Wednesday, December 30, 2009

If you loved me, you'd obey this chart.

You can see it all the greatness here. Happy New Year! I hope to report back from the coast trip with sightings of whales, stories of greatness and a few chapters done of Suite Francaise.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Who knew? I'm a Blazers fan!

My cousin took me to my first professional basketball game tonight, and it wasn't even the Montinore wine or the Zenner's hot dog (gotta love Portland) that made it so great... I really liked watching the game! It was surprising to me that I was more drawn to watching the court than the jumbotron TV; now THAT is some wholesome American fun!

And yes, I already have a favorite player. Who, you ask? Is it cutie pie LaMarcus Aldridge? Rockstar Brandon Roy? Pshaw. I say pshaw to that.

Why, it's Mr. Rodney Grant, the Associate Director of the President's Council on Physical Fitness... who also played a little organized ball with his friends. Back at Duke.

And there are many reasons to love Juwan Howard but his presence on The West Wing - yes, President Bartlet's Council, not President Obama's - makes him my Blazer from here on out.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ruminations on Obsessing. (Part 1)

It always starts with something small... a joke at a dinner party that falls flat, the use of an in-crowd term to a person who isn't quite 'in' the crowd yet, a slip-up featuring too much honesty when asked my opinion... and then we're off to the races.

I am a gold-medal-contender for lying in bad at night, obsessing about something I've done/said/written that might be misconstrued/hurtful/annoying. Hours. Hours and hours. Days off from work? Spent bringing it up, over and over, to John, or anyone who happens to call me, and scrutinizing the minutiae of my perceived mistake.

What do you do in cases like this? Not for a second do I think I'm rare in my ability to obsess... enough blogs, conversations, Sex and the City episodes, Facebook posts and apologies-days-later have come way to know that this is a trait others share. How do YOU beat back the obsessies?

(Part 2 will be written at a time TBD. I'm pre-obsessing on how much I ought to reveal about numerous recent events that inspire such obsession.)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

And despite myself...

It's almost Christmas Eve... and even if there isn't snow (like in my childhood Christmases), and even if there isn't a George Winston CD playing (though I can put it on the iPod if I want), and even if I *know* Santa isn't coming (is he?), and even though I don't have a new velvet dress to wear (but I do have purple tights)...

And even though I DO have work to do, and a bathroom to clean, and files to file, and supplemental food to cook plus gifts to buy for my various big-cooking Christmas hosts...

That magical, calm-and-quiet, anticipatory Christmas feeling is starting to sneak in at the edges.

I'm hearing "O Holy Night" and the cookie jar is lightly, but acceptably, filled. I'm planning to sign off work very soon, and I spent this evening in great holiday cheer with M and E, at their house. My whole world is taking a great big in-breath, and I have a holiday days date with the Little House books, a ridonk pile of gifts, egg nog, champagne, cozy blankets and my new husband.

Uh, just one more trip to Fred Meyer first.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Let's All Go to the Movies.

Another installment of sexism at the movies!

If Cameron Diaz were as bloated and overweight as Luke Wilson has become, she would never be cast in a (albeit vacuous) big budget, star-filled, rom-com movie like "Valentine's Day".

Watching the preview for "Remember Me" it appeared to be a wrong-side-of-the-tracks love story, where the father of The Girl and the father of The Boy also may duke it out. Which makes sense. Because so many people are raised by single fathers in the world today. Single fathers as primary caregivers - they're everywhere!! Single moms? Who? Portraying them would give women in Hollywood roles, AND illustrate a common life occurrence. So: pshaw. No way.

And a yay for Nancy Meyers! No matter what else we can say about her, I'm delighted that the preview for "It's Complicated" describes Alec Baldwin's character as the "ex" of the main character, a woman, and Steve Martin's as her "architect". She is truly the main character, even in the context of telling us who the others are, and THAT is a rarity in Hollywood indeed.

Ha Ha: The Not-Funny Kind.

You can read more about it here, but the highlight reel?

The new policy for US servicemen/women in Iraq? You can, and will be, court martialed for getting pregnant or getting someone pregnant while on a tour of duty there.

Of course, military hospitals won't provide abortions.

Nor do they provide the morning-after pill. (And yeah I don't think the Iraqi CVS is well-stocked.) And, as Anna N. points out, it's far easier to identify pregnant people versus impregnators.

Merry Christmas from the growing abstinence movement!

Saturday, December 12, 2009


ME: Hey, you know that song I like, Lisztomania? From this tribute-to-a-tribute that I loved?

J: Yes, I do.

ME: Well I just found out that the band is French!

J: Oh. They sound sort of sound like The Postal Service to me.

ME: Yeah. They sound hipster-y. Is there such a thing as French hipsters?

J: I think they invented it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fresh or Frozen?

As intimacy in a partnership grows, so does confidence... in each other's grocery shopping skills. While I still write things like "flour: all purpose, enriched, unbleached" on the shopping list (because, hey!, there are many options in that aisle and I want to make it easy!) and he specifies the ranking of preferred body wash scents (Aqua Reef is #1, Pure Sport is #2 and After Dark is always last), it's a joy to find that some things become fully simpatico.

We'd never, ever buy frozen Brussels sprouts after falling in love with fresh ones in recent years; on the list this now never needs to be specified. Tortillas always mean Guerrero brand and "apples" never, ever means Golden Delicious! It means Pink Lady or Honeycrisp, but of course.

And though I am confessional and cozy today, I can admit that sure, this probably sounds about as boring as all-get-out to the single and fabulous. But I promise it is so great to write down "bananas" and get three organic, on-the-green-side snacks, just like ya like 'em. Ahh.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

All I know is, I *don't* want to know.

Why does the Target brand spray-and-leave-on shower cleaner work so much better than the stuff that is twice or three times as much?

And more eerily, why does the $1.99 XCEL brand (Walgreen's) drain unclogger stuff work amazingly well, when the $5.99 Liquid Plumr or Drano don't work worth a lump of coal?

I refuse to look at ingredients. Or country of origin/production.


Not the usual kind, but the kind from too much (mental) cotton candy... also known as "Sex and the City" on DVD.

In the way that traveling and eating only junk food eventually inspires cravings for spinach salad and sauteed beet greens; in the way that too many Netflix'ed documentaries means a viewing of "Blue Crush" becomes required... this is the way that watching too much "Sex and the City" makes a person uninterested in any number of normally fun things: high heels, having sex, telling people "I'm a writer", drinking at morning brunch, talking about men.

But never cigarettes or curly hair. If there are two things the inimitable SJP can do, it's smoke a cigarette sexily (making even this never-again-smoker want a Parliament) and rock the curly hair (making this new-to-embracing-her-curls woman want to wear 'em au naturel).

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Definition of Douche

Guy in Fred Meyer tonight.

In flip flops and shorts.

GAH! It is 28 degrees and humid enough for even a Montana girl to be chilled to the bone!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Actions, not words.

You know the feeling of getting into a cold bed? Where the door to the bedroom has been closed all day, with the heat off, and it's 35 degrees outside? It's a corner room so it is drafty? You know the feeling of cold, cold sheets on your bare toes and tired body?

It is real love - in action, and not just words - when your husband lies on your side for five minutes first, warming it up for you, and then endures the cold a second time on his side. Cue: awwww.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Complaint week continues.

There is a line where enough is enough... and I don't know *precisely* where it is... but I can safely say that 10 groomsmen, 5 bridesmaids, 2 junior bridesmaids, 2 ring bearers and 2 flower girls is way, way, way past that line.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Spelling Jeanyuses.

It has been proven over and over again that spelling skills are not correlated with intelligence. And yet, as a deep Southern accent screams "uneducated", so do bad spelling skills. Some really top-notch stuff from Facebook today...
  • "the cops were banging on my nabor's door" (ah, that rascally neighbor on Mt. Tabor)
  • "it was scarey, he was sesering" (pointed out to be seizure-ing)
  • "i'm now excepting gift cards for xmas" (how are you doing that??)
  • "bad day - getting splashed with the hater-aid" (they must mean hater-ade, right? surely she doesn't want to HELP the haters?)
Spelling snobbery is snobbery of the worst kind, I say with a sniff. But nabor?! Happy December, all.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Needed Diversion.

I am deeply interested in politics and greater social forces, big ideas and consciousness-raising. I am. But sometimes you just need to read a little news that is hardly news, and the day before Thanksgiving is that day.

So this article about last night's first Obama administration State Dinner... ahhhh, that's the ticket.

Michelle Obama selected hydrangeas, sweet peas and roses for the centerpieces!? I knew we were kindred spirits! (That was what my wedding bouquet was comprised of.) They served food from their garden, and Jhumpa Lahiri was a guest?! I want to corner her and make her tell me a story over White House eggplant!

Plus a gold gown on the First Lady? Just perfect. And now, on with your day before a four-day weekend.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fake it 'til you make it?

Since you don't have to answer this to my face, be honest... what's your worst personality trait? (You don't have to tell me here.) But what I would like to know is how you work on it... how you remain true to yourself and who you are, while attempting to smooth out the rough edges of this unsavory trait which you possess?

Do you read helpful books, go to church, solicit feedback from colleagues or friends? Do you journal, do you avoid certain situations? Do you have no bad trait? Do you ignore it or just think of it as an aberrance that doesn't capture the real you?

This is on my mind a lot this week, and I also wonder if we even can know our bad trait/traits. It may be something we're not aware of - for if we are aware of it, we try to fix it. It's those pesky quirks, those little tics that we don't even see - those top the list of "bad" traits.

I, for one, can be mean. I can be mean without thinking, in the name of honesty. Sometimes, I am busting through denial, and I don't consider that mean. It isn't "I'm just sayin'!" but it is that I won't sit quietly by a person I care for, as they hurt themselves or others with unneeded mental gymnastics. When my honesty is done right, it sees right to the heart of a thing -- which is vulnerable and scary, and which can look like mean to the ego, but isn't.

On the other hand, at times it IS mean. And while I've sometimes been bewildered about when, it also can fly right out and I want to push it all back in; too late. So in an effort to go beyond apologizing for meanness (with sincerity, and that itself is an ongoing lesson/struggle), I am thinking of ending every other evening with a series of questions, where "it" stands for a thing I expressed an opinion about, a thing I spent time thinking of, a thing I let affect my actions that day:
  • Does it affect my life?
  • Does it affect someone I love?
  • Was my opinion solicited about it?
  • Was I trying to influence change?
  • Was I deeply in the moment when listening/discussing it?
  • Can I be honest about my biases in regards to it? Once I can, is it emotionally safe for me to share those first and THEN get to the heart of it?
  • Why do I care about it? (Because maybe I shouldn't.)
The last one, of course, should be asked first.

And a cursory examination of these questions and some lingering "it" items of the past week reveals that 7 out of 10 are things I have no dern good reason for carin' about. So that shortens the list - yay! But the other 3 linger.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Your Recipe?

A long time ago, I read a story in a magazine about someone's children who called a certain cookie recipe by the name of the family friend who baked them. Emily Cookies? How great would that be?

Well, last week I made what I am now calling Rouse Bread after this easy and successful recipe, and I am thinking of rechristening the ugly-named "No-Bake Cookies" to "Micheal Cookies." No, not because he makes them, but rather because he loves them so -- even when I don't let the milk/sugar boil long enough, and they don't set up properly!

These thoughts of honoring people through recipes ties into my oft-repeated statement that the one true religion in which I was raised was Food...

My aunt laughingly recalls her younger sister, about age 6, who grew up to be my mother, rubbing her hands together and whispering excitedly, "Rolls, rolls, rolls!" on Sundays when Parker House rolls were made and baked for dinner...

My family is well-known for sitting over a lovingly prepared meal, to then ooh and aah and then? Soon start talking about the NEXT delicious, lovingly prepared meal we'll have. Or one we had in the past...

It's a true, deep and endless love, this love we have for food, for breaking bread together, for showing love and affection through the oven, the stove top, the grill...

So this Thanksgiving, I am making Butternut Squash Gratin, maybe to be called Bill Gratin -- but then does that sound like he is the ingredient?! -- Rouse Bread, and a Brussels sprout dish that was learned largely from Leighton. We could market Leighton's Sprouts, couldn't we? Kids would suddenly start loving them! (Though the bacon lardons don't hurt.)

So what are you making? Who taught you how to make it? Do you like to cook on Thanksgiving? Or, like me, do you like to supplement? This year I am 28 and a married woman... and I have yet to cook the turkey. Leave it to my mom, my dad, to Megan and her famous second Thanksgiving. (To which I scored an invite again this year! Yeah!)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Good Thing Friday: The Fry Edition.

It's an easy way out, but I'm letting Stephen Fry speak for me this week, in the UK's Guardian:

"I would not say that I lost faith in Twitter, I would say that I lost faith in my ability to negotiate it. I don't know about you but whenever I read a blog I do not let my eye drop below half the screen in case I accidentally hit the bit where the comments reside. Of all the stinking, sliding, scuttling, weird, entomological creatures that inhabit the floor of the internet those comments on blogs are the most unbearable, almost beyond imagining. Their resentment, their desire to be heard at the most vituperative level, at the most unpleasant and malevolent, genuinely ill-willed malevolent, level is terrifying and I am very often simply not able to cope with that. Twitter is usually not like that... [but] I found that the @ mentions were just getting... I could see these comments that would just make me upset."

I think, with the exception of (where the comments are on topic, not trolling, etc), I am going to try to skip reading comments on anything online through 2010. Can I do it??

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I forgot.

The promo tagline on for an article called "It's All A Blur To Them" is "Crossing between men's and women's fashion aisles feels right to young customers today."

Pfft. Yeah, right, I think. No it doesn't.

But, oh yeah. Oops. I'm not a "young customer" anymore.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Good Thing Friday: Tattling.

Here in Portland, the newspaper today published an account of a 30-year old man sexually abusing his 6-year old daughter in public, in a movie theater. A 14-year old high school student enlisted the help of another woman in the theater, her daughter and the manager, to call 9-1-1 and have him arrested. Security cameras showed him touching her inappropriately, and the world has another registered-sex-offender for life and a little girl taken into protective custody.

You can read the article here.

It's hard to pull a Good Thing Friday out of a story like that, but as the comments on the story show, everyone agrees that 14-year old Nichelle McKinney is quite a young woman. She saw something wrong; she sat near the man to confirm what was going on; enlisted extra help; was ready to take his license plate down should he leave. At 14, that level of confidence and ability to take action are commendable.

It isn't a gray situation of course - what she saw was disturbing. (Read: this isn't a parent yelling in a grocery store or giving a light spank; situations where maybe one should speak up and maybe one should shut up. This one was extreme.) But how many people would convince themselves they weren't seeing it? I can admit I'm not sure what I would have done. That sort of blatant abuse in the open... it's shocking, it makes you want to turn away, and Nichelle moved from being shocked to helping very quickly.

So, like all the commenters at the Oregonian, I applaud Nichelle. And I think of times I should have, or should in the future, remember that tattling can be a good thing. Sometimes, someone has to stand up - in school, at the store, in the office, at the park. Has it ever been you? I'd like to hear about it. And have a happy, authentic, aware Friday - in thanks for Nichelle.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Doctor Day.

I like going to the doctor and/or dentist. I like the "clean bill of heath" feeling. I think hospitals and offices feel safe - I've always thought, heck, if something goes wrong here, this is a good place to be, a good place to get it fixed!

Yesterday: Dentist first. I was told I am a very good brusher. And my gums are looking good. Ahhh. (Did you know floss only gets to 3mm under your gums? That's why once you get 4mm deep parts around your teeth, you have to floss like crazy. And that's why once they're at 5mm, there is no turning back. You've got periodontal disease at that point.)

I really think that if I could pull it together and floss everyday, suddenly I'd finish writing a novel, my house would always be clean, the car would never break down, I'd sleep like a baby every night and lose twenty pounds. It is the key to life that I can't manage to do EVERY single night. And speaking of...

Visit number two yesterday: clean bill of health at the doctor. (Ask me about ZoomCare if you're interested; it's an incredible model for health care and really, really awesome for those with or without insurance.)

Except for one thing.

I was told to lose 15 to 20 pounds.

By a doctor who was approximately 13 years old, 5'2'' and 100 pounds. But she gave me a few suggestions to make weight loss easy - things I had never heard of before! If I only I'd known this the last five years! It was great! Thanks, Doc! You're a genius!

She suggested eating more fruits and vegetables and getting 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The New Yorker (magazine)

I think it is arriving twice a week now. That's the only explanation.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Good Thing Friday: Tableau

Sometimes it's too good to be true.

Woman in Costco, pushing one of the carts (which are ridiculously huge, really) in front of her.

Six items inside. Four gargantuan bottles of NatureMade vitamins. And two hot dogs from the snack stand.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Convenient Inconvenience.

I have never locked my keys in the car. Knock wood rightnow, eh?

I have never locked my keys in my car... before yesterday.

I have great excuses! I do! I was at the mechanic and my new car has one key to unlock and another for the ignition. I jumped in with car with a friend, tossed down the unlocker and used the other in the ignition. Off we went.

I know, I know, shoulda just put 'em back on the key ring immediately. But what if I broke a nail? (That's so me, right, worried about nails? No, I was just focused on getting the errand done as soon as possible.)

Shut the car door (at Costco) and walked toward the doors, thinking immediately, hmmm. Where's that pesky unlocking key? Looked, looked, looked some more, ignoring the distant memory of tossing in the change dish, and then remembered that for two years, we've had AAA and I've never used it. Called, chatted with a very friendly dispatcher, did my shopping, got the automated "We are 5 Minutes Away" call, met the truck at the front door of Costco, unlocked it, and went on my merry way.

They say there is no such thing as luck. That "luck" is merely being prepared for the opportunity you want. I love this idea, because it means career and creative-life advances don't bump you on the head. (Glen Hansard... an overnight success 20 years in the making.) Someone might offer you a teaching gig, a book deal, a photo shoot for a catalog... but if you haven't gotten your degree, written that novel or kept your body in shape, then the opportunity won't matter.

So I feel this experience - - - could have been a $100 mistake and giant pain in the ass, but ended up taking about six minutes out of my day and not a dime outside of our yearly AAA investment - - - is a great corollary to the idea that there is no luck. Because it means there is no bad luck, either. I knew, despite all that knocking-on-wood, that I would someday lock my keys in the car. Having planned a day to exist with a AAA card and 45 minutes to kill inside Costco meant it I just had quite possibly the most convenient inconvenience ever. And luck's got nothing to do with it.

Apartment Living: Notes from the Dark Side.

There are so many, many ways for strangers to annoy you on any given day. And sharing a laundry room equals guaranteed annoyance.

So yesterday, when some random neighbor stuffed at least 2 loads of wash into one of the small, 70s era, shitastic machines featured at the Terrace where I live, I joyfully pulled out all the clothes, speckled with dry laundry detergent that never had a chance to dissolve since it never had a chance to agitate. I stacked it on the dryer. Then, all the larger chunks which tumbled to the bottom of the washer... quarter sized rocks of white granules... well, I artfully scattered them over the wet laundry, in case the point got missed.

The other news... a 2-bedroom is opening for rent soon here. There are 13 apartments on the Terrace; we are now third away from being the longest-term occupant. Of all the people who have moved since we arrived, all but one have moved out to buy their own home. I hope it's something in the water. So if you're looking, it's a second floor 2/1, has a deck, gets some light, cats OK, I'll find out the rent, but in the ballpark of $775, give or take, is my guess. Great location that we love, if cruddy construction, but hey, opportunities abound for passive aggressive behavior in the laundry room! What's better than that?!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Anonymous Complaint.

I don't like getting people in trouble, so the names in this story have been withheld.

I belong to a CSA this year, and I love the idea more than I love the outcome. Other friends I have who belong to a CSA get weekly baskets of insane goodies - farm fresh fruits and veggies that overflow the fridge. I'm gonna join theirs next year if I can. Why?

Well, sometimes my CSA seems more eager to offer a wide variety than they seem willing to admit that 8 oz of potatoes ain't gonna feed a family of 2, much less the 3-4 it's intended to.

So, last week we got amazing peppers - sweet ones, hot ones, and skinny ones to saute - and a nice pound of potatoes. We got a beautiful head of cauliflower and two fresh, spicy, sticky heads of garlic. We also got "one head of lettuce" and please, if you will, check out the size of this lettuce:

It's adorable! It's crispy and fresh, even a week later! It's local and organic! But seriously. It's in miniature.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A slice of this American life.

So I have been working since I was 15. That's 13 years of solid work, with nothing but a little time off here and there for travel, and a sum total of probably 3 months when I was out of work by choice, playing a bit between jobs.

I've worked full time, part time, 1099, W2, under the table, you name it. I've held up to three paying jobs at once. Did you know that that top line on your income taxes, Gross Income, is not the same as Adjusted Gross Income?

You probably DO know this.

From your Gross Income, you take out things like 401(k) contributions and any of your bulk health care costs, maybe what you're putting into a traditional IRA. Then you end up with your Adjusted Gross Income, from which you pay taxes.

My Gross Income and Adjusted Gross Income have always been identical, and you know why? I've never had benefits. Not one. Not one paid vacation afternoon, not a single sick day where I didn't lose money because I couldn't work, not a dime into retirement savings* and don't make me chuckle with thoughts of someone other than me paying for health insurance. How weird is that?! I didn't know there WAS a difference between GI and AGI. I don't know what all that says about my working history, my understanding of taxes or the earning power of a Bachelor's degree in today's economy, but it must say something.

In the meantime, yes I have health insurance and the "*" above means that I put some benjamins into a Roth IRA, so I pay my taxes on this end instead of the retirement end.

But I was sighing and laughing last night when taxes were being kindly explained to me by my husband, which prompted me to exclaim, "It must be so expensive to run a small business!" He laughed. I hope you do, too.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Good Thing Friday: Bein' a Grownup!

Specifically... traveling as an adult.

I remember the first time I got on a plane alone. I was traveling to DC for a journalism convention in high school. It was the epitome of independence - I had to change planes, make sure I left myself enough time to eat, navigate a new airport and find my cousin at the end.

But far better was my first big trip, including plane travel, with friends. Age 20, Spring Break in Hawaii. It was do-what-we-want week, and I felt I'd arrived as an adult.

Even better... traveling alone now. Every single time I go into an airport alone, I think, wow. No one knows where I am, no one knows who I am observing in the airport, no one would yet know if I switched flights and went to Bhutan. It's the very definition of a thrill.

And on that note... I'm off to Bend, Oregon! (There, now you all know and don't have to worry.) For a wonderful weekend away with friends and John, and I hope we experience a little of the thrill of doing your own thing, a little of the joyous parts (for a change) of being an adult.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What does it say about a person...

... when they're listening to perfectly good, perfectly enjoyable music in the car - on the radio - on the way to the post office...

and then...

the same station is playing inside the post office?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sentence Fragment review: Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.

Watched the HBO movie "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee."

Didn't know Anna Paquin was in it, but she didn't ruin it. Yay! Adam Beach was great, always love to see Aidan Quinn.

Oddly melodramatic yet simultaneously too mellow for such a story. Seemed too low budget, what a disgrace. Ought to have been treated better.

Think I was mainly disappointed about the dance just before the climatic, infamous massacre...

Remember learning it in high school, again in college. And every time I heard the story? Haunting. Spine shivers. As good as history can be, grave and intense. Were the ghosts about to arise and arrive to help? I always think so... and the HBO film didn't nearly do justice to that. No epic emotion. No terrifying possibility. Not enough drama. But perhaps the dance can't be shown on film?

I liked it; a C+. But I'd like to see it done again with a bigger budget, experienced director, tighter script.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Good Thing Friday: The waiting is the hardest part.

OK, this is an excuse of a title. BUT. I have been contemplating it since Friday, and I put it into action today. Hence, it was Good Thing Friday to follow the advice and it just took 'til Sunday to put into action.

The advice? From Michael Pollan's readers on the New York Times... he asked what food rules to live by, and published twenty of them. Two are really, really good ones that are burned into my brain:

1. If you aren't hungry enough to eat an apple, you're not really hungry.

2. If you want to eat it, make it yourself. (See: fried chicken, grind your own beef and make hamburgers, gravy, mashed potatoes, french fries or potato chips, white bread, cookies, ice cream... heck... we could throw mayo, butter and wine on that list too.)

So in the spirit of rule #2, I made egg rolls! Exhibit A:

John ground the pork for me, and diced the bell peppers and carrots. I sauteed it all with cabbage, ginger, soy sauce, garlic (yes, John pressed it and Dancing Roots Farm grew it out in Troutdale), and something called "fire oil". I did not make the wrappers but I stuffed them, fried 'em in olive oil and holy moley! Success! Delicious success! I would even call it major success but then we have Exhibit B:

Smeared with Neosporin - or the generic equivalent - we have the marks of an over-zealous fry cook. Hey! I was listening to my Sunday-blues-beating radio show "The Splendid Table"! The inimitable Lynn Rosetto-Casper was interviewing PDX's own Andy Ricker! The owner of Pok Pok! I couldn't help it. Splashes occurred.

The egg rolls were good medicine, though. Maybe good enough for Chef Bill?! We'll see. Incidentally, Chef Bill is whose ice pack gel thingy I still have... and am putting to good use.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wired Magazine Rocks! And My Last Word on Vaccines.

Well, it is my blog. And I sometimes get emotional on it. That’s sorta why it’s mine.

For what it’s worth, readers -- and highest hits ever on Monday, woohoo, thanks Google Analytics! -- I’m not calling anyone a fundamentalist or immature if you are wary, cautious, or selective about your vaccines. But I AM calling people in the anti-vaccine movement who think EVERY SINGLE vaccine is bad both fundamentalist and immature. That I stick to with no problem whatsoever. If you say: Every vaccine is badly tested and ineffective at best or harmful at worst; then yes, that is a fundamentalist position that also happens to have no basis in any accepted science. It’s extreme and it’s hysterical, and it ought not be bothered to argue with - and wouldn’t, were it not for the insatiable needs of the internet, 24 hour news media and the like who claim to share “both sides of the story” a.k.a. false equivalency a.k.a. report on the controversy but not the facts.
I believe in healthy debate.

But just like I won’t debate whether evolution is true with you, I won’t debate whether vaccines are equally good and bad. They’re better than they are harmful, and who says so? Unglamorous people like scientists. Science itself isn’t sexy, even. (Though I would debate that, actually.) But if the peeps in this argument can’t agree that vaccines have been useful and powerful and life-saving things in their history, then we might as well question the veracity of Obama’s birth certificate just ‘cause we feel like it, and ignore all the legitimate proof that shows it is valid.

But. Argument and conversations like vaccines, feminism, nature versus nurture, the best pizza in town… they always have a predictable reaction in me. First I get defensive about how damn right I am and then I go, Wait. Where could I be wrong? Where is a middle ground? Where can I try to be a more peaceful person, which will probably require apologies, firm assertions, or both, or more?

So for me, the middle ground is that my reaction to anti-vaccine fundamentalists - or those I react to quickly and have been known to incorrectly rush and label thus - is to fully trust the CDC, AMA, governments doctors, pharmacists, you name it. And of course I can admit that’s not always smart. Mistakes get made, science grows over time and as individuals we ought to be cautious and investigate the world around us. It is my mistake to swing toward “all vaccines ARE amazing” as a reaction, just as others might swing toward “they’re ALL dangerous killers!”

Yes, it is both possible and proven that they’ve hurt or killed individuals. Yes, the good has far outweighed the bad. Those two sentences are provable facts. But from there? We get into the trenches and the muddy middle, and since most of us are not scientists or doctors, we can all – me included - find seemingly-reputable sources to back us up. Thanks (or damn) the internet for that. We can do it all day long.

I can be wholly firm in word and action when saying that the good outweighs the bad – I believe it does, and yup, I am currently up to date on MMR, DtaP, Hep A, Hep B and this week, flu – but I also have to recognize that the saddest, rarest, most real vaccine deaths and stories strike fear into the hearts of many people, largely parents, a category to which I don't belong.

But those factual statements above can exist at the same time!! Huge vaccine advancements and terrible, burning mistakes. And it doesn’t make either of us wrong for focusing on one over the other – though there’s got to be a way out of fear.

This story in Wired magazine is amazing, and I cannot recommend enough that you read it. It captures exactly what I mean about fear - and it reminds us all that there’s a risk in not vaccinating. Yes, it is a different risk. But it’s still huge. And because I am so strongly for one risk over the other, I can admit I make the mistake of projecting onto anti-vacciners the belief that they’re living risk-free. I don’t know for sure if they are thinking that they’re snug and safe/safer, but I sometimes assume they are. My mistake. (Because assuming, as we all know… adds up.)

Some parts of the so-called debate are tricky. The thing about the phrase “live virus” (in certain vaccines in use) is that it sounds scary – but it’s not like a watered down version of a virus, or a small germ. It’s cold-adapted; it dies at warm temperatures which include the human body. So that phrase “live virus” can assault us in layman’s terms, just like an “unpublished” study seems like a good and gotcha find, but is actually just unproven science.

The Wired piece captures the melding of the internet age with medicine, science with the burden in the modern world to know everything. Plus it has crazy vaccines-cause-autism people, too, who think chelation therapy works! It suggests we can’t do everything alone – after all, we live around other people and sadly (or not) their health choices affect each of us. And when I read something like this article, I do find certain concepts familiar to me – thoughts I have had regarding why are there so many vaccines now that we didn’t get as infants? – and I see how that gets shaped and warped into an full anti-vaccine movement for some fearful, protective, good parents. To recognize my own pattern of thinking, even on other topics… that I know more than experts, that we’re all being lied to, that I Am On My Own, that I have to do all the research, that mistakes must NOT be made… is humbling. After all, I do have a bumper sticker that says “Don’t Believe Everything You Think” and often I have to tell my overdrive-running mind that it’s ok. I can trust another human and we’re actually all doing the best we can.

To admit I’ve been wrong when I see it is No Fun At All but there it is – I can’t know everything. I wonder if anyone else sees anything familiar in that article about modern life and the drive to perfection? I'm interested in your thoughts, and I close on a side note…

The vaccine madness makes me frustrated on a grander scale of human thinking and tribal thought. It leaves no room for middle ground opinions, which aren’t very soundbite-y -- ALL vaccines or NONE, the armies tell us -- and that just doesn’t jibe with the way most of us live. We end up defending things we don’t believe in just to belong to the right community and it defeats our personal autonomy and spiritual power.

But I'm not rolling over on this one. There are some solid, certain things in the world, and the statistics of child survival rates in times and places of vaccination cannot be argued. I won’t enter into hysteria that shuts out numbers, stats, history. I won’t respect an opinion that says autism can be cured by a gluten-free diet. I will respect the middle-ground and I will be over the moon when we can all remember that we're not doctors or researchers and that our minds seek proof for opinions we already have. But not everyone gets an equal say. The "everyone wins a prize for trying" does not work when it comes to Holocaust deniers, Obama birthers, people who go for the loudest story over the scientific study. But I will remember that we’re all doing the best we can, we all want happy families and safe homes, and we don’t want to hurt other people or ourselves.

Ahem. Before I become A Pig of Successful Vaccines... the next post is in the works. I'm joining the crew of a web series sitcom here in Portland! I'll talk more about tomorrow and we'll get away from this ish.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Let's Talk About Flu Shots.

There are few discussions that rile me up faster than the current flu vaccination one. So let's have a little Q and A session, shall we?

They haven't tested the H1N1/swine flue vaccine fully.
Wrong. They have. Look it up at any reputable news organization. It was tested exactly like the other flu vaccines.

They manufactured the vaccine in a different way.
They did not. You are wrong.

I don't want to vaccinate against SWINE FLU! That's nuts!
Every single flu strain, every year, has a mix of DNA bits from chickens, pigs and humans. EVERY YEAR. This is not news.

Yeah but it's a separate vaccine, that is sketchy.
No. It isn't sketchy. The flu appeared in April. Usually vaccines are made then, so there was not time to safeguard against this year's strain of Influenza A AND H1N1. So there's two. That's it. Do you think the flu shot is the same every year? Are you an idiot? It's a new shot each year, tailored to the strain that is starting with flu season in other parts of the world. We make a vaccine, and use it for when our flu season starts. It's new. So this year, it's just two versions.

But the flu vaccine will make a superbug, an ultravirus that will kill us all!
That is antibiotics. Did you know there is a difference between antibiotics and vaccines? Look it up! It's amazing!

There was an unpublished Canadian study about how getting the regular flu shot makes people more susceptible to H1N1. Take THAT, Pig of Success!
So... great novels that are unpublished are still great. But do you know why scientific and medical studies are unpublished? Because the results have not been replicated anywhere else. Because the testing methods have not been determined to follow proper guidelines. Because the sample size is sometimes like four people. It's unpublished because it might be nothing. THINK ABOUT IT. (It's not unpublished because it's a secret. Scientists don't work that way. You're not sneakily discovering something "THEY DON'T WANT YOU TO KNOW." Pfft.)

What about thimerosal, the mercury derivative, in vaccines?
If you'd rather get medical advice from Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy, then I hope Darwin's theories do their work. If you think it causes autism, then you're on the fringe of society. Which is fine, go for it. But do you think we got rid of polio by being strong people? And smallpox? Someone said to me recently, "I just think our bodies need to be strong enough to fight these things off."


Then you should probably expose yourself to AIDS and see if you're strong enough to fight it off. Influenza is, EVERY YEAR, in the top ten causes of death for Americans. TOP TEN. Is thimerasol related illness in the top ten? It hasn't even be proven to exist.

The whole conspiracy theory attitude, combined with the superior and selfish "my kid is perfect and shouldn't risk unnatural vaccines" attitude, combined with its-awesome-to-be-a-rebel in this day and age attitude has come together to make people think the flu ain't no thang, and the vaccine is out to hurt them. I suppose you can think of your government that way. You could also think that billions of dollars are spent on OTC products and lost days at work during flu season, and vaccinating might prevent some of that.

When in doubt, remember: post hoc, ergo propter hoc. That means: after it, therefore because of it. People get a flu shot, get sick two days later, and they tell 537 Facebook friends that the vaccine made them sick. Actually, they were already sick - for days, probably. It takes days of incubation and so the two things appeared to be related but weren't. Like when you eat something and blame your upset belly on it, but we know - it was the meal 2 or 3 before that. But no no: post hoc, ergo propter hoc. It's easier to blame the thing that came just before the problem. But it is WRONG.

I don't care if you don't get a shot. It's too expensive, you don't have time, you're between 20 and 45 and healthy. Fine. But jumping on the anti-vaccine bandwagon is selfish, stupid and like the people at the Tea Party Rally who were shouting, "What are these czars?! What do they do?! We don't even know! What powers do they have?!"

Your ignorance isn't someone else's fault. Look up what czars do in our federal government. Every night at dinner say, "What did I learn today?" And if you didn't learn anything, go look something up. Don't spout off, "I heard that they haven't even tested that swine flu vaccine," until you do some damn research and find out if it's true.

The great thing about the world is that any one of us doesn't hold all the knowledge. Someone else usually knows the answer to a question you might have. How novel!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Good Thing Friday (tentative).

I may have found the curly hair expert of Portland, Oregon! Amie at Wack Salon, which is in/near the Jupiter Hotel. I am hopeful, for reasons outlined below, that good hair days lie in my future. Look!

Look at those! They're not gel-covered and crunchy! They're not wet and revving to frizz any minute now! And I lost about ten pounds of hair, yahoo!

The things that are currently contributing to conversion to PDX curly hair expert Amie...

1. It was like a first time hair cut. Rather... it was like I'd never had my hair cut before. Honestly. All that pulling and trimming at angles, and making layers? Apparently, NO, this is not how one does things with curly hair! It was a totally new experience and very counter intuitive.

2. Dry cutting and a shampoo after. This is genius. My hair looks amazing when wet or damp. It has great layers, looks full of body in the right places, a Pantene commercial. This is how stylists cut it. But then it dries and it's a pyramid. Of puffiness. And ledges. And weirdity. Amie cut it dry and THEN washed and styled. Win!

3. The styling process was these steps: rub in a single product and pull the hair away from the scalp. Tousle and go. They always say, "oh you can do this at home" but seriously, this time, if I can't do this at home, I must be incapacitated for some dark reason.

4. I wanted to buy the product and not only she did ask if I was running low on other things at home - if it was a good time to invest - but she guarantees it. If I can't get it to work, I can return it! (Plus she is understanding and accepting of those who cut their hair every 3 months. Or 6. Or, gasp, even 12.)

Ladies and gents with wavy or curly hair, and mothers of unruly frizz bombs, I beg you... get thee to a curly hair specialist! If I can make it look half this good tomorrow, that's twice as good as any other haircut I've ever had. Good Thing Fridays from here on out!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Put on your thinking caps...

.... because my husband John is today's Guest Blogger, The Financial Thinker With A Political Mind Guru Guest Blogger! Comments especially welcome, to be answered by the man himself, The FTWaPMGGB.


38 years ago, when the United States unilaterally withdrew from the Bretton Woods Agreements, the gold standard was abandoned and the American Dollar became the world’s effective foreign exchange reserve currency.

This engendered a system of policies whereby those countries that could effectively compete with the dollar became increasingly self-sufficient, whereas those whose currencies that were weak had strong incentives to become net-selling trading partners with the United States, in order to grow their economy with dollars.

The trade imbalance between the US and China is a direct result of this system of incentives. The Chinese hold over $1.3(T) in US paper and unlike gold, the US government can create dollars out of thin air.

The US doesn’t make much of anything anymore. Anecdotally, the places I’ve lived in my 28 years have shared in common the trait of having manufacturing facilities closing down in favor of moving those services outside of the US. This outsourcing occurs when the places that manufacture US domestic goods and services share two traits: their local country lacks the protections afforded American workers and therefore have a natural competitive advantage in terms of labor cost (which is, in general, the number one expense contributing to the cost of goods sold), and they have an incentive to be paid in dollars.

Historically, the US government does not like high unemployment and will take steps to put downward pressure on this figure. But manufacturing, as a proportion of the whole economy, has shrunk from 28% to 12% in the past 56 years. The jobs shed in this sector are similar in that they typically were stable, full time, and career-oriented jobs with benefits that had minimum educational requirements to be filled and also had some manual labor component.

Is this what the US government means when it uses terms like “jobless recovery”? Are they finally saying “arrivederci!” to that type of labor in the US? Did the 250,000 manufacturing jobs lost from 11/2008-12/2008 alone, did they simply evaporate?

If there’s one thing the housing bubble achieved, it was a whole heck of a lot of construction - a significant amount of renovation, but a vast amount of new construction. But now we’ve found that construction boom to largely be the result of a lot unregulated lending practices coupled with good old-fashioned greed and a culture that promotes entitlement.

I wonder what a long term 10-12% unemployment looks like in the US.

I wonder if there’s much sense in continuing to invest in US dollars. Auditing the Federal Reserve should be demanded not just by the likes of Ron Paul. The Independent recently claimed that oil producing countries and their largest customers, such as China and Brazil, have agreed to abandon the practice of trading oil in US dollars in favor of a basket of currencies including the Yuan and Euro by 2018. And the Fed keeps printing.

In a way, it will be great when the US dollar is no longer the standard. Perhaps our national priorities will finally move us to self-sufficiency when we can compete individually with all other countries instead of having everyone simply compete against the US. Perhaps we’ll become more enlightened members of the global community.

For now, I’d invest in gold (I am not an investment advisor). It is negatively correlated with the value of the dollar, which looks a lot like the Titanic must’ve to some of those guys in the band.

Hand me a wig and a cane, because I will beat down the old dude that steps in my way of those lifeboats!

écrasez l'infâme!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lala Land Life Advice.

I got back from Southern California this week, and my oldest continuous friend shared some advice about, technically, how to make it in Hollywood... but it's also applicable to everything.

Keep your eyes on your own paper.

Isn't that nice? Isn't it refreshing and both totally simple and richly metaphoric? Don't compare, don't cheat, don't even see how far your neighbor is on the test. Just keep your eyes on your own paper and you'll do fine.

It reminds me of another great one from my mom. You know what the reward for living a spiritual life is?

Living a spiritual life.

I've been thinking this week a lot about how our insides, and our deepest personal experiences, can look an awful lot like a cliched outside. One person might go to college or finish a master's degree because it's expected, because they're scared of leaving academic life, and another might do it as a shocking new decision, with a specific goal for a specific job. And they might end up working next to each other in an office, looking quite the same from the outside, but what we can't see is how satisfied and driven one is, and how stifled and scared is the other. So I think they - and we - and I - am best off keeping our eyes on our own paper.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Good Thing Friday: Past and Future.

Since I missed last week, we get two today! The future Good Thing, I am dearly hoping, is tonight's dinner in California (where I am).

I will report back and take pictures if needed. But a whole restaurant of dumplings and steam buns is basically heaven to me - and my hosts here in CA have been to one of the original locations of this place in Beijing, as well as this lone USA location, and say it's fantastic.

The Good Thing from the (uh, my) past this week is television. Oh, ho, ho, wait, what? Television!? Yup. I realized this week that I barely have time for all the work, cooking, socializing, DVDs and stuff in my life... and I think as I enter Year 4 without any kind of cable or broadcast television at home, I realize I have fully adjusted to the change.

So why is it, then, the Good Thing? Because now it has shifted into becoming dessert! It's maraschino cherries, it's a slice of cake swimming in spoonfuls of heavy cream, it's warm brownies at 10 PM. I can now gleefully watch it without fearing getting too attached, I can enjoy it on vacation or when traveling, and it's a Good Thing to space out to sometimes. All things in moderation, I know I know, and so I'm letting this week end with a little mental dessert. Hello, Oprah!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Movie Review Time: Bright Star

The last two films I have seen were both absolutely fantastic, and could not be more different. The first, The Hurt Locker, I can't even write about. It's so good, so perfect, that you should just see it as soon as humanly possible.

The second, Bright Star, I saw two nights ago. If you have ever yearned for flower-filled fields of romance, if you've ever read a poem by one of the Romantics and sighed, if you've ever been 15 or 18 or 21 and in love (and probably a woman, though not must be one)... SEE THIS MOVIE.

I will not reveal any spoilers. Unless you didn't know that the poet John Keats died at age 25, and then I will be sharing that spoiler. So there.

The film is subtly erotic... while being rated PG and totally chaste, and totally appropriate for tweens, with nary a French kiss to be seen... it is incredibly swoon-worthy and romantic and captures the overwhelming experience of new love. The director, Jane Campion, is so clearly having fun behind the camera - she is excellent at her job, and the sense of playfulness, her mastery as a director, and plain ol' exuberant joy shines through. Even for those who might have a tendency to say, "But I can't tell one director from another,"... I would be surprised to hear them, no matter how cinematically unsure, say that about Bright Star.

Campion continually cuts the scenes just before they feel over, and it's like being a teenager again - where you want to savor the event but the party's over, time's up, before you feel done. It reminded me a bit of blinking and missing something, or closing your eyes because it's too perfect and painful to full absorb.

An excellent historical portrait of why love couldn't matter as much as money... an Oscar-worthy performance from Abbie Cornish (one of whose scenes was almost traumatizing in it's emotion)... a loving visual postcard to springtime in England... actor Paul Schneider who is sorely underused in widely distributed films... insight into the life of John Keats while he was living... a calmly paced and quietly memorable film all around... Bright Star isn't for everyone, but I confidently believe it will stand the test of time and I felt absolutely, 100%, thoroughly satisfied at its end... and THAT is what a good romance film is about. Take your sexist, simplistic rom-coms and give me heartbreaking Romantic, poetic love every time.

PS. There is a shot in this film involving a spring breeze and an in-love young woman. I defy you to not be aroused, in one way or another, by its execution and perfect beauty.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Coming down on the side of reverse sexism.

I've decided that the Letterman sex scandal, with the details that are known right now, is resulting in some reverse sexism, and I have a soapbox in thisy-here-blog, so I'm gonna use it.

Disclaimer: the discussion here is hetero-focused, since the sexual relations re: Letterman were heterosexual. It is also my personal experience. Please feel free in the comments to add in homo-focused experiences and dynamics that are similar or wildly different if ya like.

It seems all parties in this scandal were of legal age and were willing participants. And while Jezebel's Intern Katy was smart to point out that Letterman owes Polanksi a giant effing fruit basket of thanks for providing perspective on the transgressions... there is a good-sized contingency pointing out that sex in the workplace, especially involving the boss, creates an unpleasant power dynamic; it's is unfair to those having sex, also to those not having sex, and that an element of coercion or, at the very least, fear of retribution due to fights/ending it/whatever must exist.

But I say: Nay. I say, perhaps those things are true in some situations. But trying to establish hard and fast workplace rules when it comes to all flirtation, all relationships, or all sex between coworkers, even subordinates and managers? Especially when one is in great power - in the media, perhaps famous? It is nearly impossible to manage.

So I am coming down on the side of reverse sexism. Implicit - for me - in that argument is the idea that women in subordinate workplace roles are incapable of choosing to have a sexual relationship in said workplace, even with a superior. That sex, YET AGAIN, is something women endure or something that happens to them, and "good girls don't want it". Shenanigans. It seems to smack of the idea that women need rules to save them from sex. That men and women are incapable of being adults at work, when outside that work they might be attracted to each other.

Did Letterman cheat on his partner, now-wife? Yup. But the assumption that he coerced one or more women into sexual relationships accomplishes nothing but a continuing contribution to a culture which says young, pliable women can only be victims of being "swept off their feet" and "sullied" by "dirty" sex. He's the man and he convinces her. She's the "girl" and must be talked in to it. And in that line of thinking is a simultaneous consideration of these women as the only sexually desirable people in culture, and thus we later end up with comical adult female sexuality, a la the Cougar, who is a predator that takes advantage of young men in their insatiable quest for sex. If the only sexually desirable woman is also a woman who can't make decisions for herself... what does that set men up for? Failure.

Enter my claim of reverse sexism: this is sexist against men, and yup, against women too - who could never make sexual decisions, what with their tiny confused brains.

The conclusion I come to, women: you're told you can't be desirable and be interested in sex. You get one or the other, depending on age. What a load. And what a win-less situation for men and women. In the end, only the two people in the room (or in the relationship) really know what's what. Powerful men will probably be attractive to women for the rest of time, and let's give some women the credit of making choices and not always being coerced into sexual relations.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Perfect Facebook Highlight...

... as an apology for skipping Good Thing Friday. (There'll be two this week!)

"I love God, my husband, my family and Partylite Candles!"

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

London? Who are you?

Don't install Google Analytics on your blog. It will leave you wondering who in London visited six pages and spent 4 minutes on your blog this week.

Also, who are you in Melbourne? You've visited twice, so it can't be a mistake, can it?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Notes from Our Idiocracy.

Some personal favorites from my Facebook work today... basically the opposite of Good Thing Friday. This is Pissed Off Monday; don't tell me the world isn't worth hating sometimes!

(These are different people, thank god. All on one page might cause spontaneous combustion. And they are not my personal friends. Even I'm not that dumb.)

Religious beliefs: Episcopalian yet Catholic, at the same time, some how! (Um, no. No you aren't. And you're an idiot.)

Favorite Books: Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, Infinite Jest, Walden, The Bell Jar. (Guess how old this person is.)

Political Beliefs: Undecided. (This person is 29 years old. I'm not sure they ought to be advertising their inability to decide on something like this.)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Good Thing Friday: Referral

You thought I forgot my Good Thing Friday, didn't you?

But I am taking the easy way out with my very first blog referral! (But not my last.)

Jen is a friend-of-a-friend, a writer, a mom of three girls, a wife and an utterly delightful person. This sort of feels like an @ mention on Twitter, but really, she's great. And even greater for you, 'cause you might not ever meet her, is her blog.

It's called The Short Years (the years have seemed short, but the days go slowly by). It is wonderful observations about life as mother of young children, as a freelance writer, as an Oregonian and a modern woman. Go read it. She posts more than I do. You will like it; you can't help but like writing that good.

This sort of endorsement is in no way a plea for ReTweeting, or, uh, re-referring. It's Good Thing Friday, people! Paying it forward, as it were. :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It is What You Make of It.

Don't people say that all the time? And isn't it totally annoying? Like, if your car gets broken into, you're NOT supposed to be upset or feel victimized? If you lose your job, you're NOT supposed to be angry and vulnerable?

So here's a story, however, about making of it what I will.

My debit card number was stolen this week, and someone tried to spend $2007.90 on a travel website. My bank denied it, called me, confirmed some purchases both before and after this attempt, and cut off the card. I'll be getting a new one in a week. Meantime, online banking and ATMs and checks are working, smooth sailing.

I could have flipped out about the lack of internet security. I could have wondered on what website it got compromised, or what merchant had their list stolen. I could distrust all forms of internet banking, and go back to stamps only and balancing my checkbook by hand. (Well, I am a geek who does balance her checkbook by hand, but you know what I mean.)

But I didn't. It was a fifteen minute interlude in the day, talking to the very efficient fraud department, learning I had not lost a dime, and will have a new debit card shortly. It was a blip. There were times in my life that it wouldn't have been be a blip: it would have been cause to allow all kinds of fears and prejudices and anger to come bubbling up.

So maybe, sometimes, it IS what you make of it.

And as I strive to choose calm, direct actions over insecure, frantic reactions, I am becoming ... lame! And old! And coming around to belief in that pithy adage.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Genocide, Schmenocide.

I have a very small amount of money invested in mutual funds, including the Washington Mutual Investors Fund. Today, I got to vote online, with a special code, as a shareholder. (I think I own 1.35 shares.) The fund is very helpful and lets me know which way the Board of Directors, in their worldly experience and incredible wisdom, would encourage me to vote. For example, the Board is "FOR" the following:
Let me say: I am for those things too, though I'm not sure we want the same things, the Board and I. Why?

Because the Board is, in fact, "FOR" all of the proposed changes. Except one. The Board recommends I vote "AGAINST" the following proposal:
  • To consider a proposal submitted by shareholders of certain funds that requests the Board of these Funds to "institute procedures to prevent holding investments in companies that, in the judgment of the Board, substantially contribute to genocide or crimes against humanity, the most egregious violations of human rights."
Thanks, Board! I trust you! Who would want their money NOT TO contribute to the most egregious violations of human rights?! Self interest! Self interest! For The Win!

It's only Tuesday morning. And I already want to give up for the week.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Race That Knows Joseph.

That is a phrase from the Anne of Green Gables series, and it means the same thing as Anne's phrase "kindred spirits". Either someone knows Joseph, or they don't. And when you meet 'em, it usually takes no more than five minutes to tell if they know Joseph, too.

This past weekend, I had dinner with a new person who does not know Joseph. And I met one new person who definitely does. Welcome, Marc!

The thing I like about the race that knows Joseph is that sometimes family members belong - and sometimes they don't. It's not their fault, it's just is how it is. But how fun is it when someone in your family IS a kindred spirit?

Even if there is a dearth of kindred spirits in the family, that makes the others all the more precious. I always wanted a sister. And one has made her way to me. She definitely is of the race that knows Joseph and just like getting to know any sibling worth their salt, it's a slow and patient process that'll bloom in its own time.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Looking for an answer?

This may become a regular feature... just toying with it on the weekend for now...

Do I think the results to your Facebook quiz are interesting? No, I do not.

Do I think you're making a mistake? If you're thinking of not going for the change... then yes, I do.

I probably agree with whatever you think is unfair.

Do I think your idea a good one? Yes! I really, really do! Follow through!

Do I want to help you move? Want, schmant. The important part of the answer is that I will.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Good Thing Friday: 'isms.

I can't name names, but in my extended family, some are known more than others for messing up popular sayings - from accepted colloquialisms to popular proverbs to $5 vocabulary words. Among my friends, too, there is a certain someone who, in their excitement and love for life, sometimes ends up saying, "I feel like a pee horse!" instead of "I have to pee like a race horse."

Do you ever feel like a pee horse?

Last night provides today's Good Thing Friday - one part 'isms and one part chatting in bed while exhausted. One of my bosses has been out of town this week and my work schedule has been a tad lighter. I said to John, "I am going to tell you my secret from the day."

"Oh yeah?" he said.

"Yes... I took a nap in the middle of the day today for an hour. And ten minutes."

"Ha! Well, when the boss is away..."

"The cat will nap!"

Pause. Pause.

Me: "Wait! The mice will nap! Not the cat!"

John, laughing: "Yeah, because the cat naps all the time! Cats don't give a crap!"

(Disclaimer: cats aren't bosses here; in fact, my bosses never nap and regularly work 14 hour days. We were definitely going on literal facts only here.)

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

On my way to full grinchitude.

I am the New Years Grinch. C'mon, it's a one-second holiday! It's lame! Usually you spend the lead-up week jockeying for the coolest thing to do, and I've often spent the actual evening running around trying to find the "best" party for the mood, and it ends up lame. Give me a good movie and a nice dinner any night. Don't even care about staying up till midnight.

I am considering now also becoming the Birthday Grinch. It just seems overplayed. I'm 28 now, and never was there someone who loved her birthday - nay, birthday MONTH! - more than me. But the last 2 or 3 years, it seems like a whole lot more trouble than it's worth. It's designed to set up expectations and expectations are pretty much like the word assume, ha ha ha, if ya catch my drift.

I sincerely appreciate the cards, the gifts, the tokens, the loving souls who remembered on Facebook even though my birthday does not display!, but it's OK. I think the need has been met. I've wailed, "but it's my birthday!" enough times for an army of nine-year-olds, and it's becoming inelegant. Time to let it go. So...

Birthdays sucks. Grr.

- the Grinch

Friday, September 11, 2009

Good Thing Friday: Real Compliments.

I received a lot of genuine compliments yesterday. I worked a catering gig for the grand opening of an office building, a shiny, fancy, hi-tech building in Lake Oswego.

The people were far from the nicest, frankly, but by evening's end, our A-Team crew had won them over, and they were popping into our staging room with effusive appreciations, plans for a holiday party, compliments for our service, for the kitchen's excellent food.

And then I got a wonderful compliment from wonderful friend J, over a glass of wine after the gig, who reacted to a story I told by saying, "That's why I like you, Emily!" It wasn't a compliment in disguise - it wasn't trying to gain anything, effect some outcome, manipulate a situation. It was just one friend saying to another: I see you. And I think you're pretty great.

So this Friday, I'm going to try to remind at least one person... one of the many people I like... how much I like them. I like them for who they are, right now, today. No strings, no expectations, no changing. Will you do that, too? To a coworker, a sister, a friend?

Is it a cop-out to say that there's also a pretty good chance that I like YOU? 'Cause I do.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Costco Hell.

I mean, it IS hell, and we all know it. I try to use the membership judiciously... I can get Dave's Killer Good Seed Bread for $3.59 instead of $5.29. The giant jar of sun-dried tomatoes for $8 is worth it. Buying meat there is much cheaper by the pound, and we can have a stocked freezer for less dough, allowing me to go out and do all the socializing I must do with the 'extra' cash!

And the Pellegrino: bottled, sparkling, mineral water. A total luxury. But it weaned certain members of this house off Diet Coke, so it might be totally yuppie, but I think of the alternative health destruction. Not that I need to justify my eating and drinking habits to anyone.

Right? Not to you. You love me. Not to STRANGERS, certainly?

Oh no.

In Costco yesterday. Middle-aged, loud guy in front of me in line. Cashier goes to scan the Pellegrino case. I say, "Oh, no, sorry, that's mine." She apologizes. He says to cashier, "Ha, ha, I have two kids, can't be buying bottled water, you know."

Then he looks at me with a nudge-nudge-nudge wink-n-laugh.

You know the patented waiter 5,000 yard stare, right? Yep.

The kicker is that I didn't respond, but should have. Because his bill, at the end of his purchases, which included 64 bags of butter-flavored microwavable popcorn and some diet supplements that will MELT THE FAT AWAY... was...

$883.97. Asshole.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Good Thing Friday: The Short Version.

This was a pretty awful week. And so the good thing is that rain-or-shine-and-probably-rain, I am unplugging from the phone, the internet, the DVD player and the world, and am off camping till Monday. Even if things go wrong, if misspellings occur, if bad links are revealed and gaping kick-myself-about-it mistakes are being made... I at least won't know about it till Labor Day.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Cast away the bitter, keep the sweet.

It is always sort of a strange moment when something you've written is received negatively. I go with the flow when it's for a client because, in family parlance, them's the brakes. I stay neutral and consider the feedback later when it's something I've written just for me.

But it is too, too sweet to have a phrase within a client piece that I just wrote be called "trite" by said client... except that it was called "contrite"!

You - rather, I - must laugh at it. Indeed, I had much remorse when writing such an ill-turned phrase.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Good Thing Friday

It's been a busy week, what can I say?

I don't think starting to drink coffee at age 27 qualifies as a Good Thing, but it's important backstory. Living in Costa Rica, I never slept in past 7:30 AM, and usually was awake a little after 6 AM. That's what a pretty constant 12-hours-of-light and 12-hours-of-dark will do to a person. And I worked in an office - a frantic, bustling, hilarious house-turned-office that seemed to be powered by coffee. I think I started drinking it my fourth day there, and I ain't lookin' back my friends.

But better than coffee is coffee with milk - remember the containers marked "LECHE MILK" in Costa Rica? It's how they all drank it in the office, so I did too.

And then I came home, and upped the ante to half-and-half, as pretty much everyone in my extended family, on both sides, enjoys it.

And THEN we reach the real Good Thing for this week: Friday coffee with heavy cream, real cream. Whipping cream. Try it. It is so outstandingly good you may even want to get out of bed on Friday morning just for the sweet reward.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Good Thing Friday: The Humor Edition

Because I couldn't really think of anything that wasn't a cop-out good-thing, until I came across this article.

I'm going to go right ahead and say that Emily B cheering on and totally agreeing with Larry Flynt is either a sign of the apocalypse, or a sign of darkness behind us, and the dawn on its way. Maybe?

It does bring to mind an oft-repeated phrase of my father's, which he got from a friend: It'll be ok. Remember: it's always darkest just before it goes completely fucking black.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Upside of Jealousy.

I was mulling over jealousy today... or envy... or whatever you want to call it. Basically, I was thinkin' 'bout when someone's got what I want! (Yet/ever/right now/ya know.)

But then (to be terribly vague and un-bloggerly and detail-free) I thought even more about people who have recently told me I have things they want. Hmm.

So the upside of the jealousy is that I stopped and remembered that some folks wish they had things I have -- perhaps tangible things and perhaps emotional things, maybe some current things or some past things -- and perhaps I can be more like the lovely Ms. Pema Chodron:

I can try to say, "Ah yes. I feel that I Want what she/he has very much. OK, Want. I see you. I acknowledge you. And bye-bye now."

And if I sort of let the Wanting float on by, it may reach someone else, who has Want as well, and maybe they'll say, "Ooh, I Want that thing there!" but then if they let go of the Wanting too, it won't burden them either. And sure, it'll float around forever, but it won't stick to anyone too tightly. And when we - I - Want something dearly, we can feel it, let it go, and remember that we have eminently Wantable things right here at home.

Anyhow. Here's to trying!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ay! Ow!

I read once that you can tell a person's native language by what they say when they hit their thumb with a hammer. American English speakers? OW! Native Spanish speakers? AY! I don't know if it's true... but I like the theory nonetheless.

So I stepped out into the heat today, to carry some laundry across the parking lot to the common basement space. A very small, shiny-coated, tabby kitten looked up at me from the top step and mewed once.

With no one around to hear me, the only thing that escaped my lips, instantly, was, "Eww!"

I rest my case when it comes to my feelings on cats.

Monday, August 17, 2009

When you were almost 18...

...what did you want out of life? (Thinking about being close to turning 28, I'm sentimental.)

I wanted to live in a city, I wanted to have some kind of vague, cool job where I would get to have meetings with my boss over a glass of champagne, one where we'd laugh and gossip and work and watch the sun set. I wanted to buy fruit and cheese and wine at the market after dark, I wanted to climb stairs to go home at night.

So while I might not own the loft apartment yet, and I might not wear high heels everyday (thank goodness), some dreams do come true.

Ah, Monday morning. When it's important to remember the goodness of Thursday night. And, it turn out, its meetings!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Leap.

As promised on Facebook last weekend, I will make the leap from the film "Food, Inc." to misogyny in modern society.

The corporate, industrialized food movement has a basic, overarching tenet: make eating, cooking and food growing efficient.

Efficient? Should cooking be efficient? Should the most important, daily communion we take with our friends and our families be made more efficient?

The traditional "women's work" just continues to be disparaged and looked down upon in our society - cooking, keeping a home, raising children - so it is no wonder we've made eating and food preparation into an efficient, anonymous machine. Valuing the wonder and delight of a lovingly prepared meal with healthy, fresh ingredients is completely related to valuing said cook of said meal, and valuing their work as equal to makin' money money money; MONEY.

(And of course, men cook. My father cooks. Most professional chefs are men. But I'm talking about the day-in, day-out cookery - which for the last 50,000 years has been the realm of women. And if we keep tearing it down, we will keep tearing down our health, our vibrancy, our communitites and our happiness.)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Good Thing Friday: Flowers.

It was a good thing to choose bright orange marigolds this year to put in a hanging basket on my porch. (Um, after the petunias got scorched. But Good Thing Friday can come after a mistake - it still counts.) They stand up just fine in late-afternoon blazing sun, in 109 degree heat, and in less-than-perfectly-frequent watering. They are a lovely burst of color on our little apartment porch.

I decided this year to always have fresh flowers in the house. I could feel guilty that they're probably grown by children and oppressed women in Latin America... and I do at times... but it's Good Thing Friday, so BOO. I choose to spend between $4 and $7 every week or ten days, and tell me it's not worth it:

(This week was the $7 week - spendy for me, but I look at them all day, and in the evening by candlelight, and it really does bring joy.)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I do, indeed, TAME TERRIBLY. It just doesn't take on me.


Just Like You and Me.

The media says that the fucking idiot woman who yelled in Arlen Specter's face about how the gub'mint has awoken "a sleeping giant" is just like you and me.

She does not know how much money her husband makes, and "he pays the bills" and stuff.

She asked him "What are you going to do to restore the country back to what our founders created, according to the Constitution?" (I assume she is, indeed, including no voting rights for women, slaves who are counted as 3/5 of a person, and no more taxes -- which means no public schools and no road maintenance.)

She became a Republican when she got her first paycheck and saw how much money was taken out in taxes. (What a piece of work she is. Do you think she made, what, three or four paychecks before quitting and turning it all over to her husband? Wonder why we have record debt in this country... she doesn't even know how much her family makes!!!!)

She says Americans are "strong enough to do what we need to do" when it comes to health care. Whew. Thank goodness. I guess I just have to be strong enough to overcome any pre-existing conditions, ever possibly getting laid off from a job, not being able to afford co-pays, any reduction in dental care coverage and gosh darnit, I'll be fine!

She says the "goodness of the people" will help out anyone not covered by health insurance, so, like a Jez commenter said... I think I'll send her my health care bills. (If you can find her address, I'll give you a foot massage.)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Good Thing Friday.

As I continue to cast about for a focus on this here blog, I have a new idea today. On Fridays, let's remember one thing we've done - recently, in the past, whenever - that was A Good Thing.

As my links on the right show, I love the website Jezebel. It's a Gawker site with my perfect balance of politics, feminism, fashion, gossip, hard news, woman-focused op-ed, and chatter in the comment threads. They are known for a feature called "Photoshop of Horrors" in which they find the original photo of, say, Faith Hill, and compare it to the Photoshopped version that makes the magazine cover.

So today, a Photoshopped Kelly Clarkson on SELF magazine becomes more evidence (as if we need more) for the ongoing woman-hating at commercial healthy/beauty/fashion mags, and I thought, Yes! I know what Good Thing I have for this Friday!

A few years ago, maybe 2003?, I gave up women's magazines. I stopped buying, borrowing or even stopping in the grocery store a few minutes of Cosmo, Self, Shape, etc. And you know what? I feel better. I actually do. I've slipped up here and there, but overall, the promises of "Look Better By Saturday!" and "Sexier Sex: Hellooooo Satisfaction" are silly, hollow, and it turns out, completely unneeded. I do absolutely OK in those departments - and more - on my own.

So if nothing else can be cheered today, at least I can cheer myself for not giving my money to the punishing cycle of fat-shaming, false-imagery-promoting, confidence-smashing monthly magazines. I refuse to participate in their little tiny corner of the world that seeks to make women feel badly about who they Are, and that is a good Friday thing.

Now. The addiction to subscribing to The New Yorker and its attendant guilt is something else entirely.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Well Played.

I'm working from a coffeeshop right now; some days, work-at-home means you have to get out of the house. It's nice. Coffee, bagels, CNN, hustle and bustle.

So this kid, a boy about eight?, just walked up to me and spoke gibberish. Then he repeated himself: "Do you like YuGiOh?"

I said, "I don't know anything about it."

Him: "I can teach you!"

Me: "Well, believe it or not, I'm working. I work from home, so I can go to any coffeeshop to work. I go to different places around town on different days, it's pretty cool."

Him: "Cool." And walks back over to his dad, who is ordering breakfast and I assume, waiting for the nearby OMSI to open.

His dad to him, playfully, "Get shot down?" And with a ruffle to the head, "It doesn't get any easier, kiddo."

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Guarantee.

Painting your fingernails taxi cab yellow will absolutely make you feel better.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Meme on the Lunch Break.

There are 36 sentence-starters in this little internet meme, but I'm only gonna fill out ones that jump out at me; if I had to think more than ten seconds on it, then I didn't fill it in. Won't you, oh won't you, leave some of your answers in the comments? It appears that about four of five people read this thing, but I know that's not true. I appeal, for the first time, for some comment love.

1. I’ve come to realize that my chest-size. . . is totally awesome. I can make fun of it for laughs and the rest of the time, it allows me to do everything I want to do.

2. I’ve come to realize that my job. . . has always been something interesting for the past four years, and I'm lucky or ballsy or stupid enough to keep that streak going in 09-10.

3. I’ve come to realize that when I’m driving. . . I will worry about every noise the car makes.

4. I’ve come to realize that I need. . . a whole lot. Of lots of things. Experiences, love, activities, travel, emails, drama, books, food, drinks, gossip, magazines.

5. I’ve come that realize that I have lost. . . the ability to live without Kleenex. Using TP no longer works; I must be an adult now?

6. I’ve come to realize that I hate it when. . . PASS

7. I’ve come to realize that if I’m drunk. . . I'm probably having a lot of fun with friends and we're celebrating something, even if it's just being friends.

8. I’ve come to realize that money. . . PASS

9. I’ve come to realize that certain people. . . PASS

10. I’ve come to realize that I’ll always. . . be a little bit unhappy. I think I'm happy when I'm unhappy.

11. I’ve come to realize that my sibling(s). . . is the epitome of the phrase 'still waters run deep'.

12. I’ve come to realize that my mom. . . works to grow every single day, spiritually and emotionally.

13. I’ve come to realize that my cell phone. . . is annoying, necessary, and I fear the inevitable iPhone upgrade.

14. I’ve come to realize that when I woke up this morning. . . PASS

15. I’ve come to realize that last night before I went to sleep. . . PASS

16. I’ve come to realize that right now I am thinking. . . PASS

17. I’ve come to realize that my dad. . . continually puts it all on the line, risking losing face in order to gain great, enviable, epic experiences.

18. I’ve come to realize that when I get on Facebook. . . I can't remember who I am logged in as. (It's part of my job.)

19. I’ve come to realize that today. . . PASS

20. I’ve come to realize that tonight. . . I just want it to be 45 degrees and raining. How did I become such an Oregonian?!

21. I’ve come to realize that tomorrow. . . PASS

22. I’ve come to realize that I really want to. . . work from home forever. Work-Life Balance is a BS phrase, but the actual thing itself? Genuinely priceless.

23. I’ve come to realize that the person mostly likely to repost this is. . . Kelly P.

24. I’ve come to realize that life. . . PASS

25. I’ve come to realize that this weekend. . . is continuing a good '09 summer stretch of possibility-filled weekends.

26. I’ve realized the best music to listen to when I am upset. . . Glen and Marketa, at least at this point in life.

27. I’ve come to realize that my friends. . . are a good, healthy, oversized portion of my life and I need that.

28. I’ve come to realize that this year. . . birthday-wise, has been unreal. One of the most active and incredible of my life. (Side note: could every year begin to feel like this? Each one topping the next?)

29. I’ve come to realize that to me, exes. . . fall into two categories: treasured friends or foreign, otherwordly dream-beings.

30. I’ve come to realize that maybe I should. . . clean less. (But I won't.)

31. I’ve come to realize that I love. . . enough things that any day can become a great day if I spend a little time with something/someone I love.

32. I’ve come to realize that I don’t understand. . . short selling. No matter how many times John explains it, it falls out of my head within five minutes.

33. I’ve come to realize my past. . . can only be defined by me and the stories I choose to tell about it. That power is intimidating.

34. I’ve come to realize that parties. . . PASS

35. I’ve come to realize that I’m totally terrified. . . PASS

36. I’ve come to realize that my life. . . is the one I want to be leading. (Does that make me a jerk, in this hip, ironic, distanced, detached age?)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Disney's World.

Did you know you cannot buy a coloring book that is not Disney themed? I went shopping yesterday for a hot-weather activity to do with my niece... cuz I got a niece and two sisters along with that new husband... and the only options were Cinderella, Snow White, Nemo, Cars, etc. I don't know what I was expecting. Were there coloring books in my childhood of trees, butterflies, sandcastles? Perhaps not, but it seems like it.

And watching the opening scene to "Happy Feet"? The penguin is singing Prince's "Kiss" and finding her mate. She is actually drawn as an hourglass-figure-penguin, and while I find the artistry behind alluding to breasts on a penguin quite fascinating, I also find it a bit sexualized for a six year old. Maybe I'm seeing the point of a former acquaintance, whose children were allowed 30 minutes of television a day, and only comedies, musicals or quiet dramas created in 1950 or earlier. Seemed nutso at the time, but now I'm not so sure.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Too Hot to Think, but not Too Hot for a Soapbox Moment.

The cultural zeitgeist, the rise and fall of ideas in the collective unconscious, the spreading Portland ennui about a given topic... you can find all this, and much more, on Facebook! Yes, you can!

But this week, if one more person writes a status update about how they are from the Northeast, or Midwest, or South, or Southwest, and that anyone bitching about the heat is just a whiner, I might sign up their email address for every e-newsletter I can find. (And as you may know, I can find quite a few.)

The perfect candidate for this is a person who has been complaining about the complainers for three or four days on Facebook now, in complete honesty... who then added this morning that s/he lives with AC at work as well as at home.

Was it tongue-in-cheek? I am too cranky from the heat to discern. And s/he can go right back to the Midwest/Southwest/South/Northeast, places that I guess it is OK to complain about the heat. I meanwhile am from Montana, and can complain as much, as much, as much as I want.* And I will gladly listen to your tale of overheated woe.

*But, oh, yes, right. I won't. Because our R2-D2 portable air-co machine saves lives. For real. B & B, gifters of the world's most magical gift, need to know that without it, I might be here; John might be here; but we wouldn't be here alive together.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

We all think we're so sharp.

We do. We all think we're highly attuned to the world around us, and Not Much Gets Past Me.

Well, my neighbor - in an apartment complex - has been dead for 48 to 72 hours. With the kitchen sink running.

So this sort of evidence reminds me that apartment living has many, many frustrations when you feel like you're sharing the most mundane, intimate, uninteresting, gossipy - and more - parts of your life with virtual strangers. But while that may be so, there is also a lot that can go unnoticed, things you don't even know that you don't even know. As it were.

This Eastern European immigrant gentleman worked nights, so on weeknights, I always knew when it was 9:50 PM, because he left for work, resting his bicycle against my front door, locking his place, and pedaling away. On weekends, I heard very little from next door, and during the day, he slept. Every couple days he had a jam session to Journey or Stevie Wonder or Donna Summer around 4 PM for about an hour... I assume, when he woke up for the day.

He was polite and an almost complete loner. Whether he didn't want to engage with his neighbors or whether the language barrier required it, we had mostly conversations about the weather and polite exchanges in the laundry room. (He did his laundry shirtless and while smoking a cigarette. Yup.)

I am not afraid of death, and instead find it an important occurrence with its attendant rituals, emotions and meanings that we pretty much ignore, shame and/or avoid. But death is there, and it's really there today. It is strange to see the windows that were never open be now stripped of the curtains, allowing fresh air in and cigarette smoke out. It is strange to think of the cleaning crew that I'm told will be coming by tomorrow, and it is strange (or morbid or totally natural) to want to see all the possessions from life carried out, sans ceremony, into dumpsters or off to donations.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Country Mouse.

I enjoy when typically urban experiences feel foreign; it reminds me of my country roots. I also enjoy when rural life creeps into the city and it shocks me; I consider myself a city mouse now.

Yesterday, I'm driving back from my CSA pickup, and a happy, well-fed, collared dog goes sauntering down the sidewalk, no owner in site. I immediately panicked. Who owns that dog? Is it lost? It's alone without a leash or a fenced-in yard? What, what, what?

That's my city mouse talking. The country mouse had to remember driving with my mom in the car, a mile or two radius around our house, calling for Bridger to come home. Had to remember when coming across a dog meant saying, "Oh yeah, that's the Anderson's dog. They live waaaaay over there." Or, "Hey this a great dog, let's take him on a hike up into the national forest behind the house. Cool!"

Happy Friday.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Recipe Break.

I am trying to post every day for seven days without getting too muse-y or arrogant, so here is the latest culinary late-night adventure.

Two shout outs are involved...

The first is to Bill, whose canned blueberries and peaches (apricots?) have been sitting silently in my fridge for, oh, 18 months. These were the last two jars, begging for something easy and sweet and memorable.

The second is to my mom. A few years ago, an aunt on my paternal side told me she had great memories of my mom jumping up at 7 or 8 at night, and deciding they all needed warm, gooey brownies. "Your mom was a great one to make dessert, I remember her whipping up brownies long after everyone else was done with tasks for the night," said Aunt B.

Well, I do not remember this, but it must be genetic. Some nights, I get a craving that cannot be denied for a homemade dessert, and I'm always on the hunt for the easiest things possible. The mostly eaten blueberry-peach cobbler pictured above IS one of the easiest things possible. (Or buckle, if you like that, or crapple, if you're in my nuclear family - though that only applies to apple crumble, or, apple crapple as I've been calling it since age six.)

Take a half stick or so of butter and melt it in the microwave, in a glass pie plate.

Mix 3/4 cup of flour, 2 tsp of baking powder, 1/2 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of sugar. Drop the mixture in spoonfulish lumps into the butter --- and do not stir it in.

Smear a Bill-sized jar of canned blueberries and one of canned peach slices evenly all on top of the goop. Bake at 350 for about an hour. Tah-dah!

(I think I might add a pinch of salt next time. And I cut the sugar from the original recipe in half, and adjusted the butter, just FYI. You never need as much sugar as they say - another Mom tip.)

But we didn't have ice cream, or another family tradition, heavy cream poured in as a float for the dish. So... oh darn... guess I'll have to make it again.