Archive for the ‘Strudel’ Category

My House is Filling with Chicken Grease Smoke and Looks Like Hoarders

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

FRIENDS. Once again we dye the chicken abortions bright colors, and struggle for the next two weeks through a lot of egg salad. First, be warned, my house is totally cattywampus today. I don’t even think the table will be cleared off by the time this chicken comes out of the oven, though that will be good motivation to clear it. I’ll get to the why in a minute.


No tabletop in sight.


Strudel is doing very well; her knee bruises are fading.

I was partly prepared for egg dyeing today. I only had half a box of regular food coloring, and a little more than that in the neon variety.

Like every year, P. suggested we get out the intense dye–the kind you get at the cake decorating store that can legit make frosting black. (Trust me, there are three October birthdays in this house. I know from black frosting.)

I knew there was a reason we shouldn’t use it, but I couldn’t remember why. Since I had no rebuttal, the Jewess and her paterfamilias won and talked me into busting out the fancy colors. I quickly remembered that the reason we don’t use them for this is because they don’t mix with water and vinegar like regular food dye.


We call this egg “Womynist Mooncycle Expressions.” It was supposed to be purple.

Here is a little round up of a couple of things I did during my drug-induced mania.

I’ve been having a love affair with monstera deliciosa, as you do. I got one for the basement bathroom, because it is a low-light tolerant plant, and then I got one for upstairs, so they can race.

Speaking of the basement bathroom, I hear you asking, how did the re-inspection go? WHY, IT FAILED AGAIN. Jackass Plumber put the wrong valve on the hot water heater, in spite of the inspector telling us exactly what was needed.

“The next time I come back, I’m going to have to charge a re-inspection fee,” he said.

Of course my contractor chased up on the plumber very quickly to get him to come out and fix it. Jackass Plumber decided to ignore that email. So my contractor sent the plumber a FUCK YES CAPLOCKS email today, on Easter Sunday.

Because I am A. uncharitable and B. want to use my tub someday, I confess I loled. I have zero confidence in this guy at this point. We just want him to finish.

So here’s new monstera:


It’s terrible on this pillar, though, and I will be getting something so it can be lower. Also, if anyone is actually reading this (this is not a test) have you ever cut back a very leggy rubber plant successfully? I think we need to start over on that guy. [Not pictured.]

Moving the monstera to the pillar meant that I had to move the rain lamp, which I did not like in the dining room, because bronze on bronze weirdness.


I like it in the living room better. Look, it’s like a page out of Dwell magazine, if the room was decorated by a drunk okapi.


Y U SO PRETTY, LADY??? And you smell of melted crayons. It’s like my dream woman, really.

To finish Snake Plant Madness, I got plant stands of differing heights to “add visual interest.” I was talking to a friend yesterday about much I love the word “interest” used in that way, and how you only use it in two contexts: decorating and gardening. And gardening is just decorating outside, so there you go. And then I took that wood thing outside, and rubbed it all over with Murphy’s Oil Soap, and then rubbed teak oil into it. MAN it looks great now. It really does. I am so impressed.

WHO WAS THAT PERSON? WHAT THE FUCK AM I GOING TO DO WITH A FRINGE JACKET AND A GALLON OF TEAK OIL? Christ, what an asshole. I kind of want her back though, as long as the inside of my head is not going “EEEEEE/KILL ALL HUMANS.”

And look, there are some cords, and there is the ladder, leading up to the attic….

I started a carnivorous garden in a “comically” oversized brandy snifter, because I bought it and it was too big for my marimo to go in. Maybe someday the marimo will graduate into it, like when I am 90.

A carnivorous garden is something I wanted in the back of my head, like when I would be falling asleep at night. I’d say, “And it would be cool to, like, have a bunch of carnivorous plants in a jar and we can reenact scenes from Suddenly, Last Summer in the living room.” And then I would say to myself, “Self, pull the other one, it has bells on,” AND THEN I felt like I had hoovered up Cocaine Mountain 24 hours a day, so boy howdy was I ever doing seven projects an afternoon.


“We will eat all of the fruit flies that will bother you in August.” No you will not you fucking LIARS, there are TOO MANY.

I have a little twinge when I look at it, like it’s a gift from another personality or something, or something you did when you were blackout drunk. I actually did things like this when I was very drunk in college. I was like a very drunk retiree when I was on school holidays. “Mmm, drank two martinis, time to do some gardening.” SIGH, past SJ. You were pathetic. But STI free. EH.

ANYWAY. Am I the type of person who can actually maintain a fussy little window garden? We’ll see, I guess.

Now it’s shameful secret overshare time (a day ending in “Y.”). My poor mocha bathroom, the one with the insano teal walls, has been hideously abused. The guests only see the pink poodle bathroom, but today you get unfettered access.

I asked P. to switch out the exhaust fan because it was ancient and really not cutting the mustard, especially with four people using this bathroom. I’m kind of glad to have a delay on working on the basement, because this bathroom is turning into a 911.

Look at this mildew. There was a little patch when we moved in, and all this has spread this winter. The new fan has a “humidity sensor” and will run as long as it goddam needs to. And will be quieter!


CHEESE AND CRACKERS MAN. It’s IN the paint. THE CALL IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!!!!

So I got some of that Kilz stuff to coat the ceiling in, and I’m going to repaint as soon as he’s done putting the fan in. I figure there’s no point in repainting until there’s so more powerful sucking in this room. I know, why don’t I just stand in the bathroom? HA HA, you’re hilarious.

And then we have to address this poor sad bathtub. Horrifying, innit?

This poor house has experienced A LOT of benign neglect. I guess we’re the ones to turn that around. Anyway, hope your weekend is going swimmingly. Monkeychow out!

For a human animal to call for help/on another animal

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

FUCKING SHIT. Strudel got clipped by a car in a parking lot of a BurgerVille in Vancouver, WA. I heard a BANG which I thought was a fender bender, but it turns out someone was bending their fender on my kid. She went flying some and scraped her knees. Her shoe went blasting off into the bushes far off. I didn’t see it, because she was throwing out a wrapper and I was waiting for her in the Honda with my back to her.

I ran when I saw her sitting on the road in front of the lady’s car. Strudel was weeping and I ran to pick her up (bad idea, I know, but I felt physically incapable of not picking her up). She was feather-light from the adrenaline, of course. I started saying the license plate out loud as I moved her to the sidewalk–it just happened.

“She didn’t even look!” the lady said. I decided that was when I was done talking to her. I looked at her: limp blonde hair, teal scrubs, but not a doctor, 40s. Small. Scarred face. Eyes that kept sliding over us and then off us.

There was a witness nearby who actually saw it. She had kids in her minivan. “She was driving really fast,” she said. “You should call 911 and then file a report. Your kid might be in shock.” She gave me her phone number as a witness.

“Thank you, I’m in shock, too.”

So I called them. I took a picture of the front of the car that hit her while her dad comforted her.

“It always looks like that,” the owner said as I snapped it. Every time I looked at her, her eyes darted away. Her face was a mask, impassive. In a weird way I admired how calm she was.

An ambulance came, but Strudel was pretty okay, thank goodness. Her head was not involved at all. They looked her over and gave us ice for her knees.

We ended up filing a police report, which is a good thing to have. I got a piece of paper that was called an “Exchange of Information” with Strudel as the pedestrian and the name of the driver. I was thinking about how I would feel if someone handed me a piece of paper saying that I had hit a kid.

Strudel has swollen knees now with bandages on him. The officer who took the report gave her a firm, but kind, dressing down about looking both ways.

“It doesn’t matter whose fault it is,” he said. “Little girls never win against cars. You were very, very lucky today.” She nodded.

I know we’re in a litigious culture but I don’t think I could prevent myself from apologizing if I had hit someone’s kid with my car. I don’t think the lady’s evil or anything. Or maybe she is, who knows? But I don’t think I could have stopped myself from apologizing, and I’m sure I would have been bawling while I was doing it. But that’s me.

Okay, I’m going to sit in the hotel bathtub and cry silently for a little while before dinner. I will take all of these near misses from the universe. ALL OF THEM!


Icing knees before dinner.

My Bark is Worse Than My Barf

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Oh a twist–Monkey #10, who successfully traded hats on stage with eleven monkeys for two matinees and an evening performance last week, not to mention all the practicing, has suddenly come down with lice. What a crazy random happenstance. I dropped a dime on her with the school, because I am also hearing that there is a full-on outbreak and girls are “hiding” lice so they won’t need haircuts.

Things kind of festered because Strudel has not really been having me braid her hair at night for the past week or so, and I was just suggesting a Nice Bob to resolve her tangling and pain issues.

“NO!” she said last night, as her dad picked her nits.

Franny, meanwhile, has not had a haircut since September, and her ends and layers were getting a little tired. She asked me to give it a blunt trim across her shoulders, which was easy to do once I had gotten laundry load #4000 in and dishes were done.

“Oh that looks nice, Mom.” She thought for a minute. “Should I have…BANGS?” She started pushing little wispy bits down to preview what it might look like.

“I think you should, but I’m going to tell you what my hair stylist tells me: commit fully. No wimpy little bangs that you will have to style endlessly and they will still kind of look crooked and weird and not behave. You should make it a hairstyle.” I pulled a chunk of her hair forward to show her how it would look full and frame her face.

She went for it.

I like it. It’s very hipster anime Cleopatra. I showed her about a little heat, and a little style product, and BANG (no pun intended, but there you go).

THEN, not to be left out, Strudel clamored for a bob. I JUMPED! This is probably the quickest haircut I have ever given and she said the same thing she ALWAYS says every single time.

“I HATE THIS. Wait. This is actually okay. This is pretty good.” Sigh. “I think I like this. Thanks, Mom!”

And then after I was done, P. swooped and picked even more nits. This was after a round of smothering with tea tree oil and almond oil, too, of course, since I was out of Listerine (note to self). It will probably need a wee bit of clean up when she wakes up.

I tried to take a picture, but she turns into a blur. I get that she doesn’t love the camera, or holding still, and a lot of times I just leave her be and “miss” stuff. It’s okay, some of it stays in my head. I really wanted to snap the bob though and I was a little disappointed in myself for pressing it.

“Can you just…hold still?” I asked.

“Not really!”

“I want to see your hair in this, can you just, like…act normal?”

“I AM ACTING NORMAL!!” Hmm. Touche, there, Calvin.

Lady Lice-a-lot is coming to the rheumatologist with me this morning. Guess what? I “have something” now, I think. Parvovirus B19 came back positive, finally. I will let you know more when I know what the heck this means, overall.

Also I am burning with desire to show you my bathroom, but I am missing VANITY LEGS. OH GOOD GOD. SJ problems. I am going to shoot it later anyway, because there is an inspection today and tomorrow and then it is DONE, vanity legs or not (legs are backordered til next week).

ETA: Okay, it’s NOT parvo. It was just showing that I have had it. Dammit. Still, I’m getting better.

Feral Dwarf Rides Again

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Strudel had lunchtime detention today, I am informed. She had already confessed to the crime last night, though.

Strudel: I put a “pinch me” sign on my friend’s back today!

Me: That’s not very nice at all.

Strudel: Well, no one pinched him very hard.

Cautious Optimism

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Good news, I suppose. Things seem to have stopped getting worse. I am in kind of a holding pattern now and am still crazy tired. The doctors have officially settled on viral myositis, which is nice because it goes away eventually. I am really hoping this will be the last week of my convalescence. I don’t think I’ve had a fever for 24 hours, but it’s gone away and returned before, as has the pain. We’ll see.

Strudel’s birthday is Wednesday and she will be nine. She wants to go out to dinner, which is a typical thing here at Rancho Asshole. If I am having trouble walking I’m going to take some codeine and suck it up. We’re going to have FUN. Dammit. I am also on the hook to make her usual pineapple upside down cake, which blessedly she is not making me dye blue or anything this year. Don’t tell her I said this, but YUCK.

She has demanded Indian food and submitted a long birthday list before we went out of town, which I cherry picked from as usual. Several years ago Franny began including “surprises” on her birthday lists, which I think is a very legitimate ask. Strudel twigged to that idea and has run with it. I like to be surprised sometimes as well–a good one is a gift in itself.

On Sunday night P. and I were laying in bed at the late hour of 8:30 or so, and we had done all the necessary marshaling to send the girls off to blow zees. Strudel came in to have her fine, thick, long hair braided into two chunks before laying down, which makes it less of a tangled nightmare when she wakes up. She took in the picture of her destroyed parents in repose. For a moment I imagined we looked like Charlie Bucket’s grandparents, just ancient and broken.

She said goodnight and turned to leave the room, but lingered in the doorway for a moment.

“Are you two going to…flake on my birthday?”

“NO!” we said in unison.

I’m not going to lie, that hurt. The thing about this kid is that she says things like this, which is exactly what’s percolating in her roiling, evil brain, and has no idea how things may come over.

Franny, hypothetically in the same situation: “I am worried that you two are too sick to execute my birthday in a satisfactory fashion.” Franny’s first word was “poopbubble” (while pointing at an airplane) and while I don’t quite remember her second, I’m pretty sure my little Betazoid’s second word involved an “I” statement.

Strudel: “Sup, flakes.” Ouch.

But you can decode the message easily enough. I have never flaked on a birthday, though I think she was less than impressed at our tired, lackluster Xmas decorating in the first year in this house. There was presents and Feast though.

Franny was feeling better this weekend. She never got the voms like the rest of us, but she was still pretty knocked out with the virus. This weekend her volume went up again so I knew she was doing okay. She was chattering about Stephen King’s IT, which she read recently and brings up anytime she sees a clown, some balloons, or even something like a funny-shaped cloud. I think it’s made itself home in her psyche.

There were balloons tied to an open house sign on the way home from the store.

“BALLOONS! ‘They all float, motherfucker!” she said in a funny voice.

“Is that what Pennywise says?” I asked, laughing. I skipped the whole IT experience.

“Well, I added the ‘motherfucker’ part.”

She made me laugh so hard I peed a little. She doesn’t drop the MF bomb too often lately, but when she does, it’s pretty effectual. And a good sign for her health.

The smallest drop of pre-Christmas can get you immaculate pregnant so always wear your rugelachs

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Wherein we feature two basketball hoops, 70 quail eggs, Edith, “ten years ago”, and &etc.

PRESENTLY (h/t B-Potts) we are seated in the dining room, surrounded by the aroma of natural gas (well, okay, that gross stuff they use to scent it) and the windows open. There is a terrible grinding sound coming from the floor below me, but I am promised that the washing machine will be working by tonight, which is a fucking Xmas miracle in December. The cats and Horace are looking at me murderously, but Edith is chewing on a tendon that is almost as long than she is, with the attitude, “Tro lolo, it has always been this way and so I suppose it will always be.”

Puppies, like Earth girls, are easy.

I’m on vacation. Yah-TAH. I have no plans except to get out of town to Portland at some point soon. I’m enjoying hiding in my house when there is not banging noises. I think I like almost anything that changes my perspective some, which this remodel is doing. It has renewed my enthusiasm about having access to my very own personal washer and dryer that is accessible at any time day or night. That is really fucking special, isn’t it? How fortunate.

There have been small trials along the way, mostly under the column of capitalism fails. My contractor and I got our wires crossed and I ordered a tub and then he ordered a tub. Two tubs were hurtling towards my house from Kentucky. What a waste! My tub, which as it turns out was the wrong tub, had a bunch of fixtures I needed to fish out from under it, which involved cutting it off its pallet. I was afraid to have the tub come all the way to my house, thinking it would be a major fiasco to find strapping equipment to restrap it, and that it would take up too much room, since the non-Elco half of the garage is filled with things like dodgy dirt piles and tools.

So I decided the most efficient thing would be to drive to the shipping company that received the tub. They were amenable to this and were nice men to boot. One helped me undo the tub, fish the shower and sink fixtures out, and restrap it. I offered to pay for the materials but they waved me away. It was pretty cool to go out to a freight company in Woodinville. I need to find a job where I can hang out all kinds of places where no one wants me, like the laundromat and freight companies. I really wish I would have brought my camera. The office/dispatch area reminded me of some blue collar jobs I had in the way back before college. My back hurt just looking at the “YOU MUST BE COMPLETELY OFF DUTY FOR YOUR BREAKS” sign. I did get a sneak peek of the chrome lion footies as they will look on the correct tub and HOOBOY TACKY SHINY BONER AHOY.

The medicine chest arrived and when I brought it into the house I could hear the contents tinkling merrily–the mirrors were totally shattered. Also I have bought entirely too much tile, because I measured the basement before the plumber showed up and changed the design. The day they cut the cement floor open, many spaghetti poodles as well as other brik-a-brak jumped to their deaths off the shelf, gouging my toilet seat on the way down. There was something I’d never seen before that was original to the house–an electrical lock that opened the garage door, which was the entrance I was using for the workers. This lock is broken now. It’s these little things that I didn’t foresee happening that are adding to costs and are just kind of generally a bummer. It will be worth it when it’s done, though, and I am sitting in a giant vat of hot water reading a Lawrence Block novel.

I put the tile together last weekend to make sure I liked it and the design. This will be, basically, what the shower looks like when it’s done. If you cock your head to the left 90 degrees you will see what the vanity backsplash is meant to look like. Everything else is chrome and white.

This lighting is terrible, but let me assure you it’s a light green and black–Daltile “Mint Ice.” I decided to dance with the one what brung me and make the basement look like the upstairs. So, darker border tile, a “sizzle” tile and BINGO. It’s surprisingly hard to walk into a modern local tile store and get your mittens on boring 50s tile. HA.

Speaking of trashy writing like vintage Lawrence Block–I have written another short story, but unlike the one this spring which turned into a novella (whoops) and the one after that in the summer that turned into a novel (double whoops) this is an ACTUAL SHORT STORY. It’s about a woman who splits in two. I’m going to submit it to a few “exposure” (free) journals and see what happens after New Years. So that is a good thing that came out of my laundromatting.

I have been doing very little cooking, since my water is unpredictably off or on, and almost no entertaining. I did pickle a bunch of quail eggs on a whim, so these should be delicious in about three weeks. I used the last of my long pepper from my Victorian year. As well as allspice and mustard seed, so they will be Victorian goodness.

On one of my last days of work I decided to take the Elco out. It’s only coming out about weekly now, since it does not run as well in the cold, and as the former owner told me, “If the roads are icy and the back is empty, the rear can catch up with the front of the car and kill you.” Oh, okay. Good times. It’s rarely icy here, though, and the sunrises have been glorious lately. I think this car was made to be in Seattle now, really. Anyway I was driving it home and the volt gauge for the battery started jerking around.

“Nooooooo!” I melodrama-ed, which is my reaction every single time it’s not running perfectly. I ran home and played internet mechanic until I found out it was probably one of five things, all likely to do with the alternator. “What is an alternator,” I wondered to myself. I have made a vow to learn how cars go and so far I am doing okay with a lot of help. I gave P. the rundown of my findings and he volunteered to take a look. In previous lives before library school he was a tractor mechanic and a fishing boat mechanic, and what is an El Camino if not the bastard child of a boat and a tractor?

I added the weekly big gulp of oil and he looked from the other side. “Loose wire,” he said. I was so happy! I need to get a grip. (Not going to happen.)

As a finale to the 2013 part of the school year, Strudel performed in the holiday concert. She is in choir now, so she got to participate in almost every number done by each grade. Franny and I came to the school early so we could drop Strudel off with her music gang and we took a seat with a cherry view on the world’s most uncomfortable bleachers. There is not enough legroom for adults so all the parents end up sitting sideways and twisted for every event in the gym.

LO AND BEHOLD who should enter and make a beeline for where we were sitting but Loudmouth Nemesis Dad, who I have not seen since Halloween, thank fuck. Wait, what is someone who is like a baby nemesis who you only remember exists when you see them? A nemesette.

This jackwagon sat behind us and started making loud declarations about how busy they were and how stressed out his wife was. He has the loudest, most booming voice that can cut through, well, a gym full of parents and their excited children. “Well there’s the tree fundraiser,” he foghorned. “And my wife is busy with the wine fundraiser. She has to collect 35 more bottles! She is totally overwhelmed! And then we’re driving to Idaho for two weeks to visit my wife’s family…”

“Do you want to move?” I asked Franny.

“So much,” she said.

Our new seats were farther away on the other side and involved a very unpicturesque view of a basketball hoop. It was PERFECT.

SO. Let’s talk about TEN YEARS AGO. I am all over the place today, and I cannot even be arsed to use chapter headings or anything.

ANYWAYS. Look, Ma, I left my husband.

Am I different at 36 than I was at 26 with a three-year-old and totally freaked out? Yeah, I suppose I am. I’ve learned a lot, but sometimes I feel like the things I’ve learned about I will not have to go through again. Like, uh…tech contracting, maybe? I know how to do it, but I may never have to call on that special skill set again. I think I’m better at life in general. I learned how to go through a terrible divorce with years of custody fallout shit. Probably won’t do that again, because I know how to detangle myself from things now, as well as not getting with people who are rill bad for me.

This is what I, personally, would do differently, if my 36-year-old self was standing behind that little baby 26-year-old graduate student (ha).

1. Document all violence, big and little. I should have taken a picture of where his fist went through the wall, and when he put the doorknob of my new apartment through the wall. I should have called the cops when he was smashing the backyard. I should have called the cops and documented when he assaulted me after our separation, because then I might not have had to deal with the humiliation of the commissioner telling me in court that I “looked like I could take him.”

2. I should have kicked him out of our shared home. This, along with the documentation of violence, may have put me in a different standing for custody. I was operating from a place of personal ethics–it was not my house (his father owned it), so I felt like I had no right to stay. I’m sure my ex-FiL wouldn’t have minded, and if I’d daylighted the violence outside of court they might not have given him money. Hard to say now.

3. I should not have bothered trying to be friendly. This was a person I could barely talk to before I told him I was leaving him, so there was no point trying to chat with him after. I don’t think it hurt anything, per se, it was mostly just a waste of time and a headache. Cordiality and basic communication is different than friendly.

4. This is so small I hesitate to even mention it, but I left way too many things behind. Once the dust settles and you heal up emotionally, there was a lot of stuff I missed. Art I bought in Mexico, other dishes and appliances I’d had for years. I had to trade him a brand new Mark Bittman cookbook just to get the basic bitch Betty Crocker thing I taught myself to cook with, that I am emotionally attached to. Of course all the lovely Mexican art has been chucked now, but it was important that he keep it all at the time.

What would any of this have changed? Again, hard to say. You are rolling the dice when you set foot in family court. I’d like to think we could have avoided those two loooong years of 50/50 custody, as well as his bullshit claims that we should go back to 50/50 time when I filed for child support. But he moved away and his attention wandered eventually, so she has one room and a home base in the end. Would I do it again? Of course, in a heartbeat, and I would do it even more poorly if necessary. Things like my calavera last supper and my dignity lives on in my memory, at least. Merry Fuckmas.

Exercises in Civilization

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

About a week ago I listened to “The Seven Things You’re Not Supposed to Talk About.” In short, the program was about a woman who has particular conversational rules. A person should never discuss how they slept, travel routes, their period, health, money, dreams, and the intricacies of their diet.

At first I rejected this woman’s ideas as rigid and ridiculous, in part, I admit, because she had one of those posh British accents that makes everything sound like an Official Pronouncement. I like to think this is somehow related to Victorians and their seemingly-arbitrary rules for life. Maybe the British, as a people, are used to Telling You How It Is.

(As an aside, I picked up a book on Victorian culture when I was in San Francisco in October, and the one thing that stuck with me was the idea that unmarried women must never go on boating excursions with men lest they become becalmed, which would no doubt cause their legs to fly open, either willingly or by force. “Never go on a boating expedition” probably sounded odd and arbitrary to some sheltered young women.)

But then I started to come over to this woman’s side: I already have one rule in the house dictating that dreams must be recounted in three sentences or less, and no cheating with a lot of “AND THEN the wolf knitted me a poncho AND we all went to the county fair AND THEN my poncho got caught in this underground Ferris wheel AND THEN….” I’m not going to lie to you, children’s dreams are particularly dull. I also try to only tell interesting stories about work, which means none of the technical aspects. I think it’s a form of torture to completely recount every single aspect of your day to someone and expect the other person to listen.

So I suppose I am attempting the same thing in my own life–trying to avoid boring the crap out of people, and not being bored myself. I’m also trying to raise children who are as considerate of other people as they need to be, and as a side effect are lively conversationalists. What if I took my two rules to the next level?

I told the story of this woman at dinner that night. The girls listened with great interest. Then I made my pitch: “What do you think? Should we try this for a week?” We were all in agreement to be less boring and whiny.

On Tuesday morning I woke up tired, and sick feeling from getting up with the puppy a couple of times. I had been reaching the end of my rope sleeping with her, since even if she doesn’t have to pee, she fidgets a lot and tries to glue herself to me, which makes me end up some kind of weird tilde at the edge of my bed. I wanted to tell someone, anyone, how poorly I slept, and move on, but I held it in. Three weeks makes a habit, I told myself. Soon I wouldn’t even be having boring thoughts anymore. I would be like some kind of Zen conversationalist.

I took this rule to work with me, and found that I did a lot more listening than talking, which I liked. I realized that these seven verboten items took up a lot of small talk time with people I’m friendly with. I thought, if I never talk about any of these things, will anyone really know how I’m doing? I started feeling like a weird problem-free robot, but it was fake. I realized I liked hearing about some of these things, because it was what concerned them. You hear about people’s concerns and problems and you realize what motivates them, what’s important to them.

On Wednesday morning Franny woke up and gave me an earful about how poorly she’d slept. “There goes that rule,” I thought. On Thursday night, I drove downtown to see a movie and traffic was horrendous. I found myself wanting to give my dinner companion the blow-by-blow and then stopped myself. The final nail in the coffin was this morning when I woke up with some of the worst cramps I’ve had in months, followed by an unholy rain of bloody chunks. There was no way I wasn’t going to moan loudly about this uterine apocalypse, especially since I had to be somewhere at 10 and it actually hurt to walk.

When Franny comes back tomorrow I’m going to bring it up again, to see how their week went, to see if they even thought about it after Monday night (I doubt it). I know you can go too far with nattering on about your problems or listening to them, but there is something cozy about knowing someone well enough that they will tell you what’s really bothering them. And it’s a relief to say it.

In Other News

Yesterday afternoon I threw a bunch of tomatoes, onions, garlic, and three oxtails into my slow cooker with the notion that it would all melt into some kind of magic ragu that would make me not care that it’s cold outside now. DINNER IS SOLVED, I thought smugly, and settled in for an evening alone with Strudel.

We watched When Harry Met Sally and Four Weddings and a Funeral. She asked me if the latter was scary and I told her it certainly was, you could tell by the word “funeral.” I told her there was a scene where bats flew out of someone’s neck. She was disappointed and fell asleep after the second wedding.

My oxcoction was not anywhere near done by the time Strudel was ready to eat last night, so I made us bacon, apple, and mustard, grilled cheeses. I turned the slow cooker way down and let it cook overnight, which was the way to go. This afternoon I shredded the oxtails and gave them to Strudel, who made oxtail and shiitake ravioli for dinner. She was going to use a sausage filling, so being able to use this was handy.


Stollen prep.

I also candied a buddha’s hand and put it in a stollen. I’ve been futzing around on Sundays since I am relieved of cooking duties, and am telling myself I’m experimenting for the holidays, but I am actually just amusing myself (and fattening others).

Wide Open Beavers Inside!

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

”If you want to know who your friends are, get yourself a jail sentence.”
–Charles Bukowski

It’s turnabout this weekend. My friend Laurie who I recently stayed with in San Francisco is now here with me.

It’s a gorgeous day and the tomatoes have died and so the chickens once again roam the Earth. Well, the limits of their Earth. They are happy to be out of their summer pen and they look TERRIBLE. The older ladies are molting, possibly worse than I have ever seen any of my chickens go. They look diseased, except they are just missing feathers, of course.


[Not pictured: dag chickens]

Like the chickens, I am sort of pecking away at my house. Hanging pictures and switching out things like doorbell covers, because brushed chrome is not where it’s at. Besides, you can see the little original outline in the cedar, right? When this house was built, space was the place.

There is something about places being exposed in houses that are normally not that makes me think of surgery, or of parts of the body. I see a sad vulnerability, as if I can see a place for what it really is. Sometimes I feel guilty when I have friends over when I am half through a project and you can see through the walls. Sorry, I want to say to the house, and throw a gown over it. It’s all a big metaphor, isn’t it? Nothing’s ever as together or as whole as it seems.

I think this is part of the reason I went crazy living in a three-year remodel of a very small house. There were constantly gaping wounds everywhere.

As an aside to Kurt Vonnegut and wide-open beavers, I wrote one of my high school term papers on Breakfast of Champions. I liked the idea that something could be so raw and smutty and still make me feel my feelings, all six of them. Also I think duality and insanity are some of my favorite themes, after death.

My contractor says he has obtained permits to begin construction, so what I really need to do, which terrifies me, is commit to about a billion dollars worth of tile. The purchase I am looking forward to is giant tub of doom. The upstairs tub is one of those short 50s bastards that is for kids or dogs and needs to be refinished to boot.

In Other News

Strudel was in the living room on Friday morning before school, braiding something, or sorting something with her dolls. Her favorite dolls are having a little hiatus because she broke a door on the chicken coop (long story there) so she was playing with the second stringers. Franny was at the table, attempting to memorize the capitals of the Northeast.

I walked from the kitchen, through the dining room, and towards the bathroom. I was getting ready for work. As I passed through the dining room, Strudel spoke to her sister.

“…So that’s someone ELSE added to my shitlist now.”

“What!” I interrupted. “How do you have a shitlist? You’re eight years old. What are you, Tiny Nixon?”

“Her sub sounds pretty bad, Mom,” Franny said, in Strudel’s defense.

“She’s a yeller, she yells at everyone. She’s talking to one person and yelling at them and it’s too loud. Everyone hates it.”

“Hmm, fair enough,” I said.

I don’t know what to do with this. I just needed to write it down.

P. made danishes this morning. I think I like the blackberry ones best.

Frannys Gonna Fran

I think it’s funny that she’s spending a lot of time lately trying on what teenagers are “supposed” to be. The other day she stomped off to her room shouting “NOW I’M GOING TO SLAM MY DOOR BECAUSE HORMONES” and went in and closed it with a little snick. She wasn’t even mad as far as I can tell. Though some times, it’s stormy for real.

Report From Lone Pine Mall

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

It’s the first day of school. The video cuts off since my camera is still full of vacation pictures, but suffice it to say I carried on with the wakening.

As soon as Franny popped up, before she even had a glass of water, she told me about a dream she had about Kyle MacLachlan who was looking at a dead lady on a table and then she melted into cheese. Strudel has a nervous stomach ache.

I’ll see you again in 25 years

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

This morning I’m leaving with my sister to go up to North Bend, where Twin Peaks was set, for the annual meetup there. It’s kind of sad, actually, that we haven’t taken a trip together in ten years, but you know. Time money babies school divorce. Life. We went camping for her sixteenth birthday. This post is a fun, cringe-inducing blast from the past. The good news is I don’t sound like a 100% moron like I do in some posts (including some from last month) but I see typos, grammar problems, and a declaration that I was done reproducing in 2003. HA! Guess what 2003 SJ? 2004 SJ is coming and her ass is going to SNAP. There followith a Strudel in 2005.

Anyway, I am excited. Twin Peaks first aired when I was in high school, and I didn’t really get the appeal of it. Other than Knots Landing, which I believe I was into solely [ahem] because it afforded the chance to stay up an hour past my bedtime on Thursdays, I didn’t get into a lot of TV when I was a kid. At least, not with my mother.

Plus I thought Nicolette Sheridan was probably the most beautiful woman anywhere, on TV or in a movie. The way her bangs would jump around, since they were so long they kind of rested on top of her eyelashes…well, that was kind of weird, actually. You don’t really see distracting hair like on TV anymore, unless it’s supposed to be distracting. I’m pretty sure I wandered off after the season when the scammy Greek guy showed up, so I didn’t see crazy Alec Baldwin on it. I still have a terrible tendency to wander off from a show during its summer break and not come back. “I’m full,” I say. There’s exceptions.

When I was a kid I thought of TV as something you did by yourself, when you were too lazy to read or move. I usually did something while I watched TV, like draw pictures of totally sweet unicorns or do the puzzle in the TV Guide. So I watched the first couple of episodes of Twin Peaks with my mother, before shit gets really weird, and I thought it just looked like a soap opera, which it was, in its way, or at least a parody of one. They did not hold my interest then because I was in the phase of my life where I was trying to make my own personal soap opera, and do actual drugs, and have actual sex with people/objects instead of just sitting in the safety of my house behind my pulled shades shouting “OH GIRL DO NOT RETURN HIS CALL” at the screen like I do now.

I worked at Tower Records and Video in college, mostly on the video side, and it was free rentals ahoy there. Every shift I would bring home my allotted two movies whether or not I would watch them. I saw White Men Can’t Hump [main actress had alarming leg bruise; when she was on her back her implants floated like biscuits, giving her chest this terraced effect], Jurranal Park [no comment], Edward Penishands [I'm guessing he never got into smartphones later], and a bunch of movies with plots and clothing and TV. The VHS porn section was prodigious, though, and I took to wearing medical gloves since you never knew how slimy a video you would fish out of the return slot bin would be.

So that was when I saw Twin Peaks on VHS, coming home to my unemployed husband counting out stacks and stacks of cash that must never be deposited. Okay, he was not constantly counting fat stacks of Benjamins, this is just how I like to frame him in my memory at that time. My life had become a soap opera I wasn’t enjoying (teen runaway becomes child bride to extremely small-time drug distributor) so I think I was happy to retreat into the cool pines of Twin Peaks then.

Franny’s gone again–I took her to the ferry terminal yesterday. She was very unhappy about leaving again after spending a month over there at the beginning of the summer. She tells me she sneaks out of her room and lurks on the roof when she gets sent there as punishment. She also told me she got into a fight with her father and threw Cheerios at him. I feel like I don’t know who she is when she’s there, but I love sweet Franny and the angry one. I know we can have many faces and behaviors for different situations, but there are some faces I don’t really see. She and I saw the first episode of Orange is the New Black so I sent the book to her after I dropped her off. The cover is subtitled “my year in a women’s prison” so I included a note that read “This seems appropriate. Love Mom.” I hope she reads it.

Everyone was on edge on the way to the terminal (such an appropriate drop off place, really. A terminal. This situation is terminal. Everything’s terminal, though. So.). This meant that Strudel was saying whatever popped into her damn head.

“I think instead of waving at your other sisters, I’m going to just flip everyone off,” Strudel said. She’s 91% nature, I’m convinced, and should thank her lucky fucking stars we haven’t died before now, because the Nice Christian Family who got their mitts on my healthy white baby would have attempted about 28 exorcisms on her by now.

“Strudel, you CAN. NOT. flip my sisters off!!” Franny’s voice rose in pitch and I could see how tense she was, clutching onto the dog in the passenger seat.

“Your sister is not going to flip anyone off,” I said, almost believing it.

“Mom! She’s not allowed, right? My sisters don’t even know what that MEANS.”

“No, she’s not allowed.”

“Mom, what will you do if I do it?” Strudel asked.

“Well. Laugh,” I answered honestly.

“MOM!” Franny was reaching middle-school girl glass-cracking levels with her pitch.

“Strudel will not flip off your other family because she is a NICE PERSON who wants to KEEP THE RESPECT OF HER BIG SISTER. Yes?” I glanced in the rear view.

“Look, it’s the motherfucking po-po,” Strudel said, changing the subject as we passed a cop car that had pulled someone over. It’s never “a cop” or “the police” with this one. Always “the motherfucking po-po.”

And she was fine at the terminal.

Strudel is spending the weekend with her dad as well. Unlike Franny, she throws Cheerios at the ones she loves the most, so probably the same scenes will be enacted by both of my daughters in their respective house, but for very different reasons. It should be a good weekend. I am happy to spend time with my sister, but I will miss my jerks.