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Monday, September 29, 2008

monday comes slowly and all at once

I rolled over this morning, hip popping and ears attuned to the racket down the stairs. A rousing game of Clue - I grab my alarm clock for verification - was underway at 6:08 am.

Beds were made; giggling and murderous accusations were being tossed across the kitchen table.

I headed for my coffee pot and prayed for that kind of energy. I pretty sure it doesn't come in a cup.

I woke up groggy after a busy weekend. We visited with Greg's mom at the fairgrounds Saturday; she was showing a couple of llamas from their herd and showcasing some of her yarn and felted hats.

Our realtor booted us out yesterday for another open house. No offers were made, but at least we had some visitors that gave us some feedback.

(I hate washing windows for nothing.)

And if the market wasn't tanking - as I type - I would feel mighty cheery right now. At least productive.

I'm stepping onto my porch and taking a media breather - I've been yelling at the radio and TV far too much this week - to soak by some vitamin D.

By the cup or by the ray, I'm trying to talk myself out of the blues.

Friday, September 26, 2008

faith

winning

Greg and his guide, Zack, running blindly for the win...

This week has done little to restore my faith. I'm trying, but stumbling. I'm miffed at our economy, sympathetic to the hard working people in my life that are going to feel these bumpy times.

I know my husband will be working long(er) hours for the next couple of months. I miss him already.

(Did I mention the county stepped in to investigate some nasty gastroenteritis lurking at the school? They canceled curriculum night until the epidemic is under control. Ug! I'm considering plastering their floors with plastic bags as a preventative measure.)

But today I have things to do, light fixtures calling out to be cleaned; bathrooms to scrub. In the midst of this money meltdown, our realtors are putting an ad in the paper for an open house this Sunday.

Seems mighty optimistic of them.

I think I'll try to follow their lead and focus my mind on a brighter future, with shiny new light bulbs and a renewed spirit to press on.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

letter to the hormone department

Dear Hormone department,

It's time we address some issues, some concerns I have, 37 years into this whole 'It's a GIRL!' proposition.

I was pretty good humored when my period started late in high school and then went AWOL, just to reappear at the oddest times, like that mission trip to a Mexican Orphanage.

And I made it through 18+ combined months of puking, and was generally miserable, but grateful to have my two kids. I even smile sweetly when some young thang talks endlessly about how she wishes she could be with child all the time. I pride myself for taking one for the team. For the sistren. I was simply sick enough for many women.

Frankly I'm surprised by this nonsense over the past few months: The breakouts, this late, nearly skipped period, and the tears. The tears!

I even took a pregnancy test - due diligence, post-vasectomy - because the last time I was doing hairball things like jumping in the shower to wash my hair but then forgetting to do just that, it was because my body was busy fashioning baby eyebrows that day.

Of course, the test was negative. As well it should be.

I just secretly figured I had paid my dues and this upcoming season of life would be gentle to me.

Please review my charts. I'll be in the kitchen, making lunches and vowing to eliminate Reese's peanut butter cups from September's food pyramid. You see what you can do.

Best regards,

The Management

Monday, September 22, 2008

soup for the soul (anyone else need a little rum after a long week?)

Rumor has it my marriage was doomed from the get go because of my utter lack of culinary skills. So sayeth my Grandma, food peddler.

And early on, Milton Marriage BC (before children) saw very little home cooking.

I never thought I'd be the one combing cookbooks for new recipes, always looking for something new to try on my family.

(I recently made a Southwestern Corn Pudding from the Veganomicon, and *I* thought it was divine. Even Greg of the 'I Eat the Same Thing Every Damn Time at a Restaurant' approved of it, although I think he would be happy with a simple menu rotation. But he married me, born to be bored and so he gets options. I don't know if that's a blessing or a curse.)

(The kids, hypothetically, would like to point out that they have dubbed said pudding, Puke Pudding. They had a lengthy explanation for their cruelty, but I walked away as they giggled about my poor pudding's appearance. Bullies.)

Where was I? Oh, yes. Recipes.

Autumn is here, and with it came some rain. I'm going to dig out some pants and boots from storage while I simmer some Bermuda Fish Chowder on the stove.

I'm hoping the smell will whisk me away, back to the summer, before the housing market seemed so dire and all my friends took on extra work, just to make it during these tough times, financially.

Yes, I believe a piping hot bowl of soup might be the cure for many ills, be they of body or spirit.

Bermuda Fish Chowder
I am of the wing it camp of cooking. Baking is trickier, but I'm never afraid to play with a recipe. (Maybe I ought to be...) I adapted this recipe from the Outerbridge's Original Sherry Pepper Sauce website. I had this several times in Bermuda, and each time it was slightly different, but always delectable & hearty. I'm going to serve mine up with some rolls and a simple salad.
(This recipe is kid approved. Even my nephews liked it.)


4 Quarts water

1 ½ Pounds white fish fillets (I found decent fish at Trader Joes [read:not China farmed] for a decent price)

Salt

Spices: thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, ground cloves (I also added a little cinnamon and allspice)

2 Tablespoons butter

2 Tablespoons oil

2 Large onions, chopped (Walla Walla sweet onions are in season right now. mmmmm)

1 Garlic clove, minced

2 Bell peppers, chopped (pick the color you like best)

1 Can (28 oz, 794g) crushed tomatoes

1 Beef broth, one box

½ Cup chopped parsley

2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce

2 Teaspoons lemon juice

2 Pounds potatoes, peeled and diced

2 cups of Carrots, diced

1 Jigger (2 ounces) Gosling’s Black Seal Rum (or a good dark rum)

4 Tablespoons Outerbridge’s Original Sherry Peppers Sauce

Freshly ground pepper to taste


Combine water, fish and spices in a large pot. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 45 minutes. (The fish will start to break down. It gives the chowder its thickness)


In a frying pan, melt butter and oil and briefly sauté onions, celery, garlic and green peppers. (Yes, the original recipe call for 8 cups of celery. My family does not appreciate that much stalk, frankly. I kicked it out.)


Then add tomatoes and beef broth and simmer covered for 30 minutes.


Transfer this mixture to the fish stock and add remaining ingredients.


Simmer partially covered for 2 hours. (This is what ‘marries’ the flavors. Look at me, acting all cook-like.)


Adjust seasoning.


Serve soup piping hot and pass around Outerbridge’s Original Sherry Peppers Sauce and Gosling’s Black Seal rum (or a similar good quality dark rum) so guests can add a few dashes of each. (Or depending on the stock market or election news, your guests can take a few swigs. See? Options.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

7.424635 minutes to eat

Our local school has the unwieldy task of coursing 700 kids through a small cafeteria each day. The environment is intense; the students are hushed continuously. I've been hushed when I dare 'eat' with one of my kids. (I usually spend my 7.424635 minutes opening yogurts and Lunchables containers for little fingers, racing against the clock.)

But when you have a few short minutes to eat, every second counts.

(Side rant: Especially when they hound my lactose intolerant son to take a milk. Or provide a doctor's excuse so he can refuse said milk. Or they tell him to take one and throw it away, which even he gets is wrong and wasteful. So Zack gets roughly 3.537295 minutes to eat. Someday he will come to his senses and stop begging for hot lunch - because it's cool? - but until then I am seething at this new policy./rant)

So, I struggle to put together pleasing and nutritious lunches that my kids can eat in a hurry. Or won't be tossed or traded for toxic crap I won't buy.

I'm thinking bite size. Thermos recipes. Ensure?

I'm begging for clever ideas, clever readers.

Please, help a mama out.

*****
600 posts. Yes, 600 posts. I've been blogging for about two years now. When I hit a hard spot in my would be novel - and I've hit many this week - I'll remember it wasn't that long ago when keeping a blog seemed daunting. Thanks for being along for the ride.

Your presence means the world to me.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

cello

hello cello

Fifth grade is here and with it choices. There's a band and an orchestra and with one simple school assembly our girl fell in love.

Her beloved: the Cello.

We didn't see that one coming. But she is tender and dear and delicate, playing sorrowful sounds since we brought it home Saturday.

(It sure beats the Early Recorder Days of the Spring. Oy vey.)

It's a wonder, watching her grow, becoming the girl I never knew and only hope to imagine.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

dip your toe in the Pondering Pool (you won't regret it)


Am I truly nonjudgmental or does fear of confrontation run so deep I'll simply allow anything in my presence?

This phrase has stayed with me, long after I put the card back in the spinner at my favorite coffee shop in Lincoln City.

It made me uncomfortable.

It tickled my fancy.

I had to go home to my laptop and find out more about the Pondering Pool.




Hysteria - it's an acquired taste.


How delightfully rich is one's mind when doused in hope and left overnight to seed.

I am completely bowled over by Susan Mrosek's clever and thoughtful work. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.

Monday, September 15, 2008

holding on, just a little bit longer

The forecast is calling for sunny skies and record breaking temperatures. I'm not hesitating; I'm stretching summer out a bit longer and heading to the lake for a hike.

Friday, September 12, 2008

gritty.

Sorry I was a bit peckish yesterday. By mid-afternoon I realized what's been eating Mama Milton.

It's this move that is not moving.

All of my 'I'm coping just fine' fluttered away and I was left with a closet full of summer and a storage unit full of fall. The sun has been out and it feels like summer, but the dark shadows in the morning remind me the rains will return.

I've got to get to living here. Make decisions. And keep my cell phone on me so I can show my house anytime between 9 and 8.

There's the rub, the dichotomy. Saying it aloud seems to help.

(And this opening to True Blood? It helps too.)


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Guess I woke up crabby. Look. It's the sun.

I walked into the room this morning and there he was, tangled in my sheets, watching some inane Disney Channel show in the dark at an alarming decibel.

(The better for me to hear Weeds, my pretty.)

He's our early riser and I don't mind if he watches a little TV while I'm in the shower and he lets my girl sleep a little longer.

She needs it.

So, I hear some monkey/beast/muppet-wannabe giving one of those social lessons in a tone that makes my ears bleed. His pal - was it Alligator or Toad, not sure - is never invited to parties it seems because he hasn't learned the finer points of not blowing out the Birthday Muppet's candles.

The spot goes on like an afternoon special, expounding upon the woes of being that guy and offering up A, B and C pictures so the youngsters at home can, what? Shout the right answer at the TV?

And I can't help feeling old and crotchety when I think this might be better taught a party.

Zack uncurls from his blanket and asks if he gets everything ready for school, could he play Lego Jedi Star Wars for a little while this morning.

I'm ever relieved.

I didn't intend on ranting today, but sometimes I am that girl and sanctimonious muppets do me in.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

ass project '08, leading by example

They mocked me, outright.

They popped in my circa 1990 VHS copy of Denise Austin, the knocked up version.


How this made the staging cut, I can't explain. I'm pretty sure it needs a good home.

Lexi and her friend giggled and poked fun at me, asking pointed questions about leotards and why is it so easy when she clearly - in their eyes - had a pillow lodged in that spandex.

Oh the folly of youth.

The next morning, they trailed along with me to Jazzercise, searching for ghosts at the Grange and occasionally stopping to watch me stretch and dance.

Someday soon, my daughter might be mortified by my dorkitude.

But I hope I am planting a seed, this commitment to fitness that bypasses aches and pains; gender or age. I hope that when the cringing stops, they see men - ok, one man - and women of all shapes, ages and sizes, shaking their money makers and breathing.

Fitness isn't for the elite. It's for everyone.

*****

My friend, Erika, and I hit a trail by a lake yesterday, clocking six miles with her lab puppy and daughter in tow. The air was crisp, and perfect. We hope to keep it up, once a week, rain or shine. (And hopefully, we'll get back earlier for her to pick up her daughters after school. Yikes.)

Today, Bad Mom joins me for a walk by our skate park while our kids ride their bikes and relish their Big 5th Grader on Campus status.

I think this means she likes me. I know she's not coming for the sweat.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

stay at home mom. that's a good one.

Zack shares the kitchen with me, slinging batter in the waffle maker while I scramble to make lunches.

Lexi is still recovering from her mother's bad judgment; something about nodding my head to two consequent sleepovers that resulted in many sleepy tears by Sunday.

And I race off to Jazzercise, and to the local produce store, and write long lists and wonder why I thought I might be bored when school started.

The cupboard looked bare; my plate is still full.

Many of my friends have returned to jobs now, and I can't really pinpoint where my time goes. The cruise director of this ship.

*****
About a month ago, I stopped by the first Borders I worked at, when Zack was a baby, and spotted two familiar faces. We chitchatted and caught up and I let the words slip: I am writing a novel.

I can say this to just about anyone and they may ask questions or marvel or roll their eyes when the name for a character comes to me and I'm a little too excited about it.

But these are booksellers. They consume books. They read everything. They have big brains and bigger interest in fledgling authors.

Telling them was making a commitment. Wearing the bauble. Proclamation.

I better find the hours that get away from me.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

the Nie Nie Dialogues and the talented Mrs. Beanpaste

I have to admit: I didn't read the The NieNie Dialogues before the accident, I just missed it somehow.

Now I can't stop thinking about Stephanie and Christian Nielson, fighting for their lives after a private plane crash, a short time ago.

I can't do their heartbreaking story justice; I don't want to reduce their plight into a blog bite in the short time I have this morning so I'm going to let others doing the talking for me.

Go see Melanie over at Beanpaste. She's auctioning off three fabulous web design packages for the Nielsons' sake. Bidding ends tomorrow at midnight so hop to it.

Read updates from Stephanie's sister at c jane, mother to a newborn, now caring for her four nieces and nephews. The devotion between this gaggle of sisters is unmistakable.

Need more auction options? Design Mom is the place to turn.

Like the feel of paper in your hand? Donations can be sent to:

Christian & Stephanie Nielson Rehab Fund
P.O. Box 8850 Mesa, AZ 85214


Cards to:

c/o c jane
2250 N. University Parkway #4876
Provo, Utah
84604-1590

*thanks* and God be with their family

Friday, September 05, 2008

ass project '08, gaining momentum

I haven't forgotten my pledge, my quest to lose some weight, and more importantly, to me, gain my health back.

I managed to walk some while in Bermuda and if dancing into the wee hours of the morning counts, I put in some time on my vacation, but I knew when I returned I'd need to hit the real dance floor again.

(We didn't exactly lift weights in the nightclub.)

Sadly, my little jazz hands were grounded. I was sidelined by first the flu, and then a sinus infection.

But I haven't given up.

I've been working out again, despite a sore back (whether this speaks to my determination or folly is yet to be seen) and when I took my measurements again a couple of days ago, I had lost 1/2" off my hips.

me & the kids

Greatest reward, this week: Big spike in energy levels. Maybe there's some truth to all this talk about endorphins.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

the quiet


The life I lead is carefully constructed. Haphazard at times, but purposeful.

The bus rolls up, and they disappear; their faces framed by sliding windows. My simple prayer: Let them soar. Let them be kind and generous. Fierce, if need be, and open. Let them soak it all up and return to me, for the better.

For snacks and kisses and quiet talks when the lights go out.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

coasting into September

sand dollars
There was a tornado warning to the east, but the weather was perfect in Lincoln City.
lexi, zack, austin & caden
The cousins paused briefly from their 'let's get soaking wet in the icy Pacific' for a few shots.
mama milton & Lexi
And I think I had to bribe Lexi to pose with me.
papa and greg, dinner
But a good time was had by all.

(Except for Mr. Crab. He had no use for us whatsoever.)

More pictures from the weekend, right this way.