Monday, June 29, 2009

preconceived notions

Internet friendships and acquaintances are such a strange thing.
I love them, really, I do, A LOT, but the whole concept is so alien to anyone who has not had the pleasure of meeting a really cool person, that might happen to be halfway around the world from you, on the other side of your screen.

One of my online friends commented that she would have imagined me with red painted fingernails, which is so far from me, that is struck me, how much we create our online identities, and how very real we can be, at the same time slightly better and more polished than in real life.
I like to play scrabble online, and I sometimes play with strangers (yes, I am a total loser, I get that.) and sometimes I chat along mindlessly because that is my nature. I am a chatty Cathy.

I recently I have gotten the distinct impression that it makes me sound like a total nutter.

Will I stop?

No, most like not, but there you go.

Modern life is wacky.

And here are my very plain austere toes.

The photo of my very plain and austere fingers was blurry.

the disaster of an evening

It was Rolf's birthday over the weekend.

Usually I use his birthday as an excuse to throw a big party.

this year I was both broke and SICK, so I threw a very small, half assed party, inviting only three of his scientist friends and called it good.

Good enough.

Mark bought me this wine.

"mad housewife"


I made a lemon, poppy seed cake with fresh raspberries.

We had some cheese and bread, and our friend MM brought over homemade smoked salmon.

Freyja was behaving like a holy terror.



This is Mark trying to restrain himself from punting her off the deck.

Just before this photo was made, she had bitten a chunk (yes you are reading that right) a CHUNK of glass, right out of a William Sonoma juice tumbler.
A sweet little innocent glass that was gifted to me by my friend Lily.
Now there are seven.

Right after this photo was made, she stuck both hands into a big bowl of whipped cream and rubbed them together like she was putting on hand lotion.

I am very snuffly and woozily and tired and swollen, red nosed and cranky.

Rolf suggested going to bed early and locking the door so the guests couldn't get in.

It was that kind of evening.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Class Struggle

Freyja and I went to our local food co-op yesterday, for their farmer's market.

It was one of those spur of the moment things and I was not prepared with cash, so we headed into the store to buy something small, and get cash back.

The place with packed with like minded cashless folks, many who were mamas with babies and toddlers.

The small space was teeming, and disorganized.

Bootiful Princess had laid claim to a tiny shopping cart on the way in, and was throwing lots of expensive organic bling into it with two hands, faster than I could unpack the stuff.

We wound up settling on raspberries, kombucha, and lemon aide, which I knew was going to cost me a pretty penny.

There were four lanes open for check out, and all four lines were twisted, dynamic affairs. We chose one and waited, and waited and waited.

Finally, after much fussing, the checker and the official, harried guy closed down the register.

Normally this would have caused a lot of grumbling, but because we were in hippie central, everyone remained calm and chatty, moving to the back of the next meandering, long line.

Freyja was content to mess up the magazine display and load and unload her cart, so I was willing to wait.

The party ahead of me, made up of four 10ish girls and what I assume was a nanny or big sister, in her early 20's or late teens, was also cheerfully eating berries, giggling and running around the tight space, UNTIL, the matron of the group came in to put a kibosh on all the tom foolery! This gal looked like something out of central casting; "middle aged, preppy, housewife".

She was wearing an Izod tennis dress (who in Portland, even on the west side wears those? Is this 1982?) with spotless white sneakers, and a diamond "tennis" bracelet, heavily frosted hair and a big old Le Sport Sac.

Clearly not from around these parts!
Now I don't like to judge (Oh, who am I kidding, I totally do), but I could just TELL, that this gal was trouble.

She stormed up to nanny and demands to know why they are in the other line.

"They made you go to the back of the other line?"

ummm, where else would we go?

Should we cut in front of the other ten families waiting innocently in the other line?

When we checked out, Freyja was dawdling as usual, and I observed that this gal, and this gal only was sporting a $5 off card, for her purchase, of two pint baskets of blueberries.

Ahh, the rich get richer!

It crossed my mind for an instant to ask for one myself, after all I had waited in line for 20 minutes, but then I thought better of it and decided that co-op is not the place to be cheap and cranky, I can do that at home!

Friday, June 19, 2009

a magnetic personality

Our dear Ripley St. Jude is just not that bright, add to that his propensity for accidents, ill health and bad luck and you get one very pitiful poodle! (you can see his shaved leg, where he had an IV recently, when he had to have FIVE more teeth pulled!)

Rolf had just returned from mushroom hunting, and we were all busy processing the beautiful morels when we heard a sad doggie wail coming from the kitchen.

When we check it out, we found Ripley attached to the refrigerator by a really powerful magnet, that I am using to hold the fabric down (only had enough Velcro on hand for the top, must go to fabric store).

Having a scientist around comes in handy when you need things like super strong magnets!

The dog's tag is what attracted him to the magnet.
We freed him and continued on with our work, in the rain!
the mushrooms are now soaking in brine for 24 hours and we will eat them with goat cheese on Saturday!


Maxwell is going to a nature camp in Bend for a week.
He is staying with Mark's brother and sister in law.
In addition to the nature camp, he is going to a horse ranch for some horse play (ha ha) neither one of us are thrilled about this whole adventure, but Mark seems to think it is a good idea, so there you go.
I have nothing against nature, in principal, but I find the idea of my city kid slogging around in the woods for a week, a long way from home, scary.
I also am not delighted by the idea of horses. Most people like horses, but I am not one of them. I see them as giant scary beasts just waiting for a chance to squash my baby.
Maxwell is traveling to Bend with Wawa, Mark's mother, with whom I have entrusted the oversight and care of Maxwell with. I hope she does a good job.
They are going by Greyhound, which is creepy enough just on it's own merits, without the horse and the woods thrown in for extra nerve wracking measure.
The camp had a long and expensive list of doodads that the children are to bring along.

This being our second really long and expensive list in less than a month, has made me very cranky and set me on a sort of camp supply scavenger hunt around the city seeking out cheaper versions of the stuff he needs. For the past two weeks I have been on a quest for cheap water shoes, to no avail, and today at the eleventh hour I had to bite the bullet and shell out $50 for a pair of Keen sandals.
I got off easy for the $50, as Maxwell's foot is now right at the top of the children's size and had it been even one size larger, I would have had to pay DOUBLE for an adult size. I really wouldn't mind spending $$$$ for shoes that he was going to wear say, all winter, but I can tell that we will be lucky to get through summer with these puppies, since his toes is right at the end of the shoe.
Last year Payless had tons of Keen knock offs, and this year you cannot find any plastic sandals to save your life. We have always gotten off easy with Maxwell, since he has very normal feet, while Freyja has very thick and wide feet that pretty much can only be stuffed into the expensive "see kai run" brand.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

the waste of a perfectly good bottle of wine and other things

Maxwell had his final play performance for this season.

He had two parts in short play called "the grouch" adapted from a Greek folktale that I can't remember the name of.
He played the best friend of the protagonist, and also his mother.

He was not delighted to play an old woman in an evening gown & wig, but he did a good job.
The score was glam/disco inspired, hence the wacky make-up and glitter.

He is glad that play is behind him.

It was not the one we signed up for. I had gotten him the comedy workshop for his birthday, but there weren't enough students, so it was cancelled and this playlab was offered in it's place.

Had I know how lame it was I might have passed, but in the past he has always really enjoyed the playlabs, so it goes.
Don't worry, no one was murdered.

The cat threw a bottle of red wine off of the top of the fridge, about 20 minutes before Mark's father, his partner, Mark's sister and Mark's mother were to arrive for dinner.

I was stressed out to say the least, but managed to get the wine and the glass cleaned up and no one was the wiser.

The thing that was worse (can you imagine?) was that after cleaning up that mess, I went into the playroom to get a child chair, and when I picked up the chair, a teeny, tiny mouse was there.

It proceeded to sort of shamble across the room in a daze, with kitty in chase.
Kitty brought it in and was just sitting there watching it, when I interrupted her fun.


It was a really sweet little mouse.
A very lovely little Beatrix Potterish mouse.

Boy did I feel like a heal for egging kitty onto the hunt.

Kill! Kill!

This is the cake Maxwell and I made together for the family gathering.

He was very proud of the cake, although he was most proud of learning to make deviled eggs!

You would have thought I had introduced him to caviar the way he went on and on.

one more thing to add to the very limited list of things he will eat.

Those are Mark's relatives in the background oblivious to the mouse massacre and the red wine incident that took place only an hour before!
I always wind up serving them dinner in the kitchen, and I wonder if they feel offended by never getting into the dining room- hmmm, note to self, next year move into the dinning room.

Today Rolf's did childcare for Maxwell for us.
They went to Sauvie Island and waded in the river and picked strawberries.
I made Rolf this tart to show my gratitude.
I also did his laundry.

Good childcare is hard to come by!
The little painting in the background is oil on linen. It is called "heidi's dream" by my friend Joyce, she usually does large abstract pieces, but I like this one because it is tiny and it involved textiles.
I also like the sewing work she did. I had no idea she could sew so nicely. I like to make dramatic sweets and place them in front of this painting.
bake a pie crust in a fluted tart pan.
I make mine out of butter and flour and nuts, nothing else. I just kneed it until it is the right consistency and then I press it, like playdough, into the pan, I never roll it out, rolling it out can make it tough, and I like a very flaky crust.

When you make your basic crust, add in some almond meal, or ground walnuts.

allow the crust to cool.

make a pastry cream. (double if you want to make this in parfait glasses, without a crust)
3 large egg yolks
1/4-1/2 cup sugar
1 T butter
1 t vanilla
1/4 flour

cream together.

heat 1 cup cream or milk, to warm,

add 1/2 to the sugar mixture and whisk constantly.

then add the sugar mix to the milk on the stove and heat up while you are constantly whisking.
I mean DON'T stop at all, keep whisking and whisking!
don't let it boil, but get close. your cream should be really thick.
pull it off the heat.
Once, about 20 years ago, I burned this cream.
Rolf loved it and has been badgering me to make it again, forever, but who can willfully burn something? Not me. We still call it "burnt cream".

spread it into your tart add berries, chill. works well with peaches or plums

Sunday, June 7, 2009


We are in the process of harvesting the blossoms of our elder tree. We will then dry them, shake the petals off of the stems, mix them with dried mint and store it to drink as tea through the fall and winter. Elder has great anti-viral properties, and while syrup made from the berries gets lots of press, you hardly ever hear about the flower tea. I almost never get colds or flu, despite working with children and I attribute a lot of my wellness to this tea.
We will also make syrup out of the berries, later this summer.

Goodwill hunting

Freyja and Mark are out of town, at the beach with Mark's dad for the weekend.
Maxwell and I had to stay home, because Maxwell has his play this weekend, the final performance from the theater class he was in this term. We weren't that broken up over the prospect of a couple days without The Bootiful Princess.
Maxwell suggested going to Goodwill, which is something we both like to do on a Sunday morning.
I totally SCORED big! Finding a pair of Dansko sandals (which I was going to buy new for myself anyway) in perfect condition, AND these super cool black boots that look NEW. I also got those cute Garnet Hill kitty jammies, for Aunt Karen, who has a birthday coming up and loves both kitties and flannel jammies.
The dessert plates with the yellow roses are part of a German china collection my mother has, so I got them for her- they would sell at a antique store for $15-25 a plate, and these were $13 for 6, great deal.
The two teacups and saucers, are marked "West Germany US sector", and in perfect condition, and they work really nicely as candle holders!
Maxwell got some comics and a big Garfield collection book.
I found two sundresses for Miss F, too, so everyone should be happy!