Tuesday, June 01, 2010

change of address

I should throw a party, on account of this notable milestone: we have now been in this house longer than we've been in any one place previously. But, no. No party. Just a virtual move to satiate my itchy feet. I don't really want to pack up and move all my stuff again, I don't. I mean, maybe a little. When you move 13 times in 13 years, the momentum of moving is everything. You mark time by the process, by the packing and the unpacking. Life is always transitional, never static. It's a hard way to live. But it's the way I know.

So while I attempt to stay put in real life, I am going to try parking my public words over at wordpress for a while. Come on over. Say hi. I tend to think in strings of words that I read inside of my own head. (Man, that sounds crazy.) So, when I remember to, it's nice to have some way to catch those words. I guess that's all blogging is for me: A place to pin down some of the words that are going to flit around anyhow.

have a banner day!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

look, ma, no hands!

You probably disagree with me about the Hands Free law on the books in my state (and maybe yours, too: if not now then probably soon).

I am opposed.
I fundamentally, wholly disagree.

See, as I figure it: we *already* have road rules with regard to, say, crashing your car into someone else's. Don't Do It. Maybe Joe Blow is distracted by his cell phone. But maybe I'm distracted by puking kids or some fave song on the radio I haven't heard in forever. Let's see those things become outlawed. Seriously. Not long after Oregon's cell phone driving ban took effect at the first of this year, I found myself zipping along the long highway between my house and the big city. My husband was in the passenger seat. We had a thermos of coffee and some empty mugs with us and I asked him to pour me some. He did. And then I asked him to top me off with a splash of unsweetened almond milk (at which point my long-suffering mister asked who brings a box of almond milk along on an errand. i do.) and he declined. He said he couldn't do that while driving. "You're not driving, nutball. I am." But he insisted and so I, being a careful driver with a nearly impeccable record (save for some youthful heedlessness), did the obvious: I grabbed the mug of coffee + the box of almond milk and I fixed myself a hot drink.

Do I recommend this ad hoc fifty miles per hour barista bit? Not really. I admit it's not particularly safe. But you know what? Neither is it safe to go rummaging around the floorboard for some sort of vomit vessel when I see a green kid, hand over mouth, in the backseat about to blow.

(i'm sure i've gone on about this here before, but i can't find the post just now.)

I've been sprucing up some new bloggy digs (wordpress: here I come!) and doing all the rest of regular life stuff (how *you* doin', Spring?) an I don't have the mental wherewithal to compose a well written persuasive argument here. I will admit that the hands free law did, in fact, compel me to start using the earbud/mic that came with my phone. I don't even use it that much while driving (the music in the car is generally too loud for carrying on conversations, ha!), I use it all the time all day long. Phone in my pocket, earbuds in, I can have a chatty phonecall and weed in the garden or fold laundry or whatthefuckever without a cricked up neck or a fried brain. Oh yeah? Legislators? I'm much MUCH more concerned about ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION FRYING MY BRAIN than i am about making sure drivers aren't distracted by phone conversations. Because drivers will always be distracted by something. Drive safe, yo. It's sort of that simple.

A very good friend sent me this link. I laughed so hard I nearly drove off the road.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

dig it


We are not gardeners. (I say "we" and the husband, should he ever read this -does anybody?- will balk, but I insist!) We are Make Do-ers. We do not dip our toes in, first, to see if the temperature is just right, if everything is just right, if there is ample space in our savings account. We just do it. Jump! We find out where we are (where the fuck are we?!) and we do what we can do. Which is to say, we roll with it. Whatever it is.

I admit to feeling small pangs of jealousy when I visit the meandering farms of friends of mine, or when I drive anywhere out of my tiny little town because anywhere takes me right smack through a postcard. So scenic, so pretty, so some Sliding Door I didn't open. I wonder what it would be like to live in a postcard?

I can tell you that I count more pros than cons about living on a city lot in a small town. This is not to say that I don't sometimes wish we'd chosen a rural house instead of this one, because that's pure speculation and irrelevant: we didn't. We picked this house and we love it and we're capital L Lucky to have it, even though we don't have miles of wilderness out our backdoor, even though it's an hour from our favorite city (and not our favorite city, oh, portland! we will always love you best and miss you the most.) it's our home. And it's a good little spot for us. (I hope we can hang on to it.)

So we've established that I envy (a little) those with acreage (just the way they might envy me, perhaps, and my ability to walk so many places) and I admit that I do not identify with the so-called "Urban Homesteading" movement, but my avoidance speaks more about my sense of place and home than it does about my particular support regarding homesteading tenets. I am not convinced that this sweet house (the house that looks dumpy from the exterior -sorry we can't afford to paint you something spiffier, nifty 1958 abode- the house that a friend coined a "willy wonka house" because it has surprising nooks and crannies and whole rooms and such, the house that gave us the longest residence we've ever had, as a family, the house that has been excellent to us for these last two and a half years) is our stopping point. A homestead is a place you stay a long time and I'm not sure this is that place. (how are you ever sure?)

And yet. yet the garden grows and grows. I send my girl out to harvest from the beds under plastic, because she can squeeze underneath much more gracefully than can I. She brings back a handful of rainbow chard, a few small but so delicious leeks.

And yet. yet our chicken yard is good to go. The little hen house painted, a school bus bright yellow (a leftover oops from back when we tried, more than once, to get the kitchen just the right true shade of orange). No chicks yet. Soon.

And yet. yet the herb garden, year two, is thriving. cilantro is sprouting! Unharvested seeds from last year's plants, left to do what seeds do, and we'll see what happens. what happens?


Seeds grow and we grow and nothing ever turns out quite the way we expected it to go, but the process is the important part. (This is me, processing. . .)

Sunday, February 28, 2010


Yesterday the clouds were high, thin and the sunlight made everything glow. We spent the whole weekend outside, working. Snipping. Digging. Planting. I don't usually listen to music in my earphones, but the others were elsewhere and it was just me, watching my busy neighborhood, gloved fingers in the mud. I fetched the ipod and this song came on and oh. oh!

I can't possibly replicate the emotion in that moment, the visceral response to something so beyond the tangible. Like dreams. Like sex. Like dreams about sex.

I want to think it was the combination of hard, dirty work plus beautiful music, but it might have been just one, or the other.

Monday, February 01, 2010

chocolate quinoa cookies

These are the givens: 1. we eat a lot of quinoa 2. I am not a good cook, per se, but I kick some off-the-cuff cooking ass. So it's a little surprising that it took me so dang long to throw something like this together. Cookies! Made from quinoa!

Back up the truck a minute. If you're not eating quinoa, I implore you to eat quinoa. It's been my go to grain of choice for a good decade. I use it in lieu of rice or pasta or other starches in many dinners. I'm probably preaching to the choir here (a funny phrase, that.) and *you* likely know all about this wondergrain, but in case you don't: Quinoa is the only grain that is also a complete protein, containing all 9 amino acids, and is a good source of magnesium, riboflavin, and fiber and is free of gluten! It has a pleasant, nutty taste and is amazingly versatile. And especially if you buy it 25 pounds at a time, like I do, it's an affordable and solid pantry staple.

buy in bulk

Quinoa provides the "meat", if you will, to my not quite famous vegetarian chili (hardy har har) and accompanies many, many meals in our house. It was a first favorite food of both of my children. You can almost always find a big vat of cooked up, plain quinoa in my fridge, for fast lunch making or whatever.

And it was that ready made tub of cooked quinoa + a spontaneous cookie making wild hair that made me put two and two together. I'll make cookies! With the quinoa!

I had the foresight to scrawl down the ingredients as I tossed them in the mixing bowl. Sometimes I do this and the creation in question turns out to be a real dud, but sometimes I don't write down what I did at all and I regret it later because I get requests to replicate something or other and, in this house, a lot of things are one of a kind. (Which is either good or not, depending. . .)

chocolate quinoa cookie recipe

They turned out so well, I didn't tweak subsequent batches a bit. They are soft but the quinoa provides bits of pleasant crispness (+ plus all that aforementioned supergrain stuff). Wholesome and everyone in my family agrees: they're delicious!

Chocolate Quinoa Cookies

2 eggs
3/4 C Rapadura
1/2 C coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
pinch cinnamon
6 TBSP cocoa powder
2 C cooked quinoa

wet. dry. wet + dry. stir in quinoa. bake 350 for, oh, 10 minutes? til they look done! makes 2 dozen.

chocolate quinoa cookies
(my apologies if you saw me post this pic on flickr back in early december with the tease that the recipe was 'coming soon'. my writing brain is fully clogged up with a lot of no good garbage)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

with olive oil and salt and pepper

I'm so A+ thumbs up and all encouraging mumbles about your new year resolutions, if you (dear reader) are the resolving sort. I make vague goals, like fortune cookies, that could apply, or not, to any year.

It has been brought to my attention (by many, no worries it isn't just *you*) that my hair is getting very gray. Yes, I know. Everything is rough *and* I'm old! I know.

Genetics is a fickle bitch. I plucked my first gray hair at 21. It was alarming and I scotch taped it to a book shelf (where it lived until, years later, we sold that bookshelf in a yard sale and someone hefted it away, not knowing of the portentous dna adhered to its side). I don't pluck them anymore. There are too many.

I am younger, but grayer, than many. I am sadder, but funnier, than most. It evens out.

And now here we are. Closing in on the first full week of Two Thousand Ten (tell me you won't say twenty ten. let's be longhanded curmudgeons together, how about it?) and what do I have to show for it? Plans? Peace? Predictions? Nothing.

The new year came and I could pretend, for a couple of days, that life is board games and so many scheming children and bottles and bottles of booze. I'm good at pretending. But now it's any Tuesday and friends are long returned to their regular life and we remain here, in our well worn waiting routine.

We wait. We hope. We roll our eyes at the people who tell us to hope and wait.

Lately, the mister and I have been winding down our evenings with daily doses of The Wire. We've just finished up season 3 and, still, I don't know. I don't know how I feel about being so invested in such bleak lives, such sordid going ons. But three seasons in and such little redemption. Isn't that what we're all looking for, even as we seek to be entertained and removed from the stuff around us?

I want to believe that the good guys will win and that the changing nature of friendships will hold true and that we will all be okay.

And I want every meal to be as simple and satisfying as a dish of baked root vegetables. (a year ago I had never made just roasted beets and turnips and rutabagas and have spent the many following months making up for lost time, so much roasting.)

Sunday, January 03, 2010

12 pictures + 1 song

It was a rotten year. No point in tacking on superlatives, because the funny thing about perspectives is that they're ever shifting (which is a pre-emptive way of saving a little face here. who wants to shriek worst ever or such without beckoning the fates to trot out something more trying, still?).

It was a hard year. But this is it. This is the only year I'll ever be 34 (What? How?) and this is my children's childhoods and this is all we've got. Now. And this year has been, despite the hard and worry and broke and WHAT THE CUSS?! do we do now stuff, as sweet as any year should be. Any year with rain and sun and soil and children and animals and friends and music and love and laughing. And we had all of those things, we did.

I must remember to switch lenses and stop hyperfocusing and pull back and look at the whole thing, every quick snap a tiny pixel making up every memory, every thing that matters. It all matters.

little boys like muddy puddles

this is a loud shirt

tomato babies

mama goat, two baby goats


watered kale


because oregon blueberries are the fattest, the most delicious and the best


me and my boy


all worn out

And quick! while I'm all vulnerable and nostalgic and sappy and soft, I will share not any song, but a time traveling song, a song that sounds like going back to when Hope wasn't hope at all, just the naive nature of expecting, assuming, that good things were still to come. Plus, it's kind of hot. (and while this cover is pretty great, the JAMC original is better. but I'm nodding to the out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new theme, on this, the first blog post of the year.)

Two Thousand Ten! I really, really hope it's happy.

Monday, December 28, 2009

rest in peace

2 by the fire

Beneath the magnolia, we clasped hands and sang Amazing Grace. The sun was brilliant, I blinked against the brightness, blinked away the tears.

It's a sorry way to end a sorry year and, yet, so unsurprising. This is not to say that I think a black cloud is unfairly hovering, no, because what is fair? It is what it is and it is so so sad.

Our favorite cat took ill yesterday, the Sunday following Christmas, and did not survive the night. It was swift and has us left us all reeling. Because we all sure loved that little guy.

Oh, Binx. We can't even miss you yet because we can't believe you're gone.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

a pedestrian's manifesto


Some months ago I updated my status on the old facebook to say something like, "april is a bold pedestrian" (third person updates are nigh obsolete now, but my fb pals should understand what i'm referring to, yes?) and what did that even mean, anyhow?

Well, here's the thing. I believe in walking. A lot. I believe that there are too many cars on the road and if every person who, technically, *could* drive didn't. . . as often as possible, that would only be better for everyone. We have lived in very walkable places and in a metropolitan area where the only walking most people (including ourselves) did was from the front door to the car. Which is to say, I am familiar with undue conditions and constraints upon ideals. But I still think most people (including myself) do not walk enough. We are a lazy people. Anybody reading this right now grew up in an era of cheap fossil fuels and so, of course, we default to that machine power to move us. It's fast. It's convenient. I get it.

We picked this house of ours because it was within walking distance of a lot of places we would frequent (library, park, natural foods store, book store, etc.) and we really do walk to those places frequently. Sometimes we just walk to buy a newspaper or sometimes we walk just to walk (and look in houses at dusk, because no one's jumped up and closed curtains yet, wait. is that just me?) but always, we walk. We walk in the rain and the wind and the sun and the snow. Do we ever push the leaving envelope too late and have to take the car instead? Absolutely. Am I ever cold and crabby and don't want to switch my comfy clogs for rain boots and opt, then, to drive? Yes. The car is a safety net and I sure depend on it. But our goal is to walk often and we really, really do.

The problem is, unsurprisingly, drivers. We live in a car culture. In a little automotive bubble, drivers can pretend not to notice that walkers are trying to cross the street. But, see, per Oregon law (what are the rules in your state?) EVERY INTERSECTION IS A CROSS-WALK, marked or not marked. (Go ahead, look it up. I found our driver's manual online.) And you know what pedestrian's have in a cross walk? The fricking right of way. And you know what this pedestrian does with that right? She fucking embraces it. (so much for obsolete third person usage and, also, any attempt to quell any sailor language).

This is one of my hot buttons, can you tell? And I didn't really move here to become some kind of champion for Pedestrian Rights, but every single damn time I walk anywhere, I see such knuckleheaded stuff on the road, it's a role I've taken on, by default.

This is what I believe about walking:

I believe pedestrians should NOT wait for cars to stop
. Say what? I am watchful, aware. I step out into the street and, if traffic is approaching, I raise my hand in a STOP! motion. Do I step directly in front of fast moving vehicles? No way. But, keep in mind, all of the streets I frequent have a speed limit of 25. Twenty-five! Any car going 25 should have no trouble stopping for a crossing pedestrian. (do most cars drive 25? nope.) If a car is in the intersection as I approach, I pause, wait. I am not stupid. I don't expect appropriate, rule-following vehicles to have to slam on their brakes for me. I don't move my body fully into the street until any oncoming car has stopped. But I do step out with purpose.

I believe a pedestrian should never, ever apologize for walking. I can't tell you how it pains me to see walkers give cars that little wave of apology as they cross the street. You know that embarrassed little "I'll be out of your way in just a second, hold on, I'm sorry" waving shrug? There's no place for that! I don't care if the Car still reigns supreme. It's NOT SUPREME! See, the law on my side, above. And also, the writing on the walls. I am not advocating a bird flip toward every motorist, no. But, don't apologize! If you're behind the wheel do you wave a thanks for stopping! wave when a car in the opposite lane stops at a four-way? No. If I'm walking and a car stops (correctly, appropriately) for me *without* me having to step first into the street and raise my hand and employ my menacing "i've got my eyes on you" gesture (ok, so maybe more hilarious than menacing, but since i'm not going to marry into the mob anytime soon, i don't have a lot of chances to look like i mean business and mean it), I will give a quick wave of acknowledgment. But this is not an apologetic wave. This is not a thank you wave. Wait. Let's stop here a second. NO THANKS ARE REQUIRED! Pedestrians HAVE the right of way, rememeber? Thanking motorists for stopping is like thanking, when you're behind the wheel, other cars at red lights. So I give a wave of acknowledgment. I see you stopped there, I'm proceeding ahead, ok. I might even make eye contact and smile! (A topic for another day: how I make a lot of eye contact and smile a lot and how, it seems, most people in the world do not.) But I WILL NOT apologize. I will not thank you for pausing (for what? three fucking seconds?!) for me. I will not hasten my step and run across the street. let's make another paragraph for that one, shall we?

I believe pedestrians should never run across the street. I tell this one to my children, often. Not so much the big one anymore, but the little one, yeah. He holds my hand as we walk all over town and our whole erroneous Bigger! Better! Faster! More! society penetrates his self conscious and he understands, despite my indoctrination, that it's all about the car here. He can't help but feel spooked in the middle of the road. And I understand the urge to start running. Don't run! I tell him. Keep walking at your regular pace. Don't stop for pebbles, don't rearrange the bag on your shoulder, don't scratch your ankle, keep walking. But don't, don't, don't run. For one, how long does it take a person to walk across the street? Even crossing 4 lanes, it would be, what? Seven seconds? Trivial. Cars can wait. And for two, the last thing you need to do in the middle of an intersection is trip and fall and running is more likely to result in falling. Don't run. Just keep walking. And don't ever, ever swing your arms and bounce a little in that "look-at-me-hustling-out-of-your-way-so-fast" fake walking run thing. It's your intersection. Walk across it like you're supposed to be there.

So if you're a pedestrian, too (and if you're not, why not? if your destination is within a couple of miles, I encourage you to use your feet before your fossil fuel), you should also be so bold. And if we all were so bold, pretty soon, it wouldn't be bold at all. It would be common and understood, "this is how we share the road." And that would be beautiful.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

martinmas and armistice


Two things to remember: those who served and the light within us all. If legend is true, Martin was a Roman Soldier and surely you have read enough history to know the atrocities committed by Roman soldiers, yes? And yet, his kindness made him a saint. War is horrible. I believe in peace. I have marched for peace and voted for peace and I practice peace toward my children. Blessed are the Peacemakers. But life is complicated. And war is not the reason people join the military. Drafts aside, it's about health care and education and consistency and opportunity. And I recognize the light, the basic human light of Creation and Being and Progress, within all of the service people, past and present, in our country. Our philosophies may differ, but our hopes are probably eerily the same. We're all just people here.

Per the waldorfy tradition, the children and I made Martinmas Lanterns the other day. It had been a while since we've done the old tissue paper scraps on jar technique, so we were due. Our tissue paper supply was paltry, so I dipped into the thin wax paper (like for window stars, you know?) instead. Add some peanut butter jars and some mod podge (plus a few particularly placed fall leaves, for flair) and you've got yourself a sweet little candleholder. We wrapped wire around the rim to make a handle and secured them onto sturdy sticks for carrying.

After a lantern walk at the park (we met up with other folks), we came home and stuck them into the large clay pot that sits on our hearth. The tiny lanterns + the fire were our only living room lights this evening.

at rest by the fire

Monday, November 09, 2009

the upside to the downside

those three

We're past the point of grumbling about it, but, yes, if you're wondering, we're still affected by the mister's job loss. When a family loses their only source of income and that family is already pretty broke (by that I mean, zero savings plus a hefty mortgage, to boot) it's grumble-worthy. But it's not just us. Joblessness is widespread and if you don't know someone who is unemployed and struggling, then maybe you should get out more. We're scrabbling.

There is a new business endeavor. Have you heard? Starting a new business when a heap of bills are late and things like Foreclosure have become actual possibilities might be foolish. But what else can you do?

So, while we're in the middle space between jumping off the cliff and either hitting the ground, hard, or, miraculously, somehow, taking flight, I thought I'd mention the flip side to unemployment, the good parts of what is mostly a very, very difficult thing to experience.

Let me back up a bit and set the scene: there was the difficult relocation (a wanted return to oregon, but the circumstances were trying), a painful pregnancy loss with complications and medical bills, and then, interwoven in all that trouble: my husband's job which pretty much sucked donkey balls. (that's the most polite way I can describe it.)

So even with all the extra stress unemployement (like lack of income and losing insurance), I can't deny that there have been some really wonderful perks.

I think my husband's old job was close to destroying my family. I would like to tot up a list of specifics here, but I'm trying to be vague. Trust me when I tell you that the working environment was very much not good. And my husband? He is not a complainer. He does not shirk. And nothing he ever did was good enough for those people. He put in such long days and gave them so much and it was never enough. (it is seriously hard to keep from spilling the details.)

So, for starters, we see my guy a lot more. He often didn't come home until the children, at least the little one anyhow, were asleep. He left before we were up in the morning. And now he is here. He reads the bedtime books to the boy and he watches library Doctor Who dvds with the girl and he eats breakfast with us and dinner, too. He is a part. As he should be. As he always was before, but his previous employment made impossible.

Our garden this year was bigger and better than the year before because he was around so much more.

He has had the time, since this past Spring, to work weekly at our friends' farm. This has been so tremendous, I can't even tell you. We get vegetables in trade for his labor, but we're really getting so much more. When the mister was working a zillion hours a week for micro-managing brickheads (again, severely censored. believe it.), he didn't have the time to get to know people he'd like to know here locally. This farm working arrangement was a step in that direction. He likes our farmer friend so much and also loves working. My guy loves being outside doing hard work. He has learned, a little, about small scale farming and is re-inspired about our convictions about food and supporting a local economy. It's given him a connection to things that matter. This never would have happened if he were still bogged down by his old awful job.

Our house is better off. He is handy and likes fixing and improving things but everything went to the old nasty job and there wasn't a lot left over. He's been able to do some repairs and such that he never had time to think about before.

So, really, what this all comes down to is how good it is to have time, to be the master of our own schedules again. He picks up odd jobs where he can and is trying, trying to get the new business going and will always adhere to any associated obligations without a fuss. And not all jobs suck the life right out of an employee, but man, that one nearly did us in. He gave so much to people who didn't appreciate it, and had very little left to give us, the ones he's working so hard for in the first place.

I don't know how we'll make it work. It's shame that, even in these tenuous economic times, someone so capable and clever and strong (like an ox!) could be jobless. Worry still hangs over us and clogs our plans; I sure hope we again see some kind of financial stability. Who knows what lies ahead of us. But in the meantime, it's all so much more manageable within the context of a healthy, intact family.

everything is golden

red golden

We've been here, in this house, for just over 2 years now. What that means is that we're beginning to cycle through our THIRD holiday season in the same home. I have celebrated observed 3 of my birthdays in this house. We've had 3 Halloweens here. We're approaching our third Thanksgiving, Solstice, Christmas, New Year's, etc in the same place.

We are breaking all previous records.

And yet, my daughter still identifies as someone who moves a lot. Two years are not enough to salve the sores from a disastrous relocation, not when the trouble came fast on the heels of a lot of other hasty moves and stressful temporary situations. Anyone who has had to scramble for housing last minute should know this stress. But doing it again and again and again has left a shadow, a spook, an inability to breathe deeply without worrying when it will happen again.

I have a hard time accepting that this is it. Part of me is so accustomed to the transition, the perpetual packing and unpacking and settling in that we've done (thirteen addresses in as many years!) that I crave change as much as I appreciate and cherish the consistency of staying put.

Actually, I don't want to move again. I want to see all the blueberry bushes we planted last year grow. I want to finally collect enough salvaged bricks to make a patio in the front yard. I want to figure out how to best sneak a little flock of chickens into the backyard. I want to be here. Starting over again requires too much energy, loses too much time.

But I want to stop feeling like we're in the wrong place. Self identified city mice who thought about choosing a rural home and ended up here, in town, instead. I like being in the city. I like walking everywhere and seeing the hum and rush. I like the busyness and the brightness. And we have some of that here. Our town is very sweet, photogenic and charming. But we are far from the city. And we are confined to town restrictions, zoning and space and the squelch of too-near neighbors who are anything but simpatico souls. So in-between. Not the city. Not the land.

We expedited the purchase of this home because our living situation was so bleak. Our family was in the darkest times. And the job that caused us to move here is no more. I feel like I chose the best from what was available, but the rules of the game have changed since then and now I'm stuck trying to make it work.

I tell her that you never know. That anything can change in a blink. And that's the truth. But is no guarantee. She can't be the only 11-ish year old girl right here who likes to climb trees and pretend and whittle spears out of sticks with sharp knives and notice the plant life on walks and make up dramatic hairstyles and draw for hours and play Irish music so loudly. And maybe such a kindred soul will materialize suddenly soon.

This is not the dress rehearsal. This is not practice. This is my children's childhood. And it is so dear and joyful. We share so much gladness and we all of us have so very much for which to be grateful. But it's hard to reconcile that it's all going by so quickly and it's all so different than what I wanted it to be like.

My daughter will not ever have close, in age or proximity, siblings or cousins. She won't ever have close friends she's known her whole life, kids she's grown up with and knows well. The lonesomeness of her days continues to tear me up.

I wish I could give both of my children a steady group, a trusted pack of folks who have always been and will always be there. But I can't.

So I give them countless hours of reading aloud and Sunday night pizza and obnoxious operatic improv songs and muffins. I bake a lot of muffins. It's not enough.

The little traditions and routines I make up out of nothing are the smallest tokens I can offer, paltry talismans to conjure a decent childhood. I am inadequate. I would like to share this burden. Not just with their father (for, of course, he is here, participating every day), but with other people.

I love this time of year. I despise this time of year. The coziness of being inside more, the dread of doing it all again and not being able to hitch a ride, even for a moment, on someone else's momentum. It's the same old dreary story. Which is not to say we're a dreary bunch! But most of our days, regular days and special days, are spent just the four of us. Sweet. But a little sad, frankly.

I don't know how to escape the taunting thoughts that if we lived in the city, we'd have so much more to choose from. If not relevant community, then, certainly more distraction. Or if we were in the country, acreage and animals and all of that, we'd be so busy we wouldn't have time for discontent. I am tired of needing distraction. I want to sit in the middle of everything I have and like what I see.

I must reign in my visibility. Stop thinking about the big picture everyone's always talking about. Focus on the little picture. Everything is golden. The leaves and the light and the Promise I see in my children. We will have our quiet holidays, we will keep our simple days.

I cannot do better than I can do.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

passive aggressive kitchen witchery

It wasn't quite Necessity is the Mother of Invention here this morning, because Coffee isn't exactly a need, is it? And I didn't invent pan roasting beans. And back up the truck here, I'm not even the coffee drinker. Oh, I drink it when it's hot and ready and I'm too impatient to boil water for tea, and maybe I'll admit to the occasional chain soy latte indulgence (sorry, local little guys. your lattes blow) but since I'm not a moderate individual, I can flail right into racing heartbeat and shaky hand and grinding jaw territory and so it's just better if I abstain as much as possible. So it was in deference to the mister's caffeine dependence and my recognition of our sparse pantry that made me pull that ziploc baggy of green beans out of a drawer.

My friend The Tardy Homemaker roasts her own coffee and it is smooth and delicious (I never pass up a cup at someone else's house. reference: the aforementioned Not Moderate confession. if it's offered, i'll drink it, pretty much, yup.) and I must have made grunts about wanting to do the same (because, hello? pennies on the dollar, practically, for organic fair trade) and she gifted me a pound of green beans once when she purchased in bulk. She uses an old air popper for coffee roasting and this was my intent, as well. Surely you know about my thrift store habit. For as often as I'm there, I could be creepily stalking the old volunteer ladies at the St Vincent de Paul, but no, it's ric rac aprons and old school readers and sturdy spatulas I seek. And in all the many, many visits I've made to secondhand establishments since I've had a pound of green coffee beans in my possession, how many old air poppers do you think I have found? Not one. I have an air popper in my kitchen, use it frequently, actually. But it's the newer fangled sort made of thin plastic which will allegedly melt in the time it takes to roast a pound. So I reserve it for popcorn only and keep looking for an older one.

Which is all well and good until we wake up one cold frosty morning (frost two days in a row. hey, november, you mean business.) and I'm up and starting breakfast and feeling mightily disgruntled at the mister who is still in bed. For the record, if you are married to me and I send your grumpy ass to bed at 8:30, what that really means is that I am looking forward to you being the first one up in the morning, so that the house is awake and cheerful and the blinds are open and all of that when I get out of bed. And when that doesn't happen, when I am the last one to bed, by several hours, and then, by default, have to be the first parent up and about, I will probably growl at you and stomp down the hallway, sleepy and mad-like. But, for all the grumbling and cursing, I knew the longer he stayed in bed the madder I'd get and the best way to get him up is to get the coffee started. So.

I've heard that it can be done like this and I have roasted my share of nuts in a cast iron pan, so how about coffee? Three cheers for trying, anyway, and I have a canister full of Irish Breakfast so it's not like I'd be missing anything.

Here are what the beans looked like when I put then in the pan:

green beans
(one of these days I'll buckle down for real and figure out how to take a decent picture in a dim kitchen at 7 something in the morning)

I started them at 350 but they hadn't made much progress at all in ten, fifteen minutes, so I notched it up to 400ish. I think I left them in about 20 minutes after that. By that time the husband was up and dressed and bewildered about the smokey coffee scented haze in the house. It wasn't hot coffee that enticed him upright, but I think I smoked him out of bed. It would be easier to leave a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan on a hot burner next time. I'll remember. I did reach in and give the beans a stir a few times. I think, really, I took them out too soon. But, at that point, it had already taken longer than I thought it should have and I was done and the kettle was on and the press was clean and I just called it good enough.

They looked like this when I took them out:

roasted beans
(notice that I yawned and turned the camera to auto, flash and all. photography, what?)

We might not agree on bedtimes or wake up times or the most acceptable dispositions to share with the people in your household, but we both like our coffee beans dark and oily. These were on the light side and still rather dry-ish. The oils were just starting to come out when I blew the whistle on the whole experiment. However, maybe because the beans were so freshly roasted, who knows, the resulting coffee was excellent.

I drank more than my share (he hates it when I drink coffee in the a.m. because there's none remaining to pour into his thermos when he leaves and he knows it's not like I'm so discriminating, anyway, I'll still load up on tea all day) and he complimented the brew more than once, which is a lot more than usual.

Is this going to be a thing around here now? I don't think I'm ready to promote it to Regular from In A Pinch, but at least I know now it's easy enough.

(but not as easy as tea.)

Monday, November 02, 2009

take a hottie to bed

A little middle of the night motherly nursing last night prompted me to dig out and fill up the old hot water bottle. It was the best idea I had to help soothe my girl's very bad stomachache. She was hurting enough to wake me, which, for her, means quite a lot. She is the buck up and tell me about it later sort, and not usually so much for getting out of bed at 4 in the morning to tell her mama that she's sick.

I always forget about the hot water bottle until we have some sort of acute sickness. Although, regrettably, I forgot about it completely when I had my recent bout with illness. But since the weather shifted and there's often a cold snap to the air in our house (I'd rather bundle up a little, anyhow, than be too warm and it sure costs less to keep the heaters all off as much as possible) I have been thinking that I should invest in hot water bottles for the whole family. I rely pretty regularly on my husband's hot bloodedness to warm my cold sleepy toes, but he isn't always amenable and, well, I cannot reciprocate (I'm always cold!) and, also, think of the children!

I actually have a hot water bottle on the running gift idea list (because the proverbial corner is approaching and you know what's just around it) for my girl, but since she requested a fill up tonight, she might usurp the bathroom cabinet old stand-by before I acquire a new one just for her. She said it kept her warm all morning.

Googling just now revealed to me that the hot water bottle we have, what I thought was just a regular old modern day drugstore specimen, is really a vintage 50s jobbie. I bought it for $0.50 at a Phoenix Goodwill about 4 years ago. So we haven't even had it all that long. I always thought I imagined the faint whiff of roses and old man inside of it, but if it's really sixty years old, such a combination is probably possible. I wanted to get a few others just like it, it's so thick-walled and sturdy and the spout screws on tightly (it's called a Kantleek, by Rexall, and that sure seems to be true) and it keeps water hot for hours, but I don't think they make them quite like this one anymore.

More googling pulled up this article now I think I'll start calling ours a Hottie, too.

Energy efficiency + personal comfort were the reasons I wanted to get more anyway. Having a radiating ball of warm in your bed just makes sense. I toss ours into an extra pillowcase and wrap it up a few times, but a wooly cover would be better, perhaps, for heat retention and softness. But, still, it didn't really occur to me until I read that article that hot water bottles should be a standard. Like re-usable grocery bags and recycling! Has there been a hot water bottle resurgence when I wasn't looking? Because while I find lots of bottle and covers and cozies for sale (etsy and ebay and various and sundry other sellers), it certainly doesn't seem like a movement or anything. Not yet, anyway!

Do you take a hottie to bed?

Sunday, November 01, 2009

too much candy

Even though I am, legendarily, earnestly, a bonafide Halloween Grinch (candy! kids! bah!), I admit to having had a really great time this year. Wait, didn't I say the same thing *last* year, too? I believe I did. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em or some such like that. Almost anything is a good time with friends and a few nips of strong hooch. Yes?

The thing is: we don't eat candy. So there's a tin of suckers on my fridge, sure. The health food store sort with regular sugar and no artificial crap and that's just the way we roll around here. And unless they're the best full time always on actors ever in the whole world, my children don't feel left out or less than or different. They enjoyed the thrill of tromping around town after dark, ringing doorbells and that whole schtick, but the candy thing isn't really the thing at all. I don't have to cajole them not to eat too much or sneak it away or let them gorge and crash and burn and hope it's all over soon. Because it is a non-issue. One or two pieces, maybe, but that's it. And that's why my first reaction is to shrug and then avoid an event that's really all about junky candy. But for what other reason would I be compelled to pull a zebra print skirt and bright orange high heels out of my closet? Dressing up is just good fun. It's a shame we do it so infrequently, really.

Even without the damage of post-sugar high here at our house, tonight was rough. Time change, I guess. Never a cuter orange lego has ever existed than my boy in his last minute costume last night. But for all his adorableness (where did so much cute come from? I don't even know!), he was up so late, for an early-to-bed sort of boy. And we jollied him along on a very far afternoon walk today; such a long way for tired little legs. My girl was the intense one, exploding with feelings (happy! mad! all the feelings!) and we had many (many many many many) meltdowns and fall aparts and screaming-til-hoarse episodes when she was little, but with my boy, it's rare and I am rusty. I remind myself how scary it must feel to be a little person totally losing control and I hold firm and strong and kind and I repeat the mama mantras and I keep a respectable distance and when the facade cracks I swoop in to wipe tears and slice an orange and put on pajamas and give kisses and everything is smooth again before bed.

I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day for the first day of November. The house was chilly, kids and pets and the husband in and out, the doors opening and closing so much, and I wore a scarf all day. But it was bright (I grumbled about not having sunglasses on our walk) the leaves were crunchy and the sky was blue and I could not (ask the mister, go ahead) stop dancing. It felt like a dancing sort of day, just that clear and brilliant. And so we played a lot of dancing music around here today.

This is a perfect song for a dancing day on the day after Halloween. I like the Schoolhouse Rock-ish animation style and the theatrical sound and the frisky rabbits and Mama told me what I should know too much candy gonna rot your soul.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

the season of my miscontent


Well, there wasn't so much celebrating. But there wasn't any moping either. I call that good enough. But, still, being that it's the time of year that I reset my own personal little ticker tape, the early autumn is still a fine time to think about stuff I didn't do, stuff I want to do, and stuff I'd rather not.

I'm waist high in my 30s now (not quite halfway, I'm short waisted, you know) and while it's unreasonable to expect, or even entertain the notion of, like a secret for myself, that I might have a real whoop-de-doo affair next year, I can think of a lot of things I would like to accomplish between now (two days into it) and then (35, holy moly).

A list, for all the people who like lists (me? not so much. even my grocery lists peter out after just a few things and I chase random ideas around like falling leaves):

1. finish Couch to 5k. totally reasonable goal, yes? being down sick for several days + a general unwellness in the house lately put a wrench in what had been a very impressive effort. even i was proud of myself, and you know that's something. i can get back to it. looking forward to it, actually. every little breath and conversation isn't making me cough anymore.

2. sing karaoke. easy. easy enough, anyway. i cannot sing well but i enjoy it and if i said i didn't have a wee bit of a rock star in me, i'd be lying. don't we all? who knows, i might hate it after all, but it's something i must try. you don't have to ask me for an encore but you can clap all the same.

3. visit phoenix. oh, phoenix. i left on such hasty terms and i spoke so often, so openly, of all the things about you i despise. well. it's been two and a half years now. and if absence makes the heart grow fonder. . . i could never live with you again, but i think we can still be friends. not to mention that our time living there was tremendously important for my girl and i would like to take her back, visit old haunts, see old pals, keep from forgetting everything.

4. road trip. not necessarily related to the previous item. we did visit family last year during the week of thanksgiving, but nothing's on the docket this year. and it should be. car travel is the best way to travel and all the people who hate it don't know a thing. my kids are super travelers and we all get cross and fidgety, sure, but we talk, we watch clouds, we try on what it must be like to live in so many random little places. it's the best thing and i don't do it often enough.

5. make some money. red light jokes aside, this will be the most difficult to do. i'm smart and quick and funny and so capable but the only thing that matters is that i haven't worked for pay in a long time and people who hire people find that, i discovered this last year, the unforgivable sin. i wouldn't change this path i'm on. because unless you've got a time machine in your pocket, here i am. if it weren't for all the gray hair and wrinkles, i'd make like i just graduated high school (ha!) and then it would be, wow. isn't she great?! but even when we're talking bottom rung positions, mere cents beyond minimum wage, life experience, gut instinct, rapport, none of those things matter as much as blanks filled in on an application. it's demeaning and discouraging and i'm really better off working for myself. so who knows. income, somehow. that's what.

6. get curtains up on all the windows in the house to mask the goldanged ugly creamy colored mini-blinds, loathed atrocities that they are.

7. order many, many prints of pictures. my photo albums stopped the very day i got my first digital camera (mother's day, 2003) and i rarely, almost never, order prints and, come on, grandkids, gather around the hard drive. no. that will not do. also, i love taking pictures and sometimes, not often, i get some excellent shots and those should be, i'm serious this time, printed up and framed and on the wall.

8. make more stuff. i do not need to elaborate here, right?

9. let go of the stuff that needs to be let go of, which is a roundabout way of saying i have an awful time with change. i want to keep everything i love right in my pocket where i can have it close by for all the things, the good things, the hard things (and my, have there been hard things, 2.5 yrs of so much hard) but life doesn't work that way, apparently. and i can't keep getting offended, broken hearted, every time i'm reminded that it's just never going to be that way again. but do you empty your pockets and start over fresh? or set your things on a little shelf somewhere so you can still see them and think about them now and again? this is what i don't know about.

10. say Yes more often.

11. join a club. remember when marsha tried everything? just to see what she'd like? there should be such opportunity for witty middle-aged(ish) mothers. because i'm not involved enough!

12. get some ink on my upper arm. right side? sure. all these push-ups i do now shouldn't be for naught. what i need is a focal point for all that pre-shower bathroom flexing, don't you think?

13. see more live music. i saw more this last year than the year before. the babies are older (don't let the older one catch me saying baby, either!) and there's really no reason to sit around here so often. i'm such a content homebody, almost all of the time, it's true. but i like the night life.

14. finally install the sign board, poetry board, art and public notice board, whatever you want to call it, in my front yard that i've been aiming to do since i moved into this corner house. we get a lot of foot traffic. i have a pretty big (for a downtown house) front yard. these things should be working together!

Well, that's a good start. I reckon once I click Publish Post I'll remember other ideas because if I'm good at anything, it's coming up with ideas. All day long with the flashes of brilliance. Too bad I let things flash and then they fizzle and, more often than not, I forget.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

me + larry david + a siamese kitten


It's not that I'm anti-napping. It's just that sleeping during daylight hours feels so gross to me. Clammy and groggy and pinching waistbands and vanished time. No thanks. It's just me. But because it's just me and if we're on good terms, you and I, and if you're the napping sort, then I've probably ribbed you about it. Don't sleep your life away! and what not. I'm not the touchy feely sort, so much, so such things are like little quick squeezes to your shoulder. Only teases the ones she loves, or something like that.

So what it comes down to is this: if I'm in bed during the day, something ain't right. I barely left my bed for the past 2 days! So while I'm breaking one rule, on account of swine flu or who knows what, I pretended that it's not verboten for the cats to jump up, clamber around, lay right down on my chest and purr. The No Cats In Bed rule seems superfluous when I'm languishing in wrinkly sheets with lip balm smeared all over my nose. And, anyway, 2 of them didn't realize I fell down on the job and one of them saves his affections for the mister, so it was really just the little one keeping me company. We watched the whole sixth season of Curb Your Enthusiasm together yesterday.

Sick sheets in the wash, fresh sheets on the bed. I wore a supportive undergarment and pants with a zipper today. Improvement! Which, then, must have been just a doozy of a cold, right? Or maybe, as I'm convincing myself, it really was a more serious illness that I kicked into submission with my tireless barrage of oils and vitamins and teas and nasal irrigating and, yeah, napping.

I'm still not completely normal, the children are vaguely unwell (the big girl tucked herself into bed long before her little brother was even in pajamas -so tired.) and I hear talk of cold and flu all around me, it seems. Still in the woods. Not out yet.

So, in case the remedies and treatments and hours of librivox recordings didn't kill it all off, this song will help. It's a start your day off right song, a dancing song, a thrill me like Erasure and I'm fourteen and explode frequently from so much secret love song, a simple, happy, smiling song.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

ten shopping days left!

I've spent too many years doing the whole pathetic woe is me birthday introspection. So I'm due a turn-around, a departure from the doldrums, some unabashed celebrating. And since it's unlikely that the celebrating will involve much more than the cake I remind my daughter to bake me (much as I'd prefer pie, that might be still a bit beyond her almost-eleven yr old kitchen prowess) I am taking this opportunity to engage in a little wish listing. For your entertainment and should, perchance, an anonymous benefactor, or my husband, be reading.

Most of the things I want aren't accessible. Steady income! Health insurance! A singing voice like an angel! And generally I'm accustomed to picking from quirky used treasures in secondhand stores for all my gimme-gimme needs, so it's not often I even think in this direction. But can I compile a list of new things I want? You bet I can!

Here goes. In no particular order.

1. ukulele
2. sport headphones, non-earbud type.
2. stripey socks and tights
3. treadmill
4. unicycle
5. lenses for my rebel
6. sanita clogs, brown oiled leather w/ tan soles
7. curtains for the living room. and dining room. and my bedroom. or just curtain rods. if i had the hardware i would make the curtains myself. hm. or not. stick with curtains.
8. THIS nifty camera, which consoles me the littlest bit over the loss of polaroid film.
9. tall kitchen chair w/ pull-out stool
10. mid-century sectional
11. ink. on my body. bicep tattoo! rawr!
12. submersible blender

Gah, apparently that's the extent to which I can stretch my brain for this silly activity. It's not like I don't ogle the pages of every garnet hill catalog that comes in my mail slot. Because I surely do! So, see, I have plenty of covetous moments, it's that, most of the time, I guess I'm satisfied enough. At least concerning the stuff that can be purchased. I am balls of regret and discontent with regard to all the ephemeral junk of being a person in her (cough) MID thirties.

Next time (not now because if I don't get into the kitchen to clean it up, I'll never get to watch a couple of Curb Your Enthusiasm episodes, which will be shameful what since Season 5 was due back at the library today and I am pushing it already) I will share a list of things I aim to accomplish before my next birthday, not this one. I already blew this year and I'm coming into land with my eyes closed, more or less, already thinking about the take-off and next chance. See? the woeful If Onlys are so much more instinctual than the glad hurrahs. This trying to celebrate idea will be tricky!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

i just want to sparkle for a moment


We soaked it all in and now we're moving on. There was one quick coastal camping trip over the last weekend of September; likely the last tent adventure until next Spring. There was a much anticipated and deeply appreciated visit by a dear friend from far away (Arizona isn't the other side of the world, no. But it's sure not across town and I had not seen my friend in over two years). Greens have faded into golds and reds and, yes, browns and tonight we lit the first fire in the house. Hello, Fall. Guess you're here for real now.

Until it really gets cold-cold, I find the crisp air exhilarating. And on sunny fall days, like today, I like to keep the doors open. Please come inside, though you might not want to remove your sweater. And I was feeling so cozy in my scarf all day, sweeping and baking and doing housewifey things around the house, music blasting, the children, pink-cheeked, in and out and in and out. The cool air in the house, the good things in the oven, the asters blooming on the porch, so sunday afternoon mid-october just right. But sunny/crisp days turn quickly into cold nights when the sun goes down and my lungs were unhappy with the evening activity.

I gasped and wheezed through my intervals, dreaming of treadmills and indoor gyms. I'm so not a gym person. Like I know some people say that. But I really mean it! The whole idea of paying to exercise, in public, with other people, seems wrong. Plus, I genuinely enjoy being outdoors and this newish endeavor has been particularly doable and pleasant, I believe, because I've been outside. So who knows. I cried uncle several times and walked out the rest of the runs, not because the running was so difficult, but because it's hard to run with the squeezing sensation of one's esophagus closing shut and filling with needles. I've noticed remarkable improvement in my breathing stamina since I started running, but if cold air running is always so painful, I'm not sure I will be able to hack it. I definitely don't want to lose my momentum here, so I am hoping the next run renews my confidence.

This song here was on one of my first running podcasts. And I hum it a lot and have since been listening to the band (the boy least likely to) quite a lot lately. If you're able to pull up files online, I especially like the song called Stringing Up Conkers (such a fallish title), but it's not on youtube, sorry, so you get this one instead.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


A first day of fall that finds me bearing my freckly shoulders is all right with me (only it wasn't so much when I lived in the land of Endless Summer. I craved sleeves and sweaters, then, the way I will surely jones for sunshine late next winter). I really do love the mix of seasons here. I'm looking forward to the cool coziness approaching, but this last hurrah of skin and ice cubes is pretty great.

The boy and I talked about the end of summer, about less sunlight, about Fall. We went into the backyard to look for signs of autumn (why not the front yard? because the front yard has different signs, red flashing obnoxious signs that say Unkempt Garden! Weeds! Unruly! but gradual seasonal changes are less noticeable there still).

Clockwise from top left: hazelnuts (our tiny tiny backyard has 3 old pretty big hazelnut trees and, boy! do we have a lot of nuts), grape stem (concords eaten by the boy who eats the most fruit), dogwood leaves (the first bud in spring, the first to change color in fall), deciduous redwood needles (kinda cute, when it's just one, but when we have several foot high drifts of 'em along the side of the house, less cute).

signs of autumn

The boy so kindly made hazelnut muffins for me, but I could only manage one. I am *still* full from all of the crackers I ate today. Crackers + Feta + Roasted Tomatoes. Oh man. So good. How good? Like a letter from home with a dollar in it (as my dad would say). Ten dollars. I've been slow roasting a lot of tomatoes lately, and while I aim to keep them them through the winter, I was particularly lazy with one batch. I started them late in the day and at bedtime, they weren't near dry yet and but I stopped them anyway. Because they're so gooey and soft, I am not so sure they'll keep as long as their more dehydrated compatriots, so what else can I do? Eat those puppies up. A boon on good crackers at the grocery outlet inspired me to do them up like this:

the most delicious cracker i've ever eaten

My children, who enjoy tomatoes otherwise, thought these soft oozey clumps looked disgusting. I goaded them for a moment and then stuffed my mouth with another one. More for me, suckers. These crackers are so good. If I didn't eat all the feta up or if I don't wake up with raw sores in my mouth, I'll probably repeat this tomorrow for lunch. And dinner.

In other related equinox news, I made up a batch of mix CDs today. I haven't done this in a while, the mixmaster hausfrau thing. I am not a hip music cat and I always feel a little sheepish sharing the stuff that's doing it for me right now. Here's my fall oh nine playlist:


The last track is my current obsession. You should listen to it straight away so we can drawl out, "alabama, arkansas. . ." together. You'll see.

I kept myself busy in a glue + scissors way for a while. I love being busy that way, but I don't indulge very often because, oh! what a mess. I can barely keep up with the creative pursuits of my daughter. Throw my silly little projects into the mix and we might never see the dining room table again.

I confess to pushing everything to the side so we could eat dinner. I needed it to remain handy so I can bust out some more CD sleeves tomorrow. There's a reason I keep every old calendar, scrap of paper, everything around forever. You never know when you'll need to make an envelope:

cd sleeve

That's a lot of stuff to make a fine first day of Fall.

Monday, September 21, 2009

listen to me! there is something i must do.

The very best thing about the facebook + youtube timesuckerpunch is being privy to every amusing thing my friends find. I love that. The internet is mostly boring me lately. I am slow to email, I 'mark read' huge swaths of entries from my blog roll, I can't remember the last time I poked into my local craigslist. Snore. But every single day, somebody shares something on the old facebook that makes me laugh. Laughing = good.

I wasn't going to share this anywhere, it was amusing to me yesterday and then I moved on. Until I went to bed last night. The mister was already back there, asleep, and what had he fallen asleep to? The soundtrack to Les Miserables. That sort of synchronicity is so weird. How long since I last even thought about Jean Valjean? Years!! Even though, yes, seeing the touring production was a pivotal point in our relationship and, sure, my daughter liked to startle people at age 3 by belting out Master of the House, I lost track of the CDs and never imported them into itunes and hey! who listens to CDs anymore, anyway? Apparently the husband had just undertaken a big old-CDs-into-mp3s project for his new ipod.

It's not every day I randomly hear Confrontation twice.

Hey do you remember when I sang the praises of Freaks & Geeks? Probably not. It's been a while. Anyway, Jason Segal's character is the drummer I referenced in that linked post and while I couldn't say he's my favorite F&G character (perfect ensemble cast!), I am quite endeared to him. This clip almost makes me want to check out their current sitcom.


I am trying something new, which is not the ukulele (not yet). I am feeling the pressing weight of, well, I want to say my years and doesn't that sound pensive and wistful, but really, it's the pressing weight of my ass. Totally different. I have to reconcile the space between pounds to spare and a closet full of pants that won't fit. For my next trick, I will attempt to bridge this gap by running. Or something like running, but slower. I will say this: it's going better than I thought it would. And there aren't a lot of things these days I can say *that* about, so. . .

Sunday, September 20, 2009

parting is such

we want things to stay but nothing stays the same

There is this voice that has been haunting me (no not that. haunting is too spooky of a word, too invasive and serious, how about compelling?), compelling me to listen. and last night I listened to it live and wasn't that a good time? The September of my adulthood is like the October, November of my youth: a brilliant string of clear days, and nights when windchimes clang and sleepy hands shut windows, grab for blankets.

So this voice. When he talks I think of Matthew McConaughey's character in Dazed and Confused. Oh, you know. Tell me know you. What, you don't know?!

And so when I say that the front for Deer Tick gives me an I Love Those Redheads vibe, then you should know, surely, what I'm talking about, yes?

The last day of official summer upon us. A celebration and a regret. The rough smoothness of a raspy voice. The looking ahead and looking behind. The wish to pause the best seconds -the ones with the most laughter, with children running in circles and tomatoes piled in heaps and insecurities almost too small to see- is strong.

There is a certain seventies good ol' bad boy sleazy rock and roll feel about Deer Tick. I am sorry I'm still talking about them. I can talk about one thing for a long time. I can eat the same thing every meal for weeks before I tire of it. I am insatiable until the inexplicable moment when, without warning, I've had too much.

I haven't had too much yet. Not of this song or bare legs or open doors or nectarines. Not yet.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

ride me, mama

There are some things you don't even want to whisper, not even in an empty room, because once said these things might be heard and remembered by someone. I tend toward the quiet, and have been mistaken for shy. But the truth is this: I am an extrovert with very quick moving thoughts and a tendency to blab too much about anything. Keeping quiet keeps me out of trouble. You don't want to know what I'm thinking, believe me on that one.

Today I've been regretting something I said last night, at a very fun and comfortable gathering with friends. Because just like I don't care to promise things to my children until I know they are for sure, I don't like that I announced (hm, a rather grand word, it was more like a casual mention) that I'm going to learn to play the ukulele. It's a fine idea, sure, but if I don't do it? Of if I try and fail? Well, then folks will know about it. I would rather keep that to myself, I suppose.

My birthday's coming up and I'm another year closer to OLD and another year further from being able to make music. Oh, sure I took piano lessons when I was a kid. And there are those nearly forgotten years of being in the school band (you will never guess what instrument I played and I won't tell you!) and there are the countless hours I inflict my singing voice on my helpless family members. But making music in a relevant, participatory way? No. And clearly this is a troubling thing because it troubles me.

I do not have any aspirations of being good. I would be content to just plunk along and not be too terrible. That's a doable goal, yes? For an old lady?

And now my pride's on the line. I've said it out loud. Ay!

So being that it's sunday (remember I was trying to share a song on sundays?) and I'm kinda talking music already, I will include a song that I have been enjoying recently. A friend of mine shared it on facebook and it was new to me and I liked it right away. Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show (apparently an old Bob Dylan song previously unrecorded by the old songster himself). I'd actually forgotten all about it, but on the drive home from Eugene today (we drove the two hours south on an errand and tooled around that awesome city; every time I find myself there I think it would sure be a great place to live), I was reading their local weekly alternative paper and noticed a concert ad upcoming for these guys. (Local music alert: they'll be in Eugene October 6th and in Portland on the 7th.)

Here's a good example of why I should continue to practice silence: I think this song is top notch, catchy and hummable, but I liked it better when I was mishearing the lyrics. The husband and I actually had a small debate about this, when I first played it for him. I was sure that Ride was the key chorus word and he corrected me with a much more prudent Rock. And after I listened for rock I couldn't hear ride anymore, and I conceded the point. But something was lost. Rocking is sweet and all; I have spent countless dear hours rocking babies and, well. Um. I think there's a time and a place for something a lot less sweet. Or something. Nevermind. You might be surprised that I really like this video quite a bit. I won't spill so much and tell you my favorite part, though. mmm. See? Must! Shut! Up!

Also! One more thing! I am pretty over the moon in love with looking up ukulele covers of songs on youtube. Did you know that was such a thing? Uke covers? Maybe you did but I did not. I barraged my effbee pals with a string of ukulele songs the other night but I'll only put one here (but choosing just one is hard! there are SO MANY). Seriously, if you have a favorite song, somebody probably played it on their uke and put it online. I don't think I've loved anything in a long time as much as I love all the people who love making music and putting it up on youtube to share it, for no other reason than because it clearly makes them happy. May I one day be good (and brave!) enough.

Eat More Kale!