Wednesday, April 27, 2011

and these children that you spit on as they try to change their world...

Today I interrupted two children scratching letters into a wooden tabletop.
I was furious and outraged as I always am in the face of willful destructive behavior.

I know that my strong reaction comes from my upbringing.

Growing up poor one does not destroy things, one preserves and conserves things.

You make things last.

When you come from a whole family of poor people, generations of  blue collar working class people, this instinct to save and pamper and guard is even more pronounced.

In my case my early lessons on the haves and the have nots produced a rabid hatred of waste and greed and the cavalier throw away mentality that is so prevalent in our society today (thanks to cheap imported goods, even the poor folks have become wasteful!)

When I was a teen there were occasional opportunities to be destructive, to tear shit up, particularly within the circle of friends that imagined themselves punk rawk, which always created an uncomfortable moment for me, a time when I revealed myself to be some kind of goody two shoes.  Truth be told I was not a goody two shoes, however I saw no reason to smash a perfectly good window.
 Had I been able to take the window and give it to some needy soul, that I could have gotten on board with.   I was much more Robin Hood, than I ever was Sid Vicious.
The one act of rebellion I did do was write the lyrics to David Bowie's "Changes" on the post that held the bus stop sign by my house.  I wrote it very nicely in black sharpie over the course of weeks waiting for the number 35, which was often late. 

I remember one of the last conversions I had with my grandmother; she was completely irate having watched a snippet of Martha Stewart's Christmas show, the one where Martha makes a big centerpiece out of fresh fruit, by brushing it with egg white, then sprinkling it with sugar to make it all sparkly.
It was a SIN to waste all of that fruit.
Can you IMAGINE the mess it'd be to EAT it after all that gunk was on it?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easterly and poodlish

eggs, duh!

centerpiece for the table Easter evening

Bootiful Princess's mugshot

fish with potatoes and cold sour cherry soup both from Joan Nathan's Jewish holiday Cooking, which is one of the best cookbooks evah! also creamed root vegetable puree, from me, which was pretty damn good too.

The poodle is happy his master is home

Mother in Law brought me a begonia in my favorite color!

with her "gulls" (girls), which includes a hippo, hmmmm.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

the case of the stolen eggs

The bathroom is finished, although all the stuff, has not been stuffed back inside.  Next week the ripping out of the old kitchen dining nook will start, then the refinishing of the wood floor, which will be messy.  I am not looking forward to that part.

Mark and the kids are going away for his grandfather's memorial service, but I have my Director's Cohort, second to the last seminar, both Friday and Saturday, so I will stay in a hotel in Clackamas.

Staying in a fancy hotel sounds kind of  fun, but staying in a business park type hotel sounds gloomy- I was being cheap, but didn't want a cheap motel, so this is a compromise.

We had the most delightful sun Friday and Saturday, or so I am told, I worked with a group of colleagues on some writing revisions that wound up taking six hours.  It was one of those projects that leave you feeling victorious over long winded and nonspecific language, but mentally spent.

I came home, laid on the sofa for an hour and announced "we are going out for Chinese!" Off we went to Canton Grill on 82nd, a fabulously tacky place that has been slinging chopsuey since 1944!  The number 4 dinner is huge enough to feed all of us, not that we are ever wise enough to stop there. 

We came home from dinner and dyed eggs.

It was then that the evening took a rather unfortunate turn, when Rolf came home with his girlfriend, who for some reason I cannot fathom had stored a giant stack of candy in his room (she has her very own apartment, without curious children). 

It seems that Freyja got into a package- intended for her brother- of little jewel tone, jelly eggs and ate two.

Which lead to the girlfriend crying thief, and demanding that Miss F get in trouble for stealing.

Normally I am very strict about not taking things that don't belong to you, etc. but, in her defense Rolf is constantly plying her with candy, that we forbid her to have.

I try to establish boundaries around privacy and he allows her to rifle through all of his things, on and on for her entire life.
I can see that while she knew she should not have been eating jelly eggs from Germany, she would not have viewed it as stealing.
When I reminded the girfriend of this habit of Rolf's one she has been frequent witness to, she said ominously "it is never the child." which led me to feel a little defensive. I was at work all day! Mark, did you leave Freyja unattended, so she could stick up Rolf's room for candy eggs?
Much little girl sobbing ensued, and I became a little cranky toward the end of it.
Take your candy the hell out of my house.  
Was on the tip of my tongue, but I contained myself very nicely. 
So now I am attempting to rally, to make some sort of festive dinner for this evening, while totally NOT IN THE MOOD, good times.

Friday, April 22, 2011

aint it funny how an old broken bottle looks just like a diamond ring?

experimenting with black and white.  I think I like it.
 Today was one of those amazing, sunny, brisk Portland days, where everything is green from all the rain.  People were out on the streets like crazy, at school time pick up.
The sky was a beautiful blue and cloudless.
 We decided to stop in at Staccato gelato for a treat on the way home. 

Their donuts are excellent and the gelato is worth writing home about. 

The small size ice cream dishes are super expensive, but if you get a large, you can chose four flavors for $3.75, which is fun, if you are squeamish about sharing ( I am most certainly NOT, however Miss Bootiful Princess often makes a fuss and is not very skilled at sharing).  

We chose chocolate orange, coconut, Peep (you know those hideous marshmallow chicks? ) and white chocolate chunk. 
I usually like to get the pistachio, but the Peeps wanted Peeps.

messing around with color saturation on the camera.

 Maxwell opted not to share very much, he did want a "bite" of the Peep flavor.
Can I have a bite Mommy?  My children's mantra.
and had an Izzy soda and a brownie all to himself.

Freyja has a "pink princess" donut, which reminded me of the strawberry cake my grandma Betty used to make for my birthday.  Try asking your grandma to make a strawberry cake in January in the 70's before it was common to have off season fruit, and you will get a white cake dyed pink with strawberry jam, and nonpareils on top for decoration.                   I have always been high maintenance.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

My son is being relentlessly mean spirited and caustic toward me, which makes me wonder if I really am some kind of terrible person, or he is just an insufferable brat.  He has always been such a sweet child, I don't know where this is coming from.
Today, Out of spite, I made him make his own breakfast AND wash his own bowl.  I will show him how mean I really am!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mark brought me home my weekly stash library books (he should be a professional book picker outer, he is that good) yesterday, and I picked up

and read it in oneish sitting ( I read in bed too, does that count as one sitting?). 

I love anything on Portland's quirks and memoirs so this was a good enough combo to spend a few hours on.  There is also a chapter featuring  fabulous the  Portland elephant trainer/philosopher that happens to be the father of Bootiful Princess's best friend.  Chuck nailed his charming personality perfectly, which was enough to make me read to the end.
I felt oddly  empowered all day today.  I have had a series of pretty productive (some would say chaotic, I am choosing productive) work days the past few weeks.

I marveled  at  our welfare system at work, while waiting on hold for a case worker to tell me why they thought changing a mother in the "works" programs childcare from 106 hours a month to 18 hours month was a good way to keep the woman employed. 

The sweet man on the other end didn't have an answer for me, but he assured me that I had done my end of the paperwork correctly, so I suppose I should have felt better.  I didn't, but knowing I can add up some numbers, stamp and address an envelope correctly is one for my self esteem bank. 

I have been interviewing people for the past two weeks, and man oh man am I ever getting some impressive resumes! Must be a result of the shitty economy.  I have a UC Berkeley grad with a with a MA dying to work for $10 and hour.
I always ask for a handwritten, creative letter of interest and I have gotten some beauties.  One particularly creative fellow sent me a paper seed husk, with a mechanical leaf and shoot that you pull out to reveal his letter, as the inside of the seed. 
All manner of collage, handmade paper and one gal sent me two high end granola bars!

I feel honored to spend time with so many talented young people, and happy to be able to hire five.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

onto the next day

We had a nice time last night which only amplifies the sadness I have in losing the one work friend I have.  I haven't been very successful in making new friends in the past decade or so, so losing one feels hard.

Both children have playdates over, which gives me an opportunity to write a little and catch up on laundry. The basement seems to be where I end up, often.  Business and pleasure.

I should make a better effort to be more upbeat here. 

One friend said recently, "you are such a different person in person, you laugh much more than you would think from your writing" another commented that I don't smile often, which is true. 

I don't like to smile in photos, I feel like my mouth is too large and muppety.

I frequently fret about my lack of   writerlyness and the mundane nature of my life.

When I got up (late for me at 9:00) this morning Mark told me that he hadn't been able to get the boys to eat anything.
I told him I would make some grilled cheese (in my family we always called them toasted cheese) sandwiches, surely no twelve year old boy would be resistant to the siren song of grilled cheese.

As we worked together pulling the sandwiches together, Mark said
" the key to grilled cheese is a hot pan."

I said "really? We are talking about grilled cheese? That is what we are doing, having a long an involved conversation about a fried sandwich?", but I was happy for my family, my hot pan and my not very conversational husband, just the same. 

Fake smile

no smile. I look a lot like my paternal grandfather.  That is where the muppet mouth and the big head come from I think.

real smile

waiting for our guests to arrive

Ripley trying to cash in on dropped party food.

Goofy girls

Saturday, April 16, 2011

fiddling while rome burns

I had invited some friends over for a little saying goodbye party for a coworker, weeks ago, before the bathroom troubles, and I decided to go forward, because she is moving away, and I need a bit of cheer.
So while the sawing and plastering is going on, I am cooking.
Belgian endive with apple, blue cheese and pomegranate seeds

carrot curry pate & lentil shallot pate
chocolate eggs and little swiss meringues

I planted some oat seed in these eggshells last week, in hopes of having a little grass for decoration.

Friday, April 15, 2011

if dreams were thunder

Listened to John Prine on my drive to pick up the kids, cried my eyes out, in a good way.
I started this novel yesterday, while watching the swimming lessons (let's face it after a decade of swimming lessons I can only watch so much).  
So far so good,

historical fiction?
mental illness?
love and mother issues?

Yup, just about covers all the bases for me!

like the Beatles said- It's getting better all the time

The reconstruction of the bathroom is HAPPENING!


You don't know how well you have it until you live without a bathroom for a few days!

imagine our SURPRISE when we came home to this disgusting mess on Tuesday

Those asbestos removal guys weren't messing around!

heading out at 5:00am to shower at the gym, wearing my wrappy, sari, sweaterish thing over my yoga clothes, and no makeup, there should be a law against 43 year olds heading out in public like this.

When I got home today I wasn't sure what to expect.
The kids were a little drained by the ordeal too, and Freyja didn't want to go in.
Ben the super construction dude, had the tile all set, and had patched in new tiles, where the asbestos guys had broken them off the walls. 

Ben is another example of how blessed I am to have good friends.  My friend pulled him off work at her place to come and attend to our emergency.  I had worked with him a lot for work, so I knew he was honest and would do a great job. 

We are looking at two more days, and we will be done. 

Sadly he is committed to six months of renovations at my friend's Eco Village, so he will not be able to do our kitchen and dining area. 

He replaced all the sub flooring, the broken pipes and will reset the toilet- all the really hard stuff!

Thank goodness!

I am dancing on the inside with happiness tonight.

The house is totally TRASHED with saw dust, and muddy footprints, but I am ignoring all of that and feeling super happy with what I have.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A friend shared this terrible story with me.
Overwhelmed mother dives off a cliff, or boat ramp in this case, with her children in the car.

Mothering in really hard.
I can't imagine doing it alone.
I often feel a great deal of forgiveness for my own mother when I find myself ready to jump.  How on earth did she do it?

I remember meeting Mark at the door when Maxwell was a baby and we were awash in money problems due to Maxwell's  health issues and I was working full time and caring for a baby that required tube feeding throughout the night, and saying
I really need you to ask me how I am
because at the time there seemed no bottom, to the place I was falling to.

I wish someone had checked in with Lashanda Armstrong.
I wish people would check in more often in general.
My family are frequently mortified by my lack of inhibitions when it comes to talking to strangers.
are you ok?
would you like me to hold your baby for a minute?
Can I help you with that?

It isn't that I am some kind of candyassed do gooder, it is because I hope like hell that someone will be there with a stick, if the day comes when I am drowning not waving.

I got a call the other evening from an old friend that had gone through rehab over the summer and clearly by tone of voice and my inability to get a word in edgewise, had relapsed.  I talked for a while and ended our conversation with
Don't not call if things are bad.  I don't care if you are fucking up, I just need to know you are ok.  I mean I care, but I am not judging you. 

Mark shakes his head.
He has very good boundaries, which I admire.
I, on the other hand lack boundaries, despite loads of training, despite being an award winning facilitator.
I will bail your ass out of jail at 4:00am and bring you groceries, I would hold your hair while you puke and wash your dishes, buy you a coffee and watch your baby, because if I was in the weeds and you were my friend I would expect the same.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I finally managed to slog through CRIME which took my forever.  I am usually a fast reader and lately I have the attention span of a gnat.
The book is ok.  It would be perfect for a long flight.  I like his other work better, I love when he writes in the Scottish accent, I can hear the character's voices in my head (what does that say about me?), he pulls it off so well.  This one had just a tad too much contrivedness to it to make me think of the story, once I set the book down.
I enjoyed his novel Marabou Stork Nightmares 
a lot more, although to say one enjoys these books is a bit of a stretch, as the subject matter is pretty rough, grim and hard to take at times. 
I suppose I am attracted to the themes of broken people, and youth culture, I dunno, maybe I just like to hear voices in my head.

Me, me, me, listen to ME!

While I certainly would not call myself a writer, I do like to tell my story, to read other people's stories and I feel somehow humanized by both processes.

I want to read more and write more and I want to feel it.

I love what this woman had to say on the topic.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Calling in favors, Chaturanga, a "whore's bath" and what might kill me

I thought I was keeping it together pretty well... when I left the house at 4:30 to take the children to swimming, Juan and company were still making a lot of noise in the bathroom (have I mentioned that we have a bath and a HALF, and the half has no tub?)  with their whirring machines and vacuum suction thingies that remove all the bad dust.

Mark met us at the pool as usual, and took Freyja home, Maxwell stayed on for karate and I headed off to yoga
(it was not nice yoga, it was an hour of punishing Vinyasa  f l o w, that kicked my ass).

The whole time my chest was glued to my thighs in forward fold, each time I rested in downward facing dog, every  time I touched my forehead to the floor, I imagined my lovely fir dining area, and my new bathroom floor and it made me happy.

Happiness, my friends is an ILLUSION. 

I arrived home to what looked like the set of a horror film.

My toilet is sitting in the tub, the fir floor is GONE from the bathroom and the super scary, nasty 100 year old sub floor is all that is left in the bathroom.

The area around the toilet has horrible, bad, terrible, water damage, and the underside of the floor beams appear to be BURNED, yes, as in, sometime in the past 100 years there was a house fire here.

The price tag on the repairs just sky rocketed and my composure is as risk.

Mommy is no longer able to access her happy place.

I knew Mark would freak about the shower (or lack of shower), so I went full tilt into problem solving mode.

We have a plan,

Mark will go to his mother's place to get ready in the morning, and I will get up at 5:00, go to the gym, take a shower come home, pick up kids (did I mention that Portland Public in all their wisdom, now have 2 hour late OPENING once a month, on Wednesdays?!!) take Freyja to before care (thank GOD and all that is holy that we opted to pay for before care) and Maxwell to Rolf's friend S's house, which is within walking distance to his school.

S will make him breakfast and hang out with him until school starts.

S runs a little B&B out of her house, and she has a former Chinese diplomat staying there right now, so it should give Maxwell a reason to chat about his China trip.

Rolf is still out of town, but thank goodness I can call in a marker on his favors with his friends, when I am in a jam.
Karma is working in my favor today.


There are are a couple of guys dressed in those white  protective suits, clearing away the asbestos from my bathroom.
The dog and I are trying to stay out of the way.

 We both keep pacing around the house, peeking to see if we can detect any progress (we can't the whole space is taped and draped).
I return to my nest on the sofa, or run down to the basement to see if any new e-mail has arrived (as if the discovery of asbestos in my bathroom will lead to some kind of mad rush of correspondence in my in box. Well, one can hope...) , and he retreats to his bed, trying to pretend that nothing is wrong.
 We are not super fond of change, or disruption, and the giant plastic tube int he kitchen and the contents of the bathroom in boxes in the diningroom constitute a lot of disruption.

Monday, April 11, 2011

that's some powerful Juju

I am filing this experience under be careful what you ask for ...
I have been complaining about the kitchen floor for years, I hate vinyl and scruffed up tacky vinyl even more.
I curse the floor daily as I mop and scrub  to try to make a silk purse from a sow's ear.

The overflowing toilet of last week is my ticket out of cruddy floorville. 

The insurance guy is upstairs measuring things and it looks like they will pay to replace, not only the bathroom, hall and kitchen eating area flooring, but the mudroom and the kitchen too, since they all kind of flow together.
the asbestos removal team is coming tomorrow to rip out the toxic floor lurking under the bathroom tile.  
I am sharpening up my coping skills and behaving like a champ, with all the hubbub. 
A new floor, wheee!

The bathroom floor will require some kind of covering, I am shooting for ceramic tile, but we will see what the budget it.

The dining area and the hall have wide fir plank flooring (although covered in black GLUE) that could be refinished and varnished. 

If my father were here he would tell me that the width of the that particular type of wood floor dates the house to before 1920?
I think, that is right, I tend to nod off when instructed on the properties of wood products, but I think I am close. Those type of wood floors are unique to farm houses of the Pacific Northwest.
I think.
I am a bad daughter who will never work in the timber industry, or be a lumberjack.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Saturday was a very long day.

Super chicken.  Super chicken likes to sneak up on tired mommy and snap her photo when she is wearing her nightgown, or trying to make dinner. 
Jewel rice.  Basmati rice with lemon and olive oil, parsley, green onion, cranberries, golden raisin, apricots and almonds

lentils with carrot and potatoes and baguette from the Pearl Bakery

trying to rest on the sofa was not in mine or the poodle's stars yesterday.

No, really, I am done with this game.