, get me that report.

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