Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Turn up the

If I was young and spending all my extra entertainment money going to the movies I would go see all of these. That's Entertainment Weekly's picks for summer movies that don't require you to check your brain at the theater door. My friend Bee didn't feel the love for The Avengers and I would guess that she'd like these better. As it is I'm pretty excited that we're going to go see Brave as a family this weekend. That's two well reviewed first run movies in one summer!! Feels like a comeback.

Went skinny dipping at the lake last Sunday. It was bright and hot and the water is still cool. A good place to be at the start of a baking heatwave. Taking my glasses off helps me not care who's looking and makes me feel like I'm the starlet of a certain age in a vaseline lens shot. Ahh, all pretty now. The kids spent that afternoon at a neighbor's house. Those are the neighbors who have the Lego treasure pit in their basement and the kids were busy constructing their respective Lego armies. Katy asked where we were going and I said we were going to have an adult swim outing to a place where we could swim naked. She wrinkled her nose and asked "Is that legal?" I assured her she wouldn't have to stand bail for us and she informed me that she was not interested in going. Good, since she wasn't invited. There were some kids in swimsuits at the lake. I am a little disappointed in myself for not feeling happy and supportive about this family outdoorness. I'd rather it was adults only.

If you'd like to read some funny and very musical writing about Bach's Goldberg variations, here is a page with links to Jeremy Denk's posts for NPR from earlier this year. He is a contrarian full of appreciation.

The girls are both tan and their hair has lightened in the sun. Their softball skills are improved after only a month. Watermelons in the grocery store are decent. Look quick, summer's here and then it's gone. We're going out to the country to watch fireworks on the evening of July 3. That suits me down to the ground. If we were to go out on the 4th then I have to get up (and get the girls up) early the next morning and go to work. Instead we'll stay out late on the 3rd and then laze and luxuriate on the 4th. *That* sounds like a holiday.

NPR's morning show series on the global impact of meat eating was annoying me this morning. They have a determinedly lighthearted tone about it. I suppose food news seems less serious than war coverage to the newsreaders. And I suspect that if they were deadly earnest about it I could be annoyed at that too. We're definitely eating less meat in this family. Katy's our vegetarian standard bearer, she even wrote a school essay last year "Why Everyone Should Be A Vegetarian." I've been trying to keep our family food budget down as meat costs have risen. And for a long time I've thought it would be healthier and better for the environment for us to try to have meat be a sometimes rather than an always. We're heavy canned bean consumers right now. Black beans and refried beans do not last long in our house. This page has a good bite sized (oh dear) presentation of the scale of resource consumption that goes into meat production. I think it's good information but for some reason it was getting up my nose this morning.

Last night I watched Masterchef on tv, the free network kind. This show is a repackaged Chopped, branded by Walmart. Kind of an exercise in supermarketing. And yet entertaining... I liked it better than Hell's Kitchen at any rate.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cornbread and Parenting

Cornbread. It's important stuff. It's best right after it comes out of the oven but I gladly eat leftovers the next couple of days. Or crumble into soup, to feel rich. Historically I used the Quaker recipe on the cornmeal container with the sugar reduced. But then I tried the old Mollie Katzen Moosewood recipe and that's now my steady. Of course I make adjustments: Use 3T veg oil instead of butter (that way I figure I can justify putting butter on it once it's baked). Use plain yogurt (I use low fat yog thinned with a little milk) instead of buttermilk. Use 1/2 t kosher salt and 2T sugar instead of honey. Sometimes this mixture is too dry and I add a little more milk. Very thick batter, the thickest of any cornbread recipe I've used. Always done after 20 min in that hot hot oven. 

Left my car windows cracked last night and it rained significantly. Seats were not too wet this morning. I laid awake worrying about it in the night, wish I could exchange that time for equivalent minutes of peaceful sleep.

Katy stayed at home yesterday instead of going to Boys&Girls Club. They were taking all kids to a YMCA camp for outdoor activities. I didn't blame her for not being enthusiastic, she's done her camp time. Lexi said it was so-so. Katy made a mess while working on a DIY stuffed animal sewing project but she picked it up after softball. She is happiest when she has a project of some sort. I got a call from the principal yesterday saying that Katy and her friend's worm farm grant had been approved. I had not paid much attention to that application but think it is good news. I told Katy we could get her a tiny little lasso so she'll be ready when school starts.

At the end of the day Katy went out to have "wand duels" with some of the other kids. (Point your wand at a friend and yell a spell, either a Harry Potter spell or something you've invented.) She was furious when I called her in for bed. We had some words. I made an effort to get past the irritation and asked her to say three things that were good about her day. She got to four and both of us felt better by then. La Passionata.

Lexi has nits. I am about ready to pin it on the Boys&Girls club crowd. But blame doesn't really get me anything. Dosed with the med. shampoo and I combed her yesterday. Will rinse her hair with vinegar tonight. I'm not freaking out, I think I have done all the emoting I need to do. Lexi came with us to Katy's softball game last night. She wanted to play catch for most of it. It was fun until my hands hurt. Her throws are getting more accurate and effective. Katy's team too is all showing improvement, their fielding throws are longer and better aimed.

If you need a reminder why common parenting struggles are something to be grateful for, here is a blog post to raise your hair. A mother writes about her high schooler who has developed immune system issues and significant mental health issues in the last two years. It's bad and sad for them right now. It's tempting to be grateful for normal. But the idea of normal is such an illusion. We're here and we're lucky to be here.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Forward progress

Trying to remember to try out new things. Oh this innovation, it's so itchy and newfangled. But here's an eye worthy tumblr I found that looks like it's by a forest ranger photographer. They take landscape pictures in Northern NM around Los Alamos. Ahhhhh. Of course I still don't get the tumblr thing. No comments, just likes right? Dull if you ask me.

Walked up the hill to the university library yesterday at midday. It was hot but breezy and very pleasant to be outside. Then I got to climb stairs and go from 11/2 East to 21/2 West to 4. I find the physical search for books inside this library very satisfying. And now I'm reading Courtesans and Fishcakes and am very pleased with life.

Enjoy Dooce's letter to her just turned three year old. I don't think Heather has all the answers but she does a good job telling us what the world is like from her twig. The anarchist child bringing joy to the control freak parent's heart is a good story.

I got my eyes checked recently. Although I am not having problems it felt like the responsible thing to do. I love my glasses and do not want to replace them short of catastrophic failure. I am flirting with the idea of getting disposable contacts with my insurance $. Must check and see how much they pay for. I like this eye office better than the other two I've been to in town. Nod says he's fed up with the one he's going to now so they may get all our business. I want to get Lexi another pair if we can do it for <$100. Her cheapie pair that I ordered online have done yeoman's service but I think she needs a backup pair. That fit. And are guaranteed to have the right correction. And won't explode.

I had a dream this week that we had a couple of rooms that were full of things we hadn't unpacked since we moved. The kids wanted to get everything out and I was feeling harried. But it seemed possible to start sorting through. That's pretty clear brain, thanks.

After a few days of idle complaining, I followed up on a smell emanating from the pantry. The culprits were a few potatoes becoming horrible in a plastic bag. Quickly gotten rid of. After that good deed I got out my slush pile of paid bills and important papers and sorted last night. I pitched things and found things (glasses prescription for Lexi!) and it was quite satisfying. Talked about cars with Nod. He doesn't want to take on a big car loan. Just a little car loan. So my dreams of a two year old car are not happening.

I went to the woo dance last Sunday with my nabe. It's called Sweat Your Prayers and is a free form dance hour with an "intention" and no talking. The leader is self described as bossy and I didn't get much from her intention but I liked her and her dj-ing. It was geeky and wonderful. A room full of good will. So many things going through my head during that time and quite amazing to multiply that mental activity by all the folks in the room. I remembered to go easy on my knees, not to make things too pretty, and not to suck up to the teacher.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

An Update by Bitch Shampoo

The sidebar ads at Blog of a Bookslut are mostly for books, not a surprise. They are usually for kind of trashy looking books. Not sure if that's my browsing history at work or their curation but whatever. Today I misread the author of Too Far, Rich Shapero, as Bitch Shampoo. I'm totally reconsidering that for my nom de plume. Still laughing.

Katy has been at camp for four and a half days now. I am fretting like a mother. No one is surprised but me. I have set aside my worrying several times. No need to imagine misery, she'll be home on Saturday to tell us about her most excellent adventure. And the rest of me feels that I should be vigilant in her absence. Don't forget you have another child! Life without Katy is quite easy and I miss her.

Last night I mowed like a boss, as the kids say. It was mid eighties and the sun was going down. Not humid, there was a breeze. It was as ideal as mowing conditions get. I did the front bit by our parking lot driveway. And I did east and west of our house. I left some for the neighbors because that was enough. I had many thoughts, mowing is good for turning things over in the mind. My conclusions I'll keep to myself. That makes them sound mysterious rather than small potato-y.

Chickpeas. They are not my nemesis, but I remain skeptical despite my falafel passion. While I love them mashed or blended with other tasty ingreds, I quail before whole entire chickpeas. They're too big and too starchy. Chewing one up is like climbing a big bland hill. I made the eggplant and rice dish from Heather Whinney's The Slow Cook Book. It's quite good, flavored with mint and lemon zest and paprika. But the chickpeas are lurking in there, waiting for the next bite to disappoint me. Next time I will omit or mash. I scorched the rice a bit on the bottom of my Le Creuset but luckily that pot is so forgiving it is not inedible. Nod just ran it through the dishwasher again last night. Ay! I suppose if I don't want him doing that I need to clean it myself, grumble grumble.

Finished a mediocre fantasy novel, The Alchemist's Door. I realized as I got to the end that I didn't think I could do it any better. Even though I can tell you what the author did wrong, I can't say I could get all those elements in play any better than she did. This book was part of my mini golem reading series. I was looking for the original golem story from Prague. It is beautifully touched on in Chabot's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and is the origin of Pratchett's golems too. I recommend the kid's book The Clay Man: The Golem of Prague by Irene Watts for a brisk retelling. I haven't tried Isaac Bashevis Singer yet. I feel like I'm saving him for later which sounds foolish when I trot it out like that. I've ready some stories, probably in college? But that's a large enough helping of golem for now.

This morning I was finishing my ablutions and getting ready to head out the door. But oh no! a hole in my pants. I decided it was not prominently visible (inner thigh about as high as it can be) and after verifying that my 8 y.o. could not see it went to work in them anyway. Am having a bit of regret and may change at lunch. Time to go look in the restroom mirror. I retired these pants once but then patched a thin spot. This time it's the coup de grace. Kind of satisfying really although I'll miss them.

Goddam! I almost forgot to brag that I'm back to 'real' pushups as of today. Have to praise my arms that are strong enough to take it once again. It feels good. I've also been doing some burpees because this woman mentioned them and piqued my curiosity.