Thursday, July 17, 2008

More Strands in This Web

Anniversary dinner coincided with Cruisin' Grand, and we enjoyed an evening stroll, taking in the sights.

Some things I'll do for a friend... what can you say with 1 word? Here is what I came up with for my friend Tarie.

1. Where is your cell phone? purse
2. Your significant other? amazing
3. Your hair? frazzled
4. Your mother? resourceful
5. Your father? storyteller
6. Your favorite thing? laughter
7. Your dream last night? fear
8. Your favorite drink? water
9. Your dream/goal? home
10. The room you’re in? family
11. Your hobby? blogging
12. Your fear? failure
13. Where do you want to be in six years? roadtrip
14. What you’re not? confident
15. Muffins? yum
16. One of your wish list items? house
17. Where you grew up? California
18. The last thing you did? dishes
19. What are you wearing? grunge
20. Favorite gadget? peeler
21. Your pets? delight
22. Your computer? iMac
23. Your mood? sad
24. Missing someone? many
25. Your car? blessing
26. Something you’re not wearing? smile
27. Favorite store? thrift
28. Like someone? Geoff
29. Your favorite color? secret
30. When is the last time you laughed? yesterday
31. Last time you cried? today

Red. Reminds me of all the beautiful berries everyone has been picking and canning and sharing. Like these raspberries! Have you seen Such Things? Scrumptious.

There is something so appealing about this pick-up... it evokes country roads and picnics, meeting up with friends and good cheer. Summer and picnics, summer and hikes, summer and the company of children. Good stuff.

I enjoyed reading Amanda Soule's post about 10 things she is loving, and at the bottom she asks, "And you? What are you loving right now? I am still savoring the question.

I was passing by the "Blue Yonder" and I came away with beans for my gardening friend, Anne, of "Mom, What's For Dinner?" She can make cheese!

Jennifer has been looking back and recalling happy memories of summer camp. Those have been fun to read. She also passed along a "Brillante Weblog Premio" to me, which is very sweet, because 1. she thought of me and 2. she put me in very good company. Then Lesley passed along the same award to me. Thank you Jennifer and Lesley!

I get to nominate 7 other bloggers... 7 Brillante bloggers. There are so many! I'll share the love with:

Janece and Paul and Amira. They are most brilliant!

Also very brilliant is Amy and her busy, beautiful family.

This family does not know me, but I am enjoying the stories they tell... they are brilliant.

As though making dinner every night isn't brilliant enough, I have to shout about the brilliant woman blogging about dinner every day... healthy dinner, thoughtful dinner, dinner with leftovers, new recipes, new ideas... all brilliant.

Tarie is Brillante. She writes about her greatest loves, her family and literature, and her enthusiasm is infectious.

Recently I posted about Em and her chicken quest. I hope you saw her news piece... naturally, I feel a strong allegiance to her cause. I think she is deserving of a Brillant Weblog Premio.

"Two geeks get their farm on. Chaos ensues." Seriously! How could I not award "Farm Natters" a Brillante Weblog Premio? I was hooked from the first post I read... Goose Invasion.

Is that 7, already?

Very well, then I think I should wrap this up. The children are reading several books, alternating, and reading aloud. Maria has been very enthused about playing basketball with her brothers. Geoff and I are trying to calculate how much stuff we could pack and store in anticipation of getting out of here: No, we have no destination, but we want to make a move towards our move. The lot with a trailer was nabbed by some nitwit with too much money... I am not bitter. Repeat. I am bolstered by all of your brilliant suggestions for "introducing" the hens to the landlord... obviously this calls for some creative enhancement of something approximately probable. I thank you one and all.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Come Back Later... I'm Whining

Seriously, I could crawl under a table, stare at the underside and feel sorry for myself all afternoon. Feh. Blech. Blah.

I still haven't signed the new lease deal with the landlord. It's not such a terrible contract, it's just that it is debilitating thinking of being here indefinitely, and worse: I have to disclose a proposal for approval of any new pets. You know, pets? Like, as in, chickens?

It's all my fault. After 5 years of yearning and false starts, after waiting and hoping to find our destiny, I finally took matters into my own hands and defied common sense and reason. I hate renting. I hate not knowing where we are going next. I hate having to answer to another adult for my paint choices, and for permission to have this or do that. I am tired of living half in and half out, apologizing for our messes and regular wear and tear.

Oh, yeah, it's a pitiful situation... not our circumstances, me telling it.

Yup. I should have known better than to walk in to that feed store and walk out with chicks. My plan was based on hope and optimism and it is swiftly falling apart before my very eyes. The chicks aren't cute little peepers, that can hide in the shower stall and fit in a lunch bag. They are days away from cackling from a nest box. They fly and run around. They make a mess, and they make a scene. And they are going to make my landlord mad.

They make me happy. They amuse us all... how can I have regrets?

If we are here to tell our story, then there are still blessings to thank God for, but in all honesty... this has been a really hard year, following challenging years, on the tail of some disappointing times. And I do not feel like I am managing very well.

I've spent too much of the day doing house searches on Redfin, an amazing search tool, if you happen to be looking in one of their service areas. Redfin is amazing, but the market is lousy. Yes, there are deals and more options than last year, but too many sellers are still smokin' some wacky stuff. Now, I am just sad and defeated. Southern California is full of crummy, small, crowded, fixer-upper million dollar houses. Want to see something insane?
This place is obviously a bit out of our reach, but do you think any place can appreciate by $51,000,000 in 8 years?! Yes, I counted the zeroes. I've seen countless others, that are in middle class neighborhoods, that ought to be reasonable, and yet they are asking for 1 and 2 million dollars more than they paid 1 year ago! I ain't buyin'. Which just plain sucks.

We've been calling this bubble and economic "down turn" for a long time, and if anybody isn't aware: It's going to get worse. Whether you turn to the White House or the Onion, for your economic forecasts, it's all laughable.

So, buy now? Over pay or settle for something too small, too remote? We could go far east in the county, but we would be out of our comfort zone, and deep in to heat, fire, drought and long commute country. We could go very far east and make a go of it in Wisconsin, but the job market makes that a risky proposition. I think of moving north; after what happened to my mom, I am very interested in closing the gap between our homes. We've thought about renting some place else, some place fun and cheap, or fun and cheap and different, while we wait for the market to correct itself. Theoretically, this is an interesting idea, but practically it makes me go in to a fetal position, humming West Side Story tunes...
There's a place for us,
Somewhere a place for us.
Peace and quiet and open air
Wait for us
Some day!

If you made it this far, you are a caring friend, or a glutton for punishment... I'll throw you a lifeline, I'll open the same window of joy and hope that Aunt Carol sent me. Make yourself smile and watch these world dance videos and maybe, like us, you'll feel like dancing, too!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Postcards From Our Local Vacation

Maybe "vacation" is too strong a word. It was more like... hey! Dad's home for a few hours. Let's go ride our bikes!" So, in the spirit of making the most of what you've got, we went out for family fun and our first test run of Maria's bike trailer.

Alex clicked and locked and fastened all the parts. Maria was too excited to wait on the outside, so she sat inside.

It came together easily, which is always a refreshing experience. The difficulty came when we discovered that William's bicycle went junk and the pedal completely snapped off. Shift: William took Geoff's new Costco special, and Geoff and I went back to sharing my ride, which meant someone would have to take turns walking. No biggie.

Helmets, sunblock, drinking water, camera, b-ball... ready, set, ride!

Max turns 10 in less than a month. Give me a moment. I'm getting misty. This boy is a treasure. Sigh.

This is hilarious, for me. It looks so well rehearsed and easy. Not!
Close toed shoes for 6, and no flip-flops.
No, no flip-flops. Why? Because.
Who has a helmet?
Where are the helmets?
I know we have at least 42 helmets in this house!
Does this look expired? Smell it. Does sunblock expire?
Everybody put on sunblock. No, we're out of the stick kind.
You inflate the tires and I'll find the basketball.
Do we have balls for Smashball?
Is there any Tylenol?

We were going to leave first thing in the morning. I think it was after 11:00 when we were headed out the door.

Ah, but we were happy and receptive. We were together. We even packed sandwiches and had cold grapes to snack on. And while it was neither rehearsed or particularly easy, it was fun and worthwhile. Think how much easier it will be next time. It's always a good sign when people are willing to consider next time.
Mmmmm... I Like Bad Coffee

I like the weak, mild, cheap coffee that the real coffee drinkers snub and scorn. I like Nescafe with cream and sugar. I like the stuff at the bagel shop across from Starbucks. Oh, and one more thing: It has to be decaffeinated. If it's leaded, it makes my heart race and I get anxious, nameless dread seeps into the recesses of my comfort zone. Yes, every few months I like to have a warm cup of lightly sweetened, slightly creamy, bad, unleaded coffee.

I like bad beer too. Don't waste fruity, dark ales and hopped-up lagers on me. Spare me the bold beers, the malt beers, the bitter beers, and hold off on the esters and wood aged brews. All of those beers, that the true fans of beer savor and extoll, leave me feeling just the way Bill the Cat looks... disarrayed, gagged and disheveled. The "good" stuff is wasted on my unrefined palate. On a hot day, in the company of friends, while grilling, or when enjoying salsa and chips, I'll take a cold can of Tecate, a chilled O'Douls, or a Mexican Coke, the Real Thing, for that matter.

In Fortuna, last month, when we were celebrating the Equinox at Eel River Brewing Company, I asked the waitress to please suggest a beer for someone who thought non-alcoholic beer was good enough. She looked at me and with confidence and the air of a doctor prescribing the right pill, she said, "Oh, you need a Clim@x."
Yes, well, who's going to argue with the doctor, or with a good waitress?
OKay. It was perfect. So, if a Clim@x could be considered a "good" beer, then count me in. I do like a good Clim@x.

Did you have to eat everything on your plate when you were a kid? I did not. My mom liked me try things, which was fine, but she never force fed me. She never made me stare at a plate of something that made me gag and tear just thinking of it on my tongue. I did have have the occasional run-ins with some know-it-all adults that insisted my "immature taste buds" would benefit from swallowing spoonfuls of overcooked green beans, and fatty hunks of undercooked beef. Like Scarlett O'Hara, only with less of an appetite, I made my own solemn vow. Defiantly, and with true conviction I raised my fist and pledged: "As God is my witness they're not going to lick me. I'm going to live through this and when it's all over I'll never eat anything yucky again. No, nor any of my folks. If I have to lie, cheat or spit into a napkin, as God is my witness I'll never eat yucky food again!"

I honor my pledge as best I can. I have sampled a great variety of foods, strange, good, bad, weird, tasty, memorable and forgettable. I appreciate vegan, raw, vegetarian and I like tofu, but it does not like me. I have had backyard chicken and wild turkey, and raw urchin that I plucked from the sea myself. And I always eat with gratitude, because food is a blessing, but I still adamantly insist that, given a choice, I will not eat yucky food and nor will any of my folk, which means I will not force my children to eat food they do not like. One taste is all I ask, and then another taste 6 months later. Tastes change, attitudes change, but I never believed those changes had anything to do with "maturity." Intuitively, I believed that adults had dead taste buds, and that it was children who knew bitter from sweet. In nature bitter = poison and is best avoided, so I presumed that children's taste was merely a biological imperative for survival. I also believe that garden fresh veggies, fruits and whole grains, lean proteins, beans and rice could make up a healthy diet that children will eat, and that eventually we can all find our way to balanced and varied diets...

But mostly I was really, really convinced that every overzealous adult that force fed me and smugly ridiculed me and my "lack of good taste" was wrong in their presumption that children are 'unsophisticated and need training.' I hated overcooked, limp, colorless veggies then, and I hate them now. Fatty, rare beef still gags me. I do not like lima beans or radishes. Too many onions is too many, thank you. My point is, I knew as a child what tasted bad to me and I know what I like now, as a mature, sophisticated adult. If I were force fed a plate full of mushrooms with bell peppers and liver, I would not like it any more than a healthy kid would. If I were really hungry, and I have been really hungry, I know that food becomes vital, and the want of food supersedes taste and emotion... otherwise, I will not eat, or ask anyone to eat, yucky food.

Do you know what is really fun? It is fun to discover that your intuitive convictions have scientific merit, in other words: I was like, totally right! Our children, clever, beautiful beings, have 10,000 alert, active taste buds. Adults have only 3,000 taste buds. We adults don't like things more or better than children because of maturity and enlightenment. We aren't detecting subtle flavors and appreciating sophisticated dishes... we are missing flavors. We are desensitized and tasteless. Adults are the ones who cannot appreciate that some things are bitter or over spiced, or simply too much. Adults who smoke have an even greater loss of taste. I have always wondered about Anthony Bourdain's sometimes questionable dining preferences... No matter. So long as we are eating to sustain ourselves, to celebrate and commune, then I will strive to serve healthful food, varied food, good food, and I will be respectful of your tastes and my own.

Geoff and I, with William, Alex, Max and Maria, went out to celebrate our anniversary at a favorite restaurant. We hadn't been there in 5 years. The green salad with goat cheese, strawberries and almonds was my favorite dish, but my favorite part of the evening was being with my husband and children, talking, laughing, sharing, walking, browsing... it was delicious!