Sunday, July 31, 2011

I scream for ice cream

After an ass kicking emotional week, I needed some big diversions.

Homemade ice cream and salted chocolate caramels were the thing, but never one to leave well enough alone, some berries would be good too, and perhaps some caramel sauce, and nuts?
Why not a soup?
Oh, and Freyja needs a bath after all that  berry picking, and there is vacuuming to be done,  and shopping at three stores and, and, and. I just really needed not to think about work any more. 
So there was the diversion I needed.
Everything went well, until one of my crowns came off a back tooth.  If you know me at all, you know I have  a deep fear of losing my teeth, I am a compulsive tooth brusher, so while it didn't hurt, it was a big source of anxiety having a missing crown.  My dentist phoned me back at 8:00pm and promised to squeeze me in on Monday.  He talked me down very sweetly and I managed not to freak out, too much.

She's baaaack!

Freyja came home from three weeks with grandma in San Francisco with red streaks in her hair.

cooling caramel with sea salt.

The finished and packaged product.

carrot & red pepper soup

Ripley taking liberties with Rolf's loose parenting.

I used the same table setting scheme two weeks in a row. Can you tell I have been stressed out?

Freyja & Rolf's bountiful harvest!

Our very rickety old ice cream maker, doesn't look like much, but works like a charm. 

I highly recommend inviting young people to dinner, then forcing them into hard labor.

is it possible to have too much desert?

Mr. Goody two shoes, declines both caramel ice cream and pie, and instead eats melon. 

a camera shy guest

the finished product!

sugar coma

a bit of music

Ripley sunning himself inside a hula hoop as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

More Mr. Welsh

I am back to reading Irvine Welsh again, this time a collection of short stories so brutal that I had to set the book down several times. 
Like his other books, most of the stories are written in a Scottish dialect, with unflinching harsh themes of violence and man's inhumanity to man, that creep up and bash you on the head repeatedly. 
With the stories written in dialect, one almost has to read aloud to follow along, and the intensity is almost unbearable at time for me. I have no idea if this is a good or bad thing.  He does for violence, misogyny,  and poverty what Dorothy Allison did for poverty and domestic abuse in Bastard out of Carolina, but without the grace and poetics.  All very in your face.

blabbing about bending over backward to make a statement

After a delightful weekend, where I ventured away from my normal life and literally took some time to smell the roses, stay up late, eat salted Carmel ice cream for dinner at Ruby Jewel,  in NoPo ,ignore the laundry and dip my feet in the river and go to bed without washing up, the week came upon me like a lion, with all manner of things big and small and a dose of kickball thrown in for good measure.  I think I've done a pretty decent job of balancing things so far.  I am due some peace and serenity soon.
This record was on all weekend, a tiny sad tribute to the the sad death of Amy Winehouse.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sunday, July 24, 2011

another Saturday night

the sun finally shone for the first time this summer, and provided a pretty nice backdrop for a little dinner party.

Rolf's girlfriend brought a cake in this box.

I made grilled salmon, cold avocado soup, quinoa with sweet potatoes, green, red and mango salsa, and mild green chilies stuffed with goat cheese mashed potatoes 

the cold avocado soup at sunset.

potato stuffed peppers!

some people showed up on time, and some came a bit later.

berries with rum laced whipped cream and Swiss meringues

and a tiny predinner Maitai

pineapple upsidedown cake is good

Monday, July 18, 2011

plumbing the depths

Last Thursday night Rolf stayed up quit late drinking with a friend of ours and around midnight Mark and I heard a ruckus in the bathroom, then some clanking and banging and cursing coming from the basement.

Friday morning I noticed a flood under the sink, as well as a pipe wrench.

What happened?

It seemed they had a little too much to drink and when he had tucked our friend into the sofa for the night, he went to brush his teeth and one of his crowns came off and went down the sink.

In an attempt to remove the J trap, in his altered state, he discovered that Charlie the shitty plumber we have used for years, due to my insane sense of loyalties, had used a plastic, rather than metal pipe when he put in the new drop trap thingy, when we got a new faucet.

Stupid Charlie! 

Long story slightly shorter...
The pipe cracked and the sink was leaking.
I phoned Mike, another plumber I know, but Mike was busy and suggested I call Jake.
Jake couldn't come until Monday afternoon.
So we spent the weekend with a bucket under the sink.
Today both Jake and Laura were to come at 1:30.

Jake to plumb and Laura to help me with some sorting and organizing for a garage sale.

1:30 came and went and around 2:15 I had to pee.


Which is a real problem, since you can't hear a damn thing in this house, if you are a room away on the first floor.  Sound only travels well in a vertical pattern.  Lying in bed upstairs I can hear Rolf roll over, but I cannot hear someone knock, if I am in the kitchen.

So I opened the front door, and took the poodle with me to the bathroom (because he likes to escape).   When I walked back out, there was a very nice man standing on my front porch with a clipboard.

"Oh, my god! Thank goodness you are here!"

"I'm just here being groovy ma'am"  

hmmmm, then I realized that I have a silly little ceramic tile I made years ago that says
"be groovy or leave" 
 which Bob Dylan said without a hint of irony in his film Don't look back, and I thought it such a preposterous thing to say that I had to make up a bunch of tiles with it on them.

We both had a good laugh and I rushed him into the house.

I thought he looked a little wiry or slim for a plumber, and a bit too clean, but you never know these days, people do all sorts of diagnostic work with computers.  It wasn't until he busted out his clipboard and made his pitch about getting prostitutes off the streets, that I realized that the man in my living room was not Jake the plumber, but rather DeShaun, a door to door guy collecting money to help prostitutes and drug addicts!

Oh Dear, DeShaun, I think I mistook you for my plumber, that is why I had the door open, 
I was waiting for Jake the plumber! 
In fact he should be here ANY MINUTE NOW! I really need to have you leave!

I am doing good work, you can make any contribution, everything helps!

I am sure you are, and I love prostitutes, 
I mean I don't love the work they are doing, but you know, 
I would love to help, but I am super broke, 
I have this broken pipe, and just a couple months ago we had another flood, and the bottom line is that I am tapped out, no money, sorry. 

At that point I felt like a super rat for not helping the prostitutes, and I was also worried about what my husband would say if he found a fairly shady looking prostitute's advocate in our living room, or learned that I had left the door standing open, without even the dog to bark to alert me to a stranger at the door. 
After a great deal of salesmanship from DeShaun, I was able to get him out the door and lock up behind him, which I am sure was offensive, but what to do?  I am constantly being lectured about safety, which I often ignore, but at this point it felt best to error on the side of caution. 
Laura never did show up, but Jake did arrive around 4:30, replaced the broken part, reamed out the sink and the tub and now all is well and functioning nicely.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

one fish, two fish

 I don't eat fish, and with my picky children around, I don't usually cook it for Mark either, but this week, I decided to make him some special dinners- I made hims a salmon in a white wine sauce with asparagus and fingerling potatoes one day and a Brazilian red snapper dish with a red pepper and coconut sauce another night, with mango salsa and avocado. 

Party life

We went to another party last night.  A party thrown by a work friend of Mark's.
I am not very fond of going to parties, especially parties where I don't know anyone, except my husband.  For years I would just send him on his merry way and stay home with the kids. 
It suited me fine, but it made him feel embarrassed or weird to never have me with him. 
I was the ghost wife.
The nervous nelly at home. 
Parties really bring out my social anxiety.  
I didn't understand why it  felt so hard for him to let me be a hermit, but I also didn't want to make him feel like he was living with a mental patient that couldn't handle real life, so I resolved to be better, and I think I have been better lately. Before he married me he used to go out all the time, to parties, to see music, to bars; all things I hate. Noise, smoke, strangers, badly prepared food, dirt.
This is the second party I've gone to with him in two months. 
Before I had children I used to throw a lot of parties. 
I used to be fairly social and know a lot of people. 
Something just changed dramatically in me when I turned 30, like a flip of a switch, I got so I just couldn't be around people anymore. 
Very strange. 
Now I feel like don't really know many people anymore, which makes sense given over a decade of hiding out.
Back when I used to host parties, I always tried to include the fringe  or shy people in conversation, draw them in. 

I sat alone last night a good deal of the four hours I was there, and no one really spoke to me. 
It was really odd. 
I couldn't sit in a room and know someone was sitting there not talking, I would be compelled to rescue her. 

With no rescue in sight, and not wanting to cling to Mark, I did the next best thing.  I sought out people to talk with and sort of interjected myself into conversations, with mixed success.

There was one tattooed  old school punk rock fellow that I had seen at the previous party sitting across from me talking about health insurance with a woman that also didn't know anyone, a neighbor, at some point this fellow said
"if I ever see my Kaiser doctor on the street, I will spit in his fucking face!" 
and I thought, now that is someone I can relate to!  And sure enough, he turned out to be a delightful conversationalist and the neighbor lady wasn't too bad either.  They kept me from feeling like a compete loser until Mark drifted back my way. 
Part of the problem was the type of people at the party. 
There were tons of publishing and advertising folks, who all knew each other and tended to clump and talk shop; that is where Mark gravitates.  They tend to be the hard drinking and smoking set, and I never fit in, because as soon as I answer the question what do you do, they immediately lose interest.  
In these situations I tend to look like some kind of idiot clinging to Mark's side not saying a word, at most of these events. 
There were also a large group of edgy lesbians with crew cuts and giant skull tattoos, for the most part that type- the shaved headed skull tattoo set, tend to hate me, I have no idea why, but over the years that has always been the case.
Then there was a little group of greasy haired comic book collecting men, I usually have my best luck with them, or with the drunk floozies, that need assistance, say opening a bottle of champagne or retrieving a false eyelash from the onion dip. 
So that is who I flowed between.  The drunk redhead, that might have been pretty when she was 20, but has had a lot of hard miles on her since then,  who likes to get about two inches from your face and then speak in a really loud voice, and the balding Kevin Smith look a like that lives in a basement with 10,0000 comic books, and of course the vulgar and hilarious tattoo guy who hates Kaiser.  The art gallery neighbor wasn't bad either, I've taken enough art history to be able to hold my own with art snobs.  She had a lovely bob and beautiful blue eyes and she was chatty.  She reminded me of a high school friend I have lost track of.  Sort of vulnerable yet snooty.
I love chatty people. 
I suspect my skirt looked stupid and possibly provincial, but I haven't kept up on the laundry since the kids have been gone, so I wasn't feeling super secure.
I felt like I looked like some homely hayseed.
I brought a quinoa salad and an expensive bottle of wine, Mark bought a case of PBR.
Everyone liked the salad, but that might be because everyone else brought either beer or chips, so there wasn't a lot of real food available, until the host busted out the smoked pork, about two hours into the party.  
That is another sign that I am not a good party person.  I hate it when I go to someone's house and they don't have the food prepared, when it takes ages to get something to eat, and you wind up drinking way too much because your are waiting around for the damn BBQ or what ever it is they are making. 
If I invite people to dinner at 5:00, the food hits the table no later than 5:30, or I put our appetizers, or both.

quinoa with sweet potatoes, green beans, cashews, cilantro, zucchini

Monday, July 11, 2011

with all of that free time

 I am sitting around listening to records, and reading. 
That is what I am doing with my childfree time. 
I suppose I should be wallpapering the dining-room or gardening, or waxing the floors, but I am not.  Mark and I had dinner at a sweet little dive on 82nd (deep in the hood for nonPDXers) Casa Del Sol, very good, fast and HOT & SPICY!
We stayed up too late watching  a double feature of "full metal jacket"  and "Scarface" which we happen to own, which worked out well because we somehow goofed up on mailing our Netflix things back so nothing new for us in the cinema department, and I look awful and blotchy and dark circled, but there you are, the price of having no children to keep you in line.


The children left on Saturday for my mom's place. 
 I was dry eye and blase, Rolf was sentimental and Mark was befuddled with all of the airline rules and regulations for 12 year olds traveling alone vs people under 12 traveling alone. 
I suppose I am a terrible person, or mother because I don't need my children with me constantly, I don't miss them terribly, if I know they are having fun, and are safely ensconced with someone that will wait on them hand and foot and drag them hither and yon in search of fun and excitement. 
I am happy they are happy, rather than hanging around here while I work long hours and snap at them for leaving towels on the floor.

Freyja on her way to the airport

Maxwell with his newly cut hair and giant backpack

Freyja saying a dramatic goodbye to Rolf's girlfriend's dog

Monday, July 4, 2011

The old home place

My grandparents house for the past 50 years.  Mom coming up the driveway.
 We met up with my mother, my aunt, my brother and our cousin for a 4th of July picnic at my grandfather's house.
None of us had been there in years, since there has been a big rift within the family over decades of hurt, that eventually resulted in a long estrangement.
My mother called everyone last week and ordered us to come.  Grandpa is in his late 80's and no one lasts for ever.

The place is an acre right smack in the middle of a very affluent suburb.
My grandparents are not fancy people and the happened to purchase this house and land at the right time, right price, and went right on living their country way, despite the posh environment all around them.   They ran the only emergency foster home in Clackamas county  for years, and were not always popular with the neighbors. From the late 1950's into the mid 1980's they cared for over 500 children in this tiny farm house.    The house itself is dinky  and not much to look at, but my grandfather keeps it clean and neat and his yard is amazing.

The pond
Lilly pads! When I was a child my grandmother made my grandfather keep the pond covered, she was terrified of someone drowning.

Giant sequoia tree- someone gave this to my grandmother as a potted plant in the mid 60's and boy has it grown! Most of my life, off to the left there was a big garden and a potato patch, it looks funny without it. Off to the right there were rows of raspberries and a swing set.  My grandmother dried all of the household's clothing on these lines, and in winter on lines in the basement with a wood burning stove.  She used a wringer washer well into the 1980's.
"the timber" We weren't allowed to play out there when I was little, just in the backyard.  When I was really small they had a little white pony for me, and my mother had a black donkey.  My grandfather has a workshop back there and he secretly used to smoke! Which was really shocking... he also had a gigantic pile of wood chips, he would meticulously trim the garden, then chip everything, and eventually the pile grew to be about 10' high, and he had to build this elaborate ramps system to carry the chips to the top.  It was very cool and I was disappointed to see it gone today.   He gave all of the mulch to neighbors and family members, he said, he just didn't want to mess with it anymore.

My cousin (who was born on my 5th birthday!) and I in the picnic area. In the mid 70's my grandfather planted a big hedgerow, so that we could have gatherings in this shaded area, nice for play and eating out, shaded from the street, and the neighbors and the timber.

My neice

Democrats! Life long Democrats, union people and idealist.  Even today grandpa was ranting about how unjust it was that the rich can build up their school, while the poor go without.  I am sure his sign in the window rankles a few of his more conservative neighbors.

The front. When grandma was alive there was a giant snowball bush, that was a big pain in the ass to mow around, when she died the bush went with her to the great beyond.

The family in the picnic area.  If you can't find something to eat here, you really aren't trying! I made two pies, macaroni salad, potato salad, eggplant salad, cole slaw, and hummus.  My cousin brought fruit and drinks and mom made baked beans and a giant cake.

Me and my baby brother!       When he was a teen, he used to walk here from school, get a ladder climb up on the roof and crawl into a window.  My grandfather would say   "what on earth are you doing?"
Jason would always tell him "I wanted something to eat!" I suppose coming in the front door was too boring?  My grandparents were just like that, no people to judge if you needed to climb in a window.

Grandpa with the youngest great grandchild

Maxwell, ready to walk down to the lake.