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reading sprint!

August 21st, 2011

You’ve heard of a reading sprint? I don’t see that I’ve ever written about it here. My daughter invented it, and has perfected it. You make a stack of anywhere from 3-7 books, read a chapter or two from each, and rotate, rotate. Pretty soon you’ve read a stack of (1-2-3-4-5-6 or 7) books! It’s especially perfect for those of us who are (or are just feeling) a little ADD. Also good for people who are voracious readers (like my girl) and for kids who are struggling readers. When I’m helping kids learn to read, we pick out anywhere from 2-5 books. Perhaps a short chapter book; something non-fiction — anything about animals is generally a hit; a picture book — with or without words; a harder book; maybe a dictionary. It makes you feel Smart and Important having a big stack of books next to you.

Next thing you know, reading isn’t so scary.

One of my former students was really into the dictionary — I spent most of the school year procuring and distributing dictionaries and thesauri. By the end of the year, every kid who wanted one had one. Epic success. He was one of the kids who had grabbed a spare dictionary early on. I want to learn every word in here, he told me. I told him, Great, start with A.

So he did.

End of the year, we were tallying up success stories, and he raised his hand.

“I read that whole dictionary you gave me!”

“Fantastic! How many pages?” (I knew that he would know.)

“752!” (It was a dictionary for middle grade students — he was in second grade, if I’m remembering correctly? Wait… I may be getting him confused with his older brother, who was in fifth grade. They were both really motivated kids. And their little sister? Following along in her brothers’ footsteps.)

Spectacular. Moments like that make you know you’re in the right line of work.

Speaking of… yeah. I’ve been home for about six months now, and every six months I need to re-invent myself. Again. So I’m interviewing again for library jobs. (i miss the kids.) Fingers crossed. it-is-what-it-is.

That string of books pictured above? That’s everything I’m reading right now.

* Celebrity Detox I just finished — really moving work by Ms. O’Donnell. Brave woman, writing it, and kudos for putting it out there the way she does. Not everyone in this world is that brave.

* Me & Anna Karenina. I started reading this book in college. Was almost to the end, my then-boyfriend and I were spending winter break with his parents at their stupid Rustic Cabin in Woods, and his mom sez, Oh, in the end when, y’know…!!! blah blah. (I realize that everyone and his great-aunt Smoochy knows the ending to Anna Karenina, but believe it or not, until that moment in Stupid Rustic Cabin with people who thank God did not become my in-laws, I didn’t.) My response: “Aiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!” Her response, all sweetness and big cow eyes: “Didn’t you watch the PBS mini-series?” Me: “No, I generally read the book first.”

Since that time, lo these 20-plus years ago, I have been trying to finish Anna Karenina. This translation (can’t find the image, but it was done by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky) is stellar. The footnotes are great, the translation is quite good. Not that I’ve read it in the original Russian (ha) but you can tell that they retain the flavor and style of the original work. How? How can I tell this? I have no idea. But it’s good, and I’m enjoying it. And trying to forgive the witch who (nearly) ruined the book for me.

* Anne Lamott… Anne Lamott… I have been mean to her in the past, but “Grace (Eventually) Thoughts on Faith” has changed my mind about her. It’s funny and sharp and she really opens up and doesn’t mess around. I appreciate that.

* Walter Deans Myers’s bio, “Bad Boy” is good. Everything the man does is good, so I think it’s sweet he calls his memoir “Bad Boy.” Incredible man — go give him a read if you haven’t already. My students love him, too.

* Another one they love is Sharon Draper (Sharon Draper for the girls, Walter Dean Myers for the guys), and after starting “Romiette & Julio” I can see why. I never had the chance to borrow any of her books from my old libraries, because they were always checked out! So props to her. Oh, I did read “Fire from the Rock” when it came out and loved it. The girls also love Sharon Flake, so check her out, too.

* “The Graveyard Book” is freaking me out. This one is not for the little-littles. Sixth grade and older, I would say. Neil Gaiman (“Coraline”) has a dark and twisted gift.

* Jordan Sonnenblick is another new-to-me author. So far, so good on “Zen and the Art of Faking It.”

Sad thing for my kids, having a book-junkie mother. Because whatever I read has got to be uncool. And all of these books are pretty cool. I’m ready to start covering everything in brown kraft paper.

In other news: It’s finally summer in Oregon, woot. Got to 95 yesterday. This morning Steve and I woke up early, then walked in the nature preserve by our house and picked blackberries. We saw a covey of quail at the pond up the street. It was so cool. I baked a berry crisp and pinned out the laundry; he watered the garden and I watered the front yard. It will be thirteen years of marriage for us in a couple of weeks. It’s good. It’s a good life.

I’m going to remember this day, the simplicity of it, the happiness of it, forever.

Love you, Steve.



done with novel; now working on cookbook

July 13th, 2011

That Suzanne has got me all inspired.

Would you like to write a cookbook, too? Here’s a template. I’m playing around with it right now — easy peasy. We can do it together — this will be fun. Let me know how it goes ;)

Seriously — novel is done. I’ve proofread and edited it, now I’m turning it over to the Real Editors and they can have at it. Then I’ll upload it to Kindle (via CafePress), and I’ll sell you a copy. Yes? Yes.

So I’m moving on to the next project, and it is going to be way easier than The Great American Novel was. Remember when I started working on my Dear Granny’s Life Story and Cookbook, many moons ago? Yeah, me neither. Kidding. Do you remember this post? I am so glad Steve and I shifted our priorities. It was time. I do wish I had been able to finish my Grandma’s cookbook while she was still with us. However. Honestly? Honestly — she would have hated whatever I wrote. She was a frustrated writer, herself. It would have been incredible if she would have been able to write her memoirs, or a cookbook, or a combo, like I am planning. But she didn’t type, didn’t use computers, wrote longhand on yellow pads and in small journals, and I was not patient enough to sit down and work with her on it.

She had (untreated) diabetes and was grouchy from it, most of the time. She lived on those miniature Mounds bars and the Meals on Wheels that I signed her up for. She refused to let me take her out to eat, didn’t like the food I brought over, complained about anything anyone else cooked. She loved my auntie’s teriyaki chicken, rice and macaroni salad. Whew. So that was something. And she loved the church potlucks she helped host.

She was a trip, my Granny, and I loved her dearly. But she was a complicated person.

As I said in that other post, she would tell you, “Well, that was just a situation” and then she’d clam up. She wasn’t one for discussing “feelings” or “making progress” or “monitoring her blood sugar” or “getting exercise.” Man.

“She’s a pistol!” Yep. She was. Oh my gosh, this is one of the funniest stories she ever told me.

So I am easing up a little, on myself, about not finishing her book until now.

Love you Grandma, and I miss you every day.



ps I can’t leave you without some of her recipes. Bon appetit.

Chewy Chocolate Cookies

Lemon Bundt Cake with Orange Glaze

(for your inner diabetic…) (and…)


Sugar Cookies, Unstuffed Pepper Soup and Apple Pizza

See you in the funny papers! Recipes From The Oregonian: Vegetable-Heavy Freezer Burritos + Bran Muffins from the MAC Club; Lelo’s Salad Dressing; and Staying Home for a Living

May 31st, 2011

You know why I still subscribe to the newspaper? (We take three, actually — west side paper, Street Roots (homeless guys’ newspaper) and Thee Oregonian.) Four reasons: 1) Page One of the funny papers. 2) Page Two of the funny papers 3) obits (“hatched, matched and thatched,” as my dear departed Granny said of the birth, wedding and death notices) and 4) the FoodDay section.

I am sucker for recipes, y’all who have been reading me for awhile know that. Today, along comes this cute hippie guy, making some vegetarian burritos for himself and his girlfriend. Awwwwwwww… just like Stevie and me! So I had to make some for lunch and some to put in the freezer. Of course I only had the burrito-size tortillas, and no sweet potatoes. And I was too lazy to fry up some new potatoes. And I wanted to add rice, anyway, so forget about the spuds.

Also, I used some El Pato and tomato sauce, and did them enchilada-style.

What else? I subbed collards for kale, due to the fact that we had no kale in the fridge. But Steve’s not crazy about kale, anyway, so it’s all good! (As the hippies say. “It’s all good hemp!”)

Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly. So there you go. Steve had a nice, home-cooked lunch, and we have a pan of enchilada/burritos in the freezer. This working from home thing rocks. I have had a hard time with it, in the past, keeping on a schedule, getting the writing/editing done, paying enough attention to laundry/cleaning/reading/bread-baking/gardening/bill-paying/kids/everything else. (No, not in that order. The bread-baking comes in second place, right after the kiddos.) (Probably helps that they’re in school most of the day, my little darlins. But with as many days as we have off? It’s not that different from when they were babies.) (No diapers though!!!!! Right on!!! Right on!!!)

(speaking of… Lelo posted some dynamite salad dressing recipes. Don’t get too skinny, girl! I like ‘em curvy ;)

I also went all crazy and made the MAC Club’s Bran Muffins, from a recipe I cut out of the paper about two decades ago. So of course it’s not online. OregonLive barely has stuff that’s two weeks old online. I’ll type it up later, I promise.

Oh, Oregonian… Sorry I was hating on you so much awhile back. (Internet can’t see my fingers crossed behind my back.) I’m sorry! I feel so bad every time I think about you! OK, I’m not sorry.

Bon appetit!

Wacky Mommy

and… here’s the recipe. My changes (they all worked well): I subbed two real eggs for the egg substitute; dark molasses for light; soymilk with a tablespoon of lemon added instead of buttermilk (this is also a trick I use with real milk if I don’t have buttermilk in the house; and I added a little extra milk — maybe should have used three eggs? Yeah, I added a little honey, too, cuz sticky bran muffins = heaven.

And I left out the pineapple. My daughter wants me to add bananas next time. I think blueberries would be good, too. We’re anti-raisins and nuts over here, but you may feel differently. Also, I mixed it all up in one damn bowl because life is too short to mess with separate bowls.

We all four like this recipe. And even though I filled the muffin tins right up to the edge (muffin tops!! the good kind) it still made enough for lunches and snacks, plus some for the freezer. Done!

MAC Bran Muffins

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 cups wheat bran
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup liquid egg substitute
1 tablespoon light molasses
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 15 1/4 oz. can juice-packed crushed pineapple, drained

In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, flour, soda, baking powder and wheat bran until uniformly mixed. In a separate bowl, mix oil, egg substitute, molasses and buttermilk. Add egg mixture and pineapple to flour mixture all at once. Stir until all of flour is wet, but do not overmix.

Fill lightly greased muffin tins (or paper-lined tins) 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Makes approximately 2 dozen.

sunday, sunday

May 8th, 2011

A little help from our friendI went out in the yard with Steve. So far he has built two garden beds out of stone; the wooden beds are next. One has strawberries planted in it, that we brought over from the old house; the other has green onions that were here when we moved in last year and that have re-seeded. I’ll take green onions and strawberry starts over a bouquet of roses for Mother’s Day any time. Thanks, baby.

(the gnome and mushrooms were presents from my family — my dream come true :)

I will tell you something else — there are a lot of slugs out there, and they are attacking my iris and the dahlias and everything else they can find. The dahlias are just barely shooting up and already they’re little nubs. I heard frogs while we were out there and frogs equal snakes and I do not care for snakes although the hawks seem to like them.

So I came back inside.

Today there was sunshine/rain/gray clouds/more sunshine/more rain/and… calm. My daughter gave me a beautiful piece of art that she made last week, and I also got a coffee cup that says Believe in People. I do.

Best Mother’s Day ever.

The end.

berry patch

Keeping a watchful eye

Onion bed

Work in progress

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 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 Steve, 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.”

my first day of retirement

March 8th, 2011

“What I wanted to be when I grew up was in charge.” — Wilma Vaught

did I mention that I retired? I know, I know — always with the big news around this place.

Yeah, yeah, I thought I needed grad school, but what I really needed was to retire and write. So I retired! (Seriously, I was all, BRAINSTORM.) It’s my friend Dan, he sets a bad example. Technically, my last day was Friday, but due to the fact that I am nice… when my principal asked me if I would please come in and train my replacement (who didn’t start work ’til yesterday), I said, Sure! Thus confusing my students beyond all belief and making them cry.

“They told me you left, but you didn’t you’re right here!”

Oh, geez, kids. They break your heart and they fill your heart, every day.

here’s my day, so far, starting with last night:

1) WENT TO BED EARLY and got a good night’s sleep. This is something new. Goodbye, stress and work anxiety and having nightmares about cafeteria duty and kids throwing food at me. (Teaching: The Dirty Secrets Come Out, Today on Wacky Mommy…)

2) told Steve to sleep in. I think he started to ask, Really? But he was snoring halfway through the word so I can’t be sure.

3) Here’s the thing… I don’t know what my kids eat for breakfast, or lunch, so much. Not so much. OK, woke up the kids, and after brief fits (this is normal, right?) they got up. (Usually I’m out the door and Steve deals with all this. That’s the way we’ve done it for a looooooooong time now. I work out, ignore everyone, get ready and go; he deals with the rest; they go to school. Then at 3 o’clock, I take over.)

4) After some skepticism (“You’re fixing our breakfast and lunch, really? No. Really?“) The kids did some, No, not like that, like this, etc. and gave me pointers, we dealt, and I got them out the door.

5) Whew ;)

6) Then got Steve out the door.

7) Whew ;)

8) Tended to a) cats b) laundry c) dishes d) computer tech stuff with my ma — Updates from Steve, Computer God as well as Hockey God e) my son’s room f) resisted urge to tidy up daughter’s room, having been told by almost-teenager to stay out, Mom, please?!!!??!!! and next…

9) I’m going to do some yoga and…

10) write!

11) my (former) co-workers are joshing me, Let us know when you have your first book written! me: Uh, I have two written. I’ll let you know when they’re published.

12) dinner? How about potato soup and green salad? I’m going to do a simple one, but this sounds good (sub vegetable broth). Or perhaps you would prefer cupcakes? (writing again, feeling superstitious and doing all my weird writing habits, so i have to skip the next number…)

14) my hair looks crazy — I chopped it all off and now it will just look crazy for 2 years until it grows out again. just fyi.

15) interesting random fact, from my internet browsings this a.m.: Have you ever heard of a leafy sea dragon? I hadn’t either, what a quincidence.

16) my daughter’s middle school band is doing a play-a-thon, how awesome is that? It will be from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. — the kids sign up for shifts. Great idea, eh? please support the music and art programs at your local schools, you will not regret it a bit. Books are always welcome, too. Just drop off a bag of books with the secretaries at the front office and say, These are for the teachers to use in the class or send home with the kids, and they will say, Thank you. And you can say, You’re welcome. And it is just magical, really.

17) I’m still going to keep writing my library blog. Send me a note if you don’t already have the address, or I bet you can figure it out if you’re a girl sleuth. Or a boy sleuth, for that matter, ha.

18) Steve and I started talking about moving out to Washington County a long, long time ago. Like, about ten minutes after we moved into our new (to us) 100-year-old house and I realized I’d bought a “vintage” house that would need more than I would ever, ever be willing to give it. That house, honestly — it was like a demanding old woman who wanted some nice new cosmetic surgery every week or so. Also, there were the pitbulls. And the serenades. And the Nasty Neighbor. And the Other Ones.

19) Yesterday, to celebrate my Last Real Day of Work, I took myself out for coffee. Someone ordered the following (this is verbatim): “A three-shot grande pumpkin hazelnut latte extra hot with no foam!” Jeez. People. Plus, that doesn’t even sound good.

20) Did you know that this Thursday, March 10th, is International Women’s Day? How cool. Celebrate your hero. No, I don’t mean me. I’m gonna go get another cup of coffee (it will contain a) coffee b) milk) and avoid the heroics.

happy, happy, happy, happy Tuesday.

– wm

Sunday Recipe Club: homemade granola and an Un-Superbowl Party

February 6th, 2011

* 1 1/2 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
* 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
* 2 cups chopped pecans
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 3/4 cup maple syrup
* 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
* 1/2 cup olive oil
* 1 cup bing cherries, raisins, cranberries, etc.


1. Heat oven to 300-325 degrees.

2. Whisk ingredients together (except cherries).

3. Bake for 45-60 minutes total, until golden brown. (Stir every 20 minutes.)

4. Add cherries in last five minutes.

5. Cool completely and store in airtight container.

(My daughter says anyone who says nom-nom-nom ever again is going to get punched in the neck. So all I can say here is… mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…) (edited later to say, it turned out so good. I added dried cranberries and cut-up apricots. i’m never buying granola at the store again.)

Big announcement: We are having an Un-Superbowl Party over here. It starts right now. First, we’re watching “Romeo + Juliet,” not the Zeffirelli version. Then the Puppy Bowl (Animal Planet). A little All-Star hockey, a little college hockey, perhaps? Some snacks, some more snacks. And “GLEE!” The end.

QOTD: James Howell; Reading This Week: “Henry Climbs a Mountain” & “Henry Hikes to Fitchburg,” by D.B. Johnson; “Oracles of Delphi Keep” by Victoria Laurie

January 3rd, 2010

“Words are the soul’s ambassadors, who go / Abroad upon her errands to and fro.” — James Howell, writer (c. 1594-1666)

still not feeling well. i would say “not 100 percent,” but i’m really feeling more like… 30 percent. Forty-five percent if it’s one of those fake-outs where I start thinking, Oh I’m getting better see? See????

Now on third round of antibiotics for kidney infection and other ailments. (Fourth round if you count what they added to the IV in the hospital.) Getting concerned now (as I always do with bronchitis and bronchial pneumonia, too), what if this time they don’t work?

They will work. Faith, prayers, candles, love and this hot cup of chamomile tea that my husband just brought me. The kids and Steve are packing — we’ve been sorting and planning for the move. Hoping to get the house on the market mid-February. It’s a lovely house, I know that another family, solo dweller or couple will be happy here. It will be nice to have a little more space. I’m going to go read for awhile now — still loving Julia Child’s memoir, “My Life in France.” Such a delight, that book.

Here are a few books (kids’ stuff) that I enjoyed as well, but won’t have a chance to review. (The dog books are about Thoreau, just illustrated versions of his stories. Really clever.) Bon appetit!

– wm

Reading this week:

a bullety update for you

August 23rd, 2009
  • I planted purple clematis from my neighbor L out in the yard, let’s hope it takes.
  • hung out laundry, brought in laundry, folded laundry, kids put away half of it, I put away other half, Steve said, More laundry? Rinse and repeat. Entire summer has pretty much equalled this = laundry. Everything’s always wet, dirty and/or muddy over here.
  • had our awesome friends and their cool little kid over for dinner. They brought me us a bottle of the best damn rose ever — Juno Cape Maidens, from South Africa. “A refreshingly crisp, deep salmon pink wine with hints of pomegranate, green toffee-apple and cherry,” sez the review. Yes, that’s just how I was going to describe it! Thank you, you two. It was very sweet of you. Come back anytime.
  • Steve did the cooking cuz he’s in charge if we’re going vegan for dinner. (I offered up cheese enchiladas but we decided against those.) The guy knows his way around the kitchen. Also is a slut in the bedroom so this is just a win-win for Wacky Mommy.
  • “Be a duchess in the drawing room, a chef in the kitchen and a slut in the bedroom.” Let’s all remember that, ‘k?
  • Roasted potatoes with garlic; a pot of brown rice; his world-famous cholle, aka chana masala, aka garbonzo stew that was so spicy and good; salad with lettuce, tomatoes and nasturtiums; a little dish of chopped onion and jalapenos to garnish; a pot of mac and cheese for the younger diners; for dessert, watermelon (which we forgot to serve) and those yummy chocolate toffee cookies from New Seasons. I loved every single bite of this dinner, but I really should cook all the dinners the rest of the week to make it up to my man for knocking himself out tonight. Grilled cheese for all my friends! And tater tots!
  • I am happy and full. Good night.
  • ps I am back at work, so if I disappear, do not fear! But you know me, I’m never gone for long.



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