Monday, May 28, 2012

My secret admirer

For the past three years someone (and I totally think I know who) has left me a little bouquet of my favorite flowers on my porch on Memorial Day.

I am going to go on thinking of this as a mystery, a person that loves beauty and can understand my deeply sentimental attachment to peonies, having grown up with my grandmother lovingly tending to hers, in a manner she reserved only for her favorite children (like me).

Memorial Day weekend

I had this vision of homemade mayonnaise, with lemon and herbs, for asparagus.

So Rolf helped me with the beating.  My hands are so wimpy these days, I can't do a lot of whipping or beating.

My special asparagus strainer, that fits inside the asparagus pan which is tall and skinny, and makes it easy not to over cook the tips.

the finished product, going onto some coleslaw. I almost always make cabbage salads with a vinaigrette, rather than mayo, but in this case, it seemed like the right thing to do. after all the work of beating the mayo up.

I also had a vision of roasting ears, so I wrapped all the corn on the cob up and put it on the grill, rather than just boiling it, which would have been easier. 

Maxwell fell asleep before dinner, having spent the night before at a friend's house.  He looked like he was still alseep at the table.  Rolf brought Mexican sodas so the kids thought they were in hog heaven, just drinking a big old bottle of pop right in front of me, like it was the most natural thing in the world.
Rolf making his pear ice cream, which he had been thinking of for months.

Freyja having "pie and ice cream, with no pie, but sprinkles on the ice cream part".

Rolf's girlfriend brought an apple pie, which is my favorite.  

She also brought this fellow, which normally wouldn't be my favorite, but he is very well behaved and super cute.

My poppy never produces more than two flowers. They were really lovely, though.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Pizza night!

making of the sauce.  The herbs are from our deck garden
Freyja adding fresh mozzarella, but making sure Mark keeps the onion and olive on his side!
Maxwell is away at a sleep over, so Freyja, Mark and I decided to make something special for dinner.  She chose pizza.  I chose to make it whole wheat.  Win, win.

Not really a hugger

I think we have been all over how I am not a very friendly person... well that isn't entirely accurate, I think I am a very friendly person, but I am a reserved person with people I don't know well.

I can usually tell straight off if I will click with someone or not, and with those people I think I will click with, I tend to start off quite friendly, almost like we are already friends, so in those rare occasions I am quite warm. The rest of the time I am fairly reserved and somewhat distant.When I have a warm relationship with people, I over-share personal information.  I pat them on the arm, and straighten their collars, I bake them cakes, and cook them lavish meals, I fix their hair and fuss over their pets.  I do not generally hug them, unless they are leaving, and we are standing at a door, and they hug me first. 

Naturally there are people I hug.  I hug my children often, more often than they would like.  I hug my husband, but truth be told he is not a real hugger himself.  I hug the children at the preschool often, openly and with love. I hugged my grandmothers, I don't hug my remaining grandfather, because it feels unnatural, since we have had this long weird estrangement.  I hug my friend Kathy, I hug my friend Don. I have tons of good close friends that I don't hug.  I don't really hug Rolf.  The hug is not a sign of rank of goodness of friendship for me. 

I have a new employee, a quit nice young woman, I could be her very young mother, kind of young person, and yesterday she hugged me not once, but twice.  She quite possibly would have hugged me a third time, had I not stepped out of the path of her arms.  I was completely and utterly thrown off by the hugging. I don't even hug the employee that also works at my house often. The one I like, the one I feel motherly toward. I feed her.  I give her motherly advice and recently promised her my old washing machine and dryer, but I never hug her.

A few days ago a family that had been at the school with me for three years, had their last day, and wouldn't you know it, they gave me a hug goodbye. It was very kind of them to hug me, but truth be told, I was sort of dreading it.

Sometimes I think I am a total weirdo because I hate people to hug me.  I like to be the initiator of all hugs coming my way.

I have a dear childhood friend, whos father is like family to me; I adore him, but he is a hugger and a kisser! There is nothing creepy about the guy, he is an equal opportunity hugger and kisser, he kisses and hugs everyone and is  completely well meaning, but it just makes me want to have a large tray, or some other device to provide a barrier,  in my arms any time we meet, because I just hate having to turn my head.  Perhaps he was French in a past life?  My father in law is a hugger and kisser too.  He kisses and hugs Mark very affectionately and I cringe every time, knowing that I am next.

Anyway, I hope the girl from work will settle down and stop hugging me, or I will have to have an awkward conversation with her about boundaries.  Who am I kidding? I shall never have that conversation, I will just put up with the hugging and start carrying armloads of stuff whenever I might cross her path.
 Freyja got up early, and we went to the Pearl, as we often do on Saturday mornings.   Today she broke with tradition and had a brioche, which she was only moderately happy with.  Stick with what you know, is my advice.

I sold Maxwell's Playmobile castle on Craigslist, to a man named Klaus, who had a tiny anemic looking five year old.  The five year old was a tiny bit rainmanish in his ability to memorize plans, it seems and informed me that I had some of the rook work on the tower, on upside down.  What can I say? Maxwell and I are idea people, not builders.  We had owned the castle for nine years, and all the while it had been put together incorrectly.

I am also selling off all of those wooden vehicles.   I am running out of space for all this shit, and I need to purge.  It makes Mark nervous when I get rid of the kid's stuff.

I know everyone thinks of me as the hoarding, sentimental fool, which is true, but Mark is at least as bad, if not worse. Together we are a hot mess. If he had his way he would keep every paper that Freyja brings home from school, which is why I have to clean out her backpack everyday and hid things in the recycling bag, away from his line of vision.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Going, going, GONE!

 I donated a gift certificate for cupcakes to an auction a couple years ago, and the family asked me to make them this weekend. I have not baked or even cooked very much lately and it felt like an enormous burden, but once I got going it was no big deal.  I had left over batter, so I made a tiny bunt cake for my family.

another Saturday night

I decided to make Cuban inspired food for Saturday night.  It was my friend Don's birthday, and he didn't have any special plans, being the single dad of a toddler, special plans are somewhat hard to come by, so we had him and another musician friend of his, that used to send his daughter to our apartment in NW for music lessons 20 years ago, when Don and I lived there and he taught lessons out of our guestroom.  The daughter has a newborn baby these days.  Man, we are getting OLD. The were coming from a gig in Hillsboro  and I think Don was happy to have a dinner, rather than Pizza Oasis pizza, which is where they were headed, before I phoned.  
I was afraid to put hot stuff on the new buffet top.
Rolf and I made ice cream in last weekend, but I really like this photo, even though my hands looks sort of oldladyish.  The pin that holds the handle on the crank snapped off, so cranking was hard.  Our friend Mark Murphy came by and Rolf tried to claim that the salt had eroded the metal, but Mark said "Rolf, I bet that thing rusted because you left it outside for the past 15 years!" and I had to support that thesis.  Rolf plays pretty fast and loose with caring for stuff.  The ice cream wasn't that great.  We used all cream, which made it too creamy and rich, and we didn't have enough cherries to give good flavor, and it wasn't cranked quite long enough.
Freyja built this Eiffel tower out of unit blocks that are meant for doing fractions.  She is obsessed with France.
The dinner went over pretty well.  I made enough food for about 20 people, though!
Maxwell is pretty cool, huh?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

And it's finished!

I finally finished the buffet, and got all the sawdust cleaned up, and things put back together again.  It looks pretty darn good, particularly considering how bad it was to begin with!

a work in progress, Rolf and I trying to figure out the most effective way to install the new top, and deal with the warped old layers. The trim was another issue, since it was in no manner square or even! Notice how the veneer on the drawers is super warped, then check out how awesome and flat they are in the finished product below!
applying an anti-fungal agent by moonlight
the finished product with three layers of varnish.

Friday, May 18, 2012

It's a Norwegian thing

Maxwell had another parade to drum in last night. 
This performance was for a Norwegian festival (who knew?). 
The sons of Norway invited the band from Maxwell's school to preform, I am assuming there is some connection some where, but I haven't been able to connect any dots so far.
So it was Maxwell and his performing arts school and a bunch of Norwegians, and horses, an incongruous group if ever there was one.  

We all met up at this fine establishment, a giant hall in industrial NE, that has a bar, a big dance floor and a Norse Room, a sort of church basement affair in in the basement of the building, with a kitchen dining hall.

Being the sort that enjoys church basements (but not church) and little old ladies and potluck suppers, I was delighted to be there, but I can't say as much for the 60 Jr. high band members that we crammed into the space, for SUPPER! provided by ancient Norwegian ladies in native costume.

No these naughty, rowdy children we not one bit happy about a two hour wait until the parade and they were just awful.  Loud, lewd, stinky and vulgar.
I sat back for a while and watched as the little old ladies attempted to pull the dinner together, then finally I stepped in and offered to serve the dinner for them, and they gleefully handed over the steam table full of waterlogged hotdogs, and scampered out to join in the folk dancing fun upstairs. 

The first thing I did was disband the feeble line that had formed, and made everyone sit down.   

I have a fairly loud voice when necessary and can summon my inner librarian to  look disapproving and make people bend to my will.  There was another mother there with similar skills and temperament and in no time flat we were walking around with large trays of hotdogs, all bunned up and ready to be placed in front of the masses. Dinner went off without a hitch, with me only having to stare down one out of line 8th grader.  Maxwell was pretending he didn't know me, as I used my drill instructor voice to tell Mr. Disrespectful to SIT DOWN and PUT YOUR SHIRT ON NOW!

So we all went outside to practice and line up, which is when thing all went to hell in a Hawaiian punch colored handbasket. 

The teacher, in all of her extreme disorganization and poor planning allowed a pack of the bad boys back inside to get water.
When they were inside they either intentionally, or accidentally opened the spigot of a giant Igloo cooler filled with punch and let it run freely, until the other mean mother noticed them missing and went in to investigate. 

When she arrived on the scene the giant bad boys were throwing things and pushing one another around in the wheeled chairs, while the 93 (yes, NINTEY THREE) year old hall matron, pleaded with them to settle down. 

The other mean mom, ushered the boys outside, sopped up the mess and came and found me. 

There was to be cake and some kind of Norwegian pudding after the parade, and it was our mission to get the room cleaned up (did I mention the  mashed Cheetos?), and come up with a cake service plan before the kids  & the Norwegian cake ladies returned.

I went into my full tilt cleaning mode and in no time flat we not only had the carpet cleanish, but we also set up two addition tables, set them with napkins and flatware, and cut the giant cakes, plated them, loaded them onto trays for serving and lined all the instrument cases up by type, so that the children could put their instruments away, and then proceed to the cake area (part of the problem earlier, in addition to the general rowdy behavior, was a cacophonous honking and clanking and plunking on the piano.  I was serving cake like a crazy person, had I been in a restaurant I would have been killing it, until that damned old woman showed back up insistent on serving the pudding thing and asking for the line.  A line is never a good idea when it comes to food service, and is a particularly bad idea when serving food to children.  So off she went with her line, and at that point I gave up, and asked for a scoop of the hot gelatinous pudding. I can't recall the name, but it comes with melted BUTTER poured over it, so think twice if you have a heart condition, if you are ever offered any.  It wasn't half bad, once you got past the notion of eating hot cream with butter poured on top.

I took some to go for Rolf, it was right up his alley.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My latest project

I was given a bamboo buffet last fall, maybe even late summer, I don't recall now.
It is in very rough shape. A mess from sitting outside for years, when it should have been inside.
All of the veneer on the top is peeling, some of it gone completely, but it is structurally very sound, so I thought I would give it a makeover.
 need something to store my vases and garden gear in, and a place to put food when we eat outside.

At first I thought I would tile the top, the way I did my dining room buffet (which I found on the street in front of a dumpster).  But that is a lot more work than I am able to commit to these days, so I decided to just put a plywood top on instead. 
I was thinking marine plywood, but when Rolf went to purchase the wood for me and have it cut, the fellow at the store freaked out, at the notion of using treated wood for a table, and I wound up with regular old plywood, which I will treat myself. HA!
I liked the look of the wood grain, so I did a little sheer color wash over it with Stockmar watercolor, and then I will seal it with some weather proof sealant.

The first step was to take the last of the veneer off, then sand. 
Freyja helped with sanding. 

It was dark when I was finishing up the staining with the watercolor. 

The top is really lovely, the front of the drawers looks like it was done in the dark, by a blind person, an angry blind person that hates bamboo furniture, but it will have to do. 

I also bought a piece of  3/4" decorative trim, to put long the front, to hide where the new top meets the old.  I think it will look pretty nice when I am done.

Monday, May 14, 2012

you don't write, you don't call...

I didn't think I would do it. 

Let the blog go this long. 

I started this project as a way to connect myself with writing in an informal yet accessible way, and it has totally gotten away from me.

There are a million excuses for not writing, but they are all just as lame as the million excuses I give for not exercising more regularly, or eating breakfast, or being a generally better person.

For eight weeks I was pretty much on my own at work, which did create a physical time suck, that was different for me, but in reality I could have been more disciplined had I tried harder. 

My life story.  I lack discipline, just ask my mother.

I have kept up with yoga fairly consistently, which makes me feel slightly less ratty. 

Goody for me.

Maxwell had a band performance this past weekend, which involved me driving him to St. Johns at 7:30am, so he could wait around for a long time, then march in a parade.

There was a lot of confusion and vagueness about the meeting spot, and at one point Maxwell and I became  separated, he went with the group, and I walked around another way, to the place the teacher had originally told us to meet.  When I finally found the teacher and the other children Maxwell was no where to be found. 

I asked the teacher "where is Max?" and she told me something to the effect of "I dunno" at which point I freaked out and shrieked a tiny bit "You need to find my child RIGHT NOW! THIS LEVEL OF DISORGANIZATION IS UNACCEPTABLE! You may not lose my child, in the middle of St. Johns!!" 
He eventually turned up, having walked back a quarter mile or so to the car, where he thought I might be.  I have no idea how he found the band, in the totally random place that we happened to have ended up, but he did.    The teacher yelled at him "where were you?", but she was the one that was an hour late, and had an entire school band walking all over North Portland, looking for her tardy ass,  so she didn't get a lot of support from me.

We have grown into the new dog.  Mark jogs with her.  I don't jog, but I like her well enough.  I call her Piggy, because she snorts, and roots around and is generally charming as hell.  I find pigs charming, go figure.

She likes to wrestle a lot, which keeps Freyja off the streets.

 What else? 
We found my mother a house. 
A tiny new house right smack near Hawthorne, west of 39th, and she is delighted to have gotten her way.  It is a fine house.

I will be inheriting her sofa, which is a great thing, as our sofa is 14 years old and has a pretty sizable sinkhole in the center.  Mark claims the sofa cuts off the circulation in his legs.  He is very high maintenance in some regards and says the same thing about the my car, so I don't know what to believe.

People keep asking how Mark is.  And I don't really know what to say. 
When you deal with cancer and it goes away with treatment,  you don't really stop thinking of it. 
At least I don't. 
It feels like a bad landlord that might drop in any time and evict you, or that boyfriend that gets drunk and passes out outside your window.
It is just one of those really unpleasant things that you can't really discuss, but you can't really forget either. 
He is fine for now. 
He will have tests quarterly forever and we hope that they keep turning out fine.  Forever.

What am I loving? 

Stephen Elliot L  O  V  E    him.  can't wait to see his movie. 

My friend M, the Buddhist nun, that sings show tunes.  I love knowing her. She restores my faith in faith.

My Iphone.  Yes, uncle...   Mark, you win baby, I totally love it.

I am so happy to see some of my mama acquaintances have so much success.  Cheryl's book Wild will be made into a film, directed by Lisa Cholodenko! And another author mama has had her book picked up by FX for a series! 

  My friend S, who at a very dark moment sent me an e-mail that said "who's the pretty one? Who's the smart one?  YOU are" which made me weep in the sort of heart breaking way that only a bit of sincere kindness can.

Nettles.  We went through nettle season like foraging mofo's and we like it like that.

eating outside.  We had our first meal outside on Mother's Day, and it was delightful.

The pig and the girl are calling, I had better get back to work!