Tuesday, May 28, 2013

High Point, Low Point

High Point:

Laughing with my colleague Melissa about her shaved cat.  She bought her own clippers and has started coming to grips with the matted fur of several pets; but in each case, she has not been able to finish the chore.  I suggested she start a blog of her own:  "Melissa's Half-Shaved Pets".

Low Point:

Going to court with the husband of one of my students.  He had a DUI, then drove on a suspended license.  He is undocumented as well, so there are immigration implications.  I took him because he isn't supposed to drive, and also because he's pretty confused about the process.  I thought the Public Defender assigned to him was an  ASSHOLE.  Rude, condescending. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thursday Thirteen

13 Summer Fantasies

1.        I lie on a lounge chair in the back yard, with a book and within arm’s reach of my cherry tomato bush, which has grown ridiculously tall and produced hundreds of luscious tomatoes.
2.       I purchase the house I am interested in for a song and am able to fill both the upstairs and downstairs apartments with tenants paying a total of $1,800 a month.  One of the tenants is an avid lawnmower hobbyist and asks if he can please mow the lawn as part of his lawnmower enjoyment.
3.       I power through my training for the Huntsville Marathon, reaching the September 28 start date uninjured, and finish in under four hours. 
4.       We sail the Hobie catamaran from San Luis Obispo up to Morrow Bay, have a picnic on the sand spit there, and look for sea shells.
5.       Chuck and I are incredibly fit by the time we get on our bicycle in the Pyrenees and can chug up 3,000 feet of vertical in a day without really noticing it. We don’t notice, and neither do our quads.
6.       I eat at least three meals in Spain comprising unusual forms of seafood.  I wash it down with large quantities of wine. 
7.       I wander around San Sebastian in a warm, sultry evening, holding hands with my guy.  We eat tapas and drink more wine. 
8.       No!  Wait a minute!  It’s after noon and we have been pedaling on a Villa Verde.  We pause for lunch and I pull out fresh fruit and a sandwich filled with some famous Spanish jamon.
[Kate’s summer fantasies are evolving into a food theme… must… stop.. thinking…about…food…]
9.       My daughter is honored by the state of Utah for being an exemplary teen.  As part of this recognition, she is offered an early driver’s license and a car so she can get herself to all of her own sports and social engagements.  Let’s throw in a summer wardrobe as well. 
10.   Nathan tells me that his resolution for this summer is to stop playing computer games.  He puts away all of his clean clothes, matches up his odd socks, goes into the woods, builds a fort, then comes back in to see if I would like him to clean the rabbit’s cage. 
11.   I build up an impressive set of back muscles, allowing me to be a powerful rower in preparation for our Grand Canyon trip. People come up to me on the street to say, “Wow, you are SO RIPPED!”
12.   August 12 is a beautiful, sunny day and Chuck and I finish the day with a little campfire down at the beach with our bellies full of pulled pork and rocky-road brownies.  The cottage is full of family, playing Scrabble and cards.  We’ll join them in a minute, when we’re finished making out.
13.   Chuck has time to make absolutely gorgeous wedding bands for us, in the pattern that we have talked about.  They are a perfect fit and we smile at the effect when we put them on each other’s fingers. 

Mea Culpa

I have made a deal with myself:  I will blog every day for a week.  And when I don't, I have to have a good excuse. 

No blog entry last night!  Good excuses, though:  the Internet was down.  It almost always is.  There is only one company that has service in the Canyon; and they decided to point the only antenna that works for our house at a different part of town.  I can only get Internet at rare intervals.

OK!  My other excuse is that I got a DTaP shot at school and then I got a fever.  I think I may be a bit sensitive to vaccines, because I often get a fever afterward.  At any rate, I couldn't blog because I felt like shit!

Exonerated.  And optimistic that I will be able to post Thursday Thirteen tonight!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

High Point, Low Point

Low Point:  The new ESL Specialist to whom I offered a job accepted, but then told me that she has already made vacation plans and will need to miss her first two weeks of work.

High Point:  A tie!

It might be my friend Mark coming to the office with a culinary torch and making creme brulees for us all in the middle of the afternoon....

Or maybe walking down the hall and passing the doctor who is visiting our school today to run the mobile clinic.  He said, "You must be a runner.  You have almost zero body fat." 

I love hearing stuff like that.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thursday Thirteen

I'm playing this for the first time.  Here goes.
Thirteen things that are very small, but are making me very happy these days.

1.        Pulling weeds with Bluegrass playing on the radio
2.       My new (well, new to me)(very figure-flattering)mini-skirt jumper
3.       Chuck’s hand on my back
4.       Watching giant waves crash into rocks
5.       Chai latte
6.       Dancing with Scarlett the cockatoo to Paul Simon’s "Graceland".
7.       A hungry, spontaneously gathered crew of friends crowded around Chuck's long farmhouse table
8.       A juicy hamburger overflowing with ketchup and pickles
9.       Being surprised by the sudden smell of lilacs
10.   Hearing one of my English as a Second Language students say, “Teacher, I need talk you.”
11.   Watching tree limbs sway in the wind
12.   Singing in bed with Chuck while we wait to fall asleep:  “Unchained Melody”; “Three Little Birds”; “Good Morning Starshine”…
13.   Huge, noisy thunder!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Other People's Stories

It was hot today:  91 degrees; so the creek is rushing, full of melt water from the ski resorts above.The radio announced that there were no flood warnings today; but that there was a high-flow alert - keep kids and pets away from the stream banks.

(Even if they're driving me nuts?)

The doors to our balcony are open to admit a breeze, and the creek is a steady hum. The pine trees release clouds of neon pollen with every breath of wind.  It collects itchily in the corners of my eyes and the underwires of my bra. 

I am slow and creaky, still tired from pedaling about 45 miles on the tandem yesterday.  We're in training!  And after all those miles and 2,000 feet of vertical, what have I learned? That some days in the Pyrenees will have 3,000 feet of vertical.  Spain:  we came, we saw, we got our asses whupped.   

Today's stories are brought to us by my brother and by Chuck's ex-girlfriend, Marianne.
 This one is Marianne's story, chalked on the foundation of her house, right next door.  This is very amusing, since she wrote it up there at the same time that she and her boyfriend Jim vacated the premises.  She plans to level this cabin and put up a new and improved abode. Meanwhile, it's so cool that love lives there, since no one else does.  Love gets the cabin.  She and Jim have a rental in the valley somewhere. 

This is not the first time that she has posted little messages that look like quirky self-expression, but are actually meant for Chuck and me.  For someone who is so completely happy and awash in the new love of her life, she sure puts an inordinate amount of effort into communicating that to Chuck, who is indifferent.
Here I am, wearing my brother's story.  This is a story that can only come from a very, very small town.  Markesan, Wisconsin is so out-of-the-way that the nearest dry cleaner is in Fondulac, forty miles away.  And so small and tight-knit that, when Marie Schmidt went to pick up her dry-cleaning a few weeks ago she suddenly asked the dry cleaner to stop the rotating rack and back it up.  She recognized the Pendleton shirt hanging there.  Had it been there long?  Yes, a ridiculously long time, said the cleaner. Should have given it away months ago.  Mrs. Schmidt asked whether the phone number on the tag was 398-2202.  Yes.  They had called the number, but it was disconnected.  She knew it was one of Dad's shirts - she had seen him wear it a thousand times.  Mom had taken it to the cleaners right after he died in 2010, but had been so overwhelmed with the funeral and moving that she had forgotten all about it.  Mrs.Schmidt gave it back to my brother last week.  It came to me in the mail with a note explaining the circumstances and  stated, "It's too small for me.  You can have it."

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Mushroom Escargot and the Right Amount of Salt

Whoops!  Hold on.  I have to wear my scarlet letter for this entry.  I think it is in the bottom of this drawer right…here…  I know:  just when we think we can forget…

I saw this recipe in the newspaper and just had to try it.  It sounds so damn GOOD! 

¼ C balsamic vinegar
½ C burgundy wine
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ C olive oil
1 t rosemary, ground
2 t mustard seed, ground
1 T sea salt
8 oz. shiitake mushrooms
Toasted baguette slices or crackers, for serving.

Place everything except the mushrooms in a blender, process until smooth.  Stir in the mushrooms and marinate 4-8 hours.  Heat the oven to 450 degrees.  Place mushrooms and marinade in a roasting pan and bake for 10-15 minutes until the marinade is reduced back into the mushrooms.  Remove from the oven and serve with crackers, etc.. 
Don’t DO IT, though.  The recipe is faulty.  After I spent all that money on shiitakes, I followed it to the letter and ended up with the saltiest concoction I have ever created.  Inedible. 
Today, I was telling my old friend M about how badly it turned out, and she asked me why I had adhered to an obvious typo.
Well, I said lamely, I was doing it by the book. 

Yeah, I know.  What for? I stopped doing a bunch of other things by the book a couple years ago.  M and I discussed that, too.  No, she and her husband still do not feel comfortable socializing with Chuck and me.  You would think that someone of my literacy skills would have better comprehension.  The chapter (Chapter 7) on falling in love with someone who is not your husband clearly states that it is immoral. I thumbed through the index, looking for references to “kids, doing great”, “ex in new relationship” and “abuse, emotional”.  There was a short section under “abuse, emotional”, clearly stating that ending a marriage due to bullying is permitted if you complain about it for a few years first, so all the couples in your social circle understand and approve the end of the relationship.  But, if there is an affair?  Disregard the bullying clause and refer back to Chapter 7:  Affairs are Immoral.  Was this one on the book club’s list? I must have been absent for that meeting, but I am getting the feeling that they have all read it.

Thank goodness Chuck’s friends are happy for him and don’t judge me.  Our social life revolves around them.  My old friends make occasional appearances. 

I tried this recipe for Sunday dinner yesterday.  It was an experiment, so I was just going to make a small batch for my family.  But dinner-for-four grew throughout the course of the day and became dinner-for-fourteen.  This happens in my new life.  Chuck is teaching me to fly by the seat of my pants again.  I was feeling a little fussed about multiplying the making the food, the lack of drinkables in the house and other things like that.  But then I thought: about how this is one of the ways I show Chuck that I love him:  by appreciating his spontaneity and celebrating his friends.  Thinking like that smoothed my discombobulation.  Later, he thanked me and told me that not everyone would have been OK with that rapid change of plans.  Any time, Chuck. 

I know I am not a good person any more.  But because I have had two years of happiness and peace and acceptance, I can handle the consequences of fucking up when I was supposed to live by the book.
Except for the mushrooms.  If I can throw away the rule book for the rest of my life, surely I can manage to pull my nose out of a recipe once in a while?  Maybe, once I learn to that, I could take the barbs of my old friendship with a little more than a grain of salt.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

April Ends in Pictures

 This is not my best effort, I'm afraid.  I got very busy and did not concentrate on taking photos.  But here it is, such as it is.
 I have to take so darn much Vitamin D these days.  Ridiculous.

 Time to get the kids off to school.  Note the broken down van, which has been undrivable since Marianne's boyfriend vandalized it.
 Nate likes to sleep while we wait for his school bus.

 Becca's students gave her a baby shower.  Nice bib, Becca!

 Training for volunteers tonight.  Melissa is helping me by teaching them a little Korean, so they can see how it feels to be exposed to a language they are unfamiliar with.  I usually teach Polish; but I was getting burned out on it, and Melissa wanted to give this a try.

 The training is a 50/50 mix of volunteer tutors and students, who are acting as practice models.
 This was written in the board in the Third Grade classroom.  Stay off the Fruit Snack Warning List, that's all I can say. 

Chuck is making good progress on our carrying case, to haul the tandem to Spain.