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It’s almost spring and it’s snowing again :)

March 19th, 2012

First of the season

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

What I really need today is a photo of the snow coming down, with the cherry and plum blossoms on the trees, in the background. Crazy, crazy weather. The mourning doves and frogs don’t seem to mind, and the daffodils don’t mind, either.

Happy Monday.

– wm

some random thoughts

February 24th, 2012

* watching General Hospital. I’ve never really liked Patrick all that much. OK, I’ve never really liked him one bit. But now, I’m kind of hating his guts because He Is Wuss. Also, where’s the hospital chaplain?

* why didn’t Sonny just shoot Anthony when he had the chance?

* I don’t like Kate much (Sonny’s old/new girlfriend). Or Maxie (the new one or the old one), Spinelli/Spicoli, who else?? I like Monica, Tracy, Luke. Dante, when he’s not w/ Lulu; Olivia, but not Steve Hardy; Lizzie, but only when she’s an artist not a nurse; Carly, Sean, Sean, Carly… I think that’s it for now.

* had a nice lunch with Steve — Indian buffet. oh, yum. i like having a little time alone with my husband, it’s cool. In May, it will be fifteen years since our first date. We went out for… Indian food! I dropped my naan in my water glass, I was so nervous ;)

* I’m trying to ease up on the coffee (one cup a day, #canshedoit) and switch to tea. Trying… trying… I do love my tea. Didn’t used to love coffee this much, but I’ve become quite the little addict over the years.

* speaking of giving things up… booze. It’s been ten months since I stopped drinking. Feels good every day. Clear-headed. The writing is going well, too.

* It’s hard for me to read the blogs and Facebook now, when everyone’s all, Is it cocktail hour? Is 10 a.m. too early for a drinkie? Moms’ Night, Wine, wooooooooooo-hooooooooooooooooo!!! Mommy Wants Booze, etc. Then they’re dissin’ on Whitney for being weak. Are you diabetic, or bordering on, but you still drink alcohol? Are you on anti-depressants and you drink with them? Are you depressed and you drink to feel better? (Alcohol is a depressant, keep that in mind, would ya?) Do you “need” that drink or do you just want one? Are you having a couple of drinks (or more) and then driving? Yeah, let’s not talk about addiction, America. I’d rather not have that conversation with you.

* All for now. Oh, yeah… I love this picture. Happy Friday, everyone.

– wm

"that tree"

(Photo by Steve)

“pre-” (“there is no such thing as pre-!!!”) diabetes and me and Paula Deen

January 23rd, 2012

Oh, Paula Deen, Paula Deen. Jamie and Bobbie… You get over here, too, please, so we can have a little chat.

The Op-Ed pieces are arriving, so here’s mine along with the rest of the flood. She has known for three years she has Type 2 diabetes, and the woman who shares her life, “Y’all, I have to tell ya…” didn’t tell us.

Then she makes a deal with a pharmaceutical company to rep for them, and her son gets his “low-cal” cooking show going and… there ya have it, y’all. Step right up and have a fried treat. Only in moderation. (cough, choke.) Here, try this:

Compose yourself
(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Fried Twinkies are just never a good idea. Not even on a dare. “Once you’ve had one, you’ll never go back.” For that matter, donuts instead of buns on a cheeseburger? Equally lousy idea. Cheeseburgers, just your standard cheeseburgers, are a lousy idea all by their lone. Having one once in awhile is OK. If by “once in awhile” you mean “maybe twice a year.” I still prefer mine the way I did when I was a kid — no cheese, no bacon, light on the condiments and lots of pickles, lettuce and tomatoes. Then I would eat about half the burger (one patty, not two or three or four) and feed the rest to the dog.

After we lost Good Dog Gus, the first time we went out for a burger I started to set mine aside for him like always. Steve asked, Who u gonna feed your burger to now? (He eats veggie burgers, as do the kids.) (OK, make that veggie nuggets for them, or just french fries and ketchup.)

I like her shows and her family’s cookbooks, but damn. I like them in a i am hypnotized by you gah, gah, gah way.

* It is possible to make greens without ham and bacon grease.
* Just eat a damn Twinkie if you want one — don’t fry it up.
* Ribs? Once a year, if that, gaaahhhhhh…

Anthony Bourdain called her “the worst, most dangerous person” in America. Yeah, obesity and diabetes and just generally livin’ large and congratulating ourselves for it truly are the worst problems in America, in my opinion. That kind of thinking leads you to health problems, a huge deficit and war. Deen retaliates by saying, “…not everybody can afford to pay $58 for prime rib or $650 for a bottle of wine. My friends and I cook for regular families who worry about feeding their kids and paying the bills.”

You’re worried about the grocery bill? Stop eating meat and substitute beans and rice. Anytime I buy meat, fish or chicken at the store, I go into sticker shock and swear I’m never buying it again. Yesterday, for instance, I was craving salmon cakes. Ten dollars for two of them. And salmon grows here. It isn’t like I’m having it shipped in from Europe.

Why not have some beets, instead? They’re cheaper… and really pretty.

Beets me!
(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Costs? Budget? Don’t forget to budget in the health costs of cigarettes, sodapop, junk food and Pixie Sticks. Who can afford $500 a month for diabetes medicine? Get some exercise, eat right and try to rein that diabetes in if you can. It’s treatable, so much of the time. (No, I am not a medical professional, that’s my disclaimer, what do I know? But that’s what I’ve heard. The docs say that losing even 5 percent of your body weight can get your blood sugars under control. Also, people who are cutting back on or cutting out meat/dairy/eggs seem to be having luck combating diabetes.)

For those of you concerned about my innocent, growing children, “You must feed them meat!” Yeah… that. I would, you know. If they’d eat it. If they weren’t vegetarians. We do multi-vits and cook using cast-iron. Their calcium, protein, B12 and iron levels are just fine. We try to eat right and mostly do OK with it. We could do better.

I do feel a little defensive sometimes, when I hear the voices of critics, or my Dear Late Granny in my head. (I finally finished the recipes and story for her cookbook/memoir, by the way. Go me. It only took me… uh… six years? Lots of bacon, fear not. Feel free to omit it. Also lots of veggie recipes from Steve, me and our family and friends. And 100 dessert recipes. Gawd. I’ll post the link when we’re done editing and get it bound — probably a month or two down the road? #famouslastwords…)

Back to Bourdain… he seems to prefer street food in Vietnam to $650 bottles of wine. When he’s asked, Aren’t you worried about getting sick? He says, You’re more likely to get food poisoning from a buffet in America. True that.

You know what makes you sick? Eating a whole ton of greasy, fried everything. It makes your tummy sick, your skin sick, and it can make you bloated, fat and miserable. I can speak freely now cuz God love her, she’s gone, but I used to be one unhappy chick after I ate a big Sunday meal at Granny’s. Someone would scoop out three-fourths of the bacon grease from a pot of beans, and she would add in another two cups the next time she walked by.

My mom and dad cooked everything simply, without a lot of salt and hardly any grease. We joke that we’d have two or three baked pork chops on a plate, pass them around and around, and there would still be two left over. We didn’t have a lot of money and ate out only occasionally. My friends were all fast food and candy junkies. Doritos, frozen pizza, sodapop and deep-fried burritos left me grimacing. I’ve always had a sweet tooth, though, and liked to bake.

This, by the way, is not moderation:

cake pops

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

I have had a thyroid condition since I was 12 or 13. It alternates between hypo- and hyper- (cold/hot, down/up, sluggish/restless) so I never had to worry about my weight much until I hit my thirties. Even though I only gained 25 pounds with my first kid, I lost 50 after. Doesn’t that sound great? Nope. God, I was sick. The doctor had my thyroid dose racheted way too high, and between that and nursing my baby, I was dropping a pound a day. I used to joke, Want to lose a pound a day? Ask me how.

I almost bled to death and was exhausted. With our second baby, I gained 33 pounds, and took better care of myself, after. (Both kids were 10-pounders, but I didn’t get gestational diabetes. We grow ‘em big in our families.)

The sugar blues hit during the first pregnancy, once the morning sickness lifted (I was actually sick for most of both pregnancies, except for the first and ninth months). Mad, mad cravings like I’ve never had before. Pepsi, Orange Crush, ice cream, cookies, cake. Dreaming about sugar, baking more than I’ve ever baked in my life. Then we shifted into “kid diet”: mac and cheese, goldfish crackers, apple and grape juice, birthday cakes, Easter candy, Halloween candy… Next thing you know, I’m swooping down into sugar crashes, not eating enough vegetables, fruit, and whole grains, and I’m comforting myself with white wine or vodka. (We bloggers have not done anyone any favors with our “Mama deserves a drinkie” mentality. We’re the new version of the drunk ’50s housewife, partying with her friends and waiting for the men to come home.)

I’ve put on too many pounds.

So I quit drinking last April — it was becoming a crutch, I was worried about diabetes, I didn’t want to set a bad example for my kids. Thyroid/diabetes issues seem to go hand-in-hand, all that hormonal/endocrine stuff ties together. I finally had the surgery I’d been putting off. Two years later, I work out almost every day (half hour yoga, plus an hour on the treadmill, water aerobics — when I make it there– and walks around our hilly neighborhood). I have loads of energy and don’t end up in the ER anymore for health complications (knock wood twice, good Lord).

Every time I have had my blood sugar levels measured, even when I’m feeling my crummiest, “oh you’re fine! and besides, there is no thing as being pre-diabetic… you’re either diabetic or not! and you’re not!” Afterwards, I used to celebrate by stopping by *$$$ for a 500-calorie fancy drink and a 500-calorie slice of poundcake (or gingerbread, scone or cooky). Then one day I read the calorie card they keep behind the counter and now I only go there once in awhile instead of constantly.

Smoking? I quit 26 years ago this coming June. I had smoked for 10 years. I’ll be 50 in two years. You do all that math.

We eat better now, we don’t eat out that often, and I’m trying (trying) to reach for a piece of fruit instead of a cooky.

Finally ripening
(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Oh yeah, and I’m hooked on those “House Hunters” shows now more than the food shows.

I’ve lost almost 20 pounds, and would be happy to ditch 5, 10, or 15 more. Grateful that it’s not a bigger number than that, but if it was? I’d deal with it. Look, I’m not telling you all this personal information to be all nyah-nyah — I’ve worked hard, and I’ve faced some pretty tough challenges with all of this health crap. You know when I reach for more snacks? At night, when I’m watching TV and mmmmm big steak mmmmmmm onion rings mmmmmmm ice cream sundaes.

As a society, we’re bombarded with this. I want to feel good, not crummy. That’s what motivates me. I want the same for Steve and the kids.

So Deens… I don’t think you’ve ever set a good example, foodwise, and I don’t think you’re helping much, now. Give some credit to those of us who are trying. C’mon… step right up.

steve’s time lapse — sunrise over Mt. Hood

January 20th, 2012

(Footage and music by Steve Rawley)

i love the view from our house. peace.

– wm

from Zoot and Sarah and others…

December 30th, 2011

King Woogie takes a nap
(photo by Steve Rawley)

thanks for the writing prompt, y’all.

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before? Started working out every day.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I always pledge to get more writing done, and this year I did.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? My girlfriend C! She had a little girl. Happy mama of four now. And K’s mommy had a little boy. Sweet babies.

4. Did anyone close to you die? Yes.

5. What countries did you visit? USA and that’s it. Would like to travel to Canada next year and check out Butchart Gardens.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011? World peace. Again.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Hmmm — the kids’ birthdays, probably. And Steve’s and mine, too.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Getting my first novel published. Also I quit drinking. Christmas Eve made eight months for me. It feels really good, and we’re saving a load of money, too.

9. What was your biggest failure? Not going there.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? No, knock wood.

11. What was the best thing you bought? Food.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? My kids’. They make me proud every day.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? People who are in charge who should not be.

14. Where did most of your money go? House and food and utility bills. And gas.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Planting our first garden at the new house.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011? Probably “Forget You,” by Cee Lo Green.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Happier, for sure.
b) thinner or fatter? Thinner.
c) richer or poorer? More content, that’s all I care about.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Played.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Cleaned house.

20. How did you spend Christmas? At home. It was peaceful and good, and we had good food to eat (in spite of a broken stove). For New Year’s Eve, we told the kids to invite their friends over for a kids-only party. Should be lively.

21. Did you fall in love in 2011? Man, I fall in love with Steve all over again every day. Thank God, cuz otherwise we’d throttle each other.

22. What were your favorite TV programs? Revenge, New Girl, Raising Hope, Glee

23. What was the best book you read? Whatever one I’m reading right now. Today, it’s Ruth Reichl’s memoir, “Garlic and Sapphires.” Funny and wicked.

24. What was your greatest musical discovery? Pop music! The kids have established full and complete musical domination over us.

25. What did you want and get? Love and time with Steve and the kids.

26. What did you want and not get? For all of my friends (and for me, too) to get (and keep) jobs. Also for everyone to stay healthy and for no one to die.

27. What was your favorite film of this year? The final Harry Potter.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 47. My family made me homemade ravioli and cake poppers, it was awesome. We celebrated at home, and we celebrated after the fact, but for some reason, this just made it more special. Awww…

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? If it had worked out at my last job. But it didn’t. Next!

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011? Work-out attire, 101.

31. What kept you sane? Walking on my treadmill daily, doing yoga, meditating.

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Occupy protesters.

33. What political issue stirred you the most? Occupy and everything they’re doing to give our country a shove in the right direction.

34. Who did you miss? (Same answer as Zoot’s) As always: My Dad. My friend Frank. And, for our entire community cuz we’re all missing him, Rob. Frank and Rob’s families are in my thoughts daily.

35. Who was the best new person you met? My friend A, who I hope to spend more time with in 2012.

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011. Drinking makes you depressed. Who knew? hahaha.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year you can’t get out of your head.

“All the other kids with the pumped up kicks you’d better run, better run, outrun my gun.
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks you’d better run, better run, faster than my bullet.”

Cheerful, no? Music is a sign of the times, that’s all.

Happy Year of the Dragon, everyone.

– wm

some days are a little much, plus hey did i mention that My Book is in print?

December 7th, 2011

A stream runs through it

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

“That’s Not It” has been available on Kindle since October, and now you can purchase a genuine printed copy. Alternately, you can buy it on Amazon.

Please buy a copy, or multiple ones if you’re in a gift-giving mood, if it is in the budget. Send me an e-mail if you’d like a free bookmark to go with it. Include your address and I’ll mail it to you. Thanks for your support of this crazy-ass endeavor of mine. (PS I will be updating my author site soon, so bookmark it if you are so inclined.)

So. I don’t know if you’re like me, but I know I am. Aren’t some days just a little too frickin’ much? I was getting ready to start the holiday baking (casseroles, cookies, breads, and assorted everything). Thought I would start by cleaning the oven. Bad call. I broke the oven. (Let this be a lesson to you.) Now we’re in the middle of picking out a new one, and will be converting from electric to gas, only the ovens (ovens!!! finally getting the convection oven I’ve wanted my entire life) will be electric, and ps they don’t make the right kind of gas stove to fit into the drop-in slot the current stove is in and hello, carpenter, bye-bye, countertop and cabinet, we need more wiggle room.

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know how Steve and I are: Why clean the bathroom when you can grow mushrooms in there instead? We do it nice cuz we do it frickin’ complicated. (That particular remodel took the contractors four fun-filled months.)

Today I need to:

* make cooky dough and freeze it, in anticipation of someday having a stove again
* work on my new book (ideas/dialogue that need to be written down before they go away)
* finish Granny’s memoir… still inputting recipes and kinda not into it
* clean the house
* work out
* update calendar
* help the kids with homework
* fix dinner (waffles? soup in the microwave? again? bake bread in breadmaker?)
* work on publicity for “That’s Not It” — reading? book signing? order copies to sell, finish press release, update author site, and the list goes on…
* avoid Facebook/Twitter/politics/the mayor of Portland
* figure out what to get Steve, the kids, and the rest of our family for Christmas
* finish mailing out holiday cards
* oh, right. buy more holiday cards

Honestly, all I want to do is climb into a hot bath and stay there ’til January. Please advise, dear readers: What do you do to rein in the schedule?



edited on Thursday to say: I baked cinnamon swirl bread in the breadmaker — delicious with butter, and not as sweet as a cinnamon roll. (I can’t find the recipe online — it was from the cookbook that came with the machine. But it baked in the breadmaker — no turn out, extra rising, etc.)

I’m baking whole wheat bread right now. I mixed up and froze dough for Mexican Wedding Cakes and chocolate chip cookies (semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips — my secret ingredients) and Spritz are next. Tonight? Burritos in the microwave (not to be confused with microwave burritos, although we have some of those in the freezer ;) and… salad. Last night was waffles. Good thing I mainly survive on protein shakes (blender! also not broken!) and soup. The kids seem to be fine with pre-made mac and cheese, cereal, toast, peanut butter sandwiches, granola bars and… more waffles? Damn. Missing the oven. We can always send out for pizza. It’s not like we don’t do that once a week, anyway.

gratitude: day 11

November 11th, 2011

Feeling a little more grateful today, especially since Steve has the day off, too. I saw that it was 11:11, and, as always, yelled, It’s 11:11 make a wish!

Steve: It’s 11:11 on 11/11/11!

Woot. So that was a very cool moment for our entire family, as we are geekier than geeky.

Grateful today for: Steve (who understands me, even as I’m being a baby and accusing him of not understanding me). The kids. Our three crazy cats. Nutella Cake (thank you Debi and Gabriele, you hazelnutty kids you), the new Rosie O’Donnell show on OWN (Phyllis Diller at 94, Mrs. Brady tells all, Debi Mazar!!! and a funny, funny interview w/ Turtle from Entourage), the weather (not too rainy, for an Oregon fall).

And last but certainly not least — I’m grateful for the Occupy movements that are happening all over the world, including our very own Portland, Oregon. To those of you who are calling names, saying that Occupy is a pack of dirty hippies, “They should get jobs! Dirty hippies!” etc. Here is my question: Do you have a job? Because I don’t. Not one that pays, anyway.

I have been the following, since 1998: unemployed, underemployed, half-time employed, on contract, and/or temp, with no benefits, or with inadequate benefits that I paid through the nose for, with a disappearing 401k that was tiny to begin with.

1998 was almost 14 years ago.

Meanwhile there are a lot of people in this country taking advantage of a bad situation, and bankrolling. In the spirit of my daughter’s first-grade teacher, they’re keeping all the Crayolas stashed in the cupboard and telling you to go buy your own. What Crayolas? We have no Crayolas here, close the cupboard! You are a loser if you can’t afford your own.

At the same time, there are a whole lot of people worse off than my family, believe me. We’re fine. Steve has a job, our medical insurance is all right (thank God, because we have chronic asthma and thyroid issues over here — no medical insurance is not an option). I didn’t “work” for years because it put us in the red, every time I did. (Paying for daycare, aftercare, beforecare.) Now that the kids are almost ready to solo… guess who’s rusty? My advice to mommies now: Don’t quit your job. Go in the red, pay for daycare, juggle your sked w/ your partner, other moms, family, roommates, whatever it takes, but don’t get off that treadmill, little hamster. Cuz once you do? Good luck getting back on.

I’m so grateful for my two kids — I love them to infinity and beyond. I don’t want them to have to make these kinds of decisions, when they’re older and perhaps having families of their own. Whose career to sacrifice. Deciding who’s got the “more important” job. Whose work is “less critical” when it comes to sick days, school holidays, spring break, etc. I don’t want them to be constantly in the red.

You want to know a secret? I like to work. I find it satisfying. I like being part of a team. I like a schedule, and wearing grown-up clothes. I really adore getting that paycheck every week or every other week or every 30 days. Whenever it shows up is fine with me. I just want it to show up.

I would like it if our country somehow found it in ‘em to help pay for daycare, or subsidize it, or something, so we weren’t so desperate for a schedule, any schedule, and a fee schedule, along w/ it, that doesn’t kill us. I would like if the work of a teacher was valued in a monetary fashion. (I’ve also worked as a social worker, freelance writer/editor, and in a ton of clerical positions. Never the big bucks; once in awhile the “cool bucks” — but those don’t pay for groceries.)

I interviewed for several jobs this fall; didn’t get any offers. I actually had my hopes up for a job that was 1.5 hours a day (something, anything, to get my foot in the door). Didn’t get a call back. OK, that’s all right.

Saw the job posted again (it was actually three positions, all temp). They had reduced it to 1.2 hours per day. One point two. That’s what, an hour and 10 minutes a day? I can’t even count that low. (And it was clerical scale, so the hours weren’t the only thing low about it.) Didn’t get a call. So I remain “retired” and writing, hoping to sell some words, at least. It could happen.

Occupy, if you’re reading this? Thanks.


Sonny’s World & Friday Recipe Club: Lucinda Scala Quinn

October 13th, 2011

It gets lonely being a housewife/stay-at-home writer/blogger chick. That’s why they invented soap operas and cooking shows.

My personal favorites are General Hospital (Lizzie is having a nervous breakdown, and it’s still Sonny’s Hospital) and Lucinda Scala Quinn. GH I have loved since age 12; Ms. Quinn is new to me. Recipes, anyone?

Chili-Lime Popcorn

Black Beans & Rice

Dark Chocolate-Peanut Butter Bars

Pasta with Chickpea-Tomato Sauce

note from my good friend…

September 17th, 2011

…when I told her I did not get the full-time job I interviewed for (adding that I have not been offered full-time work since 1998):

“I think you forgot that you have been working more than full time since 1999. Yes it’s unpaid and undervalued but you have been doing the essential and invisible work of mothering since you got pregnant. After the revolution, mothers and elders will be revered properly, but until then we have each other to remind us that making breakfast, feeling warm foreheads, remembering the asthma meds, folding laundry, etc. is THE MOST IMPORTANT WORK ON EARTH.”

So those of you who need to hear this today? Yes, it is the most important work on Earth.

Thanks, my friend. I needed to hear that.

Recipe Club: Composed Ratatouille & Roasted Beets

August 22nd, 2011

Great dinner on a hot summer night.

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