Monday, May 30, 2011

Dead Roses

My friend Don brought a half gallon of carrot juice and a performance of one of my favorite songs as an offering for my  dinner party on Sunday (complete with slap guitar).

Don plays upright bass and is a freakin amazing professional jazz player, but he has been kind enough to entertain me over the past 19 years with acoustic guitar, from time to time, when I ask, or demand.

He loves me enough to over look my questionable taste.

This Townes Van Zandt  is closer to his version, than the Rolling Stones.

It was so lovely, that just as Don started to play, our friend Dom phoned up from South Carolina and I held the phone out for her to listen along.
I do need my people.

"cause you know, I could never be alone  "

Then I had to play this on the record player, because I wanted my friends all together, and not far away in South Carolina.

Reading and reading

I finished a very good novel called The sheep queen, which had all the element I enjoy, history, broken hearts, misunderstanding, plus some excellent writing.  It is set in Idaho and Washington, so lots of places I am familiar with came up too, which is always exciting. 

Save your fork there's pie! In memory

Setting the table for our "church picnic" themed dinner party, in remembrance of my grandmothers and their wonderful cookery .  I had no idea my hair was looking so dreadful.  I depend on my husband to point this sort of thing out, and clearly he wasn't up to the task, geesh.     I am wearing my great grandmother Koger's pin, which has no monetary value, but is special to me never the less.  Those are lusterware glasses that belonged to my Grandma Magers, who kept them my whole life (and very likely long before my life) in the glass cupboard, and never used them.   I use them often and wish she could have enjoyed pretty things more often.  They are shiny and orange, right up my alley.                                             I had little bottles of pansies at each plate.  Thank goodness for Rolf's endless supply of scientific glassware.                      I depend on the kindness of other to get by.

Shrimp mousse, marinated mushrooms & haricort vert (I like to be all fancy in my white trash cooking).

My husband's consolation prize- pork loin stuffed with apricots and prunes, soaked in brandy.

Grandma Eva's deviled eggs and Grandma Betty's cabbage salad with bay shrimp.

My great grandmother "Nanny's" baked macaroni and cheese,and "funeral potatoes" from Rolf's girlfriend.                     We call these potatoes "those potatoes the neighbor lady brings to the block party with cornflakes on top, the ones everyone likes, but she got the recipe from a Mormon friend that calls them "funeral potatoes".  So there you are. Regardless of what you call them, they are fantastic and delicious and I strongly encourage conning some poor soul in to making them for you soon.  Our whole family attends the block party, just to get a scoop of these spuds.

My mother's baked beans (even though she is not dead and doesn't require a memorial, she makes some damn good baked beans). Mashed root vegetable for our vegan guest, and a giant bowl of ambrosia, brought by Rolf's girlfriend, which everyone pretends to be horrified by but eats seconds of.  My friend Don said "THIS SHIT IS GOOD!" and Don is a big food snob.  Who doesn't enjoy whipped cream and marshmallows though? Really? She also brought stuffed tomatoes, which I am very fond of, plus they look fancy.  I support all stuffed foods heartily

A hot game of Uno and pie followed dinner.

I was a total slacker and let Rolf's girlfriend bring pie, in addition to her potatoes, tomatoes and ambrosia.  She made apple and mock apple (which was really, really good), you know that recipes on the box of Ritz crackers you always wonder about?  It is really good. It might be improved by some raspberries, but all in all excellent.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Everyone loves Buddha

 I got to eat lunch with a group of  ten five and six year olds today at work.

The conversation was lively and animated.

Someone brought up the topic of Buddha, although the exact genesis of the conversation remains a mystery to me.

I am sitting like the Buddha.

Don't make fun of Buddha!! 

Me: Friends, we are not making fun of each other or things that are important to other people, ok?

Who is Buddha? 

Teacher M- is Buddha 

Me: Teacher M is a Buddhist nun, not Buddha. 

What is that? 

Me: a person that greatly admires the wisdom & compassion of Buddha, and devotes her life to practicing how to be more like Buddha.

My dad is a Buddhist. 

Hey! I could tell that because he is BALD like Teacher M! 

Me: Being bald doesn't make you a Buddhist.


My dad's hair just fell out.

Me: sometimes people's hair falls out,  and they are bald, but they are not Buddhist, and sometimes people with lots of hair are. Everyone is different and people admire different things.  When people admire those kinds of things, sometimes they keep it private in their heart, and other times they choose to share it by wearing special colors or hair styles, or other things that show the world what is in their hearts.  It is a matter of personal choice.  Everyone is free to admire and devote his or her heart to what speaks to it, is that clear? 

When I got home, I took my children out for an early, very unhealthful before dinner, dinner, for crinkle cut fries at a very old, old school Chinese cafe, before swimming  & karate  lessons: there happened to be a drawing of Buddha on the children's menu, and it was Deja vu  all over again with Freyja.

Is Buddha Chinese? 

Me: No, he was Indian.

So he had brown skin? 

Me: Yes, at least browner than you and I.

Did Buddha speak English?

Me: Most certainly not. (Bootiful Princess goes to a language magnet school with Chinese and Spanish programs and she is very interested who speaks what and when).

Why do people like him? Is he a god?

Me: No, he is not  exactly god, not in the way we think of G-d but he was a very wise and enlightened person, that people  (including me) really admire.  He had a lot of focus and self control, and compassion, which is hard to come by.

Why is does the dragon on Buddha's kite have his mouth open like that (in the drawing)?  

Me: I dunno.  Maybe the dragon is doing  "lion's breath " yoga pose? 

Freyja gets out of the booth and kneels on the floor  of the filthy old restaurant and demonstrates the pose and the lion's tounge to the  elderly patrons of the cafe.

I think that is what the dragon is doing.  I think the dragon on the kite is doing that to make the Buddha feel happy and powerful.  The Buddha really loves his dragon kite.

Me: That is an excellent guess, you might be right.  Would you believe that your friends at my work were also talking about the Great Buddha today? 


Me: Yes, yes! It is true!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I am preparing myself mentally for yet another big work shift, that will rock my world in the morning.  In the meantime I am listening to cheesy Neil Diamond songs and wondering if it is my lack of sleep that makes his line
"like the man with a lion outside his gate, I can't relax and I can't relate " resonate with me.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

?where you been at ?

I feel like I haven't had a weekend in four weeks, because I haven't had a weekend in four weeks.

Today I finished my training, which started in November, and while I sort of poo pooed it publicly, I was pretty emotional about it in the end.

Let's face it people that work with young children are not valued in our society, so to have the work of childcare directors and preschool principals recognized in this way: scholarship funded, graduate credits, and a big cake at the end, felt pretty good, despite my tough gal shell.

To have the feds say that your work with children matters, and to back it up with cash is a big deal for me. 

I spend a great deal of my time wondering how I will get childcare coverage for single welfare mothers and how I can build a new play structure, and is it possible to put an extra toilet in that broom closet? 

People don't give me cake very often.

I met some amazing, selfless and talented people.  I got to be away from my day to day routine and have colleagues,  I was able to sit in a room with 22 people that agree that the power of play makes better human beings. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

should I care about this?

So Osama bin Ladin is dead. 

I was sort of horrified by the reaction of my fellow Americans... the partying in the streets over shooting an unarmed man was a little tacky, friends.  Psst... we don't really do that shit here, we have all kinds of checks and balances, we don't shoot people. 

Just saying.

Beyond that I am concerned about us barging into a sovereign nation without permission: it is bad form, and dare I say illegal and again tacky? 


without permission, just flying in... doesn't that sound a little like I dunno, what terrorist do? 
Just saying.

So tonight I am on the phone with my friend, my good, good, heart connected best friend, my liberal friend, that likes paying taxes, that kind of friend and she tells me that she is happy or at least relieved that he is dead. 


Granted her step-daughter is in the army (this is a little girl that I cannot help thinking of as a ten year old) so I kind of get that part, but geez, hello! Are we just shooting people now? Really?

So I gently bring up how we flew all up into a COUNTRY without their permission and shot this dude, and dumped his body at sea, and how it felt a little bit presumptuous  to me. 

Then there was an awkward silence that I had not felt with this friend ever, ok, maybe ONCE in 10th grade, and I let it go.

I shut down and shut up.

Another friend told me this week that he likes COKE, so perhaps I need to lighten up?  Who knows.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

My "work" is sometimes pretty freaking awesome

The phenomenal Gardener Suzanne, that made both my children insanely happy for many years. Sunhat off to YOU beautiful saxophone playing lady!

me and my homegirl putting together food service for Maypole! We totally rocked it out!

Celebrating our new outdoor classroom! HOORAY! We soooo deserve this beautiful space!

Our teachers  RULE, the Maypole!

Drunk with power on the drive home!

Was there a better Maypole dance in all of Portland? I think NOT! We nailed it.

getting back to the my roots

I have to attend a work party with Mark tonight. 

The only thing saving from my social anxiety is that it is a potluck, and I have to cook. 

Between waking up with Miss F at 6:00am, keeping her quiet to allow Mark some sleep, and this party at 4:00pm, I have to go to my own work for a Maypole dance with the children and families.  I some how must clean up after 50+ families and make it back to my house to swoosh away to this dinner thing at Mark's colleagues house.  It should be interested. 

I may require  a time machine. I said all that to say this, I need some kind of make ahead dish  to take, since there is no way in HELL that I will take the easy way out and bring bread, as Mark suggested. 

Are you kidding?

So I made baked beans and a root vegetable puree with  garlicky, buttered breadcrumbs on top. 

I like baked beans and they go along with the southern themed pig roast that the host is doing. 

In my family there are always baked beans at every holiday and gathering. 

It seems normal to us, however, I learned that it is not normal to everyone, as my father's girlfriend said at Thanksgiving "I couldn't imagine baked beans at a holiday." , but we take our baked beans very seriously, soaking and boiling, seasoning and baking to a gooey goodness, that says FESTIVE in our family. 

It may all stem from coming from poor folks to begin with.  My grandfather told me, "I was grown before I knew there was anything but beans to eat."
Growing up there were indeed a pot of usually humble brown beans on my grandparents table most evenings, and baked beans on Sunday. 

If my grandmother was feeling lazy, there might be a can of pork and beans, cold, with cottage cheese for dinner, with homemade pickled beets and white bread with butter.  That was always the combination, there was little variation to that particular meal.  Cousins were know to fight over the last pickled beet, they were that good, floating around in the half pint (why always a half pint? why not a quart, a gallon, for god sake?) jar, with their long beet tails and one lone clove.

There were also navy beans, cooked with celery and diced carrot, butter beans with cornbread, and split peas.  Never black beans, or black eyed peas and rarely red beans.  Pinto beans, yes, once in a great while, with molasses poured on at the table.

My grandmother made baked beans in a 9X11 stainless steel baking pan.  My mother always makes them in a souffle dish.  My aunt Ruth favors making them ahead and serving them cold in a Pyrex mixing bowl, that is orange with a rooster design on the side. 

Updated Baked beans for the lazy and shiftless
1 can great northern beans
1can garbanzo beans
1 can small red beans
mostly all drained, but a little juice wont hurt anything
1 small onion diced finely
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 or 2 Tablespoons coarse prepared mustard
1/2 cup Bre Rabbit molasses
1/2 cup or a little less dark brown sugar
1 T white vinegar
a little shake of cayenne
microwave until hot and bubbly and thickened
serve with liberally buttered cornbread and for god's sake do not put honey on it! Honey is for sissies!

Root vegetable puree
1 big yam
1sweet potato
1 or 2 rutabagas (I used two because I happen to like them a lot)
several small turnips (the big ones will be tough, avoid them)
2 cloves of garlic
Peel, dice, boil everything together until very tender
season with salt, pepper, ginger powder
the juice of two oranges and a good swig of lime juice too
mash with a lot of butter or olive oil if you happen to be vegan, ad some of the broth from when you boiled, it it looks too dry, and not creamy enough.
moisten bread crumbs with enough oil or butter to make them sticky, put your mash in a baking dish, and strew your crumbs on top, bake until the crumbs are brown.

Friday, May 13, 2011


I am totally neurotic and germphobic and nervous and easily freaked out, so working with children might seem like an odd choice for me.

Today I had to deal with lice. 

It comes up once a year or so, and I never cope well.

I had to send people home, which means waiting around with the lice in a small room.  I have to remain calm and not make the licee feel bad. 

I think I did alright, I don't think anyone will be scarred for life

I have personally never had lice and I would like to keep it that way.

I always joke that if my children get lice we will have to burn the house down, since we have so much stuff, but really  I am terrified at the thought of it.  I realize it is a totally normal and not very harmful thing, but it totally skeezes me out and makes me sweat, and itch, just the thought of something crawling around on me laying eggs.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


my endless fairy work, and a bit of knitting.

I made this ribbed cuff, but then I added the little bit at the end in garter stitch to hold the button, and I HATED it, so I ripped it all out and went back to the original, simpler concept.

about ten hours of sleep in the past two days, man am I ever tired.  I have gotten a lot of reading and hand work done, which I suppose is worth something, but geesh, I deserve some quality sleep soon!

Letting go of what doesn't serve me

Our big lesson in yoga the past two weeks has been about taking chances and going past our edge.  I have personally been very invested in letting go of all the self talk that limits me or hangs me up, and while I am generally very opposed to all of the positive self esteem bullshit, I have to say that it is helpful not to worry so much about the size of your ass, and focus instead on things that matter a tiny bit more.  I am hoping that all of this balancing on one foot will indeed improve my bone density, when I am a little old lady.
Photos of the one legged mama courtesy of Miss F.

a dark and stormy night

I made everyone run outside and marvel at the amazing sky and rainbow, on Sunday evening.  It was so strange to see an almost night sky toward the east, and a bright patch of sunlight through our neighbors garden. Really dramatic and beautiful and surreal.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I have goats on my mind today.  
Goats and a mountain cabin, in Switzerland. 

and naturlich, I will need one of these babies for the goat's neck.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

more on Mother's Day

Apparently is it outrageous and cruel to ask your son to
A. brush his hair
B. take a photo with his mother  on Mother's Day

Who knew?
Mark brought me Colum McCann's Let The Great World Spin  from the library this week, and it is as excellent as I had hoped it would be.
I love his writing, I love his imagination, his words and his world view.
I love how different his books are from each other.

Sunday morning ramble around town

The kitchen eating nook put back together again, all set for Sunday dining.  I love the sun through yellow curtains.  If that doesn't make your morning right, nothing will.  I am forever promoting yellow DIY curtains as a source of mental health.  Freyja woke me up at 6:00am, so we tidied up a bit, got Onkel out of bed and headed downtown to the Pearl Bakery for something to eat.  I was in no mood for bathing,or dressing, or hair brushing.

Not a soul on the street.

I hate photos of myself from this angle, I look very pigfaced.     We arrived a few minutes before they opened, and passed the time chatting up a gal that strolled by in search of pastry for her mother's mother's day breakfast.  I strongly suggested the gibassier. 

Pferd and ente joined us.

the banana bread tastes exactly like my grandmother's, which is excellent.  I have never been able to capture that flavor.

Freyja selected a brioche, and proceeded to pick all the sugar off the top, to "save for later."

Rolf elected to pour a lot of pepper on his roll. 

I love this place, I could live here. the color, the big windows, the pine fixtures.  Perfection.


From the Pearl, we headed east to Sheridan to pick up some produce and to kill some time, allowing Mark to sleep in a little, as we often do on Sunday mornings.  The produce guys get up early and are never cranky when Miss F. drives the cart erratically around the super crowded store.  I wish more shop people were this friendly to children.

searching for quinoa and lentils

I made this veggie basket for my mother in law. 
She has come to cooking late, at 71 she is trying her hand at fresh food (thanks to 13 years with a pushy daughter in law!), she even took up an interest in fancy salts, in the bottom of the basket is some pink Himalayan sea salt, and some Hawaiian black salt.  I suppose it is a weird gift.  I don't like to give flowers, unless the person is a flower person, otherwise it just feels like something that will wilt and die and need to be thrown away.  
I sent my mother a card.  
I phoned her too, on second thought, in case the card was too minimalistic. 
She just returned from Prague, I had no idea.  We don't really talk, it is is strange, to phone and have someone say "I just got home from Prague" How lovely for you, I guess
The notion of mother's day is sort of weird. 
I miss my grandmother and I don't really know what to do with a whole day devoted to something that makes me uncomfortable. 
I am not close to my parents, they have other people that they chose to be close to, it is all very polite, but often awkward.  
I hope that there is never a time when I am in Eastern Europe and my children don't know it.   
I hope very sincerely to have a relationship with them that keeps us knowing which continent we all are on, all the time.

I told my family not to buy anything for me.  I have too much stuff and I feel overwhelmed by gifts most of the time.   I find it difficult to accept gifts or holidays.  They make me nervous.  I don't like being the center of attention.  I like to be the center.  The center of organization, but not have the light shined on me directly.  Freyja and Mark found this Grover needle point at Goodwill and they thought it wouldn't be too overwhelming and they were right.   I love it.