Wednesday, May 30, 2007

At Least She Doesn't Hate Me (Yet)

See these dorks? They're Fall Out Boy. And they'll be forever stuck in my memory now because they are the band that played at Stella's first concert. By first concert I mean the first rock concert she went to on her own, without being dragged along by me. She went instead with a group of girlfriends and came home last night hoarse and happy.

Yesterday we also had our first consultation with an orthodontist. By the beginning of summer my little girl, my adorable little baby, will have braces. Braces that will cost more than most of the cars I've owned. She can't wait. I'm just still trying to accept the fact that she's just growing up so fast, dammit. I think I'm about to get run over by that stealthy freight train called adolescence.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Good Memories from Memorial Day Weekend

Life has been busier than ever, but that doesn't mean I'm not taking moments to relax, enjoy myself, and give thanks for the positive developments of the past year.

My second group of students departed for their home countries on Saturday. I'll particularly miss the fiftysomething doctor from Palestine. In nine short weeks he changed from a man who was wary and possibly a little distrustful of America to a man who knows that this country is home to many people who, like him, desperately wish for peace in the Middle East. I hate thinking that he'll go back to his life in exile in Egypt and hope one day he can return with his family to Gaza and live without constant fear.

Friday night there was a wonderful party with all the students, teachers and staff. I had a little too much Ukrainian moonshine (made from grapes and smuggled into the country in a coke bottle) and D. had to convince me to leave so I didn't hate myself when I got up at 3:30 am to take students to the airport. Saturday I ran shuttles to the airport all day and generally ran myself ragged. The high point was a hilarious call (what else would you expect?) from Lori Mocha.

Sunday I got up early, went jogging in the thick soft fog, read magazines at Barnes and Noble, made a necklace and then we decided to go camping on the Kings River. Yesterday I steam-cleaned all the carpets in our place, did laundry, and made tortilla soup. I felt quite accomplished.

This is a dinner D. and I made last week. Ribeye steak, grilled portabello mushrooms, red peppers and Vidalia onions with our favorite salad (arugula, toasted pecans, Stilton cheese crumbles, dried cranberries and flaxseed oil/balsamic dressing).
Here's the necklace I made on Sunday:

See, I relaxed out at the river. I NEED (not want) my own hammock.

Lucy had the best time at the river, fetching sticks in the water until past midnight.

My Arkansas Ozarks:

I've never been to the Country Junction.

These buildings stand on the place I remember being a drive-in theater that showed porno films in the early 80s (I swear! Can you imagine?).

This big pre-fab metal Friendship Baptist Church makes me sad. It's so cavernous and blocky and boring and plain ugly.

Last night's tortilla soup. I used the stock I made last weekend, roasted poblano pepper & corn from the cob, zucchini, carrots, celery, mushrooms, jalepenos, a big can of Muir Glen diced tomatoes, with avocado, green peppers & cilantro garnish.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

_________ and Bits (and bits and bits)

Interesting article today in Salon about pet foods. It's uncanny timing, too, because just last weekend, after a particularly gruesome bout of canine intestinal issues, I spent a day making chicken stock. I ground up the spent chicken meat with brown rice and carrots, and froze it. It made enough food for Lucy for at least a week and a half. The difference has been noticeable. It seems counterintuitive to work so hard to feed my family healthy meals and then to feed the dog anything coming from questionable sources. I didn't use organic chickens, though. I'm not perfect. Or loaded.

On a related note....I really hate the use of the word "kibble" in place of dog food. It's so cutesy and annoying. I especially hate it when Patricia McConnell says it on Calling All Pets. And she says it at least once per episode. While we're on the topic, I don't really care for Calling All Pets too much, either. I especially hate the theme song. That bird whistle! Arrrghhh! Too bad, because it comes on right after This American Life so I'm often lunging to turn off the radio instead of relaxing and savoring the varied stories I'd just heard.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Only Time For a Few Sentences

I've been busy AND sick - a terrible combination.

We saw a lushly beautiful film last night, The Painted Veil. And made a delicious dinner - all sorts of vegetables roasted on the grill then mixed with pasta & a feta cheese sauce. SO GOOD!

Today's a day I've been waiting for - Monica Goodling testifies before the House Judiciary Committee.

I'm disappointed that the Democrats backed down on the Iraq funding bill. I'm usually disappointed by politicians, what's new?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Things That Make Up For The Past Week

  • Pupusas & Salvadorian tamales the size of my head for lunch today
  • Art, wine, and friends on the schedule for tonight
  • The Arcade Fire, Cat Power, Joe Jackson, Fleetwood Mac, Aimee Mann, and the Velvet Underground on my headphones all afternoon
  • D. - always.

Thanks for the link to this site, Lori! It's kept me entertained through that torturous last hour of work on a Friday.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

"No Shit" Headline of the Day

U.S. Healthcare Expensive, Inefficient.

Don't get me started.

Let's Gather in Remembrance

Some of Jerry Falwell's Greatest Hits:
  • Said that the Antichrist is most likely already alive and that "out of necessity" he’s a male Jew.
  • Rallied against Tinky Winky, the Teletubby, for being a “morally damaging” gay role model for children.
  • Blamed September 11th on feminists, gays, lesbians, pagans, and liberal groups.
  • Supported racial segregation in his early years, calling the Civil Rights Movement the “Civil Wrongs Movement.” – clever one, Jerry!
  • Decried America’s public schools as being breeding grounds for atheism, secularism and humanism.
  • Supported apartheid in South Africa.
  • Said that God is a Republican and Jesus was the “First American.”
This is a terrible thing for me to say...but I'm not sorry to see a powerful man with such a narrow mind and big mouth go.

We Should Turn This Into A Country Song

Two flat tires.
+ One sick dog.
+ One beleaguered boyfriend stuck at Wal-Mart for hours, waiting on tires to be fixed.
+ One recording session canceled due to thunderstorms (not necessarily a bad thing due to the above items).
+ One stressed out mom/girlfriend.
One hell of a Tuesday.


I woke up tired and achey. Stella overslept and only had ten minutes to get up, get ready and get out the door. We jump in the car and start down the street when I hear the unmistakable THNK THNK THNK of a totally flat tire.

If there was ever a morning that needed a do-over.....

Monday, May 14, 2007

Worth Thousands of Words

I finally had a weekend in which I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. So I did a lot of cooking. This is a pizza I made. D. made the dough and I topped it with olive oil, garlic, a bigass sliced fresh tomato and spinach from the farmer's market, artichoke hearts, basil from my garden, red pepper, olives, green onions and mozzarella. This picture doesn't do it justice.
For Mother's Day I had my grandmother over for brunch and I made eggs benedict with the rest of the spinach and salmon and steamed asparagus. After she left we polished off the champagne and sat on our downstairs patio, taking in the Sunday.

Eventually motivation kicked in and Stella and I planted some flower and vegetable seeds.

I saw this plant for sale last weekend and knew I had to have it. I am afraid to tell y'all how much I paid for it. But look! Its blooms are so crazy and beautiful, like out of a Dr. Seuss book. They start as red balls that open and release a purple petal explosion!

Our backyard. The baby geese were hiding so I couldn't take their picture.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Dear Diary...

It's funny. I feel like I don't have much to say...or I could say a hundred little things. Nothing's coming together for a cohesive, topical blog post.

We're going on housewide liver cleanse next week so we've been preparing by purging the cupboards and fridge of white flour, sugar, dairy, and booze. I feel bloated, nauseated, cranky, tired, headachey and completely ready to clean myself out.

I met D.'s grandparents for the first time last weekend. I helped his grandmother prepare lunch and she asked me to finish making the gravy. If you're from the south, you know what a litmus test that is, making the gravy. I won't lie; I was nervous. But she liked it (and therefore, me), despite the lumps - what a relief!

There was a nest of baby birds right outside our bedroom that flew away last week, just as I was becoming obsessed with them...figures. But now there are TWO SEPARATE litters (batches? hatchings?) of baby geese down at the stream behind our place. We keep the binoculars at arm's reach pretty much at all times now. After that disastrous late season freeze in April, it feels even more triumphant than usual to see new green leaves and baby animals. I hope to spend this weekend transplanting.

Every day I marvel at how quickly my daughter is growing and changing. This age (12) is the most obnoxious so far. She thrashes about in her bigger body, careening from one end of the house to the other. She talks about diets and not liking her legs. She cuddles me out of nowhere, hanging on to my neck for what feels like dear life. A little girl one minute, a freaked-out teenager the next. Everything seems confusing. She needs braces. I'm bracing myself for the next six years.

We talk politics a lot. Every choice has extra weight added, every purchase feels like a vote.

I'm reading again, making jewelry. My friends are scattered all over and I miss them.

I love my job, even when it leaks into the rest of my life. I had a ladies-only party for the students last weekend so the Muslim women could de-scarf and unveil and feel comfortable. We ate a lot and danced to Brazilian music. I hid out on the porch where it was cooler and someone had sneaked a bottle of wine, out of respect for the women inside.

It's rained all week. I'm tired.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

This Will Keep Me Up at Night Now

I saw the most terrifying film last night. It had no gore, no blood, no violence of any kind but it scared the living daylights out of me.

Jesus Camp is about a sect of evangelical Christians essentially brainwashing children every summer at a camp in (no joke) Devil's Lake, North Dakota. The scenes that show how the adults break the kids, really strip them of any pride or self-worth, only to mold them into miniature neocons outraged and saddened me beyond belief. Anyone who routinely coerces rooms full of children to collapse into tears has no business calling herself a Christian. How "Christ-like" is it to force kids to pray to a cardboard cut-out of George W. Bush or tell them, "You're missing a third of your friends right now because they've been killed before they could ever be born?"

Watching this film in light of the Supreme Court's recent judgment against late-term abortions was especially chilling and disheartening. These children aren't being taught to love others as they love themselves, or to take care of the less fortunate, or follow any of Christ's teachings. They're being taught that they're the most "special" generation because they'll vote to ban abortion. The emphasis is on government more than true religion.

This particular group of evangelicals are fucking SCARY, y'all. They're really into blood imagery, really big on all the classic tools of propaganda and persuasion (visual aids, sound effects), and really really after our children. The main woman even says, "This is what they're doing in Palestine and Israel, training kids to be warriors." that makes it OKAY??? Is that what we're coming to, a world of religious zealots all brainwashed since childhood to believe our way is the only way?

The children in this documentary were intense but at least they seemed real. The adults all played to the camera. Of course the money shot was Ted Haggard pointing at the camera and saying, "I know what what you did last night." Oh god, he was the WORST, the PT Barnum of mega-churches, all teeth and slick showmanship, coming off like a fake, smug, patronizing sleazeball. I'm not one to celebrate someone else's downfall but I couldn't help feeling glad that the jig is up for him. He can't manipulate anyone else again (I hope. Oh please, I hope).

I just think adults who exploit children, in ANY way, are the creepiest a-holes in the world.

ETA: I just realized the irony of writing this post on what I just discovered is the National Day of Prayer. I wish I could think that everyone is praying for peace, instead of something like the souls of aborted fetuses.

I don't want to end this post with the words "aborted fetuses."

Baby animals! Rainbows! Ice cream! Orgasms! Peonies in bloom! Dirty martinis!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

"The World is Funny. And People Are Funny."

This is so me: I have a big stack of unread, recommended books and what do I do? I reread an old favorite. I've been rereading Birds of America and not regretting it for a minute. It was a perfect choice to read some short stories, actually, considering how busy I am. Lorrie Moore doesn't mince words so every sentence rings perfect, true, funny, poignant, and meaningful.

Another thing I do when I'm reading a book, or have watched a film is to check to see if Salon has reviewed it. In doing so today I found an old interview with Lorrie Moore. She had this wonderful thing to say in response to maybe being told that she's too funny for her own good:
I don't know, there is that prejudice against humor as somehow mucking up the seriousness of your endeavor. I don't really quite get that. I don't think it's a very sympathetic opinion. But whatever, everybody's entitled to it. I do feel that when you look out into the world, the world is funny. And people are funny. And that people always try to make each other laugh. I've never been to a dinner party where everyone at the dinner table didn't say something funny. If you're going to ignore that, what are you doing? You're just saying that part of the world, and that part of human nature, and that particular texture and vein that runs through human discourse, doesn't exist. And of course it exists.
Amen, sister! I think the only way I can cope in this global space wherein I feel compelled to suffer along with every other suffering person is to find humor anywhere I possibly can.

Who would ever say that someone is too funny for her own good anyway? A bitter, jealous person, that's probably who.

Now when the heck will Lorrie Moore publish another book?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

But Really I'm a Cat Person

I used to like makeover shows, but they just don't do it for me anymore (as D. snickers, knowing I just watched What Not to Wear on my lunch break). Instead, now, I like to watch dog training shows. They're just so much more satisfying than makeover shows. This involves more than just a haircut and some new clothes....these dogs must completely change their behavior...which, of course, means it's really the owners who must completely change their behavior. Last summer I watched the Cesar Milan dvds but now I've discovered the Doggy Dominatrix from It's Me or the Dog:
and the calm Monks of New Skete. I don't really know why, but the requisite "reveal" scenes that show how simply the dogs can be re-trained and how good they've become always makes me happy.

We don't ever really have any problems with Lucy; she's a very good dog. But these shows almost make me want a bad dog so I can experience the joy of rehabilitation.