Pics

www.flickr.com
See more of Steve's pics



Shirts, stickers and more...
Get WackyMommy gear!
Excellent Blog
2007 Inspiring Blog
Rockin' Girl Blogger

thoughts on pulling up stakes: one year later

April 12th, 2011

So, just about a year ago we put our house on the market on a Monday. By Friday, we got an offer and that was that. Sold to a young couple from Oakland who were picky and fussy and kept bitching about this and that. Yeah, that’s precious. Have fun, kids. Maybe you should start a blog? Call it “This Old House is 100 and Fussy as Hell Just Like Us.” Put a bird on it, it’ll be fine.

The decision to sell came after years of… this and that. Go read the archives under “School Politics,” “Pets, Stupid” and “Remodelling” if you’re interested in trippin’ down Wacky Family Memory Lane.

We found a new house, it had just gone on the market that day. Made an offer, snapped it up, off we went. (Now I’m thinking we didn’t move far enough away — working on the next ten-year plan and am thinking out of state, or country, even. Really fucking sick of the rain. But it is sooooooo nice to be closer to Steve’s work.) We moved over Easter weekend and our son’s birthday, and everything for the last year has honestly been one big blur. April to April, and I realize I haven’t written much about what the transition has been like, how things are for us. Geez, I have about four readers now (hi, lovies!) so this is more of a diary entry than a blog entry, ha.

Good, is how things are. Good and good. Yeah, people drive like maniacs on the west side, but it’s “car culture” that is more L.A. than crazy-ass North Portland, so that’s alright. They mostly stop for pedestrians in cross walks. They mostly follow the rules, good enough.

Culture shock? Little to none for Steve and the kids; a whole lot for me. I’ve never really been around middle-class and upper-middle class people in my life, it was lower middle-class and poor people up until now. I have friends from grade school, high school, college, various jobs, The Internet, neighbors… so there is no shortage of socializing, if I want it. I’ve made good friends over the years, I am blessed.

I do miss my old world, but you know? I never fit in with a lot of ‘em. A number of our friends had moved away, and even the ones who were still in town? Good luck finding time to see each other, especially with everyone at different schools, with different schedules, different sports teams. None of us on our block and the blocks surrounding us went to the same schools. My daughter had one buddy down the street she went to school with, that was about it.

My son is supposed to be writing an essay for school: “Tell about an experience you had visiting Portland.” I told him to write about the SWAT teams and the sharp-shooters who wouldn’t let us go home cuz there was a bad guy in our driveway, and about the pitbulls and the drunk neighbors who used to play YAHTZEE!!!!!!!!! all night long and… yeah. Portland! Wow! Portland is rilly rilly fun and put a bird on it, why doncha? Right away!

When we went to a birthday party (years ago), and all the grandparents were my age, and were making drug references that ha! ha! they were so sure that the kids weren’t getting. Yeah… that didn’t work for me. Grade school, high school, fights and messes and people burning their houses down for the insurance money and almost killing their kids in the process, and having to learn how to drive when you were 11 or 12 because if your parents were drunk, or the dad you babysat for wanted to drive you home and he was loaded, you did not want those people driving you around, fucking give me the keys and I’ll drive. “I know how! It’s OK, give me the keys. Thanks.” That was my neighborhood, growing up. Put a bird on it!

People bragging about their guns, their fucking stupid dogs and their stupid dog parks (“He is like my child!”), their wildass, tattooed, branded and pierced lifestyles. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm, how avant garde you are.

Then there’s the truly harsh stuff. The desperation that comes with poverty. The neighbors who don’t look out for each other. The sadness of realizing that no matter how much time and money we threw at the neighborhood public schools, it wasn’t going to help. All of the work we did. All of the money we raised, grants we wrote for playgrounds and everything else. Whatever.

There are a whole lot of well-to-do families in the Portland Public Schools district who count on the “generosity” (ha. a bitter, bitter ha.) of the poor kids to finance their kids’ education. Cuz if you only have so much to spread around, well. They think they deserve it all and they just fucking take it. Take it and run and say mean, crappy things like, Sucks to be you, doesn’t it, poor people? Here is what I say to them: Backstabbers.

It’s different out here, in the suburbs, miles and miles from where I grew up, from where my son spent his first eight years and my daughter spent her first ten.

It’s equitable, for the most part. The schools do their funding differently — the rich parents can’t all get together and “buy” a music teacher (or any other teacher, for that matter) cuz then… you would have the haves and the have-nots, and the rich schools would have all the goodies. Hear that, PDX? So it’s sauce for the goose/sauce for the gander, so to speak.

It’s ethnic (Oregon, overall, is white as hell, so that’s not saying much, in any part of the state), but it is diverse. There are 90 different languages spoken out here. That is a trip to me.

As far as the flora and fauna… It’s nature preserves and greenspaces and rec centers that are clean and up-to-date because people pay their taxes to keep ‘em that way. And signs that say NO DOGS and when I see those signs I say, Ah, good.

So to people from that part of town who ask (snotty, always snotty), “Don’t you miss the diversity?” i say, It’s more diverse out here than in my old neighborhood.

“Oh, the ‘burbs, your nice little bubble…” (that’s another comment I hear, from time to time.) It’s not a bubble. You take your demons and your dreams wherever you go, don’t you? My writing, my kids, my lover, my gardening, my nightmares, my fears, my tears and sweat — those are with me for the rest of my life. (“You can run/but you can’t hide.” — anon.)

Radiated Japan, the wars in Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq… the embarrassment and shame I feel as an American, knowing that we’re spending billions on bombs and rockets, and cutting billions on education spending and healthcare, food stamps, pre-natal care, Planned Parenthood and… everything. Our priorities are all fucked up in this country.

That goes with me wherever I go, it haunts me. Yeah, maybe Canada, next, if they’ll have us.

My daughter left a school, started a new school, graduated from that school and started middle school. My son left one school and started at a new one. I left the school I was working at, started at a new school, started grad school, quit both. That has been a lot of upheaval and again, harder for me than for the kids.

“Flexibility is a lifeskill!” — anon.

I need to focus on the writing, the kids, Steve. We are liking it. I have my own library now; he and Wacky Girl share a music studio.

The kids both love their new schools (Steve and I do, too), they’re happy. They have music, band, art, friends whose houses they can walk to, bowling, pizza, sushi and the mall, movies and starry, starry nights, choruses of frogs… all kinds of stuff. Lego Robotics and swimming lessons and hikes where we look for mink and beavers and deer — and see them. We’ve seen deer on our street, how crazy is that? (We’re not far from the woods, any direction we go.) My daughter has started skiing and my husband has taken it up again. They love it.

Everyone out here is really, really, really into sports. Maybe it’s cuz Nike has such a big presence, who knows. We’re into hockey, swimming and nature walks, that’s about it. Ducks or Beavers, Ducks or Beavers? We’ve been asked that, I dunno, twenty times a week since we got here.

OK, Beavers it is. My son’s teacher is over the moon about it, YES!!

“It’s a different world/from where you come from…” is the song most likely to be running through my head, on any given day. I miss my friends, I miss my family, but I don’t miss all the bullshit. I don’t miss so-called friends stabbing us in the back and leaving snotty messages on the blogs, on other websites, on e-mail and voicemail. Someone actually left us a message once (the person wanted a favor, was the funny?? part), saying, You seem like the kind of Republicans who would…

Whatever. I mean, WTF? I’m Socialist, do you not get that? Marxist Feminist, thanks. But… whatever.

So. How is it out here?

Walking home from school with my son about a half hour ago, we saw a hawk, swooping and gliding and putting on a show, just for us.

It’s good.

How’s it with you?

on writing, cooking and family life

April 9th, 2011

* Steve is off grocery shopping and stopping by the gardening place. We have these fuss-fussy Granny Smith apple trees. They had such bad apple scab last year that all they sent forth was wizened little blackened apples. Well, screw that. If I’m going to have fruit trees, Eve, gimme some fruit. So he will fix them. I hope. We do a nice vegetable garden, and have grown all sorts of vegetables, berries and herbs over the years, but we aren’t big experts on fruit trees. I’ve heard they’re all kind of a pain in the ass, from plums to apples to cherries. True or false, Internets? Please advise.

* My California friends seem to have no problems with their lemon trees, though, go figure. Will keep you posted…

* Yes, our raised garden beds are now torn completely apart and sitting there.

* No, I’m not gardening today, maybe tomorrow.

* Also the deck guys are coming by again (they started yesterday) cuz the deck is a mess. Clean/sand/pound rusty nails down/stain/finish/entertain this summer! I wanted to do it ourselves but god do I hate sanding. I don’t mind the rest of it.

* still revising The Book. I’m at 73,000 words. No, i’m not being fuss-fussy, like the precious-wecious little apple trees (hello, have you read my blog?) but damn, the last time I worked on this manuscript, i left it a mess. I’m having to make it up to my book now. Argh. I may have made this analogy before, so forgive me if you’ve already heard this, but I tore it apart like a busting-at-the-seams rag doll, then stitched it back together with the arms, legs, torso and head all sewed in the wrong spots. Then I couldn’t figure out how to rip it apart again and stitch it up right. Then I wept.

* But when I re-opened the file, a month ago or so, there it all was! and it was as if it came with its own pattern. Oh, you didn’t see the pattern before? Here it is. What a relief for the rest of my life.

* Re-reading Stephen King’s “On Writing.” That one always inspires me. Especially the part about his wife, Tabby, salvaging “Carrie” from his wastebasket and telling him not to give up on it. And then he sold it. And then he sold the paperback rights and they didn’t have to live in their crappy little apartment anymore, and he quit his crappy day job and she quit Dunkin’ Donuts and they could finally afford medicine and food for their kids, and godDAMN that is such good writing. I could read that book five hundred times and I would find something new in it every time, and I would still weep at the part where they Hit It Rich ev’ry fucking time. Stephen and Tabby, if you are reading this, I love you. Hittin’ It Rich couldn’t have happened to two nicer people than you two. Love, Wacky Mommy

* Listening to “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” my dad’s favorite album. And yes, I do have a dark sense of humor, since we all know he committed suicide. By jumping from the Fremont Bridge. But it’s a dark part that I’m re-writing, in my book, and this CD comforts me. (gives big sigh and turns the page.)

* made homemade granola for breakfast this morning. I could have sworn that I used brown sugar and maple syrup when I made the original recipe (which I improvised courtesy of Martha Stewart and one of the parents at my old school). I mean, I do have a sweet tooth and all, but that’s a little much, even for me. However. This morning I did not use brown sugar, and you will notice the recipe doesn’t call for brown sugar, so who the hell knows. It turned out great and that’s all I care about. Ate it up with dark cherry yogurt.

* Now I need another cup of coffee. I could drink the hell out of another cup of coffee and I will.

* i want to write this down before i forget, cuz it was such a good dinner: Tuscan white beans, with sauteed garlic and onions, cherry tomatoes and fresh thyme (thank you Debi and Gabriele, you give me food inspiration); homemade mac and cheese (why have i never written this one up here? I can’t find a link to it, if there is one) — secret ingredients: little shell pasta, Swiss cheese, sharp cheddar and parmesan, with bread crumbs sprinkled on top. I baked it in a roasting pan and not a glass pan; it was so crispy, creamy, melty and good; homemade whole wheat bread (i don’t use barley malt, though, i use either honey or white sugar); leftover homemade Best Chocolate Cake (thank you, Steven) (it was Wacky Boy’s 9th birthday this week); and (to balance out the cake, perhaps?) kale chips.

* OK back to the cake for a minute. Just search for “cake” on my blog and Steve’s, and you will come up with so many g.d. cake recipes. When he finished the cake, the four of us did this whole “memory lane” thing. Theme: Cakes and Cookies We Have Requested for Birthdays, A Retrospective. (Which was best? Which is your favorite? Was it the oversized chocolate chip cooky, baked on a pizza pan with a beach scene, complete with palm tree, frosted on top? Was it… the Volcano Cake? With whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, which is better? Was it the chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese filling, with miniature chocolate chips melted inside? And chocolate frosting? Was it… the Family Poundcake? How about just plain old Mexican Wedding Cakes? The list goes on and on and on.

* I don’t think we’ve run this one before, though: Betty Crocker’s Best Chocolate Cake and that’s the one he made. It’s our latest favorite. (“You sweet talker/Betty Crocker…”) But being Stevie, he did some crazy variation on it — said he let the chocolate cool too much, I think it was? — and it made the cake taste like it had melted chocolate chips in it or something. Shot through with little crispy bites of chocolate, and this super-rich, tender cake. Man, he can bake. I’m a good baker, too, it’s a problem over here. Wacky Girl decorated it with chocolate-covered marshmallow bunnies, blue Peeps bunnies (kid you not), jelly beans and malt ball robin eggs.

* OK, now to get your taste buds confused. Kale chips are easy and good. I rinsed the leaves, cut off the ends of the stalks, and roasted them with olive oil, sea salt and pepper at 425 degrees. When they looked halfway done, i turned them, then sprinkled them with more salt and pepper, and drizzled more oil on them. They were like… heaven. So good. Like crunchy, salty potato chips. Nice contrast with the mac and cheese.

* Now I’m listening to “Tunnel of Love” and as far as I’m concerned it is just as twisted as “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” (“I got a picture in a locket/that says baby I love you” — Bruce Springsteen) For real. At least I’m not listening to “Nebraska,” i mean, that would be a bad sign.

* This post has taken waaaaaaaaaay too long to write, i’m halfway through my coffee now, gotta go, Spocky and get back to The Book. (I’ve already started the next one, too. To save confusion, I called the file, NEW GODDAMN BOOK. hahaha.)

* best line of the day from my re-write: “I will fucking firebomb the goddamn police station, do you understand me? I have two little children over here.”

QOTD: June Jordan

April 9th, 2011

“As a poet and writer, I deeply love and I deeply hate words. I love the infinite evidence and change and requirements and possibilities of language; every human use of words that is joyful, or honest, or new because experience is new. . . . But, as a black poet and writer, I hate words that cancel my name and my history and the freedom of my future: I hate the words that condemn and refuse the language of my people in America.” — June Jordan

bumperstickers of the day:

April 7th, 2011

“I’ll try to be nicer if you’ll try to be smarter.”

and…

“Get a taste of religion, lick a witch.”

words, all month…

April 7th, 2011

“The power of words is immense. A well-chosen word has often sufficed to stop a flying army, to change defeat into victory and to save an empire.” — Emile de Girardin

happy wednesday, y’all

April 6th, 2011

what’s going on in your part of the world? here in rainy Washington County, USA, we’re enjoying the croci and daffodili and the daphne odora. ahhhhhhhhhhhh…

– wm

re-reading “The Stand” on my Kindle

April 2nd, 2011

“I feel like I’m prayin’ into a dead phone, and this is a bad time for that to happen. How have I offended Thee? I’m listenin, Lord. Listenin for the still, small voice in my heart.” — Mother Abagail, “The Stand,” Stephen King

This book rocks, always, but especially now.

peace.

me

Grandma’s House Restaurant cookbook: my new BFF

April 2nd, 2011

You know, when you’re on a road trip with your rowdyass family, there is nothing better than stopping at a family restaurant/diner-type place for some pie. Especially when that pie is accompanied by mashed potatoes and gravy and roast beef on an open-faced sandwich. Or perhaps a grilled cheese ‘n’ fries, with a chocolate milkshake. Or a gardenburger with extra pickles and some homemade potato salad.

(Here is my tribute to pie, my grandma, and my cousin Travis.)

I like to eat! Food tastes good, that is why. Especially when you’re in Salina, Utah. The only way Steve talks me into traveling is by telling me, “I’ll take you out for pie, c’mon…” and we’re good to go.

For my kids, a “good” restaurant means “gift shop.” We found that at Grandma’s House in Yreka, California, and that’s where I bought one of the craziest cookbooks ever. It now has a home in my collection and I will treasure it always. It has all the usual recipes you’d expect — Sweet ‘n’ Sour Meatballs, crockpot recipes galore, caramel corn, Oompa-Lompa Bread, Stroganoff for Nursing Mama’s Or Picky Kids (OK, those are different ;) The latter calls for oyster sauce, IMO and cream of chicken soup…) plus lots of standards that call for Rotel, jello and/or mayo. Lots of recipes from Sis, Cheri, Flo, Taffi and Laverna. (Why did I not name Wacky Girl “Taffi”? Man.)

my Dear, Late Granny: “You don’t eat enough bacon, that’s your problem.”

But this little gem has something out of the ordinary, and that something is… Jade. Here is one of her recipes:

Baked Beans
14 bean seeds
1 big bottle ketchup
Only 1/2 bottle mustard (because of how it tastes)

Put them all in the oven part of your stove at 5 degrees for 16 hours.

– Jade

I’m assuming Jade is the owner’s granddaughter, or perhaps just a kitchen sprite, but whoever she is? Funny, funny, funny. It also contains poetry!

I called her an angel when we were wed,
But it did not long endure,
For a year had not passed
When I really did wish
That she was an angel for sure!

Man! I can’t believe I only paid 14 bucks for this.

One more from Jade? OK.

Chocklit Cake
1 box of cake stuff
20 eggs
A drop of milk

Put every single thing you have in a mother-size pan. Put it in the oven department of the stove. Make it as hot as the coffeepot. Cook it until the big hand is on the 6. Eat it when the news comes on.

– Jade

awwwwwwwww…

April 1st, 2011

Sunshine, my favorite tearjerker from 1973. Watch it and weep…

I don’t think it was ever released to video, thus its YouTube following.

april is national poetry month

April 1st, 2011

“Most people ignore most poetry/ because/ most poetry ignores most people.” — Adrian Mitchell

« Previous Page