Sunday, December 25, 2011

A list of things I have not done for Christmas

1. sent out cards (yet)

2. wrapped everything (I have one gift left - ooops, 2)

3. finished the hat I was making for Lance (It's not so much that I failed to finish it. I have decided not to continue on it.) (BECAUSE IT SUCKS. THIS IS TERRIBLE WOOL TO MAKE A HAT OUT OF.) I am not as clever as I make myself out to be. I will apologize to Lance tomorrow.

4. Lance deserves a nice hat (not that he needs one, he has several, because he is a grown man and understands about getting cold.)

5. I myself do not understand about getting cold, though I am technically a grown woman, and am forever running from apartment to car, car to office, car to shop, car to school in a dreadfully underdressed state. I wore my crocs flipflops to the mall yesterday. [ITS A MALL, FOR GOD SAKE, ITS 80 DEGREES.] [until you have to walk around the overflowing parking lot looking for your car. Which is beige and subcompact. with your kid. who is freezing. just ask him - wait, don't ask him, he's already telling you. AND TELLING YOU. AND EVERYONE ELSE.]

Uh oh, I appear to have gone off track.

6. I did not print up cool artistic printable gift tags, which I thought I would get to. Instead, we wrote people's names in Sharpie on their presents. (On the paper. Not actually on the presents themselves.)

7. I did not talk to my son about Santa one way or another, except that when he asked, I launched into this long tale about the real Saint Nicolas until he drowned under all my verbiage and asked if we could listen to some music.

8. I did not give gifts to my co-workers. Most of my coworkers came across with a little something thoughtful for everyone. Not me, past queen of Christmas gifts.

9. I do not think I got anyone even one thing that they asked for for Christmas. Oh, wait, yes I did. Okay, I take that back.

10. I DID NOT F ANYTHING UP AT WORK TONIGHT. And neither did anyone else. There is no Christmas Tech Disaster to recount. It was a really wonderful service. Which gives me mixed feelings {like every other f-ing thing on the earth and especially} like everything having to do with my job aptitude and performance over the past year-and-a-half.

11. I did not bake my son a birthday cake, nor did I get him the traditional Baskin Robbins cake. We pushed his party into January, as so many of his friends were tied up for Christmas on his actual birthday.

12. I did not go to midnight mass at some little stone church with a boy's choir and a churchbell, as I threaten to do every year, since our service is early enough that it would actually be possible. Instead, we sat around and watched It's a Wonderful Life and then It's a Fabulous Graham Norton. And texted people Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

incidentally

The easy listening all-Christmas-music station played this the other morning.

Years ago, I mentioned that this was by far the skankiest and least-pleasant Christmas song.
The intervening years have done nothing to disuade me.

It surpasses creepy to skin-crawly. It's Love American Style times Love Boat with a dash of Will Ferrell in a Hot Tub.

I was posting this video to demonstrate how icky this all was, (I had even typed YOU'RE WELCOME) but watching it....okay, still major, MAJOR ick, but there is something kind of winning about the byplay (man, that looks so wrong no matter HOW you spell it) between Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. (Don't try to calculate their combined ages at the time. Just watch.)



Dolly at least is kind of adorable in this. Even in 1984 lycra ski pants.

Not Dead Yet,

Though you might think so, based on my blog output.

Here are two things that made me very, very proud of my about-to-be-6-year-old.

1. My son has been attending karate class, weekly, for about 9 weeks. We're coming to the end of the term and thinking about whether to re-up him.

Thursday morning, we mentioned that it was karate night, and Ian blurted out "i don't like karate." We engaged him on it (at the risk of missing the school bus) - what don't you like about it? Is there a part you do like? The kids? The teacher? He was able to tell us that he didn't like all the yelling - the instructors aren't hostile or mean (in my perception) but we do spend a LOT of time reminding Ian how important it is to respect everyone, how he'll get more of what he wants if he's unfailingly polite and kind...nobody at karate says 'please' or 'thank you."

We talked about it a bit and then moved on. Off to school, work etc.

That night, Eric had a gig so I accompanied Ian to karate. I chatted with another mom while class went on (oddly enough, this is the first time I've talked at any length with any of the families) and colored Christmas cards that I had brought along. When class ended, Ian and another boy came over and colored cards while the same instructors drilled an adult class.

Ian had his shoes and jacket on, and we were getting ready to leave, when Ian nudged me and then took off at a run. From the look in his eyes (and the time of day), I assumed a bathroom trip, and strolled off in that direction. That wasn't where he had gone, though. I looked around and saw him on the gym floor, talking to the head instructor, an older gent who can be quite brusque. Terry was crouched down, eye to eye with Ian, and they both looked very serious. I went trotting over and interrupted. "What's going on, dude?" I asked Ian.

"We were just talking," said Ian. "About karate class."

"Yes," said Terry, "Ian came to me to ask why I yell so much - if I'm mad at the kids or frustrated with them."

I looked stunned.

"I was saying that the teachers use their aggressive side all the time." said Ian.

"And I was saying that, mostly, we spend our time just trying to get the kids' attention! That's why we yell and sometimes make fun, a little bit. We want you guys and girls to be great at karate," Terry said, turning to Ian. "We want you to do really well, as good as you possibly can, in your tests and tournaments, so you're always progressing. It takes a lot of concentration."

"And discipline," added Ian. "So you're just trying to get our attention, so we learn."

"I'm really glad you came and talked to me, Ian," said Terry, putting a huge hand on Ian's tiny shoulder. "I have never, ever had a kid ask me those things before. Or an adult. Humph. That was really good. I liked talking to you about it."

And then he went out to his car and got some toffee that he had made for the other instructors, and shared it with us.

!!!

So, to recap: My 5-year-old, completely on his own, respectfully approached the head instructor and started a conversation about his methods. And used active listening.

Something I couldn't do when I was in college.

I repeat: !!!


2. Another evening, we were in the car, listening to the Christmas music on the easy listening station. (It's an annual thing.) A song came on which I won't name, but many of you would recognize it, as it concerns a child buying a gift for his mother so she'll look "real pretty if she meets Jesus tonight".

This song is decidely not my sort of thing. But, not wanting to pass my snottiness on to an innocent child, I kept my opinion to myself, not even tsk-ing or sighing (or making fake barfing noises.) About 3 minutes in, we have this conversation:

Ian: That song! It's, it's....Agh! It's so bad!

Me: Yeah?

Ian: It's like...like snot on my ears! Blah!

Me: Well, I have to say I agree with you. It is pretty awful.

Ian: It's like....it SUCKS, Mom!

Me: Hey. I don't like that song either, but you know we don't use that word that way. We say "I don't care for that" or "I don't think that's very good." Young men should not say things suck.

Ian: BUT MOM! You could say "it's awful" or "it's terrible"...but it's so much worse than that! You'd have to say something more than that. It...it just...

Me: Yeah, I know. Don't say it again.

So, again, to recap:
Evidence of good taste and critical thinking skills
and
excellent grasp of expressive language.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

EDITED TO ADD

Hi. It's actually February, when I'm writing this. I wanted to amend the historical record.

That the reason I didn't post much in September, October, or at all in November, is that it turns out that 'annoying cough" i refer in Sept? WHOOPING COUGH. Then PNEUMONIA. Which was actually kind of positive, because I neither I nor my family or employer thought that I was actually sick. Just a little cough. So I didn't take any time off, didn't get any mom dispensation, etc etc.

I got diagnosed with pneumonia on the Thursday of Halloween weekend, and spent the next 5 days in bed. I missed trick-or-treating (sad) but I also missed exposing all Ian's little friends to my germy self (very good.)

So this was "the fall I had pneumonia."

Now back to our story.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

fat girl issues

This is a weird thing to talk about, but it happened today, and I want to record it for some reason.

This afternoon, some of my friends were kind enough to invite us to a picnic. It was elegant, with wine and champagne and delicious food, and the weather was wonderful, and we laughed a lot and it was just great. There were a couple of kids and babies - I got to use my patented method of making infants laugh, which is 100% guaranteed - and having my kid have someone to run around the fields on a Sunday afternoon with was a really big bonus.

Sunday afternoons are rough for us. I love working on weekends, and Eric loves working on weekends, but having a small child who no longer naps or, in fact, STOPS TALKING AND HOPPING ON ONE FOOT, makes it hard. Ian wants to play Uno. Ian wants to walk to the lake. Ian wants to ride his bike. Eric and I are usually exhausted and want to fall asleep in front of Redskins football with no one talking to us or hopping up and down on us. Sunday is the day we are most likely to give one another a hairy eyeball from across the room, to communicate the message "Ian needs attention. WHY aren't YOU giving YOUR CHILD some attention? Hummmph, grrrr, tsk."

So we were at this picnic, which, as I said, was absolutely lovely. I was sitting in the shade enjoying a glass of wine, and Ian was frolicking through the fields and most of all I was not at home folding laundry and watching Disney Channel and trying to convince an excitable child that sitting in the living room playing Qwirkle is a good substitute for playing on the monkey bars. Because it means I don't have to walk to the playground and risk falling asleep on the bench.

Ian, taking a brief break from frolicking, came and asked me if he could go to a playground he could see in the distance. No, dude, it's too far, I said. If a pack of wild butterflies attacked you, I couldn't get there in time to save you.

Ian said: Sure you could. You could just run.

I said: Oh honey. You know I don't run.

I meant it to sound funny, like Doctor Smith from Lost in Space or Edwina from Absolutely Fabulous. Like, goodness me, run? Surely you jest.

I also meant, dude, you know I cough myself hoarse from the exertion of getting out of the car; running across the field would make me cough up an entire lung, at least.

But the truth is, I don't run.

I'm not sure I could.

And I called this 'fat girl issues" because I think this is a substantively different feeling for a fat person than for an average-sized non-fit person. I felt a kind of shame when I said it that I haven't felt in a long time, hitting me like a surprise wave when you've turned your back.

I don't know quite what to do about this. I am unhappy with my level of fitness (which we could call 'negligible". At best.) My lungs, with this damn cough, seem unlikely to be much help. My kid's taking karate, and watching his first class made me want to move my body (but not get yelled at or made to do pushups or run laps, which the older class did.)

Hmmmmm.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

I was sitting on the floor in front of my closet - Ian's school is now, as well as assigning homework, assigning home-play, 60 minutes of physical activity per day away from school. I know this is good, really I do, but jeez...

Anyway, in the interest of physical activity, I was looking for my sneakers (still AWOL, incidentally.) Our closet doors are mirrored, so after determining where they weren't, I slid the door closed and was examining my hair. I was looking at the silvery bits around my crown.

Ian plops down beside me. "What are you doing, Mom?"

"Well, I was looking for my sneakers, and now I'm looking at my shiny silver hair. See?"

"OH MY GOD. THAT IS SO AWESOME." It's like you have mermaid hair."

Okay, aside from the fact that my 5-year-old says OH MY GOD occasionally like some tween...that's pretty cool.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Yuck.

Okay, so here's the short update:

Ian started school in August, and I caught a cold. And I still have it. I have had a chest cold for a full month. Whine moan whinge, right? Blah blah blah.

And blah blah blah is kind of how I feel. I am sick of coughing, sick of tissues, sick of feeling exhausted and sore from the hacking. I've been through antibiotics and a short round of steroids. The doc assures me that this is not pneumonia or anything else dangerous, just the aftermath of an infection that's over. (Keep an eye out for our new feature, "Ask a Lifelong Hypochondriac"! Recurring theme - "I wasn't really worried about it being something dangerous until the doc assured me that it wasn't anything dangerous.")

Anyway, since school started, life has been kind of focused on basics - catching the bus, meeting the bus, homework, dinner, bedtime. Packing lunches. The occasional jigsaw puzzle. We're spending quite a lot of time together, which is very nice, and Eric has been quite - I don't know, agressive? that doesn't seem like the right word - about dad-ing. He's dad-ing up a storm, frankly, as well as working a lot, which is great. I'm finding that I actually have time to form a thought now and again, which continues to be mildly surprising.

Anyway, that's what's been going on on this end. We're reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland again.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

I can't imagine where he learned that

Ian is finishing up his homework at the kitchen table. Homework for the early weeks of kindergarten consists of coloring, cutting and pasting, and yet we have found a way to do some term-paper-level procrastination this weekend.

Me: I think I have some smaller scissors over here; would you like them?

Ian: No thanks, these are fine.

Me: Seriously, let me get you a different pair.

Ian: No. These are really okay.

Me: Because you seem to be struggling a little...

Ian, through gritted teeth: NO. THESE. ARE. FINE. THANK. YOU. MOMMY.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

so Ian and I stopped by the Indus market a day ago, for some stuff - tamarind, mango pickle, coconut milk to supply the summer-long fish curry experiments - and he asked for a frozen treat. I had never had any Indian or Pakistani popcicles, and frankly, I haven't had great luck with Asian desserts.

(Yeah, of course, sticky rice , and honey balls, and that space-ship looking thing at the Indonesian restaurant with the ice chips and the tapioca balls and the green layer that flouresed in the light....Sure, each of those things was great. Nonetheless, I approached the freezer case with mild trepidation. If nothing else, I didn't want Ian to get a bad taste and dramatically spit out the cuisine of another nation onto the floor of the market. In front of the proprieter. He wouldn't do it to be rude or gross, he just....you know, he's 5. When something bad is in his mouth, he gets it out.)

I shouldn't have worried. I am now pretty much obsessed with Kulfi, which is a frozen pudding popcicle that Indian kids eat (they buy them on the street from the kulfiwalla, no kidding, who I'm sure, incidentally, does not play "Turkey in the Straw" at wake-the-dead volume. The way our Blue Bunny Truck guy used to in our former neighborhood.)

It is about a thousand times more delicious and complex and wonderful than any Good Humor pop. Ian had a pistachio one, which he adored, and I had a white, pudding-y one with cardamom, cinnamon, rosewater, cream and sugar. And maybe some pulverized almonds.

There were several brands in the case, in popcicle and ice cream cup form. Ours were conical shapes in a translucent plastic container. I can't find the brand name.

So go and eat kulfi. It'll make your summer.

Monday, July 25, 2011

well, I was close.

Since seeing the martial arts movement piece, Illuminate, in the DC Fringe Fest a week or so ago, I have had a number of conversations about martial arts. A couple of people have asked me what branch/style my friend Chris teaches, and what the cast based Illuminate on.

And I would say: "It's some kind of Korean style, like maybe Tes Too Do or something."

And people would nod and say, oh, yeah, I think I've heard of that."

Well, here's why:

According to Wikipedia, it's Tang Soo Do, the Korean pronunciation of the old way of writing (唐手道, "Way of the Chinese Hand")

This is Tang Soo Do.





















And this is Testudo.

Why yes, I am quite the expert on every single thing in the entire world. Talking out muh butt. Again. Thanks for noticing.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Help!

okay, so here's the deal.
I'm the 50-year-old mom of a kindergarten kid.

I got referred to as Grandma again on Tuesday.

It wasn't rude, like "here, don't forget you spicy nuggets, Grandma." Another parent was actually encouraging her kid to not interrupt Ian. "Can't you see," she said, "He's talking to his grandma."

I know there are many women my age who ARE grandmas, and they are active and involved with the kids and and vital to their families. There's nothing wrong with being a grandma. I would be proud to be a grandma, climbing around the Chik-fil-a playground with the kid.

But I'm not. I'm proud (as well as rather put-upon) to be a MOM climbing around with the kid, and I as much as I don't want the idea to bug me - it does. A little.

People who mistake me for something I'm not usually mistake me for a man. (I got called 'Sir" on Saturday at Artscape.) And sometimes people assume I'm a lesbian.

Neither of those bothers me.

And yet I am desperate to correct people who call me Grandma.

I have always been told I looked young. Younger than I am.

So help me, internet.

Is it the utilitarian clothes? (On tuesday, I was wearing a black t-shirt in a jersey fabric, and black shorts, hoop earrings, rings, and black flip-flops.)
(Is it the flip flops? Oh, good Lord, please don't let it be the flip flops, I can't go back to wearing shoes. I can't.)

The practical haircut? My color? (Current color - brown roots, bleached tips, daily pool abuse.) My hair's not grey, and I have an actual tan (for the first time in my life.) I have freckles, but not age spots or visible sun damage (see above, first tan of my life.)

If it's because I'm fat, well, I'll just have to live with that. I could be less fat, but I don't see my lifelong morphology changing anytime soon.

PLEASE make some suggestions. I want to look like me, and the me I picture is funny, active, curious about the world, artistic, and not old.

Help me, internet! You're my only hope!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Illuminate

Some friends of ours had a very surprising show in the DC Fringe Festival - you'd expect friends of ours to have a magic show (and a couple did), a postmodern clowning sort of thing (also true), perhaps some sideshow or drag or burlesque or a dirty puppet musical (not this time.)

These friends would not have identified as theatre artists. They're a bunch of guys that we know through Chris, who's a dear friend we met through magic. His other love (along with philosophy, church history and bridge) is martial arts, and a bunch of his friends created this movement piece with enough pathos and humor - plus really excellent live original music - to be a play in the festival, playing to standing room only crowds.

It's all coming back to me now.

Ian is stalling bedtime by dressing a large stuffed animal, a green-and-purple dragon, in swim trunks and a rash guard.

Me: IAN! I asked you to brush your teeth 10 minutes ago! Put that down and finish getting ready for bed. I'm not going to tell you again.

Ian: Sorry, Mom, but at this point, I have to do what's best for the dragon.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Just finished watching The September Issue, about Vogue and what it's like to create a monthly fashion magazine. And what it's like to work for Anna Wintour, the editor in chief, widely known as the meanest woman in the world.

She doesn't come off as the meanest woman in the world in the film.

However, this lady up here, Grace Coddington, who is (oh, let me grab a copy that's lying around here somewhere) (Because if there's not a Vogue, a New Yorker and a cookbook somewhere around, it must not be my house.) Anyway, Ms. Coddington is the creative director, and the film turns into a meditation on her - her art, her eye, her history, the way she sees fashion. She comes across as a down-to-earth woman navigating a sea of laregly manufactured drama, an artist among merchants, a sensitive soul and an island of charm and good humor.

She clomps around in flat shoes, loose at the heel - the same shoes in every scene, with every utilitarian black ensemble - and walks like a truckdriver, as so many models do. She was raised in rural Wales, and won an amateur modeling competition in 1960, which led to her work at British and then American Vogue. She's marvelous.

The other thing I LOVED about this movie was the way it was shot, and the fact that, though it's documenting a project with deadlines (and in fact, communicating a sense of urgency is very much part of the filmaker's job here) , the film lingers wonderfully over a designer's process of creating a garment, and shows the beauty and excitement of couture showings in a really, really excellent way. Yeah, I'm a sewer, so a nicely-felled seam and an interesting pair of shoes really does it for me. But this is a beautiful film.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Comprehension is not an option.



"Making it easy to understand is what got us into the mess the church is in today. The last thing we need to do is make it easier to rationalize. NO! It is time to make the Word strange, in the same way that Christ made God strange by dying on a cross and being born of a woman. Comprehension is not an option. Participation, however, might just open the human imaginary to a level of understanding we never dreamed possible."


I direct you to this essay not because I am scandalized by decisions of the CofE - none of my business, really, we have our own fish to fry over here - but because Billy Daniel expresses this quite beautifully.

before anyone from my community jumps in my stuff, let me be clear.
to me, there is a world of difference between living out the gospel message that the Kingdom of God is at hand, and "making it easy to understand."

Monday, July 11, 2011

Dinner tonight: F is for Flounder. Too.

this came out just stupidly, ridiculously good.

Thaw 3 flounder filets (we got a pile of frozen fish at WalMart a couple of weeks ago, which has turned out to be a very good purchase.) Start that about 2 hours before you cook - the best way to thaw them is to seal the frozen filets in a ziploc bag and set them adrift in a bowl of cool/room temp water.

For this, you'll need 2 large frying pans and one medium saucepan.

Slice one small sweet onion and about half a pepper. (I had remnants of a red and an orange one.) Put your cast iron skillet on over high heat, give it a glug of olive oil, and sizzle the onion and pepper for about minute or two. Salt and pepper them. Then, in the interest of not having them get too brown, splash some water into the pan - not quite enough to cover everything - and keep the veg moving as it bubbles away.

Between stirs, put a saucepan of water on to boil, and put 2 dinner plates on the counter.

After the water in the onion pan has mostly evaporated, add a lot of chopped garlic - I used 4 cloves, and I could have stood another one or two. Lower the heat to medium high, keep pushing it around the pan.

Throw some orzo - probably 2/3 of a cup - into the boiling water in the saucepan.

Put your other frying pan over medium high heat, and let it sit. Cover one of the dinner plates with all-purpose flour and then sprinkle with Old Bay. Don't go crazy, you're not boiling crabs, but a little Old Bay is great with flounder.

Generously glug the latest frying pan with olive oil - more than a film, less than a quarter-inch - and when it's warm, dredge each filet in the flour and spices and start them frying.

Stir the onion pan; add some tomatoes (I used canned; you could use fresh. Either way, squish lots and lots of liquid out of them. It would also be great with sun-dried tomatoes, snipped small.) Turn the heat under that pan down to low. Add a tablespoon of capers. The stuff in the pan should be lumpy rather than soupy, but not all the way to dry.

Turn your fish once.

Test your orzo, and if it's done, turn off that burner.

Turn off the burner under the onion/tomato/pepper/caper mixture. Stir in a sliver of butter.

Remove your crusty, light brown fish to the other dinner plate that you put on the counter. (A heat-reisitant spatula us really good for this - a more rigid flipper could separate the crust.) Don't cover, it'll get soggy.

Peel an orange or a couple of clementines. Separate the sections, pull the pithy part out, and drop the sections into the tomato mixture. Stir, and let sit for a minute or two to let the orange warm up.

Plate each serving as a thrilling, messy pile.

I believe this will be even more amazing with more savory stuff in the veg - more capers, more garlic, a tiny pinch of red chili flakes, or a small amount of strong ripe olive.

But for a 20-minute, weeknight, just-got-home-from-the-pool dinner - dude, seriously.

It was hard for us to describe this without using the f-word. THAT is how good it was.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Stuff to Do When You Discover that you just don't give a shit.

Several times a day, for the last week or two, my husband has gazed over at me and said "You okay? How're ya doing? Okay?"

It only took about 10 days for me to notice this - that this was happening repeatedly, and that it might mean something.

I tried to answer him this morning.

"How ya doin', sweetie? You okay?"
"Tell me why you're asking. Do I seem other than okay?"
"Yeah, you seem kind of...angry or something."

Well, that's just silly. When I'm angry, there can be no question. There's no "seem"-ing. Everyone knows.

But I took a second to think about it, and I started to say:
"I don't know, I've been feeling kind of..."

and then Ian broke into a spontaneous dissertation on the powers of various Mario characters. And I shot myself in the head. With my finger, but still.

Eric nudged me back on topic. "You've been feeling...what?"

"Oh, I don't know. Maybe feeling disconnected? Like nothing has very much to do with me."

This is potentially quite bad, since I have a job, a marriage and a kid that have very, very much to do with me, in which I need to remain deeply interested and intimately involved.

I may be having a little depression flare-up. I had one last summer, and I didn't recognize it, because I had never in my life been a LITTLE depressed.

So all day, I've been making a list, which I will now share with the internet:

Things to do When You Discover You Just Don't Give A Shit

1. Clean the kitchen. Nothing is fun or interesting anyway, might as well do those things that everything is normally more interesting than. Put away the laundry. Empty the dishwasher.

2. Gather all your clarity and focus and think back about what balls you might have dropped at work in the last 2 weeks. Go over your emails. Immediately reply to those ones you 'forgot'. Go over your calendar for next week. Perhaps make a more detailed 'to-do' list than usual.

3. Do not go bathing suit shopping. I really, really need a second, and, should I find one, a third swimsuit, since we go to the pool every afternoon and my one suit is aging ungracefully. Of course, the price of a decent suit is coronary-inducing, and of course the affordable suits at WalMart are no match for my pulchritude.

If by any chance you are in the market for an expensive but excellently-made and long-wearing plus-sized bathing suit, I totally recommend Junonia, which has great merchandise and great service. With God as my witness, I'm getting my surfing wet suit there...one day.

Anyway, I love shopping, but I recommend steering away from stores on that first day that you discover that you don't give a shit. Whatever size you are, it's wrong, and nothing looks good, and the merchandise is all ugly and shopworn. Don't do it.

4. Declare a moratorium on whatever the Endless Conversation is in your house. Whether you go in endless circles about Pros and Cons of Growing my Beard In or What Color to Paint the Bathroom, Volume 9000, or The Car Made a Weird Noise or Is Yoshi a Turtle, No He's a Dinosaur, No He's a Frog, blah blah blah blah BANG. We get 24 hours off from that. And if someone forgets, and brings it up, the clock starts over. Sorry. I don't make the rules. Oh, that's right, I do. Well, sorry.

4. Play cards with your kid. It's low-impact. And he'll lose interest before long.

5. Grocery shopping is okay. It might spark your interest. Not staple foods, though. Make someone else go for those. I went to the Indian grocery for chutney. They had 20 kinds!

6. Knitting is kind of boring, but getting something finished feels good. Make things in sprints.

7. STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM COMPUTER SOLITAIRE.

8. Get enough sleep. Tranq up as necessary.

9. Speaking of - if you happen to be a walking pharmacy, er, prescription med user, you might think back over your week and take a look in your medicine cabinet. This is a bad time to miss doses. You think it doesn't matter - I always think it doesn't matter - but apparently it does.

10. Watch cartoons. Bob's Burgers and Regular Show are a good fit for mild depression, and the Amazing World of Gumball and Adventure Time are nice when you start to feel a little better.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Dinner Tonight: Summer Salad




It doesn't seem quite fair to post this recipe, as it requires advance prep - I made the garlic-infused oil last week for another dish, and I decided to cook the wheat berries this afternoon without knowing what I would do with them. Nonetheless, here what I did -


Cook some wheat berries. (The way to cook wheat berries is to combine 1 part wheat and 3.5 parts water in a pot, bring to a boil, cover, lower the heat and simmer for an hour. I cooked a cup, because that's what I had left in the bag in the freezer.) Let them cool.

Open one can of black-eyed peas. (Hum chorus of 'tonight's gonna be a good night' here.) Drain, rinse, empty into a huge bowl. I used Goya, 15.5 oz.

Chop into small chunks half a cucumber, half a red pepper, and half a yellow pepper. Core and squeeze the seeds and runny stuff out of 2 small tomatoes, and chop those also. Throw all that stuff in the bowl with the beans and grain.

Now it's flavoring time. Chop up about 2 tablespoons of something spicy. I had a new jar of hot gardeniara, which is pickled vegetables -green beans, okra, carrots, celery and peppers - in olive oil. (This product makes an annual appearance at our house on the Thanksgiving relish tray, along with the olives and pickled watermelon rind.) Fresh or pickled peppers or probably some hot sauce would also be good. You need to mince them up really small, though, so they get disbursed through the grain and beans. Throw that into the bowl.

Now give it a couple shakes of that cheap balsamic vinegar.

I was about to give it a tiny splash of olive oil, but then I remembered! A week ago, I had poured a small container of olive oil, and thrown in a whole lot of chopped garlic, basil leaves, rosemary needles, the end of a jar of capers, and some peppercorns. I had spilled about half of it, the day I made it, and had used a bit on pasta, but found it underwhelming. However, it was great today! I do believe I will be keeping a small jar of that brewing at all times.

So throw in a couple spoonfuls of that, making sure to scoop up some garlic and capers and leaves.

Toss, adjust seasonings. Some raw sweet onion would also be good, if you have some handy. It'll need flaky salt and fresh pepper.

We ate ours with crackers and sardines, as I was in a sardiney mood after listening to today's The Splendid Table.



Adorable knitted sardines via The Daily Green

Friday, June 10, 2011

Also this is quite delicious

http://artsyville.blogspot.com/, a perfectly lovely blog
via Brady on Facebook.

The reason the internet was invented.




1. @PeanutTweeter
via my brother. Random (they're NOT random, they're the funniest tweets in existence) tweets placed in the mouths of Peanuts characters. Not all work safe. Luckily, my kid can not yet read much.




2. The Vintage Collective's flickr photostream.

HUNDREDS OF PAGES of old graphics - illustrations, monograms, esoteric symbols, dingbats, plus some great contemporary designs they inspired. Plus photoshop tutorials. Heraldry! Ships! Insects! Scientific implements

just all sorts of ridiculously cool stuff, and most of it is covered by Creative Commons. This is an amazing resource. It's the personal collection of a gent named K. Sandberg.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A movie I loved.

Semi-related thought (or stream-of-c0nciousness blathering) - didn't I used to love fiction? Didn't I used to read PILES of fiction? Didn't I used to write fiction, occasionally, and aspire to write fiction professionally? (Some of you haven't known me that long, but the answer to that is YES.)

I have 34 items checked out of the library right now. Aside from some animated videos, all of them a non-fiction. I haven't gotten a novel out of the library in perhaps 3 years.

This film, which I loved, is a documentary, short on interviews (short on talk of any kind) and long on concert footage and people staring out tour bus windows.

Whenever anyone asks me what my favorite film is, I answer Stop Making Sense, which I realize is nothing but concert footage.

I wonder what this means about me.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


This is odd.




Microblogging on a full-feature platform.

Opening day at the pool in our complex.
First family to visit the pool.
First people to swim in the pool in 2011.
First injury of 2011.

we are awesome.

Getting our stupid suits on and finding towels and car keys and things was SUCH A HUGE PRODUCTION that I spent the 1-block walk thinking mean thoughts about my husband and son. Weren't we just at the beach last week? Didn't we have a fabulously relaxing and agenda-free time? Why is it causing more stress to go to the pool for an hour than it did to go to another state for 3 days? Why is everything in the world such an enormous pain in my own personal ass?

And then it was time to cross the street. My stopped on the curb, took Eric's hand, and said "You hold Mommy's hand."
"She's carrying the towels, dude, she doesn't have a hand free for me to - "
but I shifted the bag to my shoulder and took his hand.
We crossed the street, the sun dappled through the leaves overhead.

Ian grinned.
"Look! A happy family. Just like I wanted."

When we got to the other side, Eric and I each laughed and apologized to each other for contributing to one another's grumpage.

And then Ian slipped on the pool deck and sliced his chin open.

awesome.

we're never leaving the apartment again.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Statistically Improbable

Statistically Improbable Phrases used in our household today:

"Porcupine Mega-Zord!"

"enjoying the Great Zucchini"




Given recent history. I realize that a new blog post from me is also.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Look Closer.


So there's this guy, right?
He takes pictures.

They are not precisely what they seem.

The guy isn't either, precisely.


In short - talented reprobate is assaulted, beaten nearly to death, lies in a coma for 9 days. When he wakes up, brain-injured, his drawing talent is gone, as well as his memory, his identity, and his addiction. Just one aspect of his old personality persists.

And this is what is grown up in its place.

This is by far the most interesting thing I have read in....maybe forever. PLEASE check it out.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

And this one year, at puppet camp....


Inspired by this TED talk, I decided to initiate a new Twitter feed focused on my summer job - puppetry. No, I am not kidding.

I'm the Director of Puppetry Arts for Mystery Academy. It's a company run by our friend Chris Bowers and my husband (Nepotism! YESSSSSSSSS. ) that creates content and teaches magic, circus arts and puppetry in camps and schools. They've been at it for several years - last summer was my first summer.

My very first paying job, when I was a teenager, was as a puppeteer. Years have passed, and I've followed the astonishing work of people like Julie Taymor (who was producing off-broadway avant garde puppet plays in the late 70s, about the same time I was flailing my arms wildly to novelty tunes played on a reel-to-reel tape player.)

Several years ago, I saw a beautiful exhibit of some of her creations at the National Museum of Women in the Arts...and I started to wonder. What if I had known that it was possible to make a living as a puppeteer? Obviously, people do. Okay, not many people, but a few. What if I had considered that as a real career, not just a pocket-change venture when I was a teen?

For one thing, I decided, I would have a much different relationship with my own body. I would be more athletic - partly naturally, from the work itself, and partly through training. I'd certainly have well-developed upper-body strength. And probably be fairly graceful. More integrated, I think. How would a professional puppeteer walk, I wondered? What would she wear?

(Obviously: black turtlenecks, beat-up jeans, bare feet. Suede boots when footwear was required. Earrings, and perhaps a nose piercing, to make up for the lack of rings and bracelets.)

And if my mind and body were better integrated - if I hadn't spent all those years thinking that my body was nothing but trouble, longing to be a brain in a jar - what would that mean for my relationships with people?

Plus, I'd be a full-time artist, designing and performing. (With maybe a little food service or hotel front-desk work on the side.) I'd be around other creative people all the time. There'd be a certain amount of whimsy in my work life, plus a decent slug of humor, both tender and bawdy. Lots of late nights. A modicum of couch-surfing. A good bit of cheap wine. Some grant-grubbing, which I would be great at because I'm so charming.

Sounded okay.

So that was the road not taken, one of many, and. good Lord, couldn't we use up what's left of our lives pondering the stuff we didn't do in the part that's already been? Romances we turned our backs on? Jobs we didn't get or turned down?

In that way, being the director of puppetry arts is a circle, a link with my past.

And there's another way.

In 1984, I had one of my life's true epic fails. I was a camp counselor, and I failed at it. Miserably. Historically.

When I was a girl, I went to Girl Scout camp every summer for many, many years. I imagined that I would grow up to be a camp counselor, maybe even a camp director, camp was such a natural and good part of my life.

When I was a college senior, and needed a job, I got a position at a girl's camp in Maryland. Being older than many of my fellow counselors, I was given older girls - 13-14 year olds, their last year of being campers. Some would be CITs the next year, but most would never be back.

It was awful.

I was sure that I would be spending the summer molding young feminist minds, helping some dear girls reach their full potential, raising their consciousness.

As you have undoubtedly figured out, these girls did not want their minds molded or their consciousnesses raised. Or otherwise interfered with. They wanted to play cassettes of "Purple Rain" and "Rio" and complain about things and NOT go swimming....you know. They wanted to be 13-year-old girls.

Apparently, I had forgotten about being a 13-year-old girl.

It was a bad match. My co-counselor, who did know about being a 13-year-old girl, was disgusted with me and had me, in effect, fired.

Except of course they couldn't fire me. So many of the other drama department staff had washed out (gotten mono, gotten fired, quit in the middle of the summer, left for the arts and crafts department) that I was actually needed as a teacher. They took me out of the cabin, moved me into staff housing (IT WAS LIKE DYING AND GOING TO HEAVEN) and had me teach double day-parts and take shifts manning the camp office instead of supervising cabin life.

So it was actually great. Plus I met one of my dearest friends, with whom I lived for many years.

Except I was a failure.

That failure has stung me for literally decades. I have shied away from teaching kids at church, volunteering with middle and high schoolers, because I was convinced that I just didn't have anything to offer kids.

But last summer, having way too much vacation accrued and way too little money, I decided to take on the puppet thing. Wrote curriculum. Designed projects. Gathered materials and books and dvds (Muppets! Giant agitprop puppets in the streets of Cambridge!)

and it was one of the best, most energizing, most rewarding things I've ever done.

So now, in effect, I am two things that I could have been but wasn't. I'm a puppeteer. And I'm a fucking great camp counselor.

And now I'm @PuppetGoddess.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

all apologies.

God, that was really boring, wasn't it? 2 months of nothing but videos? What was I thinking? That's just irresponsible.

Sorry. I wasn't myself.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

until they sparked


So we made the hard decision and we each made an incision
Past our muscles and our bones, saw our hearts were little stones
Pulled them out they weren't beating and we weren't even bleeding
As we lay them on the granite counter top

We beat 'em up against each other
We beat 'em up against each other
We struck 'em hard against each other
We struck 'em so hard, so hard until they sparked

Monday, March 21, 2011

quoted without comment


Ian shows me his 3 identical stuffed bunny toys.

Ian: "These are my two children. Their names are Glitter and Sparkle."

Me (taking one and cradling it): "Really? Which one it this?"

Ian: "That one's the boy. Glitter."

Me: "Oh! Hi, Glitter!"

Ian: "Oooh, no, that one's the girl. Sparkle. Or, um, wait, I think....no, no, I've got it now. That one's the boy. His name is GraveDigger."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

apparently this is now a video blog.




but I couldn't pass this up. You must watch it. I stumbled upon it today when I was looking for, yes, a Polyphonic Spree video to share with my boss. I have no idea how Jen, who is my actual friend in real life, even before she was a PBS blogger, award winner, famous blogger, heart-toucher, encourager of people all over the world, all that stuff she is now....anyway, I have no idea how her interview here is 'related' to the Spree, but it was a cool thing to find.

Monday, February 14, 2011



Diana was my fav Project Runway contestant, those many years ago. I'm thrilled that she's still in the public eye. I got to her blog via A Dress A Day.


Happy Valentine's Day!!

Monday, February 07, 2011

This is lovely


Scott Schulman, my (and everyone else's) second-favorite photoblogger, steps in front of the camera for a change. Worth 7 minutes.

Monday, January 31, 2011

I DID NOT knit this.



Yet. I really want to make one, but am a little frightened by the knitter who commented "The pattern is pretty easy until page 11." (In case you're curious, the pattern's free on Ravelry, called "In The Pink" and there are many breathtaking examples there. Literally, they were breathtaking.

I am looking at finishing the big knitting project I have working on since the day after Christmas. I had to look at this tutorial again which, next to Bible Gateway, is by far the most helpful piece of information of any kind on the internets.

My husband 100% RULED when he taught at a family entertainers industry convention this weekend. It's funny -he's been a professional performer, on and off, since the age of 11, and who loves to talk more than he? (Okay, besides me, I mean.) And he still gets really nervous about doing shows and especially presenting lectures! I find that surprising. And, in retrospect, adorable.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Years Resolution:




wear more hats.
check.

neologism

Ian made up a new word yesterday: "flatterbrained."

Using it in a sentence: "I shouldn't have promised to bake the cake for that party - i just get so flatterbrained when people start complimenting me that I can't say no!"

sofi's crepes

it's not a wall decoration, it's a site-specific work, called "choices".
new addition to the collection: museum gift shop



this might be it, actually.



fresh hot crepe with semi-sweet choc chips and marshmallows. Made a believer out of him. (I had 'the classic' - ham, gryere, dijon.)

I also badly offended Ian when I grabbed the remains of his crepe out of his hand - he was long since full and obviously uninterested - and popped it into my mouth. Just because he didn't want to eat it didn't mean I should.