Still on the post Christmas exhalation

I had an idea last night for a post that I'm sure was absolutely brilliant. Unfortunately, it's evaporated. This happens to me a lot, though less so lately; the less so having more to do with the lifting of depression than some inspired move towards organization in my life. I'm working on the latter. Getting ready--or, more accurately, fearing getting ready--for the big move has pushed me to begin packing (my kitchen was dismembered anyway, so why not put the things we rarely use into boxes instead of putting them away?) and to begin doing my own personal deaccessioning. (Look it up. It's a word I learned my junior or senior year of college, when I took one of my favorite courses of all time, museum curatorship. The teacher, Susan Casteras (you will have to scroll down in the link to get to her) was fabulous, and I got in touch with her a couple of years ago via email to tell her how much her course changed my life. Didn't create a purpose for my existence or anything, but forever changed the way I experience art in museums, the way it's organized, explained and hung. As usual, I digress.)

Anyway, as part of the pre-move get rid of stuff I don't use, need or want project, I bought more clutter, namely, this, which I spied on the shelf of a dear friend who, while not, I suppose, impeccably organized, manages to gracefully keep multiple family, career and friend balls floating in mid-air. And her husband, like mine, prefers a clutter-free, minimal-possession world. It's well-written, somewhat to my surprise, as I had never jumped onto the Idiot's Guide juggernaut before now.

more to come...


Late, just like my Christmas cards

If you're thinking, hey, we got a card last year, where's our card from the O family this year, rest assured, you probably haven't been cut from the list (or, the loose amalgamation of thoughts kept only in my head about who to send cards to. There was a list once, but it disappeared along with most of my other organizational capability when my second kid was born. Sorry...) but rather, will be receiving your card, with any luck, in time for the new year's eve traditional disappointment. I do my best, which is often not quite good enough. What can I say. In the meantime (imagine me singing here:)

Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And God bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And God send you a Happy New Year.


Lurky friends, please say hello

So, one of the things about having a site meter is that when I check my stats, even if there's no referral for a visitor (that is, they didn't click through to me from another site that the meter captured) I can often see where they are located. So, for example, I know a couple of people very dear to me in spite of not much regular contact over the last few years have been reading. If you live in an unusual place, I know who you are. So say hello. I miss you, and would love to hear your news, or your comments on mine.



Just to clarify...

The previous post was from Friday night, but didn't post until just now. So I am not sitting at home in a darkened room with my kids, getting sloshed on eggnog, in the middle of the day. No. I save that for the end of the day, of course. (And, truthfully, I didn't get sloshed. Just a little more relaxed than I was previously. Later, I'll post the pictures of my house in its current state, and you will understand.)

Is it drinking alone if my children are here?

Happy holidays, I say, in spite of the chaos that reigns like mean old King Herod in my happy house. That's eggnog in the picture to your left, healthily spiked with Knob Creek Bourbon and Myers Dark Rum. You need both; trust me on this. Bourbon alone tastes too mean; rum too tropical, but together, they are, like Little Bear's porridge to Goldilocks, just right. And you can use supermarket eggnog with no ill effect (and no risk of salmonella)--in our neck of the woods, that mean's the good stuff from Broguiere's Dairy, in lovely old-fashioned glass bottles.


Be afraid.

Every once in a great while, like bloggers everywhere, I check my stats. They're not that impressive, frankly; my readership is small (but loyal, it seems--thank you!) and has grown a bit lately, thanks to NaBloPoMo and my program of self-outing. (Apparently I'm becoming more of an exhibitionist in my advancing years. You'd think the H would like that, but not so much. That's not one of his fetishes--when it comes to being watched, he's a bit of a prude. But I digress.)

Anyway, procrastinating today (I need to get to work on my paying job, not to mention my current career in home remodeling--remember, we list in less than three weeks!) I went to my little site meter. It turns out that more than one person in the last two days found me by googling "Lindsay Lohan." Now, that's sad on a couple of counts. First, who actually needs to Google L.Lo. to find her? She's as ubiquitous as dust in my kitchen. (It's being painted, which means first, it's being sanded, which means first, everything had to come out of the cabinets and be piled hither and thither on kitchen table, dining room table, dining room floor--you get the idea. It's so sad you have to laugh, and I have pictures to prove it.) Second, if you google her, and get to me--well, that's just wrong. I am the least celeb-focused internet presence I can think of, except maybe Mieke and Alyssa. So for those of you who've come looking for Lindsay's manifesto, or Brit-Brits hootchie, I am sorry to disappoint. Well, the hootchie-hunters, anyway.

The check's in the mail

We did it. Signed the contract, paid our deposit. Escrow begins any minute. [deep breath in. hold. breathe out.]

Maybe I need a paper bag.

Mostly, I feel excited. Occasionally, I feel adrift. The H's moods are up and down (this is not new, nor is it caused solely by cross country relocation. He's an...emotional...guy.) The friends are either laughing or shaking their heads.

I am going to sleep.

BTW, early next month, the site I'm writing for will go public. You might think I'm more interesting when you read what I'm publishing over there. (Or not.)



With the illusion of readership comes the illusion of responsibility

I have been bad, bad, bad about posting, and yet, having outed this blog quite a bit over the last few weeks, occasionally intentionally and then often not so intentionally, I do feel some responsiblity (what? to my public? please....) to post. Anyway. I do want to get in the habit of posting because I think after we move this will be a good way for me to keep in touch with friends in L.A., and give them a window into our wacky new life. (Please chime in if you think that's completey obnoxious. It's my week for hard criticism from people I love, so jump right on in--the water's been a little acid, but it hasn't burned my skin off, yet....and that's enough on THAT subject.)

Our house (in L.A.) is mired in the death rattle of polish up brush up prior to being listed for sale in January. At the moment, my kitchen is completely disassembled, as we are having the cabinets (and walls) repainted, inside and out. Have you ever done this? It's SO MUCH FUN. You have to try it. No,really. There's nothing like seeing your children crawling around the kitchen floor with their heads under plastic sheeting covering the piles of food removed from the pantry, looking for snacks. If that's not a holiday moment, I don 't know what is.

As to the farm which might as well be in Africa--we sign and send the contracts and final installment of our deposit TODAY. Did I mention, TODAY? To make me feel better about this, tell me what you think of the picture.

BTW, has anyone been following the Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Nicole Richie cultural multi-train collision/derailment/massive explosion? Who are these girls? And when, oh when, will we stop caring?


Where the hell I've been

So, not only did I not finish NaBloPoMo thanks to my netless adventure to upstate NY at the end of the cursed month o' posting, I've also disappeared from here since my return, just at the point when I finally outed myself to a bunch of friends (hi, friends!) as a blogger. (Good tactic, no? Reveal the existence of the blog, but then fail to post, so they turn away, bored.)

Actually, I've been busy writing elsewhere. I've been hired as a writer and editor for a soon-to-launch website , and it's been sucking up what little free/writing (sadly, for me, they tend to be the same thing) time I can find. As soon as the site goes public, meaning, loses its password protection and eliminates the few remaing bugs, I'll have a link up here. It's a pretty innovative approach to social networking, and I'm enjoying my work there. Mostly, I'm writing about food (and you know I love that) but also about literature, parenting, and whatever else strikes me.

But it does kill the blog energy a bit. So here's the update. We are buying the farm (see picture at the bottom of the site.) These are the things that scare me about it: debt (for a month or two, hopefully not more, we're going to own two houses. This is not something I have ever aspired to, my preppy education notwithstanding.) Small town personal politics. Everyone, where we're going, seems to know and have an opinion about, everyone else. It's a little bit like high school, but with tractors. I find that a bit intimidating. Tractors. Mowing. Land to be maintained, cajoled, probably not tamed. Moving. I hate packing, and unpacking is almost as bad. Leaving my dear, dear friends, who better keep reading this blog so they have some faint idea of where and who I am when I leave behind the life I know and mostly love.


Day 28 --Wherefore art thou, Fiammo?

Or, Bad Mommy. You see, while nursing a martini tonight to dull the pain and anxiety of the possibly protracted unpleasantness we may soon endure, and that I cannot write about, I inadvertently ignored the fact that half our doors and windows are propped open due to the repainting of the outside of our house now suffocating all of us with oil-based fumes. And the cat, the joy of our family, seized the opportunity for adventure (poor thing, he's been trying for months and months.)

Breaking news....he's back. Crisis averted, at least for now. I am off to read Katherine White, on gardening in New England.


Day 27 -- Dear G*d, the end is nigh

Even not blogging every day, this blogging every day is killing me. Everything I want to say has already been said.

Have I mentioned, however, that I get to take a flight, by myself, on Wednesday night? And spend the following day more or less by myself? I love my family, but to be alone? Oh bliss.

Do you think that's odd?


Day 25 -- Beaten by a smokin' turkey

Best intentions aside, the last two days have kicked my not-insubstantial behind. Two days in a row, we've had large family gatherings at our house, first my husband's family on his mom's side, and last night, his family on his step mother's side. Never the twain shall meet (hey, it's only been 38 years since his mom and dad divorced, and his dad is dead, but why let a little time, distance or death stand in the way of dislike, disdain or dysfunction?) Actually, the most ironic thing is that his stepmother no longer speaks to most of the family members who joined us last night (I believe her youngest brother is still in her good graces, but none of her other siblings, their children, etc.) so probably, my mother in law's sisters, who celebrated the actual holiday with us on Thursday, would have been just fine. In any case, for us this year, Thanksgiving was the holiday so nice we ate it twice, and I, unlike my turkey(s), am fried.

Since I never got around to posting the menu, you can view it here; it's essentially the same, though since I didn't make roast turkey this year, and my aunt-in-law was bringing a (delicious) mushroom bread pudding, I bailed on making stuffing. I always insist that stuffing is my favorite part of the Thanksgiving carb & tryptophan orgy, but I didn't miss it. It's an awful lot of work (all prep, but still) so it may disappear for a while. I also added the miraculous no-knead bread, which is like kitchen alchemy. My sister-in-law pronounced it as good as the bread in Italy, and she should know, as she's there for work all the time. The H's uncle made fun of me until he tried it, and shockingly, his wife emailed for the recipe first thing Friday morning. So do yourself and your loved ones a favor, and make it. It's ungodly good, and so easy as to be embarrassing.

Thanks to all the partying, my house is full of half eaten pies and dirty champagne glasses, and I feel like I may never get all the cleaning up done...but it was worth it. Dido loved re-meeting his five year old cousin (they met when they were three, but didn't remember) and the Babe was entranced with her fifteen year old cousin, who gamely toted her around all evening long. The H has been semi-estranged from this step family, who were a hugely important part of his childhood, for nearly a decade now, so the reconnect, especially as we contemplate leaving town, was both joyful and poignant. Hopefully, the doors will stay open for years to come, and maybe, someday, even his step mother will be able to join in the festivities.


Day 23 -- Oops. So much for that menu

I got so consumed last night with the pureeing and the mixing and the steeping and the stirring that I fell into bed without so much as a flicker of a NaBloPoMo thought.

I'll write about the food another time; it was good, not my best, but good. But the day was one of the lesser Thanksgivings in my life, with lots of anxiety, mine and others', and a wee bit of drama I could have easily lived without. By the end, my feet hurt, my eyes were tired, and I just wanted to lay on the couch and cover my face with my hands. But baby girl was having none of it, and she crawled right up on top of me, her face still smeared with chocolate from the chocolate pecan pie.

"More pie?" she asked brightly. It wasn't so bad after all.


Day 21 -- I almost forgot

Curse wicked Mrs. K and her nefarious NaBloPoMo. I must interrupt my internet Christmas shopping for my short people to say...nothing. At the end of a shockingly productive day, I have nothing for you, oh people of the 'sphere. Tomorrow, I will put up my Thanksgiving menu, which promises to be delectable. In the meantime, enjoy the picture of Dido at his first ever horseback riding lesson, aboard the lovely Caspian horse Jafar, and g'nite.


Day 20 -- The work of being

My shrink told me today that I resist "doing the work" (her words) and "the process" of my analysis because I want her to play the role of my mother and provide me with all the answers. (My mother has an annoying habit which I have inherited: she has a compulsion to have the last, and definitive, word. If she doesn't know something, it cannot be true. This ranges from secrets of the universe to whether or not cabs in Los Angeles accept credit cards for payment. I'm serious.)

After I got over a great deal of annoyed harrumphing (and I still am kind of annoyed, but that's another subject) I got to thinking about what she might really mean. Is it the hallmark of maturity? wholeness? good sense? to realize that the only way to answer questions in your life is to find the answers yourself, rather than asking someone else to offer advice? Or is that a load of bunk designed to keep me in her very expensive clutches?

On some level, I think to know one's own mind is a sign of being a fully realized (eek, that sounds so ridiculous new agey) person. On the other hand--is it wrong to ask for answers from others? Is it wrong to ask how to handle a situation in your life? You have to go on living in the real world, not isolated inside your own thoughts and feelings. This whole line of thought, quite frankly, used to give me a headache. Now, I'm not sure. I'm not sure she's wrong, exactly, but nor am I sure that she's not full of it.


Day 19 - Perfect weekend

It has been a long, long time since I've felt, on a Sunday night, that I had a perfect weekend. Yesterday, I took the kids all morning so the H could continue to plug away at the never ending script. Someday, it will be finished, and we will all rejoice. In the meantime, I took Dido and the Babe to his last soccer game of the season (8:30 a.m., thank you very much) and then the three of us went to the Elves' Faire (yes, you read that right) an annual fundraiser for a local Waldorf school. I had never been before, and didn't know really what to expect, but wanted to go because a) other parents (not parents at the school) had told me how fun it was and b) I was doing reconnaissance to see just how far down the Scientology cultometer scale the place felt to me, since one of our private school options in our new home town will be a Waldorf school. I didn't gather much intelligence, since the one person I grilled was someone I already know a bit, and who seems entirely normal and thoughtful and seems to parent in a slightly more progressive but ultimately kind of similar way to me. (Or maybe, I did gather intelligence, and that's what it is.) Dido liked it because in one of the areas set up around the (beautiful) campus was an enormous assortment of wooden toy weapons (shields, swords, daggers, slingshots and the like--no guns) for sale. Weapons? He's in. Ah. As I told the H when we got home, apparently Waldorf (which has a pretty strict ban on TV and other electronic media) is a-okay with weaponry as long as it's wood, not plastic. Anyway...afterwards, we hit the Pie N Burger (a must-visit if you're ever in Pasadena; it's divine) for lunch, and then headed home for a brief rest before going en famille to our horseback riding lessons (again, getting ready for the big adventure.) Nothing could have been sweeter than the sight of my big boy sitting tall on a beautiful (albeit tiny) horse. We all (except the Babe, who watched) rode, groomed the horses, had a ball. We hit one of our favorite Mexican places for an early family dinner and then came home to get ready for the party-that-stole-my-ability-to-post (see yesterday's entry.)

Today--morning with the kids, at the Hollywood Farmers' Market, then visiting dear friends, then a birthday party, and then home to clean up and go to bed. I'm not sure whether it was the weekend that was so great or the lifting of the cloud over my head, but either way, I'm counting my blessings.

And I know, no one cares what I had for lunch or the minutiae of my family weekend events...but I want to remember, so here it is.


Day 18 -- Haiku

Birthday party for
Hilary by Jonathan
Champagne, and good night.


Day 17 -- Saved by insomnia and delusions of grandeur

I was lying in bed just now, trying to sleep, when it occurred to me (and feel free to ridicule me for the arrogance implicit in this train of thought) that I will leave California, and my experience here and look back on it from another life in New York, and it will be part of a personal history...and I won't have done nearly as much with it as, say, Joan Didion. Well, duh. The only good thing about that no-win sequence of scintillating nonsense is that it made me remember that, contrary to my NaBloPoMo commitment, I had failed to post today. So here I am.

I said to the H the other day that when I moved to California over fifteen years ago (it was Friday, September 13 , 1991) I never thought I'd stay here forever. And in some version of the truth, that's accurate. When I came here, to go to graduate school and pursue a now-abandoned (or at least interrupted) career, I promised myself I'd stick for five years. I had moved around a lot, both as a kid and as an adult, and I feared that my answer to malaise was simply to pack my boxes and call UPS (which, in fact, was how I often moved in those days. Not so cost effective, but hey, if most of what you own is books and kitchen paraphenalia, it can work.) But I'm not sure I thought I wouldn't stay here, either. I'm not sure I had any real ability to imagine much of a future then, and I fear that whatever imagining I did was so fantastic that even I knew, somehow, that it was unlikely to transpire.

Now I find myself on the brink of the biggest move (geographically, physically speaking, anyway) I've made in many years, and I don't have much of a fantasy about it at all. Granted, the whole thing derives from a sort of fantasy, but it's an idealizing, and opposed to a conjuring up from smoke and spells. I don't see myself becoming something new in a new place; I just see the place. I suppose I am waiting to see what I look like, once my piece of the puzzle is fitted in.


Day 16 --And so it goes

I think blogging malaise may have, indeed, set in. Contemplate this, which I began as a late afternoon project today with the short people. If mine look as pretty as the Wednesday Chef's, maybe I'll post pictures, too.



Day 15 -- Back to the world of the eating

Life, at least digestively, is returning to normal here Chez O, which is relief to us all. To celebrate, I decided to cook a proper meal for the first time in almost a week, but the pickings in the pantry and refrigerator were slim. This is what I came up with, adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe, with inspiration from one by Mark Bittman (sorry, Louisa, if you're reading this, but I like him) and a couple of touches all mine. The H pronounced it delicious, about sixteen times, but that might just be because he's been eating take out for too long.

Penne with Swiss Chard and Walnuts

1 lb. dried penne
3-4 T EV olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 yellow onion (medium), cut in half and thinly sliced
2 bunches swiss chard (I used one each red and gold), ends trimmed, leaves cut from stems and sliced crosswise into 1/2 inch wide ribbons; stems chopped into 1/2 inch long pieces.
1/3 c. dry white wine (I am sad to say I used Cinzano vermouth, because nothing else was open)
1 t Maldon salt
1/2 t dried hot pepper flakes
1/4 t lemon oil
1/2 c walnuts, coarsely chopped and toasted in a saucepan over medium-high heat until fragrant--maybe five minutes?
3/4 c panko bread crumbs
freshly grated parmesan
high quality EV olive oil

Cook the pasta according to package directions, but be prepared to undercook it slightly--no more than two minutes under the recommended time (it will finish cooking in the sauce.)

While the pasta is cooking, heat 1-2 T olive oil in a small saute pan. When it's hot but not smoking, add the panko and stir to brown over medium high heat. You want the crumbs toasted to a nice brown, and if the oil's hot, it happens fast, so watch them and stir frequently. Remove from heat and keep them in reserve.

Heat another 2 T olive oil in a large dutch oven for a minute or two. Add the garlic and onion, and saute over medium-high heat (you want it sizzling but not browning) until the onion begins to go clear. Add the swiss chard, the salt, the dried peppers, the lemon oil and the white wine, and cook until the chard gets tender, around five more minutes.

By this point, your pasta is likely done. If not, pull the chard off the heat and wait for the pasta. If the pasta finished early, you can just leave it in the colander--don't overcook it because the chard's not ready, but reserve a cup or so of the cooking water. When the chard is tender and the pasta is just undercooked, put the chard mixture back onto medium heat and add the pasta along with a half cup or so of pasta cooking water--enough so there's liquid in the pan to help form a sauce--just enough to make everything moist, but not soupy.

Cook together for 2-3 more minutes until the chard is tender but still bright and the pasta is heated through. Toss gently with the walnuts and breadcrumbs. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese and a drizzle of best quality olive oil.

I served a salad of radishes, cut into batons and dressed with lemon juice, aforementioned extremely good olive oil, a grind of grains de paradis and a sprinkle of fleur de sel. Pretentious, but yummy.

This was a fast, super elegant dinner. You could add some bacon with no doubt sensational result--you could cook it first, after the walnuts and before the panko, or cheat, and do it in the microwave, like Hugh over at GastroKid taught me (how did I not know this trick before? How?) And a word about the lemon oil--this stuff is your best friend. It saves having to grate lemon zest (a task I loathe beyond any common sense) and makes things taste better, and special. It's the secret ingredient in my vinaigrette, which drives people to distraction (both my mother and mother in law ask me to make them jars of it, and trust me, every other ingredient is cheapo from Trader Joe's. It's the lemon oil. Do yourself a favor.)

Day 14 -- Almost halfway home, baby

Taking a cue from the iniminitable (and despicable) Mrs. K., herewith my list of things I haven't blogged about, but might:

1. Purchasing my first copy of The Joy of Cooking, after reading this article in the NYT. I had heard rumblings about the controversy surrounding the last edition of the iconic cookbook, but this article sent me off to Amazon to buy used copies of both the 1997 and 1975 editions. I'm going to skip the new one for now. The blog, were I to write it, though, would really be about my mom, the cookbooks she relied upon, and why Joy was never one of them...

2. Au Revoire, Tristesse. We're going to leave it at that. This is a personal issue that I may or may not decide to blog about, though heaven knows, there's plenty of precedent in the 'sphere for me to blow the lid right off whatever privacy I may still have. How's that for ridiculously cryptic? I am having neither plastic surgery nor an affair, nor, sadly, getting rid of my minivan, so quell your speculation.

3. Why am I moving? Several people have asked me this question of late, and I'm not sure my answers are good enough; or, maybe, they don't have to be. Because I can? Because at 40, I need to shake up my life a bit? Because at 40, though I am quite sure Wolfe was write that one cannot, precisely, go home again, I do now have the confidence to know that you can return to a new version of an old experience--it will not be the same as the nostalgia, but it will not evaporate upon my leaving. (Maybe I'm moving to get rid of the damn minivan. Station wagon, oh station wagon, I am coming home to you...)

4. Vomit. Oh, right. I've already written about that. A lot. The H has informed me that I have been WAY.TOO.GRAPHIC. about the state of my GI tract in my conversational, often hourly, updates to him, so I can only assume that my lovely readers feel the same way. And I'll spare you one of the most embarassing moments of my life, which happened very recently, and which he got to share with me. Marriage is bliss.

5. Politics. Where now? The really bad bums are being thrown out, some of them anyway (Buh-bye, Rick Santorum, you evil f*ck.) But now what?

That's enough. More tomorrow. To all, a good night.


Day 13--Is this lucky?

So, this is what it comes down to. Half-n*ked children crawling around on the sofa, watching Kimba, while I try out the unfortunate-looking Yogatoes thoughtfully purchased for me by my mom during her recent convalescence chez moi. When you don't have food to keep you occupied, you resort to other, less sybaritic measures (though, I must say, these freaky things actually feel pretty good, like the bottoms of my feet and all my toes are getting a nice stretch. )(And yes, I know the Babe is too young to be watching television. In my defense I say three things: 1. I am sick as a dog. 2. She has an older brother. 3. We don't have cable, and they only watch carefully selected DVDs, sans commercials. So save your snide comments, if you have any. This is a considered, if still ill-advised choice.)

Today I got dinged from a job, heard some bad news that may someday mean our being embroiled in a protracted unpleasantness, barfed some more (ok, to be fair, that was at three o'clock this morning, but it counts) --and then found out that, indeed, the sellers of the fair farm have signed our purchase agreement. Dear G-d I don't really believe in! What have we done?


Day 12 -- If I had more energy, this might be a rant

But lucky for you, I don't. Lifting piles of laundry is an activity that today is making me feel completely exhausted. Folding the duvet cover--I had to sit down when I finished. Thank you, foul flu.

But the rant is not about laundry (though it well could be, as piles of it--clean, thankfully, though since the cat's climbing all over them, that definition is certainly questionable) but rather about small, often plastic, toy or toy-like objects that enter my house once or twice a month, usually in colorful plastic or paper bags. If you're stuck on the birthday party circuit, you know them already--party favors. When did it become an absolute necessity to send every party guest home with a bag full of crap that will end up broken in bits all over their house, cluttering up those drawers into which the things with no homes are placed? I hate party favors. There, I've said it.


Day 11-- More Vomit

This time, it's mine. Apparently, exploiting your imperturbable reaction to being vomited upon by your child angers the stomach virus gods. They're here with me now, laughing as I groan and run back and forth to the bathroom. Or maybe they're cackling at the H, who had to handle the kids solo from 1:00 today (though I did manage to pull it together long enough to give the Babe her bath, but trying to put her to bed, I got lightheaded and had to run--more like stumble--back to my cave.


Day 10 -- the end of the chicken story, and vomit, too!

...please read the prior posts re: chickens for the beginning of this tale...

So there Dido was, edged up to the chicken coop, a fenced in area at the end of the stables nee dairy barn at the house that may someday be our home. The chickens were scratching and running and making a noise that was neither cluck nor crow, when the boy cried out "OWWWW." For those who do not know Dido, he is, shall we say, dramatic. Inclined to the big gesture, even if the small onew would do. For those who do not know the H, you cannot, perhaps, imagine where Dido's flair for the hyperbolic arises. The rest of you no doubt saw it coming. In any case, I tend to treat yelps from my son with a calm that borders on deafness. They are frequent, and frequently come to nothing. "Mommy! I'm hurt!!!!" "Really? Did you poke yourself?" He was just at the edge of the fence--I didn't see any sharp barbs, but, entranced by the chickens myself, I hadn't been paying much attention. "No--my whole body is owie. MY WHOLE BODY." The H, bless him, said "Oh my God. He's electrocuted himself. Look at the fence." Electric. Electric fences keep out foxes, and coyotes, enemies of the lovely chickens. Ah. I have a lot to learn about country life.

But I know a lot about the instantaneous changes wrought by parenting. To whit: last night, the H and I had an honest to goodness date: "Borat" (funny, but not the second coming, for heaven's sake) and dinner at a neighborhood restaurant I'm reviewing as a trial for a website that might hire me as a writer (more on that if I get the gig and am freed of my informal non-disclosure agreement.) When we got home and sent our lovely sitter packing, I went up to the Babe's room to make sure she was comfortable; the temperature in her room is nearly always too something. She's a light sleeper, and when I went in, she said, so clearly, "Mom? Mom?" Sometimes I ignore her at night, but she was plaintive, and I couldn't resist. She was already standing in the crib when I got to her, and she was wet. Wet and....chunky. Oooh. She'd vomited, all over herself, the bed, even onto the floor. It was cold, and she wasn't crying, didn't really appear too upset. I cleaned her up, changed the crib sheet, laid down some towels, but there was no way she was going back to sleep anywhere that wasn't on top of me. So we ended up curled up together on the twin bed in her room. And so we spent the rest of the night, covered in bath towels, her puking every hour or so, generally all over us both, so we'd repeat the clean up cycle. Only mother love could make this experience well,not ok, exactly, but not nearly as horrifying as if the offending vomiter had been anyone else.

See--I don't always write about food, Miss Mieke. Take that. And so to bed.

Day 9 -- oh bite me

I meant to blog last night. I did. And then...I was tired. I have a huge project, an unpleasant one, that I've been half avoiding, half baby-stepping through, and it distracted me--not because I was completing it, rather because the thought of it made me so tired that I simply turned off my nearly-out-of-power laptop and scuttled off to bed to watch an episode of "The Office." Oh well. I'm not disappointed at not being eligible for one of Mrs. K's prizes as much as I am dismayed that I couldn't keep it together to do something for 30 days straight. Lack of consistency--or perhaps, constancy--is a theme in my life, and one I (clearly) don't know how to rectify.

This morning, I thought we were going to get the New York house. Problems were being miraculously solved, pieces seemed to be assembling themselves in the puzzle--and as of tonight, it may all have fallen apart. Buying property is a roller coaster ride. I'm sad, but sanguine. Even if we don't get the dreamy farm, I'm pretty certain we're still going to attempt to move. And experiences suggests that something better may be out there. Or, at least, that we'll end up where we're meant to be. More tomorrow, and meanwhile, off to bed.


Day 7 -- We bought the farm

Or, at least, we're getting closer, having agreed on a price, a length of escrow, when we'll sign the contract (when we go back for a final visit early next month) and so on. This is an extraordinary turn of events. And if I weren't so tired, I'd blog about it. In the meantime, I leave you with this happy thought: Speaker Pelosi. Chairman Conyers (Ways and Means. ) Ahhhh.


Day 6--It seemed like a good idea at the time

We break from our regularly scheduled chicken story to whine, just for a moment. Have I mentioned that I have committed to blogging every day? I have never blogged every day, since starting this silly blog of mine. In fact, six days in a row, where I now find myself, might be my longest run ever.

Today has been the ultimate housewife forced march, from sewer clean out to laundry to carpool and back again. I am tired, and still have a mother and a husband wanting my attention, not to mention the pile of records to be sorted for taxes, due imminently. All this by way of saying--no time to say much.

A demain.


Day 5 -- My son loves chickens

(continued from Day 4--read that first, unless you like your stories beginning in media res)
Dido ran to the edge of the pond (the upper pond, not to be confused with the lower pond) and stopped short. "THERE'S A POND HERE!". Yes, indeedy. And two barns, and, we later discovered, a creek, and a pretty farmhouse with beautiful views and cozy corners.

But as we walked down the property to explore the old barn, converted from a working dairy barn to a stable, Dido ran ahead, and exploded in joy yet again. "CHICKENS! CHICKENS!" A dozen or so, roosters, too. And he was transfixed.

to be continued...


Day 4 -- Leaving La La?

Since the H and I got together eleven years ago, we've talked, with ever-shifting levels of seriousness, about leaving Los Angeles. When we met, I was only four years into my vow of five years' residence here: I had moved around a lot before landing in California, as a child with my parents and then as an adult on my own, and I wanted to see if I could stand still for a while. Fifteen years later, I am entrenched, surrounded by a truly irreplaceable community of friends, a neighborhood that feels like one, even in this mammoth sprawl of a city, a network of resources like the ever-more-prominent veins in the back of my hand. But...since having our kids, the idea of leaving this city seems more enticing. As good as we have it here, and it is good, we worry about living in a city (ok, this is true of the whole country, I know, but it's awfully glaring here) with an evaporating middle class, where status is often though more highly of than substance, where running more than a few yards outside requires a long walk on sidewalk-less streets or a trip in the car.

We've turned over and over in our minds the dilemma of where to go. New York City we love, but as a place to visit, not a place to live with two small kids. San Francisco, same deal, plus a real estate market that, like ours here, is bloated to the point of insanity. Portland? Austin? Seattle? All are too unknown, and we're not so good with the unknown, the H and I. One place I've fantasized about is upstate New York. We were introduced to the area through dear friends who live in Manhattan but weekend not far from Hudson, and over time, we've made other friends there through them, and been seduced by the area's many charms. Spectacular countryside. Open land. No big box stores. No billboards. Lots of artists and writers living among farmers old and new.

We went back for a visit last month, and, somewhat on a lark, somewhat with a purpose neither of us wanted to fully acknowledge or discuss, we looked at houses with a realtor friend. At the first place we stopped, Dido threw open the car door, propelled himself out and took off running. And we didn't have to stop him. We didn't have to warn him about a street, a stranger, going out of view. The H and I looked at each other, and then moved inside to look at the house.

...to be continued


Best. Cheese. Ever--Day 3

A few years ago, the H and I started subscribing to a funny little newsletter written by David Rosengarten, he of Food Network and cookbook fame. He's a good writer, opinionated beyond belief, and like us, appreciates decadence in moderation. Cocktails? Check. Animal products? Double check. Arcane ethnic cuisines from low to high? Triple check. So when he started offering a "cheese of the month" type subscription, we were giddy. It's stupidly expensive, but his picks are often divine, the tasting notes are obsessive and funny, and hey, we love cheese, so a package of it showing up on our doorstep every few weeks is as close to a miracle as we get. This month's package didn't really get me swooning, though it included a lovely aged crottin and a delicious, stinky Pont L'Eveque. But I discovered, just now, that one of the cheeses had gotten buried in the back of the refrigerator drawer, and had gone untasted. That cheese, bianco sardo di moliterno, a sheep cheese from Puglia, may just have redefined hard cheese for me.

I ate it for lunch, just now, with leftovers from the other night. This recipe is adapted from one created by Giada deLaurentiis. Fragrant herbed vegetables (served at room temperature, not reheated--no need) with slices of this cheese? A divine lunch that would only have been better with a glass of crispy, cold, flinty white wine. Ah...

Roasted Fall Vegetables

2 bulbs fennel, sliced into 3/8" wide pieces
1 pound dutch gold potatoes (the little ones), cut in half the long way
2 cups baby carrots (the cheating kind they sell at the supermarket--no peeling or chopping involved)
1 cup brussel sprouts, halved
4 T olive oil, give or take
2 T Maldon salt
1 t freshly ground pepper
1 T dried oregano
1 T dried rosemary
1 t dried basil
1 t dried thyme
1/4 t fennel seed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a shallow roasting pan, combine the vegetables, sprinkle the oil and all seasonings over, and toss to coat evenly.

Roast in the middle of the oven for 35-45 minutes, until the vegetables are just tender.

I served this for dinner on Tuesday with grilled chicken & turkey herb/garlic sausages (Gerhard's brand) from Trader Joe's. Delicious, and Dido ate some sausage and even a carrot (one of the two approved vegetables, further to yesterday's post.)


Day 2--Turkey Chili

Did I mention, posting every day? I believe I did. Let's not call that whining, shall we?

I used to get lots of grief from one of my (few) regular readers when I posted recipes. Just because my darling Mieke doesn't much like to cook, and I'm totally obsessive about it, is no reason to get all snarky about the validity of cooking discussion as blog content. Then again, I'm biased: I happen to be nearly as obsessed with cooking blogs as with cooking itself.

Though no one cares what I ate for lunch, parents might care about what my five year old ate for dinner. Parents, as Hugh over at GastroKid will tell you, especially those of us who are foodie-inclined, despair over the narrow palates of our offspring. Pizza, mac 'n cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches and the occasional carrot stick, broccoli "tree" or piece of fruit do not a gourmand make. (OK, it's arguably better than the "typical" American high fructose corn syrup/trans fat laden diet, but not by much.) My kids are not adventurous eaters, though in their defense, they love Thai (chicken sate, pad see ew, and steamed rice) and can be lured into Armenian (pita bread, kebab, borek.)

So tonight, I fed the kids organic Trader Joe's pizza margherita and apple slices, while I adapted this for the taller people. I served it with basmati rice cooked in plain, salted water in the rice cooker, sour cream, sharp cheddar cheese, chopped red onion and a little hot sauce. The chili was spicy, with a depth of flavor surprising given its low fat content and lack of beef, but not hot. ("Spicy" doesn't mean fiery. In the best of all possible worlds, it means complex.)

Apparently, it looked good as the adults (me, the H, my mom) devoured it, because lo and behold, Dido was distracted from flying his spaceship around the kitchen and asked to taste his dad's. (I think it was the sour cream that got him. He's obsessed with sour cream, unless it's on top of a baked potato, which is, to him, grosser than eating--oh, peas, which make him gag and puke. Really.) After rolling a small bite around in his mouth for a moment, he asked for, and ate a fair bit of, his own bowl. Score one for the chef.

Turkey chili (adapted from Bon Appetit's Turkey Chili with White Beans)

3 T olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 small red onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 small zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 - 1/4 lbs. ground turkey
1-1/2 t. ground cumin
1-1/2 t. dried oregano
1/4 c. chili powder
1 T. unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Scharffenberger)
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1-1/2 t. coarse sea salt (I nearly always use Maldon)
2 bay leaves
1 28 oz. can chopped tomatoes
8 oz. tomato sauce (I shamefully confess that I used a cup of TJ's jarred organic marinara that was already open in the fridge)
3 cups chicken stock (um, yeah, Imagine, from a box)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed

For garnish:
1/2 a red onion, chopped finely
1/2 cup chopped or grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream

Some finely chopped cilantro and a sliced avocado would have been lovely additions to the garnishes.

Heat the oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat and add the onions. Saute until they begin to go clear, and add the garlic and the zucchini. Cook over medium high heat until some of the liquid from the veggies begins to evaporate, and add the cumin and the oregano. Stir to combine. Add the turkey and cook until it's no longer pink, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon. Add the chili powder, cocoa, cinnamon, bay leaves and salt, and stir to combine. Cook for three or four minutes to allow the flavors to intensify. Add the tomatoes, broth and tomato sauce and bring to a brisk simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary to keep the simmer (but not a boil) and stir occasionally. The sauce should thicken. Add the beans, and cook for another ten minutes or so. Remove the bay leaves, and serve over rice and with the garnishes. Serves at least six.


Day 1

Since I haven't posted since Sept. 11 (though I found, when I logged on, that I had started and then abandoned a post on Sept. 27) the idea that I will post every.single.day. in November is, let's just say--preposterous.

But, try I will.

Because I have Eden and Yoda to inspire me, not to mention Luisa, and the hundreds of other lunatics who've suckered up to this challenge.

And because I, at this particular moment in my particular cosmos, have LOTS to talk about. The theme for this 40th year of existence, at least its second half, seems to be "rock my world." Because that's what I'm in the process of doing, as I contemplate leaving L.A., my home of the last fifteen years, and the only home the Husband has ever known, for a farm in upstate NY. Okay, not a working farm, a hobby farm, as the real farmers call it. But it's got chickens, and room for horses, and room for small children to run until their legs turn to spaghetti underneath them.

More on this turn of events...tomorrow.


Massively inappropriate, or just all-American?

You decide. Today, I went to The Grove, local "outdoor experience" aka shopping mall and mommy haven, to exchange some Crocs I bought for the H. (They were too big, and weren't the holey kind. Apparently he could have foriven the size issue, if it weren't for their unhole-yness. But I digress.)

When I emerged from the parking garage, I was surprised to see lots--LOTS--of firemen gathered in the "street" which bisects the two sides of the "simulated Main Street, U.S.A." Nothing wrong with lots of FDLA, or FDNY or FD Anywhere. You gotta love the firemen. My friend Toby used to get drunk (we all got drunk a lot, then) in NY and run up the streets of the Upper West Side, extolling the heroism of the FDNY at the top of his voice. What woman, or child, doesn't have firefighter fantasy somewhere? But today, they were all on the Simulated Main Street, along with a lot of cops, and beautifully preserved vintage LAPD cars (who knew the LAPD had a car preservation position?) awaiting the begininning of The Grove's 9/11 memorial.

Right. The mall was hosting a memorial to 9/11 which was fully attended by L.A. 's finest.

Is it just me? Or are the deaths of nearly 3000 Americans not best commemorated at a shopping mall outside Forever 21 and Wet Seal?


Tea for two

The H and I are a little obsessive about our hot morning...beverages. A few years ago, we started getting compulsive about tea, specifically, Chinese, more specifically oolong and white. We like to go to Chinatown to sample and buy tea, but we've also had some success with tea purchased online. A new (to me, anyway) company, Kasora has asked us to give their teas a try. I'll keep you posted on the results, and in the meantime, check it out and let me know what you think.


Old man rocker, and mommy blogs, too

Have you seen the new(ish--I never see anything when it's actually new, like, in the theaters, just released, people are all abuzz) docu by Jonathan Demme, "Heart of Gold"? It's a concert film, which really Demme does as well as anyone (if, like my husband, you've never seen "Stop Making Sense", you either are too young, or, like him, spent high school refusing to wear blue jeans and listening only to classical music. You should rent that, too, and catch up.) But in HoG (hmm, doesn't abbreviate all that well) Neil Young is just irresistable. He plays nearly every instrument. (He can be forgiven for not pitching in on the dobro.) He sings. His (beautiful, but not so that you hate her ) wife sings back up, along with, get this, Emmylou Harris, before whom I bow down and who has no business singing back up for anyone--except maybe Neil Young.) He seems really nice. He has mostly guys playing with him who've played with him for thirty years, and who, like Young, look like they've been musicians for thirty years--i.e., a little ragged around the edges with some seriously questionable fashion choices. The concert was at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, legendary home of the Grand Ole Opry, and even if you don't give a hoot about country music, you can see that there's some magic in the setting. And the music. Oh. Do yourself a favor and settle in with this. You might be tempted to think, like we did, "Oh, I'll keep some magazines handy while I lie here in bed half-watching this concert film, I won't reallly watch that much, I'll listen to the tunes, and flip through Oprah." But Demme, bless him, knows exactly how to capture the unspoken dialogue between the musicians, the glorious moments as the accompanying Fisk University singers, young and African American, get swept up in music created by a white Canadian guy as old as their grandfathers, the subtle orchestrations that make this music truly great. With a tiny bit of introduction to the musicians and the music, he lets us understand how personal the album "Prairie Wind" was to Young, and why. It's a moving, intimate portrait, wrapped up in a transcendent musical experience. Enjoy.

And what, you may be asking by now, does that have to do with f'ing mommy bloggers? They rock, too. Tonight I read two of the best posts ever by two of the best bloggers (mommy or no) ever, Birdie and Fussy. Read 'em and weep.

[BTW, that's Fiammo, above, hanging with me on day 4 of life with the O's. So far, he likes us.]


When in doubt, adopt a kitten

Meet Fimo, aka Runner Fiammo O, aka Toby...aka MEOW MEOW MEOW (what the Babe calls him, haute volume.) Need I say--he's cute.


Netflix is your friend

You can queue up to see all the prequels to this film, and watch them all just in time for the October 6 release. Do it. You'll be fascinated.


On the road, again

For the second time in as many months, I am heading off tomorrow with my two kids, and without my husband, to visit my friend's new vacation home, here. A lovely place for a family vacation, though is it really a family vacation when one of the parents abstains, and it's only for four days, two of which will mostly be spent driving through the Mojave?

The H is staying home to work, without the pleasant and not so pleasant distractions the other three of us provide. He's trying to finish a script before Labor Day, and before our collective heads explode from the stress of the script being unfinished. Meanwhile, despite a long haul to get there, I get to hang out with my kids, one of my closest friends and her kids, who my kids adore....etc. etc. It's all good. I should be completely psyched. But...sometimes I wish I was the one staying home alone, not the one fighting for five hours in the car about why there are no more Goldfish, why I will not stop at McDonald's, why I will not listen to Music Together Bongos one more time...I'd like to think that if I were left home alone, I'd exercise every day, write 30 pages of...something I'm writing, organize our photo albums, paint the entry hall....etc. I wouldn't. I'd do some (small number) of those things and mope around the house and read magazines and eat ice cream, and go to movies by myself. (Ok, that last part sounds beyond awesome.)



Not really. Nice sound, but not mine.

I finished my meditation course on Thursday, completely exhilarated, maybe even a little high about the whole thing--I realized just how high I was when I crashed into grumpy moody meanness all day yesterday....then, I sat down to meditate last night, and--my mood improved. It's a little freaky to me; I am a skeptic by nature, and narcissistic enough to too often believe that whatever works for others cannot possibly have an impact on me. And yet--something is definitely happening.

This course was basically Transcendental Meditation, though as I think I wrote earlier, that term is never used. (It's trademarked by the Maharishi, of Beatles' fame.) But as I (barely) understand TM, the approach is essentially the same. Your teacher (he doesn't use the term "guru", though he understands that others may) sits with you privately, gives you a bija mantra, and then over the course of four days and about seven or eight hours, explains the technique, conducts group meditations and answers questions. Simple. It's all simple. And it is envigorating, relaxing, mystifying, all at once.

I found out about the course from a friend and former writing teacher of mine, but didn't tell her I was going to do it. I felt shy; I don't know her that well, I didn't want her to feel like I was on some creepy "Single White Female" (the movie) trip of trying to be just like her...I don't know. But then I emailed her to tell her what I had done, and received a lovely response,and I'm looking forward to discussing it with her more. Though I loved the teacher, I didn't necessarily feel much of a connection to my fellow students, so it will be nice to be able to talk about the experience with someone I like and respect so much.

And there's not much more to tell about it. It seems to be bringing me some mental calm, a feeling of being more in control as I face the normal stresses and fears of life. And that is worth a lot.


A letter to myself, in disguise

One high school summer (and, telling, I cannot remember which one) I pined for a boyfriend. I went to boarding school, which meant that every June, I left the idyll of my school world for the isolation of my parents' home. I'm an only child, and I went to junior high school in suburbia, a good forty plus miles away from my inner city home (a Chicago neighborhood just a stone's throw from the notorious Cabrini Green projects--"Cooley High", anyone?--then in the early stages of gentrification. It's now utterly affluent, but at the time it was a mix of urban pioneers like my parents and elderly Italian and Polish immigrants. ) This all made for good cheap food, but not much company for me. I didn't have that many friends in junior high to begin with, none of them lived in the city, and true to form, I didn't stay much in touch with them once our collective hell--I mean, eighth grade--ended. So summers in high school were lonely.

That summer, I desperately missed my boyfriend who was off on a bike tour of France. Now that that detail has come pinging back to my brain, I do remember who it was (I didn't have that many boyfriends biking through the Pyrenees) and when it was--the year between high school and college, the summer after my father died. Anyway, he was far away, not phone-able, and his letters (which were lovely) came every couple of weeks. I pined. Since he was on the move, it was hard to get letters to him quickly or regularly. So instead, I wrote one long letter, a journal, really. I remember the book it was in--Japanese handmade paper from a store my mother, then immersed in bookbinding, liked to frequent. This place made Papersoure look like Walgreens. Anyway, the book was beautiful, with a dark blue cover printed with orange and gold, and gorgeous ivory rice paper pages. It was a tiny work of art, and in some way, so were the words I put into it. I was madly in love, my first love, and achingly lonely (my mother was deep into her own grief, and I was so worried about her that I ignored my own) and I channeled it all into that journal. Some of it was minute description of my surroundings. I remember a spider (I have always loved spiders) trapped inside my digital clock. I used to watch him every night, for a span that felt like hours, and I wrote about him. He disappeared, finally, and I never knew if he escaped at long last or died in his plastic prison.

I used my words then to make sense of my own bitter surroundings and to profess love, even though I knew no one was listening. Sometimes that's how blogging is. Sometimes that's how email is. Further to the crush post of the other day, I have this erratic email correspondence with the object of my crush (it's calming down, now, happily) and it's serving kind of the same purpose. I have no idea if he's interested in what I have to say, but he's willing to read it and to respond, and I think that's all I want right now. I suppose the question is why I cannot trust the people who are actively in my life to fill the same function.


Yo ho, yo ho

Today's was Dido's fifth birthday, and most--ok, all--of the day was spent organizing and orchestrating his party. The actual party only lasted three hours, but between the time I spent designing and making the invitations, tracking down pirate-y party favors and decorations, baking the cake which looked like two ships (yellow cake with chocolate frosting) sailing on smooth seas (carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, tinted sea blue), prepping snacks, planning party-time projects (decorate your own pirate hat!) and games (hunt for treasure, aka the goody bags by following clues around the house and yard,) ordering pizza (so sue me--we had almost 70 people)...you get the idea. Lot o' time. Totally worth it. He had so much fun. The best part, says he, was "playing pirate with my friends." As it should be.

I love doing all this stuff, and I am good at it. But it does provoke an inordinate amount of anxiety about, oh, you know, who the hell I am after all. I'm in one of those times where I feel like my whole life could just break free from its moorings and head off in a completely new and unnavigable direction. I find myself having random (and not so random) crushes on men who are not my husband, becoming really nostalgic for my youth in a way I haven't been in years (maybe ever), missing being out in the world of the fully-employed. I know, I know how good I have it. I love my husband; he loves me; mostly, our marriage is good and strong. I adore my children to a point that is nearly painful. I have the luxury of not working full time, and in fact, just got a real pep talk from my husband about how now is the time for me to really, really pursue my writing. He thinks I'm good at it, and that any thoughts I have of going back to the grind of a 9 to 5 (ha! more like 8 to 8, plus 2-3 hours of reading nightly) day job are just covering for my fears of really trying to make a living, or at least an avocation, as a creative --creating--person.

Some of what I am reacting against is the crushing routine of childrearing. I haven't read the controversial article from a few weeks ago about the woman who confessed (to her thousands of readers) that she finds her kids boring. Maybe I'd jump on the bandwagon of those who've tsked tsked her for her callous ways. But I find mothering boring, too. Not the moments--they are delicious, or maddening, or mysterious--but the passage of time, which is relentless in its repetition. Lately, I've been trying to approach that repetition as a kind of Zen, a meditation on the necessary, in the hopes that by not fighting it, I'll feel more myself, more creative, less bogged down.

As a natural extension, maybe, of that impulse, tomorrow I start a three day course in Vedic meditation, which, as I understand it, is meditation in the Indian tradition (hence the name Vedic), using a mantra, focusing your mind instead of clearing it. I'll report in on what I learn.

In the meantime, the post I want to be writing, and the thing I'd love everyone's thoughts on, is extramarital crushes. Do you have them? Do you google them? Do you look between the linds of their emails for hidden meanings? Do you feel like an idiot while you do? I'm not talking about affairs. Affairs (not that I would know, happily) are probably best not talked about. But oh, the romance of the crush. It's one of the few things that makes me sad about my longish marriage, that I am unlikely to ever again have that sweet feeling when you're just discovering whether (or not) chemistry is two sided, and able to sustain from words into something beyond words...

Taking my romanticizing sorry self off to bed...


Sunday, Sunday

My house is quiet. Dido is at a neighbor's, playing with one of his best buddies. The Babe is taking an epic (no doubt soon to be over) nap, after a pretty sleepless night. The H is in his home office, furiously trying to finish a script so that peace is maintained in our little corner of the world. This leaves me in a weird state of limbo. I am so used to filling my time and brain with everyone else's projects, needs, whims and whines that when I have a few moments to myself, I am almost paralyzed. Clean my office? Pay the bills? Work on my writing? Today, I elected to bury myself in the two Sunday papers, and it has been lovely. I especially encourage you to read this interview with one of the founders of Bitch magazine, which I have never read, and which I am going to run right out to find. (Truthfully, the interview has more poorly-aimed snark than it does smart, but it nonetheless made me want to learn more about the lovely and tattoed Andi Zeisler.) And since, as I turned forty this year, I committed to doing a better job of finding my own inner bitch, maybe this will help. Though I'm doing pretty well on my own.


Isolationist policy

Sometimes I feel my whole life is an awkard dance between two poles, one of attraction and sociability, the other of solitude and loneliness. I don't mean this as a pity party, but I do tend to careen between the two extremes--I am either immersed in a large group or happily ensconced in one close associate's metaphorical embrace, or feeling out of touch, alone, unable to connect even if I try.

Lately, it's the latter. I've been preoccupied with stressors that will evaporate over time but which make me less likely to be outgoing. Most of the reaching out I've done has been virtual, and though I am one of the world's most erratic correspondents (just ask any of my dear, treasured high school friends, who are all, to a woman, infinitely better about staying in touch than I am) I have been astonished at just how many of my emails have gone unreturned. These aren't just idle chats to friends; some of them are professional (for lack of a better word) inquiries. It doesn't make me angry, but instead, curious. It makes me wonder if we are all just totally overwhelmed. I know when I don't return a call or an email promptly, that's usually why. (If I don't return it ever, no doubt something larger is going on--but that's another subject.) I feel swamped with too many connections, unable to do them justice, and so I shut down. Do we all feel this way? Do you? Is it an inevitable evil of our instant-access, technology-driven culture?


Late to the technology party

The darling Jefferson, handsome spouse of the lovely Mieke, clued me in to the wonders of RSS the other day, and my life is forever changed. I had an RSS aggregator on my old Salon blog homepage (the control page, not the public page) but I never bothed to use it; most of the feeds I subscribed to there weren't, as it turned out, the things I really wanted to read.

After I emailed a few of my few loyal readers to let them know of my blog's new location, he emailed me to let me know that my feed wasn't working properly. An exchange including a lot of "huh?"s (all from me) ensued. The upshot is that last night, I downloaded Sage, Firefox's add-on feed reader, and now, I know whenever there's a new post on most of my favorite blogs. Those of you who don't have feeds, like Ben and Anna, are bumming me out. I LOVE this technology. Love it. It saves time in a real way--it's kind of like Tivo for my Mac.

I know, I know. I'm behind. But I'm catching up.


Radio UserLand bites my a**

This is why I wanted to leave Salon in the first place. When I got the hostile email from the darling Mieke asking where the f*** I'd been lately, I said, "Didn't you read my last post?" "You mean, the one about the bridge mix?" Um, nooo, the one explaining how f'ing frustrated I was with Salon, and not wanting to have to pay for another year of the shitty software that should be free, and now, without my realizing it, my anni-f'ing-versary with the software has passed (ok, I should have figured that out, but fuck it, I have two children for Christ's sake, I have other things to think about) and now, I cannot publish an update even to redirect without paying $39.95. I am so annoyed. So annoyed. Have I mentioned so annoyed? I guess I'm going to have to email all four of my loyal readers with this blog address to get them to move, but the shitty part is, I'm proud of the old blog. I love it, I truly do. Not frequent enough, often completely stupid, trite, too many recipes, whatever--I like it. And now I have to go through more hoops just to keep what little (pathetic) momentum I may have had going. It just bums me out. But, on the plus side, it's a nice distraction from the irritating problem I wrote about earlier, and for that, I am, actually, grateful. Kisses to all, and to all, a good night.

A startling realization

I realized, lying sleepless in bed tonight, that I need this blog. I need the outlet, need the discipline, need the humor, outrage, pathos and center writing helps me find in the worries, annoyances, oddities and joy that find me.

I was lying there, thinking, as we occasional insomniacs are wont to do, about a worrysome situation entirely (almost) of my own making, one which I must confront, one which will have temporarily unpleasant but (I hope) eventually resolved consequences, and I realized, to my horror, that I wish I could talk to my mother about this problem, but (at least, I feel) I can't. And I also realized that the reason I can't may just be that she never really, in any honest way, talked to me about the worries and traumas (not insubstantial) of her own life. That's not entirely her fault. There have been times between us where she tried to confide in me and, frankly, I didn't want to hear. I may literally have stuck my fingers in my ears and chanted, off-any-key, "lalalalala." And now, because I couldn't or wouldn't hear her, I feel I cannot trust her with my failings. And the kicker is, this is exactly, exactly, the issue I was discussing with (overpriced) (very smart) shrink on Monday.

I just needed to get that down, so I can remember it. Because, of course, writing, or any act of creativity, is also an act of remembering. Don't believe me? Read this fabulous book by Twyla Tharp, the dancer and choreographer. Now that I mention it, I think I need to read it again, along with this, How to Write, by Pulitzer Prize winner and generally erudite fellow Richard Rhodes. He'd hate my writing in this entry, by the way. It's sloppy. But that's ok, I am still learning.


Oh, I love trash

Not really. But when you're watching the Sesame Street 25th anniversary special with your kids, it's nearly impossible not to sing along with Oscar.

I have so much to dowload. Weeks worth of thoughts and fragments and no-doubt scintillating observations on the messed up ball of carbon we call our world. I guess those will have to wait until I finish whining.

Here are the things I really want to do. First, (fascinating that I put this first, because it is the thing I make exactly the least time for) exercise at least five times a week. My mental health, let alone my muscle tone, is infinitely better when I exercise regularly. I sleep, I have less stress, etc. etc. I am awaiting the results of a bone scan which, my GP observed dryly yesterday at the first full physical I've had in years (mind you, I've had two children and am one of the lucky ones with insurance, so I've had no lack of medical care) , could be extremely motivating. (That is, if my bones are already depleted, which is possible, given a family predisposition to osteoporosis, I would have added incentive to work out --weight training, at least once a week--to try to reverse the damage.)


So much to write about, so little time.

I am, slowly, getting my act together to move my blog (and, uh, actually write the damn thing) off Salon and onto this site. The process is slow because I'm lazy, I just got back from vacation, and I find the technical challenges of any move nearly insurmountable, even, it appears, when all I have to move is a bunch of lines of code. Oh well. It'll come together soon, I hope, and I'll make this site feel like my own. I kind of understand, contemplating this change, why Kristal is constantly changing her theme, adding and subtracting toos, etc. This site feels like an unfamiliar hotel room, while the old one felt like my office, cluttered and messy, but full of the things I know.

I am boring even myself with this, so enough. I'm going to keep working out the kinks and hopefully will have this site humming any day now...


Where the hell have I been? Trying to figure out where to go, in a post-Salon blog world. Stay tuned...