Monday, November 30, 2009

The Psychology of Adjustment

I had been falling asleep daydreaming of those Anthropology dishes. Even went on the website and filled my shopping cart a few times.

But when I got to the totals, I just couldn't find a way to commit that much money. Still, it did occupy some mind space, especially when I lay my head down. So I looked at some alternate places to shop. Like Target. And World Market and Peer 1.

I found a set of way cool blue hobnail patterned mixing bowls at a little shop at the beach on Saturday. They were so different. Special retro look. They came home with me.

Then at the shop on Sunday I nabbed some cool looking old books with blue covers that I pictured as using as trivets for hot things on the table...IF I should just happen to end up with some new white stoneware dishes of some sort. Also found a stoneware cream pitcher and some cool white candlestick holders.

Eventually some none-Anthropology dishes ended up in my trunk.
Now on the table. Along with a few old Chinese figurines that have been in my family for generations.

Some little parcels of gift soaps all nicely wrapped up that just happened to have all the right colors to tie everything together.

A white starfish that was given to me by the little shop that I got the hobnail bowls in because I loved it and it didn't have a price on it.
Now I am cracking up because I realize the title of my book trivet is a good summary of what I've just done. Recreated my family table. A little needed adjustment for my psyche. It's an old old book but I wonder if it has a chapter on "Retail Therapy" because I think that is what I just did.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Words took flight today
And did not return
I struggled with what to write
Caring Bridge brought the sad news
The cancer is back
For the third or fourth or fifth time
The cancer is back
And the words are gone

They have been on this shore before
My friends have seen the Light across the water
Have had their foot in the boat
And allowed to return to shore
This time it looks like the boat will leave

One will cross the water
One will stay on shore
One will reach the light
One will only see it in the distance
How do we comfort?
How do we push the boat off
To a great destination
Wish a “bon voyage,
Arrivederci, rejoice for an end of this last rough journey?

Give us the words to say or write
Give us the arms to hold tight
The shoulders to lean on
The tears to flow
For our friend on the shore
For all of us on the shore together
Knowing one day another boat
Will take us across the water too

(belt) Hang Over

I am hung over. My belt is hung over is what I really mean. What is a thanksgiving dinner without a (belt) hangover anyway? The table was turned last night (no pun intended) as the adult table became the kids table. We four adults were doubly outnumbered by more than twice as many kids, by the time the young significant others made their way to the house.

This is one bajillion times better than the former life thanksgiving dinners where the ex'es matriarachical dominated family slumped at the table after cooking with wine all day, telling the same old predictable stories as if we hadn't already heard them a bajillion times before. I swear, someone's life stopped at forty and there just were no new stories after that. Dinner was not officially over until someone left the table crying or not speaking to someone else. At least three people had to be personally insulted (I was always one of the three) and some dish on the table had to be totally inedible (probably a result of the aforementioned cooking with booze pattern).

By contrast, last night, there was no table drama. No inedible dishes. All the stories were new. The kids, all in their twenties, were sharing lots of new old stories about fake I.D.s, everclear experiences, walks of shame (seeing them, not doing them of course) and freakin' websites.

My son will get to go to the aforementioned drama filled turkey dinner at the ex family's house tonight. For that I am infinitely sorry. Sorry that he has to still do that. Thankful that I don't.

Dinner last night included all the usual suspects (turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, fresh cranberry relish) and some new ones: ambrosia salad and balsamic roasted sweet potatoes. All served on the good china, polished silver and family crystal.

It brought relief to my soul as I observed my son engaged in the conversations with both generations at the table. He's trying something new with his job with the University's radio station: wine and music pairings. His first foray into this was so well received that it looks like he has his first winery sponsor. That's my boy!

I am digging lazing around in bed, working on my first eggnog latte (failed latte art this morning I'm afraid), and putting off heading out into the world today as long as possible. Sweet leftovers and hangovers to all!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tank Full

Thankful to be a girl, as opposed to being a guy. Girls have good girlfriends. My girlfriends are the bounce in my step. The lilt in my voice. My sounding board. My shelter and my amusement. Guys don’t typically have the same kind of closeness with guy friends. Some guys also have good girlfriends. This usually leads to their divorce!

Thankful for my freedom. Emancipation from a bad marriage. Free to do things without getting a second opinion. Freedom: knowing that living in this country in this time affords me choices and opportunities that women in much of the rest of the world do not have.

Thankful for having had the parents I did. While being the daughter of an absentminded (read as “self absorbed”) professor is not always an easy road, and sometimes tough on my overly sensitive days, both my parents provided me with opportunity, encouragement, strong roots and strong wings.

Thankful for the richness of experience that every day brings (though I am not always as aware of these gifts as I should be). Richness rooted in interactions: with kids and volunteers at Jubilee Reach Center and Heart and Home; interactions with dear friends, many who have been in my life through the major transitions and others who are additions to my new life; interacting with incredibly talented and supportive co-workers.

Thankful for my sister….out of all my parents gave to me and did for me, my sister is the most wonderful of them all.

Thankful for my son: I cannot imagine who I would be without having experienced motherhood. Andy is my heart, my pain, my delight, my angst, my amusement, my impatience, my fear and my hope. Wow. That’s a lot in a scrawny, scruffy, shy and talented package. What a gift.

Several years ago I challenged myself to come up with two lists: things I liked and things I didn’t. When I “finished” the lists I forced myself to double them. And then double them again. I haven’t added to the lists in many years. Maybe its time to do that again. But for the record, and since it is Thanksgiving it seems appropriate to provide the uncensored list of things I like.

Schnitzel and Noodles
(These are a few of my favorite things)

1. Music from a different time, whether the memories good or bad (Jackson Brown, Carole King, Neil Young, Jethrow Tull, Van Morrison, Pink Floyd, Clapton, Carly Simon)
2. The Italian Riviera in the fall
3. Real people
4. My sister
5. A fire in the fireplace
6. A good book, so good that all other distractions, including housework and bill paying, be damned
7. Hostess gifts, received and given
8. Little note cards with simple, retro scenes
9. Tanning bed sessions
10. Christmas cards with personal family photos
11. Christmas letters giving all the details
12. Funky glasses, ties and clothes worn by architects
13. A child proudly, bravely sharing their talents and accomplishments with me
14. An unexpected call from a friend just checking in
15. Pulling off an impossible deadline and providing a needed service
16. Writing in Starbucks
17. Completing a challenging crossword puzzle
18. A new item of clothing in a smaller than usual size that feels and looks good. Clothes that are oversized so you have to buy in a smaller than your usual size.
19. Seeing clothes like those from my teen years in the overpriced teen clothing store in the mall
20. A fully loaded Starbucks card
21. Gift certificates
22. Heated leather seats on a clear cold night with the sun roof open
23. Having dinner ready and waiting without having had to give a thought as to what it will be or who will do it and when
24. A new roll of toilet paper recently reloaded on the rack by someone else
25. A gift bought in a store instead of ordered over the internet
26. Perennials popping up throughout the spring and summer just when I have forgotten they were there
27. The first forsythia blooms
28. The smell of paperwhites
29. A kind smile from a stranger
30. Men in pull over sweaters
31. An afternoon in the living room in front of the fire, throw blanket wrapped, alone in the house, reading a good book while drifting in and out of sleep.
32. Pants that don’t wrinkle or bunch at the thighs
33. A homemade gift
34. A little something brought back from a trip by a friend who got it just because she was thinking of me on her trip when she saw it
35. Finding just the right gift for a friend or relative
36. Getting past anger with someone
37. The awkward expressions of care and concern from my father
38. Real life items in miniature used for different purposes (miniature shopping carts used as desk caddies, model red wagons and children’s shoes used as vases in table centerpieces)
39. Cold, clear, clean air with no wind
40. Dreams in which my mother appears
41. Fresh fruit pie and cobblers
42. Men who look good bald or closely sheared or gray
43. Treating people who assist me with dignity, interest and appreciation
44. Being asked for the recipe
45. Women who age gracefully
46. Dark sunglasses on days I want to be invisible
47. Expressions of concern without prying
48. Successfully deciphering vanity plate messages
49. People who let you into the stream of traffic
50. Make over shows
51. Wreaths on the fronts of SUVs during the holidays.
52. Sessions with my therapist (most of the time)
53. Conversations with friends with young children, hearing about the latest things their children have said and done
54. People who ignore the cell phone ringing while they are presently engaged with me
55. Tapioca pudding, real mashed potatoes, olive/pimento cheese in a jar, meringue cookies, cheese grits, hot buttered rum, Chex football mix, Applets and Cottlets, Italian style pizza, microwave popcorn for dinner, Texas Toast, white turkey meat seasoned simply with salt and pepper.
56. A compliment from a stranger
57. Funny home video shows
58. When Andy talks to me about music and assumes I know what he is talking about
59. A compliment about my child
60. Morning love
61. Spooning
62. Being sincerely asked for advice and then having that advice followed
63. Colors
64. Eliciting laughter when being funny and clever
65. Enjoying a TV show with Andy
66. Chai tea
67. Thai and Indian food
68. People I know choosing the seat next to me
69. Peanut butter
70. Children’s art work
71. Turning up the radio loud when I am driving alone. Singing along to a good song when that happens. Believing I can sing.
72. Funny real life things that happen
73. Turning over a new calendar page
74. Being invited somewhere on New Years Eve
75. Long weekend trips with friends
76. Fishing when the fish are biting
77. Motorized boats with heads (bathrooms)
78. Waking up feeling healthy
79. Going for a walk alone
80. Going for a walk with friends
81. Walking with Mark
82. Seeing other couples enjoying each other’s company
83. When people speak fondly of their spouse
84. Doing Pilates
85. Watching people at airports (not as much fun now that families can’t go out to the gate)
86. When terrorists get caught
87. When friends accomplish wonderful things (Lola and Jerry’s marathon run)
88. Learning a new piano piece, playing the keyboard for myself
89. Good lighting
90. A clean bathroom
91. The feel of clean sheets after a shower
92. A clean refrigerator
93. A clean desk
94. Finally doing something I had procrastinated on
95. Marzipan in fruit shapes
96. Pollywogs half way between fish and frog (with legs and tail)
97. The taste of cold beer on a warm afternoon outside
98. Playing solitaire
99. Real mail: personal cards and letters
100. Biting into a lollypop after the shell has been licked very thin
101. People who like purple
102. Making it through the grocery store anonymously
103. Netflix
104. A medium length car ride (1-3 hours) alone with no traffic issues
105. Those synthetic fiber blankets that are very warm, soft and lightweight
106. Sleeping diagonally alone in a king size hotel bed
107. Getting ready in the morning in a hotel room on a business trip (alone)
108. Those containers of slime that make a farting sound when you push it down
109. Fresh flowers from the market
110. A massage
111. Having nicely painted toenails
112. Sushi Land with Andy and a friend of his
113. Some of Andy’s friends who humor me
114. Expressing myself in writing
115. Amazing Grace on the bag pipes
116. Ave Maria on the organ
117. Dance of the Sugar Plum Ferries on flutes
118. The Star Spangled Banner on the electric guitar Hendrix style
119. Interesting obituaries
120. Seeing my name in print
121. Recognition awards at work
122. Recognizing someone for a job well done
123. The sound of certain words like: pleasure, mango, trip, mitigate, polish, congratulations, valley, rococo,
124. Being let in on an announcement, like expecting a baby or taking a new job, before the word is out. Being trusted with a confidence.
125. A day off in the middle of the week
126. Having secrets, holding back
127. Being honest
128. Having someone agree with me
129. Reaching consensus after being worlds apart
130. Going through the closet and getting rid of lots of things
131. Putting on a coat and finding cash in the pocket
132. Finding a lost item
133. Little stick ‘em notes with funny sayings like “I don’t suffer from stress, but I’m a carrier” or “I like teamwork. It spreads the blame around.”
134. Slipping mildly foul words into a conversation to shock people.
135. Packing a light suitcase
136. Bringing home a heavier suitcase
137. Automatic checking deposits
138. Internet bill paying
139. Solving a problem
140. The smell of cedar and sandal wood
141. Having a prayer answered
142. Getting off a plane to weather that is significantly warmer than from where I came
143. Aquariums and zoos
144. The silence in the auditorium after a really great movie ends
145. Sandals
146. Wearing jeans on Fridays
147. BCCing some e-mails
148. Having a hand knit sweater to give
149. Having young adults treat me as a peer
150. Having friends of all different ages
151. Being busy at work but not overwhelmed
152. Meeting friends for lunch in the middle of my work day
153. Being the only woman at a table full of men at a client meeting
154. Having a semi-personal relationship with female workers in other engineering/developer firms who are also a rarity in the profession
155. Reading a book while sitting in one of those big comfortable chairs at Barnes and Noble
156. Fun book titles and opening lines
157. Book Club discussions
158. Talking about a book with a friend who has read it too
159. Getting a draft back with very few mark ups and a few “good”s written in the margin
160. Plays on words
161. Being heard in my normal tone of voice
162. Nicely thought out guest rooms
163. Big soft towels and other nice linens
164. Clean pot holders easily found where they should be
165. Matching cloth napkins
166. Chocolate with nuts: everything is better with nuts
167. Being complimented
168. Being asked for help
169. Olive green and Tuscany yellow
170. Pulling up a full crab pot with plenty of keepers
171. Wireless internet connections
172. Watches with hands (not digitals)
173. Comfortable lingerie
174. Business cards that catch your eye
175. White boards and cork boards
176. Sidewalk chalk work on my street
177. How blatantly guilty the dog acts when she is in trouble
178. The color of buildings in Italy
179. Orchards and olive groves
180. Hearing children talk among themselves when they don’t know they are being listened in on
181. Admission of doubt: from others; from myself
182. Having a strong opinion about something (like it when I do, not always when someone else does)
183. Honey Comb cereal
184. Bulleted lists
185. “Thank You”
186. “I’m Sorry”
187. Graph paper
188. Tracing paper
189. Vellum
190. Handmade special wedding invitations
191. My father’s quick sketches
192. Aerial photos
193. Good parking circulation
194. Finding a good parking space when the lot is crowded (Hail, Mary, full of Grace. Help me find a parking space.)
195. My brother and brothers in law
196. Discovering hidden stashes
197. Spreadsheet ease
198. Spiral binding
199. Passing along recommendations
200. Loaning and borrowing good books
201. Happy second marriages
202. Bachelors finally finding someone special
203. Dropping dinner off at the home of someone who needs it
204. Photographs of people (except myself)
205. Highlighter pens
206. Marking up a printed book with notes and ideas and highlighting things that catch my eye
207. Used book stores
208. Paying less than 50% of regular price for anything
209. A “+” instead of “-” in the portfolio balance column for change from last statement
210. Picture phones
211. Digital pictures received in an e-mail
212. A spontaneous hug
213. European cheek kiss greetings while clasping hands
214. Coffee dates
215. Stainless steel travel coffee cups
216. Pretty store shopping bags
217. Wood floors
218. Parties with themes
219. Seeing an overweight person out exercising (walking/running)
220. Matching all the socks in a load of laundry
221. Secret pierced navels (women who have it done but don’t flaunt it)
222. Hoods on clothing
223. Smiles
224. Laughter
225. Seeing a mountain from a far distance on a clear day, especially when it is sunny but there is lots of snow on the mountain
226. Side zippers on dresses
227. People who RSVP
228. The alphabet
229. Fun words to spell out loud like Mississippi and banana, l-o-double l-y-p-o-p, panama
230. Agreeing to disagree
231. Men with nice legs wearing shorts with sandals WITHOUT socks
232. Fresh, quality extra virgin olive oil
233. James Bond Movies
234. The Shawshank Redemption
235. A bunch of other really great movies and great books (see Lola’s 40 B-day list)
236. Wrapping paper
237. Win/win situations
238. No set meal times: no meals
239. Outdoor dining
240. Working (writing on work projects) in Starbucks
241. Levi jeans on well proportioned men
242. A clean car
243. Clear surface area on counters, desks
244. Classical music
245. Christmas carols
246. The right shoes with the right outfit
247. People in hats that look good in hats
248. The right hair cut on the right person
249. Subtlety
250. Curious cats (not stand offish ones)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Close Encounters of the Mean Kind (Part 2)

I had the huge honor of seeing Taj Mahal perform at Jazz Alley last night. The WAC (Washington Athletic Club where I belong) had gotten 60 seats right up front and offered to members. So Janelle, also a member, got them and invited me to go with her. I love going to jazz alley. The atmosphere is right up there on the top of my favorites list. The music always so good. The seating is set up to feel very intimate with the stage. The food spectacular. Wine list marvelous.
Taj Mahal is a legend. 67 years old (I had to look that up) He's been in my life since seventh grade as I listened to my brother play his bluesy, folksy music. His music is on my most frequently played playlists. "Goin' fishin'" "Leaving Trunk" I hear several times a week. I was so thrilled to get to go with Janelle to this performance.

After waiting outside with the rest of the WAC crowd in the cold wind for a good half hour we were shown in and, with the rest of the WACkers led to an area near the stage. I was glad to see there were long tables and we were to be seated with other members. I chose a spot basically right front and center, separated from the stage by one small table. Across the table from this sweet looking older couple: Ferris and Corrine Somethingorother. Sweet, sweet people. A retired dentist from Mercer Island. Married for 51 years. Janelle, who is so outgoing and good for taking up conversations with strangers reached out her hand to introduce herself to these folks. Then over the two empty seats next to her to the couple sitting at the end of the table. I can only see the woman, as she is on the far side of the table. The man is on the same side as me and at the far end so not really within easy eye shot.

The woman looks like an overaged Barbie Doll. Her peroxide hair in a short thick cut adds at least three more inches to her height. Her tight skin and lack of wrinkles betrays the plastic surgery that her wrinkled neck cannot hide. She is wearing severe glasses, slightly tinted. When Janelle reaches out her hand to introduce herself I witness something I have never seen before. "Mrs. Jerold Grissbitchsomethingorother" with a tone like "leave me the fuck alone" which I interpret to mean "don't you touch my husband." Janelle recoils from the snake bite and looks at me as she says "Wow. That was interesting." We look at Corrine across the table who informs us that when she introduced herself similarly the woman didn't even respond. Just turned away and continued her conversation with her husband. Corrine laughed as she said she just responded back to snake lady "delighted." and that is why they seated themselves at the far end of the table from this couple, which made a wonderful seating opportunity for us.

I leaned forward to take a look at this precious husband that Mrs. Jerold Grissbitchsomethingorother was keen on protecting from us. He was a fat, ugly, old coot. The second or third martini was delivered to snake lady. As the seating filled up a cute young couple took the last two seats at the table: the husband sitting between Janelle and Mr. Jerold G. and the young woman between sweet Corrine and snake lady. I watched with interest (and wanting so to give warning) as this sweet young thing, after being greeted and introduced by our end of the table, turned towards snake lady's husband, introduced herself and then stuck her hand out to Mrs. Jerold G who blatantly turned her head from this sweet thing. From that point on, our end of the table (all but the Mr. and Mrs. Jerold G) were bonded. We watched as snake lady drank martini after martini. Then a few glasses of red wine with dinner. Only three times during the course of the evening did she enter into conversation. Each timeshe shared something about drinks. She described some drink that had a can of Red Bull poured into the top of it. She described some drink she had at a very exotic resort in a very exotic place in the world. I don't recall the third conversation except that it had to do with a drink.

There were so many delightful and interesting parts of our conversation with the rest of the table. The young couple were pawn shop owners in Burien. You would have never guessed. They had been married for 23 years.

After a drink Corrine shared the story of how a good friend of her husband's had cornered her in an elevator and gave her an incredible kiss. The kind where he bent her over backwards. Ferris got strangely quiet there for that story. But after a few minutes dived back into the conversation. Neither Corrine nor Ferris were familiar with Taj Mahal. Corrine had bought the tickets because she is familiar with the Taj Mahal in India. But when the music started, like everyone else in the place, everyone that is except for Mr. and Mrs. Jerold Grissbitchsomethingorother, everyone was bopping in their chairs. You just couldn't help, nor would you want to, participating in the music. I glanced back at the snake lady a few times. Though she was turned toward the stage, not a hair on her head jumped to the music. Not a drop of her drink, clutched in her hand, jumped from her glass.

Old Taj was such a great showman. Sitting where we were, less than twenty feet away, I could watch all his expressions, his smooth moves. His strutting and gyrating. Amazing. The drummer and bassist were good support and he played to them and gave them solos but really the show was all about Taj.

It was a great evening. Even Mr. and Mrs. Jerold Grissbitchsomethingorother added to the entertainment. Once you got over her meanness all you could feel was pity: pity for her miserableness. Pity that she missed out on a really great table with really great people to converse with. Pity for the nice women who mistakenly reached out to welcome her. Mean people suck.

Close Encounters of the Mean Kind (Part 1)

I was taking a time out at Starbucks on Thursday, between my last meeting and picking up Satch. Doing a little work, answering emails, playing Sudoku on the iPhone. You know. That kind of work. It was one of those supersize Starbucks, and I had staked out a nice leather chair near the fireplace. After the gentleman in the adjacent chair vacated a mother and daughter, I'd say about 11 or 12 years old, arrived. I was focused on the sudoku at hand and not paying much attention. I noticed that the girl was perched on her momma's lap, kind of teetering there with her long limbs jutting over the edges. I thought "how sweet." Had the impression that this mom and daughter were of the pals variety. At that awkward stage between real lap cuddling and pubescent door slamming.

I wasn't really listening. Much. The girl must have been giving an accounting of her day at school. How her classes were going. I think her mom must have asked her how her orchestra audition had gone.

"I started good but then I froze. I couldn't finish. I stopped." (girl)

"You what?" (mom)

"I froze, Mom. Nerves." (g)

"Do NOT tell me that you just stopped." (m)

"I did mom. I don't know why. I knew the song. You heard me last night. I played all the way through. This happened last year too. Remember? I know the song and then when I have to play it, just me, not with the group, but when everyone is listening I freeze up. I couldn't finish."

"I have had it with you Amanda. That is totally unacceptable. We get you lessons because you say you need lessons. I take you to lessons. I make you practice. And this, THIS is what you do?"

Amanda, pleading "I know Mom. I'm sorry. I don't know why I do this. It's nerves Mom. It has to be nerves. I do practice. I played for you last night. I knew it well. It's nerves. Don't you have nerves mom?"

By now Amanda's voice has taken on a desperate tone. Like a lamb before slaughter.

"Of course I have nerves. Everybody does. But everybody does NOT just stop performing. I never did. You ALWAYS do this Amanda. What happens when you dance at a performance? You always finish because the others are counting on you. "

"And I always play when the orchestra is playing. It's just when I audition. When everyone is listening. I get scared. The teacher said it happens. Not to worry. She was really nice Mom. "

"Well you stopped. I don't care if the teacher was nice. She will FAIL you. You get an F if you do not finish. If you just stop playing. What were you thinking? If you were doing this for a judge you would be disqualified. You always have to finish no matter what. Now you will not get first chair. FIRST CHAIR. How many kids play the viola, Amanda?"

"Five, I think."

"And what chair do you think you'll get now?"

"Probably fifth"

"I cannot believe you did this, Amanda. well, well," (mother is sputtering now) "Amanda, I will not be coming to any of your performances if you are not first chair. Not even second chair? How could you, Amanda? How could you?"

The mother's back is turned towards me. Amanda has long since extracted herself from her mother's lap. She is standing lankly in front of the fire. I am not sure if she caught the worried looks I had exchanged with the other woman sitting in the chair on the opposite side of the fireplace. I am frozen in my chair. Not believing what I am hearing.

and I think of how defeated I used to feel when I got from one parent or the other (and only when it was truly deserved) "Jennifer, I'm so disappointed in you." And that was it. I can't imagine what Amanda does inside with this information her mother is shoving at her. I want to intervene. I picture inserting myself into this conversation. I almost do. Several times. But Amanda's mother scares me. I don't want to make it any worse for Amanda. I'm sure her mother would turn it around to "see Amanda. This is what you do. You stop playing and now these people are mad too." or, of a lesser evil, because I would rather her say this: "shut up bitch. This is none of your business." than blame it on Amanda.

Amanda takes her backpack. Says she's going to go work on her homework, and settles herself at a table on the far opposite side of this Starbucks. The other woman has left the fireplace area. I look over at the mother, who is focused on a "how to knit book", wrestling with some large needles and yarn. She has weapons. Knitting needles. This fact, and the fact that she is a rather large woman, sweating profusely, shuts down any ideas I have about talking to her about the scene I just witnessed.

Amanda comes back several times to try to work this out with her mother. She obviously is very nervous and wants to get it settled with her mother. "Mom, I will try so hard to not do this again. I don't know what to do with the nerves though."

"Shut up"

(I think "she did NOT just say that!")

"Shut up, Amanda. I am so sick and tired of all your excuses. You always blame other people"

"I am not blaming other people, Mom. It is all my fault. I get nervous. I never blamed anybody else."

"You always do Amanda. You never take responsibility."

"I am mom. I am taking responsibility. I said it's my fault."

"Excuses. Always with the excuses. Just go away."

Amanda came back at least four more times with similar results.
It's time for me to go. I pack up my things. I look at this mother who is focused on her knitting. I imagine saying all kinds of things in a range of approaches. But I don't. I look at where Amanda is sitting. Far away from the door I am about ready to go out. I start for the door but find myself heading across the room. I sidle up to Amanda who is toiling away on homework, pencil in hand. Glasses teetering on the tip of her nose.

"Excuse me please" I say. She looks up at me, worried. I have no idea what will come out of my mouth. "I just have to tell you, Amanda. If you were my daughter I would be so proud of you. "(long pause here) "I couldn't help but notice, your mom is pretty rough on you."

"It's OK" she says. A rather fast comeback. Eager. Like maybe she's afraid I'll make a scene with her mother. Or call CPS. Or somehow get her in more trouble. I give her a soft smile. She relaxes a little. Then I freeze. Nerves. Stop my song right in the middle of it. Auditioning for the role of good Samaritan. And I can't finish.

"Good luck sweetie" is all I got. And I walk away. Out the door. Never glancing back at that so called mother by the fireplace.

I cannot tell you how much I have been thinking about this encounter ever since. I keep coming back to it. How I might have done things differently. Or not. I think of Amanda. Pale complexion. Reddish hair. Big glasses. Skinny and tall with a distinct slump. And an ugly mother.
I try to work up some sympathy for that mother. Something about how she must really be unhappy in her life to be so mean to her daughter. How she might have been having a bad day. I try but I don't succeed. My heart is in Amanda's camp. Her mom sucks. Mean people suck.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Going Green

I’ve been volunteering at Anne’s high end thrift shop on Sunday afternoons. It’s such fun to see what treasures have come in from week to week. I love helping people with their “finds.” And I get to “play shop” as I restock the racks and shelves from things in the back, move around items to better display them, decide what price to put on things (oh such power). I am doing most of my Christmas shopping from the shop. I found just the perfect thing for my brother in law, and usually he’s the one I struggle with the most. Well second most to my father, who is usually really hard.

I was so excited to find these green plates this time around. A set of four for intimate dinners. They’d even go well layered with the new dishes I covet but can’t justify buying…yet…but this gets me closer! I had the gals over for dinner Sunday evening and so put them to use right away, along with the orange long stemmed goblet, also a treasure from the shop, that I used for candlelight. To complete the centerpiece I added my pot of paperwhites. They just bloomed and the house smells wonderful.

For dinner I made butternut squash soup, my first attempt. I used the basic approach (sautéed onions, broth and squash, roasted then boiled and pureed). Then I got creative on the seasonings. Used just the right combination of maple syrup (just a little) and Tika Masala spice (I was out of curry). I have to say it was really, really good. Guests thought so too. My attempt to make it really classy failed but I’ll do better next time. I poured a little fresh cream on top and tried to do “latte art” but the soup was too thick so it didn’t really work. I am definitely going to try again. I’ll make the soup a little thinner and maybe thicken the cream a bit with the frother first. The rest of the dinner was strictly ‘50’s comfort food with Rancho Dagwiddows (my family will know what I mean) and broccoli/cheese it casserole. Finished with de-caf eggnog lattes to go with the Tiramisu cake one of the gals brought.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

in Which I Explain (show) Why I Love My Life...

Today's Latte art...eggnog latte lotus (I think I'm getting better)

Hosting Vasa Vista ladies which I took the afternoon off to get the house ready for 6:30 party and nobody showed....until 7:30 and then only 3 women came (out of the 12 I was expecting) but had a good time meeting those...two of whom are also new to the neighborhood...must be some kind of initiation ritual in which you get the new resident to host and then don't show up...oh well. I have a clean house, had an enjoyable evening, drank some very nice wine and have brie encoute left over for tonight's dinner with friends.

the games we didn't play

Brie en croute with lavender peach chutney hidden inside. Was scrumpdilleyicious and I have lots left over....

Saturday night in Seattle...early Christmas shopping with Jill

The dishes I covet and might just order if I could somehow justify it...

I heart anthropology...

I heart Anthropology measuring cups. Aren't these the cutest? I see my own stocking stuffers coming on...

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Night the Lights Went Out...

not in Georgia. But just remembering that song..."the night they hung an innocent man." That song is right up there with the day "Billy Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahassee bridge." Not to get sidetracked or anything.
But, as I was saying, last night was the night the lights went out at the Seattle Center. Unfortunately it was the same night we (five of us) had tickets to Book-It Theater at the Center. Supposed to see "Emma." Seriously, we pulled up and there were no lights anywhere around. So instead we moved our rendezvous to Belltown and had a most scrumption dinner at Wasabi Bistro. As one at our table exclaimed "This is the best Sushi I've ever had." Same place I took Andy to celebrate his HS graduation a few years ago. It really is a special treat. And we got plenty to eat plus a beer or two all for less than $30 each. I'm seeing if I can get rebooked for the play for next week as the message from the theater was that they'd try to reticket anyone who missed last night because of the outage. I guess the lights did come on just before the performance but by that time several people had moved on.
My favorite roll from Wasabi Bistro: Green Decadence. It's green onion, tempura asparagus, wrapped with rice and then avacado. Served with a wasabi aoli. Also had a shrimp tempura roll with Mango "Mango Tango", eel roll, and a few others.
Love the atmosphere here. Belltown is so hip.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sleezy in Seattle

In true Seattle fashion I have lost my wonderful sunglasses during the rainy season. Where do they go during their breaks? Couldn’t they just hang out in my purse? Or on my counter? But no. They have to go and hide themselves and so even though we finally have a break in the rain, I have to winge about my missing sunglasses. Poo. Somewhere in an alternate universe there are about thirty pair of my sunglasses. Probably drinking margaritas with my sock singles. I buy cheap sunglasses because of this phenomenon. So it’s not the cost I’m miffed about. It’s just that I had a color and a shape I really liked. Perfect for me. And now they are gone and I will have to start that search all over again for the perfect replacement. Winge. Sigh. (btw “winge” is the Brit equivalent of whining, which somehow makes it less annoying, right?) whine.

I was distracted driving to work today and forgot to take the exit on the Island to pick up milk for the latte machine in our kitchen at work. So now I am reeeealy droooooping. I am going to drag my sorry ass to the little Italian cafe down the street. To get a cappuccino pick me up.

I’m back! It was nice to get out into the crisp City air. People bundled up. Clear and sunny (which means some element of cold this time of year).

I made the mistake of asking my co-workers if I could pick them up some sort of caffeine beverage when I was out. They both wanted flavors that are not served at my favorite Italian coffee bar, Caffe Senso Unico (That’s “One Way” in Italian). I had my heart set on going to my little taste of Italy, so I went there first. Sigh…. Did I mention I love Italy? I resisted the bowl of Bacci's (Sis...if you were there I'd have had to have one with you). The man behind me grabbed one and I almost said outloud "Oh, you want a kiss" (since Bacci, besides being a numscrumptios drop off bittersweet chocolatte studded with hazlenut pices, wrapped around a whole one and wrapped in a blue and silver foil...also means "kiss" in Italian."

Then, coffee slut that I am, I sleezed my way into the Starbucks across the street to pick up the drinks for the others. I was trying to hide my cup so the barristas wouldn’t think I was cheating on them. Which is ridiculous as this is a S’bucks I don’t really give a rip about any way: I never, hardly ever go to this one. Still, I yet again experienced my moment of shame.


p.s. I just ran accross this picture which has my beloved sun glasses that my beloved sister almost got her beloved ass in jail for buying in Italy (that's a whole nuther story). They matched my car. I loved wearing them. I got so many comments on them. And then they fell apart in such a way as to be unfixable. Sigh. It's their replacement that is now missing.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Caught Cheating On...

I stood there blinking, put my hand on my hip and said "what do you mean? I can too!" to the chubby bespectacled barrista boy. I thought he was pulling my leg when he shook my vintage Starbucks Card at me. This is my favorite card, and I often get comments from the Barristas about how they love this version. It's now considered "vintage" but I still keep it loaded up so I can grab a cup 'o on the run. I had just been at a job site, and the hard hat and bright vest hadn't done much to keep the cold and wet out. I wanted a caramel apple cider and I wanted it now. So I wasn't going along with his teasing and said "I can too! I use it all the time." He laughed and said "Do you know where you are?" The light bulb finally went off. I did one of those slap my hand on my forehead things. Fumbled around for my words. Blushed a bright pink.
I exchanged the Starbucks card for the Tully's card I had in my wallet. He just laughed and said "happens all the time." It was slow at Tully's in the middle of the afternoon so he came around to the end of the counter where my drink was being put together. He told his buddy about what I had done, in a rather jovial matter. I said "I feel like I've been caught cheating on you. Like I've been unfaithful." And I did. I am a coffee house playboy. I'll passionately indulge in one chain's coffee for several days, and then switch to the other. I'll do one-night stands with independent houses. In fact those are usually my favorites. I've done one house in the morning and a different one in the afternoon. Oh my gosh. I'm a coffee house slut. (which may explain this) A step down from a playboy I think. If I arrive at one house and have to get rid of another house's cup from my cup holder I try to keep the cup hidden until it is deposited in the outside trash can. Today I was busted. The guy was nice about it. But it was I that felt the shame. I have no idea how folks pull off affairs.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Heart Health

This morning I became certified by the American Heart Association in CPR and AED. Things have changed a lot since I last took a class. I relearned how to do heart compressions and resuscitation (though breathing is not as important as compressions now) as well as use the portable defibrillators. We learned how quickly the heart tissue dies if it doesn't get help. I already knew how once heart tissue dies it cannot be brought back. That lesson was learned the hard way by Mom. I learned the Heimlich and how to move people into recovery position. I learned how important it is that our children know and understand how important it is to not leave a passed out person sleeping on their back. If nothing else our kids should know how to move someone into recovery position (and of course what to look for when its time to call in aid).

So this is as good a time as any to tell any of my female readers that don't know this, a frequent manifestation of heart failure in women is a "funny feeling in the jaw." Had my mother known this she might still be with us today. I remember vividly when she mentioned her jaw felt funny and we all dismissed it as stress and excitement over a big family event and relatives coming in from out of town. She suffered from a heart attack over several days. By the time it was diagnosed her heart was irreparably damaged.

As women, we natural borne care takers. Of other people that is. We have learned to put our own health on a back burner, often waiting until we are beyond an easy fix to seek professional attention. And then there's the discomfort of maybe making a big deal out of nothing. "I don't want to go to the doctor. By the time I get there I'll be fine and they'll think I'm just a big whiner." And so we often don't follow the signs and signals our body is giving us to get attention. I'll just say that this goes for taking care of our mental health as well as physical.

Take care of yourself: your heart and your head.


This from the Mayo Clinic:
Additional heart attack symptoms in women
Women may have all, none, many or a few of the typical heart attack symptoms. For women, the most common heart attack symptom is still some type of pain, pressure or discomfort in the chest. But women are more likely than are men to also have heart attack symptoms without chest pain, such as:

■Neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort
■Shortness of breath
■Nausea or vomiting
■Abdominal pain or "heartburn"
■Lightheadedness or dizziness
■Unusual or unexplained fatigue

Monday, November 2, 2009

Battery Warning

“Warning. Your battery is able to charge normally, however it is reaching the end of its usable life.”

This is the greeting that awaits me now each time I turn on my computer. Why is it that I assume this is talking about my usable love life? Nearing the end of it, I mean. Like if I don’t quick have sex with somebody, anybody, I will no longer be able to function in that, ahem, area? And do I care? Well, YES.

I am now at the point of revirgination. It’s been so freakin’ long since I’ve had the pleasure of pleasure. Thinking about getting back on that horse again places me in a realm of anticipation, awakening and fear. (and, by the way, the only reason I think about this is the warning of my battery condition by my computer, not because I have any prospects, obtainable crushes or anybody in the least bit interested in me at this time.) By my count it’s been over five years since I’ve done the dirty dance. Shivered my timbers. Sheet wrestled, arm nestled, romped naked with a man who wanted to romp naked with me.

My IT guy asked if I could hang in with the waning battery for a few more months. I am scheduled for a laptop replacement in January. (and by the way, typing about a “laptop replacement” in this writing even has me giggling. Oh, dear Lord, get my head out of the gutter.) So I guess it’s a few more months of being reminded, on a daily basis, or more, that my battery is nearing the end of its useful life. Great. But January. Well then, look out.