Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Shadowing Eli

My youngest has been worth her weight in gold this week (which you know is worth more than ever) as she chases, entertains, and keeps up with her young cousin. Both are sound asleep right now after a long, busy day of 2 trips to the beach and 1 to the glacier. It's been a good day and a good trip.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Nothing to Do

Our first stop when we got to Juneau was the glacier. It had to be. It's the anchor of my childhood memories, the place I spent more days growing up and exploring than anywhere else on the planet. So of course it's the first place I took my youngest and my nephew when given a chance to get out of the house.

My daughter took immediately to tossing rocks at the little icebergs that drifted closest to shore, just like her dad would do.

Some older kids around her followed her lead, but their mom stopped them. "What are you, 3?"

I gave them a smile and said, "It's about the funnest thing to do!"

The kids looked back and me and insisted, "It's about the only thing to do around here."

Are you kidding me? Do you know how many places there are to discover? How many trails to hike? How many bears to avoid? How many tourists to chat with? How many chances to defy death? It's the funnest place on earth!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Deadly Sin Knick Knacks

My youngest trotted out of Sunday school yesterday and showed me what she'd picked out of the prize box that day, a rubber wristband in red, white, and blue with the word PRIDE embossed in it.

"That's nice," I said, but something struck me funny about it. Isn't pride one of the seven deadly sins?

If she reached into the prize box again, would she pull out a different bracelet with a different word emblazoned on it? Can you imagine sending a 2nd grader home with a bracelet that read SLOTH or GREED or ENVY or even LUST?

At what point did we decide pride was not something that leads to destruction? I suspect it was sometime around my fourth grade year, when my teacher Pam (the first teacher who insisted we use her first name) had us sit in a circle on the floor with IALAC signs around our necks. IALAC, for those of you who missed school that day, stood for I AM LOVABLE AND CAPABLE.

PRIDE isn't the only sin that's taken a hit in the watering down department lately. Consider GLUTTONY. The more the better has been a big trend in America for generations. Gluttony seems to be a sin we revel in, even in churches. GREED has been recast as AMBITION, unless it's someone who's taking from us. You don't have to look very far back in Wall Street history to see where greed can lead in its extreme. It doesn't just hurt the people who are greedy, I'd say.

WRATH has been watered down, too, I think. I can't turn on the news without hearing 20 people say they're outraged. They don't look outraged, just annoyed, but the word sounds stronger and it sounds more newsworthy, so they use it. WRATH is the kind of anger that eats you from the inside and leaves you hollowed out of any joy.

The bracelet was a funny little reminder to reevaluate where I'm at in some of these areas, but my young'un is still wearing her bracelet with PRIDE.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

False Alarm

Summer's over.

Storm clouds brew.

I'm cold.

Monday, June 14, 2010


High school memories center mostly around my triangle of friends, my extra-curricular activities, my family, my, my, my. A few projects, a few orchestra pieces still have a spot in my head, but much of the information I learned in school has long since leaked out and soaked into the floor.

Here are a few things I remember:

I can still recite the first two stanzas of "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" thanks to Mr. Chu, the first two stanzas of "The Raven" thanks to Mr. Greeley, most of Hamlet's To Be or Not To Be soliloquy and the opening lines of MACBETH thanks to my dad.

I can still play pieces of the Brandenburg Concertos and Eine Kleine Nachtmusik by memory, thanks to Susan Horst and Fred Mayer.

I can say I read a lot of American and British literature thanks to Mrs. Harris, though I don't remember many details and I'm sure I skimmed a lot. She also introduced me to A Prairie Home Companion, which has been a constant through the years.

I can draw a decent likeness of pretty much anything (if I'm looking at it) thanks to Mr. Groves.

I can look across the table at my husband of 22+ years thanks to Mr. Dennis (who split me up from my triangle of friends and stuck me with the new boy on a physics project).

And I can tell if an argument is sound or not thanks to Mr Ferrell. At the time, I had no idea what logical fallacies had to do with anything. In hindsight, though, learning how to recognize a slippery slope, a bandwagon, and a begged question has had more to do with real life than almost anything else I learned in school.

Mr. Ferrell passed away last week, but the concepts he taught live on.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

25 Words or Less

I'm working on condensing my current work in progress to 25 words or less (The editor in me wants to say "25 words or fewer" but who says that?) so that if anyone ever asks me what I'm writing, I can tell him without putting him to sleep.

This isn't the final draft, but it's what I've got so far:

A young woman returns to her hometown to evict her obsessive mother before a fire consumes her home.

You can do this with any book. We're in the middle of Life of Pi right now. My summary in 22 words would go like this:

A shipwrecked boy is trapped in a struggle for survival with the elements, and with the Bengal tiger who shares his lifeboat.

Think about the books you've read recently, or the books you love.

How would you summarize the plot in 25 words or less?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Sun Is Out!!!

We had our first honest to goodness warm sunny day of the year today!

I'm so happy about it, I thought the sun should come out on the old blog, too.

Hope you enjoy the new format. Maybe my brain will dry out enough for me to put some interesting thoughts together.

Hope your day is as sunny as mine!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Pork Chop in the Sky

If you live in the Northwest, you know we've been living under a gray blanket for months. Summer has promised to arrive for the weekend. I'll believe it when I see it.

I walked into the hair salon this morning and commented on how beautiful the morning was (occasional patches of blue between scattered showers). The hair dresser gave me a funny look and pointed out the window. Sheets of rain were pounding the pavement, giant drops jumping a foot in the air as they hit the instant lake. She said it looked like the kind of rain you see in movies where they go a little too far on the special effects.

This afternoon I found myself looking into the clouds and finding shapes--

--not in the clouds, but in the light leaking through thinner layers of clouds.

I think I saw a pork chop.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Hush! Can You Hear It?

The kids are in bed.

The hubby is reading.

The lamp is dimmed.

The only sound I hear is the gentle tapping of my fingers on the keyboard.

And even that is about to be silenced...

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Loaves and Fishes

I was out of grocery money a week ago, not sure how I was going to stretch the food in the cupboard to last our family of five for another 10 days. It would take some creative menus and more tolerance than usual for the foods the kids aren't crazy about. If only the sun would come out and encourage my garden to grow.

We got a call on Thursday that some friends might be coming through this weekend, either Friday or Saturday. I put on my thinking cap, cleaned the last of the chicken out of the freezer, poured the last of the vinegar and soy sauce into a marinade, and cut some of the chicken pieces smaller to make them stretch. Last minute I remembered the corn on the cob I'd happened to pick up a few days before and hadn't had a chance to cook yet, so those ears went on the grill with the chicken. I crossed my fingers and hoped the food would fill the 10 of us.

Make that 11. These friends had generously picked up a recent high school graduate (think hungry boy!) who is now traveling with them.

The dinner was enough. And it was tasty.

Saturday, what to eat? Baked oatmeal is always a favorite around here and I had some oats in the cupboard, so I mixed those with the last stick of butter and most of the brown sugar and fed the crowd.

For dinner, we pulled out the leftovers (can't believe there were any) and a stack of tortillas, some cheese, a bowl of taco meat from the other night, and everyone ate their fill.

This morning that 25-pound bag of steel cut oats I'd bought for an emergency took a hit as about 4 pounds of it went in the pot to feed the masses. Brown sugar is now completely gone, but no one is hungry. And there are enough cooked oats left to cook into biscuits in the morning.

For lunch, the guests cooked up a big moose roast they'd brought along. I supplemented with green beans from last year's garden, carrots I didn't know we had and two loaves of garlic toast I purchased with a $20 bill that was hiding in my wallet. I was sure I was out of money. huh.

Did I mention that I'd also pulled a turkey out of the freezer--one of those good deals at Thanksgiving last year that was put aside for just such a time as this? It roasted all day today, made sandwiches tonight and will go on the road trip north with our friends tomorrow with enough left for us to have a couple of meals, a pot of soup, and scraps for their dog and ours.

The fridge is bulging with leftovers that will carry us over until pay day. Family and friends have been fed so much that even the teenage boys insist they're stuffed.

Not exactly the feeding of the 5,000, but the feeding of the 11 (6 of whom are teens) has been a bit of a wonder nonetheless.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Reel Exercise

I can't remember if we made a conscious decision to use a push reel mower or if we bought the first one by default since it was cheaper to purchase than a gas mower and easier to transport to Africa. Either way, we've been using a push reel mower for years now with no plans to change.

It's good exercise, you know, pushing a mower through the tender grass. I love the whir of blades slicing against each other as the reel leaves a swath of short grass behind. It's such a soothing sound compared to the roar of our neighbors' modern machines.

This year, though, lawn mowing at our house has reached a new level of aerobic activity. With rain falling every day, the yard grows to the shaggy stage in only a couple of days. The blades can't cut through wet grass. The wheels can't get traction in the mud. The mower (that's me) runs out of steam before the job is done.

Rain, rain, go away.


Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Sin Tax

I don't smoke, so the cigarette tax doesn't hurt me.

I don't drink, so no worries on the taxes on beer and wine.

I don't gamble, so if there are any taxes at casinos, I don't know about them.

But a new sin tax goes into effect today that I just might feel.

My state has instituted a tax on candy, defined as any sweet confection that does not contain flour and does not require refrigeration. Licorice, jelly beans, Christmas candies, they're all subject to the new tax. So is chewing gum.

It's kind of like a tax on families with children.

And for those of you who are feeling smug about not being affected, watch out, because using plastic is also a sin, so you'll be paying taxes on bottled water, too.

Maybe it's time to quit cold turkey. I think I'd better pop some m & m's and think about it.