Friday, July 31, 2009

Local

I attempted that zucchini recipe I posted last night and it was a flop. It looked good but the flavor was bland. Also, I would forgo boiling the zucchini and cook it longer in the oven. It was just too soggy. On a whim I also made a simple soup I saw in Better Homes and Gardens (http://www.bhg.com/recipe/poultry/fresh-corn-and-chicken-chowder/). It was so tasty that after dinner Michael Jr. ate the remains straight out of the pot. He also cleared the table and washed up the dishes. Very good stuff. Michael spent the evening visiting families with the missionaries and I played Jenga with the kids. No game is fun for the whole family when Josh is involved but Jenga is especially tough. Every turn is Josh’s turn and the object is always to knock that tower DOWN!

We’re looking at 107 °F tomorrow but it looks like the western side of the state is finally cooling down. It’s totally unsettling to think of that side of the state being hotter than we’ve got it. That’s where I go to beat the heat in the summer. I never pack enough sweaters. I wear slippers. I wonder why my parent’s neighbor has a pool. It rains. This has been completely unnatural. I’m just glad this wasn’t a week I’d planned to bring the kids over. I would’ve been hard pressed to keep them out of the koi pond.

This weather has been enough to make me consider leaving. If the coastal weather makes me so happy, giddy in fact, why am I here? I guess that sounds awful. What I mean is, why are we here. Okay, it’s not like I don’t know. It’s the age old dilemma. You go where the money is.

It’s funny; I’ve known plenty of people who live within an hour (and often much less) of their immediate family and wouldn’t dream of having it any other way. The thought of relocating for a job doesn’t enter their minds (although in this economy maybe it’s begun to). They get their technical training (or don’t), get their degrees (or don’t), but one way or the other, staying local is a given in the equation.

I think there’s also the fact that when we began going further from home for our education, the likelihood of meeting and marrying people from somewhere else entirely was heightened. Who’s local is more important? Also, the more specialized one’s education, the more control of location flies out the window. I can think of a few exceptions but generally speaking it seems to be the case. I know an awful lot of people who’ve spent years getting a fancy degree (or degrees as the case often is) only to find themselves, by necessity, very far from family and old friends. We make new friends , create new lives, and visit our old lives when we can.

The question is probably something like, “How much would you be willing to sacrifice to live in a particular place (or region, or city, or prefecture, whatever)?” In my example, the sacrifices would be as follows:

*a job outside of specialized field of knowledge (and therefore . . . )
*lower pay
*higher cost of living

In our case, Michael would also add:

*still not near his family

If we were to use a relocation to his dream area (the California coast) as the example it would be a little different but ultimately the cost of living is so very high we’d never pull it off.

But who really cares? We’re not going anywhere. Now’s the time to tell myself over and over, “I like the desert, I like the desert,” because as much as I might dream about something else, I imagine we’re here for the duration.
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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Food for Thought

Ah, relative quiet. The oldest three ransacked the cups of collected coins scattered throughout the house and hoofed it down to the public pool. I love that they can do that.

I’m continuing somewhat in the same vein as yesterday, though trying not to belabor the point. I really, really hate it when people complain about their weight. I’m not complaining. I made an observation and now I’ve got to act.

Today I cleaned out the refrigerator. Tossed out the old, scrubbed, rearranged. It’s not my favorite chore but I love the feeling when I’m done. It’s a little like my closet when it’s in a state of disarray; I feel like I’ve got nothing to wear. It doesn’t feel like there’s anything to eat, at least anything I’m interested in preparing, when the refrigerator isn’t particularly clean or ick-free.

The next step is meal planning. Right now I’m on the hunt for some great vegetable dishes to round out our summer meals (mostly grilled things). When it comes to dinner, I’m not a short order cook. Our meals have to be foods the oldest four of us would willingly eat (the younger three have to be brow beaten into eating most things so their tastes don't bear consideration). Here’s a recipe I haven’t tried but have read such good reviews that I think I must:


Drop Dead Delicious Stuffed Zucchini
Serves 4

4 medium zucchini
1 medium onion, minced
1 can roasted red pepper, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 egg, beaten
2 thyme, sprigs
1/4-1/2 teaspoon oregano
salt and pepper
3/4 lb ground beef
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 slices cheese

Wash zucchini, and put in a pot of cold water (do not remove ends). Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 10-15 minutes, maybe a little longer depending on the size of your zucchini. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a fairly large skillet. Saute garlic first, then add onions, green pepper, thyme, and oregano. When the veggies begin to soften, add ground meat (or whatever you are using), season with salt and pepper, and brown until cooked through. Drain off any excess grease. Set aside to cool slightly. When the zucchini have cooked through, remove from water, and allow to cool enough to handle. Slice cooled zucchini lengthwise, and scoop out center, leaving a little veggie flesh to form a "boat”. Mix ground meat mixture with the red peppers, and the scooped out zucchini (chopped), and the egg. Fill the zucchini boats with the mixture, and top each with a slice of cheese. Bake in a 375º oven for 20-30 minutes, until heated through, and cheese begins to bubble and brown. Serve hot.

Doesn't that sound good?

As I search through recipes I look for ones that not only fit the tastes of our family and meet my nutritional guidelines but also those that are super easy to throw together or made in a crock pot or can be made ahead and frozen, or at the very least are so darned delicious I won’t mind some extra effort. The good crock pot recipes are so valuable, especially during (around this house at least) soccer season. Really any time you don’t have the luxury of fussing about with meal prep. The freeze-ahead recipes are great for the same sort of obvious reasons. Cooking in large batches and freezing for the future was how my mom was able to work full-time during our younger years and still sit her family down for a home cooked meal EVERY night. What I ought to be doing, probably, is taking the recipes, planning a few weeks at a time, and doing a big shopping trip.

What would be even smarter would be to cook with some friends. Diane Jacks came to my M.O.P.s group to talk to us about once-a-month-cooking and it definitely piqued my interest. A few friends were so inspired they joined forces to shop and cook several things together one afternoon. It sounded like an awful lot of fun and they said the food was great. I guess the trick is finding friends who’re interested in the same sorts of foods. Hmmm. That bears consideration I think.
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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Weight!

Uh oh. How’d that happen?

I knew my weight was slowly creeping up since sometime this spring. I knew, I knew, I knew. I never quite made it onto the scale so I was able to put it out of mind a little. I remembered each morning as my selection of clothing became smaller and smaller, waist bands larger and larger. Almost no choices left. So sure about the permanence of my weight loss earlier this year that I brought bags of clothes to Goodwill.

We bought Wii Active last week. I thought it would be something I could do indoors (maybe I should stop complaining since we have it a few degrees cooler than Western Washington—totally bizarre) to get myself moving. I started running the week before I went to Yelm last, ran once there, then promptly stopped. Michael and Sierra began using it right away (mostly as a tool for making fun of each other). I decided to create my profile on the off chance I’d find some time to use it this week. But I didn’t know my weight.

I was going to guess but figured I may as well tackle this thing head on. I marched upstairs, stripped down, and hopped onto the physician’s scale we bought for 90% off back in our Boston days when Lechmere went out of business. Drum roll please . . . . . I’m packing 20 additional pounds.

“Don’t panic,” I whispered to myself. That leads to feelings of failure which leads straight down the street to Dairy Queen (more specifically to a chocolate covered strawberry waffle bowl sundae). There’s only one answer. I’m an addict and I have to face that ugly, ugly truth.

I have a sweet tooth. A crazy, desperate sweet tooth. The sad reality is that restraint and moderation are more difficult for me than abstinence. A handful of times in my life I’ve completely cut the refined sugar and other processed carbohydrates from my diet and endured a painful few days of withdrawals. And then it’s over. Almost miraculously, I no longer care about sweets and breads. A balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, meats, cheese, and assorted high fiber items keep me more than satisfied. And the weight falls off week after week. Until I think I’ve got it under control.

One of the more memorable tumbles off the wagon for me was in 2003. I was at a great weight and had been for months. I’d been eating a very healthy diet for 8 months. Then the unthinkable. A trip to Hershey Park. We met Michael’s brother’s family there on our way to spend a few days with them and my downfall was almost immediate. Ice cream was the first stop and I reasoned that one cone couldn’t hurt; it would be a shame to visit Hershey Park and not have something chocolately. I’d been so good for so long. So totally in control. I settled on a great big waffle cone. The next day it was chocolate samples and other no-no’s. At Ben and Sheri’s house it was Sierra’s birthday cake. What the heck. I’d start fresh at home. I would. I totally would. It took me a month or so to realize that a) I was pregnant and b) I wasn’t starting fresh anytime soon.

So once I’m fully off the sugary-sweet, doughy, bready goodness, I get cocky. I think it’s easy. And it is of course. I just totally forget how hard it was to get to that point. How close I am to the ledge at any given moment. For the last three days I’ve been in that awful, hard place. I’m cranky, tired, lazy, forgetful and totally convinced I’ll go mad without a chocolate covered strawberry waffle bowl sundae. In a few days I should be okay. I’m just marking time.

My family is putting up with me admirably but today I forgot one of my dearest friend’s birthdays. I’m so sorry Tia! I’m blaming Diary Queen.
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Information

No, I do not want to write an article about it Wikipedia. Google’s got nothing for me which leads me to think it might be a joke. But even hoaxes and jokes can be Googled. So what the heck is timber crawling?

“Timber Crawling is Not a Crime”

I saw this on a bumper sticker yesterday. Is that just climbing trees? Is it forgoing razors and your fellow men, living in those giant red woods? I really want to know! Now!

I can’t remember the last time my idle curiosity couldn’t be satisfied with a little tap-tap-tap on that little Google box. I guess it’s made me (and everyone else) at once demanding and lazy. I want to know immediately and I want to put almost no effort whatsoever into it. What in the world did people do before Google?

That shouldn’t be so hard to answer. I’m one of those people who can remember life before Google. An awful lot of life. It’s only been around since maybe 1999 (I guess I could Google that detail) but it feels like forever.

In 1999 I was 29 for most of the year and had two small children. I used the computer for e-mail and word processing pretty much exclusively. We were just dipping our toes in the digital pool, barely getting started sharing photos this way. We used the computer a fair amount and we had since starting graduate school in 1994 but it wasn’t our main source of information. It sure as heck is now.

I often thought that the generation gap between my grandparents and their grandchildren was colossal. It really was. My generation saw the beginning of VCRs and video games, cable TV. and computers--the future was so bright we had to wear shades, right? But somehow our kids, my kids at least, are blowing me out of the water. They have technology in their blood. They don’t have to stop, translate manual-speak into English, and proceed with caution. They don’t have one foot in the old world like we do.

Which I guess is too bad.
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Monday, July 27, 2009

Priorities

There just aren’t enough hours in the day. We’ve all said it, thought it, lamented it. For me it always just felt like a vague truism. Until now.

I made a list the other day. It was a list of the important things. I figured that if I could check them off the list each day, I could consider the day a success. Even if everything else sort of went south. In other words, Priorities, with a capital “P”.

Michael and I have talked a lot about priorities lately. If we have time for Facebook, television, goofing off in general, we have time for scripture reading, prayer, exercise, family time, etc. Those other things can suck up any amount of time but they’re mental junk food. We crave the stuff but get nothing for our time investment. Sometimes it’s worse than nothing. So we need to fit in more of those things that have a positive cumulative effect on our lives.

Why is that so hard for me?

It means a schedule. I know that’s the best way to fit it all in but man, not my favorite thing. We sat down with paper and pencil and put in the scripture study, the prayer, the exercise, the family time, the bedtime routine, consistently cooking healthy meals, actually sitting down to eat those healthy meals, everything we could think of that really felt important. But wait. There’s also laundry (getting it done, folding it, putting it away), cleaning, lawn work, grocery shopping, writing my blog . . . Uh oh. Where do I fit all that? I’ve had people ask me where I find time for the different things I do. I guess I’ve been robbing Peter to pay Paul.

On the one hand, I’m sort of excited to have a shared goal to work on with Michael. On the other hand, well, I’m not so sure. I guess change is most notable for being uncomfortable.
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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Baptism

I wish I’d been in a better mood this weekend; felt a little more pleasant but I didn’t. It seems like I mention it constantly but I’m hot. Hot and sweaty and clammy and gross and awful and cranky and . . . oh, probably many other unpleasant adjectives but those certainly sum it up nicely. This weather is kicking my butt and the heat pump, in its death throws, is not coming to my rescue. There might be something that could be done, life support of sorts, but there’s no way to actually get to it. Yes, the basement is that bad. Again. So anyway, I’ve been in an icky funk. I can’t imagine what menopause will do to me.

The weekend started with Michael and I attempting to do the honorable thing and put some time into the backyard. Michael started mowing the weeds and was immediately stung by a yellow jacket on the side of his head. Dang. I don’t keep meat tenderizer around and it’s what my mom always used on us. Michael didn’t complain for long and went after the rest of the ne’er do wells with some wasp spray. The thing is, we sort of asked for it. We had these cool dried gourds the kids painted at school with holes for bird seed. They hung from our fence next to the bird feeder my dad put up and were essentially yellow jacket condos. I didn’t mind because they seemed to keep to themselves and I could harvest them for my black widow. So anyway, we laid waste to all three devilish configurations and moved on.

It was too early for the Costco run and I wasn’t completely burning up yet (Josh was wielding a hose) so Michael and I decided to dismantle the trampoline. It was broken to the point of needing to be replaced and I’m just over it. I want the room for a pool next year anyway. So it’s apart and in the trash and if that was the trampoline’s status on Facebook, I’d push “like”.

Yesterday was a really hot day followed by today, another really hot day. This would’ve been a great day for a rain storm--my attitude-altering drug of choice (though I’m deeply grateful for the cloud burst I witnessed late last night. I didn’t have to rush out to water everything this morning; God did it for me). Today Kenny was baptized and despite the gray cloud (completely rain-free) over my head, it really was great. Many of our friends helped to make it go smoothly and I totally appreciate it. Kenny’s friend (and classmate last year) Kimber was also baptized and it was fun to share the day with her family. Especially poignant to me was the fact that I too was baptized on this day. 17 years ago. How cool is that? Almost as cool as me; I’m sitting in front of a small portable air-conditioner and finally, finally am not breaking a sweat.
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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Photographs

I have always been a fanatic about taking photos. For as long as I can remember. I’ve even been good about keeping them organized. And then came digital. It would make sense to think that going digital would encourage a person to be more organized. I mean it’s all on the computer, right? But no, not Tiff.

I remember how it used to be. I’d always be sure to have several rolls of film ready in the refrigerator and most of the time I would use services such as York and Clark to develop them because the price was right. I remember sifting through the envelopes to find the one with the best price and then ordering triple prints and even film sometimes. I remember the stickers they provided to label the rolls. I actually had a roll returned to me once when the envelope ripped some time during shipping. And then joy of joy! Getting the rolls back! Sometimes the results were great, sometimes not so much. I would put the photos in albums and then in 1995 I started making scrapbooks. I’d always take the negatives and put them in sleeves in three-ring binders. I had my act together.

Sometime around 1999, I think, Michael bought a digital camera. I never took to it because the quality just wasn’t great. I didn’t know how to get the photos onto the computer so it really was of no interest. I figured it was just a fad. How wrong I was! In 2005 my friend Tia bought a digital camera and showed me the kind of results she was getting. I was sold. We bought a Canon PowerShot right before Tom’s wedding in England and I’ve been hooked ever since. On the upside, there’s no expensive film and no negatives to deal with. You know what you’ve got as soon as you’ve got it; there’s really no guess work. No wasted money on bad shots and multiples of photos I’d take to be sure I got just what I wanted. I would only print out what I would use.

Except I didn’t.

I have not had any photos printed for our own albums since that wedding. I have the best of intentions but good grief, that’s four years! I think I need to make a mid-year resolution to put in some time each day organizing these photos and making albums through sites such as My Publisher or Blurb. Just one more task I wish I could clone myself for!
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Friday, July 24, 2009

BeingGirl

“I need to get that contract for everything!”

That Sierra. We were at HAPO this morning opening an account for Michael and I and Kenny had some birthday money to deposit as well. The kids all have accounts there because it’s within walking distance and we decided to open a local account there as well. When the woman behind the desk asked if we’d like debit cards attached to the account, Sierra whispered in my ear, “Can I have one? Can I?” Hmmm.

I thought about it for a moment and decided it was probably not a terrible idea. She’s always been good about putting money in savings and I could show her how to use a check register to keep track of things. That’s pretty old school but she wouldn’t need more than that. I sent her over to another woman behind a desk and she set her right up. But not before asking me to sign a contract agreeing to be responsible for any law breaking she might do associated with the card. She explained to Sierra that they can’t legally prosecute minors. Sierra thought that was hilarious! I don’t think she understands that minors don’t usually face the full force of the law and I think that small bit of ignorance is great.

Sierra is still getting up for the paper route without complaining; she’s pretty committed to earning more money. I think she doesn’t have to be too much older to take the babysitting course at Kadlec. With the vast experience she’s amassing entertaining her brothers, I think she’ll be awfully good at it.

Sierra has been a big help this summer with the younger boys. She keeps them entertained while I do the things that need to be done. She plays games with them on educational websites and finds coloring pages for the younger two. A few days ago I was caught off guard when I walked over to see what they were playing. I couldn’t believe my eyes. They were on a website called “BeingGirl” sponsored by Tampax/Always, playing a roller coaster game. What stopped me cold was the maxi pad roller coaster. Seriously. The object of the game was to make the coaster jump over obstacles such as bloating, cramps, and irritability. I just shook my head and walked away. I guess I won’t have to explain certain facts of life when the time comes.
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Paper Route

Kenny’s pool/slumber party is dying down and I’m hiding out in the basement watching the 100th episode of “So You Think You Can Dance”, writing my 100th blog. Neither seems to be inspiring me, topic-wise.

I asked Michael what he’d write about:

“Michael went to work and then he came home.” Okay, no help there.

Today is the third day of paper route subbing and boy am I regretting it. We’ll muddle through but it isn’t what I thought it would be. You see, we used have a paper route.

It was something I saw my kids doing to make some money on their own but figured they’d be teenagers. When the paper route that included our block and a few others became available, I grabbed it despite the fact that the kids were too young to take care of it on their own. Of course it was a perpetual nightmare to have to get up each morning, no matter what, and fold and deliver (and for the record, I’m sure Michael did it way more than I did) but that was the easy part. There was a whole host of other lame stuff we just didn’t figure in when we signed on. Like people who don’t want to pay. Or people who don’t take into consideration the time their sprinklers go off. People who don’t think about tipping (some of the nicest people never did tip us and trust me, tips are the only thing that make this job even remotely profitable) and people who don’t alert the paper when they’re going to be out of town. Collecting the money and even dealing with cashing the checks made the whole thing decidedly not worthwhile.

But again, Sierra was looking for a way to make a few bucks so I agreed we’d help out. I thought I knew what we were getting ourselves into because my friend said we’d be delivering to a few apartment complexes. That sounded pretty straight forward. It’s actually five complexes and only 28 papers and a few more on the weekends. The first two places are poorly lit and the layout is confusing but by tomorrow we should have it down. It kind of makes me wonder what the newspaper readership in these places has been over the years. Is this a drastic reduction? I know a lot of people who don’t get the paper anymore. I still do but don’t read it as thoroughly or as consistently as I used to.

I guess not many jobs are just what you think they’ll be or pay what it feels like they should. Mine pays pretty well (in hugs and kisses) but it’s nothing like I thought it would be. Most days it bears almost no resemblance whatsoever.
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

M.I.T.

“No one from M.I.T. would come to this God-forsaken place.”

I was bagging a few groceries when I heard myself being addressed by a large, sweating man across from me. I smiled and said it happens all the time. I was wearing my “I haven’t showered or even combed my hair today but at least I look smart” shirt. What he said felt true, especially during this relentless heat wave but it’s not. It really does happen all the time.

I could relate to what the man was saying. There’s a lot to love about this area but the stuff that’s bad can be hard to reconcile. Right now it’s the heat. There are times it’s the wind and dust. Other times it feels like the only way to get any culture or even fun is to drive hours and hours to the larger cities. Like you can’t get there from here but there’s nowhere else to go. We can’t even build ourselves a nice (or even adequate) aquatic center.

As much as this was never a place I saw us putting down roots, it’s was a very large relief when we headed in this direction.

When Michael was accepted to M.I.T. for graduate school, we weren’t yet married but would be a few weeks before the start of school. I remember being excited about it; I’d never been to Boston and it seemed like with a graduate degree from M.I.T., we could write our own ticket. We could move almost anywhere when he graduated and he’d be paid handsomely.

After four years he was set to graduate with two master’s degrees. Sweet, right? But the reality of the situation was that there was only one company offering a job to him. Oyster Creek, a nuclear power plant, in Forked River, NJ. Truth be told, he probably could have landed the same job with just his undergraduate degree from M.I.T. and his nuclear submarine experience. And did I mention it was in New Jersey? I was very pregnant at the time and just so done with the East Coast’s heat and humidity. But that was the job. Michael liked it and he made a lot of friends but I always had my heart set on the West Coast. After two years there was a job offer at Energy Northwest out in the Hanford Reservation (which he initially turned down for a job at a dotcom in Boston which subsequently fell prey to that bursting bubble, leaving him jobless just 3 ½ months later; 6 weeks after we purchased a house, two weeks before family invaded for Christmas, and exactly on my birthday. Praise the Lord that job was still open and waiting for him that same day).

I don’t know what made me think there wouldn’t be struggles. That we’d be just where we wanted to be. We don’t even both want to be in the same place (his ideal is the California coast and mine is the San Juan Islands) so truly that will never happen. And money? Like The Valentine Brothers (and later Simply Red) said, “Money’s too tight to mention.” These days it doesn’t seem to matter where you got your degree, you’ve got to be thankful you actually have a job.
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

BHAG

I’ve been a little melancholy lately. I’m not sure exactly where it’s coming from but it could just be the unfun jobs of packing and unpacking, cleaning and laundry I’ve had in front of me. Or it could be Michael Jr’s absence. He’s at Scout camp this week. Maybe it’s the heat. Or that hour of my life I’ll never get back spent making dental appointments for the kids (none available till November? I hate managed care), making arrangements for the older two to attend public school (we’ll see how that goes), and getting final details hammered out for Kenny’s baptism on Sunday. Not that I want the hour back or anything; I just hate being on the phone. Really though, I don’t think it’s any of those things. Or any other things either. My theory is that it’s not a something but a lack of something. I need something to get excited about. I need a BHAG.

A BHAG is a Big Hairy Audacious Goal, a phrase coined by James Collins and Jerry Porras in their 1996 article entitled “Building Your Company’s Vision”. It’s like a vision statement. A 10 to 30 year goal to progress toward. I read about this in the book I mentioned on June 17. Janna wrote about her and her husband’s decision to come up with a BHAG they could share. It’s really got me thinking.

I think it’s not unusual to have large, vague goals and their very existence can ensure that we’re moving in the right direction. We may not put a lot into them but they keep us on track. For example, when I was young I knew without question that I would graduate from high school and college. That was the expectation and I never gave it much thought one way or the other. I didn’t love academics but I also knew anything below a “B-“ was unacceptable. Knowing these things, I moved along a particular trajectory. I had other friends who were probably smarter than me but knew no such things. Their sights weren’t set on much and that’s pretty much what they achieved.

But these amorphous intentions aren’t really what I’m talking about. I need something bigger and, of course, hairy and audacious. But what? I guess it’s time to get to know Tiff a little better. Time to find out what makes her tick. To be continued . . .
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Monday, July 20, 2009

Back

I'm back in the desert again.

I didn't get around to packing last night and woke up late but we were out the door before lunch and found our way home before dinner. During waits in line for Jack in the Box, stop lights, gas fill-ups, and Dairy Queen I arranged for Sierra to take over a small paper route for the week. I've got a crazy week; I have no idea why I did this.

Sierra's been going on and on about wanting spending money. She earned some last week doing a few jobs for Grandpa but isn't happy about my money rules (she understands giving 10% to church but the 20% to savings is a tough sell) and figures she needs to earn more before she heads to the mall. When I saw that my friend Jennifer needed some substitutes for a few routes I thought it might be a good start.

Of course that means I'll be getting up at the crack of dawn. Not to do the things I like to do at the crack of dawn, like read scriptures, exercise, or just plain be by myself. Things that recharge my batteries. No, I'll be cracking the whip. I'm close to sure I can handle a week of this. Maybe once we've got the first day out of the way it won't feel like such a big deal.

Michael and I had a little grocery shopping to do after we arrived but I convinced him to take me to Sonic first for a strawberry slushie. Didn't take a lot of convincing. I don't know if all Sonics work this way but at ours you have to pull in and drive all the way around the drive-thru area and past all the car hop stalls before you can get in line to order. As we did this, some guy pulled in from the street, came straight at us and did a 3-point turn to beat us in line. I couldn't believe it. He looked right at us while he did it. Later, headed down the freeway to the grocery store, I saw a man ride his motorcycle in shorts and flip flops. Not even a shirt. I know I'm no bastion of sanity but even I was pretty amazed.

It's hot. My plants are looking not so great (I plant things that don't manage well in these few months of crazy heat but they look so lovely in May and June that I buy them every year. I never learn) and it's clear which sprinkler heads aren't quite doing their jobs. It's only July so I think I can safely assume I've got more than a month left of this torture. I know we decided against a pool this year for safety's sake (Josh would certainly drown) but I could sure use one right now. I'm not above sitting in the little plastic pool we've got on the deck and probably will tomorrow.
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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Reunions

It’s time to pack up. The wedding we came over for has come and gone and life goes on starting Tuesday. I know there’s something on the calendar that day. Someone’s got something important we can’t miss. Oh! Josh has another appointment with Dr. Karen; he will be needing glasses. How in the world will I keep them on him? Maybe the improvement will be so marked he’ll never want them off. A girl can always hope.

So far I’ve spent half the summer in Yelm. I’ve had some fun but I think I’ve had my fill for awhile. I’ll never have my fill of the weather but that’s a given. I’m not a gracious desert dweller. Sweating like a pig and burning to a crisp or hiding out with the air conditioning cranked. Neither feels like living to me. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s temporary. Just another few months.

The wedding today was gorgeous. The weather was a little warm (I’ve got a bright red sunburn . . .) but we survived that part. The food was great and even the kids had a good time. Sierra even caught the bouquet which was sort of sweet since we have photos of me at the same age with a bouquet I caught. The wedding and the reception were held at Indian Summer Golf and Country Club in Olympia. This is where we had our 10 year high school reunion. I remember going by myself because Michael had just started his job at Oyster Creek and because our new house wasn’t finished, I was staying in Yelm to have Sierra over here. Michael couldn’t make it to the reunion so I went by myself. Eight months pregnant. I remember wondering what I was going to wear. Was I going to look fat (ha ha, I know!)? Would my wedding ring fit? Ridiculous anxiety over the inevitable. Still, it was enjoyable and the turnout was good. That doesn’t seem to be happening as much anymore. With the advent of Classmates.com, MySpace, and now Facebook, a lot of us began having reunions in the privacy of our own homes on a regular basis. In hard economic times, who wants to pay $60 for mediocre food and a D.J.?

While Tom was here I talked to him about the planning of his 20 year reunion next year. He’s considering something along the lines of an all-day barbeque with a few other activities. Something very, very inexpensive. Something people would come to even if money was tight. I think he’s onto something. With reintroductions and pleasantries already out of the way through the social networking sites we use, a lot of the initial awkwardness and the “Is that who I think it is?” questions can be laid to rest. Why bother with the fancy clothes and prom-like atmosphere? There’s such an awkwardness and almost fakeness to it. A feeling of being on display. In contrast, our years together were full of easy laughter and unguarded moments. We had fun. I think our reunions ought to be more like that.
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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Saturday Night

What happened to everyone tonight?

I thought I was going to dinner with the Gorleys, their kids, and several other friends but in the end it was just the Gorleys, Sierra and I. I’d have left her home if I knew there weren’t going to be any kids. If there had been other kids I think the adults could have had more of a conversation; kids can occupy themselves and become oblivious to us pretty easily. As it was, we got an earful from my girl and the things we did speak of had to be handled with carefully chosen words. Not all topics are meant for all ears.

Later I thought I might go to a party at the lake at the house of another of our classmates. I didn’t want to go by myself and Nickie didn’t call or text back. It seemed almost funny to be waiting for a friend to call about a party. Good grief; I’m a married mother of 5 and practically 40! Still, it would’ve been fun to spend some more time with her before I leave on Monday.

I finally settled in for the night with a bowl of Raisin Nut Bran and a Discovery Channel show with my parents when I remembered I had a big problem. Two boys, Kenny and Sam, who were really frustrated about going to a wedding tomorrow. I knew Kenny could behave himself whether he wanted to be there or not but Sam is a different story. It was bound to be unpleasant. I needed reinforcements.

I headed to the Yelm Wal-Mart (yet again) and went straight to the Pokémon card aisle. Those two will do most anything for those silly things. I’m crossing my fingers that this works.

I kept up with some conversations on Facebook throughout the evening and was surprised at how much was going on. I mean nothing was going on really, but there were a lot of comments and a lot of responses. I wish I could just get these people all in a room and play cards, Apples to Apples or let them fight each other (kidding, sort of). Commenting on comments about comments. It’s fun for a while but I’m missing real face-to-face grown up time. I want more with my husband and more with our friends.
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Friday, July 17, 2009

Change of Plans

“Look Mom! You gotta look! Did you see that? Mom they’re maggots!”

I think I’m going to be sick. Really; I’m serious. I’m sitting on the couch with Michael and Michael Jr. watching “Monsters Inside Me” on the Animal Planet and they’re both insisting I watch how mosquitoes deposit Bot Fly eggs into hosts. Human hosts. This example is the head of a man who visited Belize. I do not want to hear about how my flesh is a great place to live. I do not want to hear about the voracious appetite of maggots. I do not want to visit Belize. But I do want to hang out with these guys since we’ll be apart for several more days after tonight. So I’m doing what I’ve got to do.

Michael was going to meet me tomorrow morning in Cle Elum to bring Michael Jr. back to Richland; he’s got Scout camp this next week and has to have everything ready by 7 p.m. This morning I started to rethink the plan. I hated the idea of Michael driving the ancient Accord that far with no a/c and cutting into the time they could be packing. I had nothing else to do so we packed up and took off.

I guess it was a mistake to not check the pass report but I never, never do that in the summer. It’s Friday so I decided on White Pass to avoid the I-5 corridor. Unfortunately there was a lot of road work being done up there and we had a good long wait. On the up side, the place we had to stop for half an hour was directly across from an amazing waterfall I’d never noticed before. We were able to stretch our legs and eat the leftover blackberry pie with our bare hands. Delightful.

I’m in for another long drive tomorrow but I’m glad I did it this way. I just hope the other four are behaving themselves with Grandma and Grandpa. I planned to go to bed at a decent hour and I’m tired now but I'm willingly staying up to watch t.v. with these two. After watching the segment about bed bugs and their method of “traumatic insemination”, I’m just not that eager to lay down. Good night, sleep tight . . .
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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lazy

I haven’t pinpointed the why of it but writing has been hard here. At the end of the day I don’t have something just itching to get out of my brain. I wonder if it’s being here or just not being home. Things definitely are different here. It could be that.

Being at my parent’s house (what I call Home 1.0) brings out the lazy in me. If I’m not paying careful attention (and when am I ever doing that?) laundry is miraculously washed and folded, beds are made, shopping is done, meals are prepared. I have to put special effort into doing anything at all. I never had to do much when I was an actual resident here and I guess I just revert back into that mode. When I’m here all I want to do is nothing. And maybe watch t.v. It’s so hard to be a grown up.

If we’re here for more than a weekend, I’m always in for a day or two of readjustment. Unpacking seems monumental. Meals are herculean tasks. Sorting the mail, cleaning out the van, mowing the lawn, oh, it’s too much. In a day or so I’m back to taking it all on but man it’s hard at first.

I invited Brooks and his family for dinner tonight and had it all planned out. I was going to roast a pork loin with herbs and some potatoes right out of the garden, some salads, Mindy’s birthday cake, a pie with berries I picked myself. This is something I could have handled, would have handled in Richland where I’m a grown up. Here, my mom swooped in and prepared the main course while I was puttering around frosting a cake. When they arrived she did everything and I sort of just watched. I offered to help but she wouldn’t have it.

Sometimes I think about the future (but not as often as I should) and wonder if I will be like that when my kids come to visit. I’d like to think I will but it just doesn’t have that ring of truth to it. I think I’ll still be bugging them to give me a hand and ignoring dishes for a game of Phase 10.
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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How It's Supposed to Look

There must’ve been a fire somewhere; it was a little hazy and smelled of it when I went in to town to pick up a few things (growing up, going to Yelm—we live in the outlying area—was never, never considered “going to town”. That was Lacey/Olympia. For some people it was probably Tacoma. Times have certainly changed). It was still a gorgeous enough day to get a nice view of Mt. Rainier, something for which Yelm is known.

I have this weird Mt. Rainier visual prejudice. Anytime I see it from an angle that doesn’t show the three peaks just as I grew up seeing it, I think it’s not exactly Mt. Rainier. I mean it is, but that’s not how it really looks. I know how it really looks. How it’s supposed to look. I wonder if that makes me a little crazy. Or if I’m just a little crazy and this has nothing to do with it.

Like that mountain, my life is full of circumstances and moments and situations that I think I have a handle on. When I think I know what’s going on. Then I move in another direction, get a different perspective and realize I was a little off, mostly wrong, or know nothing at all. Last night at the midnight showing of Harry Potter was a not so important example of this.

I bought tickets, 2 adults and 2 kids (why is my 12 year old considered an adult? I still haven’t figured this one out), earlier in the day, slept a little in the evening, then headed out an hour early. I knew exactly what the evening was supposed to look like. It wasn’t supposed to look like me with kids who hadn’t slept a wink at the end of a very long line outside the back of the movie theater. With only three tickets. That’s right. Three tickets. Earlier when I bought the tickets I specifically asked if I needed two adults and I knew I needed two kids for sure. Four tickets. My fault for not checking when I paid. For not doing the math. So there I stood, jaw dropping. There was nothing to be done; the movie was sold out. I sent the three kids in, asked the oldest to look out for the third and sat my sad self on the curb to text Michael at the midnight showing in Pasco. This is not what the night was supposed to look like!

Michael was very concerned. He wanted me to speak to a manager but I couldn’t see any point. It was a sold out movie. I know what a sold out movie is supposed to look like. No empty seats. I was prepared to sit on that curb and text for a few hours, maybe have a pity party in the van. Poor me. Michael wouldn’t hear of it and called the manager himself. He told me to go inside and find the girl wearing a cape and witch's hat (needle in a haystack . . .); she would try to help me. I walked in and she introduced me to a girl who didn’t really want to see the movie and was hoping for a refund. I ended up with a great seat (not so hard to find when you only need one) and no one grabbing my snacks. That’s exactly what it was supposed to look like! Thanks Michael.
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

21 Club

“It’s a private party! Only the mayor and his girlfriend!”

This stopped me mid-pancake flip. I walked into the living room to find the kids playing 21 Club. It felt a little like I should make some sort of speech about why we don’t drink and why prohibition of alcohol didn’t work, but no. They were having such a good time I figured it could wait. A while.

Earlier in the morning they watched “Cities of the Underworld” on the History Channel and there was a segment about the prohibition-era security system of 21 Club. They were fascinated. When I walked into the room their set-up included the mayor (a piggy bank) having dinner with his girlfriend (a Furby Happy Meal toy), Hamtaro serving up drinks, and two bouncers at the doors (two Sullys from “Monsters Inc.”). I overheard later that the mayor broke up with his girlfriend after she received a private tour of the kitchen from Ernest Hemingway. Eventually the Federal Agents (Josh) destroyed the place and it was time for breakfast.

Later I headed into town to buy tickets for the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the . . . oh I don’t even remember which one this is. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve read it. Sierra, who refused to read the series for years and years, is now fully obsessed. I guess she needed something to take the place of Twilight. A week or so after school was out she broke her own book rule (“No wizards, no goblins, no dragons, no magic, no elves, no fairies . . . ) and picked up the first Harry Potter book. Once she decided it was actually interesting and better than the movies, she vowed to finish the series before this newest movie was released. So now she’s chomping at the bit to see this (and to find a new series to love). The idea of a midnight showing makes me so sleepy . . .
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Monday, July 13, 2009

Black Gold

“Mom! Mom! Are you awake? Mom! Remember you said I could go running with you this morning?”

It was almost 9 a.m. and I had no business sleeping that late but that was really not how I wanted to wake up. Michael Jr. was a young man on a mission. Okay, okay.

At the end of the driveway I started out and he quickly ran ahead. He looked back and asked why I was so slow. I laughed; I knew he couldn’t last at that pace. And he didn’t. I don’t think he even made it to the first corner. He wanted to turn around and go home after that but I figured since he was so gung ho to run, we were going to run. It was mostly walking on his part but he made it to the stop sign at 133rd and back (a mile each way).

I knew from the start that it wasn’t going to be easy for him but thought it was kind of neat that he wanted to give it a go. The hard part is helping him find the motivation to do it again tomorrow when his legs might be a little sore and his memory still sharp. Sure, it was hard for him but I told him that wasn’t a permanent condition. Every day it will get easier. He’ll get farther without stopping. I think even at my age that can be a hard concept to put into action. I mean we know it’s true but forcing ourselves to do things that are painful or boring or difficult is the not so fun part of becoming/being a grown up. It requires the ability to see around corners; to predict what the results of our actions will be and then acting accordingly. But living in the moment is so much more fun . . . in the moment. I guess that’s just where kids are.

As I jogged (slowly!) this morning I kept my eyes peeled for red and black berries that ought to have been visible right about now. Nothing. While Maria was here yesterday we talked about going out to pick black raspberries. We’ve done it before when she’s been out here in the summer but it’s sort of hit and miss. These aren’t the massive Himalayan blackberries (with equally massive, awful seeds) that blanket this area and ripen sometime in maybe August or September. These are tiny little things we call black caps that grow on vines running low across the ground in areas that have been clear cut. It takes serious effort (and a bit of luck) to get enough to make anything.

Maria had hopes of making a pie to bring to a gathering of friends tonight so I checked out the area we picked last and found a few. It didn’t look real promising but a quick text and she was on her way. I started before she arrived and by the time she was there I’d found quite a few. We picked and picked and picked and I think we came up with enough for that pie. Mmmm I hope I can find more by the end of the week so I can make one too!
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Sunday, July 12, 2009

An Adventure

Tom was right; it was certainly an adventure. We showed up at the Pit Stop around 9:30 p.m. and parked out back. The empty lot next to the bar was roped off and full of all kinds of folks. Exactly what I should have expected but we had to check it out anyway. We went in for drinks (I needed an overpriced soda) and I don’t think it would be far off the mark to say I suffered some degree of hearing loss. I’ve been to concerts and I frequented bars in my much younger years but I’ve never experienced music that loud.

Tom and I went outside to wait for Nickie Muller and we had a pretty enjoyable time people watching. He showed me a Tattoo Location Decoder (http://www.cracked.com/funny-298-tattoos/) and we had fun drawing our own conclusions about what we were seeing (even with my own poorly thought out tattoo, I thought it was hilarious). Try as we might though, we couldn’t place anyone we saw. I imagine there were probably people there who walked the halls of YHS when we did but there weren’t any familiar faces. And then there was: Nickie!

Nickie is one of those friends I lost touch with after high school. Not the kind you sort of want to lose touch with either. She had a way of including everyone in her circle of friends and I give her credit for my inclusion in the amazing group of friends I had in high school. We had a class together early on and from there on out I was part of her crowd. She’s got a big heart, a sweet smile, and I’m awfully happy I’ve found her again. There’s something so comforting to me about being with those friends I’ve loved for more than half of my life and I’ve been blessed with more and more of that lately. I wished especially last night that Michael could have been there. I miss him and have really enjoyed the few times we’ve been able to spend together with my old friends. I want my friends to be his friends too.

On Friday night Michael and I picked a paper box full of apricots from a tree two doors down. I saw it heavy with fruit and knew it was pretty unlikely the folks who live there were going to use any of it. I knocked on the door and a teenager answered (I’ve only ever seen teenagers coming and going; I'm not sure if any adults even live there). I asked if it would be okay to pick some apricots and he looked at me like I was crazy. “Uh, sure.” We called Becky and we all picked what was ripe.

This morning Sierra and I helped Grandma and Grandpa can the apricots down at the barn. I grew up around this sort of thing but still would have no idea where I'd start if I was on my own. They tell me it’s simple, no big deal. I guess I just need to pick up a book and some motivation. I know it involves jars, lids, putting things in jars, putting lids on jars, and boiling water. Now if there was just something that ever occupied those jars that I wanted badly enough to actually learn about it, we’d be in business.
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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Yelm Again

This time it was harder getting out the door; we left an hour or so later than I meant to. I think I probably stayed up too late and didn’t have enough of the packing done when I finally turned in. No matter, it was a beautiful drive and we got here . . . eventually.

There are a few different ways to get to Yelm from Richland and this time we went by way of Vantage and I-90. Between home and Ellensburg there’s a lot of the same but I’ve grown to appreciate the stark beauty of the landscape. The Hanford Reservation to the right, Snake Mountain on the left, treeless sagebrush dessert everywhere I look. Look closer though and flowers break up the tans and sage green. Orange barrier fencing runs in rows between me and the mountain and I think of The Gates by the artist Christo. Eventually we cross the Columbia and follow its cobalt banks along basalt columns and sand dunes until we cross it once again to Vantage. Every time we go this way I see places I’d like to stop and rest for awhile. Walk around and explore. But this is getting there, never the destination.

The mountains rise in front of us as we approach Ellensburg and to the right Josh points out the more ragged, snow capped peaks. Usually some pigs and horses as well, off to the side of the freeway. At Snoqualmie Summit it feels like we’re almost there but we’re really still more than an hour out. Left on Route 18 and south down 167 then 512. We make it past Puyallup and then take the exit leading to Parkland and Spanaway. I always hold my breath here; will this be the time the kids finally read the sign at Foxes? “ALL NUDE REVIEW!!!” Nope, not this time. We were just about 20 miles from our destination when the kids began to laugh out loud. We’d come across cyclists by the hundreds. They were riding all manner of bikes, wearing all manner of costume. I felt stupid for coming this way; I was caught in the middle of the Seattle to Portland race. Perfect. We hadn’t hit a rest stop on the way over and this wasn’t the time for joy riding. But joy ride we did. At 20-40 mph from Spanaway to McKenna, we had time to check out the scenery. We really got an eyeful.

Somewhere along the way I got word from Nickie Muller that there would be a YHS reunion of sorts at the Pit Stop in Yelm tonight. Who would join her? It sounded dicey but I wanted to see her and I figured Tom would come too. As he put it, “Sounds like an adventure”. We shall see.

Just past Stewart’s (the best meat market around) I was able to veer left from the pack and head to Grandma and Grandpa’s. Finally. On the way in the driveway the kids remembered that Grandpa filled and stocked his new pond since our last visit. They piled out and ran past Grandma to see, expecting huge Koi like they have at the garden shop. They laughed when they saw only tiny goldfish. Maybe less temptation for the great blue herons.

My brother Tom and Dad arrived later and the kids had a good time getting reacquainted. We celebrated Kenny’s birthday a second time with ice cream cake and Kenny helped Tom pop the cork on a bottle of champagne. We don’t drink the stuff but he got a kick out of that. Later Tom played with them till they were exhausted and isn’t that the gift that keeps on giving? Good night, sleep tight!
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Friday, July 10, 2009

It's Great to be Eight!

I really should be packing this thing up. It’s not late for me but I’ve got an awful lot to do if we want to leave first thing in the morning. My brother Tom is in Yelm for the weekend so the kids and I are headed back.

I didn’t get a thing done today that would ready us to leave but that was the plan. Today is Michael’s day off (like a lot of folks that work around here, he has every other Friday off) and it’s Kenny’s 8th birthday.

Kenny is our middle child. In fact he's almost, to the day, perfectly in the middle. Five years younger than Michael Jr., three years younger than Sierra, three years older than Sam, five years older than Josh. He's smart as a whip with a mouth to match. He arrived on the scene eight years ago with a room full of Sierra's old clothes and the name Evelyn Claire. That is until we saw the equipment he was sporting. Our midwife had it all wrong. I was fully alert (Kenny was the only completely unmedicated birth I've experienced--I arrived at the hospital at 10 cm) and very confused. Where was my girl? And what's this little guy's name? We had some quick thinking to do. Instead of naming him after my mom and her mom, we named him after my dad and my brother. He's been our comic relief ever since.

This birthday started with Kenny opening his gifts; Pokémon cards and a set of Pokémon guide books. He and Sam opened the packages, added them to their massive pile, and then made little piles, classifying them according to specifications of which I am completely ignorant. Two very happy boys. You’d have thought it was Sam’s birthday too!

Later we met Jill and her kids at the wading pool, hoping to get a feel for how our youngest boys would get along should I take on the job of caring for her two a few days a week when school starts. They all seemed to have a good time, especially enjoying the chance to check out a dragonfly up close after Kenny pulled it out of the water. I think it was also a little surreal for Kenny to be in an outside-of-school situation with his teacher.

When Tom and I were kids, this was no big deal; Mom was friends with our teachers, even our substitute teachers. My 3rd grade teacher was our next door neighbor and is still a good friend. This feels like the way it should be and something like the atmosphere we’ve enjoyed at the small private school our oldest two have attended.

We went to see “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” in the afternoon and were disappointed to find it was definitely not a movie for kids. I guess they make these movies more “adult” because the people who grew up with Transformers are older now. Unfortunately it also makes it inappropriate to share this thing they loved with their own kids. Too bad. The second film had so much more objectionable material than the first; not sure what that was about.

A few days ago I asked Kenny what he’d like for his birthday dinner. I expected a restaurant request but instead he said, “Spaghetti Tacos”. It sounded like Sam was coaching him but I said I’d do it. Michael and I opted out but those kids of ours ate enough for both of us! They probably weren’t as gross as I imagined but I just couldn’t bring myself to find out.

Time to pack; I’ve got a long drive ahead of me tomorrow.
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Thursday, July 9, 2009

My Car

It got him to work but wouldn’t start without a jump each of the next three times he needed to get from point A to point B to point HOME. It’s a blessed relief that tomorrow is Michael’s day off; we had a little time to sort this out.

I’m a little embarrassed about the car Michael drives to work. He’s this super-educated (I’m sure they exist but I don’t think I know anyone else with three degrees from M.I.T.), more-than-decent income earning guy but we’ve got bills to pay and lots of mouths to feed and a new car for him simply isn’t in the budget right now. We don’t have car payments and that will stay the case for as long as we can swing it. To avoid that path Michael drives the red 1988 Honda Accord I received on my 18th birthday 21½ years ago. Now that’s a good man.

It might not be such a big deal if he had a different commute somewhere completely different. What he has is a 26 mile drive out to the 200 East area of Hanford (Tank Farms) in the desert heat in a little car with black interior and no air conditioning. It can really only be considered a mobile torture chamber (and maybe a garbage can on wheels) but he presses on with it.

I remember that birthday 21½ years ago. I was told I needed to get something out of the upper barn and when I slid open the large wooden door, there it was. This beautiful, bright red hatchback. Wow. I had no idea what that was about; couldn’t be for me. My parents had made many comments over the years about the futility of buying cars for teenagers. The perennial teen dream of a birthday gift on wheels was never mine. The thought quite literally never occurred to me.

And then my dad handed me the keys. I never really knew why it happened (maybe an attempt to help me establish a good credit rating?) but it was most definitely a surprise. Another part of the surprise was that my little car had a standard transmission. I’d never driven a standard so my dad, being the kind of guy that he is, took the time to write out everything I could possibly need to know about the process. I still have the college-ruled sheet, each side completely filled with cramped writing and drawings. I don’t think I read one word of it.

I am grateful it was a standard now; I don’t know if I’d have learned to drive one otherwise. It didn’t come easy though. The first day I smashed my brother’s bike straight into the house. Uh oh. Eventually I got the hang of it and it got me through those four years of college in Walla Walla.

Tonight the good folks at Les Schwab brought the little red car back to life with a new battery but who knows what’ll blow next. My dear little car is on its 5th U.S. president, any number of speeding tickets (none of them Michael's . . .), and has almost 160,000 miles on its speedometer (for its years, that not so bad). And the 34 miles per gallon it gets keeps us holding out hope that it will last a few more years. It’s a Honda so who knows? It just might.
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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

So You Think You Can Dance

Uh oh. Somehow the time slipped away from me tonight and Michael didn’t push me to drop everything and write something. I think he was afraid to push me; I was a little grumpy (this is probably a gross understatement). I started the evening by ripping apart the bathroom upstairs; completely scouring and sanitizing. It was bothering me and I couldn’t let it go till tomorrow. Then there was that pile of ironing that covered my beautiful salmon chair (my favorite piece of my dad’s artistry). Michael tells me not to bother with his ironing; he’ll do it in the morning. I just hate to have him get up earlier to do it. Truth be told, he probably tells me not to because he’ll only have to redo it. I need Tia to come teach me the fine art of ironing. It seems like it should be a no brainer but I am not great at it.

As I ironed and glowered (again, not pleasant to be around tonight) I watched the best talent show of ALL TIME: “So You Think You Can Dance”! We’ve watched this show since the first episode, just a few weeks after we moved into this house in 2005. It’s a family favorite and we never miss an episode. It sounds like a new season will start this fall and I wonder how that will set with the kids. It’s always been in the summer so they could stay up and watch it with us. Come September they’ll be getting a next-day delay. Early bedtimes rule. Okay, the kids would heartily disagree but so what?

I’ve probably mentioned before that I have a soft spot for the absurd but when folks are earnest in their absurdity, I’m completely smitten. The judges on this show say some of the most ridiculous things with totally straight faces. Then the dancers stand there nodding and smiling as if they had any idea what just went down. Lil’ C is a choreographer for the show as well as the occasional judge. I’d have to say that although all of the judges say totally outlandish things, he’s sort of cornered the market. Here’s a very short list of my favorite comments of the season (yes, I do rewind and write them down—I love words!):

“There was some nectar missing for me.”
“You have a dominant submission going on.”
"You have a distinctive atmosphere about yourself."
"It's really difficult to locate the avenue of gain when you're being chauffeured by loss. And I think every opportunity is one step closer to perpetual evolution."

How great is that? I have no idea what he’s selling but I’m buying it!

One thing we have to put up with when we watch this show is Sam’s liberal use of the phrase “Oh that’s perverted!” (I don’t know where he picked that up but he uses it to refer to any sort of outfit, move, or song even that is not completely modest in nature) and Josh’s kung-fu dancing (if you’re laying on the floor—and with five kids, there’s always a few there—there will be tears and you will be injured). Tonight it was even worse because I had out the ironing board and barked at anyone coming near it. I so didn’t need a trip to the emergency room. As luck would have it I was the only one who wound up with an injury. Like I said, I’m not real swift with the iron. But hey, my chair’s clear now.
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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Costco

“Did we forget the toilet paper?”
“No.”
“Where is it then?”
“I don’t know . . .”
“We forgot the toilet paper.”

It was the reason we braved Costco on the 3rd of July. It seemed like everyone with a Costco card in the Tri-Cities and its outlying municipalities were there to stockpile provisions, disaster preparedness-style. Single-minded pursuit; every man for himself. I felt like a rank amateur. Who goes to Costco just for toilet paper? On a day like that, no one with good sense. And then we left with a cart full and NO TOILET PAPER.

Today after some time spent relaxing by the next-door-neighbor's pool, I returned for just toilet paper and actually bought it (as well as twin jugs of milk with dribble-cup spout, blueberries, and a pizza). I love Costco but sometimes I wonder if I’m really getting much of a deal. I know the quality is great but as far as stretching my dollar, I’m not convinced. And it’s the one place where I regularly shop, easily drop a hundred dollars (usually a lot more), and can leave with nothing for dinner. I always look at the boxes in the cart and wonder if I need to add it up again.

It’s a great place to shop when the samples are out because you probably won’t be hungry for dinner once you’re done anyway. We even have nights when the answer to “What’s for dinner?” is “Costco”. That means hot dogs/sausages or pizza and maybe a churro if you’re lucky. I like those nights and when you figure in Josh’s antics it can move quickly from an errand to dinner theater. Predictably that would be Josh’s domain but one night a few years ago the antics were all mine.

To this day I can’t think of Costco without thinking of The Pine-Sol Incident. A few years ago we made a big Costco run and Sam sat in the cart surrounded by boxes of over-sized packages. We wheeled our bounty out the door and into the street. The cart hit a bump and OH THE PAIN! I couldn’t see a thing. I jammed my fists into my eyes and fell to the ground, reeling in pain. What I didn’t know at the time was that the bump was enough to send a massive bottle of Pine-Sol crashing to the ground, bursting the cap and sending a stream of industrial-strength cleaning product straight for my eyes. A crowd gathered and lawsuit-minded staff rushed to sort me out. The next fifteen minutes Michael had me spend hovered over the Photo Center eye wash station was probably the longest of my life and gave me time to contemplate just how litigious I might actually be. As it turns out, not at all. Still, it would’ve been cool to get some free toilet paper for my troubles.
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