Sunday, December 18, 2011

Embarrassing Christmas Confession

Oh God, help! I'm eating one of my Espresso Crinkles, fresh out of the oven; and the powdered sugar is choking me!  Koff!  Koff!

Simon was never into Christmas Music.  We didn't listen to it when he was home.  I actually have some cool Christmas mixes, courtesy of my friend Robert; so I was listening to those today.  But my embarrassing Christmas confession is that I have a favorite album that I wouldn't inflict upon ANYONE (except my kids).  This one.
"Winter Wonderland," by The Ray Charles Singers
Oh, no.  Not THAT Ray Charles. Because that would be cool, and this is really, really un-cool.  I think  that this may be called "lounge music" today.  In 1956, when it came out, this was, like, Christmas booty-call music.  Moooooooood music.  Mom told me it was the first record she and Dad bought after they were married.  It has a very dated-sounding chorus of about 10 people, accompanied by piano, guitar, drums, accordion (really) and harp (no joke).

Here we go!  Sing along with Kate.

The snow is snowing.
The wind is blowing
But I will wea-ther the storm! [All the voices climb way up high, then the men drop down one tone at a time.] [Sto-o-o-o-o-rm!] 
What do I care how much it may storm?
I've got my love to keep me warm.

[Time for the verse. Just the men.]

All summer I'll be playin'
out on the tennis court. [Men make "plonking" noises, or, like, "clip-clop" noises with their tongues.  That's supposed to be the tennis ball.  Get it?] [A woman's voice in the background calls out "Love, forty!"]
But in the winter?
Just like the groundhog I'll turn into an indoor sport.

Here's another one that kills me.

Win-ter, win-ter when the snowflakes start a'fallin'.
That's the time to squeeeeeze:  [Big slide up]
When it starts to freeze,
in October and November and De-cem-ber [slowing down]
just remember.

It repeats that same bit several times, then the men go into this descant.

This is nothin' Santa sent.
She's my heating element.
Come and meet my lady radiator. [YES!  They really say "lady radiator"!]
Would I guild a lily?
Mister, don't be silly.
I will not be chilly
In the wintertime!

I will have you know that I was able to slap down all these lyrics without a second thought, 'cause I have been listening to this record since forever.  I can remember when I was very small (Kindergarten or younger), lying on the living room sofa in the dark, lit only by the Christmas tree.  I would lie there all peaceful and dreamy, gazing at the tree while Mom got dinner ready, and listen to this record. 

The real thing must be long gone.  I have it on CD.  Dad made it for me maybe 15 years ago, burning the disc from the turntable.  Which means that it starts with the needle contacting the record.  And since this record had already endured more than 40 years of hard use, all of the original pops and hisses are there, along with the big skip in the middle of "Button Up Your Overcoat".

Watch the influenza [doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo]
Cause influenza sends a [doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo]
Influenza sends a
Fellow to the doctor for a shot!

[Two startling, percussive blasts on the accordion!  Blahp! Blahp!]

[And another one, even bigger!  BLAHP!]

Watch the streptococcus.
Don't let the streptococcus rock us.  [Would I lie to you?]
Baby watch yourself
at all times,
and until the temperature climbs....

Button up your overcoat,
When the wind is free.
Take good care of yourself!
You belooooooong toooooo meeeeee!

Friday, December 16, 2011

High Point, Low Point

High Point?  Budget Babe rules!  Today's paycheck was the one that achieved my saving goal, and I am proud because six months ago I didn't know a thing about my financial situation or how I was going to get by.  Now, my checking account has a reasonable amount in it, but not too much.  Enough that I know I won't go into overdraft, even if something crazy happens; but no more than that.  Then I have a savings account, called "Serious".  That is where I have been saving enough money that I would have a cushion if I lost my job or my cancer came back.  I reached my goal amount there.  I could keep socking money away there, but I've decided to reward myself by opening a new account, called "Fun".  Here's where I'm going to save up so I can travel.  Yay, me!

Low Point?  Big fight with Si.  He said weeks ago that he would keep the kids overnight tomorrow night, so I can go to a party.  Then he called me and said he wouldn't watch them after all.  Then he acquiesced and said "Fine.  Whatever you want."  Then tonight, he declared that he would not watch them.  At this point it is too late to get a sitter.  He's mad because, when he agreed to do it, he was happy and together with Debbie.  Now, he is trying to date; and he thinks he needs to have all his weekend non-custodial nights free to do this.  When I said that he had agreed to keep the kids, and that it wasn't fair to just cancel at the last minute because he felt like it, he turned on me and shouted that he didn't have to be fair.  He didn't have to be nice to me or reasonable with me because I had left him.  Then he stomped into the house (when I asked if we could talk about this away from the kids, he offered to let me discuss it outside while he checked the mailbox), locked the door and wouldn't let me in.  My purse was in there, and the kids were in there (Nate crying).  I had to stand there knocking at the door, asking to be let in.  Nate tried to unlock the door once, but Si didn't want him to.  Si finally let me in so I could get my stuff.  I understand his frustration; but he lets his rage just take over, and he doesn't care what he says or does.  I have asked for help with the kids a few times.  So has he.  Tonight, he told me that he has never asked for help with the kids, but I have helped him a couple times; and told him I would keep them while he went to Costa Rica on vacation in January (although, he has forgotten this,now, since he is split up from Debbie and probably not going to Costa Rica).  He also sent me dates for three business trips coming up in the spring! 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Never Home

I arrived at my apartment door today to find a pile of newspapers and a notice from the management, warning me that someone in our building has been making disruptive noise after quiet hours, and risked eviction.  "Well, it's not me," I thought, pulling the notice down.  "I'm never home."

This week has been particularly challenging in this regard.  Chuck and I usually stay at my place on Tuesday and Thursday nights; but this week, Chuck needed to pick up his friend from the airport late at night on Tuesday; and then he became ill.  I haven't wanted to disrupt him.  So, I have been staying at Aloha Road all week, only visiting my apartment to pick stuff up and drop stuff off.  This morning, Chuck wanted to know if we would stay at my place, but I declined.  We usually spend weekends at Aloha when we I don't have custody of my kids.  And he is still pretty stick.  I heard myself telling him that I far preferred staying at Aloha, and that I didn't like being at my apartment. 

I don't know why I said that. I actually DO like being at my apartment.  It's tiny, but it's clean and neat.  All my favorite pictures are on the wall.  I am surrounded by books I want to read, music I want to listen to.  I know what food I have and it's all food I like.  I never have to search in vain for the lid that goes with a particular pot. However, it is quiet and dull.  I never entertain there, because it is too damn small.  And it's far from my job and from Chuck.  Aloha, on the other hand,  is dirty and I feel like I am always cleaning the kitchen.  There is not a single place where I can read at night without having to turn on a whole ceiling full of indirect light.  BUT, it always has people.  At the moment, it appears that four to six  people may live there.  Someone is always around and I enjoy that.  It has little luxuries:  a fireplace; a sauna.  Cliff's dog and Chuck's cockatoo.  So, which place is better?  For a sociable person like me, Aloha is more pleasant, but super-inconvenient.  If someone has to be inconvenienced, I would always prefer that it be me rather than Chuck.   However, I have to haul clothes and books and whatnot back and forth.  If I want to cook something, I have to pack up all the ingredients and haul  this stuff up to Aloha.  Sometimes, I arrive with bags and bags of food.  It's ridiculous.  At my own place, I never wonder whether there will be cinnamon. 

The deal is that, with Chuck and me, someone always has to be away from home. 
There is no way to make this any easier.  I got home today and walked into an apartment that reeked of garbage because, when I last left, I didn't realize I would be gone so long. The clothes I had loaded into the drier were still a little damp and smelled of mildew.  I felt weak and ill because I had slept poorly the night before and hadn't eaten.  I poured some cereal.  The milk was whiffy, of course.

I flopped on the bed and covered myself with my afghan.  I slept deeply for a couple of hours. 

What to do about this? Would it really make my life easier to have a couple of changes of clothing at Chuck's? Nah.  I would still have to keep replacing them after I wore them home. Or, what?  Change again before I leave?  What about food and cooking utensils?  I haul stuff like books back and forth.  Yesterday's newspapers.  My plum pudding mould.  Toenail polish.  Stuff I forget to haul back and forth:  underwear, my glasses, Creamies.

Monday, December 5, 2011


I took the kids and Chuck to the Dollar Theater tonight to see Dolphin Tale.  Sappy and over-rendered, but Sara LOOOOOOVED it!  Chuck asked me afterward of it made me cry.  Only a teensie bit. Nothing like Charlotte's Web, which slays me!  The movie makes me cry like a baby, as does the book.  Especially the book, because it is tender without trying too hard. 

Are there books or movies that make you ball ridiculously?  So embarrassing.

Then we got ice cream.  Since I have become single, I sometimes amuse myself by getting the weirdest flavored ice cream in the store  At Baskin Robbins tonight, I got French Toast.  Imagine Cookie Dough and Maple Nut mixed together.  Well, it was an adventure.

Things I am supposed to be doing, but I am blogging instead:

Prepping a butt-load of chicken that I bought (79 cents a pound!) to freeze;
Sewing a button back on my coat;
Making sack lunches;
Offering the Computer Lab Assistant job to someone;
Filing bills, statements and letters;
Frosting Mint Sticks for Christmas;
Putting today's expenditures in my budget;
Mopping the floors;
Reorganizing one of my overcrowded kitchen cupboards, which is getting on my nerves;
Cleaning mirrors and windows;
Doing month-end administration for work.

I'd better get on the ol'chop-chop.

Just For the Record

Some of my blog buddies think that a lawyer has contacted me on behalf of my ex.  I need to set the record straight.  Simon would never do that (although there were times when he would have liked to take a blow-torch to my computer).  It is Chuck's ex that threatened legal action, and her attorney who is monitoring my blog.  Gotta be fair to Si.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


 I have a lot of experience with diaries.  From the age of thirteen to twenty five, I wrote in a spiral notebook every day.  My journals are heaped in a box in the basement of Simon's house.  Even random diaries seem to make their ways into my life.  I became the owner of this one after Dad died.  Minnie L. Burpee, Rockford, Illinois.  Who was she?  There are a few clues.  There's a newspaper clipping in there from the early 1950s: an obituary for a Mary L. Burpee, who died at age 104.  Also a letter to my grammy from 1959, written by her neighbor Blanche Burpee, who must be Mary's daughter.  Yeah somehow, my family has the diary of the mother of the next-door neighbor of my grandparents.
It's a beautiful diary, actually.  Dipped pen.  Pressed plants.  The first entry is January 15, 1871. "...I am reading Little Women am on the last volume. [Oh yeah, Little Women was NEW, once.] I like it very much if Jo had accepted Laurie I should like it all the better.  I am sitting in the kitchen writing while Eliza is busy getting supper and mother is warming her feet by the stove and reading."

I am enthralled, but even more fascinated by my inheritance of my grandfather's six diaries.  He started writing when he was about ten and continued writing through his early adulthood

Here's the first one.  "Weihnacht" means "Christmas" in German.  Luckily, he didn't write his entries in German:  even when my German was good, I had a hard time with old-fashioned German script.
As a boy, he wrote about ice cream and school.  He was a newsboy for a while.  After he had stood on the corner yelling, "Extra!  Extra!" he would write his daily headline shout-out in his diary.
Later diaries became kind of scrapbook-like as well.  He writes of chemical engineering, concerts and canoe trips.  Girls he dated.  His first real job after college. 

I drew my fingers just lightly through the tendrils of his story, picking up diaries and opening them without reading from beginning to end.  In this way I am beginning to know my grandfather, who died when I was one year old.  Turns out he was funny, good-looking, outdoorsy.  There were surprising revelations, too.  That (at times), he did not believe in God.  His father was a Methodist pastor who would have flipped his lid if he had known.  He had serious misgivings about marrying Grammy. They broke up; she almost married someone else - a widower with a couple of kids; they had long conversations at his kitchen table; he expressed dismay and a lack of respect for her; time passed; they got back together.

Wow.  News to me.  Not shocking in itself; but surprising to think that people about whom I had heard only the best and most upstanding things had their moments of anger and uncertainty, self-analysis and elation.

Do diarists write for themselves or for others?  Did Grandpa know, when he was writing down his disappointment about Grammy, that we would all be reading it later, slack-jawed with fascination?  Well, no, in that he didn't know at that time that Grammy was going to BE Grammy.  She was a girl that he dated, broke up with, dated again.  He didn't know the future, but was just recording where his feelings were at that moment.  The answer to the question is also "Yes", though; in that he saved diary after diary as the years went by.  Did he do that because he wanted us to be able to see the whole arc of his life after he was gone?  Or so he could look at that arc himself and understand himself better?  Beats ME!

Blogs are similar.  Public and private at the same time.  Blogs can sometimes shock readers with their revelations; but dairies have always done that.  And not just years down the road.  Think of the times you pulled your sister's diary out from under her mattress and picked the lock. "Ah-hah!  She DOES love Billy Telodoro!  I'm tellin' everybody!  OR, maybe I won't tell anyone if she washes the dishes and takes the trash out for the rest of our natural lives..."

Or think of the movie scene.  Girl pulls diary out of mother's messy closet and flips it open.  The violins swell as she reads and clutches her breast in shock.  "SO!  I'm ADOPTED.  Why didn't you tell me!?!?!"  "Darling, we didn't want you to know...different!" 

Dairies and blogs both get their authors in trouble sometimes. 

I have received a letter from a lawyer, asking me to refrain from mentioning a particular person in this blog and threatening me with legal action if I don't immediately remove references to the Person in Question (hereafter referred to as PIQ) and never refer to PIQ again.  I have also been told that I cannot privatize my blog or restrict access to it in any way, because the lawyer wants to check on me and make sure I am obeying.  I'll bet what's really going on is that she wants to try my bagel recipe or read one of my awful book reviews, since my blog is 99% about things other than PIQ.

I could always move the entire blog to a new address.  I might still do that if I feel the need for privacy (don't worry, my readers in Uganda will always find me.)  In the meantime, I will write about what ever is on my mind: whatever is bugging me; causing me to ponder; making me happy or getting my attention.  And today, that will be....

Ten things far more interesting than empty threats on law-firm letterhead:

  1. The weight room at the Rec, where I lifted more on the triceps machine than I have ever lifted before.
  2. Fiats, because I think I am going to buy one  A yellow one.  Or maybe a red one.
  3. The homemade chili that Chuck made last night and left at my place for me to enjoy.  Nathan declared it very tasty when he had some with cornbread tonight.
  4. Margaritas, which interest me at the moment because I DIDN'T have one today at the Guadalupe staff Christmas party.  Orders from the bar cost extra and I want to save the money so I can buy Christmas presents.  I'm craving one, now.
  5. My aunt, who called me up today, and with whom I had numerous laughs. We were talking about smoking and she told me a story that gets its own blog entry tomorrow.
  6. One of the candidates for the Computer Lab Assistant job that I posted last week.  She is from Liberia and has experience with refugee resettlement work and has taught job skills to people with developmental disabilities.  
  7. A dance performance at the School for the Performing Arts.  It was for children, with lots of furry woodland animals.  The best part was watching Nathan, who enjoyed it hugely, although he thought the squirrels were hyenas.
  8. Holiday baking, which is starting to loom large on my horizon.
  9. The big bag of blankets that were donated to the school by my friend Jeff from the Utah State Office of Education.
  10. The prospect of bed, since it is almost 2 AM. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ten Fine Things

I have been feeling blech today.  Tired because of the long journey home from Santa Barbara; suffering from that feeling of let-down so common after a really, really fun time; sad because Si and his girlfriend have split up.   I was hopeful that he had finally found the right person.

Looks like it's time to play 10 Fine Things.

1.  Waking up with Chuck.
2.  The little-bitties at school this morning. 
     Teacher:  What comes after six?
     Kids:  Seven!
     Teacher:  What comes after three?
     Kids:  Four!
     Teacher:  OK, here's a tough one.  What comes after 99?
     Kids, in unison:  Twenty!
3.  Receiving an e-mail from a former tutor, now in med-school, thanking me for "helping him get where he is today".
4.  I got a decent handful of resumes for our computer lab assistant position.
5.  Simon and I were able to meet and discuss Christmas without fighting.
6.  My colleague Wise put out a student newsletter for the Monday/ Wednesday program which looked wonderful and were well-received.
7.  My colleague Ray organized a nice tutor-appreciation night for all the volunteers who help us in he Monday / Wednesday program.
8.  The kids liked my new baked macaroni and cheese hot-dish recipe.
9.  I got the truck cleaned out.  It was pretty messy after the long drive to California.
10.  Sara amused me with her discussion of future career possibilities.  We were listening to an ad on the radio for laser hair removal for men.
     "Wow.  That is one job I would not want if I had to do it on men.  Yuck.  Now I do not want to be a hair laser technician.
     "And why would a guy want to get lasered anyway?"
    "To avoid a back, sack and crack wax."
Sara pondered this poetic expression. 
     "OK, I understand waxing your back.  And your crack....?  Eeeeeeeewwww....  Sack.  Sack.  Do you mean belly?"
     "No, it's slang for scrotum."
     "EEEEEEEEWWWWW.  NO WAY!  I'm never doing that job.  I would rather be a shrimper.  I would rather be a crab fisherman..."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I shouldn't really be blogging right how.  I should be getting my stuff together for our trip to California.  I'm excited!  I love trips, large and small; I love being with Chuck and I think his kids are great company;  [sing this part] it will be WARM there!  For the first time in many years, I will not be hosting a dinner party.  I will get to meet Chuck's family.  We will go sailing; maybe hiking; I want to run on the beach.  I want to be near the water.

The first time I went on a long car journey with Chuck, I was  preoccupied by the idea that I might have to provide stimulating conversation the whole way.  Maybe this was it!  Ohmygawd!  The moment when he discovers that I'm boring!  In the end (because I always end up confessing my little eccentricities to him) I asked if long stretches of silence were OK by him, and he said they were.  And they were. 

That may have been the first time he used the adjective "comfy" to describe our relationship.

Since then, we have started developing what many people call a "mature" relationship. That means that we can keep our hands off each other, and we don't have to be talking to each other every minute that we're together.  It is, in fact, very pleasant to just hang out and read.  Or I putz in the kitchen at Aloha while he goes off to run errands.  This is a lovely feeling:  the sense that your special person is with you even when he is not with you. Or the feeling of being happy with what you are doing, and knowing that when your special person comes back, you will simply be happier.

Other times, though, I think, "Mature relationship?  Could that not be a euphamistic way of saying that I am deathly dull?" When we first met, Chuck said he loved my "quick wit".  I told him at the time that I was not always like that.  Sometimes, my tongue feels thick and clumsy.  Sometimes I lack fluency, even regarding things that I care passionately about.

I often voice my thoughts the best when I am lying in the dark, waiting for sleep.  Or after school ends for the evening adn I am sitting with Chuck on the sofa.  Across the table in a restaurant?  Sometimes I have language, other times, not.  And ON THE PHONE!?!?!?!  The pits!  I HATE talking on the phone.  This is why I almost never call my mother; or anyone else in my family, for that matter.  I will text people when a phone call would be more practical.  I will want to hear Chuck's voice, but refuse to pick up the phone and call him.

He is having a little difficulty with his phone at the moment, so he can't call me.  I miss his little calls during the day.  But I am shy about calling him.  The idea of calling without a reason embarrasses me, and I find myself thinking, "What if he is busy and doesn't care to talk?"  I have been making myself call him after the kids are in bed, just to ask about his day.  He seems to like it, but I struggle.  Now that our relationship is in a peaceful, happy place, there are no "US" problems.  So, we talk about our days. As in, "I did this, and then this happened, and I talked to so-and-so, and she said.."  I think, "What a dull tool I am!" 

But something has hit me just now: in thinking this over; I really think it's the medium.  When we are sitting face to face, I never feel this way.

You know what my problem is?  I am NOT boring.  How can a person with  a head so full of dreams and hopes and plans be boring? I embrace every day.  I am not a bore.  What I AM is unbelievably self-conscious. 

I'll tell you what would be "mature": if I didn't care so much about other people's opinion.  I need to remember to just relax into myself and expect that I will be loved for who I am, not for what I do and how well I do it.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Out of My Hands

As I walked up to my former home this evening to pick up the kids, Sara handed me a key to my Toyota Tacoma.  "Dad found this.  It's another key to the truck."  I thanked her and stuck it in my pocket, but my fingers clenched at a memory.

"Wait.  Where did he find this?"
"I dunno.  He didn't say."

After a few seconds of silence, Sara said, "Dad was mad at you about the key once, wasn't he?"

Yes, he was.  I can't remember all the circumstances, now. I just remember that one time, probably because we were having the Tacoma serviced or something, we needed the second key to it; and Si asked me to lend it to him. I didn't have it.  He told me that I should have it.  I knew I had never had that fat, clunky key on my key-ring, and I couldn't remember that I had ever had one in my purse.  He was the only one who drove it, after all.  He insisted that I did have it.  That he had given it to me.  I said that I didn't recall that.  He was sure.  I said that maybe I had had it in my purse?  And that my purse had spilled or something?  He was upset that I had lost it.  Turns out I was right.  I had never had it.

I filed our divorce papers today.  I waited to feel sad.  I handed in the papers and walked out into the courthouse lobby, where I paused to text Si.  "Filed.  Your portion of expenses:  $159."  He had said that he wanted to know immediately as soon as I filed.   I went back to the truck and drove away.  As I made my way in the traffic, I tried saying it aloud.  "I'm divorcing Si.  I have filed for divorce from my husband of nineteen years."  The only thing I felt strongly was a sense of irrevocability.  Once those papers are in the hot little hands of the Third District Court...?  That is that. 

Later, at the house, I went to the basement to get a few of my things:  mittens, scarves, snow pants, etc...  Also some things to try to sell on E-Bay or something:  old linens; vintage fans; a hat from the '50s;  my wedding ring.  I have never used E-Bay, but I'll figure it out. I put these items in a plastic bag, except the wedding ring.  I slid it onto my right hand:  a good fit.  As we drove to the apartment, I switched it over to my left hand.  Loose- it had never fit well.  My original one, fitted at the jeweler, was so comfortable I forgot it was there.  Si lost that one during my mastectomy, and ordered this one for me off the Internet. It had a tendency to fall off if my hands were soapy.  I switched it back to my right hand.

Simon was  not home when I was there.  He was at the Snowbird annual management dinner, his first social appearance with Debbie.  Before he met Debbie, I was not allowed in the house when he wasn't there.  He "didn't trust me".  Now, he appears to trust me completely!  Well, or he doesn't particularly care about trying to poke at me, 'cause he is distracted by a beautiful new girlfriend.  The kids tell me that Debbie is gorgeous.  I'm happy for Si about this  He never seemed to find me very attractive.  The only thought that made me feel a little sad today was imagining what all the Snowbird folks would think.  Something like, "WOW!  Who's that?!?  Well, it may be true that Kate left him, but he's better off anyway.  Look at HER!" 

Later, after the kids are in bed, I examine my sellable possessions again.  I unfold each antique handkerchief and wonder if there is a market for them.  They need to be ironed. 
Hotel Schroeder

I scrutinize the hat.  It is black and white: asymmetrical,with a feather.  Kind of cool actually.  After gently reshaping it, I pin it on and check myself out in the mirror.  It's a fun hat; from Hixon's in the lobby of the Hotel Schroeder in Milwaukee.  I never did look good in hats.  They draw too much attention to my face.  I look in the mirror and I think, "Geeze, you are indeed a Plain Jane."  I pick up one fan after another, opening them to check on their conditions.  I neatly flip one open and delicately fan myself: ladylike in my hat with my fan!  I flirt with it; snap it shut; snap it open.  Chuck often says I am beautiful.  I peer at myself, trying to see what he sees.  I look at myself from different angles and sigh in confusion. 

I guess the fact of the matter (and we all know it) is that the face of someone you care about grows beautiful to you over time. 

I bundled my vintage items into my file cabinet.  I tossed my ring on top of the pile and closed the drawer.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Well, I'm No Einstein...

...and I'm not his brother.  I'm better, 'cuz my bagels are SOOOOOO tasty!  I know:  I'm bragging.  It's really unbecoming in a woman my age.  Tough! Try this recipe and you too can feel superior to either (or both) of the Einstein Brothers. 

My cooking magazine promises me that, "These bagels could have a smack-down with any New York deli's."  Well that's dandy, except that I have never been to New York.  How 'bout, "These bagels will beat the pants off those clammy ones you buy in the grocery store."  SOLD!  Here we go.
2 C warm water (100-110 degrees F)
1 tsp. active dry yeast
about 6 1/2 C  bread flour, divided
1 T barley malt syrup (What the fuck IS this?  I searched high and low.  Watch, it probably comes in a huge, expensive jar as well.  The instructions say to omit it if you can't find it.  My friend Cliff suggested using molasses instead.  OK, we'll try that.)
2 tsp. kosher salt
Cooking spray
12 C water
3/4 C sugar

 1.  Combine 2 cups warm water and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer (Thanks, Cliff, for having one of these.) fitted with a dough hook.  Fuss ridiculously over the temperature of the water.  Too cool!  Too hot!  What if I kill the yeast?  Let stand 5 minutes or until bubbles form on the surface.
 I SAID..., "Until BUBBLES form on the SURFACE...."  Shit!  Where are the fucking bubbles?.  The yeast is dead.  I killed it, I know!  Try again.  Hyperventilate a little.  Where are the "bubbles forming on the surface"!?!  Rationalize.  C'mon, Kate:  that's 2 cups of water and only a teaspoon (not a packet) of yeast.  Let's have some faith, here.
 2.  Lightly spoon about 6 1/4 cups of flour into dry measuring cups:  level with a knife.  Add flour, syrup (AKA molasses) and salt to yeast mixture.  Boy, that molasses looks a little dark.  The recipe calls for  a tablespoon of barley malt syrup, but I only put 2 teaspoons of molasses in the mix.
 3.  Mix dough at low speed 6 minutes.
 4.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface.
 5.  Knead 2 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.
 6.  Add enough of the remaining 1/4 cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands.  Uh-oh.  My dough was never sticky.  It never stuck to my hands.  I review the recipe and can't see anything I did wrong.  I feel a sense of impending doom.
 7.  Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat the top.  Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts ( like the oven, turned off but with a bowl of hot water in there), 30 minutes.  Go read a book and toast your feet by the fireplace.  Check on it.  It has done nothing.  F-U-C-K.  Show it to Chuck.  Chuck makes optimistic noises and says it just needs a little more time.  He even turns the oven on low for just a few minutes.  I decide that trusting Chuck often works for me  I go back and read my book for about 15 minutes more.
8.  Breathe a sigh of relief.
 9.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 12 equal portions.  Working with  one portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), shape each portion into a ball.
 Make a hole in the center of each ball using your index finger.  Using fingers of both hands, gently pull dough away from center to make a 1 1/2 inch hole.
 11.  Place bagels on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Lightly coat bagels with cooking spray; cover with plastic wrap (or, if the house where you are cooking has no plastic wrap, tear up a bread bag and use that instead.). 

 12.  Let rise 10 minutes (Bagels will rise only slightly.).  Here you can see Chuck's experimental technique for bagel formation.  He saw me pinching the hole into the middle of one and  paused.  Then he took a dough ball and rolled it out gently with his fingers  and pinched the ends together.  You can see an example here.  I think it looks nice, huh?

13.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

14. Combine 12 cups of water and 3/4 cup sugar in a pot, and bring to a boil.  Get distracted by a very nasty phone call Chuck is receiving from his ex, and fail to take photos for several steps.  Sorry!  Gently lower three bagels into the pot.  Cook for 30 seconds.  Transfer bagels to a wire rack coated with cooking spray. Repeat the procedure with the remaining bagels while listening to Chuck's ex on speaker phone.  Forget to put sesame seeds on, but this is the moment to do that if you are less absent minded than I and you want to.

15.  Divide the bagels between 2 baking sheets (or, if you can't find two baking sheets, use a baking sheet and a pizza pan.  Whatever.) lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 450 degrees for 7 minutes.  Rotate pans and bake for 7 minutes or until golden.

16.  Cool on wire racks.  Or try to, because the bagels have completely adhered to the parchment paper.  Instead of transferring to a wire rack, burn your fingers while trying to peel the paper off.

They are hot.  They smell delicious. 

17.  Eat the paper.  Good source of fiber.

Monday, November 7, 2011


The Black Lagoon, in my kitchen.  A reeking swamp.  A rotting peat bog.  A sodden burial ground for the newly dead.  A petri dish.  My dishwasher.

I don't like dishwashers very much and don't use them.  I didn't ask for this one - it came in the apartment.  It takes up valuable space.  There could have been a cupboard there. A useful cupboard in which I could have stored my plastic containers and all their... hey! 

An empty dishwasher is the PERFECT place to put containers and lids!  YES!  Nice little pull-out racks and... uuuuuuhhhhhgggggg!  A reek so awful that it makes you think of French kissing a hippo.  Oh, my God:  how did this evil come to be among us?!?

I ran the dishwasher and left the door ajar so it would dry out in there. Two weeks later?  Orange-ish green slimy goo which smells like the fart of a creature that eats only dead fish.  I'm running it again, with Clorox.  If I don't prevail, something will breed and grow in there.  Something big enough to eat me.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

New Girlfriend

Let me just start by saying that I have a head-cold.  If only the ancient Egyptians had been correct in their assertion that snot was the product of deep thought:  I would be pumping out my novel this weekend.  The kettle is thumping on the stove as I write this, heating water for yet another cup of tea (or maybe cocoa - isn't it good enough simply that it's wet?  "Push fluids," is the old adage.  Why not chocolate fluids...)

The head cold is making me feel tired and saggy-baggy.  My immune system is somewhat compromised this year, in my opinion:  I have been slack about taking my vitamins; about exercise; about nutrition.  Compromised to the point that I am not just susceptible to colds.  I am also not immune to... jealousy of Si's new girlfriend. Bum-bum-baaaaaahhhhhh!!!!!

Now, hold on a sec.  It's not what you think!!

Not THAT kind of jealousy! I don't feel like puking when I think of them together.  The grass is not suddenly greener over in my old yard.  I don't want him back.  But for some reason it's hard to hear about how perfect your ex's new girlfriend is.  They have been dating for three weeks. They seem to be waaaay into each other.  Shutting themselves away for hours at a time after Nate and Sara have gone to bed.

According to the kids:

She is nice. (Good.)
She is pretty. (Good-good.)
She is thin. (Uuuggh.  Ouch.  That bites a little.  We work out at the same rec center.  She knows who I am, apparently.)
She is well-groomed. (Actually, I got this from reading between the lines: from an argument about how much makeup she wears.  Nate just thinks she is naturally that flawless.  Sara says no one could look that perfect without a lot of makeup.  No one would ever debate this point about me. HAHAHAHAHA!!)
She has two school-aged kids and has been divorced for three years.  She doesn't work.  ("What!?!  How could she not work?  She's a single mom!"  "She came out of her divorce really well, Mom. She doesn't need a job.") (I suppose that gives her plenty of time to work out at the rec.  And be thin.)
She lives in a "rich house" (Nate's term) in an upscale neighborhood.  Nate has been there.  "It's amazing, Mom!  Huge stocks of soda!"
She loves to hike.
She is a good cook.

Here's the kicker. "She stands up to him, Mom. When she disagrees about something, she just says so."  Granted, the "disagreement" was about how much candy the kids should have after supper.  The kids express mild surprise even at this, though. 

SO! Let me start by saying that I'm glad Si is in love.  Selfishly, I am grateful because he is being so much friendlier to me since he met this woman.  Makes it a lot easier to drop stuff off and pick stuff up. And I want him to be happy.  That's what I always wanted for him.  And failed to fully provide for nineteen years.

One time, when we had been married seven or eight years, we were at a very low ebb in our relationship; and he said to me that he didn't think he was capable of loving me the way I needed to be loved.  He didn't know why, but he didn't have it in him.  I wanted to know if it was because of me?  Because I wasn't [fill in the blank with your own adjective denoting marital perfection] enough?  Or was the right person still out there and he hadn't met her yet?  He acknowledged that it was possible that he had yet to meet the person who would bring out a fuller range of emotion in him.  Back then, I was despondent because that person wasn't me, and because Si seemed to need so little of what I had to offer.  Then after a while, I began to wonder if it wouldn't be a blessing in disguise if he did meet someone:  that would "get it over with".  Huh.  And in the end, I was the one who bolted.  I never thought it would be me. 

What does this all mean?  Maybe it means that our problems were really MY problems all along!  I brought out the worst in him, when he could have been in a relationship that brought out the best. 

I guess that's what's I'm jealous about:  she will effortlessly get from him all the affection and respect and esteem that I tried so hard to get and couldn't.

I am in love with someone who seems satisfied with me just as I am, and I am learning to accept that as true.  I don't want to go back.

But, hey!

What has she got that I haven't got?  Besides a superior immune system?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What's it Gonna Be?

I have a short list of little hatchbacks.  The big Tacoma has been really useful for camping and stuff, but I need to save gas.  Vehicles with an MSRP higher than $17,500 or lower gas mileage than 38 MPG, highway need not apply.Yesterday I test-drove a Toyota Yaris.  Or there's the Subaru Impreza, the Ford Fiesta or the Fiat 5000.
These appeared before me after supper.  Do you think Chuck has an opinion?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October Ends in Pictures


 OK, let's get some tea going.
 I am staying home today.  I think I'll try this old sweater of Dad's.  It's too big, but it's cozy cashmere.  I got the best hand-me-downs ever!
 Nate has a cold.  I may no longer be living with a Brit, but I have custody of a few Lem-Sips. This is one of my favorite British things.
 Sara is being a dragonfly for Halloween; but those wings in a crowded middle school hallway?  She decided a gypsy costume was a practical solution to the problem.  And given the way she and I both dress, not even much of a departure...
 The dragonfly eyes are ready.

 She's a blur!  Bye, Sara!  I have to drive her to school when I have custody, because my apartment is too far away for walking or biking.
 Nathan's school starts a bit later.  He likes to ride the school bus with his friends, so I park at the school bus stop and check out my new issue of Cooking Light.
 There he goes.  They race to be the first one in the bus line; so he watches for the appearance of other kids, then makes a DASH across the parking lot.
 Back to my place.
 Oooooooohhhhh.  It's so beautiful!   RESISTANCE IS FUTILE.
 (Some time later...)  That was naughty. Quick, make the bed and conceal the evidence!
 Inventory and shopping list...
 ...charge iPod...

 I go over to the rec center, but I park on a side-street.  When it's time for me to leave, Sara's school will also be letting out, and I don't want to get caught in the crush of traffic.
 Sara's school and Cottonwood Rec share a parking lot.

Forgot a water bottle.  I found this can in the truck, though, so problem solved.

Hi, Sara.  No, Mo can't come home from school with you.  You're going trick-or-treating with her in a couple hours, anyway.

 Time for a quick chat with Dad.

 All Nate wanted to be was a boring soccer player.  To quote Sara, "All he has to do was wear what he's been wearing to school all day, and pull up his socks."  He was Lionel Messi.  I asked him if we could add a little face paint and make him a DEAD Lionel Messi.  That would be cooler.  No.  Just plain old Lionel Messi.  We stopped by Swiss Oaks, so he could get his jersey.

 Getting ready.

 I took Sara and Nate and two of Sara's friends up to the Aloha Road neighborhood.  That's where Chuck and Cliff live; a bunch of kids were getting together up there, so I added to the pizza supply.
 Mo, as a mime.  Do you think she shut up even for one minute?
 Caitlyn as a vampiress.  Yes, I agree:  the visual irony is entertaining.  I refrained from mentioning it to her, though.

I dropped the kids and pizzas off at the trick-or-treat headquarters a few blocks away, then went to find Chuck at Aloha Road.  The house is for sale, and Chuck was helping the realtor take photos. 
The realtor was a nice guy. We hung out for a while.

It's late, but we had to read just a little of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
What, the bathrooms didn't finish cleaning themselves while I was gone?!?
Detritus from the Halloween mom-purse.

Didn't I already do this today..?