30 April 2010

Hey ya!

A possible reason for the baguette attack was divulged in the previous post's comment section yesterday. I'll let you go there to read it rather than rehash it. (Feed readers, sorry, but you'll have to click through to the actual blog to read the comments.)

Where did this month go? And why isn't it June?


Never mind.

I think there was going to be a point to all this, but I also think I've forgotten it.

You can always go look at photos on the other blog. (I'm so tired that I can't even type a URL correctly. Yikes.) Or! You can go discover some new music. NPR is streaming The New P*rnographers new album Together here. I haven't listened to all of it yet, but so far, I like what I've heard.

Go listen to some music: "Hey Ya!" from the EP The Way You Move/Hey Ya! by OutKast. You can blame the spouse for this song--yeah, we do own nearly everything I cite here. He was working on a project in Hawaii, and evidently this song was played non-stop. Shake it like a Polaroid.

28 April 2010

Angel of the morning

What woke me was the son stomping loudly down the hall. Gravity, it seems, holds that child more tightly to the ground, and so, he is not light on his feet.

"What's wrong?" I asked, barely awake.

"Did you hear that crash?" he asked, clearly in high dudgeon.

"What is the problem?" I asked again, wondering muzzily if I'd slept through an earthquake. I noted the shadowy figure of the cat slinking in the door, his white patches only faintly visible in the dim ambient light.

"The cat got the baguette on the counter," he announced, quite aggrieved. He'd obviously planned to make his own breakfast of what was left of the baguette I'd used for the previous night's Cuban sandwiches.

The spouse groaned. The cat cannot be trusted; he will eat anything: bread, birthday cake, asparagus, edamame, guacamole, scones, beef jerky. As a result, anything edible has to be locked in the pantry, or stowed somewhere inaccessible. Somehow, I'd missed putting the remains of the baguette in the bread box.

I murmured something to the effect of "Oh well, go take your shower" to the fussed son, who stomped back down the hallway, muttering to himself, unaware that the cat had silently jumped on to the end of my bed and taken up residence on my feet.

Once the son was safely out of earshot, Milton began to catalog his own grievances in a loud and doleful voice. The son, I translated for the spouse over the caterwauling, was clearly in the wrong, as Milton was attempting to protect the baguette from an evil neighbor cat who had designs on it, and would be likely to pretend to be Santa Claus and come down the chimney to make off with said baguette. And further, Milton continued, pacing in circles around my knees, it was quite clear that the boy planned to steal the baguette before anyone else could have any and what was the harm anyway in Milton eating the tiniest of crumbs from one end? Really, the fuss you people make--mrow, rowr, mrrr---and by the way, where is my breakfast?

Not that anyone asked me, but I'd planned to make garlic bread out of the baguette to go with tonight's dinner, Fettuccine with Peas, Asparagus, and Pancetta.

Milton and the son continued to complain, separately and in tandem, about one another for the remainder of the morning.

Go listen to some music: "Angel of the Morning," which has been recorded by numerous artists, though the one I always think of is Merrilee Rush's version. Now, as to the fettuccine, it came out fine, even without garlic bread, though I'll make a few changes to the recipe when I make it again. Until then, I leave you with Bon Appetit's original, the link to which is above.

27 April 2010

You thought the leaden winter would bring you down forever



Irresponsible (well, not much. I'm too responsible to be irresponsible).

I have plane tickets.

I have hotel reservations.

I have the important tickets.

Most importantly, I have D.

'Tis the season.

Go listen to some good music: "Tales of Brave Ulysses" from the album Disraeli Gears by Cream. And damn if I don't hear the Siren song.

23 April 2010

...And keep your hands on the wheel

Driving lessons have been a bit sporadic with all the other household chaos, but I put the son behind the wheel again with the instruction to drive around the neighborhood. I'd already done a turn around the area to make sure there weren't any young children or old people out.

"Really?" he asked, looking thrilled. And appropriately terrified.

"Yup," I told him. "L, do you have your seatbelt on?"

"Pulled tight," the daughter replied.

The son carefully adjusted the mirrors and seat, turned on the ignition, and put the car into drive.

We sat.

"Uh, Mom," he said, looking under the dashboard in confusion. "My foot is off the brake."

"Parking brake," I told him patiently.

"Oh," he said, coloring a little.

He took the parking break off, and carefully eased his foot off the brake pedal. The car began to roll forward.

I put down my window because it was getting warm in the car, and suddenly we heard the squawk of a child from a nearby yard. The son slammed on the brakes, and said, looking pale, "What was that?"

"Kid in the yard," I told him, pointing at the house to our right.

"Oh," he said a bit sheepishly. "I just didn't know."

"Better to be careful," I acknowledged.

He made a cautious right turn at the corner, and began to roll slowly down the hill.

"You can give it a little gas," I told him.

"My foot is completely off the brake," he said.

"No, I mean you can put your foot on the gas pedal," I replied, gently.

"Samuel L. Jackson has not told me to put my foot on the gas pedal," he countered sternly.

And we proceeded around the neighborhood at the stately pace of 2 mph.

Go listen to some good music: "Drive She Said" from the album The Big Heat by Stan Ridgway.

21 April 2010


It began to rain unexpectedly early yesterday, and while I worked out on the back patio, the water dripped and the wind whipped. I felt unreasonably sad.

I had so much to be happy about yesterday, and yet...such a sense of melancholy. So I closed my eyes, and breathed deep the rainwashed air.

This morning, still gusty, huge puffs sailed across the blue, threatening more rain, and the air was surprisingly cool for April.

"Isn't it great?" the son sighed happily as we set out for school.

I don't remember what it was he said to me last night that made me laugh with the pleasure one can only find in one's offspring. I insulted him affectionately for making me laugh, which pleased him immensely.

As we neared the bus stop, I stopped in my tracks.

"Look," I whispered, slowly raising my arm to point.

"What? What?" the boy asked frantically. "I don't see anything."

"There," I said softly. "Above the white van."

"Oh," he gulped, catching sight.

Standing on the top of a six-foot high block wall was a great blue heron. I see them frequently, flying overhead and in the channels and creeks, but never one sitting on a wall in our landlocked part of the county.

We crept slowly past it, eyes never leaving it, fascinated and amused. About then it caught sight of us, and hunkered down, watching us with suspicion. Almost as if it was mimicking us, it started to creep slowly in the opposite direction, and then it pulled itself to its full height, which is considerable.

"Someone is about to get a surprise with their morning coffee," I murmured to the son.

And sure enough, the heron, having had quite enough of us, spread its wings, and a little ungracefully, jumped off the wall and into the yard below.

It is small things--the rainy air, the silly joke made by a child, a few moments watching a wild bird in the most unexpected place--that put my life back into place, that allow me to embrace the greater happiness that is always there, but I too often neglect to see.

Go listen to some good music: "Lifeboats" from the album A Hundred Million Suns by Snow Patrol.

16 April 2010


Wow, Mom Nature is sure geared up, what with the volcanoes and the earthquakes.

My life is not nearly so interesting at the moment. I'm back to crazy busy-ness, none of which is worth recounting. Of all that's been going on, the daughter's Pentathlon triumph last night is the most notable. She brought home 5 medals out of a possible 8, including a high-ranking Literature honor. Clearly, they didn't ask her about Paradise Lost.

(Sorry, that's going to be a perpetual family joke.)

Anyway, she was very pleased, given all the years she had to sit and watch her brother clanking around with a neck full of hardware.

The son, quite amused, noted the installation of numerous large pots of greenery at the forefront of the stage, something that had never figured in the decorating scheme in previous years.

"That's my fault," he joked. He jumped off the stage in 2008 (four months after major knee reconstruction surgery), having just won a first in social studies.

The greenery didn't stop our friend's son, who attends a different middle school and who witnessed the son's epic leap, from somersaulting onto the stage when he received an individual achievement medal.

Do these kids think they're in Cirque du Soleil or something?

I saw the other boy's mother this morning, and she wailed, "I didn't know he was going to do that!"

"I didn't know mine was going to jump," I told her.

"Oh," she said, faintly. "I remember that."

As parents, we're terribly dignified. Nicely behaved. Quiet, even. I don't leap off my car when I've executed a perfect parallel parking maneuver or saved a fantastic amount at the grocery store through my planning prowess and mad skillz.

Hot lava. P waves and S waves. Mercury retrograde.

Who knows?

Go listen to some good music: "Lava" from the album The B-52s by The B-52s.

Help me if you can

Hey readers:

(Yes, my mother did tell me that hay is for horses.)

I moved the blog to a whole new template last week, and it turns out the template is a little buggy. The problems I've encountered are invisible to you all, but if you run into any issues (not being able to click on links, nothing happens when you click on comments, etc.), would you be so kind as to drop me an email at OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com detailing the problem? Thanks!

13 April 2010

Once more in the line of fire

So, where were we?

Right, I spent the day being shot out of a cannon. So it seemed.

The usual get-everyone-out-of-the-house chaos compounded by work-related crises. And finding out ticket presales were to start this morning--always a good time in a highly visceral, adrenaline-pumping sort of way. Giggling long distance and virtually with D. over the same.

(And little internal whispers of "aren't you getting too old for this?" But then D. starts talking about how I really should have poked someone in the foot, and I realize that where this is concerned, I'm always going to be about 16 and engulfed in delightful terror.  Heart-pounding, butterflies-in-stomach, knees-turn-to-water nerves. My charming 40-ish wrinkles notwithstanding.)

Of course, before all the F5 key warm up, I was once again besieged for my professional expertise, and while playing catch-and-release with subpar tickets, I was making phone calls and trying to sound like a competent adult who knew her job.

Person on phone: "Hierarchies."
Me (thinking, "what?"): "Why, of course."
Person on phone: "And your client..."
Me (thinking, "nonononono."): "Naturally."

Then the doorbell started ringing. I have a policy of not opening the door to anyone I don't know, especially when I'm home alone. The same group of unknowns has been showing up for the last week or so, and I've been steadfastly not opening the door, but today's tiny elderly man of foreign extraction wasn't taking NO! for an answer. He wouldn't stop ringing the doorbell. Given the fact he only came up to about my waist and the woman with him was similarly tiny, I opened the door.

It was about religion, of course. The man was polite and earnest in offering me an invitation to visit the local parish, and I equally politely declined. Unlike the usual suspects, he took me at my word, and didn't try to argue, for which I was grateful. I didn't really have the heart to go into...all that. And "no, thank you," should always be enough.

And on and on it went, until here I am. Still trying to talk myself into finishing the taxes. I have an appallingly cavalier attitude about that. Worrisome.

Tomorrow: more of the same.  Perhaps without the doorbell.

Go listen to some good music: "Cannons" from the album Tinderbox by Siouxsie and the Banshees.

11 April 2010


Yeah, I got bored.

The new blog looks so pretty, and this one looked pretty stark in comparison. So I started fiddling. It's fairly likely I haven't finished fiddling, so don't be alarmed if things change a little every five minutes for the next few days.

Also don't be alarmed when weird stuff suddenly shows up! Half an hour ago, I published my entire recent catalog of background photos. Because I only change blog templates when I'm too tired to think straight (or have been doing the taxes, which, why yes! I have been), I'm good at hitting the wrong button at the wrong time.

While the background picture is a stock photo, I took the masthead photo last week. A plane taking off from Burbank at sunset. Of course, I always take off from Orange County at dawn...

Go listen to some good music: "Windout" from the album Dead Letter Office by REM. I have no more idea what this song is about than I do why I suddenly decided to start messing with the blog. Well, obviously I'm nuts. I have no idea what REM's excuse was.

09 April 2010

Secret journey

And it is suddenly the end of the week. What a funny little week it was, with the romping around on Monday and Tuesday, and the little heart-and-soul crushing thing that happened Wednesday, and the bounce back on Thursday, and the full realization this morning that I'm off on the road (at least a little) this summer.

(And I get to play with my sweetest friend and best partner in crime. I'm already giggling. I don't care that I'm too old to be giggling. And then there's the rest of it. Which makes me weak in the knees. And the getting on airplanes. Which really makes me weak in the knees. And...alrighty, enough about giggling and weak knees.)

Of course, there was also the quivering son telling me he managed to blow up the Xbox this morning, and the subsequent trouble-shooting and packing off to Microsoft I got to do.

(It was the dread 3 Red Rings of Death, and not actually his fault. General hardware failure. So it goes. I'm still in the 3-year warranty for it.)

Stomping down the channel trail this morning, sweet smells of citrus, jasmine and sweet peas perfuming the air, I suddenly realized it's APRIL. How did it get to be APRIL? Spring is everywhere.

Time and motion. Sometimes, time moves too quickly.

Giddy now, but there is time until June and that time is largely filled, filled with stuff, most of which is not fun. Like taxes. Something I really should start, yeah?

The responsibilities loom so large, and if I think too much about them, I feel myself breaking under the weight of what everyone expects. My frustration is that since I make it all look effortless, no one else knows the cost. They only see what I seem to pluck out of the air and hand to them: proposals and solutions and delicious dinner and college strategies and help with a portfolio, a computer simulation, a book chapter, a set of photos, elderly parents. Then they expect more.

So I hug my secret journey to myself and hope. I giggle. I allow my knees to be weak and I get on planes. I hate flying! But for this, I will. Planes will take me heaven knows where. In a day, I'm jogging along the Mississippi on the border of Illinois and Iowa, standing on a beach in Puerto Rico laughing into the wind, sitting on a horse Somewhere Very Far Away. Anything can happen. Anything does. It is my salvation. It keeps me breathing in the times in between, the hard times, the lean times, the times when the demands are unrelenting. It takes me out of myself and reminds me why I do everything else.

I try to save the world one day at a time, save one person at a time. And then I look outward and the world saves me.

Go listen to some good music: "Secret Journey" from the album Ghost in the Machine by The Police. I hadn't listened to this album in years, but thought of this song a week or so ago, and it sent a chill right through me.

08 April 2010

Time and motion

Time. I make time. Some times. This time.

Motion. I've been told that I am a perpetual motion machine. Whether it's under my own power, or if I've learned to fly, I get where I'm going. Sleep isn't always a word in my vocabulary.

I could say more. But all you want is a word.


Go listen to some good music: "Time and Motion" from the album Test for Echo by Rush.

07 April 2010

And the silver drops of rain hung from the trees

It's spring break, and there probably isn't much I could do to top last year's trip to Washington, D.C., my hometown, wherein we stayed at the Willard, and celebrated Easter with my fun cousins, and generally had a good time.

The daughter announced at some point prior to this break that I was the Worst Parent Ever because I'd never taken her to Universal Studios. Also, I don't take her to Disneyland nearly often enough. Nor have I taken her to Knott's Berry Farm (though her school has, frequently). I, in fact, don't take her anywhere. Ever.

(Obviously, we can discount that I have taken her to the whole of northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland and most of the United States. I also take her to the grocery store.)

Now, I've lived in So Cal for more than 25 years, and I'd never been to Universal Studios. Of course, I've been to more concerts than I can count at the amphitheater, and I've been to backstage parties at the amphitheater, but I've never been to the theme park. Actually, it's really never occurred to me to go there. Most of the rides are based on movies and TV shows, the majority of which I've not even seen (I'm the only person I know who slept through Jaws), and I worked on a studio backlot, so it's not like I don't know what a working studio looks like.

But I gave the daughter's Worst Parent Ever nomination some consideration, along with her movie-making aspirations, and Monday, I packed up the kids and took them to Universal Studios.

It was raining, of course. Most of the drive up there, it was pouring. This was actually a good thing because it increased the likelihood that we were the only ones stupid enough to be going to a theme park. In the rain. During spring break.

It was still raining when we got there, but it was just spitting by the time we got in the gate and got our "credentials." Then we sort of stood there, in the drizzle, because no one was quite sure what to do next. I knew that Universal had a few rides, but none of us knew where to start. The rain picked up a bit and I turned and pointed at something called the House of Horrors and said, "Let's go."

Well, it turned out to be an old fashioned dark walk-through, not so dissimilar from the haunted houses we used to go to on the boardwalk at Ocean City. The Wolfman jumped out of a dark shadow, the Mummy snorked at the daughter, who screamed, and Frankenstein banged on the walls in the lab. Very low tech, but funny nonetheless. Terrifying, according the daughter.

By the time we got out of the Terminator ride (boring, dated and way too loud), the sky had cleared, giving way to one of those crystal blue, perfect So Cal spring days. A chilly breeze was blowing, but the sun was warm and it was really clear, especially up high in the hills, with a view of the Valley below. The daughter was quite pleased to be at Universal, so much so that when we were on the Studio Tour, she waved with cheery abandon at Norman Bates, who appeared to menace the tram when it stopped at the Bates Motel.

By about 3 pm, everyone decided they'd had enough, and by 4 pm, we were checked into our rooms at the Hilton across the street. Admiring the view from the 21st floor, the daughter sighed with tremendous satisfaction.

So maybe I'm not quite the Worst Parent Ever.

(to be continued, maybe. Because there was more. Of course. And photos over on When All This Actual Life Played Out.)

Go listen to some good music: "Still in Hollywood" from the album Concrete Blonde by Concrete Blonde. Although I'd never been to the Universal theme park, our little jaunt was like time travel. Venturing back to Hollywood always is, a remembrance of times past, but not completely lost. Of course, other things are starting to happen, too. I still don't know what my summer looks like, but things are happening, some of them in a steam punky-looking sort of fashion.

05 April 2010

I (didn't) feel the earth move

And evidently I'm the only one in Southern California who didn't.

I was trying to get Easter dinner on the table, when suddenly the spouse started yelling, "Well, that's an earthquake!"

And I said, rushing about, "I don't feel anything."

"Look! Look!" he pointed at the slightly swaying door on the entertainment center.

"Okay, so a little earthquake," I said rushing back the other direction.

"No, a big earthquake! It rolled for a long time," he said with excitement (geologist, remember?).

"I felt it," said the daughter.

"We have earthquakes EVERY DAY," I replied with a certain amount of exasperation as I was heaving an 8-lb. ham out of the oven.

The son came galloping out of his room.

"That was fun!" he crowed.

So yeah, M7.2 down near Mexicali. Houses sinking into the ground at a nearby volcano. Some damage, though not locally, and blessedly few casualties.

(You have to realize, too, that geologists live for this sort of thing, and spend the remainder of the day sending one another emails and video they've scrounged of the whole event. All the while I was hollering, "Come eat your dinner!").

Time for the obligatory reminder to have your emergency supplies and a plan to shelter in place or evacuate at the ready. This is Earthquake Preparedness Month in California, so if you live here, you really don't have an excuse. (That link includes useful preparedness guidelines from the American Red Cross.) Honestly, you don't want to be like those people in the big ice storm in Kentucky a couple of years ago who were so ill-prepared for an emergency that their Amish neighbors had to step in and loan them lanterns and what not.

Off to deal with my rainy day and Monday.

Go listen to some music: "I Feel the Earth Move" from the album Tapestry by Carole King.

04 April 2010

Easter parade

I'm not big on rerunning posts, but I have to admit that I like this one. When I think of Easter celebrations, this is what always comes to mind.

My mother is a very devout Catholic, and saw it as her mission to raise a passel of the same. With me, she clearly failed. I left the Church at 15 after an argument on Good Friday with the priest who was hearing my confession. It was actually a small thing--Fr. J. didn't doubt my contrition, he just didn't like the formula I was using to discuss my sins and told me so--but it was the last straw for a bright kid who was questioning everything at that point and was tired of being treated like a second-class citizen because of her gender. I didn't exactly tell him to go to hell--I was only 15 after all--but telling him I didn't need him as the middle man in my confession, that I could just talk it over with God without him, was probably worse.

My mother was suitably outraged by this, of course, as she was suitably outraged by my refusal to be married in the Church and by my failure to have the kids baptized. She combats my lapsed state as best she can, sending rosaries blessed by the Pope and holy cards and children's Bibles and medals, but she's fighting her way up Everest there. I am comforted in the knowledge that every night when she prays for the conversion of China, she is also praying for the conversion of me, and that China and I are thwarting her with equal vigor.

For all her devotion, however, she was naughty on one count, and that was allowing us to go to Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday so we didn't have to go on Easter Sunday morning. The really religious ones will tell you that the vigil simply doesn't count. We knew better, though, because Easter morning was time for the real sunrise service: a trip to the mountains, the church of the great outdoors.

Our parents would drag us out of bed while it was still dark, and pack us in the car with our Easter baskets, coolers full of food, toys and blankets. The candy orgy would start in the FuryIII station wagon as soon as we could pull our eyelids open, and usually we were all on the verge of illness by the time we got to Gates Pass. Generally, we'd hit the Ironwood picnic area just as the sun was rising; in those days, it opened at 6 am, and by 6:15, my mother had a fire going in the brick grill, and bacon sizzling in a pan. Sometimes friends would join us, and there would be kids running and yelling, fueled by sugar and high spirits, everywhere. We'd break off into groups to hike the mountains, hoping to find a cave or a Gila Monster, and to avoid getting stuck by cholla. My brother was a champion at falling into cactus.

Those mornings were invariably clear and blue, saguaro blooming white against the cerulean of the sky if it was late enough in the spring. It was cold in the purple shadows cast by the mountains, warm in full sun, giving way to downright hot as the day progressed. It was even hot the April Sunday in which we'd seen snow on both Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The air smelled clean, full of the scent of warm rock and sage and wildflowers.

Periodically, we'd return to the picnic tables in the ramada to get more chocolate eggs or to see if the potato salad had made an appearance yet. Around mid-day, the grownups would start grilling hamburgers and hot dogs, but the kids, stuffed full of junk would take a bite or two of lunch and head back to the hills, to sit in the shade of a large rock or look at the wildflowers. Around 4, we'd be stuffed back into the car, full to explosion, exhausted from too much sun and too much running. We'd roll out of the car when we got home, and were shepherded off to be bathed, where cactus needles would be removed, and scrapes and cuts would be bandaged. Someone would turn on the The Ten Commandments. I still associate the voices of Edward G. Robinson and Charlton Heston with chocolate-hazed nausea.

Those idylls didn't last, of course; the best moments from childhood don't. But I wanted my own children to experience something of what the desert is like on an Easter morning: the clarity, the smell, the contrast. So we arranged a couple of years ago to go to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum for Easter Brunch. It was uncrowded and we had breakfast, which was nice, but we had the museum largely to ourselves for the morning.

"Remember the woodpeckers in the cactus?" the daughter asked this morning over a breakfast of chocolate, hard boiled eggs, muffins and more chocolate.

"Remember the baby coyotes?" the son asked.

"Remember the javelina?"

"The hummingbirds?"

"The mouse in the aviary?"

"Can we do it again?"

"Remember the flowers?"

I remember.

Go listen to some good music: "Easter Parade" performed by Fred Astaire and Judy Garland from the album That's Entertainment.

02 April 2010

There's a hole in my life


Already I've heard a bit about the fact that I haven't mentioned the word since the end of last season.

Oh, yeah, I kept an eye on the winter meetings. I knew I wouldn't be happy.

I'm not. Chone is in Seattle. Lackey is in Boston. We lost Darren Oliver and Vlad Guerrero to the Rangers.

We got Hideki Matsui.

Last season was heart wrenching with the loss of Preston Gomez at the start of spring training and the loss of Nick Adenhart at the beginning of the season. The final blow came in January when Angels broadcaster Rory Markas died unexpectedly. Usually, we have the game on the television, but we'd generally listen to Rory and Terry Smith call the play-by-play on the radio, until the happy day when they started putting in appearances on Fox. This season, Rory and Mark Gubicza would have been full-time on TV for the Angels.

(Angels just beat the Dodgers in the preseason Freeway Series. Just another Halo victory, as Rory would have said, no matter how much a squeaker that victory was. With the Angels, it is not infrequently a squeaker.)

So, baseball. I'll get over the changes; I usually do (yeah, I still keep an eye on Bengie Molina, who's been in National League for at least three seasons now, catching for the Giants. I miss him, too). We've still got Mr. Hunter. Napoli, affectionately known as Bluto, and Jeff Mathis. Weaver and Joe Saunders. Kendry Morales, Howie Kendrick, Brandon Wood, Maicer Izturis and Juan Rivera.

But who is going to steal bases for me with that infectious grin? Who is going to play bean ball with a vengeance when a rival pitcher starts popping his teammates? Who will be our hardworking long reliever?



Go listen to some good music: "There's a Hole in My Life" from the album Outlandos d'Amour by The Police. I'm not necessarily averse to change. For example, I really don't want to hear a band do the same album twice. I don't want an author to keep rehashing the same plot. Creative growth is the best thing ever. But my baseball team...when it's players that I really like and enjoy watching, and I think benefit both the game and the team, I don't want them to go. [Insert Clint Eastwood growl]