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Little Pleasures

Hello you out there in the netherworld.  Or should it be the net-her-world?  I am so busy at work, I can’t believe it.  I’m already at 140-175% of volume of last year.  And after a day at the computer, I don’t want to come home and cook or help with homework or pay the bills or do anything remotely resembling work?  Fortunately, Christiane, cooked the rice and prepped the pork chops & broccoli for last night’s dinner.  And tonight she picked up the kids and started dinner while I put gas in the van and ran to the pharmacy.  I know it doesn’t sound like much to make a person happy, but since I usually do the pick up and the cooking, it was a treat two days in a row!  We have to enjoy the little pleasures.

In order to enjoy them, we must recognize them and be grateful for them, like — good health (even though I have a lingering inflammation that won’t seem to go away despite alopathic meds, accupuncture and Chinese herbs); wonderful kids (even though they drove me batty today with their insolence); a house to live in (even if it is a rental that has no insulation so the heat escapes quickly in the winter); a job (even though we are about to take a 4.5% pay cut and the City is looking at our health plans and retirement next); food on the table (even if I have to figure out what to eat and then cook it); family vacation coming up, visiting with the Hawaiian side (even though some of the time will be without pay and it’s a long 11 hour drive); and friends (that I hardly get to see because we all lead such busy lives)! 

This reminds me of a game we used to play with the kids – fortunately/unfortunately.  Fortunately I got off of work early yesterday; unfortunately the kids took a long time to get their things so we could leave school; fortunately I was in a halfway decent mood and decided not to let it bother me and take them to get Mitchell’s ice cream; unfortunately I didn’t realize I had no cash until we were waiting in line; fortunately they accept visa; unfortunately, there was a $9 minimum and our ice cream cones cost only $8.50; fortunately, I thought to get Christiane one… You see how it goes.  It’s really fun to do with the kids because it gets them thinking andyou can throw all kinds of kinks in to the stories – just when it seems like it’s going well, it takes a turn for the worse.  Maybe it’s just my sinister side that likes torturing the children that way!  I love messing with them – keeps them on their toes and makes them laugh.  Actually, they are a good audience.

Speaking of them as audience, have you ever paid attention to the lyrics of Rock-a-bye Baby?  That used to be my son’s favorite bedtime song.  Now it’s less a go-to-sleep song than a time-to-chuckle-before-we-go-to-bed song.  And all because we broke the song down.  Who would put a baby in a cradle in a tree in the wind only to have the baby come crashing down along with his cradle?  Another favorite bedtime song – Lullabye.  We, well I changed the lyrics to: “go to sleep, you little creeps…”  Another big hit!

At least they are asleep and without a song and a snuggle.  I couldn’t snuggle with the boy because I’m so tired I feared I would fall asleep.  So instead I’m blogging with my eyes closed.  I think it’s time to say good night…

“Good Night!”

and thanks for visiting the site.  y’all come make now.

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Time Flies

I can’t believe that it’s been over a week since I last wrote.  Thankfully, yesterday was the science fair, which means the kids’ science projects are done!!!!!  Yeah, yeah, we know that it’s the kids’ projects not ours but for those of you without kids at this age, you can’t imagine the work it takes from the whole family, whether getting supplies, creating the time, the space, helping with layout, proofing, brainstorming.  For those of you whose children are already grown, you can smile, grateful that you’ve already done your bit.  Anyway, nothing lasts forever and neither will this night of downtime from school projects because now it’s time to begin one in history.  It’s four weeks away but we’re taking a family vacation in two weeks which leaves one week after vacation when they are due.  So, if your math is as good as mine, that leaves only two weeks to write a paper and create a complex 3-d project or get it close to completion!  In the words of Charlie Brown, aargh!

Time flies.  And it’s sad to me that I’m always looking to the future, not that forward-looking is bad–it’s just when looking to the future means stressing about what’s coming up next, like school apps, and taxes, and summer camps and open enrollment for health and dependent care….It just never ends.  Seems like I just finish one thing and the next is already due.  It’s not like I want to think ahead.  We are actually forced to.  In December, we are filling out school forms for the next September and estimated tax returns that are due in April; hunting for summer camps in Febr-April that won’t be used until Jun-Aug; mapping out our leave time so we can have some vacation time for the school breaks in March, September, November and December; planning out our Saturdays for at least two months at a time for soccer.  But I’m not complaining.  I’m just noticing how hard it is to be present in my world when so much leads me to the future and how that makes time fly even faster.

My son lives in a different world than I do.  He was born with the slow gene.  Or maybe it’s the relaxed gene.  I understand from others that may be a male phenomenon.  I don’t necessarily agree with that viewpoint because I personally know other boys who are not like him.  He could take 10 minutes to tie his shoes.  I’m talking literally, not exaggerating.  Every morning, I’m saying, “Hurry up.  What are you doing?  Do you have your homework, your lunchbox, your whatever you need?…”  And he always tells me the same thing, “I’m doing it mom,” or “I’m doing my best.”  And yes, even though it may drive me batty when I’m trying to get us out of the door in the morning so we can get to school and to work on time, when I can take a step back, I really appreciate that he can be that way in the world.  He doesn’t succumb to the pressure imposed by those outside of himself.  He quietly goes through the motions at his own pace.  Even those times when I’m screaming, “Hurry up.  You can take your time when it’s only you, but if you have people waiting for you, you need to pick up the pace!” he still goes to the beat of his own drum.  Don’t worry, I know what you’re thinking, “He’ll learn, he can’t always go at his own pace.  There are times, like a job or other people, that he needs to consider.”  I do try to instill that message but I don’t think it really works on him.  He’s just not that kind of hurry-up-guy unless it’s a run to the Mac Store or Game Stop or something else that is in HIS interest.  Boy, then he can fly like a bat out of h—.  But that too is rare.  So I continue each morning with my mantra, “come on, get your things ready, we’re leaving in 15 minutes.”

And for now, I’m going to have to leave.  I’m so tired there’ s no more time or energy to write.    It just goes that way, especially when the twins were newborn.  I remember the choices were: eat; shower or sleep.  Right now I’m opting for sleep.  I closed my eyes for a minute while I fished out some words from the dark recesses of my brain and almost couldn’t open them up again because I was falling asleep!  So, good night and hope to catch you on the rebound!

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Julie and Julia…

I loved the movie Julie and Julia!  If you like to cook, it may inspire you like it did me. And even though I can’t pronounce it, I’ve now made boeuf bourgoignon at least five times! Since the day of the movie, my family looked forward to tasting it.  The making of it was a three hour adventure and a challenge.  I was cooking as an artist not as a mom – it was for creating something wonderful not just to feed the hungry throng.  I can no longer tolerate beef well but I couldn’t deny myself the pleasure.  I wasn’t disappointed.  The mushrooms succulent and full of flavor, the beef flavored by the wine, the roasted onions… ahhhhh mmmmm. It got rave reviews in the movie and at home.

I love when I’m in the mood for creating culinary treats.  It sure beats the daily grind of figuring out lunches, cooking dinner, doing homework, getting ready for work/school the next day and then starting all over again.  Creating can take much longer than cooking but time seems to fly and the rewards greater. And best of all, most of the time my edible experiments come out good!

Remember those 12 pounds of strawberries I bought the other day?  The first night I made chocolate covered strawberries while my daughter made chocolate & strawberry sculptures;  the next night  was filo packets of strawberries topped with whipped cream; and tonight was a glazed strawberry pie!

I like trying out new recipes and adapting them to the fast-paced lifestyle of my family.  Only problem is, I never write down my alterations so it’s hard to replicate what I’ve created.  I know, it’s  a big problem especially with this near- 55-year old memory.  Fortunately for my family the cosmos has put me on a creative roll these days and tasty new ideas keep popping up.

I won’t be popping up tomorrow morning unless I get a bit more sleep.  Good night!

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WISHES FOR PEACE THIS EASTER

Check out  a few photos of eggs we decorated today on my Easter Eggs Pics page.  My son did the photography for me.  Thanks son.  We were inspired today and spent about 3 hours coloring 3 dozen eggs with sharpies, wax and dye.

Tonight will be  an extremely short blog because staying up until 3 am doesn’t bode well when the day actually starts.  But somehow after yesterday’s late night blogging & chatting online and then watching the beginning of a completely engrossing movie about Rwanda, I managed to make it through a Spanish mass, lunch with the in-laws, the eggs, and creating an italian sausage-potato-mushroom-kale soup followed by a filo strawberry dessert.  Yes, part of the 12 pounds of strawberries I bought yesterday!  I have to get creative with them or else we’d tire quickly.  The soup was good but the dessert was a hit!

I sliced the strawberries which were huge (one was 3″ wide), sprinkled them with a little sugar and set them aside while the oven heated.  Then I cut 4 rectangles of filo, put a scoop of the strawberries in each, rolling them up and crimping the sides.  A little brush with melted butter and about 10-15 minutes in the toaster oven til slightly browned.  Served with whipped cream.  The strawberries still held their shape but were soft and juicy.  Good enough to lick the plates!

The movie last night was about the Hutus and the Tutsis in Rwanda.  I am guilty of knowing that genocide in Rwanda exists but have not really given it more than a passing thought of it’s wrongfulness.  I was compelled to watch as horror unfolded for individuals and communities bringing faces to faceless statistics.  I didn’t realize how deep the emotions were that it stirred up for me until I went to bed thinking there are people who carry such hatred in the world, much of it based on religion or ethnic origin.

I think of my children or even me for that matter, who sometimes think they “hate” somebody.  But this hatred is nothing compared to the hate-fueled killing that goes on in the world.  So today, sitting at mass (I’m not even Catholic), of the few words I could pick up on here and there (I’m not a Spanish speaker) the one that struck me the most was Paz – Peace.  And that’s what I wish for all of you today and everyday.

Peace and good night.

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Chocolate Covered Strawberries

It’s almost 11pm and I just finished making chocolate covered strawberries and eating a few to boot.  Speaking of boots, my feet are killing me from standing most of the day. We went out shopping for groceries.  I bought some organic strawberries at Whole Foods the day before yesterday but today Costco had the 4lb containers for only $3.99!  What a steal!  I had to buy three packs.  And they were California grown!  Not that I only buy California produce but  I consciously try when I can to buy local or at least California grown.  Doing my little part to help with global warming by reducing the distance my food has to be transported.  And when you buy local, the fruit doesn’t have to be picked green so they taste better!

But back to shopping.  After groceries it was time to look for swim trunks for my son.  He’s had the same ones for several years and they were a bit snug  He needs to be comfortable for his underwater hockey games.  If you’ve never seen underwater hockey, as a spectator, you’re not missing much.  Most of the action happens underwater.  What you do see looks like a school of fish going in one direction and then the other as the players move between the goals.  At times it looks like a feeding frenzy as players dive down towards the puck.  If you really want to see what the action underwater looks like, take a peek at this wonderful video that one of the coaches put together.  You may recognize our kids in it.

Pretty cool isn’t it?  For some live action, there will be  clinics and a tournament in May.  May will be upon us before you know it and then summer. I still haven’t figured out the camps for the kids, though we’re close:  swimming, soccer, sailing,marine biology, robotics, aerodynamics, construction w/power tools, a little bit of video & sound recording and maybe animal conservation at the zoo.  We unfortunately lost out on a six week academic camp so now we’re scrambling to figure it all out before camps get booked.  We need to win the lottery so we can afford to pay for childcare so we can work.

The good news is the parents may be suffering but the kids will thrive!   Actually, it’s now after midnight and I can hear the chocolate covered strawberries and a glass of red wine calling my name.  My sister says, “chocolate is a vegetable.”  And this is dark chocolate – the best.  And we’ve all heard that red wine (of course, in moderation) is heart healthy.  I’m not really suffering too badly.  But I may in the morning when I have to get up in time to go to Easter Sunday mass!  So have a good night!

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Dust Mask Semantics

I found this box of dust masks in our supply closet at work and immediately brought it to the attention of my supervisor.  Look closely and hopefully you’ll see why.

nuisance dust mask

Would you want to use a dust mask that is a nuisance?  Of course not.  I’d rather use one that is convenient, safe, useful… definitely not a nuisance.  My manager pointed out that maybe it wasn’t the mask that was a nuisance but that it was a mask for someone who is a nuisance, hence the “nuisance dust mask.”  I immediately thought of someone at the office for whom that kind of mask would be appropriate.  Someone who has been a thorn in the side of many.

It’s all in the way we interpret words strung together.  Although, I’m too tired right now to think of a specific experience, I know that in relationships what our partner says is always subject to interpretation because of word choice, order or tone.  Did she really say, she’d think about it (and get back to me) or she’d think about it (end of conversation)? Then there’s the usual “that’s not what I meant.”  As if we can read each other’s minds.  But we expect that don’t we?  I know I do.  “We’ve been together for 23 years, you know what I mean!”  Or at least I WANT you to know what I mean.  Passing years have told me that even though I want her to know exactly what I want, and what I need, I’m setting myself up for disappointment.   But even with that knowledge, it still happens.  I’m a creature of habit and even when the habit isn’t always fun.  I’m also a stickler for words.  “That’s not what you said!”

I believe words have power and that makes word selection very important to me.  Even in this “rambling” blog of mine, I read and reread and edit, fearing scrutiny by my readers as if it’s an essay to be turned in.  Yes, to be understood, you need to be clear.

And then all of this gets thrown out the window when my kids correct me.  I asked, “do you want to color eggs?”  And rather than a simple “yes” or “no” which would have been very clear to me, I was greeted with, “you mean dye eggs not color them.”  Oooooooh.

It’s a double standard.  What I want and not always what I give.  Hard as I try, clarity often evades me.  Sometimes, like the Easter eggs, it’s word choice; sometimes I am too long winded (I can’t help it, the writer in me loves to tell a story and bring out emotion); other times I am vague, skipping detials and assuming that “you know what I mean.”

Bottom line: Words have power.  Power to be mis/understood, power to evoke feelings, power to control a situation and even power to change a situation.  What do you have to say?

Good night.

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Marijuana and Kids

I know what you’re thinking – what’s she talking about ?  Marijuana and kids?  Not to worry, my mind has been busy with TWO topics: marijuana and kids, not the singular topic of marijuana and kids.

It’s official.  The legalization of marijuana is to appear on the November ballot in California and I find myself wondering where do I stand.  In the very early 70’s, while in high school, I took an impromptu survey of fellow students to see if they thought marijuana should be legalized.  I still have those spiral bound notebook papers with handwritten answers, tucked away in a box downstairs in my garage. I, of course, believed that marijuana should be legalized.  There was no other choice for a free spirit, creative, far out kind of girl with a wide variety of friends, including the “druggies” and the “heads”.

Was I ahead of my time in my thinking?  After all, this was almost 40 years ago!  And way before any thinking of “medicinal pot.”  I know it  wasn’t just me, it was a generational thing.  It was the time of experimenting with drugs.  It was magic mushrooms and psilocybin, mescaline and pot, Timothy Leary and LSD, and a host of other popular drugs.  Pot seemed to be the least innocuous of them all – certainly no worse than drinking.  And drinking was legal!  Still is.

After a long hiatus of drinking, and reevaluating the effects of alcoholism in my life, I can now enjoy wine and cocktails.  Of course, in many ways I am the same person I was then, but in other ways, I am not near who I was.  For one, I no longer have “druggie” friends and am far removed from that culture.  So where does that put me on the legalization of marijuana?  Where do I stand?  I’m not sure.  Where do you stand?  I used to think it was no big deal.  Now, I’m asked to vote, to take on the social responsibility of what legalization means.  Am I ready?

I think I can say with absolute conviction that I believe in medical marijuana.  I believe that there are people for whom marijuana is truly beneficial and not recreational or detrimental.  Like those with conditions that marijuana helps to relieve pain or nausea or….  But I have also grown skeptical in my age that the pot clubs don’t only serve those in need.  But this isn’t even my biggest concern.  What benefit will legalization really bring?  What, if any problems, will it create?  Exacerbate?

I read in the paper that police will no longer have to deal with those having less than an ounce in their possession so they can use their resources for other things.  I doubt the police now go after someone with less than an ounce, that isn’t the priority. You can sometimes smell  it as you walk down a City street.  There are other claims that it will bring in tax revenue desperately in need in these economic times. From what I’ve read, an individual can only grow for themselves within a 5×5 space (I think that’s what it said).  How would it be regulated?  And then there’s the big question, what about the kids?  Easier access means easier access.  Do I want that for my children?  No.

Although in high school, I thought I was quite grown up and mature for my age and could make wise choices, in retrospect, I see that as an illusion of youth.  What may seem like making fully informed decisions is actually very limited.  The fact of youth is less experience. and experience leads to more knowledge.  So do I make it easier for my kids or harder with my vote.  Which vote makes it easier/harder in their lives?   Will it even matter to them?

I know part of my hesitation in just going along with this is having seen too many people whose involvement with drugs was not a good thing – from hallucinations, paranoia, near-death, disassociation and more.  Granted it wasn’t always from marijuana but there were enough times that were.  And times when young friends went beyond.  Have I headed in the direction of “Reefer Madness?”

Part of me feels like a hypocrite for taking it so lightly in high school, promoting its legalization and now really feeling challenged in having to consider all the ramifications.  Clearly, I have matured in my thinking and have much more reading, studying and evaluating to do before the vote.  I’m glad it is months away!

I know I said it wasn’t going to write about the singular subject of marijuana and kids.  I actually had other things regarding kids on my mind, like the economics of kids and the energy they require.  But  you just don’t know where the fingers will take you once they hit the keyboard.  It’s late now, almost midnight, so I must get ready for bed.  But just one last thing about kids– I just noticed the laptop time clock is off and I don’t know how to fix it, so I’ll have to wait till tomorrow for my 11 year old to take care of it!  Good night!

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