CoCoWArZ!, Necks, Silent Hill Shit, and Yeah

Franny and I have been having coconut milk warz (TM 2007). I left an unused container of coconut milk on the counter one night when she was on dish duty and she picked it up and laid it on my chest while I watched TV. Like it was a present. I see your bullshit and raise you SURPRISE. COCONUT MILK.

It went in her bathroom drawer next. Then I found it under my pillow. Then it went in her boot. Then it went in my work bag. Then I snaked it into her guitar case, where she had to hide it from her guitar teacher due to adolescent shame (?).

“How would I explain that, Mother?” she said.

I let it idle for a bit and then on Friday, CHALLENGE REACCEPTED. Her toilet lid.

She one upped me Friday afternoon by taping it into the pantry, which I did not notice until today. I like it there for now, but I tell you…Imma get her. Mark my milk.

IN OTHER NEWS: Some Silent Hill Shit

As I mentioned recently, all the damn bees died. Poor girls. Our theory is the hives weren’t big enough to make it through via huddling for warmth. Also we had a moisture issue.

I’m going to say something that may make you think I’m overly concerned about the stock my business card is printed on, but I actually feel less bad about losing this hive than before we started keeping bees. It’s hard to explain. I guess it’s just that I know they would all die anyway, since they’re so incredibly shortlived. Of course it would be better if they made it through the season, but I know they did a lot over the summer as it was.

I pulled the existing comb out to clean the boxes. It still contains a significant amount of honey, which will be a good start for the new bees. We’re trying Carniolans this time. They seem to be very popular in this area, since they have that magic combo of hardy yet docile, etc.

Here’s the fallout when your whole hive croaks midwinter. You get a mat of moldy bees.

I scraped them out with a spatula onto the nearby ground, at which point the bock bock clean up crew came in and ate many honey-encrusted bee corpses. So we’re locked and loaded now, assuming we don’t get robbed out. If we do, there will still be comb.

NECK UPDATE: Can this Neck Marriage Be Saved

Check this out, I have some neck bone spurs and straight neck syndrome. My physical therapist was kind of over the moon. No spinal/disk compression.

“Can I get the curve in my neck back?” I asked.

“In your case, YES,” he said. He really looked genuinely happy. I have many exercises to do now. The feeling is coming back a little more in my fingers over time. I got sworn in to the union officially the other night…I just might make it after all *flying knit cap*.

Part 4, Work

So here’s the thing. I want to tell you every goddam moment of every day, but I am so unholy tired right now. Which is normal. But I keep hearing these amazing conversations. And you know I remember conversations years later–so it’s all in here. But let me tell you a short story about a type of man I have met on the job now. I call them…Neggers.

You know what you really can’t say to a lady on a job site anymore? “Get back into the kitchen. Sit on my face. Get out of my dreams, get into my car.”

But you know what you can say? A thing you heard.

“What’s it like being a woman in the trades,” a guy asked me, who is not an electrician. I’ve been working with him since I started, and sometimes we’re in the same “zone,” him doing his trade and me doing mine.

“Oh really great,” I said. “I love my job.”

“Anyone act weird towards you?” he asked.

“Not really,” I said, truthfully. “I’ve had a little random stuff like ‘Good morning, sweetheart,’ but nothing gross.”

We chitchatted a little more and I mentioned that Washington State has the highest number of women in the trades (~19%). He insisted on telling me there was a study going on about women in the trades at the UW and seemed to think I should hie myself over there. He told me that Some Guys say that the trades are no place for women, and they Don’t Belong on Jobsites, but that attitude was probably dying out. Oh really.

A plumber I just love jumped in and said, “We have a female plumber up the street. She’s one of the guys. It’s a little weird when she burps and swears though, I don’t know why.”

I had to get back to work but I closed by saying I felt like I fit in. “I never really fit in with polite society so I like the burping.” I keep it light.

I worked on Saturday and the guy was there and trying to start conversations with me. He did that kind of jackhole thing where he was insisting on figuring out what SJ was short for. “Nothing!” I said, but he didn’t believe me until my boss affirmed it.

“That’s a weird name,” he said.

“Thank you?” I said.

“Have a good day. SWEETHEART,” he said, and walked off. My coworker apprentice, who is all of 25, looked at me quizzically.

“It’s a conversation he and I had the other day. No big deal.”

“Ok,” he said.

Later I got off work and waited for my friend outside of a bar we like, for a little catch up and pre-dinner drink. She and I are Saturday walking buddies and I was SUPES SAD to not walk with her that day.

The bar was not quite open yet. One of the bartenders emerged and began unlocking the cafe tables, which involved dragging around chains. A random barfly from a nearby all-day bar walked up to spectate.

“I just love seeing a woman in chains. HA HA HA!” he chortled. “I mean, a pretty woman.”

I watched, ready to jump in and Jerry Springer a chair over his ass if needed. The bartender smiled at him and made a couple of comments. He walked off and she started sweeping near me.

“Men don’t have an ‘off’ button, do they?” I said to her.

She laughed so hard, and I was relieved that I hadn’t been too presumptuous.

“I just deflect,” she said. “It’s easier than trying to challenge them.”

Wow, story of my life. Er. Sometimes.

“I work construction,” I said. “I work with men all day. I might be wound up.”

“OH!” she said. “You should check out this pinball machine down at Add-a-Ball. It’s a construction site where a woman is in charge. She yells at them all day. I love it!”

“Okay, I will.”

“Ha ha, I love it,” she said. “You’re like a Julia Roberts character. ‘Men don’t have an off button.’ That’s great!”

We’re gonna sip genmaicha like it’s your birthday

Franny said something interesting after returning from her father’s house last weekend. As I’ve mentioned, she often has a challenge over there, in that their house is set up differently than ours. The air and the products they use are full of corn. I would be a wreck if I was still in an environment like that and I remember being pretty consistently depressed when I was her age. She comes back irritable, tired, and with a couple of zits dotting her usually-clear face.

There was some kind of conflict last weekend that led to her peacing out to her room, probably exacerbated by how she was feeling. The shocking thing, to her, was that her father followed and asked her if she wanted to talk about it.

“I was so surprised!” she told me. “Now that I’m 15, he’s finally acting like a dad!”

Well, her definition of what a good dad is. It’s interesting to me what different people need to feel like someone cares about them. For her, it’s being listened to, and for someone to try to help her get to the bottom of what she’s feeling. When I was her age, I think I wanted to be encouraged in my interests, and not feel like an alien or be told things like “art’s a waste of time” or “girls don’t do that” or “you’ll grow out of it” (atheism, ha).

For a lot of reasons, I didn’t really have any meaningful talks with my own mother past the age of 12. I think there is a part of me that worries that I’m intruding on Franny when I can tell she’s having a bad day and I peck at her a little to talk to me and then she does. She always says she feels better but I always ask myself…should I just leave her to stew in her room until she gets over it? I don’t really feel like she tells me things she regrets and it’s usually manageable problems (that can be large to a teenager) like a tiff with her boyfriend, or someone at school said something mean, or a teacher lost their temper with herding cats.

So, weirdly, this revelation that her father’s decision to listen to her and ask if she was okay constituted “real parenting” made me feel like I’m on the right track with her. I know that sounds grossly self-congratulatory, but that’s what I took from it. Especially since I don’t really have any stake in their relationship or hope that he’s going to consistently meet her core needs. They have their own thing, but I guess he can still surprise her occasionally.

In Other News: Strudel is Eleven

Strudel asked for a modest list of presents and a bento-style dinner, like we used to have at teriyaki places. I made sushi, miso, teriyaki chicken, and tea.

If you’re familiar, that is a Dwight Shrute card of my own design. A couple of months ago I threw on a couple of episodes of first season Office while I was cooking and the girls got hooked. ESPECIALLY Strudel. I didn’t think it would appeal to a then-ten, now eleven-year-old, but she probably loves it the most. I’m enjoying the rewatch.

We present the traditional pineapple upside down cake, which has been a staple every year but the first year (that year was an apple strudel). It’s actually just as good gluten and dairy free.

I’ve got more pictures up at ye olde flickr.

Edith spent a long time walking around like this last night. It looked like a pacifier from straight on.

Also, the new birds are starting to lay! Green eggs again. Last year I bought a pullet, Gingersnap, that we were told was an easter egger, but turned out to definitely not be one! I think she might be some kind of maran. She’s got a black shiny tail and a red head, and lays dark brown eggs.

It’s been really rainy, so the eggs have been a bit muddy. Coop’s clean again as of this weekend though.

How are things in your little bed?

The past month has been an absolute BLUR.

Get up
get dressed
swim around in rain gear for a while
hit thumb
swear
carry bucket
carry pipe
carry propane tank
be told no hand tools are needed
leave tools behind
be annoyed with when unable to pull pliers from hammerspace
swear
new thing hurts
old thing hurts
LUNCH! YAY, LUNCH!
be mocked daily for TERRIBLE crooked pipe cuts
swear again
smash pinky
be asked if “baffled” (A: Yes, am baffled.)
swear AGAIN, LOUDLY this time
start to not feel like an alien when in full PPE
start to feel naked when not wearing 25 lbs of tools
get slightly better with channel locks
fall into bed
dream about PVC glue
repeat
Get paid weekly.

It’s going great.

In the spirit of The Onion’s AV Club, here are some Stray Observations (aka “It is Friday and I cannot write a coherent essay right now):

1. Pubes are not very nice on a typical day, but I have learned about further math: pubes + urinal cake = ARGH! The general foreman made me a key to the ladies’ portajohn and it really makes a difference not to have to sit down next to the urinal every time, since it’s removed from the special one.

2. On a typical day, I’m learning a ton on the site, but a pendulum has swung somehow. Now that I’m not on the internet all day, basically synthesizing information and constantly making decisions, or responding to tedious emails, I have a lot more brain space. I’m reading voraciously at a rate I haven’t for many years, as well as listening to audio books in the car on the way to and from work. Lately I’ve been reading about food and air travel, Queen Victoria’s court, and TC Boyle’s newest novel. I’m listening to Bringing up the Bodies which is now giving me a Tudor itch. (Gross.)

3. Mostly I’ve been dealing with PVC conduit, but I had a day of “pulling wire,” which is a lot like what it sounds. Wire comes on big spools and you pull it off and stuff it into or pull it through pipes, which will be its home as electrons zip along it. These were big wires, like imagine garden hose, but full of metal. I was also carrying big spool jacks around. Two days later I woke up and could not open or close my right hand properly–it was like a crab claw hand. My muscles had swelled and had pinched nerves in my shoulder/arm, which was making my hands dead. I went to the doctor for advice or treatment and was given corny muscle relaxers. YUM. I was very, very stupid for two days, but I slept well.

So I am coming along. I am already much, much stronger and I feel like excess weight is kind of melting off of me, in spite of somewhat Bacchanalian weekends involving lots of gluten-free beer and some cinnamon rolls I’m working on, that contain plantains and are chewy yet have a crunchy crust. (This is rare for GF.)

In Other News: Franny the Potter

Franny was kind of noodling around in her ceramics class, sort of doing jack shit until we watched The Great Pottery Throwdown together. It inspired her to jump on the wheel and actually throw pots! I was lamenting that most of my little sauce dishes were missing or broken and she said, “Mother I will make you some!” Hooray! They are coming along…I believe I’m due one more.

She and I are going to buckle down and get back to podcasting soon, this time about another rewatch of Twin Peaks, which we’re starting this month (missed our usual February thing because being new at work was exhausting). I keep getting older but TP stays exactly the same….

And in the words of that immortal God Samuel J. Snodgrass, as he was about to be lead to the guillotine; Or, I, Anonymoushole

BOOT CAMP. Argh! You know what, I have to go into instant aside here. Preface? I feel so FREE right now. I’m now part of a community where I am a tiny little cog and as long as I’m acting right and following the rules, no one gives a shit about me. I’m unvisible. I always felt somewhat self-conscious writing anything about tech world, because I was in that Venn sliver of “librarian” and “tech.” It’s a smallish community and those are people who know how to google stalk. When I started blogging, the internet was a little smaller and I was on the precipice of being a library science student. Now I am just one of many, and who even blogs anymore?

I had my introductory night where I signed what amounts to a ten-year contract. (We remove your Thetans or your MONEY BACK.) I dither a little bit in my guts about whether or not this is a good idea, but I am like, what else am I going to do for the next ten years that’s going to agree with me? A person’s gotta work, eh? I’m in the prime of my life, healthier than I have ever been EVER, I might as well pick up a trade that’s not quite recession-proof, but at least automation-proof. I have this close-up vision of learning and moving for a living, and a farther-off vision of being 50, buying an inn/B&B and doing the electrical myself.

So…boot camp. I like the apprentice wrangler. I like all the administrative people. They all seem reasonable and want to work with you to get you through. First Aid was interesting. I didn’t get the guy’s credentials but apparently he does a lot of union training in Washington. After 40 years in various facets of the medical field, he was really focused on common sense. He really denigrated CPR and how it’s taught in the US, but, if the save rate really is so low (less than two percent), I can see why. I got a little hinky sense that he didn’t like me, or was trying to ignore me, which whatever. It was interesting to me that after two days of shit talking CPR, I was the only one he yelled at when practicing on the dummy and the only one whose hands he moved.

I felt a little ripple go through the room the first night when I came in, and some heads turned and did double takes. There is the highest percentage of women in the trades in Washington, but it’s still low…something like 19 percent. Women interested in electrical are often pushed towards limited energy–low voltage network cable stuff. There’s not many inside wire(wo)men. But I’m not a unicorn either.

The good news is I already feel like I’m wallpaper. I keep my mouth shut most of the time. I have been cracking jokes when we’re clumped up together, not self-deprecating, just trying to be funny. One of my soft skills. The CPR baby was hideous, dirty, 30 years old, and missing a leg. “What do you think its name is?” someone asked. “Lucky,” I said. I helped a guy with tool ID just because I could and I knew it. I guess I already have a feeling that I need to prove myself, but I’m not going to wear myself out yet.

I can be dispatched starting Monday, once I have basic tool ID/usage and now First Aid under my belt. We are expected to continue attending boot camp in the evenings, even if we’re off to work. I got waived out of OSHA since I’ve had it recently. There’s about 20-25 guys on the list ahead of me at this point, so I imagine I’ll go out in February at the earliest. I’m going to get my apprentice tool kit soon, and I’ll take a picture of it–I just have to.

First night in the shop/lab tonight, dressed out with boots, bibs, etc.

In Other News: Cooking Thots with I, Asshole

Belonging to the Y is going really well. I am sore pretty much every day right now, but not to the point where I can’t move. When I used to exercise, my back would be toast by the end of the day. Now it’s like “I’m okay” and I sleep like a baby. I’m mixing it up between yoga, interval/circuit type training, and swimming.

I spaced on taking my vitamins for three days, that is all, and I woke up in the middle of the night with a numb hand and forearm.

My Muppet Brain: OH NO OH NO OH NO OH NO.

My Thinking Brain: BRAIN, shut up and think…vitamins! We forgot vitamins.

The next night I was fine!

One thing that happened that is a SUPER BUMMER in my tiny world is that I put a book on hold with the library called Paleo Takeout in October. I was VERY EXCITED when I read about this book because I miss Americanized Chinese food especially.

My hold number didn’t come up until right after I started the Whole30 again this month. Paleo Takeout is that kind of “fantasy Paleo” shit I was being salty about around Xmastime, and it makes the True Believers hate rate and get pedantic. HOWEVER, again it’s great for the allergic. But I am avoiding honey and rice this month, and there’s a lot of that in the book. And cheese, which turns me into a tiny Hindenburg. I just can’t bring myself to convert something like sweet and sour chicken to comply with Whole30. (Hint: it would just be SOUR. Ha.)

The book is due back before my month is up, so I will probably end up buying it. I can usually eyeball recipes now and can tell if they look legit. The girls have been flipping through it and are excited to have some PMS YUM YUMS (though I am not a monster like I used to be…go figure). I’ve been trying to make quickie subs like this one (made it shortly after xmas to serve with stir fry) but a lot of “easy paleo” honestly has too few ingredients, and the sauce just takes like its components. I like that there’s generally a lot of seasonings and ingredients in Paleo Takeout because I know there will be a more satisfying complexity there.

So, for all my smug health talk, I did fall off the wagon one night. I took Franny and boyfriend Neo to see Star Wars. We got corned, boy did we get corned. I used to wonder why I would get into such a bad mood after seeing a movie, even one I enjoyed. HA. I felt HORRIBLE when I got home, and was fighting passing out. Cried in bed, and as I may have mentioned recently, though maybe just on twitter, I hardly ever cry anymore! Air corn makes me cry, and I’m not alone. Eating corn makes me sad, achy, and grindingly angry.

Pete was like, “Are you going to sleep tonight?” I was like, eventually probably. He made chocolate chip pecan cranberry cookies, which I think was good for both me and Franny, and I had a couple of cocktails. The sugar stabilized my gloomy mood immediately. All of this has made me realize why I leaned so heavily on sugar in the past. Of course the best solution is avoiding corn, but it’s nice to know I can, in theory, go to a movie with a big sugar bandaid after.

“I see you’ve managed to get your shirt off”

You know those Victorian corsets with all the boning, but not in the good way, that would squish women and girls to the nth degree? Where does the fat go? I will tell you, but you probably already know. It displaces.

So like the poor lady’s maid assigned to tighten said corset, I’m struggling a little right now after going back indoors. I felt really good this summer, strong and like I was getting stronger every week, literally. Like it was easy for me to build muscle and my lungs were huge. The first three weeks I started I thought I was getting sick by every Friday. Sore throat, fatigue, aches, lymph nodes rising on the back of my head and neck. Fuzzy brain and memory leaks. I’d be a dead ducky on Saturday and then on Sunday I’d be refreshed again and would cram ten hours worth of chores and errands into about six.


Cod pie

I think…I figured it out. The minute I walk in to my building I’m hit with fragrance and my face starts to dump. I sneeze and scratch my face all day. People are covered in corn-based deodorants, lotions, perfumes, aftershaves, laundry detergents. I think being around adhesives, industrial lubricants, dirt, and welding fumes actually agrees with me more. I’m going to die of something. It’s probably going to be my colon shredding and bleeding out like other members of my family have gone, but I think I want to feel good and spin the wheel with construction in the meantime.

I have to tell you though, it’s shaking my confidence. Corn makes me so weak. How can I go back onto a jobsite and lift buckets and rebar and do math and whatnot? I’m trying to remember that I’m going to be really sore at first but I’m probably going to feel great and be able to think super clearly in about a week. I’m still hanging out waiting to hear if I have interviews with anyone. In the meantime I have the best temp job I can get in terms of hours and pay. I’ve found some temp warehouse work which pays similarly, and is calling to me, but it cuts off a bit sooner and it looks like there’s some graveyard shifts. I’m weighing the advantages.


“I’m her mother.”

Desk jobs are comfortable in that you’re warm and dry but I don’t feel comfortable being forgetful by the end of the week, feeling my anxiety rise for no reason, and having physical symptoms. I’m having trouble explaining to some people why I want to leave these types of offices forever. I guess I don’t have to explain it to anyone.


“No she isn’t.” PS I Derp You

There is an interesting side effect when I get ill again, but not too ill to function. The corset squeezes and the fat displaces and it makes my wheels spin creatively. I read that the flu virus can make you more gregarious. I think my brain gets kind of frantic when my immune system goes off–“we’re dying here, make something!”

I’ve been kicking around doing something fictionalized with Samuel Pepys diary for almost five years now–kind of a story that takes place in that world. I thought it might lend itself to a podcast, sort of a “17th century mecha dystopian London meets Night Vale” thing (what’s that you say? Kevin Costner’s Waterworld?). But I realized I don’t want to work alone right now, so I wrangled a cohost to podcast with. And it will have NOTHING to do with Samuel Pepys, don’t worry. I’ve got a domain locked down and recording equipment on the way.

I’m excited. I need a carrot. I need to continue perusing my ridiculous hobbies. I will link when the first one drops, which I’m hoping will be around Thanksgiving, and put it in the sidebar, etc, but as usual I won’t really push it and see if it finds an audience. If nothing else it will be fun times with my cohost and a chance to dick around with Squarespace, which I’ve been wanting to do since my site’s design is STALE as hell.

Halloween!


A nerd with cheap custom fangs.

Me: We’re going to be seeing a lot of these fangs, aren’t we?

Franny: YEP GET READY FOR FANGS IN CHRISTMAS PHOTOS NOW, MOTHER.

Franny is switched on permanent Owen Meany capslock right now.

P. birthday cuppycakes: Orange cream with pecans.

“Bonus” Franny birthday. I forgot about this batch because I probably shouldn’t be driving two cameras at once.

No I will not wear the cone of shame

This week we are focusing on things like multiplying binomials and solving inequalities in systems of equations. Have you flashed back to tenth grade yet? FOILing?? I woke up in the middle of the night last night a few times and I was kept awake by the idea that maybe I should be reviewing volume. WHAT IF THERE IS A VOLUME QUESTION? I think I was supposed to go through this 20+ years ago with the SATs but I never bothered paying for them. Too busy buying Boone’s Farm (sangria flavor, because that’s the classy one).


Post apple picking in August

I don’t think I felt this way ramping up to the GREs either. If you have seen the melodramatic, snot-silently-running-into-your-mouth fest that is Les Miz! then you know there is a super maudlin scene where a bunch of children in pirate shirts are all Morrisseying about how they need to pour one last one out for their homies, etc, before the next morning’s last stand, where they will be bayonetted into curly frites. That was my run-up to the math portion of the GRE in 2002; the freedom fighters were unprofessional and doomed, but had to make a good showing so historians wouldn’t call them little bitches later.


Stepping stones I made at the cement masons union way back in July

Now, I actually have a shot, because stuff is staying in my head now. I get what everyone meant about math building on itself. I have that crazy hoover-it-all-up cokehead feeling like the more I cram in the better because it’s only 30 questions! If I miss just one or two I actually know how to calculate that percent now! AGGH.

On the positive side of things I am getting a lot of rest right now. I think I had a successful in-person yesterday for a temp holiday gig, after a good phone interview with them. I have a better feeling about going back to tech now for a short time. Mostly because I feel like it’s going to be A SHORT TIME. And a paycheck to boot. They told me they want someone “yesterday” but I am hoping that means Tuesday (the day after my exam) so I can take full advantage of this time to obsess and lick my hot spots.


Dinner Doge would like more gravy plz

Of course I am focused on other things right now, also, like making sure the girls are transitioning back into school smoothly. Franny has an analytical writing class that’s based on the films of Hitchcock and Kurosowa. She is also taking bio and geometry, as well as her usual Japanese and art. She is about to turn 15 in less than two weeks and very shyly asked if Boyfriend, Neo, could come over for dinner and cake. Hell yes, as long as he takes the bus home later. It’s a Friday and what is happening is yoga pants.

Strudel is having a VERY good fifth grade year so far and is over the moon in her advanced program. She can now also hoover in and retain all the information now, like me, but better, because her brain is new and spongy. Her teacher is very organized and enthusiastic, and apparently has the whole class enraptured. We hear that her terrible teacher from the third grade, who told the dead bunny story and screamed at people most of the time, now has a classroom monitor. There is justice, albeit slow justice. I hope the angry emails I wrote from when I was sick in bed are stuck to her file like glue, along with the other parent complaints.

A turkey sleeping in my armpit who is much larger now:

Mal Mots avec Franny: Franny In Revolt

On Friday Franny came home and apologized for being late, and said she was exhausted. She had been told that day that she was going to help with the school’s packing efforts in service of their site move into their former building, now refurbished, for next school year. Her advisor told her that she would not be able to register for her classes next year if she didn’t, because the packing counted toward her required community service totals. So she had stayed behind packing for two hours after her classes ended.

My antenna went up. “Didn’t you already take two classes this year that count toward community service?” I asked. She was DJing at a very small local station and helping out with a school for kids with developmental disabilities.

“Yes,” she said.

“Hmm…I’m just going to shoot a little email to the Superintendent’s office clarifying if this is a district policy.”

I didn’t have a problem with her packing. Not at all. I think it would be/is good for her for a few reasons. I didn’t care for the way it was presented as a threat, at the last minute, and I felt uncomfortable with the reliance on student labor. The whole thing just screamed “future unnecessary lawsuit,” which. C’mon school district. You don’t need that. (NOT to be filed by me, I will add.)

I sent the email on a Friday afternoon (CC’ing the ombudsman’s office) explaining the situation. I asked if this was official policy because I was concerned about Franny being barred from registering from classes her sophomore year. I heard nothing back, which was fine. I had made my attempt.

Yesterday Franny’s classes ended and she made ready to start four hours of packing when the principal and her advisor cornered her. She called me afterwards because she was grumpy and this is what she said happened.

“I got an email from your mom. I heard she complained about you having to pack,” the principal said.

“She sent an email asking the Superintendent if I was going to be prevented from registering for classes if I didn’t pack,” she replied. I’m sure the SI’s office forwarded my email to the principal, so he knows exactly what I said. I figured if I sent it right to him it would disappear.

He asked her a few more questions and she told him to talk to me. “She’s the one who sent the email,” she said.

“I will email her, then,” he said. No reply yet. I don’t care either way.

Franny said once she wouldn’t discuss her thoughts with them on the matter, they double teamed her with some jive about building community and being a family.

“That is a thing people say when they want you to do something onerous and be quiet about it.” I told her about one of my first jobs in Seattle where someone tried that on me to build a case against a coworker who was suspected of stealing. “Anyone who is paid to spend time with you is not actually your family,” I said.

“It’s like they try to get close to you and get you to tell them your secrets so they can pull this shit on you,” she said.

“Manipulation?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. She is very sensitive to manipulation.

“Do you want to leave?”

“I should stay.”

A vile person once told me that there is a Buddhist principle (and I am sure this is mangled) about giving of yourself or your time. And about how if you can give it freely, it’s a gift, but if you’re going to resent it terribly, it’s probably not worth it. It has a price. At this point it was obvious that it was volunteerism presented under false pretenses, and I thought it was her choice if she gave of herself or not. I shared this thought with her and she said she would stay. No problem. I told her I was proud of the way she had handled them coming at her.

She came home after six, exhausted, and while we were in the middle of Monday Night Dinner with my sister on the patio. “I feel like my spine is going to crawl out of my back,” Franny said.

I threw Buddhism for Assholes out the window and intervened.

“I forbid you to go tomorrow,” I said. “There. Your mom is being a Crotchasaurus Rex and will not let you stay. Done.”

“Oh good,” she said, relieved.

She left this morning bright and early for her last day of her freshman year. “Are you serious about me not staying?” she asked. Yes! I said. “Okay, I’m off to ‘protest,” she said. “I’ll call you.”

In Other News

I picked up P. from the train station on Sunday after his visit to Portland. He had his father’s bike with him. It had been kind of kicking around at his widow’s house since he died a few years ago. It’s one of those really nice ones that weighs about as much as a paperclip.

We hung around for the afternoon and I made salmon cakes for dinner. We ate on the patio, as we’ve been doing almost every day it hasn’t rained, which has been most days. Strudel had eaten an extremely late lunch (3 p.m.) and was behind on her weekend chores, so she was not sitting with us and would eat a bit later. As we were finishing, I noticed that P. had some salmon bones on his plate. I had worked really carefully to pick all the bones out before seasoning and mixing the salmon with veggies.

“Oh man, I got bones in yours!” I said.

“It’s okay,” he said.

I was being a little silly and overly solicitous, and carried on with things. “Your welcome home dinner should not have bones in it.” Franny picked her up empty plate and rose to walk towards the house.

“It’s okay, guys,” she said, over her shoulder. “You can have bones in your welcome home dinner. Everyone likes a good WELCOME HOME BONING! AM I RIGHT?” She finished by laughing like Gordon Shumway and went into the house.

I laid my head down on the table, next to my empty plate.

“I guess we were not as quiet as we thought earlier,” P. said, softly.

“Am I dead now? I would like to be dead,” I said. I felt my face catch on fire.

In OTHER other news

I applied to a program for women that is a “pre-apprenticeship” for trades and I got in. I’m very excited. It’s a 12-week course and it’s meant to address any gaps women might have that might make them fall short when applying for union apprenticeship in a trade.

They explore several trades and take you to job sites, and can help with things like math. Some women who are underemployed or single moms get grants to cover living expenses. Mostly I am interested in making connections with people in the industry, since I am doing decently in my tech math class. I made it clear I didn’t want to take away financial help from others and she said they don’t bar people based on income. Awesome. So I will pay for my boots, some opportunities, etc.

I had emailed last week to ask about the Tuesday orientation and the program manager said, “Why don’t you just come in for an interview on Monday?” It sounds like they need to fill seats. In the email she said there would be some paperwork and a “physical.” I interpreted this as a blood pressure check and peeing in a cup. Wrong!

I ran flights of stairs (timed), planked for 3 minutes (fell twice), did as many push ups and sit ups as I could, and more. I was not actually expecting a physical test and hadn’t eaten breakfast, only coffee, since I thought I’d be in and out in an hour. WHOOPS.

“Wow, this stairwell is really hot,” my test administrator commented. It was at least 85 F in there. “This weeds some people out right away. They refuse to even try the exercises,” she said. “But you’re doing great.”

Before that I did a math, reading, and tool ID test, which I passed. The math portion was pretty easy. I think the test I will have to sit for to get into the union will be much harder. I believe I am set on a trade, but I’m going to keep an open mind for the next few weeks, in case I see something that turns my head. I’ll let you know if/when I am accepted.

I’m very excited about this change. At the grocery store the other night Franny asked me what I wanted to be when I was her age. I thought about it. “A truck driver or a farmer,” I said.

My interviewer, who I think is going to be my case manager, asked me why I wanted to switch to trades. I told her I like to think and be on my feet, and work with my hands. “Tech was safe when my girls were little,” I explained. I could stay up with them crying or puking all night and come in to work and be a zombie and not worry about putting someone in danger. It was a steady paycheck. She has kids and she nodded along.

“And now you’re free to do what you want to do,” she said. “I get it.”

Franny fetch me my ax

On Sunday after doing the bees, and after giving the whole house a deep clean over the course of the week in addition to studying math, I decided to have a lazy Sunday. (Okay there was a little laundry.) I set up in the dining room and played games on my laptop, which is something I don’t usually have time to do for hours at a stretch, unless it’s at the expense of sleep.

My sleep has been funny this month. For the first 5 days of the Whole30 I was pretty sleepless, and now I am in Sleepy Valley. Last night my arms felt like lead and I could barely lift the big ceramic bowl of watermelon I served with dinner. I slept for about ten hours. This is pretty normal for day seven.

So I was a captive audience at the table.

“Mooooom can I give you a makeover???”

“Okay, but you have to do the whole thing. Base and all.”

She did it.

Check it out, I’m getting old. I even have some silver hairs sprouting at my part. Remember when I was in my early 20s and had a toddler and no crows’ feet? Ha. WATCH as this blogger ages before your eyes and forgets to move on to a new hobby.

This is one of her homemade crayon lip colors. Her boyfriend came over later and he got to dine with me in my Captain Hammer teeshirt and 27 pounds of makeup. Franny was very proud of her handiwork. The boyfriend and I talked a little about Reddit geekery as usual. Other than the animal heads (vegetarian) I think he likes it at our house.

I urged Franny to call her father on Friday and start figuring out her summer. She’s been having what sounds like typical teenage angsty squabbles over there with him and her stepmother, and is struggling with the food thing over there. She needed a break so hasn’t visited for about a month and a half. I’m delighted to have her, but I don’t want trouble from him. Also, I hate to say this, but I think it’s important that she do things that are not always fun or comfortable. The part of me that is her mommy and wants to pave every road in marshmallows and puppies for her fights with the part that knows she needs to fulfill her obligations and not always take the easiest path.

But I also get the dread of spending time in a place where you’re likely to eat something that can impact your health and mood for weeks, and are called an ingrate for avoiding things that may make you sick. It’s a tough one. I respect her for taking a break and some time to cool off.

So she called her dad to arrange her next visit (Father’s Day weekend). I think since they happened to talk he told her that her grandfather had suffered a minor stroke the night before. I told her to call him and check on him and offer to visit on Sunday (a couple of days ago). Her grandfather declined, saying he wanted to rest. The doctors thought he wouldn’t have any significant effects from it and she said he sounded fine. She was weepy Friday night but felt much better after talking to him on Saturday. She was dismayed her father hadn’t gone to visit him. She wanted to send him flowers so we did.

I’m not sure what’s going to happen after Franny’s grandpa dies. I do worry about him. He has always loved his fine dining and has been feast or famine about exercise. It’s worrying to me when someone is overweight or has high blood pressure and then hits racquetball really, really hard once a week. Perhaps the torch for organizing family vacations and whatnot will go to the Auntie Jaguar. Zod save us all if SeaFed inherits.

Today’s fun fact is that iodized salt contains dextrose


Thetans! Thetans errwhur!!

Weird week. I had really vivid nightmares all week, and night sweats, and just generally woke up a lot. I realized partway through the week, once cool lesions started opening up on my scalp and my lymph nodes started raising again, that I had gotten corn from somewhere. The list of symptoms is long, and it’s unmistakable now.

I’m discovering more and more that things I buy are often cut with or cross contaminated by something, even if there’s no listing. I’ve been reading about the adulteration of honey, and olive oil, and the practice of adding (corn-based) glycerin or HFCS to some red wines. This made me think about why, even if I was making every sauce and meal from ingredients that read “contains 100% whatever this is called,” I was still having adverse affects sometimes.

So this week it was tamarind paste–I happened to be at a Whole Foods, which carries a different brand than my home store. It said 100% tamarind paste so I bought it and added it to a chutney, which was nothing else but fresh herbs, a little safe seasoning, and whole dates. I made it to go with some onion pakoras that were a terrible fail in the fryer (not enough batter). I salvaged them by mounding them like drop biscuits and baking them on a high temp. Strudel and I ate the chutney for a couple of days with leftovers and she got sick too.

“How are you feeling?” I asked her when she came home. I had gotten a call from the nurse earlier that day, who said she had fallen, knocked her loose tooth out, and swallowed it.

“Well, pretty bad. And dizzy. Which is why I fell down. Also my throat is sore from swallowing my tooth.”

I poured out the leftover chutney.

At this point, I think my best bet is to compile a list of brands with the reactions they cause (and more importantly, brands that do NOT cause reactions) and make it accessible by phone for shopping (I’m about to pull the trigger on a new smart phone so it should do more than just make calls and send texts that my janky old grey mare has been reduced to).

I woke up this morning feeling super hungover (no booze for the past two days) and in theory I am supposed to be running in a 5K on Sunday. I felt marvelous last weekend when I had a houseguest and was wrangling bees. Now I have not been running enough and have been falling into bed exhausted. P. keeps asking me about the race and I am so demoralized right now I don’t even want to think about it. It felt completely attainable last week. Maybe things will turn around by Sunday.

Franny was hanging onto corn for the past few months. She told me she wanted to see how she did, to see if maybe just cutting out wheat and most dairy would do it. She had a pretty serious crash over spring break on a day when she treated herself to a giant Arizona Iced Tea “juice” (HFCS). She came home and tried to do the crossword puzzle in People, of all things, which could really be worked out by a moderately clever grey squirrel, and got frustrated and was going all dyslexic in the letter spaces. Then she wandered around the house for a while, and cried for what she admitted was “no reason.” She was in bed by 8 p.m. that night.

I used to get these odd narcoleptic crashes after lunchtime sometimes where if I was sitting my body would shut down as if I’d been drugged for about ten minutes. Things would literally start to shut in on me and go kind of black–aggressive unconsciousness. If we were on a road trip I could stop midsentence and then come back to life about ten minutes later, snapping awake as if I’d never been asleep, and finish my thought. I used to sleep on the commuter bus from Microsoft daily a few years ago.

So it was all kind of familiar. I talked to her about it the next day after she’d slept it off. “Sooo, I noticed you had a large corn drink earlier that day, and your crying for no reason and brainfog and tiredness seemed familiar….” Later that day she said she was going to try to deliberately cut out corn.

“I have no idea what I’m going to eat at my dad’s house now,” she lamented. “He already gives me a hard time. ‘Don’t you get tired of no variety?’ he says. My choice is to feel like crap or eat nothing sometimes!” She eats a lot of rice there.

This is…kind of frustrating, but kind of just silly. We have a ton of variety here, in the world of spices and flavorings, and every kind of seasonal veggie, and loads of gluten-free grains. As I’ve written about, we make gluten free breads or cookies sometimes. From what she describes, there’s not much chance for “variety” over there because ingredients that don’t work for her are in most meals. I don’t like that she’s being treated like she’s making a strictly moral dietary choice or is being a picky teenager for no reason. She feels her stepmother still has no understanding of what she’s dealing with. (“What is Celiac anyway?”)

P. and I put our heads together and asked if it would help to have some kind of grocery list. Her dad takes her to the store every Friday that he picks her up, which is nice, but expecting a 14-year-old to meal plan on the spot, not knowing what is in his pantry, is challenging. I didn’t really get good at weekly meal planning until I was in my late 20s (and finally had a fixed, consistent cashflow and budget that was barely above the poverty level I’d been living at for years, that was key).

So I sat down with her and made a short list of staples that she could prepare as sides with little fuss or cost, like baked potatoes, or putting fried eggs on rice. I winged a really simple beans and rice recipe for her. I told her to take Kind bars out of our pantry as backup. We tried to think of things her little sisters wouldn’t want to raid–not to be stingy, but so Franny’s “special” stuff would not get eaten, leaving her with things she could not eat.

Okay, okay, so I admit that I am often overzealous about hacking my kids’ lives so they will run better and smoother. It’s definitely an overreaction to having zero help with things when I was a child. Sometimes my brain goes, “Hey, you came out of it fine”…except those times that I was unsafe, or underfed, or hiding the fact that I needed medical attention because asking for a lift to the doctor was a bad idea. I am trying not to do everything for them. I know they will go out into the world and step on 28 rakes on the first day, but I want them to have a shot at realizing that there’s more than one way to solve a problem. And that it is okay to ask for help with things.

Anyway, I am happy that most of the time I can go for a run, especially in light of the fact that I was laying in bed most of the time a year ago, and that most of the time my scalp is not covered in lesions. (HA. There’s a sentence I didn’t think I’d ever write. wtf) I’m happy that Strudel is kicking ass and taking names most of the time now as well.

P. and I “worked” the bees midweek to see what was happening in there and to see if the queens were out loose from their cages. We took the tops off the hives and straightened comb out as much as we could. I didn’t see any eggs yet, but if things are going well we should see larva tomorrow. I will bring my camera for that. I wouldn’t say we were in a rush on Tuesday, but the sun was setting and it was rather cold and miserable. It has been thrilling to see foragers bringing in their fat pollen legs on the nicer days this week. P. says he can feel his brain crinkling because there is so much to think about.

And, for posterity, here is Shan and I on Sunday in my yard after she spent the night. HER phone will deign to take pics. Unfortunately for her she was swamped with monitoring posts for her site/various social media on Saturday night, so I said HEY LET’S BE VEGETABLES. I turned on a few episodes of Flight of the Conchords and we just kind of giggled and had a glass of wine and didn’t talk exhaustively to 1 a.m. or anything. It is nice having the type of old friend who you cannot see for a year and a half and then just sit with them. I am very grateful to her. If she hadn’t gotten in my face on my blog in 2003 or so, I never would have gotten to know her. I get my head pretty far up my obtuse, increasingly introverted ass sometimes, so I am happy that some people have decided to B&E into my life.

Hello to Sring*

* The infamous “sring” cake in all its glory.

Busy weekend, and busy past couple of weeks. I guess I should start with Easter. What happened? Not much. I decided to see what would happen if I followed the recommended advice and set aside eggs in the back of the fridge for a couple of weeks. I was very surprised I was coordinated enough to remember to do this! As expected, the air bubble was bigger and they were easier to peel. Whoopie. Cross another one off the bucket list, I suppose.

Sometimes I like to show off my eggs because they turn out cool, but this year they were kind of a hash. I bought discounted egg dye kits a couple of years ago after the holiday (tie dye, marble, and glitter) and they were kind of lame! Next I think we will go back to feats with ordinary dye. These eggs were quickly ushered into an egg salad made with spicy chipotle mayo.

Other than dyeing eggs with the girls, and making some nicer dinner since lamb’s on sale and it’s a Sunday, I am wildly inconsistent about Easter. I don’t do a lot of candy because I feel like I have to draw the line somewhere–Easter really isn’t our holiday. But it’s nice to say hello to spring. And baths! Have some bath loot, girls.

I made Franny an Easter basket plate.

And also Strudel.

And then I roasted a lamb leg that I stuffed in part with minced preserved lemons I made in February. I got down to my last one-and-a-half and I sliced some more and added more salt to the jar while I watched part of Going Clear. I know Japanese pickles can be done in an “endless” way like this so we’ll see if the same is true of lemons. Between the acid in the salt I doubt I’m breeding new life forms in there. And it is FUN to dig around in a salty lemon-oily jar. It’s like beach mad scientist as a kid.

I was a Bisy Backson yesterday in the sense that I did all those things you put off in the week, because enough is enough in one day sometimes. I took Strudel out for a refurbed taller bike, which she named Dr. Krieger.

This will be her last bike before she gets a full-sized one, unless the frame explodes or something. Am I winding down on child ranching or what? There’s a lot of parenting left to do, but I cannot even pretend I have little kids anymore.

I also finished a mini-project last weekend: tagging the trees.

I used 18 tags, and only one of the trees came with the house (the Italian prune). We’ve been busy. To be fair, four tags went on the frankencherry alone.

I wasn’t as helpful with the beehives this weekend as I would have liked. We decided to divide and conquer. I helped where I could (caulk, moral support) and P. just hit it really hard. It was forecasted to rain today (and has) so we tucked them onto the porch for now. Franny is on deck to paint when it clears up a little later this week.

I ran out of caulk so I’ve not quite finished the roofs.

Hello have you heard the good news about beehives

This Saturday we’re going to pick up two packages of Italians and then bring them home and dump them into the boxes. I know people have done this thousands of times, but it still sounds bizarre. I will bring my camera so I can capture the site of a truck full of bees (I hope).

Franny has been in fine form lately. She was in a great mood on Sunday and decided to dawdle some before cleaning out the chicken coop by giving the dogs rides. Poor Edith was tiny terrified until Horace joined her.

Horace joins the fun.

Bonus party trick.