in a glass case of emotion

Well, I am feeling wretched today – it seems December, in two days, has already brought a share of disappointments. So I was oddly cheered when I discovered about five minutes ago that I have actually recieved something like *four comments* on my sewing blog (I’m not really sure how anyone finds it either – I lost my links at this oft-visited page and have been too lazy to put them up). Right now I have no camera (except my assy iSight on the Mac – a camera that always includes my rather messy and grungy laundry room background) so my sewing and knitting efforts (re-conn’d pants! left-handed knitting!) have gone undocumented.

But sadly, at this moment the more depressing circumstances in my life are overcoming the good. My parents won’t be around for Christmas while my remaining immediate family member – my brother (viewed here with hospital bracelet regarding an episodic severe intestinal illness) told me he’d rather have Christmas by himself, my husband doesn’t seem to care how much I am sad about not being with my FOO. Two friends have gone AWOL while I worry about their personal circumstances, one friend broke up with me, my older child is ill, and my younger child is growing out of his clothes too fast. And last but not least, Blogger Beta is acting like a gay and our bank account will be hitting bottom on Monday with four days left until payday.

Wow, it actually did not make me feel better to write that all out. Anyone interested in keeping me from throwing myself in front of a fast-moving train, feel free to send me a cheer-up email. Or barring that, a train schedule.

Today while the children napped (like canaries, their sleep-response seems proportionate to daylight) my husband and I wandered around the house, bored, ineffectual, too lazy to jump into our typical uber-housecleaning weekend frenzies. I was too cold and he was too warm (as usual) and we had carefully not over-scheduled our weekend – so now we had nothing to do. This afternoon while I cut out a pair of flannel pajamas he ventured into the attic to pull a cheesy-ass tinsel tree (via Freecycle) and thrift store lights out of the attic. Our now-garish living room awaits the awakening of the oldest child (yes, she is STILL napping, at almost 7 PM!) who will doubtless be thrilled at our impressively “festive” living room. Now that my knitting is caught up I am currently searching for an *easy* sock pattern for Sophie and feeling overwhelmed at the idea of assembling Christmas presents together this year.

Looks like it’s lumps of coal for many of you.

the best laid plans and all that, but at least I have extra cupcakes

Last night I hosted a dinner party for sixteen people. It was sort of an all-day event for us; coming back from our Lake vacation early, cooking and cleaning most of the day.

Sadly, we had many cancellations right before the dinner; one group cancelling the day before and another group cancelling on the day of. A third group showed up over an hour and a half late (with a phone call ahead and, I’m sure, extraneous circumstances). Out of all invited, I had only two guests come when they said they would.

Given the effort, time and groceries I expended in this effort it could have been one of those emotionally-heightened disasters. You know, clanging plates on the table and silently biting back tears in the kitchen. But the actual gathering turned out well enough – thanks to one party’s invitation of an unexpected guest we had seven adults and three children. Conversation began to flow and it was discovered that disparate as our homes may be (one family resides in Europe) there were many names and places in common. It was lovely to meet new people, one guest who has an import store in the Oly area and who I hope to see again soon.

My favorite item from the menu were the Son-In-Law Eggs, which received compliments from the father of one family (I think he said about six words otherwise; a very laconic fellow). Despite sending home food with my guests, I have an entire salad in my fridge. I Freecycle’d it – so far, no takers but this word via email:

“Wish my wife were here to avail herself of your salad. She would love it, but is away for a few days. And even though my diet consists in large measure of vegetables, I don’t much care for salad. I’m really sending you this note just to say that I think it’s very kind and thoughtful of you to offer up the sald as you have, rather than just have it go to waste. Hope someone comes along in time.”

Thanks, RJ.

The get-together also provided a good house-clean in preparation. In the meantime I am re-evaluating my commitment to community activities.

"Honest to God – *plays*!"

Tonight Cyn, Sara and I went for dinner at Nemo’s then a play at the Paradise Theatre in Chimacum. The play – “The Last Paving Stone” by Y York – I don’t care for much. However, this is the third performance at the Paradise I’ve attended and I always enjoy it. Among other interesting experiences, we were almost hit by flying hunks of fake sod, too. The whole audience, in fact, was at risk but escaped harm.

Today in the car on our way back from visiting Ralph:

Sophie: “Diarrhea means poop.”

Me: “Yup. It means lots of runny poop. That you can’t really control.”

Sophie: “You don’t eat it though.”

(Startled, I look in the rearview mirror and see her nose is scrunched up and she is making “kitten face”, showing each little white sharp tooth with her ears laid back).

Me: “Nope.”

(pause)

Me: “Dogs do.”

Sophie: “What.

Me: “Some dogs. Eat poo.”

Another pause. I sneak another look in the rearview mirror. Her brow is a thundercloud. She looks mad.

Tomorrow: finally, blessedly, Friday. P.S. I am sewing my children Thanksgiving dress clothes. Please make a big dorky “URF!” sound and hit yourself on the forehead, because that’s me.

and the wind whispers…

Today at about 10:45 AM my life changed temporarily by a modest, but definite, shift. I was standing in my kitchen having tea with my neighbor Cynthia when we heard this horrific BOOM! and a flash of blue light. Just across the street from my house an aging madrona had given up it’s spirit in the wind and broke a line.

My son is the first to alert us that our power has failed; he sets up a cry that his computer game is no longer operational. Cynthia calls the power company to let them know. My house seems suddenly depressed, less welcoming. The heat I’d smartly garnered for our day in seems now to be only reserves of warmth. We decide within minutes to head out, the four of us, for pizza and a coffee.

Upon our return the power is still out and although it is only about two o’clock the light is fading a bit. I pile blanket after blanket on my bed. I read a book, I put my my children to bed, and I join my oldest and soon grow drowsy myself. We sleep hours, only interrupted once when my son leaves his bed and joins Sophie and I.

At five my children and I awake and my husband is home. He calls a family meeting, and in the light of the few meager candles we have we discuss our options. At first Ralph is unsure if we can sleep here; it is very cold in the house. We decide to eat dinner at a local restaurant and invite our neighbor along as well. Maybe hunt for some hot showers for tonight, then sleep all together for warmth.

At 5:30 Ralph and Sophie leave to run bank errands while Nels and I get dressed. He follows me around the house as I carry a wine bottle with candle; his hands touch me in the mean flickering light and he is a tiny sattelite of trust. Recognizing the temperature problems, I dress in a not-too-sexy combo of overalls with yoga pants underneath. I know if I get cold tonight I won’t easily get warm again.

For now, off to our dinner with our neighbor. And then off for our night’s adventures.

accomplishments that are worth a damn to ME anyway

Tonight I brought the following dinner to a friend who recently had a baby:

  • Chicken salad
  • (chicken marinated in lemon juice, soy, rice vinegar, and sugar, then broiled)
    red-leaf lettuce, cucumber, carrot, baby corn
    sweet sesame dressing

  • Cold sesame noodles
  • Peanut sauce
  • Rooster sauce
  • Satsuma mandarins
  • Two-layer cake with chocolate frosting (my friend’s favorite), all from scratch.

I also made marshmallows and sewed hats.

And no, I don’t work my ass off nor have a messy home nor a rigorously clean one. Nor do I use TV to “babysit” while I do these various activities. I do however have a relatively ordered home, a joy in learning how to care for it, a husband who participates in housecleaning, and children who (more or less) know how to entertain themselves or even assist me in the sewing room or kitchen.

I have found my groove in life, again.

"I carried a watermelon"

My movie night went well.

Nothing like a little 80’s beefcake and very, very cheesy (yet fun) film. Everyone brought lots of great Mexican food, beer, wine, etc.

In honor the Mexican potluck thing, I also made these (only very marginally are they “Mexican”):

Pumpkin Enchiladas

1 ~4 lb. sugar pumpkin
2 cups sour cream
3 cups shredded gouda (divided, 2 cups and 1 cup)
2 jalapenos, ribbed, seeded, and minced
4 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon masa harina flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 cans red enchilada sauce
20 corn tortillas
oil for frying

Preheat oven to 425. Wash pumpkin. Cut into large wedges, scrape out sides. Roast skin-sides down for about 40 minutes. Take out, allow to cool.

Meanwhile, saute garlic in butter. Add masa harina and stir until thickened. Add sour cream and 2 cups of gouda. Stir until all is melted. Set aside.

Take pumpkin and peel off skins, put flesh in food processor and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Mix with salt and jalapenos, set aside.

Preheat oven to 350. Wet bottom of large baking pan with some sauce. Soften tortillas in oil (one at a time). Put about 2 tablespoons pumpkin mix and 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese roux in each. Roll and place seam-side down. Pour sauce over and top with.

Bake 40 minutes, covered. Allow to set for 5 minutes; serve.

domestic interludes

Today I woke up in worse shape than I was two days ago. My throat, my sinuses – congested, scratchy, ill. Yuck. This morning at least I am blessed with plenty of sleep and no hangover. At 7:30 I slide out of bed (kids still sleeping) and head to the kitchen. Start coffee for my husband and I and some breakfast for my kids to warm in the oven (they wake up voraciously hungry and a proactive breakfast is something I can throw at them in self defense, like jars of peanut butter at voracious doberman shepherds from some movie I saw once).

About 8 o’clock after Ralph has left and I’ve caught up on email and am contemplating sitting down and resting (I’ve done the math and I believe I do this about every 2.6 days) when I hear whispers from the hallway – Sophie coaxing Nels about something. I open the door to their bedroom to see my children, tousle-haired, pj’d, asking for Mama. I know the drill. I take my coffee and put it on the coffee table; sit on the couch. Nels crawls up on my left side, Sophie furnishes the blanket and tucks herself on my right. The three of us sit there quietly for minutes. I stroke their backs and the length of their strong, sturdy little legs; their little hands pet me. The smell on the top of Nels’ head is something lovely and indefinable. It is part shampoo, part health, part sleep, part uniquely and wondrously my Son.

I realize as I sit there with them that I have some sort of precious commodity. I have a treasure that I did not altogether ask for, nor did I quite win like a lottery. It isn’t the only treasure in the world nor the most glamorous. I do not deserve it entirely, based on merit, but many others (more deserving?) do not have what I have. These creatures curled up on my lap depend on me, love me, and are forever connected to me. Nothing could break the programming within them that causes them to find my arms, my voice, my smell to be the most Home they could ever hope to find.

A couple hours later and I’m home doing dishes by myself. My daughter is at school; my son with Abbi who is watching him for me as I take a more restful morning than I would normally have. In this way too I am fortunate, benefiting from friends who are also raising their young children. Abbi and I are sometimes like dual wives; daily bringing food, clothing, children’s books and knitware back and forth to one another. Just a phone call away from help, commiseration.

Tonight for dinner: Beef-in-Guinness (courtesy of a lovely brisket from Sunny Farms*), potatoes, cabbage, and carrots. We are sharing our meal with a friend and her daughter. Home-cooking and loved ones all around.

* This website cheerily claims, “a row of registers along the front of the store helps keep customer wait time to a minimum” – what they don’t tell you is that there is no frakin’ room to wheel your cart, and that several of your fellow cart-using customers will glare at YOU as if this is your fault. It’s the weirdest vibe.