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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

quotes from my student

March 3rd, 2011

She’s funny, this kid. Two weeks ago she snuggled up next to me, looked at me adoringly and asked me, “Ms. Nancy, why don’t you ever have any good books in your library?”

Ohhhhhhh, let me count how many books (new and new-to-us) I put on the shelves in the past six months: A ton. That’s right.

So she heard I was leaving, Due to Tendonitis and Exceeding Need to Publish My Own Writing (and perhaps start a new internet project, with Stevie. More on that later ;)

Today she gave me a really sweet goodbye card, another big hug, then shoved me away and had a lil fit.

I want to be a writer. I want to be WRITING!”

My response: “Do it.”

I (heart) kids. Writing. And books. Today? In that order.

“oh you can’t scare me/i’m sticking to the union…”

February 25th, 2011

standing today in solidarity with my sisters and brothers in Wisconsin. All power to the people.

in anticipation of a snow day…

February 24th, 2011

…don’t you I think I should stay up all night reading? then in the morning the kids can toast some Eggo waffles (which I always call Eggo Waffos by accident, because to my way of thinking, that just sounds right) and make instant hot cocoa? And i can sleep in!

who’s with me?

of course, it’s not that funny if we end up not having Snowpocalypse again and i have to work tomorrow, after having stayed up all night reading. (just joined a new book club it’s rilly rilly good, the reading list. and most of the titles on the list are FREE on my KINDLE and you know i like FREE.) also, did I mention that i gave notice at my job? again?

because I wanted to, that’s why. i’ll work this week and next, then done, all done.

Honest to mike, those of you who have been following this blog since its humble beginnings and right up until its riotous present, fucking how many jobs have i had since i had kids? Seriously. Search under “work” or “jobs” or “starting next job” or “finishing this job and packing up both of my offices I’m done with this shit” and see what you come up with. At one point I worked in three different offices, in three different buildings — Tigard, Hillsboro and Beaverton, too. I could never remember where I was supposed to be is why I quit.

This latest job is good, but the arm thing is making me nuts. Too much typing.

And am somewhat whimsical girl, damn. That’s fine.


edited 6:46 a.m. Thursday to say……….. SNOW DAY! for both school districts :) So the kids are off and I am, too. hallelujah xo me

you realize, of course, that all this reading is cutting into my TV viewing time?

November 14th, 2010

Because it’s true, schools really are political places:

“…and we SHUT THEM DOWN because we CAN!”

July 18th, 2010

Ooooooh, that Rizzo. (wiping tears from eyes.) I find that pep talk highly… peppy, whether it’s Herb Brooks giving it or Rizzo. And now, an update on grad school:

I’ve been meaning to do my grad work for… 21 years. Since I finished my undergrad work, if you want to get specific. Which I don’t, so let’s move along. I still don’t know if I have a job for next year, but I love working with kids, I love my library work, turns out teaching is a good fit for me. I like the order of it, the volatility and unpredictability of it, the way the kids blossom and grow and it’s like time-lapse photography or something, watching it. It is breath-taking. I don’t like to get into the specifics of it here because you know — it’s my students’ lives we are talking about, I’m just a bit player in their production.

But I will say this — when you can get an entire class of 7th grade boys reading, that is more than just a beautiful thing. That is exquisite, and it makes me feel like a superhero. Like a librarian superhero. And I can say, yes, this is why I’m here.

But I have been working as a classified employee (clerk) and that’s what I’ve done my whole life, pretty much. Gotten paid half as much as everyone else (except the other clerks, and man have we grumbled about it together) for doing the same work. Or sometimes for doing more work, when you run into people who want to lord it over you.

How clever, to wiggle out of work and dump it on someone who makes half as much money as you. What a smart, smart person you are to figure that one out. Yuck.

I finished my grad school application last week and mailed it Monday. Went to an information night at my institution of higher learning (as RSG, my little academic all-star friend, calls it) on Wednesday. Yesterday I took the first of many tests I will have to take on the road to becoming a certified language arts (English) teacher (for middle school/high school), a reading specialist (or English Language Learners specialist) and a media specialist (librarian). It will take me about three years to finish all of that, and I’ll be… (I don’t want to say how old) when I finish. (It’s like Dear Abby used to ask, How old are you going to be if you don’t do it?)

I passed my test. It made me feel like a huge success. This week I have my final interview, and the powers-that-be will decide if this cohort is a good fit for me, if they want me, basically. I think we’re all good, but it’s still a little nerve-wracking. Especially when I think of working part- or full-time, taking care of my own kids and my students, paying some attention to my husband (which I’m sure he would appreciate, occasionally, although he’s not a demanding type of guy), cleaning, cooking… oh, wait. I don’t do much of those last two things, anyway. I think it will be fine, but it does seem a little daunting.

But if I don’t do it? I know right now that I would regret it.

No regrets, they get in the way.

Wish me luck.

— wm

everything i’ve loved about this week…

June 3rd, 2010

* my students. I don’t write about them that often, because they need their privacy. They’re kids, and they’re not “my” kids (even though I possessively, constantly call them “my” students). from the daily hello’s to the drop-ins, from the “i love you” notes in my desk to the way they’ve changed, grown, blown my mind in the two years I’ve known them… they are the best.

* I don’t think any of them read this blog (they rarely read my library blog, even though I keep shoving the url at them), but if they do happen to stop by… I’ll miss you guys, you are great kids. They tell me, You are the best librarian, and all I can say is, With students like you, it’s easy to be good at my job.

* okay, enough, i’m getting all bummed out now.

* i may or may not land a gig next year, who knows. “it is what it is” — anon.

* i’ve been loving all the nature out in our new neighborhood — the greenspaces, parks, frogs, green, green, green, snakes and tons of flowers, trees, flora and fauna. i feel bad i’ve been slamming on the west side for so long. it’s alright out here.

* i tried to make dinner tonight. I really did, i swear to you. you know i’m trying to be better about that, and not giving up and getting pizza 3 nights out of 7.

* But there was a meeting after school, and I spaced and forgot my phone and had to fetch it, so by the time we got home, it was later than usual, and blood sugar was low. It was a hit/miss thing, dinner. Hit: Fed the kids in courses — baby carrots, apples, crackers (what are they, horses?), yogurt and… they didn’t want what we were having, frozen roasted vegetable lasagna (store-bought), and Texas burgers. (Amy’s for both of those items.) Miss: everything else. Oh, wait — the big bowl full of sugared, sliced strawberries was a hit.

* the kids opted for cereal. not hot oatmeal (breakfast for dinner = yes, let’s do that). smart kids. the lasagna was awful, but the Texas burgers were good, once I doctored them up with relish and mango chutney. i would do breakfast for dinner more, but they don’t eat bacon. or fake bacon. sausage. or fake sausage. it’s waffles or pancakes or nuthin’ around here, and Steve usually fixes those on the weekends so…

* red wine was good, at least ;)

now steve’s making music and i’m getting ready for a shower and bed. end of the school year has got me by the throat, but that’s okay.



i love this so much

May 27th, 2010

this one just made me happy Wacky Mommy.

that’s the way it goes, folks

April 8th, 2010

My problem with jobs is as follows: You look for one, you find one, then you gotta go there everyday. Until you work for a school district. Then you get unassigned in April, possibly get a new assignment by September, possibly don’t. Or you find a new job in your new county of residence, instead of commuting twenty miles a day (one way).

Either way, it kinda sucks when you buy a new house one week, then lose your job the next.

We’ll be fine. Don’t be crying for me out there — my job buys the groceries and that’s about it.

Oh, wait…

Ha, just kidding. We’ll be fine. Steve is The Man and you know how that one goes — if you’re just a girl you make half the money, work twice as hard, and people demand blow jobs of various sorts.

(Is it OK to say that here? “Various sorts”???)

Then eventually you get kicked out on your ass. The End. That’s the life of a girl. Man, do I want better for my daughter.



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