30 September 2008

You'll never know what hit you

I'm at the point where my stomach is sort of demanding food while my brain is still saying: "NEVER. EATING. AGAIN."

"EVER."

I only have half the plague that everyone else had last winter (with all the nausea, thanks), and of course, I haven't stocked up for winter yet. So the bottle of Coke I pulled out of the pantry had a sell-by date of March 31. Yes, last March 31. We don't drink a lot of soda around here.

I just made myself a bowl of soup and it's sitting on the counter. I simply don't have the fortitude to face it. I may need another nap.

I never really watch TV, so it's only on days like today, when I am completely immobile, that I discover what I am paying for with that cable bill. Geez.

Although, by chance I discovered that VH1 was playing Rush all day. Which sounded great until the food commercials started...

People eat that stuff?

*shudder*

I think I'll just leave the soup on the counter for the cat and go back to bed now.

Update:

Okay, it was worth braving the gag-inducing taco ads to see "Far Cry" and "The Spirit of Radio" off the S&A DVD that's coming out in November. And who in hell is that guy screaming about the fabric glue? I really do miss out, don't I?

Go listen to some good music: "I Want You" from the album Savage Garden by Savage Garden.

26 September 2008

Dancing queen

Tonight, in one of those sacred rites of passage, the daughter went to her first school dance.

She came home hot, sweaty and beaming--she danced with boys, and she had fun.

She danced with boys. Completely unselfconscious, she had no difficulty asking them to dance.

On the way home this evening, she regaled me with the evening's doings: Mr. H., her history teacher and the crush of her life, had been chaperoning. Her friend AC locked herself in a stall in the girls' restroom for half the evening because she has a terrible crush on LN, and heaven forbid she should ask him to dance. The daughter's dear (male) friend AR ran away from her all evening.

"Why?" I inquired, wondering if there was a problem beyond the expected.

"Well, everyone said he wanted to dance with me and that's why. But that's dumb because he's my friend," she said.

"And he wanted to dance with you," I explained. "Friendship becomes very confusing right about now."

She sighed. "But that's dumb."

"That," I told her, "is life."

While the daughter was dancing the night away, I took the son out to dinner. We went to the local microbrewery and watched some baseball, and chatted about school and classmates and the odd men behind me who were playing a tattoo on their cutlery. I finally caught on to the fact that the boy has a crush on the lovely blonde woman who is frequently our server. She is personable and very sweet and extremely pretty. The kid has always had good taste in women.

"Leave her an extra couple of bucks tip, Mom," he whispered when I was tallying the bill. I had to laugh. I'd already left her a handsome gratuity.

"Satisfied?" I asked, waving the slip under his nose.

"Ok," he grinned.

Then he and I went home and played Halo for a bit. On legendary, of course.

"Didja have fun?" he grunted at the daughter when she and I walked in later.

"Yes!" she trilled.

"She danced with boys," I explained.

"I can't wait until the next dance," she sighed.

"Cool," said the son, eyes gleaming at the prospect of another evening of dinner and Halo.

Go listen to some good music: "Dancing Queen" from the album Gold - Greatest Hits by ABBA.

24 September 2008

Language

Sometimes we see what we want to see and sometimes we see what we're meant to see.

Sometimes--if you're me, anyway--your field of vision is narrow. Keep your eye on the ball.

Which has been firmly lobbed back to my side of the court.

So.

To be fair to myself, my goal in life may not have been lofty, but it was worthy.

Self-sufficiency. Quite simply, I would never have to worry about being dependant on another person. Ever.

Given the circumstances of my childhood, it's understandable that there would be a certain lack of imagination in a vision for the future.

Not that I lack imagination where the world around me is concerned. I probably have a surfeit. But I lack imagination in dealing with myself. I set preposterous limits on what I allow for myself.

I succeeded magnificently in attaining my goal. Though I never recognized my success, it would seem, because my field of vision remained narrow, and I kept flogging myself to continue achieving the same goal. Oh, I put different names to it--perfect student, perfect employee, hardworking wife and mother, solid citizen--but it's all the same goal.

My vision widened this year.

I am in the peculiar position of knowing what I want, and having no idea how to get there. I have no map for this. My desire is not pragmatic, and I've let my heart have a say in the matter, which never happens.

I was starting to move in the right direction, but I lost my nerve, and reeled myself back in. Which, on one hand, was dumb--I can do this--but more to the point, it just confused everyone, including me. So many people see me as invulnerable, so it would never occur to them that I was simply...scared.

I still am. But I've convinced myself that with a little patience, everything might work out yet.

I won't use words again
They don't mean what I meant
They don't say what I said

They're just the crust of the meaning with realms underneath
Never touched, never stirred
Never even moved through


Go listen to some good music: "Language" from the album Solitude Standing by Suzanne Vega.

22 September 2008

Hands open

First day of autumn.

It's sad to see summer fade--summer has such energy, so much potential, a certain freedom, sunshine and heat--but I've always had a fondness for autumn. There's such a sense of possibility even as the year wanes, a joy in the newness of the change of seasons that hearkens back to the pure waxy smell of a new box of crayons, the feel of a fat pencil in a small hand, the beauty of an unused eraser, all bound up with the finality of the last time one smells new mown grass until spring.

Possibility, even as dark overtakes day.

New clothes, a rich stew, the smell of woodsmoke in the rain, the softness of a warm sweater.

Wet leaves slipping underfoot.

Last night, I dreamed I was singing.

"It seems so close," I thought as I awoke, but the thought slipped back into the realm of sleep even as I opened my eyes.

But I remembered the words I was singing:

"I can see the lighthouse..."

Safe harbor.

And today, simply, happiness that I cannot define, laced with all the sweetness of a new apple.

World Series, pumpkins, daylight slipping away earlier. Memory, too, enough to give me goosebumps, but I am the one who is always looking forward.

Warming one's hands in the pockets of someone else's coat. A kiss in the first chill of early evening.

Possibility seems to be right around the corner.

Go listen to some good music: "Hands Open" from the album Eyes Open by Snow Patrol.

21 September 2008

Saturday night's alright for fighting

I have killed more sourdough starters than I can even remember.

But holy mackerel have I got one now.

I've named this thing The Blob.






















And it's alive!

(I had about a tablespoon's worth of starter yesterday. What you see in that photo is about a quart.)

I've been baking bread since forever. I don't do it all the time, except when the grocery people went on strike a few years back, and then I did make all the bread, and rolls, and hamburger buns...

With bread nearing upwards of $4 a loaf, I've decided to go back to baking my own. It tastes better anyway, and doesn't have all the garbage that most store-bought stuff does. Also, I've been increasingly insistent that the family eat whole grain bread, especially since diabetes and heart disease run in the spouse's family.

Guess who doesn't like whole wheat bread? Yup. Mr. No Fish Nor Vegetables.

"Well," he sniffed. "Can't you make sourdough whole wheat bread?"

So we were back to the sourdough.

I got my first sourdough starter at Jedediah's House of Sourdough in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, back before Jackson Hole became a major tourist destination. The spouse and I were on a trip en route to somewhere (Montana, I think), and we stayed in this funky little place that was all log cabins. The nice people at reception told us that Jedediah's was a must for breakfast. No kidding, the sourjacks--sourdough pancakes--were great.

That starter survived for awhile, and I think died from neglect after I'd made a few batches of sourjacks at home.

My second starter also came from Jedediah's. That one was killed by the heat in the car.

My third starter I tried to make from a starter mix, but it never did anything, so technically, I didn't kill it.

A friend sent me a recipe to make starter from wild yeast, but...meh.

Anyway, the new starter arrived on Friday. I started feeding it. And it grew. Very enthusiastically. So enthusiastically that maybe 10 minutes after I took the picture above, it was dripping out of the crock.

What to do?

Make sourdough bread, what else?

All the sourdough recommendations suggest using yeast to supplement the starter if you've never made sourdough bread. Of course, I decided I've spent enough time baking bread that I wouldn't bother. At worst, I'd be out 5 cups of flour and a cup of starter, and at the rate the starter was growing, finding more of that was not going to be an issue.

So I made the sourdough sponge late afternoon and let it sit for a couple of hours. At 7:30 pm, it looked sufficiently big and bubbly that I added the remaining flour, salt and sugar, kneaded like mad for a few minutes and stuck the bread dough in the bowl to rise. Which was when I realized I'd misread the recipe and that the bread needed to rise twice.

Oops.

So, the spouse, the daughter and I engaged in an enthusiastic couple of hours of Rock Band, with our new band, Flock O' Sheep. We won the tour bus.

I shaped the bread dough into loaves and let it rise again. It certainly smelled good.

(Interstitial moments: I managed to send bread dough flying all over--I was wearing it--when I was mixing the additional ingredients into the sponge. So I spent a good amount of time peeling starter off the walls. I guess that's why we have backsplashes. Of course, sourdough starter is notoriously sticky, so washing up all the utensils was a bit of a chore, too.)

We were battling for roadies when the spouse failed on "Won't Get Fooled Again," and the Sheep retired to lick their wounds, and I put children to bed, and prepared to bake bread.

"So," the spouse said, peering at the nicely oval loaves. "When will they be done?"

The spouse is one of those people who must sleep. A lot. He is still slightly mystified that he ended up with a partner who never sleeps. But he was planning to wait up for sourdough bread.

Can't blame him. There is nothing in the world like bread hot from the oven.

I told him they should have finished baking around 11:30 pm. So, he waited, armed with butter and butterknife.

The loaves came out of the oven brown and crusty, and smelling wholesome.
















I made him wait five minutes so they could cool just a little, and then we sliced one open. The texture was beautiful, the flavor mildly sour (I'll let the sponge sit longer next time so it's a little lighter and more sour), and we agreed that we needed to put them away before we polished off an entire loaf.
















The starter continues to expand wildly, and I now have two full containers. The crock is in the refrigerator to slow things down, and the other container is destined for tomorrow's breakfast:

Sourjacks.

But right now, having won the battle of the bread, I'm definitely ready to sleep.

Go listen to some good music: "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" from the album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John.

19 September 2008

Constellation of the heart

My life requires far too much explanation. I am, evidently, allergic to the idea of simplicity. I don't make dinner, I make Three Cheese Tortellini with Porcini Mushroom Sauce* and Salad of Baby Greens and Apples with Dried Cherries and Walnuts**.

I wish I was kidding.

So, I'm not going to explain this:

"Despite sweetly urging the original trespass, I didn't actually want you to give me my sin back; I just wanted to kiss you again."

other than to say I found it here; it was written as a retraction by this person; and I have no idea what he was retracting.

But I found something about the sentiment utterly charming.

Not to mention completely hilarious, at least in the context of the other retractions.

I'm complicated that way.

Go listen to some good music: "Constellation of the Heart" from the album The Red Shoes by Kate Bush.

*substituted 1 T. olive oil for 1 T. butter, half and half for whipping cream, and fresh tortellini for dried. Next time, I'll strain the mushroom water, reduce it to 3/4 c. and add 1/4 c. dry sherry.

**I don't like frisee and used mixed baby greens instead.

See? TOO MUCH EXPLANATION!

17 September 2008

View from the outside

The photos are mostly blurred, as if I knew the shutter would click just before the picture was taken, and turned my face away, or moved further from the lens. Time, then, seemed both fleeting and infinite, requiring no permanent record.






Some photos are so old that the emulsion has broken down, and I am only a shadow, ghost of lifetime past.














In others, I am a twist of body, a flash of white teeth in a dim room the flash bulb didn't quite penetrate, a glint off huge glasses;

















or someone's art project.











Usually I am the one behind the camera--I've had a camera since I was 10--so there are few pictures of me extant. I don't mind this, though it bothers some of my family greatly.

Generally, I'll take a camera along when we travel as a family, but I don't take one when I take off on my solo trips. Those trips are quick, and I'm not there to sightsee, though on several jaunts last spring, I was compelled to use the rotten little camera on my phone to take some pictures of San Juan, Moline and St. Paul, where I found some really lovely scenery. I did not, of course, buy the phone for the camera.

When we travel as a family, I use the opportunity to take pictures of the kids. They grow so quickly, and sometimes they have been young enough not to really remember visiting certain places. But for the souvenirs I create for them, usually I am happy to largely allow the trips to live in memory. As I often tell my family, I don't want to be remembered as Aunt Mabel and her summer vacation slideshow. I would also generally prefer to be living the adventure than watching it through the camera lens unless I have a definite reason to be framing up the world through a viewfinder.

There were things I wanted to preserve this summer, and I took hundreds of pictures in Europe. Rediscovering a part of my life through the lens was as thrilling and inspiring as discovering the world I was documenting. Sometimes there is a thin line between documenting and doing: hanging off the side of a ship at sunset is both. Then there are the moments that no camera can capture, those moments that thrill through the blood, that stop the world for an instant, that live in the camera of memory alone. Thus, I took no photos from the kayak or the back of the horse. I took no pictures at concerts.

What did you record? Were you preserving a memory? Do you remember the moment?





Go listen to some good music: "View from the Outside" from the album Mania by The Lucy Show.

16 September 2008

Buildings and mountains

The summer before I started high school, I visited my hometown. My aunt, a longtime goverment employee, took me on a tour of public buildings, but not the ones that people usually visit in the District of Columbia. There is amazing architectural decoration in the most unlikely places.

The summer before I started my senior year of high school, I paid a visit to Los Angeles to interview on college campuses. I stayed with my cousin, who lived in downtown, and he put his roommate in charge of me during my stay.

Billy decided that his time was best used adding to the education of the 17-year-old female in his care. So he took me willy-nilly through Southern California, talking about his hobby, architecture.

"Look up," he exhorted, as he drove me through various Los Angeles neighborhoods, old neighborhoods almost derelict, palm-lined streets with mountains in the background. "Look up! You'll never see the building if you just look at what's on the street."

And he was right.






















Trafalgar Square, London
July 2008

Go listen to some good music: "Buildings and Mountains" from the album Keep Color by The Republic Tigers. One of those strange moments of serendipity: this song happens to be iTunes free download for the week, and it fit not only the post, but my mood.

15 September 2008

Breakfast in America

(I do mean North America when I say that. Half the ingredients came from Canada...)

Usually, I am compelled to make something special for Sunday breakfast, be it muffins or scones or pancakes or coffee cake.

"Making anything this morning?" the spouse will ask hopefully as I'm sitting in front of the newspaper, slugging down coffee and trying to get my eyes open. He doesn't usually start asking unless we get to about 9 am and I'm showing no signs of moving.

Earlier in the week, he was thumbing through the growing stack of cooking magazines sitting on the dining room table, and suddenly held up a Bon Appetit.

"This looks really good," he hinted. The cover showed a stack of pancakes with little blueberries on them.

I made them Sunday. They were really good. Just add bacon and coffee.

Whole Grain Pancakes with Wild Blueberry Maple Syrup

Full disclosure: I couldn't find the mix the magazine suggested, so I made the pancakes like this:

2-1/2 c. Bob's Redmill Buckwheat Pancake Mix
2 large eggs
4 T canola oil
2 c. lowfat buttermilk
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla extract
6 T wheat germ
2 T maple syrup

Whisk ingredients together until blended and cook as directed. Made about 20 4-inch pancakes. They were crisp on the outside, light on the inside. Next time, I might back the mix down to 2-1/4 c.

I read the reviews of the recipe on the site after I'd made them, and was amused to see the large number of reviewers who had substituted the Bob's Redmill Buckwheat mix.

Everyone really liked the pancakes, including the kids.

The son opined: "They taste like Sequoia."

He was referring to Wuksachi Lodge at Sequoia National Park, which we visit about once a year.

Hmm. Come to think of it, I bet some pine nuts would taste really good in those pancakes...

Go listen to some good music: "Breakfast in America" from the album Breakfast in America by Supertramp. When we were in London over the summer, the kids were somewhat appalled to see baked beans offered for breakfast. Not, of course, that they would eat baked beans at any meal.

13 September 2008

'Til I hear it from you

The candles flickered in the breeze from the open French doors, the dim light casting odd shadows in the darkest corners of the room, and fog tore and blew through the cool air...

"DON'T TALK!" ordered a teenage boy to the other kids in the room. "This is the best story..."

Anticipatory rustling from the floor and the chairs, along with a muffled giggle, a whisper.

"Once upon a time, an old man lived in the forest with his two hound dogs," I intoned in a quiet voice. I could sense rather than see everyone leaning forward slightly to catch the soft words. I'd already read for two hours that day, and my voice was rough and tired with the effort...and the occasional piercing scream, necessary when you're telling scary stories.

But most of the people in the room had heard the story in previous years, and the roughness of my voice only added to rustic tale of an old man in a backwoods cabin who runs into a monster.

"Times were tough," I went on, "and the old man had only eaten potatoes he'd grown in his garden and roots he'd been able to dig up in the forest. He was hungry and he wanted some meat..."

People have been telling each other stories since the dawn of creation, as a way to entertain, a way to pass the long winter nights, a way to teach. Every culture has its tales of creation, tales of mischief, and cautionary tales filled with gods and monsters meting out retribution to the greedy and willful.

"...but the strange animal he saw in the corner of his cabin moved faster than the old man, and he only had a chance to cut off the creature's long tail before it scurried through the hole in the corner of the room. The man was disappointed, but he shrugged, and said, 'Meat is meat,' and he cooked up that tail and ate it."

"Ewwwwwww," moaned a young female voice.

"SSSSSHHHHHH!" reprimanded the teenage boy.

The best part of storytelling is sharing the experience of a story that you like. When I read a great story, the first thing I want to do is pass it along to someone else so they can read it too. But actually telling a story creates a bond between the teller and the listeners, and I let the mood of the listeners guide me in the telling of the story: when to speed it up, when to slow it down and how best to draw out the ending...less is always more.

"...the man waited and waited, but the second dog never came back. Soon he heard the cry again: 'Tailypo...tailypo...just give me back my tailypo...'"

I wrote my first story when I was five, but I was reading aloud to my younger siblings, the dog, the neighbors, whoever would listen, even earlier than that. I liked reading aloud; I liked the sense I could capture an audience with words, mine or another's, and hold it in thrall.

My best audience was my two younger sisters, who are 5 and 9 years younger than I am. I told them stories that I made up, gathering up all the Barbie gear in the house in order to reenact War and Peace, or read them stories from the Alfred Hitchcock anthologies I borrowed from the library.

It turns out that a lot of people like to be read to, and like hearing stories even better. It turns out that a lot of adults cherish the time they were read to as children, and are unabashed in admitting they'd love it if someone read to them again. And that's how Spooky Story Night at my house was born, with the added encouragement of my children clamoring for me to read to the whole neighborhood. We'd send out the invitations and set the mood: candles, fog machine, and a darkened house.

"...and when he woke up from his troubled sleep, a huge weight on his chest, the old man saw that creature with the burning eyes standing on him, staring down at him..."

A soft squeal from the floor.

After a few years, as my children got busier and I went back to work, Spooky Story Night fell by the wayside. But I was proud we'd done it; a whole generation, it turned out, had never heard the jump tale "The Golden Arm," so I read the old stories we told each other as kids to the kids of my neighbors and friends, sharing the wealth as it were, making sure the old tales lived on. And I took the time between stories to explain why the stories existed, how they came to be, the archetypes, and the kids learned something without realizing they were.

A couple of weeks ago, one of the neighbors was visiting, and she said, "You know, I hate to ask, but do you think that you might start the scary stories again? B & I really enjoyed it when you did, and you know K wasn't even born yet...and P & J and their kids didn't live here then..."

Is it too awful to admit that I was really flattered that she asked? That she pointed out to me that I had a whole new audience to introduce to the old stories?

"'Tailypo...tailypo...'" I moaned softly, "'just give me back my tailypo...' The old man quavered, 'But, but...I haven't got your tailypo...'"

Silence. The candles bent in the breeze and the wax dripped.

"'OH YES YOU DO!'" I roared in a deep, guttural voice.

Surprised screams and shrieks from the assembled bodies sprawled over the living room floor, hanging on and over the back of the couch and chairs, followed by laughter.

"Don't ever stop telling that story," the teenage boy said with deep satisfaction.

Go listen to some good music: "'Til I Hear It From You" by the Gin Blossoms from the soundtrack to the film Empire Records. The web is loaded with storytelling resources and there are a lot of anthologies of creepy stories available. Gather up a group of friends and give it a go!

12 September 2008

Stormy weather

It's been a weird week.

Of course, the talk surrounds Ike. Not only is the spouse a weather junky--he'd watch the Weather Channel non-stop if he could get away with it--there's the whole disaster thing. Otherwise known as work.

The office is already gearing up.

There is a great deal going on in my head, as well as out of it. As well, there is doing what needs to be done on a daily basis to keep this little world turning on its axis. I have been staring at blank documents, literally and figuratively, for days. I've made progress; I've stormed around in annoyance at the slow pace. My brain feels like a great weight inside my skull, and I feel gravity pulling inexorably, keeping me grounded, stuck.

I have been sleeping poorly, but dreaming wildly when I do sleep. The dreams have been as unsatisfying as waking life, but they are weirdly right, eerily correct in what they are portraying. I know the lesson I'm supposed to take from them is to stop holding myself to an inhuman level of perfection, to allow life to occur in its own time.

I walked away from everything over the weekend and shredded things in the garden instead, earning myself bloody fingers and contact dermatitis. Then Sunday, in a fit of fury, I started cooking. Apple cinnamon scones for breakfast, cookies for school lunches, tamale pie (a favorite of the spouse and his father), homemade chicken noodle soup for dinner.

The weather here has been unseasonably cool, especially in the morning when it has been chill and foggy, though I find I don't mind it as much as I usually do. The early walk to the bus stop has become the time for the son and I to talk over what is going on with him, our quiet time, 10 minutes when he has me to himself. And the walk home is my own, a few extra minutes to wake up, to consider the day.

As I traveled back along the street, the fog broke up early, the sun began to break through, bits of blue sky bright behind the muddy rags of cloud. Just looking at it, I felt a little less foggy myself. It bodes well.

I don't much care for gravity's pull.

Go listen to some good music: "Stormy Weather" from the album At Last! by Etta James.

10 September 2008

The good, the bad and the ugly

The good:

Clinch.

It was a one-off that I managed to talk the spouse into going to the game.

Me: "Angels versus Yankees. Field boxes are available."

The spouse: "Day game."

Me: "Have you ever heard of vacation time?"

Of course, he held me up as the example of never letting up, never taking time off, never just doing anything fun.

I reminded him of what I'd been up to the last year.

The spouse: "Well..."

So he went. The first thing that flashed up on the scoreboard was a quiz: Does your boss or teacher know you're at the game?

The lady who got his beer carded him.

I laughed out loud. She looked surprised.

I patted him on the shoulder.

"He's 47 in October," I told her. "You are his new best friend."

"If I look less than 40," he said to me, "you must look less than 20."

I snorted. "Not exactly."

It wasn't one of the more exciting games, until the bottom of the fifth, bases loaded, two outs, full count, the crowd got to its feet and Robb Quinlan delivered a nice line drive, scoring two, and Xavier Nady helpfully overthrew the ball, scoring a third.

I had to leave mid-seventh to pick the kids up from school, and so missed this after Texas lost to Seattle:

"Taking a hose from the pitching mound, shortstop Erick Aybar began spraying teammates before handing it over to [Jose] Arredondo. The rookie reliever took it up a notch, carrying the hose over to the stands and spraying fans."













Borrowed from MLB.com.

The bad?

Me, of course. Honestly, talking the hard-working spouse into playing hooky for a ball game? Tsk.

The ugly?

There's plenty of that to go around. For this moment, I'm content to appreciate the good.

Go listen to some good music: "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" from the album 50 Movie Theme Hits: Gold Edition by Ennio Morricone.

09 September 2008

Lost?

I seem to have lost:

my good humor
my sense of wonder
my certainty of purpose
my temper

Reward for safe return of any or all of the above.

Go listen to some good music: "Lost?" from the album Viva La Vida by Coldplay.

08 September 2008

Unguided

The son: "I have to prove..."

Me: "You don't have to prove anything to anyone. You are who you are."

The son: "But the teachers. I have to prove that I'm good..."

Me: "Kid, the teachers already know. You're in the same school system. The admissions people knew who you were before I knew who they were."

He is silent for a moment, lying on his bed in the darkened room. It's been a difficult evening. I've had to give him the "we can do this the easy way or we can do this the hard way" talk again.

The son: "But..."

I'm scared, I finish silently in my head. I know he is. He has completed eight days of high school and doesn't have his footing yet.

Me: "You have a proven formula. You show up, you do your work, you take your tests, you behave in your polite, respectful and fun way, and everything else will fall into line."

The son: "I want to be like you."

Me: "You don't want to make the mistakes I have."

But he isn't thinking about the errors of my ways; he is thinking about stories of journalistic scoops, varsity letters in sports, a job at a TV station, the girl who blew up stuff in lab, all the stories he's heard.

The son: "No, but I want to do all the things you've done, the things you do."

Me, thinking about what I was doing a year ago this night, and smiling in the dark: "Don't worry. I'm doing a more than adequate job of living my life. You'll find your own interesting life to live."

The best I can hope for is that he'll learn from his own errors, without repeating mine. The best I can do is guide him a little, just an unobtrusive little nudge here and there, with kindness and care, and not leave him as I was left, unguided, to navigate the slings and arrows of outrageous adolescence alone.

You wrote yourself into a corner, safe
Easy to defend your borders



Go listen to some good music: "Unguided" from the album Live from Soho by The New P***ographers.

05 September 2008

Solsbury Hill
















Mt. Floyen, Bergen, Norway
July 2008

Go listen to some good music: "Solsbury Hill" from the album Peter Gabriel (I) by Peter Gabriel.

04 September 2008

Little America

I am wearing my suburban mommy disguise.

What surprises me is how much I look like the other suburban mommies in this get up: gym shorts, t-shirt, hair pulled into a pony tail, baseball cap.

Of course, this being me we're talking about, everything is slightly off. The gym shorts aren't cute and constructed to show off my toned legs or butt; they're from my kids' (private) school and they are long, true high school gym shorts, designed to cover my middle-aged legs and butt. The t-shirt is Old Navy, grey heather, XL. 'Nough said. The hat is from a casino; I won it in a blackjack tournament. My shoes were once white.

Jefferson, I think we're lost...

Morning tends to be intense in my house, as I'm packing lunches into lunchboxes, directing breakfast, and pushing everyone out the door. The last two days I've grabbed my breakfast on my way out to take the son to the bus stop. This morning, I was caught by one of my neighbors while I was trying to swallow a mouthful of whole grain waffle smeared with peanut butter. And of course, I had to talk to the bus driver today, all the while wondering desperately as I smiled and asked the necessary questions if there was peanut butter on my face and if I'd remembered to brush my teeth before I left the house.

Home again, home again to stuff the spouse and daughter into the car. One more cup of coffee and I'm out the door again.

I walk the walk, albeit with a slight limp and sans Starbucks cup, preferring to move quickly and alone, iPod strapped to my arm, Michael Stipe and Geddy Lee taking turns shrieking in my ears.

A man waves at me from a car, and gives me the thumbs up. I feel my hackles rise with rage--I've been called that disgusting four-letter acronym that begins with "m" often enough that I will probably throw a shoe at the next man who yells it--but then I realize it's the student services coordinator from the daughter's school. I wave back and tell him to have a good day, feeling profoundly guilty, certain that my immediate anger was written all over my face.

Find another road to take...

I don't glow; I don't even perspire. I sweat embarrassingly and copiously. It's been unusually humid and my hair is literally dripping, shirt clinging wetly to my back. This is when I run into my neighbor PH and her friend J, also out walking, not dripping, both doing suburban mommy much better than I am. I am so focused on what I'm doing and what I'm thinking...

(meal planning for elderly in-laws. What can I make to keep their freezer stocked with easy to heat, nutritious meals they will eat? I think of casseroles and stews and soups into which I can slip extra protein and fiber unnoticed. I wonder how I can set up assessments for both of them with a gerontologist without looking pushy and bossy...)

...that I don't see PH at first until she waves wildly at me as I'm passing. I am embarrassed at not seeing her and I have the music turned up so loud that I don't hear anything else. PH wonders if I'm taking the road up to the tennis club or...? I make the right noises, and I am satisfied with my tone and words. I walk sociably alongside them for a few blocks, and bid them farewell at the school their kids attend. I continue on my way, marching past ranks of other suburban mommies.

How many times must another line be drawn?

Suburban mommies are the talk of the town of the town right now.

I am tired of the conversation. I am tired of the "narrative."

The biggest wagon is the empty wagon is the noisiest...

The truth is that I'm tired of politicians, and I'm disappointed that once again this country cannot come up with a single individual worthy of running it, someone who could run it with integrity. I'm tired of the media, I'm tired of speeches that stretch the facts.

How many times
Do we wonder if it’s even worth it
There’s got to be some other way


Go listen to some good music: "Little America" from the album Reckoning by REM; "We Hold On" from the album Snakes and Arrows by Rush.

01 September 2008

The boys are back in town

The Angels were slumping there for a bit, and yeah, they had no business losing yesterday.

But Torii Hunter was something else Friday and Saturday. Friday night he slammed face first into the wall stealing a homerun from Marlon Byrd (who made up for that on Sunday). But when we were at the park on Saturday night, Hunter not only took a run away from Hank Blalock (not using his face this time, but slamming the back of his head into the wall instead), but he also scored the most improbable run on what should have been a single by Mike Napoli (that instead turned into a triple because everyone was so busy arguing over whether or not Hunter had been tagged).

I don't know how long the highlights will stay up on the Angels site, but this is the video of Hunter catching the Blalock's near homer (the son kept laughing about how Blalock refused to move himself off second base).

And here is Hunter flying 10 feet past home plate and then throwing himself back on top of the plate. The whole stadium was on its feet screaming.

Anyway, the boys aren't actually in town; they're off to Detroit, hopefully planning on winning a few more games. They don't need many to clinch.

I never hope for too much in the post season...

And how can it already be September?

Tonight, I roasted a chicken for dinner, with a dish of brown and wild rice on the side, mixed vegetables, homemade gravy. Very autumnal. But the Sauvignon Blanc still tasted of summer, and unexpectedly, its light fruit was just right for the rest of the meal.

Sometimes, you just throw the pairing suggestions out the window.

Go listen to some good music: "The Boys Are Back in Town" from the album Jailbreak by Thin Lizzy.