Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Animal turf war

This is what it has been like outside for days and days and weeks.
I planted some seeds in these pots a while ago, but I suspect that they have all frozen.

I can see a little hint of chives sprouting up, and the lavender, thyme and rosemary will all be just fine. The sage will spring back too, but I dunno about those pansies, they may be goners.

I know that they are considered "annuals" but I swear I let them go to seed each fall and they come right back up, like champs each spring.

This year, not so much.

I always grow a few pots of tomatoes, but otherwise I make no pretense of gardening.

I do like to have my herbs and a few edible flowers for garnish... but that is it. I mow the lawn, and leave all the rest to nature.
I have a little pitiful quince tree in front, that produces exactly three quinces each November, just in time for Thanksgiving, and we have a big overgrown Elder, that we use to make teas and syrup, against colds, but no real gardening happens around here, anymore.

I found this little configuration today, on a high curio shelf.

I noticed that Freyja had taken my stacking dolls apart.

She likes the tiny ones.

I let her have my cheap-o sets, but these two I keep on a high shelf. I might even give her the ladybug set, it is lovely but not my style. It was a gift from someone that doesn't know me very well.

It has a really teeny, tiny baby inside, that I fear she will swallow it, so I haven't given it to her yet, not that it prevents her from pushing up a chair and ransacking it when I am out.

The homely one, is from Poland, and i love it and I want to keep her for myself. Isn't that silly?

I bought her about 20 years ago, when I worked in a European toy store, and I just like her.

I don't feel like sharing.

The ceramic dog head arranged there by Miss F, is my, rendition, of my dear old poodle Ted Braun- his ashes are sitting just to the right, in an urn, and that clay head was on top of the urn, like a marker. It might seem odd to have a urn of your poodle's ashes on a kitchen shelf, but just remember that Giovanna the cat's ashes are there too, so that things are sort of evened out. Makes sense to me, and to Rolf and no one else really notices most of the time.

Thank goodness she didn't open it up.

I will have to remind Mark to keep closer watch when I am out of the house.

Then there is the little battle over the dog bed that is raging in the opposite corner of the kitchen nook.
The dog has slept in that corner for 8 years. The cat has just recently decided that is bed belongs to her.

No matter that the cat can go into the living room and lounge on the sofa, where the dog is not allowed, or that the cat is much too LARGE for the dog's bed.

She wants it, and will take it by force if necessary.

So it goes.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

My how things have changed

Twelve years ago today, I was HERE, to celebrate the 75th birthday of the mother of a friend.
The next day I would hop on a "fast train", leaving this beautiful little village, very near to the home of some of my ancestors and travel eleven hours, through the night to Rome.

I would then wander around Rome for several days and fly home.

I would arrive home, remember that I had placed a personal ad, as a lark, before I left Portland, and I would phone the ad to find a number of nice and nervous sounding men recorded on voice mail.

I would then ignore these nice men on voice mail for two days, and go out on a date the sweet but clinically depressed, and grossly unreliable fellow with a math degree from Reed, that I met at a Christmas party and have long tortured phone conversations with my cranky and depressed ex.

After the date, and the conversations, and some rest to get over jet lag, I eventually phoned the most nice and most nervous man of all and invite him to meet me at a cafe- After establishing that this was indeed a weird and unusual thing for both of us.

I was early, he was late, having jogged over and got his jacket caught on something and ripped it.

He arrived out of breath and tattered and even more nervous, than he was on the phone.

I was happy that he was exceedingly normal and had no interest in either jazz or mathematics.

We talked for a long time. The cafe staff made disapproving faces, over our table hoggingness.

After a while, when it became clear that we needed to leave, but didn't want to end the conversation, in an attempt to make myself seem interesting and earthy, I suggested we go to the bird sanctuary on Sauvie Island and in an effort to make himself seem chipper and earthy, he agreed.

Much later we would discover our mutual hatred of nature, and spend all of our time in the city.

After the bird fiasco, we drove back to town to watch Annie Hall at his apartment

(I made sure it was safe, by asking "you aren't an ax murderer are you?)

eat a baguette, drink wine and yak until midnight, at which point he said "this is going to sound creepy, but I just LOVE YOU!"

and I said "you are right, that does sound creepy!" and luckily he laughed.

I went home and phoned the mathematician, and the ex, to say good bye, the next day.

We then decided to have a baby, get married have another baby, and stay together for eleven years.


This week is spring break for Maxwell, but I had to work M, T, W so it turned out pretty blahh, I'm afraid.

He is going on a big trip to DC with my mom over
Easter week (her spring break) so I don't feel too terrible about it.

We made some sushi rolls today
(his favorite food!)
and he had a friend over, so the whole day wasn't that bad.

These are super easy to make, with veggie crab, baby corn, carrot and bamboo shoots.

He also likes to eat the seaweed just as is.

I also was goofing around with making a vegan jello type desert out of Agar Agar, and fruit juice.

It came out fairly well, however next time I need to use a more concentrate juice- it was a bit watery.

The consistency was excellent, so I can see a lot of potential for fruit tarts, with a glistening Agar Agar glaze.

Monday, March 23, 2009

last gasp disjointed mess of a post

so I finally found a gilt frame and mat for my print!!

and it is now gracing the entry way.

I am in LOVE with that orange wall.

LOVE it!

I would have gone crazy and painted every room that color, had we not just painted the living room last summer.

I love the print- it is from a painting from a local gal, Mark got it for me for Christmas. LOVELY!

The painting below it, was painted in the mid 70's by a family friend.

He was wheelchair bound, from polio, and had a lot of time on his hands to paint, study math and the classics and garden.

When his parents died, his sister took on his care and she left nearly everything of the parents and Jim behind.

She felt like it was all a bunch of old junk- junk like first edition books, artwork, and silver silverware.

She had her parents cremated and strewn around the garden, which might me nice, but my grandmother felt that it was grossly disrespectful, and phoned me to say

"S--- is out throwing Kathleen in the yard".

Don't worry grandma, I will never let anyone throw you in the yard, I promise.

Needless to say we put grandma in a crypt of her choice, up off the ground.

I am honored to have this bit of "trash", it is a beautiful painting and I knew the kitty subject for most of my childhood.

Even the frame is cool!
This curtain on the front door, is half of an old tablecloth that my grandmother embroidered.

She did really beautiful handwork on all of her tea towels (she called them dishrags) towels, and linens.

I have a few pieces, but most were used for daily use and pretty trashed.

This one had a giant coffee stain on half, but it makes a nice little curtain.
Mark and Freyja hanging out & below, Mark's family, post dinner.

a bunt cake for Mark's BIL, who also was having a birthday, and no hallie- no beets were involved.

I promise to stop talking about this silly dinner party, I swear, after I post a couple more photos.

Everything went well, and I think MIL was please, or at least I hope she was. I was tired, but I was pretty laid back, for me, so the evening was a success. My husband was very happy, so it was worth it. My house is still super clean, which is a bonus to hosting something like this.
more food prep

Friday, March 20, 2009

Two tears in a bucket... and so on

so I took a short break in my polishing and cooking and rearranging to go out to din din with dear housemate, then back to the grindstone.

I am officially done, save heating stuff up, and making rice.

I need to prepare the kitchen table for cakes, but I can do that in the morning.

here's what I wound up with.

I busted out some Mikasa stoneware from the 70's, that I love- I remember my grandma Betty having something similar with really tacky gold bubble glassware, that I would freaking KILL to have today- I am sure they landed in a landfill sometime in the mid 80's.

I don't know that it all really works with the white, but I like it and I am bloody well going to use it-

so there. as a wise woman once said two tears in a bucket mutha f&%ck it.

I personally usually like tall dramatic flowers, or unusual fruits arrangements, but my husband hates talking over my arht.

so there you go. low down flowers.


Miss Freyjabootifulprincesslemondropbowtiebubblegum and I spent the morning preparing for the dinner party tomorrow night.

We looked to Martha for inspiration, then said screw it and did our own thing.

the finished product all ready to be popped into the oven!

We Vacuumed A LOT.
We shopped for flowers,
brought them home and stuffed them into baskets.
They look pretty darn good too!

We shopped for food.

We went to the Lebanese market and the supermarket.

We moved the furniture around several times,

to find the best way to fit 12 people into our dining room, which is currently serving double duty as a sort of lounge, with a giant green sofa in it.

It all works fine as long as we restrict the number of diners in the room to 6, but when we need to spread out that couch is a real problem.

I think I have a way of making it work.

I think.

For right now anyway, I am at ease. I may work myself into a frenzy before the evening is out.

I also prepped most of the food, so that the only last minute thing I have to take care of is RICE.

Rice, sadly is not a do ahead item, so there you are.

I will just have to wait.

I hate waiting.

Bootiful Princess seen here wearing the too large bootiful princess dress, she talked Onkie into purchasing for her, that she tops every outfit with. I have given up the power struggle- allowing her to wear it 24/7 for the past week.

Today was the last ballet class for the "Swan Lake" class.

Prior to leaving for the class, Freyja threw a big fit.

When we got to the class, I had a headache.
I was not chipper or lovely.

She left her slippers in the car.

I had to run (and I do not run, unless someone is chasing me), back to the car, and then back to the class.

I was cranky and resentful.

I read my book a little.

I forgot the camera.

We will start ballet again next week, with a different theme.

I refuse to feel too badly about my lack of enthusiasm. or photos, although I think the other mothers thought I was a big meany.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

you know that Simon and Garfunkel song?


I know! I know!

More nostalgia.


I cannot help myself.

I picked up the phone and called an old friend.

I called his parents, actually, and VIOLA!

He called me back.

I feel so much less like the unibomber now.


I have to do a big birthday shindig for my mother in law's birthday on Saturday.

I am going with a "Mediterranean" theme, I am thinking "Lebanon meets Greece, by way of South Carolina.

She requested MEAT.

and since I am pretty cheap, yet picky, I found some beautiful center cut pork chops, that I am making into the kebabs.

Blasphemous, I know.

I will also make a full array of fine veggie dishes, including humus, baba ganoush, steamed mix veggies, and a cabbage salad, olives, feta cheese, you get the picture.

I am moving my buffet to the other side of the dinning room, bringing up the "auxiliary table" from the basement, placing it end to end with the dining table, to create one long table, kids included. I am topping it with white cotton cloth, that goes all the way to the floor, to both hide the two table solutions, and create drama and elegance. I have a big pottery bowl filled with pansy plants for a center piece, and I will have two tall burnt Orange tapers on either side, then flank them with two smaller pottery bowls of pansies, and more tapers down the long table. I will have a little votive at each place setting and a grosgrain ribbon as a napkin ring/name marker. Orange linen napkins, with yellow ribbon, cobalt plates, and Mexican cobalt wine glasses, simple tumblers for water & kid drinks.

Whew, I think I have a PLAN!!!

Mark's sis is bringing desert.

Monday, March 16, 2009

the weather underground

Now, as a rule I am opposed to talking (er, writing) about the weather.

Pretty bottom of the barrel stuff, even for me.

but the weather over the past few months, has got me totally freaked out.

End of the world kinda nervous.

Global warming, except COLD.


The snow at Christmas was bad- but it was DECEMBER after all, so I was sort of ok with it.

Today we had this freakish sideways hail.

Sideways, RAIN is nothing new in Portland, happens all the time-
but this was cold HAIL, pouring down in biblical proportions.

Something I had not experienced before, at least not with this kind of intensity.

I remember is snowing in March of 1988, but that was some kind of wacky, one off, and it passed quickly. It did not carry the same punch, that the weather seems to be packin' these days.

This has just been months of cold, cold weather, that leaves me feeling like the end is near.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

a family cook along!

We like to have big family dinners on Sunday.

and by dinners I mean 4:00pm

Today we whipped up some Austria-Hungarian goodness, in the form of wide noodles (pare boiled) sauteed in butter, until crisp & golden, then farm fresh eggs are scrambled in.

Served with sour cream and a salad with vinaigrette, green beans and sauteed mushrooms.

Rolf and Freya are working on a raspberry & blueberry sauce to top off Swedish cream, then coffee.

After much hand wringing from me, Freya took off her dress, and continued the process in underclothing, much less likely to suffer from berry stains. see that little yellow custard cup? That belonged to my great grandmother. Both my father and I enjoyed eating soft boiled eggs out of it as children. My grandmother gave it to me, sometime when I was a teenager and I love it. It is both beautiful and functional. Thanks grandma Koko, you had excellent taste! Cheers.

It's proof of god's love

I say that to my children frequently, about all kinds of sweet things- ice cream, kittens, flowers, you name it.

It is a lovely line.

I picked it up from a very dear old friend.

This month marks ten years that he has been dead.

I know it feels like my entire life if punctuated with depressing anniversaries, and links to the past, and I suppose to some extent it is.

I am a creature of habit, and just because you die, doesn't necessarily mean I will stop loving you.

It still makes me really sad, that he never got to meet my children, or see me as a mom.

So much of who I am comes from my relationship, and long friendship with him.

His daughter phoned me to tell me he had died, the night I came home from the hospital, from giving birth to my son.

I completely lost my mind on the phone.

I was a terrible friend to this girl, that had just lost her primary parent.

I wish I could go back in time and have a more composed, supportive reaction.

All I could say was

"no, no, no. That can't BE RIGHT. Oh, Jonny how can you be dead? I am so sorry.
I just had a baby and I don't feel very well, I am so sorry".

She sent me a nice little card with a photo, and told me she would contact me for the big memorial sometime in summer, but she never did.

I imagine she had a lot on her mind, and dealing with her father's hysterical ex-girlfriend was not a priority.

I met Jonathan, when I was 18.

He was my boss, and I adored him.
I loved my job.
I thought he was the most sincere, smart and socially conscious person I had ever met.
I wanted that kind of social consciousness.
I wanted to be a social worker, that people adored and responded to, just like him.
I quit my job to be with him.
I left a perfectly nice boyfriend my age to be with him.
I ignored my studies, got bad grades, went sailing, keeleded over in freezing water up to my knees, just to be with him.
I ate beans and rice and drank Irish whiskey to be with him.
I lived in his hideous, dirty house in a bad neighborhood, just to be with him.

He was funny, delightful, outrageous and he had an amazing record collection.
We had an amazing relationship and friendship.

After we split up, we remained friends.
I eased into being a real adult, and He got old, sickly, and fragile.

He loved going out with me, he loved bring me to family functions, just to mess with his middle class sister.

I loved his sailboat, his voice, that he lived in a tough neighborhood and kept an axe handle under the seat of the car. I love that he had attended the March on Washington, refused to own a clothes dryer, had a dog named Moshe, and raised his kids on his own.

I saw him in person for the last time, in 1997. I don't recall why. I think we went to a movie, with his son.

He moved to an island to be more serious about sailing.

I continued to write him silly letters, addressed to "Dear Jonafin".

Then I got busy with my life, my new boyfriend, and having a baby.

and then he was dead.

Thanks Jonathan. Knowing you was proof of god's love.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


The crown is finally on at long last, and I am hoping that once the numbness wears off, all will be well and I can stop boring everyone I know with my dental laments.

The sun is shining brightly for the first time in years (ok weeks) and while it is still colder than a ???????? I dunno, something really cold, I will take it.

I slept more last night than I have in days and I feel semi-human again.

It is my day off,

my one day of freedom (imagine Ritchie Haven's singing FREEDOM at Woodstock, and you get the picture of how liberating Thursday is for me) , per week, where from 9:00-3:00pm I get to do mostly what I want, and guess what is on the agenda today?


I need to drive across town for special vacuum bags.

Does life get any better than that?

Not today it doesn't

I have still not managed to find a decent read, and it now being Thursday, which leads to Friday, Saturday and Sunday, when the fam is all home together, this week seems pretty shot.

I guess I will go back and give Tree of smoke, a second try, for the 5th time.

The last couple of weeks have been all about nostalgia, sniffling, looking at the past and feeling old.
Get a load of how scary and old I look in that photo from yesterday. It makes me rethink my anti-make-up stance.

How unliberated and petty am I, for real?


I haven't made it to the pool in weeks and my writing here has suffered (doesn't that sound dramatic? as if it mattered)

My inner homing device tells me to pull my head out of my ass, get it together and get the f%%ck over myself already.

the little inner voice that keeps me on the straight and narrow- sounds exactly like David Sedaris's brother "The Rooster"!

god, why couldn't I have gotten a more sensitive inner voice?

Maybe that lady who does the voice of Lambchop for instance?

or that actress that played Georgette on Mary Tyler Moore?


cooking you say?
not so much this week.

I did whip up an amazing Madras curry, using some peppers & mushrooms that were donated to the school, but it was only amazing because a friend had brought me good spices from India.

Other than that is has been a bean and rice week. I owe my husband something good soon, and Maxwell wants a chocolate cake. Here he is fresh home from school demanding the as of yet unbaked cake.

There you go- no rest for the wicked!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Is it the full moon, or what?

for the past two nights I have woken up every hour or so.
Not good. Makes me look like this. and drink coffee in the late afternoon.
Whatever it is I hope it goes away fast.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

a day late and a dollar short?

I just finished reading one of those "best blah, blah of 200--" books, this one a music anthology from 2005, and it was one of the better things that I have read recently, been in a bit of a dry spell,

(honey you need to get me better books at the library- OK?)

I was really knocked out by the editors comments.


nice work!

Boy do I feel foolish!

It turns out this fellow JT LeRoy, is a gal, and the whole persona was a hoax.

Silly me.

the whole thing was revealed to the rest of the world in 2006.

There you go, I am sadly behind the times in all ways.

I still think s/he is a good writer and by golly I may just go out and buy something of her/his to read.

why is it, that it sometimes works?

What makes some days go smoothly, and others totally freaking suck?

I don't know.

If I could figure that out I would be so much happier.

Today was just a fine day.

Even the Bootiful Princess cooperated- and it is TUESDAY!
knock me over with a feather!

My admin meeting went well.

There were minimal interruptions while I talked on the phone.

One of the teachers brought me coffee with just the perfect amount of cream.

It was like a nearly perfect morning.

I got to come home, and tidy up ALONE for a while. Listen to loud music with inappropriate lyrics, and engage in some undignified dancing in the living room with only the cat as witness.

What I really want to know, is why do some days have to be so hard?

What is it, that creates the tipping point, where you finally keel over into crapitude?

Sorry that the blog has been so lack luster lately friends, I am working on a bunch of stuff that seems to eat away every creative braincell in my head, leaving me sitting here, staring at the screen like a drooling idiot, with little pithy and witty to say.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

when your child turns ten

If you are a big sentimental fool like me, you get- sentimental. You stuff mushrooms, and bake a cake, you make fancy pastry and clam chowder, you create totally starch based dinner just for him, you clean and tidy and prepare for guests. You buy balloons, even though he says he is too big for balloons.

You simply cannot believe that so much time has passed and that you have been allowed the care and feeding of another human being for so long.

I am not lamenting the passage of time, mind you.

I like time to pass.

I am happy to be done with babyhood, but I really like my child the way he is now.
He is old enough to be responsible for some self care, but not old enough to be jaded, most of the time.
He is an incredibly sweet little guy and I adore him, naturally.

He is also a really cool kid- everybody says so, not just me.

I don't know how he turned out so well, to tell you the truth.

We pretty much suck as parents.

We are sniveling, self indulgent, and bleak as hell a lot of the time.

We crave solitude, and quiet. We spend way too much time with our noses pressed into books, and not nearly enough time in the sunshine, but we have this really terrific son, so it goes.

This fact alone proves that life is not fair, and sometimes that is a really good thing.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

"what with the economy being what it is... "

I may rip out my hair if I hear that sentence one more time.

Today I went to Target to purchase a Batman Lego for my son.

It is the only thing he requested for his birthday and seemed simple enough, considering the movie was just up for an oscar, and well it involves BATMAN!! Iconic figure in popculture.


Well, NO, sorry, no Batman Lego in stock.

Well, is it just sold out?




no they cannot.

No one in the toy department knows if they carry it, and no they cannot phone another store for me.

So off I go to "Customer Service", which in Target language, means Freaky, hideous, cranky woman who could not give a shit if my hair was on fire.

She is totally unwilling to call for me, but being the person I am I force her.

She grimaces, she pulls faces.

Finally we find out that


no one in the Portland metro area, has the goddamn Batman Lego.

So I say

"that seems really weird to me."

insert that cricket noise effect from TV

So I continue on...

"And the really crappy customer service from the clerks seems shocking too, considering how dead it is in here! "

To which she answers "what with the economy being what it is, we are really short handed"


Are you insane, this joint is crawling with red and khaki clad slackers chatting each other up. The problem is none of them know anything about their merchandise.

"no, it is the economy."

OK, so would that not motivate the people working to provide BETTER service, not worse service, so people like me that seldom shop, will come back again?