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happy April, happy spring, happy, happy (almost) everything

April 4th, 2015

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Doesn’t Steve take pretty pictures?

My baby is a teenager now. My other teenager came to school with me and volunteered, ohmyGod the babies love her. Love. One of the kinders flung herself, as kinders are wont to do, into Wacky Girl’s arms.

I love you! (hugs one of the other aides, then me, then the other aide again.) I love you! And I love you! I love everyone!

Runs down the hall. Runs into us later, loves on Wacky Girl some more.

She is my friend, she tells two of the other littles. Runs down the hall, yells, Bye, friend!

#bestthingsinlife #free

ps #missingmydadbutsmilinganyway

Sunday book review, movie round-up & anything else i can throw in here. Happy 2015!

January 11th, 2015

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

“We are the night ocean filled
with glints of light. We are the space
between the fish and the moon,
while we sit here together.”

– Rumi

“Bottom line is we’re all flawed in this world. No one’s perfect,” film director Richard Linklater, accepting his Golden Globe award for directing, “I want to dedicate this to parents that are evolving everywhere and families that are just passing through this world and doing their best.”

I’ll see how many categories I can hit here… Ready? Ready-steady-go!

* Pacific Ocean: It’s beautiful. It makes me happy, i love my negative ions i get from the ocean, and the wildlife is so fun to watch. The sea lions in that picture are making what’s called a “raft.” They all hold onto each other and float around. Hippies :)

* Book review? Here’s what on my nightstand (and on the Kindle): Re-read “Wild,” re-reading “Torch,” re-reading Carol Shields magnum opus, “Unless,” reading “Quiet” and learning all kinds of stuff about introverts, extroverts, high reactives and the modern age, just finishing Dreiser’s “An American Tragedy,” genius, and… that’s all I can think of.

* Recipes:

Oven-Fried Spuds (excellent, best potato recipe ever)
Soup! (Steve’s recipe. This one clears up your head, fast)

1 onion, sliced thin
1 bulb garlic
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
6 cups water

Saute onion and garlic (I like whole cloves, but you can chop or press) on low until soft. Add bouillon cubes and squish. Add water and bring to boil. Can be garnished with fresh slices of jalapeno for an extra sinus kick. Wasabi would be good, too.

Reduce water and bouillon by half to thicken.

* Work… is going well. Super well. I love working at a school (computer lab again this year), I’m with the best staff and boss in the universe (no I’m not saying that because they might read this — they really are gifted, funny, smart, wonderful with the students and everything else I was hoping for) and I love that my students are willing to work on my Spanish with me. #yohabloespanolmasomenos

* My own kids… are great. Whoever said, “Eh, you think that when they’re little they really need you, but when they’re teenagers? That’s when they really need you,” that person was so smart. (Seriously, probably 20 people said that to me when the kids were toddlers, and I thought they were joking.)

* Nekkid Neighborsremember them?

* Sex? Not at work, people, keep that in mind, always. Or with the Nekkid Neighbors. Just a bad idea, aight? Lol. We’ve been watching Californication on Netflix, and swear to God, every time I watch it, I feel like I’ve been in an orgy, and it was kind of great, but equally horrible. Yeah.

* Speaking of pop culturemovies. We saw “Wild,” loved it, “Nebraska,” also great, “Boyhood,” one of the best movies I’ve ever seen in my life. Seriously.

* Holidays: How can 2015 be a real year? It’s so space-age sounding.

* And in the category of Pets, Stupid… Our sweet, loving, funny Wacky Cat 2 passed away last month. I keep looking for him, thinking I see him, missing him. It just sucks.

* Houses & Homes: We’re cleaning & rearranging & opposite-of-hoarding like mad right now because we’re moving again.

In five years.

But, as one of my 80-something-year-old neighbors told me after New Year’s, “Every year, I don’t know what it is. The days go slower and the years go faster.” Then he gave me a big smile, I smiled back, and he pedaled off on his bike. I know just what he means.

All for now, xo,

wm

blogging, day 15: payday

November 15th, 2012

I love payday, that’s right. Especially since I’ve been off work for a year and a damn half. Sweetness of finally getting paid… and buying groceries! and sweets for Diwali!

Diwali sweets

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Here’s a question:

Thursday, November 15, 2012
Tell us about your favourite pet.

I’m pretty fond of the cats. They’re extra snuggly now that the weather has turned.

day 7: book blog

November 7th, 2012

Reading this week:

And for NaBloPoMo:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Talk about the last compliment you received.

“You are a good teacher.” — one of my students

(happy, happy, thank you!)

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.

–nancy

RIP, Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth

October 6th, 2011

Civil rights hero. Rest in peace, brother. And thank you for your hard work.

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.

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.

xo

me

“The Help” — movie is not really “helping”

August 17th, 2011

Here’s another point of view.

Peace.

– wm

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.”

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