Monday, March 30, 2009

Let's Move On...

It's been a great feeling to get my jewelry stuff out these past few weeks. I've been trying to work on some different (for me, at least), colorful pieces to put in my sister's store. When I've been hopelessly UNcreative for so long, it always takes me at least a day or two to get back into the zone and organize my stuff...then I play around with color and pattern until I hit my stride. So I keep my supplies out on the coffee table in the living room. When I get home from work, I'll pour myself a glass of wine (when it's warm out, I really love a Spanish rosé), forget the stresses of the previous 9 or 10 hours and just lose myself in patterns, colors, shapes, and sizes.

Here I was playing around with freshwater pearls, grays, lavenders, and silver.
I can't wait to see what happens with this one: turquoise, bright orange glass, aquamarine, and amber crystals.


I mistreat my wooden spoons. I never wash them in the dishwasher, of course - but I do wash them with soap and leave them to dry. When I can't stand seeing their parched, gray edges, I'll rub them with cooking oil and leave it to soak in overnight. I have a bit of an addiction to wooden utensils. Aren't they beautiful and richly colored?

Like I mentioned previously, D. and I went to Little Rock on Saturday because he'd been booked to play a big crawfish boil on Saturday down at the river market ampitheater. This time of year it's always risky to plan ahead for any outdoor event and sure enough, despite being bookended by sunny, mild days, Saturday was freaky cold! Sleet and thunder! The wind was blowing so hard and cold that I could hear it whooooooting through the band's microphones. The turnout was terrible but I hadn't been to a crawfish boil in several years and couldn't stop thinking about spicy boiled potatoes & corn cobs with rich little tasty morself of crawfish tails washed down with, like, Miller Lite from a keg in a red Solo cup.

There's just something about the crawdad season. Here they are, propped up in bags.
And after a quick rinse, awaiting their spicy jacuzzi of doom.
On my lap, just before I cracked the shells and dug out the petite, tender tailmeat. My friend Erin, who had never eaten crawfish before. remarked that it seemed like a lot of work for such a small piece of meat. They're so worth it.

Of course the next day the sun reappeared! Its powerful brightness made the pale electric green of new Spring appear extra glow-y and vibrant. This is that stretch between Maumelle and Conway on I40:

Tonight I made birthday dinner for mine and Stella's birthdays. She loves homemade pesto so I knew we had to have that. I remembered my friend James who kept reminding me to ask him if I ever needed a specific ingredient or quality item from his work, Freshpoint. I knew that I'd either have to ask him to help me get a large quantity of basil or I'd have to buy frozen, which is still really good, but just not special enough for a birthday dinner. Not when I can make it myself. James offered to get me a large bunch of basil. The he started naming other different options: blood oranges, baby spinach, portabello mushroom caps, strawberries, jicama, mixed greens.....I just said YES to everything. He suggested some sort of fish with a blood orange beurre blanc. YES! I will take it - whatever!

This afternoon I took off work, picked up my oh-so-contrite daughter, picked up the huge box of produce from James, picked out some wine, and stopped at Richard's Meat Market. I was hoping for fresh sole, but the closest they had was tilapia. I brought everything home and spread it all out on the counter and, much like with the jewelry, waited for inspiration to strike.

And so....the final Mother/Hoodlum Daughter Birthday menu was:
tilapia-wrapped baby asparagus with a ginger blood orange beurre blanc
portabello mushrooms stuffed with herbs, ricotta, parmesan, and breadcrumbs
basil/spinach traditional pesto with veggie bowtie pasta
mixed green salad with jicama matchsticks, grape tomatoes, and radish sprouts
sourdough bread
The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc, Spy Valley Gewurtztraminer, and a slightly chilled, robust and delicious Côtes Du Rhone, the winery of which I've completely forgotten and the bottle's out by the curb in the recycling bin.

I couldn't have made all this without Liz, who is just a massive powerhouse of energy. She jumped right in and helped me complete this whole dinner within an hour and a half.

Here I'm straining blood orange juice for the sauce.

Liz's incredible salad in the background. Tilapia-wrapped asparagus up front. I poured some white wine in the pans, covered them with foil and baked them at 450 for 20 minutes.

The portabello mushrooms - rich and tangy and earthy.

Pesto pasta. Yum. I like to toast the pine nuts before grinding them with the a big bunch of basil, a handful of raw baby spinach, pinch of salt, big handful of grated parmesan cheese and about 1/4 c. of olive oil.

The final fish/asparagus dish. They kind of look like fancy, saucy pigs in blankets.

Pearl's plate.

Pearl, my grandmother Mommom, and my sister Jessy.

Jess made the cake. It tasted even better than it looked, especially with a perfectly ripe strawberry and a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.
She said the recipe is from the container of Hershey's cocoa powder! Who knew?

Take a Deep Breath, Focus on The Lesson

Last Wednesday, on our way to an orthodontist appointment, I asked Stella what she wanted to do for her birthday the next day. She told me she wanted to spend the night at her friend's house - the friend who she seems to spend most of her time with lately. My gut instinct was to say no, it's a school night. She argued that I "never" let her do anything on a school night and that was all she wanted to do. So okay, fine, whatever. It's one night and it's a Thursday night. It's natural for a 14 year-old to pull away from her mother and spend her birthday elsewhere, right? Maybe?

The next day, Thursday, I took Stella and her friend out for a sushi dinner as her special birthday event then took the girls to the friend's house. The next day, Friday, they were to go back to the friend's house after school and then to see a band play and spend the night again. I don't like to let her go to the same place two nights in a row, but, as I was constantly reminded by them...this was her special day. However...Friday night Stella called to tell me that the plans had changed and could they go to yet ANOTHER friend's house instead that night because Friend A wasn't allowed to have her over after all. I thought it a little odd and because she knows I don't like to have her change plans on me like that, I said no, Friend A can spend the night at our house, but you're not going to Friend B's. "Okay," She said, "Well then we'll need a ride home." So I drive over in the torrential rain and pick up both girls. I ask Friend A why she can't have friends over. "Because I'm grounded." She said. "Oh? What for?" "For sassing back to my mom."

I thought it was a little odd that she was still allowed to go out, see a band, and spend the night at our house if she was grounded, but figured that was between her and her mother. Saturday morning her mother picked her up so early that I wasn't up and around yet. That day D. and I had planned to go to Little Rock because he had been booked to play a crawfish boil, we were going to try to see friends, and then the next day visit his grandparents.

Saturday night, as we're just leaving to go to our friends' house I get a call. It is Stella's boyfriend's mother. She called to ask if I had knew what had happened in the early hours of Friday morning. She then proceeded to tell me that apparently my daughter and Friend A snuck out of the house, were picked up by the boyfriend, who has his permit but not driver's license, in his parents' minivan, and drove around Fayetteville until they were discovered by the police at 4:00am in the high school parking lot.

I'll give you a minute to let that settle in.



Okay WHAT?!?! Sneaking out? "Stolen" car? Parking lot? Cops? FOUR M-F'ING AM???

This is the same daughter, mind you, on whom I'd just been bragging to my friends. "Oh, she's such a great kid. I really trust her...blahblahblah" I do not like to made a liar. Especially by my own child. And I do not like it when she, or her friends, lie to me.

So, needless to say, I had to drop everything and call all the other parents involved, not to mention my daughter who never told me anything and let me find out from someone else. That's what infuriates me the most; she didn't tell me herself.

I'm still reeling.

And I know, I know....we were all teenagers once and did similar things....and we're all productive, responsible, good adults now. That doesn't excuse or ameliorate her actions.

All the kids are grounded out the wazoo and we've got a kid/parent summit meeting planned for day after tomorrow. We'll get everyone in the same room and beat that dead horse until it can't lie or sneak out ever again.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fourteen Years Ago...

...after an intense, weird, and long labor my daughter came into this world. It was 5:30 on a Sunday afternoon and the sun was streaming into the West-facing windows. In the next room I could hear the Razorbacks were fighting their way up the brackets to make it back to the Final Four again. It was the last day of Spring Break and the timing was perfect. Everyone who had been up with me all night was nearly as exhausted as I was. Nearly. It was all worth it.







Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Frenzy Of Downloading

This is kind of a roundabout way of getting to the meat of this post - but isn't that how the whole circuitous nature of the internet works? I was searching for a photo of the cover of this Macho record that I'd given to Andrew a few weeks ago and stumbled on this awesome blog. His mp3 mixes are incredible! A lot of the songs in these mixes tend toward the dance remixes but the overall selection is really diverse and wonderful and worth digging through. I've been gleaning my favorites for the past few weeks, plus discovered a few more listening to KCRW during my quiet work week in between terms.

Little Jackie - "The Stoop"

Metronomy - "A Thing For Me (Breakbot Remix)"

Le Loup - "We Are Gods! We Are Wolves!" (too bad this is a live recording. I like the studio version better)

Sigur Ros - "Gobbledigook" (full version of the nature-loving, nudist romp video here)


I'll add a few more in the next few days, god willing and the creek don't rise. In the meantime, check out my Lastfm list over there to the right for the names of all those songs I'm obsessed with now.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Better Late Than Never

Last night I went around to all the neighbors to explain what had happened to us the night before and just give them a heads up to be aware of sketchiness in our neighborhood. This was probably long overdue, seeing as how we've lived here for over a year and didn't even know some of our neighbors' names. Everyone seemed appreciative and I have a new best friend: the 84 year-old woman who lives two houses down. She invited me in and before I could even tell her why I had come she had given me a Klondike bar and a brief tour of her favorite glass pieces in her house. She called herself an "ornery old lady" and I think I am in love with her.

Other than that, my visits confirmed that D. and I are most definitely the youngest people on our block. I can't decide if that is a good or bad thing. We are most certainly the most neglectful of our lawn.

I still wish all our houses had porches. They say that good fences make good neighbors, but I think porches make better neighbors.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Open Memo To The Person Prowling Around Our Backyard Last Night

What the hell, dude?

Do you have any idea how terrifying it is to be woken up at 3:00am by your partner/roommate shaking you saying, "Get ready to call the police; there's someone on our patio?"

How could you have known that an inhabitant of our house is plagued with insomnia and would be awake, quietly playing guitar in the dark kitchen, in time to see you creep right outside the kitchen door?

Thank you for scaring the shit out of everyone in our house, thereby keeping us all awake all night. What could you have possibly been doing in our privacy-fenced back yard? It couldn't have been any good.

Thank you for tarnishing this town that I love so much and making me feel violated and unsafe. Cheers, jerk.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Aaahhhh, Sunday

The house is already clean. The laundry isn't at the crucial stage yet (still plenty of clean underwear and socks, in other words). All the departures for this term are finished and everyone is on her journey back to her home country. This means I can actually relax and enjoy this cold, gray Sunday to its fullest. That means a perfect egg sandwich AND juice AND cafe au lait.
And taking teenage emo-style photos of myself. But I think these new bangs are growing on me (HA. I kill me).

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Childhood Fantasy

You know how when you're a kid you can't wait to grow up so you can do whatever you want? Like eat Lucky Charms every day? Or keep your room as messy as you feel like?

Well I love eating appetizers as a meal. Which is yet another reason I wish we had a good tapas restaurant in Fayetteville.

Last week I made a ton of summer rolls with two dipping sauces: spicy peanut & toasted sesame. I filled these with shrimp, rice noodles, baby spinach leaves, shredded carrots, sliced cucumbers, red peppers, & green onions, bean sprouts, and fresh basil and mint. Stella and I then stuffed ourselves full of these delicious and healthy snacks.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Work-Related Humor

This may only be funny to other people who work in EFL, but I just cracked up over reading a message from a Brazilian to a Japanese.

He signed off with "Rugs." I had to think about it a minute, then remembered that Portuguese-speakers pronounce "R"s as "H"s.

Hugs.

Oh. Okay. Sweet, huh?

Then I thought about how the Japanese transpose the "R" and "L" sounds and I imagined her reading it as "Lugs."


It's a miracle that anyone ever understands each other.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Open Memo Sandwiched Between Unrelated Bullet Lists

I have a new annoying portmanteau to add to my ever-growing list:
  • octomom
And that's all I'm going to say about that elastic-wombed nightmare.


Open memo to our new mayor Lioneld Jordan:

I have a problema and an idea. Have you ever tried to find information on our city's website? It's horrendous!! You can't find anything easily and it's clunky, weird, and off-putting. It's impossible to find what you need quickly which, in my case, is usually the agenda for the city council meeting or possibly some random document a regular ol' citizen like me might need (i.e. animal license form). Please do something about this...and soon! The information does seem to be stored or organized in a way that makes sense. I will try to find examples of municipal websites that are well done (in my feeble opinion).
Thank you,
Alannah


Any other Fayettevillians agree?


In my rare free time I like to make my eyes, brain, and imagination work together.

Current reading:
  • Watching What We Eat: The Evolution of Television Cooking Shows. I'm pretty psyched about this one, even though I'm a new convert to cooking shows. I get to be an early reviewer for this one, thanks to jmb!
  • What Do Women Want? Easy. Everything. And why not?
  • the Fayetteville Flyer and its offshoot, local540. I love my town and so do they! It was cool and flattering to get a mention from them, too. These guys have put together a very useful database for local businesses, as well. So many places don't have listed phone numbers or web sites so it's a godsend to have a one-stop shop to turn to.
  • Reading student evaluations of our activities. I just love it when they write stuff like "it should be more fun in future" and that's it. Ooookaaaay.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Time's A-Wastin'

I don't want to mire in the present any longer. Blahblahblah....it's almost too much to even turn on the television. OUR LIVES ARE GOING DOWN THE TOILET! We are headed for certain destruction!

Let's look to the rosy future, shall we?

I'd been wanting to create a list of 100 things I want to do before I die (I refuse to use that awful "b----t list" term - yuck), but I didn't want to leave anything out so I'll be posting these ten at a time so I can ruminate and hopefully not omit anything.

Without any further ado.

Ahem.

The first 10 of 100 Things I Hope to Do Before I Die

1. Plant, maintain, and harvest a thriving flower and vegetable garden.

2. Research my family history.

3. Take Stella to Europe with the plan to paint and sketch the sights as often as we take photos.

4. March in Washington (for ERA ratification? Please?).

5. Camp in the desert with a high-powered telescope.

6. Finish my master's degree. I even found my ideal program already!

7. Wear a big hat to the Kentucky Derby.

8. Resume violin lessons.
8b. Learn to read music.

9. Write that memoir.
9b. Publish that memoir.

10. Take a road trip in a convertible.


What would be on your list?

Anyone want to help me accomplish any of these?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

I Think I Remember Me

Sunday night and I'm drinking detox tea. A wise choice considering this past weekend.

This was the kind of weekend in which for once I didn't feel a boring old lady. It was full of champagne, new hairdos, fancy snacks, good live music, houseguests, very late nights, laughter, brunch, more good company, and a hearty nap.

Ai Lien took some good photos and I haven't gotten around to uploading mine yet.

After this weekend I felt a little bit more like myself again. THIS is who I am! A fun girl doing fun things, not a creaky, achey, tired, cranky, pushing-middle-aged old bore. These next few months I am devoting to getting back to who I really am.

It's tough, though, when it seems there is so much pulling me down....the economy...too much work and too little time to myself. Looks like we're (and by "we" I mean "me) headed back to court because Stella's father hasn't been paying child support. This just adds to the stress that's already there and growing. Stella and I have been doing a lot of talking about responsibility, fathers, growing up with unorthodox families, etc. She is healthier than I was at that age. I think she'll be okay.

I think we all will. Eventually.