31 January 2009

Egmont, Op. 84, Overture

Prins Christian Sund, Greenland
July 2008

Go listen to some good music: "Egmont, Op. 84, Overture" from the album Beethoven Overtures. Neither Goethe nor Beethoven have anything to do with this photo; I just happen to like this piece of music. And the drama of the piece does mesh nicely with the drama of this passage.

30 January 2009

The maw

En route to school:

The son: "I'm going to be 15!"

Me: "Yes."

The son: "Okay, I know what I want for my birthday cake."

As previously discussed, part of birthday celebrations around here involve me making the celebrant's desired birthday cake (mine gets ordered from a really good bakery). The son has taken this to a new level, and tries to invent the most impossible creation ever. So far, I've flummoxed him and managed to pull off everything he's requested, including cupcakes for his birthday party that looked like Flood Spore from Halo, down to the nasty color and tentacles (yay, black licorice). His friends were mightily impressed and they even tasted good if you could get past the color. I was really quite pleased.

(Thank god he hasn't gotten too many sculptural ideas, like say, the Master Chief's helmet. Though I made a very respectable Blue from Blue's Clues for the daughter many years ago.)

Me, noncommittally: "Mmmm."

The son: "Don't say it like that!"

Might I add we're having this conversation at 6:45 in the morning?

Me: "So what do you want this year?"

The son: "Buttercream frosting. Of course."

Me: "Of course."

I do buttercream frosting on Legendary.

The son: "Well, yellow cake. The standard."

Me: "Mmmhmm."

The son: "And inside..."

Ah, the kicker. You wouldn't believe what I've had to invent for the inside.

Me: "Yes?"

The son: "Marzipan."

Me, resisting the impulse to say that's it? Marzipan?: "Marzipan."

The son, enthusiastically: "Yeah! Marzipan!"

Still resisting the desire to look relieved, me: "Okay. Marzipan."

The son: "Now on the outside...the color scheme..."

Me: "What, are you going in for interior decorating or something here?"

The son: "Exterior decorating, Mom. We're talking about the outside of the cake."

Me: "Alright, what?"

The son: "Okay...black frosting."

Me: "Well, I'll just make chocolate frosting."

The son: "NO!"

Me: "Why not? It's black."

The son: "Buttercream only."

Me: "This is still buttercream. I just add cocoa powder and it tastes like chocolate."

The son: "NO! Black buttercream frosting. Not chocolate."

Me: "Dude. I can't do that."

The son: "Why? I want black frosting with red writing."

Me: "I have to mix colors. They look awful."

(Dear readers, yes I know I could buy black frosting tint at a speciality store, and I almost did three weeks ago, and then decided I'd never use it for the price. Yes, kicking myself and I'd never admit this to a teenager. Of course, he does read my blog.)

The son: "Oh. I see what you mean."

Me: "It ends up sort of dark brownish with tints of red and stuff. It's not very appetizing."

The son, with a big grin: "Okay. Then Master Chief green."

Which is also not very appetizing. But better than Flood...urgh...whatever that color is.

The son, continuing meditatively: "Maybe with a big splatter on it..."

Go listen to some good music: "The Maw" from the album Halo: The Soundtrack by Martin O'Donnell & Michael Salvatori. We are also going to see Coraline in 3D since it's releasing on his b-day, and he watched the trailer and decided that he wasn't too old to enjoy it. The daughter and I were going to see it regardless.

29 January 2009


The winds are back, booming about my house, but this morning was just warm, breezy and very clear.

When the Santa Anas blow, the planes take off in reverse from John Wayne, heading back inland rather than going out over the ocean, so they are, in effect, taking off into the wind. Homeward bound, I watched one, two, three fly over head, in quick succession, just moments after the airport opened for business.

I've been on those planes: one headed toward Northern California, one toward Phoenix, the last probably Las Vegas. I'm a veteran of the 6:45 am flight.

I'm a veteran of flight. I've been known to be a flight risk.

I've learned to stand my ground.

I look back at how it all happened, and I see how it all played out, and I understand why I no longer fit into my life. Why reintegration is not possible. There is nothing to reintegrate. Jigsaw falling into place.

I saw this happening as it happened, and I took the chance. I understand that one of my failings as a writer of fiction is that I keep trying to write stories from the perspective of the person I no longer am. I know I live and grow, and then I deny that it's happened. How silly.

But one of my successes as a writer of truth--and truth is a slippery concept, to be sure, and can be unintentionally lost in translation--is that I'm learning to make the words real. I wasn't sure at first, but I want the connection.

Epiphanies are lovely things, energizing things, and I've certainly had my share. But often I've not seen the farther reaching effects of those moments of truth and imminent change, and sometimes I've been so intensely focused on the moment that I missed why it was happening. And there are times that I haven't been conscious of the fact that while the epiphany is mine, the impact is not only upon my life. But there are those times--frightening, magic and wide awake times--when everything is so incredibly clear, and there is no doubt, and the road I'm intended to take is so brightly laid out in front of me, lit with flares and fireworks.

This is where it stands.

The sun rises and the jets catch the light, a brief but blinding flash. From the opposite direction, another on its way to land, a streak of pure orange fire. And in the distance, far above my head, a contrail, pink in the brightening day.

There is a bond there that I don't understand, but I take it as a gift. Every moment was a gift.

Go listen to some good music: "Remembrances" from the album ...undone by The Lucy Show. I am beyond exhaustion at this point, and yet, everything is crystal clear. A little scary. And while the above is truth, life informs work. Meaning the work has begun.

28 January 2009


I do firmly believe that everything happens for a reason.

If this was the reason that I didn't make it out of here this weekend, I'll take it. Even if it wasn't.

(It was actually a meeting that grounded me.)

Pretty sweet compensation, though.

Right. Electrician en route. Cannot answer the door in my present state, so best hit the shower.

Go listen to some good music: "Superstition" from the album The Definitive Collection by Stevie Wonder. I'm not, actually, superstitious. Much. But I have always liked this song.

27 January 2009

Distant early warning

The daughter: "A FedEx plane crashed."

Me, with preternatural calm: "Where?"

And so the day begins.

She wasn't to know that it's just over 18 years that Colin Powell told us live on TV that an F/A-18 Hornet had been lost in the first night of combat. That my heart died for an eternity until my mother called to tell me she'd spoken to my brother and he was well. That my nightmare ended that January morning but another family's continues to this day.

This morning, however, I was certain that all was well. And so it was. Even those involved in the crash walked away with minor injuries.

He calls me, does my brother, from far away places, hotels and airports, and planes as doors are closing. We laugh and chat for those precious moments, make plans and catch up. We've always been close, even when closeness involved beating each other up, but that war changed our relationship forever. Now, we are careful of one another, we understand that the differences may exist--and do they! Philosophical and political--but we each are precious to the other, and we treat one another with care.

You sometimes drive me crazy...

Last night, as we talked about the Newbery Awards, the son said in his decisive and accusatory teenage way, "Why don't you write a book and win an award?"

There are occasions when others can crystallize my thoughts better than I myself can. Why indeed don't I write a book and win an award? (Because I don't have time? Because I don't think I can?) It is, however, both enlightening and heartening to hear that others take it for granted that I should. That I could.

Reading Lisa Snellings' blog today, when she spoke of insomnia and nooks and crannies and hidden spots, I thought, yes, of course, and another part of last year's raison d'ĂȘtre fell into place, not that I could actually explain the what and how it fell into place. Reading an article, I came across "musical vice" and I had to smile, thinking how I'd long ago written about rocking out at a concert one week only to be found sitting quietly at the symphony the next. But for me, not a musical vice, simply my vice, perfect and not something others would expect. And a small vice in taking pleasure in still being able to surprise the world by simply allowing myself to follow my own path...in silk and lipstick, in manky sweatpants and sneakers.

I have few vices. Coffee, staying up 'til all hours, concerts, travel. Occasional bouts of bad temper.

Travel. I was preempted. Inevitable. My plans crash in the wake of others' need, but sometimes that is how the game plays out. I am not resentful, though perhaps disappointed, so it's all the nicer when I actually can invest in my solitude, write in my notebooks, drink coffee, walk down streets unknown to me, and talk to people. Everything happens in its own time; I practice patience. I am bad at patience; I don't like waiting.

So, later than I'd planned, but on for March. Judge the science fair and then I'm outta here. My young ones, particularly, excel at making me feel selfish when I take time for myself, and it's sometimes difficult to justify work that doesn't happen in an office as work. It makes me feel somehow graceless. But it's work, even if it's fun. Trust me.

It's a beginning.

Go listen to some good music: "Distant Early Warning" from the album Grace Under Pressure by Rush. I clung to this song like a liferaft in the early days of that war. It's always been my brother's song because he frequently drives me crazy, and it just suits.

26 January 2009

Don't worry, be happy

The son: "Mom...? I have a sore throat."

And so the day begins.

I read the paper. Iceland's goverment has collapsed. Half the homes for sale in Orange County are "distressed." (Folks, that's the Orange County Register for you. I'm not entirely sure what it means either, but presumably, heading in the general direction of foreclosure.) More layoffs announced.

And so the day continues.

Then I check a blog for some happy (she fosters cats and has good stories about lots of things) and find out

Neil Gaiman has won the Newbery Medal for The Graveyard Book. And when I read his blog post on the matter, I cannot stop laughing. And when I read his Twitter stream on the same, I am in hysterics.

(I was given one New Year's Resolution by my children: not to say that word anymore. They have loudly kept count of each time they hear me say it--I think I'm up to 11 for the year, four of which were uttered in complete frustration when I had to modify the registries on both of their new computers Saturday after the driver for the optical disc drives was mysteriously corrupted. I suspect I have last week's Windows update to thank for that. At any rate, the kids believe that since I will not allow them to swear, my swearing should not be tolerated. I rather agree, but as I pointed out, when the Lord High Whomever of your company starts every telephone call with that word, it becomes an invisible part of one's vocabulary. Which, of course, is all the more reason I should not say it around them.)

Anyway, tremendous congratulations to Mr. Gaiman.

(I was trying to relate this story to the spouse, having to stop midstream and gasp for breath while I laughed, and he seemed a little perplexed as to why this gave me so much pleasure. Well, in part because joy is contagious, and with bad news endemic, it's so nice to see some really happy news. In part, because the Newbery is a big deal--unlike, say, the Grammys, which carry little weight in terms of actual quality. I make a point of buying Newbery books; I don't think I've ever bought music because it won a Grammy. Mostly, though, I think, because I try to get everyone who will listen to me to read all things Gaiman--sort of like I put Rush on the stereo for parties and in the car.)

Now that the world has offered me a reason to smile again, I need to go address the mischievous streak that has resurfaced.

Plotting, I am.

Go listen to some music: "Don't Worry, Be Happy" from the album Simple Pleasures by Bobby McFerrin. At one point, I think it was when the Soviet scientists were visiting us, though possibly when we were visiting them, one of them kept repeating this line. Though I don't really care for the song, I think back on BI intoning this in his Russian accent, and dear god, it just fits the day. Especially since I just got word that one of my credit cards has been compromised. *sigh*

25 January 2009


The joys of home ownership are numerous and generally revolve around what is currently broken, what looks likely to break next, and of course, what is dirty, out of place or just needs to go.

Friday afternoon while I was making the kids cocoa after school--chilly rainy afternoons are the perfect time for cocoa--the can lights in the kitchen all simultaneously went out. For no apparent reason. Now, of course, I have to get an electrician in to see what the problem is.

Half the battle is finding a competent electrician. I've had three out here each of whom has been more trouble than he's been worth, including the lot who did the electrical in the kitchen to begin with.

Too many hands on my time.

Go listen to some music: "Electricity" from the album Organisation by OMD. Obviously, it's going to take some major effort to wrest myself out of here any time soon. And my frustration level is rising.

22 January 2009

Warning sign

The horoscope says I'll be rewarded for impulsiveness, so just let me say:


Okay, now that's done...

Yesterday, I wanted to call for a do-over--even before I knew Obama was busy doing his oath over (I think it's slightly hilarious, and probably unnecessary, but hey, if it makes the powers that be happy...)

No, I wanted a do-over of a bit of my own life. Really, the last few days...

(I've declared today the day of the ellipses. As an editor, I frequently balk at punctuation as decoration, but ellipses do a solid job of representing my current thought processes. Or lack thereof. Lots of omission going on there. And I'm completely distracted.)

The daughter is in a musical tonight. I'm not sure she'll have a voice, but she's a lot perkier than she has been. She's into the heavy goop part of whatever she's got, but the fever is finally gone.

The son, on the other hand, called me from school yesterday, telling me, "My hip is killing me."

He's been complaining about this for a few days. I made the executive decision to drag him off to the pediatrician, to which the son immediately complained that I was overreacting. Ok, I hadn't slept in two days, what do you expect? I'm not at my most rational when I've been up with a sick kid. And he kept pointing at his lower right trunk (referring to it as his hip, which it actually isn't). It's winter. He was exhibiting pain in his lower right abdomen when he was walking. He didn't have any really discernible symptoms of appendicitis, but then I have a daughter who presented with symptoms of meningitis when she had a bladder infection. And his pain complaints were escalating. And I'm not a doctor.

Going to the pediatrician with a sick kid is a crapshoot. Fifty percent of the time, your instincts are spot on (like the time it turned out the son had pneumonia and the time the daughter's eardrum had quietly exploded. She never noticed a thing, but I discovered a large sticky wad of ear wax and blood in her hair and figured something was up), and 50% of the time you leave feeling like a complete idiot.

Like yesterday. When the pediatrician told me the kid probably had a muscle strain, maybe bursitis. And when I gave the doctor a hard time about his flu shot giving the daughter whatever she has right now (it's a long-standing joke), he suggested that maybe I should bring her in today for a strep swab.

Thanks. Make me feel like a great mother and give me one more thing to worry about!

Of course, the emails were flying yesterday, too. I'd volunteered stuff to be sold at the refreshment stand tonight, and I also volunteered to do hair and makeup.

The spouse (and a lot of my friends) are forever telling me that I'm far too hard on myself. Okay, it's a failing, I acknowledge that, and in the spirit of reformation, I decided I'd buy cupcakes rather than make them, given the way the week's gone. So, I finally got to the grocery this morning, all good intentions, but one look at those grocery cupcakes... They were disgusting. In the freezer and at some point, they'd half melted, so there was runny goo all over. So, I've just finished making two dozen cupcakes.


Definitely a warning sign...

Go listen to some good music: "Warning Sign" from the album A Rush of Blood to the Head by Coldplay. Holy mackerel was I tired last night. This post needed a do-over. Of course, after a night spent dreaming about mascara wands and huge boxes of eyeshadow, I'm not sure I'll do much better today.

20 January 2009

And a new day will dawn

The daughter came down with some evil virus over the weekend, and has been feverish and talking nonsense (ice suddenly was classified as food and she was having none of it, even if I was just trying to bring her fever down) and suffering from a dreadful sore throat and generally keeping me up all night.

So, the feed hasn't been moved yet.

The upside of her illness, though, was that she was tucked up on the couch next to me this morning to watch the inauguration.

The son, who watched the speeches later in the day, was fittingly off working on a service project, loading up food boxes for a local charity.

The daughter and I looked at how cold it appeared to be in my home town, and I pointed out landmarks in the distance. When the First Daughters Elect entered the seating area, a commentator made note that "all 7-year-old girls like pink. Hahaha."

The daughter, who has never cared for pink, glowered.

It is interesting to her, I think, that the new president is the same age as her father; that the new first lady is of similar age to her mother (not to mention the same height), and that the Obamas' eldest daughter is near her own age. This is the first presidential election that's really had meaning for her, and so, she seems quite taken with the fact that the new family in the White House is very like her own.

We listened with care to those who spoke today. We were annoyed by certain people, and pleased by others. As all the presidents, past, present and future, greeted one another, the daughter noted how politely and civilly they behaved toward one another. We listened to Obama, and we talked about what we heard. Neither the son nor the daughter missed the call to service and the call for personal responsibility in today's speech. They hear a lot about that at home.

As I said before, I am cautiously hopeful. The appointments that went to Clinton and Panetta did not make me happy. At all. A lot of things are not making me happy.

Last night, as I sat by the daughter's side, putting cool cloths on her hot little face, I worried over her illness and I worried about what the future brings for her and for us all. I was tired, so even more anxious than usual, and when I was back, half asleep, at her bedside at 3 am, trying to get more acetaminophen down her, I thought about the days and weeks ahead.

I never discourage the kids from waking me in the night when they are ill, because there is nothing more awful than feeling miserable and alone in the dark. I will take the burden of being miserable and alone in the dark because they shouldn't have to. Sitting there, as the daughter tossed and sighed, I knew that things would look better in the morning. As the old saw goes, it's always darkest before the light. I tried to believe it.

I slept a little before it was time to take the son to school, and startled awake, touched the daughter's face to find she was cooler, and later, willing to eat some cereal. Then together, we watched and listened.

Cautious, but hopeful. I like what I hear, but I don't want words, I want deeds. I need those words to become action. Talk is cheap; talk is easy. I've spent my own life making hard decisions, making tough choices, and forcing myself to back up my own words, making sure that I live my convictions and raise my children by them.

Right now, I'm tired. The daughter is still feverish, but resting more easily. I need some rest, too.

Tomorrow is another day.

Go listen to some music: "Stairway to Heaven" from the album Led Zeppelin IV by Led Zeppelin.

16 January 2009


Scene: Night, outside the school. Throngs of junior high students are wandering around in search of parents, post winter formal dance.

Me: "Well, how was it?"

The daughter, grumpily: "It was terrible."

Me, a bit surprised: "Why? What happened?"

The daughter: "It was badly organized and the music was horrible."

Me: "Well, what was it?"

The daughter: "I don't know. It was just horrible."

Me: "Rap? The Jonas Brothers?"

The daughter just grunts.

On the drive home, she starts singing: "Applebottom jeans and boots..."

Me: "What is that?"

The daughter: "Some dumb song they played."

Then she starts to sing: "I can ride my bike with no handlebars..."

Me: "?"

The daughter: "Another song..."

Upon arrival home, she asked: "Can we download 'Disturbia?' That's a good song."

I demur, wondering if I have to worry about explicit versus clean lyrics: "We'll see."

The daughter: "You know, I requested a song and the dj never played it."

Me: "Well, sheesh. That's not very nice. What did you request?"

The daughter, sulkily: "I asked him to play 'Limelight.'"

Me: "'Limelight.' Really?"

The daughter: "I waited 10 songs and he never played it. I bet he didn't even know what it is."

Me: "I'll bet he doesn't."


In addition to being a Rush fan (junior division), and basketball diva, our geography wonder will take the qualifying test for the state level geographic bee next week. I'd confused this one with the national spelling bee (she'd been in competition for that as well).

Go listen to some music: "Disturbia" from the album Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded by Rihanna.

You move me

Administrative business:

Ok, it's official. Feedburner has notified me that I need to move my feed to their new service.

Those of you who access the blog directly should see no difference at all. Those of you who view the blog via a feedreader shouldn't either. Technically.

Oh me of little faith.

I probably won't initiate the change until later this weekend. I will have to make sure that this won't affect those of you who come here via feedage.com. If anyone runs into any problems after say, Sunday, please feel free to contact me at OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com.

And of course, you can always access the blog directly here. It's actually prettier there...

Back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Go listen to some good music: "You Move Me" from the album 7 Day Weekend by The CS Angels.

14 January 2009

Counting blue cars

Get up. Run.

The son has had finals this weeks, so his schedule has been a bit whacked, and he's home around 1 every day. I'm using it to my advantage, however, to get him into various doctor's appointments (pediatrician, eye, oral surgeon...time for those wisdom teeth to go). Today was the pediatrician and by the time we were finished, we were up to three vaccinations, and three bits of scrip for medication (allergy, skin rash, acne).

CVS bought out my old drugstore across the street, and the pediatrician told me it was closing on Friday. Fortunately, a brand new pharmacy opened just a block away, so when we were done, the son and I walked over there to get all the prescriptions filled. After getting through all the nonsense with the insurance, the pharmacist told me it would 20 minutes before they were ready.

I offered to take the son to Peet's Coffee for his customary afternoon snack while we were waiting, and he countered that I should take him to the microbrewery for a plate of buffalo wings. I considered for a moment, and then agreed, which I think surprised him.

After we were seated, I checked my cell phone. The daughter had her first basketball game today, an away game, and she was somewhat annoyed with me that I wasn't going to be there. I pointed out that the son's doctor's appointment had been set up long before I ever got a basketball schedule. There were no frantic messages from her, so I let the boy enjoy his wings in peace, then we picked up all his various medications, and another knee brace for the other knee, and went home.

I started dinner preparations, assuming the daughter would be back at school after the game around 6 pm. The son was feeling chatty, so he watched while I shredded the pot roast for tacos, and chatted. A little before 6, I decided to head over to the school, although we hadn't yet heard from the daughter. We waited only a few moments before the school bus arrived and the junior varsity boys and girls basketball teams streamed off.

"Did you win?" I asked the daughter.

"YES!" and she punctuated her response with a little jump in the air. I gave her high five.

"Did you score any baskets?" I asked.

"YES!" she answered, and we high fived again.

Then she sighed. "The Geography Bee was today," she told me.

"You didn't tell me that!" I exclaimed.

"I didn't know," she said prissily.

"So you came in 42nd?" I teased her.

"Well," she said, sighing again. "Only first, second, and third really mattered..."

I saw her trying to hide a little smile.

"You came in first?" I exclaimed.

"YES!" she grinned.

"Was it Canada again?"

"No," she pouted a little. "I missed the Canada question. Manitobo. Wherever that is."

"Manitoba," I corrected, thinking back to a long-ago conversation carried on between lanes on the freeway with a carload of guys whose vehicle bore the license plate frame "Friendly Manitoba." "Was Mr. H. (the geography teacher) happy?"

She grinned again. "He looked all happy. He said this is first time a sixth grader ever won first place."

"Cool," I told her.

"And you'll never believe who I beat."


And she named the eighth grader, really a very nice girl, who is generally expected to be valedictorian this year.

"Really?" I asked.

She just grinned.

Next stop...

You guessed it.


Go listen to some music: "Counting Blue Cars" from the album Pet Your Friends by Dishwalla.

12 January 2009

Heat wave

This morning, when the son and I left for the bus stop, it was 72F. A week ago, it was 40F. What a difference a week and Santa Ana winds make.

The air is unbelievably dry. Static crackles wildly and I get shocked just sticking my hand in the water coming out of the faucet.

Even the little goldfinches sounded crabby this morning, hopping branch to branch in a neighbor's liquidamber. They are no match for the wind, and it's more difficult to get a drink from a sprinkler head when the moisture evaporates immediately.

Still, I watched a crow playing on the currents this morning. It looked inordinately pleased with itself.

Here, though, no one likes the wind, and no one is especially happy. There were layoffs at the office on Friday, not wholly unexpected, but startling and depressing nonetheless. We know people who lost their jobs well before the holidays began. Only one has found another position.

The son is dragging his way through finals. I'll never forget Winter finals my freshman year of high school. I came down with chickenpox. He really doesn't know how easy he has it. We have a doctor's appointment on Wednesday to see to his knee. There was no evident bruising or swelling, but it remains a concern.

The daughter is perpetually fussed about friend issues, and homework issues, and the math test she did poorly on. "I'm nervous about the basketball game," she told me today. "Oh please," I groaned. "Don't start that. It's just a game. You'll make mistakes and blunders. Just forgive yourself now."

And me? I have reached the time of year when my fuse is short and I'm out of patience. Most of the issues are school-related, and it never fails that right about now, I want to pull the children out of school. Forever. It's no one thing, just a pile up of small issues (and some larger ones), and I'm trying to put my frustration into perspective: no one is lobbing bombs at me, my life is reasonably secure, it's mostly silliness from silly people. Still, I've never been particularly good at jumping through hoops.

Of course, the wind doesn't help.

We've been well over 80 the last few days. I wouldn't mind a return to winter. We need more rain, and the cooler temperatures were nice. Baking bread is much less appealing in a baking kitchen.

As well, I am trying to plan my escape, and roadblocks have been thrown up in my path. I expected this, knew it would happen, but no sooner do I make plans for one weekend, then I have to change everything to another. Has life always been this complicated?

No, I look back on last spring, and it was so much more complicated, I'm not entirely sure how I pulled it off.


And I'm only a work in progress.

Go listen to some music: "Heat Wave" from the album Prisoner in Disguise by Linda Ronstadt.

11 January 2009

Fight song

The daughter, watching the spouse's computer game blowing something up in a warlike manner: "A dogfight is two planes, right?"

The spouse, concentrating on the next thing he's going to blow up: "Yup."

The daughter: "And a catfight is two women."

Hilarity ensues.

The daughter: "What? What did I say?"

The spouse: "That's going on the blog."

The daughter, wailing: "But I can't even make a joke when I try."

Me: "Yeah, but you do a great job when you don't try."

Go listen to some good music: "Fight Song" from the album Keep Color by The Republic Tigers. I did not make this up. Just so you know. And the daughter is suitably outraged that I am sharing it with you.

09 January 2009

Earthquake song

Last night we went to see STOMP at Segerstrom, and a little into the show, I felt the balcony bouncing. Now, I've attended many performances at Segerstrom from the Pacific Symphony to Cats, and I've never felt the balcony jumping up and down. We had season tickets for the kids' symphony program right in the same area. So, I started thinking about tossing the daughter over the railing behind us, which would put her right on the stairs and out the door.

I'm not overly nervous about earthquakes. I've been through plenty. From the 7.3 Landers to giving birth during a 5+ aftershock of the Northridge. Since we've moved down here, there have been regular rumbles under Yorba Linda, in the mid 4s. In fact, we've long played a game to determine the epicenter and magnitude before the official word comes out, which is a great way to stave off panic and treat the whole thing as an intellectual exercise (During Northridge, no way. I was 8+ months pregnant, and I was actually awake when it hit because I had to make regular 4 am trips to the bathroom. The only thing that kept me in bed that morning and not running like hell out the door was that I needed a crane to get up. Landers rolled (violently and forever), but Northridge felt as though a giant hand slammed our bed straight upward. And we were on bedrock!)


This is earthquake country; you live prepared for the inevitable (if you're smart, anyway, and yes, we do maintain earthquake supplies, and everyone should have an emergency kit, and yes, that means you! I wrote an emergency preparedness post several months ago, and I really should post it. Until I do, do yourself a favor and check out the Red Cross' disaster preparedness information. Fire, flood, earthquake, tornado, what have you, you need to be prepared to take care of yourself. If you actually are in an earthquake zone, you can read this. Or Google "earthquake preparedness." Plenty of info out there. End PSA.)

Okay, maybe I should just treat this post as one long digression...

So the balcony at Segerstrom was swaying, and yes! It was an earthquake. A small one and not terribly near by. But on a bad fault. When I showed the report to the spouse this morning, he said, "Oooooooh. Not good."

(Every day is a wake up call in California. Of course, he also said, "I hope that TBO (The Big One for you uninitiated) waits until Monday. I don't want it to spoil the weekend..." Typical geologist, and it just goes to show how much he's really worried that anything will happen (that would be not very much). And heck, he's right. This weekend is going to be bad enough with the return of the Santa Anas. We're supposed to get gusts of up to 80mph. Yup, I'm thrilled.)

Talk about a digression...my whole morning has been one.

The son just called me to tell me that his "good" (aka the one that hasn't been operated on) kneecap slipped in PE. Not a complete dislocation, but now I'm back on kneecap watch. My god. Every day is a wake up call at Haus of S. Maybe I should just haul him straight to the orthopedic surgeon...

STOMP? Plenty of fun. It was cute and family friendly, and the daughter laughed herself silly at the physical humor. Definitely percussive, but I liked the way they explored the texture of sound and rhythm as well. And one whole section reminded me of mad Taiko drummers...in a junkyard. Definitely a nice evening's entertainment.

Admittedly, coulda done without the earthquake.

It's always fun living in L.A.
Always a good show on somewhere
What more can I say
There's gonna be an earthquake

Go listen to some fun music: "Earthquake Song" from the album No More Vinyl by The Little Girls. Got to love a song with the lyric "Cause there's a building chasing me." Ye gods, now the fire department is tearing through the neighborhood. Did I fail to notice it's Friday the 13th or something?

08 January 2009

Hazy shade of winter

Friday Mom's Night Out! You deserve a little "me" time! Leave the kids at home and buzz on in with your latest project and crop, knit, or crochet the night away! $5. Friday 7 p.m.


Somehow, I just don't see myself in that picture. I'm more the "Leave the kids at home and fly to New York for the weekend" sorta girl.

Though I might consider taking my knitting on the plane with me.

(The kids are, incidentally, completely freaking out about my travel plans. "You don't love us anymore," they are wailing (these two are nearly 15 and 12?). "What are you going to do? You're not even going to a concert..." The spouse, however, is sanguine. After all, he's planning another Dad's Weekend Out playing on landslides. Their male parent's travel has never engendered the sort of nonsense I hear. And I am working on turning what I've been up to into work...)

But for the moment, a breather.

(And what is up with the fog? Forget hazy shade of winter...I can't see across the street. It was clear two hours ago when I hauled the son off to the bus stop!)

Everyone (except me) mourned on Monday as they headed back to work and school. I was elated. I love them, but it's difficult to accomplish much with them (and the cat) all underfoot. The cat I'm accustomed to dealing with, but when I'm tripping over two kids, the spouse, and the cat (usually while I'm trying to get a meal on the table) for two weeks...aieeeeee.

The breather is temporary, however.

I sat down with my calendar on Monday, and this month is full. Completely full. When I wasn't looking, it became full.

How the heck did that happen?

And why won't my cold go away? It's progressing, oh yes, it's progressing, but sheesh...the longest cold in history.

Yesterday, in between three hours at the grocery stores and dragging the daughter to the pediatrician (vaccinations, regular physical, sports physical...and, heh, basketball starts next week. Two games a week...yikes), I had to take the Christmas tree down. Never a fun job, but I attacked it after giving everyone dinner last night (the pediatrician took 1-1/2 hours, late in the day). The main motivation is that Thursday is trash today, and I wanted to get the tree into the green waste this morning.

So I began to strip the poor thing of its baubles while its lights bravely flashed, and it feebly put forth what was left of its evergreen scent. It was a slightly scrawny tree this year; in desperation, I finally sent the spouse to the tree farm to pick one out two weeks after the place opened because our weekends tend to be so used up.

I'd decided this year that some of the ornaments and some of the other decorations have to go. We always receive ornaments, mostly from my mother, and while our decorated tree is eclectic at best, I can't get everything on it anyway. So I found myself thinking about each of the items as I removed it.

We have carved wooden animals...bright and slightly wacky: a swooping bat, a barking coyote, a bellowing elk, a shark, a bison. The spouse and I found them at MOCA shortly after we were married, and they've been Christmas fixtures ever since. As well, an enormous glass ball we bought at an art gallery near our La Canada house. Elderly and fragile glass ornaments from the former West Germany, bought at a People's Drugstore the year I was born; I have six of the 2 or 3 dozen that once graced my childhood Christmas trees, as well as a tiny elf, the last of what was once an elfin band. Crystal garland that has long since replaced the tinsel I used to love (I didn't care that it was environmentally appalling and a complete mess...it looked so pretty! I hoarded little boxes for years, but finally, the cat won the day. What he didn't throw up from one end had to be forcibly pulled out of the other, and once you've seen that, tinsel loses its luster), and two strings of train garland that are a long-standing family joke. The kids' first year ornaments, and clay ornaments made by my mother. Tin toys, and Winnie the Pooh collectibles (again, my mother). Shiny brass nativity scenes we bought in Garmisch Partenkirche, hand-crocheted snowflakes from the UNICEF store, a golden Capitol building given the son for his first Christmas by a relative now in the final stages of ovarian cancer. I held it in the palm of my hand last night, my heart breaking a little to know that it's unlikely she'll be with us next Christmas. So many memories in each of these little things, that go along with the general noise and chatter we revisit every December. As I wrapped and put them all away, I heard the voices of my own children as they decorate every year:

"I made that!"

"This is my favorite ornament."

"'That's the last one.' Mom, tell that story again!"

"Hey, that's my ornament!"

"It's my turn to help with the garland."

"Dad, which Star Trek ship will we hang this year?"

And finally me, channelling my mother:

"Don't forget to decorate the back of the tree."

Go listen to some good music: "Hazy Shade of Winter" from the album the Essential Bangles by The Bangles. As I rapidly head in the direction of 500 posts, I'm really starting to worry about repeating myself.

06 January 2009


It's one of those days.

You know the sort: the son woke me up when he got in the shower (boy, is the position of that bathroom changing when I get the other half of the house sorted...), and I fell back asleep for about 30 seconds, or at least long enough to have a brief but extremely bizarre dream that was just...bizarre. No narrative, no plot and lots of irony.

So, I woke up a second time, threw on my clothes, packed the kid's lunch and dragged him off to the bus (41F, four degrees warmer than yesterday. No frost on the lawn and I almost broke a sweat on the way home. It may not sound like it, and for about 27 seconds when I walk out the door, I don't, but I love this early morning moment).


The moment I got back in the door, the daughter began asking me about transitive and intransitive verbs (English-language, thank god, since I'd only had one cup of coffee and probably couldn't have managed anything verbal in another language at that moment). I gave her a quick explanation and I prepared to fling myself into the shower.









Left to my own devices, I might say that I'm going to the mall and then conveniently never get there. I can come up with 371 reasons why I should never go to a mall (today's was more unique and went beyond the usual But I Don't Like Shopping!: Nordstrom had these gorgeous cashmere wraps, and seeing them sitting there on the display in all their soft, fuzzy and colorful display...Just one of those things I need like I need a hole in my head). About the only reliable way to get me into a mall is to forcibly deliver me to one. Then leave with the car. Which is what the spouse did at 8:11 am.

I needed to do returns. I needed to pick up some items that are difficult to pick up online. I needed to track down a new sports jacket for the spouse, who occasionally requires something nice to wear to court or a deposition, and wouldn't, in a zillion years, think of buying it for himself.

(The fact that I also need to find a bottle of Lugols Iodine somewhere is just a non-sequitur. It's Science Fair. Again.)

It's also not a bad idea that I occasionally get out of the house and revisit the rest of the world.


So, there I stood, armed with lists, boxes and failing resolve.

In the first store, I found myself actually browsing...and then I was toying with the idea of a waffle iron (...like I need a hole in the head), and decided it was time I got down to business. So, clock radios, binders, a new spoon for stirring pots of stew.

Returned the CD that the son succeeded in getting me to buy twice. Unfortunately, I ended up returning the CD and leaving Barnes and Noble with a huge bag of books and DVDs (and one Blu-Ray disc, dammit. Like I need a hole in my head! I'm not a completist. I don't even have a Blu-Ray player! Of course, now I need one...).

Wandered through the cool morning air, picking up all the odds and ends on the list.

And there it was: my reason for coming to the mall, why I do need to get out of the house once in a while.

Fashion Inspired By Bollywood!

(Not that I exactly dress Bollywood. Not that I'm even sure what that might mean.)

This is what I'm missing by shopping online! I'm missing stores like this one. I stopped in the middle of the walkway, mouth agape and just gawked at the very spare display in the window, banner flying above the yellow t-shirt proclaiming "Fashion Inspired By Bollywood." The bored woman behind the register gave me a slightly hostile look as I ran off, unable to contain my giggles.

Definitely a revelation.

At home, the son pawed through the bags that contained socks and DVDs and that telling Blu-Ray disc and men's trousers and a tube of hair stuff and he came upon the books. He pulled one out and laughed.

"What?" I demanded. "Someone at the book store gave it a really good recommendation."

The girl he likes at school is apparently reading this book.

"I can't wait to tell her my mom just got a copy," he chortled.

"Is there something I should know about this book?" I snarked. "It's not like it says YA or anything."

"Yeah, but I think it's like the Twilight series."

I groaned and yanked it out of his hand. "Okay. Back it goes."

"NO! Now you have to read it. Because I'm going to tell her you're reading it."

And that is what happens when you go to the mall.

Go listen to some good music: "Wow" from the album Final Straw by Snow Patrol.

04 January 2009

Welcome tomorrow

En guard! or on guard?
December 2008

As D. so eloquently put it:


The spouse said to me, "Doesn't New Year's feel anti-climatic?"

Somehow the whole holiday felt that way. Endurance rather than enjoyment. I kept trying to capture the spirit, but it just wasn't happening. And yet, the lights still sparkle on the tree in the living room and on the front of the house. When dropping off her daughter for a sleepover, J., who was also raised a Catholic, asked me sotto voce, how long I was going to keep them up.

"Why, until January 6!" I feigned surprise.

"Really?" she asked, with apparent disappointment. "It's a Tuesday. But my mother always says January 6!"

"I know," I said, relenting. "We're taking everything down on Sunday."

"Okay," she replied, sounding relieved.

(Actually, the outdoor lights came down today, but the indoor stuff is still up.)

I haven't written because there really is nothing to write. I'm still coughing up bits of lung, my teeth have been cleaned, I saw Valkyrie and not half of what I wanted to accomplish during the break has been done.

I will make time enough in January. I've got lists as long as my arm. First off, though, is getting everyone back to school, dealing with the last of Christmas (adieu, egregious sweater!), and preparing for a new year. New things to think about. New adventures.

New York.

End of the month, beginning of February. I've promised myself that much.

Go listen to some good music: "Welcome Tomorrow" from the album Earth Sun Moon by Love and Rockets.