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QOTD: van Gogh

July 14th, 2010

“Conscience is a man’s compass, and though the needle sometimes deviates, though one often perceives irregularities when directing one’s course by it, one must still try to follow its direction.” — Vincent van Gogh, painter (1853-1890)

a short, happy post about a variety of things

July 11th, 2010

* mission to avoid paperwork: completed. it culminated with my 1) cleaning the hamster cage and 2) weeding the driveway.

* eventually, when you’re trying to avoid something, you realize that the energy you’re spending avoiding it is taking far, far more effort than the energy it would take to complete the damn thing you’re trying to avoid.


* Yes. I was putting the finishing touches on the whole thing, feeling all proud of myself, and voila! guess what? A three-page essay was required. A three-page essay that I had “somehow” managed to “overlook” until right this very afternoon. Luckily I like to write, so voila again! I wrote it! It’s done now, kit and kaboodle, addressed and sitting here in its fancy envelope. I will mail it tomorrow. Thank you and good night.

* Oh. Yes. We went to see the new “Twilight” movie. “Eclipse,” it is called. It was a reward to my daughter, for putting up with me freaking out and procrastinating over The Paperwork. (I told her once I had finished it up, we could go. We took Ms. New Orleans with us and went out for a fancy dinner first. Then we got candy from 7-11 on the way to the movie. Don’t you love sneaking in candy? I do.) Y’know what? I liked the movie. Hmm. Will ponder that later.

* I love the Beaverton Farmers Market. We all love it. My dog loved it, my grandma loved it, my husband and kids still love it. I like all of the vendors out there, from the sweetheart who sells her homemade cheesecakes to the family that does the kettle corn to the guy who fixes my iced latte, but these are just a few of my top picks:

Thank you, Rosecrest Farm, for the awesome swiss cheese. Thank you, hippie boys at Deep Roots Farm for always being so sexy. Thank you, Souper Natural lady, for being so funny and for making the best Italian Wedding soup I’ve ever tasted.

And thank you, Arcane Cellars, for the delicious wine, and for the Bon Appetit recipe for Spicy-Sweet Tangerine Shrimp with Baby Bok Choy (“pair with Arcane 2009 Pinot Gris”). Would you like to try it? Well, okay then!


* 6 baby bok choy, halved lengthwise
* 2 tablespoons Asian sesame oil, divided
* 1 1/2 pounds uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined
* 1/3 cup frozen orange-tangerine concentrate, thawed
* 1/3 cup Asian sweet chili sauce
* 12 strips tangerine peel
* 1 1/2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
* 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
* 2 green onions, chopped
* 1 1/2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger

Preparation: Cover bottom of large skillet with 1/2 inch water. Add bok choy; drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover; cook over high heat until bok choy is tender, about 5 minutes. Arrange bok choy around edge of platter. Boil liquid in skillet until reduced to glaze, about 1 minute; pour over bok choy.

Mix shrimp and next 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in same skillet over high heat. Add onions and ginger. Sauté 1 minute. Add shrimp mixture. Toss until shrimp are just opaque in center, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer shrimp to platter. Cook sauce until thickened, about 2 minutes. Spoon sauce over shrimp.

books, (“The Secret Garden,” “Today I Will”) books, (“The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner,” “Twilight: The Graphic Novels”), and more books (“A Little Princess,” more friggin’ “Twilight”) and paperwork, my new BFF

July 10th, 2010

Reading this week:

I will do anything not to fill out this paperwork. So far, for the sole purpose of avoiding paperwork, I have…

* vacuumed
* broken the vacuum cleaner
* messed around on the computer
* broken the computer 3 or 4 times, i lose count
* signed the kids up for swim lessons
* took them to taekwondo a bunch
* cooked
* baked
* cleaned
* did all the laundry daily
* went swimming
* gardened
* changed the sheets on all the beds, even the guest bed, which truthfully? didn’t need changing
* paid bills, visited with neighbors, talked on the phone too much, got myself to the dentist, made dental appointments for the kids, made an eye doctor appointment for myself, applied for jobs, ordered a Kindle online, invited kids over to play every day, did the grocery shopping and…
* actually got about 2/3 of the way through The Paperwork and Various Requirements.

Now let’s get to those books. Wacky Girl is reading “The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner” and you know how I feel about Friggin’ Twilight so no, I don’t think it’s getting a review. She also read “Twilight: The Graphic Novel.” I’m sure they’re both bloodthirsty and good.

As a kid, I read (and re-read) Frances Hodgson Burnett’s “A Little Princess” a load of times. I was often forced to cook and clean, and used to fancy myself (in my enormous, clean, and well-appointed upstairs bedroom — a room that stretched the entire length of the house, yes it did) as poor little Sara Crewe. Indentured servitude sucks doesn’t it? I type this as my children are folding and putting away their own laundry. Bitch mother, writing, writing…

But I never read “The Secret Garden.” (I was inspired to read it after finishing “After You.” The book plays a prominent role in the novel. You know — the whole book-within-a-book thing.) We were at Annie Bloom’s yesterday, my old favorite bookstore in Southwest Portland, and found this delicious new release of “The Secret Garden,” with new illustrations by Inga Moore. It is so good. My daughter and I are reading it aloud together, alternating between pages. Ah, summer. Ah, paperwork, okay I need to wrap this up.

The Spinellis, Eileen and Jerry, rocked it with this book we also picked up yesterday — “Today I Will: A Year of Quotes, Notes, and Promises to Myself.” Wacky Girl found it and claimed it, but this is one for the whole family to enjoy. Affirmations, but with a twist. Book recommendations, quotes, thoughts on how to live a better life, and suggestions on how to lively things up. To wit:

“She had eyes in the the back of her heart.” — “A Year Down Yonder,” by Richard Peck

“Isn’t that a nice phrase? It reminds us that vision is not limited to the eyes in the head, nor even the front of the heart. It reminds us that no one’s hurt is too small, no worry too removed, no blessing so elusive that it cannot be seen by the eyes in the back of the human heart.”

“As I am being watched by unseen eyes, I am reminded that I, too, have unseen eyes, eyes that can see the pain behind a smile, the fear in bravado, the affection in a criticism. Today I will open all of my eyes.”

my daughter’s response to my telling her that I signed her up for swimming lessons…

July 8th, 2010

…she carefully, precisely, tried to break my desk in half.

Like she would a board in taekwondo class. Not with any malice or anything. It’s just when you know you can break stuff in half, using just your foot or hand, it sort of changes your entire life.

That’s right, she likes martial arts. But you know what? Swimming is critical, too. It’s critical that we know how to kick hard and swim well. All good survival skills.

We’ll swim in the mornings, go to TKD in the evenings, wooooooot, happy summer, y’all!

“We’re having a heat wave/
a tropical heat wave/
the temperature’s rising/
it isn’t surprising/
she certainly can/

Thursday Book Review: “National Geographic Kids Almanac 2011” & “The Botany of Desire” (book + movie)

July 8th, 2010

Now reading:

A review, by Wacky Girl: “I really like the 2011 National Geographic Kids Almanac for many reasons. It’s easy to use, has lots of pictures, tells you everything you need to know about everything and is easy to understand. It is also very colorful! Some of my favorite sections are: the future world chapter, Your World 2011, Super Science and Wonders of Nature. I would recommend this book to really anybody. It’s easy to use, fun, and has a lot of information.”

(A note from her librarian mama: Most kids love almanacs, encyclopedias, dictionaries, all kinds of non-fiction research books, much to my amazement and delight. Even kids who aren’t crazy about reading will pore over a Guinness Book of World Records. So pick one up and see how it goes. We also subscribe to a few kids’ magazines, and those have a lot of “curb appeal,” too.)

Steve and my mom both read “The Botany of Desire” and enjoyed it. We’re all big fans of Michael Pollan over here. I’ve gotten halfway through “Botany of Desire” on three separate occasions now. Who knows what my problem is — it’s a great book, I just can’t jump over that fence or something. So when I saw the DVD on the shelf at the library, I grabbed it.

Steve and the kids and I watched it in half-hour segments — first the apple, then the tulip, marijuana and then the all-mighty potato. Really excellent documentary. And yes, I’ll finish the book this summer.

If you have reluctant readers such as myself at your house, it might be helpful to pick up the DVD versions of a book, or if you can find an audiobook version, that helps, too. Whatever it takes to get us engaged.

(Please see my disclosure statement.)

Happy Thursday, everyone!

— wm

QOTD: Lech Walesa

July 8th, 2010

“Power is only important as an instrument for service to the powerless.”
— Lech Walesa, human rights activist, Polish president, Nobel laureate (b.

OK, this is cracking me up. or i’m cracking up. one or the other.

July 6th, 2010

Summer is officially ON.

Some random thoughts:

1) we went to the beach, it was fun, i was grouchy, why my family doesn’t disown me i have no idea. happy birthday, mom. Sorry.

2) a huge hunk of the deck found its way into my foot. while we were on vacation. Cuz i know how to relax. And only half of it came out. yeah. infection. tiny tweezers and lots of alcohol (rubbing, not the kind you drink) finally dug the rest of it out. good God, I’ll be glad when i can walk again.

3) planted pumpkins and flowers last week and it’s been so hot they’re already sprouting!! yay, plants.

4) when u invite the really nice neighbor kid to do taekwondo with you as your guest, it’s important that you not drive off and leave him behind, Steve. just sayin’. His mom is really understanding, thank goodness.

5) did i mention that i love our new neighborhood? the kids dart in and out of each other’s houses, people invite you over, people wave and say hello. except for us, of course. we’re fairly skilled at driving off and leaving people behind.

6) also, it’s quiet.

7) i like quiet.

8) can’t find the post office, but did find the nearest university — looks like they might be able to get me started on my master’s in teaching (plus library work plus reading specialist endorsement) as early as… August? (pssst — that’s next month.)

9) today, the cat threw up all over; the PC got infected and is not happy; the server was crashed (but now we’re up? i think?); the cupboard door in the laundry room fell apart in my hand; i broke the vacuum cleaner; we left our friend in the driveway and… I couldn’t walk. But all in all? A banner day. Because I’m starting grad school soon. For real. Thank you.

10) gotta go, Spocky.

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