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photo of the day

May 28th, 2012

Fuzzy little ducklings

This is one of the ducklings, two weeks older.

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Thursday Thirteen, back from the dead…

May 24th, 2012

Busy Beavers

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Nan wrote a Thursday Thirteen about all the things buzzing around in her head, so I will, too. (I didn’t know Thursday Thirteen was still around :) Happy about this!)

If you write one, too, leave me a note so I can go visit. This one is kind of serious, sorry. It just came out that way.

love,

wm

1) My husband took that picture. He takes all of the incredible pictures you see on my blog. I just write. Ha!

2) Looking forward to a four-day weekend! The schools here (Washington Co., Oregon) dealt with budget issues by declaring “furlough days.” Next school year, we’re looking at massive teacher lay-offs. Bad, bad, bad. But we live in a country that likes to spend money on bombs and fighter jets instead of kids, food and health care. We also live in a state where people don’t think they should have to pay property taxes, so there you go. I personally would opt for the kids, food and medical, but what do I know? I’m just a woman who doesn’t believe in war and hunger. Anyway, the district figured out the schedule very nicely. Since we have Monday off for Memorial Day, they gave us Friday off, too.

3) Whenever I start writing anything nowadays, I always tell myself, Keep it cheerful. Fact is, that’s difficult most days. This is the world we live in — where people who speak out against war are seen as freaks; where drug/alcohol abuse are the norm; where it’s OK that kids can’t afford to go to college, and are terrified to take out loans to pay for it. What is wrong with this picture?

4) OK. I planted a bunch of flowers in the yard — they look nice. We had some gorgeous, sunny weather, then a lot of rain, so the new plantings are soaking it all up and thriving.

5) Every day at around this time, I can hear the hawks shrieking as they fly overhead. It is a gift. Thanks, Mother Nature. My son was telling me on the way home from the library, Look at all we have out here! Bunnies, snakes, frogs, coyotes, hawks, ducks… wow!

6) My kids see every day as a gift. This is a good way of looking at life.

7) We checked out a ton of movies and a couple of books from the library: Hepburn & Tracy, “Cinema Paradiso,” “The Ides of March.” I finally re-started reading “Life of Pi,” by Yann Martel. It’s awfully good. Next up: more Dickens.

8) Recipes? OK. Here is an oldie but goodie. Crepes… mmmmmm… crepes…

9) The windows are open — I can hear the neighbor kids hollering. It’s almost summer… summer break… my birthday (48, damn! Two years from 50, woo-hoo ;)… our garden is already flourishing — herbs, potatoes, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries all coming on, along with the peas that we planted too late but are doing wonderfully, in spite of our negligence. Radishes… green onions… and tomato and pepper starts waiting to be planted. I love the Pacific Northwest for a lot of reasons, and gardening is always at the top of the list.

10) My daughter just finished up her spring session of art classes. She made some beautiful work this semester. She, like her Dad, is quite the photographer. Our house has turned into a showcase for their work.

11) My novel is trucking along. I’m hoping we wrap up my Grandma’s cookbook/memoir soon, and a friend is going to put together some illustrations for the children’s book I wrote. All good.

12) I am psyched for all the TV season/series finales that have been on. (No spoilers! I promise.) I have never watched so much TV in my life, not even when I was a kid. “Desperate Housewives” is over and done. Not everyone liked the series finale, but I thought it worked, especially the last ten minutes. “Revenge” had a great run — looking forward to seeing where they go with it next season. “American Idol” and the Stanley Cup hockey play-offs are both stressing me out in different ways. It’s only a game! (Music and sports having more than a few similarites.) (So why am I on the couch, holding my breath?)

13) If you’d like to read any of the other Thursday Thirteens I’ve written, head over to the sidebar — they have their own category, and apparently this is the 89th entry! Whoa.

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Poem of the Day: “Candles” by Carl Dennis

May 22nd, 2012

“If on your grandmother’s birthday you burn a candle
To honor her memory, you might think of burning an extra
To honor the memory of someone who never met her,
A man who may have come to the town she lived in
Looking for work and never found it.
Picture him taking a stroll one morning,
After a month of grief with the want ads,
To refresh himself in the park before moving on.
Suppose he notices on the gravel path the shards
Of a green glass bottle that your grandmother,
Then still a girl, will be destined to step on
When she wanders barefoot away from her school picnic
If he doesn’t stoop down and scoop the mess up
With the want-ad section and carry it to a trash can.

For you to burn a candle for him
You needn’t suppose the cut would be a deep one,
Just deep enough to keep her at home
The night of the hay ride when she meets Helen,
Who is soon to become her dearest friend,
Whose brother George, thirty years later,
Helps your grandfather with a loan so his shoe store
Doesn’t go under in the Great Depression
And his son, your father, is able to stay in school
Where his love of learning is fanned into flames,
A love he labors, later, to kindle in you.

How grateful you are for your father’s efforts
Is shown by the candles you’ve burned for him.
But today, for a change, why not a candle
For the man whose name is unknown to you?
Take a moment to wonder whether he died at home
With friends and family or alone on the road,
On the look-out for no one to sit at his bedside
And hold his hand, the very hand
It’s time for you to imagine holding.”

ps my late father’s birthday is on Friday. Happy birthday, Dad! and thanks to all those who loved him.

QOTD: Christie

May 21st, 2012

“The young people think the old people are fools — but the old people know the young people are fools.”

Agatha Christie, from “Murder At The Vicarage”

Post Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury in Vets

May 18th, 2012

usoinvisiblewounds.org

Two simple sentences:

“Many servicemen and women returning from engagements abroad are suffering from post traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. Learn more about PTS and TBI and where to get help with these resources.”

At least we’re talking about it. That’s a start. But this is depressing: The commercial I just saw for the USO work was immediately followed by a commercial for World of Tanks.com, a new video game. Gah. “See, kids, it’s not real…” That’s not a start. I wish people would start looking at the connections between our violent society and the violence we do in the world.

oh that poor little sucker

May 17th, 2012

I’m speaking, of course, of the kid and his mom, whose picture ran on the cover of Time. I’m not giving Time a damn link — go look it up if you haven’t seen it yet. Talk about Ways to Traumatize Your Kid.

Here’s my problem with the cover: The kid is 3-going-on-4, or 4-going-on-5, who knows, but looks like he’s 8. Just call him Milkman. His mom has the most defiant look on her face, it’s a little creepy.

I call it “We Are the World/We Are the Parents.”

“If you can breastfeed at 4, why can’t you breastfeed at 36? The age I am?” — Russell Brand on the Ellen show, 5/17/12

The whole mess reminded me of this post, the aptly-titled, “Unless You Push It Doesn’t Count,” wherein I tell other mommies “get off your vaginal high horse and shut the f#!k up.” You know when you need to criticize another parent? Pretty much the only time? If you see them hitting their kid. Or if you see them forcing the kid to do meth or something. Seriously. Those are about the only times you should say something. Tell them to knock it off; intervene if you can; call a cop.

The end.

just in time for Mother’s Day

May 14th, 2012

Mothers' Day Ducklings

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Found these little darlings at the duck pond near our house. Take a close look to find Mama — she’s keeping watch on the shore. Have a great week, everybody!

– wm

Sunday Recipe Club: Mother’s Day Brunch Menu

May 13th, 2012

man, steve is a sweetie.

exercise, weight, Carnie Wilson and me.

May 13th, 2012

Meanwhile, at the haunted rink

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

i kinda love that picture. Happy Mother’s Day, to you mothers out there ;)

I thought today I would write about a subject that’s near and dear to Americans: morbid obesity. Oh, wait… we like our french fries and beer in this country, so very, very, much. Along with our weight loss surgeries. So is weight truly an issue that can be described as “near and dear” to us? Discuss amongst yourselves — I have reality TV to move along to.

I’ve been working out pretty much every day for a long time now. Months? A year? Who knows. I walk on the treadmill and do yoga, mainly. Go for hikes and walks with Steve and the kids, and sometimes make it to the rec center for aqua aerobics. (Zumba! Shake those ta-ta’s, ladies…) I tivo a lot of stuff, but I still run out of crap to watch. Which is why I ended up watching the new TV Guide (?) reality show, “Wilson Phillips, Still Holding On.” Carnie Wilson (daughter of Beach Boy Brian) hates exercise, she sez. Carnie and her sister Wendy Wilson, and Chynna Phillips (daughter of Michelle and John, Mamas & the Papas) are always in a fight. They have their children to raise, their husbands to try to pressure into getting vasectomies, and also? They live in California. It is stressful there, apparently, with all the driving and birthday parties.

Plus they’re trying to make a comeback, and they’re all in their 40s now.

Girls, I feel ya. So Carnie decides to get another weight reduction surgery done, even tho she’s already gained back 2/3rds of the weight she lost with the last one. Girl, i don’t feel ya on this one, but que sera, sera. Just go for some long walks; it’s easier. I’m not into running — i blew out the ACL on my right knee, skiing, and it hurts when i run. It also hurts when i have extra weight on my bod. But unlike Carnie, i f*&@!ng hate surgeons, doctors, hospitals, and i think i would have to be unconscious and toted there before you’ll get me near one again.

it must be tough when weight is something you’ve struggled with your whole life. Chynna Phillips was being quite rude and giggling about going to visit Carnie at the “fat farm” when they were kids. With “sisters” like that, who needs enemies?

i was lucky enough to not experience being a heavy kid. also lucky to have two skinny parents, who ate right, exercised because they liked to move around, and weren’t weirdos about food. I’ve never been more than 30 pounds overweight, and by American standards, I’m svelte. Ha. American standards need to be revised. Thirty extra pounds is uncomfortable. Two extra pounds is uncomfortable. I’ve lost about 20, gained back 6, whatever. I love sugar, and if you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know i love to bake, especially when i’m stressed out. Chocolate therapy.

i danced as a kid, always rode my bike, hiked, backpacked, swam, have done yoga since I was 17. i’m not a jock, but i like to move. Even so, it was hard for me to get enough exercise because i was having health problems and the kids were little. We lived in a cruddy neighborhood before, and i had all these visions of taking the kids and dog out for walks and oh! lovely exercise! Yeah. That worked until the dog kept getting attacked by shepherds, pit bulls, boxers and various other doggie fiends. I had a pit bull lunge at me once when i was alone and just about had a heart attack. The neighborhood was polluted (lots of industrial traffic) and my asthma sucked and it was a total hassle to get to the gym because 1) we didn’t have a lot of extra income to pay for a membership and 2) while everyone was pretty happy to dump their kids on me, no one seemed all that keen on babysitting my kids. Even though, hello, my kids are mellow and your kid just trashed my house are you f&@!#ng kidding me?

But i digress.

i was scrawny for years — 5’10″ by the time I was 15. I remember walking home from school (theme in my life ;) I’ve always walked a lot) and having my hip pop right out of the socket. I took my hand and popped it smack back in and kept walking. Ouch. That happened more than once. I was growing so fast, everything was loose and limber. I’ve had thyroid problems (hypo and hyper, so alternating between being exhausted/unable to sleep, restless/listless and go-go-go). I didn’t realize my calcium and potassium were messed up because my doctors were quacks and no one bothered to refer me to a specialist. I didn’t even know what an endocrinologist was until years later. I had my throat cut the first time when i was 14. I had my throat cut for the 2nd (and hopefully, last) time when I was 27. i had my tonsils out when i was 6, c-sections when the babies were born (they were both 10-pounders) and had a long-needed hysterectomy a few years ago. Along the way i had to have a bunch of “procedures” and “bloodwork” and “tests for cancer” (i’m good, thanks) and all kinds of other invasive shit.

so let’s stop for a moment to ponder all that. I hate the health stuff.

But you know what hurt the most? My sister, screaming “You’re a fat f!@#$ng cow!” at me in my own kitchen. With my own kids right in the next room.

1) Am not fat f!@#$ng cow, thank you.
2) If someone is, you think they don’t already know that?
3) Not helpful, and kind of destroyed our relationship, along with some other crap.

So Chynna, that’s nice that you’re skinny and blonde and all, but sweetheart? Please don’t lord it over people. Work on the humility a little bit.

what has helped me (please talk to a doctor, though, i’m not a professional here):

1) drinking more water

2) getting enough sleep

3) the kids getting older, so I don’t have to arrange care for them in order to work out

4) having a treadmill in my office. I get up early sometimes, use it while i’m watching TV, or late at night, even, if i can’t sleep. 5 minutes, 10 minutes, a full hour, whatever. I go until I unwind.

5) working my yoga practice so it’s just mine. I can’t stand “competitive yoga” and haven’t done an inversion in years. I get dizzy, have extremely low blood pressure, and get embarrassed by how stiff I am. So i do a weigh-in on the scale in my bathroom and the Wii every day, do yoga and work-outs with the Wii and my favorite TV yoga teacher, Priscilla Patrick. I do it how much I want to, when I want to, and I customize it every day so it suits me.

6) I try to walk on the treadmill or out in the neighborhood for an hour a day, but if it’s less, who cares. If it’s more, that’s fine, too. All of this can be hard to start, but once i got into a routine i was okay. Now I know if i’m stressing out it’s cuz i need to stretch or go for a walk. Usually the endorphins kick in after 20 minutes or so, but damn. Sometimes it’s an hour! Then i think, That was a lot of stress to release, but it’s gone now.

7) eating right. my cousin taught me the “take 6″ trick. She fills up a platter with pea pods, baby carrots, grape tomatoes, asparagus, whatever she wants. Makes a dip out of BBQ sauce and Thousand Island dressing and puts it in the middle, then tells my little cousins to take 6 pieces. It works and is really pretty to look at, too. I like protein shakes, but i don’t drink them every day. I try to have one meal a day that’s just a protein shake (with yogurt, fruit and lots of ice), OR soup (if it’s cream soup, a lot of calories, with a handful of croutons, no i do not care. (and sometimes it is just a simple bowl of vegetable soup, which has, what 40 calories? ha, and that’s fine, too) OR cereal (i’m like a 6-year-old about cereal) (non-fat milk) OR a salad. I’m not into bacon or bleu cheese dressing, but I do like chicken, or taco salads (plain yogurt, usually, instead of sour cream).

That works, if you just sub out a few meals. Don’t torture yourself, life is too short.

8) I stopped drinking any and all booze. I’m hypoglycemic, on verge of diabetes. The mixers and the white wine (with its sugar) were doing a lot of damage. I didn’t drink very much, and have always been a lightweight, but even that small amount was doing damage. I also was having a hard time working out because even 10 or 15 minutes would make me dizzy as hell and sick. Duh, it was low blood sugar, along with the damn low blood pressure. So now i stop and have yogurt, a banana, a rice cake or an orange, and that helps. Sometimes I just say forget it, eat a real meal and then work out half an hour later.

9) i feel good. mainly because anybody in my head, screaming at me? I imagine that I’m putting them, their words, their put-downs and all the rest, into a big manila envelope. I seal it shut, and in my head, walk it out to the trash and put it in there. Then I shut the lid. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Because you wouldn’t want to take something out of the trash and keep it, would you now? So the next time it starts to run through my head, I remind myself, Naw, that’s trashed, remember? It works, try it sometime.

Carnie, I love you.

– nancy

frogger

May 11th, 2012

Mr. Frog

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

I was showing off the yard to Steve — I watered everything today and did some weeding. The lipstick-pink peonies are blooming like mad, the raspberries are taking off and the strawberries are covered with white blossoms. The snowball bushes, day lilies, Japanese iris, herbs — everything is so happy and green and sparkly. May in Oregon is a beautiful thing.

We were admiring the chicks & hens, tiny ferns and succulents that are rooting in the rock wall, and saw this guy peeking out. That wall is like looking into apartment building windows, checking in on everyone. His friend, who was even tinier, was peeking out of the apartment window below. Too hard to get a good pic of him, though, so this one will have to do.

#iheartpacifictreefrogs

Happy weekend, everybody, and as we head into the summer season, remember:

You wave at clowns in parades; you don’t marry ‘em and let ‘em run your life.

xo

wm

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