Sunday, April 27, 2014

Thank goodness the rain has stopped. 

After monsoon like down pouring for the past week.  

Half of Freyja's softball games canceled.  

Rolf walking around making pronouncements of deep hatred of the rain and irrational threats to move to central Mexico. 

Today I'm volunteering at Potluck in the park, and I lack proper rain gear, being too vain, or too cheap to invest in such things. 

I had visions of being less prepared than the folks I was there to serve, having to borrow a tarp, or scarf.

When it rains I typically wear a 30 year old black beret and a woolen, thrift-store sweater, looking like a zaftig, middle aged Kurt Cobain. 

I haven't owned a proper coat since the vintage things I used to wear in the 80's.  
My mother often buys me coats, great matronly things that are always ill fitting, too big in the shoulders and waist, too snug around the hips. 

I look like a boxy gnome.  

The intention is good, noble and kind, but no thank you.    

Earlier in the week the clod from my doctor's office phone to say "your blood counts are low! like super bad, cancer patient low, Caitlyn wants to see you."  Naturally I was stunned and angry, but I know the doctor will make her news more palatable and gentle.  

It was a strange week with people angry about the weather and curt in grocery lines.  

On Wednesday Ripley was at his dog daycare, hanging out in the office, due to his fragility and neediness, when someone opened the door between the office and the exercise room, and a pack of dogs ran into the office and over Ripley.  He got a gash on his head and quit a bit of fur ripped out and couldn't walk for a day or two, but he appears to be recovering.   When Rolf brought him home he was in shock.  Lifting his head weakly and letting out a tiny bark, over and over.

I felt, several times this week,  like crawling under a rock.  

On Thursday, at the end of this cruddy week, I received and e-mail that was so flattering, and so kind that I wept in the car, as I read it on my phone.  

The executive director of a professional organization I don't even belong to, I should but don't, sent me a note and two job announcements at Western Oregon University.  

People are as kind and thoughtful as they are nasty and thoughtless.  

There is no way I can move to Monmouth, but to be considered to even apply felt huge.

in case you are still looking  for other career possibilities, here are some openings.   I thought of you for the Equity Specialist position.  

Mark brought me home a stack of books yesterday, and I fully intended to start on a collection of Sherman Alexie stories, but then I just read Entertainment Weekly instead, because I am getting weird in my old age.  

We watched a couple of forgettable movies this week and are re-watching The Shield, my fondness for cop drama never wanes.  Every evening the cat comes to watch TV with us, nudging Mark with her head for a long time, before finally settling down. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dog jacking, film at 11:00

From the "Only in Portland" section of life... my housemate was stuck in NW at Good Sam, after accompanying his girlfriend to the hospital, for an all nighter with her grandfather. 
He was waiting at a bus stop, to go home, and happened to have our ancient poodle in a tote-bag (because the poodle can't be left unattended, due to anxiety issues, and he can't walk due to a bum leg, and he was unable to reach me). 
A woman strikes up a conversation and asked if Ripley was a toy poodle. She then started ranting about how Ripley was neglected and needed a haircut (he is 15, extremely spoiled and very fragile cannot handle a professional haircut anymore!) and demanded that housemate give the dog to her! 
He refused and they got into a kerfuffle, until the bus came and she got on and rode off! 
Holy cats!  

Rolf and I reenacting the crime!

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Freyja has this vision for a cake she wanted to make for Easter.  She wanted to go to The Decorette Shop and buy sugar Easter decorations, she wanted to tint coconut, to create grass.  I was envisioning something a bit classier, but never one to block creative vision, I played along. 

And since I am never one to leave well enough alone, we went ahead and busted out our German Easter molds and made two additional cakes; a rabbit and a lamb. Rolf lent steady hands and long arms to the cause.

Just in the nick of time, mama pulls out the Easter tableaux

a little on the spicy side La Concina de Chepe

Bored with the usual suspects, we headed east, for some El Salvadorian grub, at the sweet family place in Hazelwood, Chepe.  There are several places we go to for El Salvadorian food that are good, great even, but the atmosphere can be a bit of a downer.  Chepe is not fancy, but it is clean, well lit and festive.  The food is AMAZING and inexpensive and the have margaritas.  Win.  We had pupusas, which is what you go for, but also yuca fries that were incredible, as well as sauteed plantain and tamales that were out of this world.  Freyja the world's most picky eater loved her dinner of chicken tamales, steamed in banana leaves, for a succulent finish that is other worldly- they are stuffed with chicken, garbanzo beans and potato.   We tried cheese and bean pupusas both plain and with ranchero sauce.  We had one that came with sauce AND over medium eggs on top, AND avocado!  It was phenomenal

Yuca fries with crispy pork belly and salad

best tamale ever

fruit in plastic cups reminded me of Mexican beaches, were the vendors stop and squeeze lime for you, and chile if you ask

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Friday, April 18, 2014

It's been a long week with me not feeling well until today. 

Lying around on the sofa, and on two evenings going to bed before Mark got home from work, which is something I have never done, so it was a bit odd. 

I have been terribly behind on everything. 

On cooking,
on cleaning,
on decorating for Easter,
on washing the dog.

I've kept up with work and that is about it.

One evening we watched a movie with Adam Scott, because we both like Adam Scott, and there was nothing better to rent.  The movie, also featured Richard Jenkins, also a favorite.  A.C.O.D.   is a small movie with a great cast and the topic is "adult children of divorce".  It is a fine little dramedy, which I sobbed through and felt gutted by for two days after watching. 

It wasn't the movie, it wasn't that good a film. It was the topic of course, and the character, which was nicely defined and developed, as a problem solver and peacemaker. Mark, who has parents that amicably divorced in his 20's, when his father came out, looked at me like I was insane. 
He is used to looking at me that way, but I am sure it gets old.  You have plenty of your own issues, bub, is what I thought, but didn't say.  
Later that very day a friend wrote a lovely post about the neighbor woman that provided a certain amount of comfort and sense of place after his own parent's divorce when he was nine.  He had recently reconnected with the family.  There is no doubt in my mind that his grief over his traumatic childhood makes him the knockout father he is today, but still. 
In the movie, a researcher was writing a book about the effect of divorce on children.  She said "children growing up in the 70's were the least parented generation ever." which resonated strongly with me.  I think the social value shifts that had everyone thinking in a Maslow frame of personal needs, profoundly informed that new style of parenting, or lack of parenting that so many of my peers grew up with, coupled with single parent households and adults focused on their relationships with other adults, lovers, second families, created what my friend Teacher Marta likes to call "a generation of pissed off latchkey kids!"
At the very least I think it informs all the attachment parenting and babywearing you see in progressive circles these days.  
I had a long thing in my head to write.
A long, meandering thing that sounded good bouncing around in my mind for two days, but today I feel a bit better, so I put out Easter decorations with my kids, instead. 
Another writerly acquaintance asked a question about yearning. 
About meaning. 
I spent my whole life consumed with the notion of meaning, wishing, hoping and yes, yearning for it. 
I let go of that notion when I said yes to being a parent.  Parenting my child, making sure a hole in his life would never open up and swallow him, that he knew every moment that he was loved unconditionally and that we could and would never leave him, that no one, no one in the whole world would ever mean as much as he means, that became meaning.  There are good and bad days.  There are days when lying on the sofa seems like the most rational thing to do, but there are never days when I lose that sense of meaning in my life.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

 There is a meme going around Facebook, one of those stupid quizes, that I love to take, this one ranks your life skills.  I scored 96/100, I don't know how to ski, and four other stupid things.  One of the things on the list was driving a stick shift, and I was shocked by how many of my friends said that they can't drive stick-
 My best driving a stick story is from  Christmas Eve of 1988.
 I was cooking dinner with some European grad students from PSU, and around 6:30 one of the women started crying because she had no tree. 
I said "I think the Thriftway over by Alpenrose Dairy sells trees until late" I phoned them up and they indeed had a few left. I had no car, but there was a French fellow, very macho, who had been building a sailboat, and owned a rusted out 1968 International Harvester, that was missing the rear window... he was totally drunk, so I offered to drive. 

The problem was not that this was a stick shift, the problem was  that the seats were stuck all the way back, which required me to perch on the edge/stand up to reach the peddles, it also had that long kind of gear shift, like a mail truck, or a VW van, that requires a pushing down motion to shift; getting decent leverage was tricky, so I drove across town, standing up, with the wind whipping through my hair. 

When we arrived the Christmas tree guy said "did you let that little girl drive that thing?"  to our intoxicated friend.  We got our tree for free, and returned to chestnut puree! Rolf and I made a little flag for the puree and the tree stood unadorned in the corner, with only a few lights.


This woman is funny and amazing!

domesticness heidelcus

Mayonnaise isn't particularly hard to make, but it feels like a pain in the ass to me, due to all the whipping. I have terribly arthritic hands and the motion of whipping things with a whisk kills me.  Whisking, along with writing with a fountain pen, have become tasks I no longer preform.  I think the last time we made mayo, was in September, when a hearty friend was over for a day of cooking and was able to do the whipping.  Mark bought me this amazing vintage cookbook for my birthday, Vincent Price and his wife's work from 1961, with menus from famous restaurants and their recipes! At the end of the book there is a section with Vincent's helpful hints and his own recipes!  This blender mayo was included and it is amazing, the texture perfect!  WOW! Place 1 egg and 1/4 cup vegetable oil in the blender, along with 2 T vinegar, salt and 1/4 teaspoon mustard.  Blend on low for 15 seconds, then turn on low and drizzle in 3/4 cup oil.  Blend on high for five more seconds, and VIOLA! You are done, man! Super easy, excellent results. I added garlic and dill for a green goddess type dressing for a salad.  This is a knock out recipe!

The new kitchen has this narrow little shelf next to the ovens, that Ben the builder built me for my over-sized cookbooks, because he loves me and wants me to have special things (I am totally making that part up, there was extra space left over, because the kitchen is an odd shape and size- I like the made up story better though.)

I finished this meadowlark pillow I've been working on for months.  Getting the feather patterns correct was a bear.  It isn't my finest work, but it comes from a place of great sincerity, which I hope will mask some of the glaring mistakes.

I taught Maxwell to hand sew well enough to add his patches to his own clothing, mostly because he was pestering me frequently to do it, usually when I just wanted to do nothing.  Today I had the machine out, so I reenforced some of his work, and fixed up a pair of pants that were literally falling apart.                                                                                              "The ass is just about out of this pair, do you want me to add the Rum Rebellion patch to keep them functional?"         Is how the conversation began. 
The waiting (for your mom to sew your shit) is the hardest part - said the sage Tom Petty!

Heidi as Polish serf

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Staggering distance

We had breakfast at the Midpoint Cafe, which is about 10 blocks away, which is awesome. 

It's SOPO (south of Powell for nonPortland folks) which is brave, or crazy, or cheap, depending on how you look at it. It's in a funny, little, ugly strip mallish thing, with zero curb appeal.  Thank goodness a nail salon with reflexology has also just moved in, providing some foot traffic.

When we moved out this way 16 years ago it felt like the end of the world, but our little area has gentrified, even if we are only 1.5 blocks north of Powell.  

The folks just south have not done as well. 

We hold out hope every time something nice comes along, so we hope the best for these gals. 

It's owned by the sisters that opened and ran Dot's for years.  I have no idea why the sold it, but they did. 

The new owners have yuppied it up a bit... old patrons got all bent out of shape, but the place was packed last time we were in. 

"The new Dot's has better food", said Mark, and he's right. The food is better and so is the lighting, but still.  I was never a regular, regular, but I have friends that were, and people hate change. 

People hate tomato jam and brioche hamburger buns.

 They just do.

The menu at Midpoint is a little strange, and a little limited. 

The food was good, high quality, attention to details, portions smallish, and a tad over priced for the area, where you can get a diner breakfast that would feed two, for $7, a couple blocks away, at Diane's or The Trap.  I didn't say that is a good thing, just that you can.

If they had any sense they would add some simple egg/meat combos, or some kind of big greasy hangover breakfast.  

The coffee was passable, and the service was excellent, outstanding.

Freyja was cranky and the waitress/owner got that letting her order a hotdog before 11:00am was a really good idea.  They have some good kid menu items at a great price point.  Thinking like people with kids, that is a big plus.

They are offering cocktails until 11:00pm, which is great.  A place to walk to for a drink is a nice thing. 

The decor is charming; a tiny open space with a few red booths and some built in banquets along the walls. My chair was too high for the dinette table, but I've sat in worse.  The lighting was nice.  I hate dim lighting, I know I am a minority on this front, but I just hate it. I was pleased that the place was well lit. 

There is lovely wallpaper and collectable salt shakers. 

It is certainly to my taste. 

I liked  it a lot.  The look was right up my alley, that is for sure. 

Freyja would have liked ham

The lack of ham pissed her off, but she is high maintenance.

Me? I like most things, so I was easy to please, with a giant cup of coffee and some sour yogurt that tasted expensive and had blueberries.  Mark had soy sausage and an egg that looked overcooked to me. 

That is one of the strange things, they are only offering over medium eggs. 

Is the cook limited in skills? 

Is it a safety issue?


There is a large selection of scrambles. 

For scramble fans there is a lot of choice.

Friday, April 11, 2014

We watched "Inside Llewyn Davis" last night.

It was beautifully made.

I happen to love that time period (1961), and folk music, and Coen brother's movies, so I was happy enough.

The character is someone I would find attractive in real life.  A real self centered asshole, with a high level of intelligence.

So there was enough content there to keep me watching, but the movie never really took off, it never came to a conclusion and the ending was rubbish.

A cop out.

As if they had simply run out of film.

At the doctor's office , waiting for the doctor I love and trust, utterly baffled by the horrible assistant that calls me "hon" as if she were working the counter of a diner, and tells me in great length about her problems after taking my history, even though I have not asked or expressed interest. She also insists on measuring me; I am 46, I have been 5'3" for the past 33 years, unlikely to have changed since my last visit two months ago. I detest this woman

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

You're Up!

 Baseball season is upon us and Mark is coaching again this year, coaching and managing the team, the Blue Ninjas.  

Freyja and he are beside themselves with happiness and joy and exuberance and I could mostly not care less, which may, once and for all seal my fate as a terrible person.

Never have been much of a joiner myself, I can't relate one iota to sports, so it's tricky.

I also find the time commitment  oppressive.

Freyja, on the other hand lives to be busy, to be in motion.

Where I like to clean my house thoughtfully and with great attention to detail, then lie down with a good book, or sit in solitude with a bit of sewing, or maybe, on a Friday evening have two cocktails with a close friend in a bar with jazz,  she would like nothing better than to attend three parties and a sporting event, all in one afternoon.

I was talking to my friend Lisa about this recently.

Lisa, also an English major, with an unkempt yard and a dog with the beginnings of teensy  dreadlocks on her delicious belly, Lisa who has a Volvo as old as rattle trapish as my beloved old and rattle trapish Volvo,  Lisa so smart and funny and lovely, said  

"I am just tired and hungry"

and I think she summed up middle-age rather nicely for me, right there on the front steps of her house, that, like mine, could really use a paint job, or at the very least, a pressure wash.

I am tired and hungry and a little bit numb from all that life continues to throw right in my face.

A lively series of fastballs that I am unable to recover from, or dodge. 

I told Mark last night

"I just need to go away." 

"but then you need to come back... What then?" 

"I haven't gotten that far yet"

Alaska, that might be good.  Someplace beautiful that isn't hot.  Heat would just spoil the whole thing, wouldn't it?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

My little town

New nail place in my hood! Euphoria spa  they are also offering the reflexology massage treatment, not as cheap as the places up on 82nd, and not quite as good, but for $36, for two hours, and lots of sitting around in the fancy massage chair, I will take it.  There is an excellent massage only place up in the mall near the old Food 4 Less, $20/hour massage! I had a terrible, shitastic week at work, so I totally deserved some loving on the old hooves!  Hawthorne nails does a better callous treatment, but this was pretty good for a one stop deal My only complaint is the lady cut my nails too short, and didn't ask if I wanted square or rounded big toes, but again, for the price and the amount of bells and whistles, it was a good deal.  If they start doing eyebrows, I will totally cheat on my girl Yen, just for proximity!

I had such a lousy week and wanted to do something special Saturday, so I invited my friend Jim over for dinner.  I totally had an ulterior motive, since Jim sews professionally, and teaches sewing classes and I need someone to help me make Roman blinds for the kitchen, and I would prefer not to have to pay for the making of the blinds.  I am pure evil.  I also needed a dining companion that Mark could enjoy, and Jim is a sort of sewing BroDude, kind of fellow that also knows about computers and electronic music, so, yeah, perfect choice!   So Jim was happy to come for dinner and take a look at the naked window, and chat with my husband and he even brought along a giant pan of brownies (America's test kitchen recipe! ) for the kids- that's right, for the CHILDREN! We eat the brownies for the children, because we are good people, man! I took them out of the pan and placed them on this Martha Stewart plate, because I am like that.  They were fabulous.

I made Bolognese Lasagna, which is thinner, and cheeseless, not much like the gloopy American stuff you typically think of.  This lasagne has a buttery bechamel sauce, and is made with whole sheets of paper thin egg pasta. 

I also made a cauliflower au gratin with horseradish breadcrumbs, and a sauteed zucchini dish with dill.  I had two extra sheets of pasta, so I did a rustic pappardelle with chanterelle mushrooms, fresh peas and sour cream and dill.  I sauteed the mushrooms in olive oil, and then quick cooked the pasta in the mushroom juice, then added peas, cream and dill at the very end.  It was fabulous, if I do say so myself.

Freyja and her buddy helping shred zucchini, and a giant pile of meats... extra lean grass fed beef, local fatty ground beef, ground Carlton Farms pork, lean Carlton farms pork cutlet.  All cooked down with carrots in a tomato stock, with garlic and basil, and blood orange juice.  Caramelized shallots added at the end.

I tried for two weeks to cut two mats myself to utilize an old frame, that had a print that I had always had in my kitchen, since I had my first kitchen on Broadway Drive.  It was a market scene from Seattle's Pike Place Market, nothing special.  It's a large piece.  Mark felt strongly that we should not put it back up.  He never cares about any home decor stuff, so I took this pretty seriously and decided to change it up.      I took it out and replaced it with this beautiful soft bird print.  A piece of expensive Italian wrapping paper, that I adore.  I found two mats, that were perfect, except not perfect.  Too large.  I tried hacking them with a butcher knife, but failed.  Finally I phoned up the guys at I've been framed and they offered to cut the mats for FREE- Because they love me (ok, I am making that part up, but I do buy a lot of shit from them and I am nice and chatty, and cute (also making that part up). So now I have this beautiful picture up on the wall, and it only cost me $6  ! WIN!

When I was buying the insanely expensive meats at  Pasta works, I saw this and thought, Aha! A sign from god, that buying this insanely expensive meat is EXACTLY the right thing to be doing to comfort yourself after a shitty and rotten week! And you know what?  I was totally right!  HA!

because getting old makes you tired and ugly.
Insanely in love with parenting this yahoo, who apparently is corrupting Moonshadow, behind my back.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

On getting RIGHT in the damn way

As a rule I try to be a polite person. 

I mean I make a point of thinking about how my actions might impact the quality of life of others. 

I try not to be selfish. 

I was raised to believe selfish was akin to being a devil worshiper, horrible person, evil, bad guy

One of the ways I try to be polite, is to not linger in lines, and not take up overly much space in public places.

Rolf often laments the shittiness of bus riding, which is exacerbated by clueless people with giant backpacks. Backpacks they either insist on wearing on their backs, thus making them EXTRA wide, or storing them on the empty seat next to them.
He and I  agree that we would never in ten thousand years do such a thing. 

Good Grief.  

Heaven's NO!

My own issue lately is with a group of housewifey joggers that meet at the Starbucks that is near my office.  Every morning I rush in and purchase a Venti coffee, and every morning I need to put cream in my coffee, and every morning I have to push my way through this throng of self absorbed assholes, blocking the condiment table, like a flock of polar fleeced, head-banded geese.   
The Starbucks is large.  
It is set up to mimic a salon, or a real cafe.  
There are lovely sofas and large community tables. 
But this group feels the need to cluster so tightly and so closely around the tiny condiment table, that I must ask them each time, interrupting their loud, animated chat, to please move out of the god damned way, so I can get some cream.  Most of the time they are so wrapped up they don't move until I ask several time, and have become frustrated.  Sometimes they move a smidgen, a micro movement, that doesn't allow me to comfortably reach the cream, so I sort of have to extend my arms in the is absurd manner that results in spillage.  
Occasionally I am curt and frank, and they give each other knowing looks, as if to say "if she would only don a reflective vest and go jogging, she would be ever so much less cranky."

I sometimes think of my grandmother, who might say "I could just slap the taste right out of your mouth."

 Naturally I don't slap anyone, and I ask fairly nicely most of the time, but I do wonder, who raised these clowns to be so self centered?