Tuesday, December 27, 2011

If You're Only Going to Have One Glass...

My friend knows I love a nice red.

My friend also knows I try to limit myself to one glass on a week night.

My friend found this glass and gave it to me for Christmas...because she loves me.

This glass holds an entire bottle of wine.

The entire bottle.

 If you're only going to have one glass...then...duh...this is your glass.

I gleefully showed it to my husband and opened the accompanying bottle of Mad Housewife merlot...then I had second thoughts.

"Honey, it seems irresponsible to drink this whole bottle all by myself."

He responded, "Don't worry love.  We'll be here with you."

Wink. Wink.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Georgia's on my Mind

Yesterday was not a good day sucked.  
From the minute I opened my eyes and realized what day it was, 
everything that happened was yuck 
because I knew what was coming and everything I did all day 
was only getting me closer to the point of the day that I was dreading.

Yesterday I put my dog to sleep.  
And we were all very sad.  
But we wanted you to know. 

So.  Yesterday is now over.  
And today is today.  And I'm still sad, but I'm supposed to be sad.  
It was a sad thing. 

I don't like the term getting over it.  
Like a hurdle or something you have to clear 
and then put behind you only to look back on.
The term seems to imply that you'll know when it's coming 
and exactly when you've moved past it. 
I rather prefer roll with it.  Because then you get to take it with you.  
You still have to figure out to how to roll.  
Figure out how to move forward smoothly.
With your new shape.

So we're not over the loss of our dear girl here in The Middle.
But we're rolling with it.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Bit of a Blur

The last 10 days have been, to put it mildly, a bit of a blur.  No great wisdom here today folks, just a recap.  A look back.  A chance to see the events of the last days through a lens of "I made it!" versus, "Buckle up!"  And then, a bit of an announcement. 

30 pounds of turkey.  Including an appropriately sized feast of thanks.

250 ornaments.

19 Christmas trees...what, didn't you realize I have a thing for trees?

6 lit trees in the yard...at one point the middle one was only half lit, but it was early in the evening, and I often find myself only half lit at the start of a holiday evening...winkwink...it all worked out just fine.

 5 rehearsals for the Father.

1 new friend, a lovely lunch and 2 hours of calm before the storm...thank you friend. 

4 concerts, which you can tune into on your local PBS station closer to Christmas if you are so inclined...just sayin'...

3 cocktail parties hosted in our home after the concerts...maybe 75 people...or so...

100 pieces of stemware filled and washed, and refilled and rewashed...not sure how many bottles of champagne...lost count at 12.

2 unauthorized animals in the stable and 1 kitty in the manger.

1 snow storm.

13 days of house guests.

So many blessed people.  So many.

And this is just the beginning of our holiday numbers.  It's only the 8th of December! 

What am I sure of?  That it's not the number of things you cram in that matters at all.  It's the quality of each single thing.  If each one isn't important to someone, then it should be skipped.  Yes, that was a big turkey, but it fed us.  For several days.  Yes, I have a lot of trees, but I love every one of them and they make me smile every time I turn them on.  Yes, it made me crazy that there was one tree with two dark strings of bulbs, but I had a contingency plan.  Yes, it seemed counter productive to take a 2 hour lunch with a new friend just hours before hosting a party for 30 in my own home, but what the naysayers didn't realize was that I was getting myself ready to be the hostess.  Filling up my cup before I filled up everyone else's champagne flute.  Yes, 3 parties in 3 days is a lot, but I love it.  That's my contribution to the holiday concerts.  He makes the music, I make the merry.  We're a good team.  Yes, snow makes every bitter cold day more magical, and chills the champagne beautifully.

And yes, 7 gingersnaps and a glass of pinot grigio makes a perfect dinner when you're trying to clean out the fridge.

We have lots of days left in December and you will find me here, in theMiddleBit, regularly for the rest of this year.  But in the new year, I am going to focus on two new projects.  The first, a team effort with my sister, is a blog called The Shortest Distance, and you should look for me there.  I will be in the MiddleBit from time to time, but my weekly post will be there.  More about that exciting venture will be revealed as we get closer to our launch.

And the second?  A book.  Here's a tiny excerpt...

Introduction or Who the Hell Do I Think I am?
A memoir of parenting.  A motherhood memoir.  How can you write one when you’re not finished parenting yet?  Don’t you have to wait until you’re finished?  Until you can look back on all the experiences of your children and your mothering?  Until your daughters are women and you can sum it all up and assess what went well and what failed? 
Well I think that’s kind of like waiting until you know the football game is over and turning on the TV just in time to check the final score.  Who does that?  Not me, that’s for sure.  There’s a whole lot of awesome stuff to watch in the first half of the game that has a huge impact on that final score.  I am a fan of the game.  I want to watch to see who puts the first points on the board and who heads into the half down by 14.  And I'm a fan of mothers.  Mothers who are in the game.  I’m still in the first half of this game of motherhood.  There’s a whole lot of time left on the clock and I have no previous second half record that I can fall back on. 
This is the BFT era of my mothering.  Before Female Teenagers.  All of my friends that have grown daughters tell me there is no real way to be prepared for that, so I’m not going to worry about it yet.  A good coach will tell you not to focus on the final score when you are still in the first half…this is the mentality that drives a girl who has no special parenting training and already more to do that she can keep up with, to write a book on mothering.

Stay tuned...exciting things are happening here in The Middle.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Lead. Or be led.

Any minute now my husband will be simulcast to over 300 movie theaters across this nation.  In just seconds the live radio broadcast will begin.  The thousands that are there to see it live are taking their seats as my fingers fly across these keys.  And it's got me thinking about leading.  And following.

He's a conductor...but not the train kind.  He is a maker of music.  A shaper of sound.  A maestro.  Heh...it's kind of amazing actually.  He stands up in front of nearly 500 people who are all making their own joyful noise and helps them to make it even better.

Ah.  To make a joyful noise.  Raise your voice.  Toot your horn.  To remember that this horn we have been given can blow more than one note.  And to have a capable director, standing in front of us, reminding us when to come in.

Because we do know.  We've practiced it hundreds of times.  But sometimes we need to be reminded when to sing out.  Or speak up.  Or toot our own horn.

The Dalai Lama says, "Appreciate how rare and full of potential your situation is in this world, then take joy in it, and use it to your best advantage."

Use your voice.  Use it the best way you can.  And appreciate the potential of your contribution. 

Lead.  Or be led. 

But don't just go.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Status Check

The status check.  Before the big day.  The main event.

How are you doing?

I'm here.  In the moment.  And it makes such a difference.  Monday I was ticked because my brand new car had to spend a day in the shop and I lost hours waiting for them to decide how to handle it.  As I sat in that dealership with my little ones, who had been playing for nearly two hours with some broken crayons and a puzzle that was missing a bunch of pieces, I was thinking about all of the things I wasn't able to do in preparation for my company, my Thanksgiving, my to-do list for that day.  In other words, my head was not really there and my anger was building.  And this nice little old lady rounded the corner and snapped me right back.  Right back to the moment.  "My your little girls are being so patient.  This is a long wait for them.  Nice job ladies.  Good work Mom."  Whoa.  Thanks.  You're right.  Here isn't so bad when you see the success of now instead of the potential failures of later. 

So we jumped into our teeny rental and sped off down the road.  The afternoon deteriorated after that.  Destroyed completely by stuff that's really not worth mentioning, I found myself with three girls squished into the back of this wee little vehicle on the way to dancing school.  I cried all the way there because I was rehashing the failed events of the previous 40 minutes.  And then, my absolute favorite Christmas song came onto the radio and snapped me right back.  Right back to the moment.  The girls sang along in their tiny voices and I noticed that traffic lights are very Christmassy and look especially sparkly through wet eyes.  Whoa.  Fun.  It's going to be alright.  Here isn't so bad when you see the success of now instead of the failures of the past hour.

Fast forward a couple of days.  I'm rocking on the to-do list.  The Father and the girls are packed off, headed to the airport to pick up the company, buy some back up gravy at Trader Joe's (just in case), get the knives sharpened.  And I, am going to the salon to get polished for the season, to have some calm before the storm, maybe a glass of pinot at noon and the phone rings.  Canceled.  F*&K!  We'll get you in this weekend.  I'm so sorry.  Things happen.  I get it.  And you know what else I get?  My two hours back that I lost on Monday.  And some time to myself to turn the music up too loud while I play in the kitchen...and that glass of pinot at noon.

It's not supposed to be easy.  And once you get that, really get that, it gets easier.  Events have effects and behaviors have consequences and this is not a lecture about what you are supposed to be doing.  Or thinking.  It's just my status check.

When I spend too much time just trying to get through it, it's gone and I've missed it.  When it's awful, I just want it to be over and when it's good I want it to last forever.  But you don't always get to pick which kind of moment you're in.  You have to commit to being in all of them.  I'm trying to do that.  So I won't miss all the stuff that's here.  The crap stuff I can learn from and try not to repeat...and the patient children and the red and green traffic lights and taking the time to make pie.

Status check?  Good. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

I'm a Dork!

Word for word.  This is how the conversation went.  I could not make this stuff up...it's just this good.  Says the 4 year old this afternoon,

Mom!  Look!  I'm a dork!

What makes you say that Sweetie?

Look at me.  I'm one of Santa's dorks!

Oh, Love.  I think you mean dwarf.  Right?

Yeah!  Dwarf!  I'm one of Santa's dwarfs.

And, Love.  Santa has elves.  Snow White has the dwarfs.

Oh.  Right!  I'm Santa's elk!  Yay!  I'm an elk!

sigh...no, actually...I think you were right the first time.  
You're a dork.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


The utility company called this week and told me they were conducting routine maintenance in my area.  There would be an interruption in my service for approximately 2 hours on Thursday afternoon.  They apologized for any inconvenience this might cause me, but I should plan for a loss of power and make sure I could continue my afternoon's activities with that in mind.  Simple stuff.  Not a big deal.

But what if someone really did call you one day and tell you they were going to turn off your power.  Your own power.  Hm.  It makes you rethink power.

Power doesn't always beam and sparkle.  Sometimes power lets you stay in the dark.  Shields you from knowing.   

Power doesn't always push.  Or pull.  Power doesn't always make things move.  Sometimes power holds you very still.  Sometimes power holds your tongue.

Power doesn't always grip tightly.  Sometimes power lets go.

Power doesn't always heat it up, or keep it cold.  Sometimes power just lets it be.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Real vs. Make Believe ...continued.

Well, shit.  I guess there's more.  But that's just it right...there's always more to the story.  And that's how I got so hung up yesterdayGo there and catch up if you're feeling a little behind.

I started off with a simple comparison.  Real vs. make believe.  I was actually going to be funny and tell you that one of my favorite parts of the whole photo shoot experience was how at the end of the night, after many laughs and expressions of relief; after spending some hours together as friends and a glass of champagne we stood in the foyer to gather bags and put on boots and my girlfriend looked down at my stocking feet and the conversation went just about like this,

"What kind of weird socks are those?" 
"Those aren't socks, they're spanx!"
"What?  They go all the way up like Oprah?"
"Yep, all the way up to my padded bra...this body is a work of fiction baby!"
"No Way!"
"Yep...I used to be big and I have some leftover skin.  And my babies sucked the life out of my sagging boobs.  Nice right?"

And then...the most amazing thing happened.  My other friend whipped her shirt up and showed off hers too.  Like I said, we're all hiding a little something.  I hide my unglamorous bits with shapewear and enhance my deflated bits with engineered undergarments.  And that's the reality.  And it's funny because the relief came from the connection I made with my friend about our little shared secret.

I'm not sure how my thoughts yesterday got so hung up and why I couldn't just write about that revelation and let it go at that.  In the same way that I am certainly more than any picture/essay/evening on the town will show you, I am also less than that.  Certainly there's more to the story...but there's also less.  The parts of me that I fix up show you what I think you need to see.  Or do they show you what I think I need to be?  Ugh...maybe both.

1904's comment gracefully blasted right into the mess I was dealing with as I wrote yesterday.  Thank you sir.  As a writer, I am in the midst of a major struggle with how to capture Truth but still enjoy the art and the crafting of it.  Because that's what I do...whether you choose to see that or not.  He calls it a Problem of Depiction.  Yes.  What to say and what to leave out?  Which stories to tell straight up and which ones to embroider a bit?  Which truths to tell and which truths to leave out?  That's the one that nags at me...as a writer of non-fiction.  It's a blog not a novel, but it's also not my personal journal.  It's a collection of essays.  And it is all true.  I don't make stuff up.  But I do leave stuff out...and that tells a story too.

Or maybe it lets the reader think what they will.  Because as 1904 says, if I know the truth about padded bras and children who refuse to eat exotic foods sometimes and marriages that have just as many defeats as they do victories then somebody else knows the truth too, right?  If a reader chooses to use my broad strokes of content to paint a picture of my reality then there is nothing I can do about that.  We are not what other people think we are...ugh...

But I'm mad at people for that.  There.  I said it.  I'm frustrated that people think I am things that I am not.  But now we're back to where I started.  People think I am these things partly because I want them to.  I am not intending to be fake when I enhance the reality, but the fact that I think I need to makes me question why I feel like it's important to do so in the first place.  I am not intending to be untruthful when I spare some of the details, but the fact that I do shakes my confidence as a writer because there are parts of my life that I fail to mention.

There's probably even more here to say.  And do.  And think about.  But tomorrow is another day.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Real vs. Make Believe

I was recently asked to be photographed for the cover of a local women's magazine.  I know right...that tiny statement needs way more explanation...but I'll get to that another day.

They wanted me to get some girlfriends together for a photo shoot.  There was an article about real women and real places and real struggles.  And they needed a picture.  Of real women.  Real friends.

So we gathered, after real stress about outfits and haircuts...to match or not to match?  We smiled and really laughed...just be natural, say something funny, promise you won't get my butt in this shot, don't knock over that tree.  We gave the photographer what she needed and headed home for a glass of real champagne...Congrats, you were awesome!  You're so funny.  That wasn't so bad.  So true, so true.  

And I started thinking about that finished cover shot.  Those real friends.  Those real women.  And what we were making you believe in that picture.

You know for certain that an image of a giraffe with blue spots and a top hat is a charming work of make believe.  The readers of this local magazine are expecting real life on the cover next month.  Who shall we tell them was photographed that day?  That skinny girl in the middle of the holiday scene wearing the designer vest and the knowing smile...she is exactly as real as the be-speckled giraffe.  

We are all hiding something.  Leaving out just enough that our message is still true.  Creating a certain type of make believe to be consumed by the public.  How we look can create a very confusing set of facts.  How would you know what I'm hiding unless I told you?  The short answer...you wouldn't.  But most of the time you don't really want to know.  I can't go around displaying the whole reality all of the time.  It's messy.  It's ugly.  It's complicated.  It doesn't need to be all out there all of the time.  And I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing that I only show you a tiny slice of the big picture.

So the question is...If I don't give you the real story, if I leave things out...is that make believe?  If the unglamorous stuff gets crafted right out of the picture does that make it imaginary?  The well crafted reality that is my personal style and my writing style...is it make believe?

I honestly don't know.  But it's got me thinking, and that's a good thing.  Thinking about what my outside says about my inside and what my writing says about my living.

Thinking about the real people in my life and what I'm trying to make them believe.

...continued here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Little Help for My Friend

...this essay has been re-posted from its original July 2011 date.

Friends are such a blessing.  My friends are such a blessing to me.  If I pause for just an instant in themiddlebit of a busy moment I can call to mind so many moments...with a friend.  So many events.  So many emotions. So many friends.  Girlish frustration and giggling about being made to eat birthday cake with chopsticks; barefoot tennis and hotel room hijinxs that made me laugh so hard I nearly wet my pants; sitting in a college apartment hearing the news of my mother's breast cancer over the phone; falling in love; garage sales and birthday parties and thrift stores and roller coasters and baby girls.  In my mind I can look to the left and the right and see my friends.  And there I am.  In the middle.

I have celebrated with them.  Cleaned up with them.  Laughed and cried with them.  Climbed mountains and slogged through the mud.  And when they call out, "I need some help."  I jump up and run over.  It's what I do.  It's part of what makes me who I am.

Last February, my dear friend Maria called out, "Help."  She called out to her friends with the news she was in desperate need of us.  Of help.  She called out to tell us that all was not fine.  That she had laundry to do and errands to run and two young daughters to mother and dinner to prepare and a husband who was busy...and in the middle of all of that...she had just been diagnosed with lung cancer.  Lung cancer.  In her 40's.  She called out, "Help."

She needed meals prepared and a few loads of laundry done.  She needed someone to pick her kids up from school and someone else to keep her girls while she spent hours on the phone arranging medication and having x-rays and scans and endless visits with doctors.  And I wanted to be one of the friends that could rush right over and help.

But I live in the Middle.  And she lives 1,500 miles away.  And I was paralyzed.  I wanted to bring her family a meal while she was in the hospital.  And scoop up those girls.  And fold laundry.  And run to the drugstore.  I wanted to jump right into the middle of it all and help.  But I couldn't...or so I thought.

Maria is incredibly blessed by her friends too.  She had people to her left and to her right that could do those things for her.  She was in the middle of the fight of her life, but she had her people all around her.  They came.  They washed and cooked and scooped and hugged and supported and drove and sat quietly with her while she drank tea...and so I thought...

What can I do?  What can I do?  Maria once said to me, "Lady!  You should write a book!  I would totally buy your book!  And then I'd buy a bunch more copies for all of my girlfriends."  And I laughed her off...heh, I could never write a book...or so I thought.  

But that's just what I've done.  I've written a book about all of the things that happen in the middle.  About the distance from healthy to cured.  About the space where accidents happen and recoveries begin.  About the tiny miracles that can be seen in the chaos and the joys that you miss if you're not looking for them.  About the middle bit.

I have collected and revised all of my most favorite essays from the first years of this blog.  And my sister and some of my friends have taken magnificent photographs to accompany my words.  And now you can buy a copy of it for yourself and know that 100% of the profits from the sale of this book will be donated to Maria's fight.

You won't need to rush out and look for it in your local bookstore because I have done this very modern thing called "self publish" which means you can just follow the link below and order yourself a copy.  It takes just over a week and you'll be able to hold it in your hands and make it part of your collection.

Maria is a treasure in my collection of friends.  I am blessed by her.  And this is the thing I could do when she called out...help.
To purchase a copy of my book, go here:
or contact me directly and I will hand deliver a signed copy.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Halloween Rewrite

Sung to the tune of Train's "Soul Sister"...of course.  

Hey, hey, hey.

Your chocolate stains, Oh the kind that give my cleaners pains,
You know I can’t live without you, And so to lots of stains I am resigned.
Your sweet dark beans, the smell of you in every pocket of my jeans,
I know that it’s misguided, you’re the one I have decided was just my kind.

Hershey kisses, all others are misses, in the candy bowl, lose control, the way you melt it moves my soul.
Hershey Kisses, I don't want to miss a single tiny piece of you...tonight.

Hey, hey, hey...

Just in time, little children bring their loot bags home to me.
They notice some is missing, I look at them with love and just deny.
I just can’t quit, I’ll gorge on you until my biggest pants won’t fit.
I’ll be eating you, like the apple, that the serpent gave to Eve and then she ate and damned mankind.

Hershey kisses, all others are misses, in the candy bowl, lose control, the way you melt it moves my soul.
Hershey Kisses, I don't want to miss a single tiny piece of you...tonight.

The way you can top a cake, eating  could not be a mistake
So bitter, you’re so sweet, you're my favorite little chocolate treat
You see, when I know your flags waving at me, you’re the only chocolate I see.
I want the world to see you go, in me

Hershey kisses, all others are misses, in the candy bowl, lose control, the way you melt it moves my soul.
Hershey Kisses, I don't want to miss a single tiny piece of you tonight.
Hershey Kisses, I don't want to miss a single tiny piece of you...tonight. 
Hey, hey, hey...tonight.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sold Out

There was a party.  And ohhhh, there were these brownies.  And flowers, beautiful flowers.  And the tabletops were sparkling with glasses of this marvelous pink creation.  And all these people everywhere; husband, sister, daughters, friends, neighbors, colleagues.  And there were books...so many copies of my book that we had to label them so everyone would know which one was theirs.  It was amazing. 

"Read!  Read!", the people cried.  So I did.  I managed not to cry, but apparently some of them did.  They laughed at all the right parts and heard me tell them again and again how grateful I was to them for buying my book.  There was much gathering in the kitchen, but there always is.  Then it was all over, and they slipped out into the darkness...goodnight, thank you for coming, time to read, tell your friends, here take some desserts.  The counters were littered with cocktail napkins and champagne corks.  The piles of desserts were dramatically reduced and the book table was empty.  Not a single copy left.

Good party.

Don't worry...if you are still waiting to purchase your copy, I ordered more today.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

You are This. You are Here.

The dizzying conversation with the three year old went something like this,

"What is today, Mom?"
Today is Wednesday, Minnie.
"What is tomorrow?"
"Tomorrow is Thursday?"
Yes, Minnie.
"What is after that?"
"What is before today?"
"I know, Maaaahhm.  What is yesterday?"
Yesterday was Tuesday.

She was just about finished with the conversation when she said, "And today is today, so I better go get dressed for dancing school," and walked out of the room.

Yes.  Today is today.

Today is not yesterday or tomorrow.  Today is not what you didn't get finished yesterday or what you're gearing up for tomorrow.  It's not last week when you yelled about candy corn pumpkins or ate too many carbs.  It's not next month when you might be 5 pounds thinner or caught up on all the Fall yard work.

Today is today.  You are this.  Today.  You are here.  Today.  This day.  So you'd better go get dressed for today so you'll be ready.  Because there will never be another day like today. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Are You an Up or a Down?

You're such an "up" person all the time, Nancy.  I wish I could be more like that.  Yeah...not so much...when I really think about it.  I'm more of a "down" girl.

I'm always ready for a throw down and a double down.

I'm happy to give you the run down and  function exceptionally well when time is down to the wire.

My favorite part of the work out is the cool down.

I love to lie down, boogie down, get down, chow down and wind down.

I'm not really into the "ups".  Taken all together as a big list or separately, none of these really feel like me.

I don't like to be fed up or screwed up.

I don't ever want to wake up, suck it up, give up, man up or dry up.

It's so unpleasant to throw up, get knocked up and be shook up.

I don't want to do a push up OR a chin up.

Don't tell me to shut up, loosen up or ease up.

Yeah...I'm definitely a downer.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Time for Bed

Mom!  Look!  It's a vest!  It's pajamas!
It's va-jamas!

Heh.  Nice.  You are so clever!
Now, go to bed!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dump It

Habits are software, not hardware.

Might be time for an upgrade.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It Just Hit Me

Sometimes, you have to go looking for inspiration.

Sometimes, you are looking in the back of the freezer for a container of frozen orange juice and inspiration  falls out of the door, knocks you on the head and cracks open as it hits the floor, spilling its itty bitty slivered contents all over the floor.

A mess?  Or inspiration?

It's all in how you see it.

I saw the almonds on the floor, (which was mostly free of black dog hair allowing me to scoop them up and find that I had the exact amount I needed,) and the rosemary sprig on the windowsill and thought..."Focaccia!" 

Now, that may not be what your first thought is when you are standing in a nutty mess smelling piney freshness...but it was mine.  And if you're smart, which I know you are, you'll give this recipe a second thought some time.  It's super easy, looks gorgeous, makes a huge pile of bread and tastes delish! 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What's the Point?

You might not have known this about me, but have this little side job as the leader of a group of people who get together once a week to talk about struggling with food and behaviors and healthy living and some of the finer Points of weight loss.  I am so inspired by this group of losers (as I affectionately call them because collectively they have lost nearly 1,000 pounds over the years) that I cannot believe someone pays me to do this job. 

Today, at our meeting I asked them to bring "before" pictures of themselves and clothing that they no longer wear because of their shrinking waistlines.  They came.  They showed pictures.  They shared stories.  They modeled ridiculously over-sized clothing.  And all sorts of things were said about why they continued to make the effort to transform their lives and their bodies.  These people are amazing.

I can sum up the sentiment of all the things said in two short sentences.  The struggles.  The highs.  The lows.  The challenges and victories.  Two sentences.

Once your head is in the game, your butt has no choice but to follow along.

When we weigh less...we are way more.

Thank you to my Tuesday ladies and gentleman.  You are truly an inspiration.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The List

I sent him to the store with a list.  He is perfectly willing to go...a real gem that guy.  So I prepared a short list; chicken, club soda, milk, apples.

He came home with these too...

Damn him for not sticking to the list.   

He's a real gem that guy.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Give Us This Day...Flatbread

A little inspiration.

A need to assemble dinner.

Nothing on hand but some simple ingredients.

20 minutes.


I had to fight my husband back with a fork in order to have enough pieces leftover for this shot.  It was all gone once I determined that the picture turned out well enough to post.  Yes, it's that good.  And yes, it's that easy.

Rosemary Flatbread
All of the credit for this recipe goes to Deb.  She has a wonderful foodie blog that I love to salivate over.  Go visit her for inspiration and know that she creates all of her amazing food in a kitchen that is 42 square feet.  Whoa!

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary plus 2 (6-inch) sprigs
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil plus additional for brushing
sea salt

This is what you'll need to start with.  Go visit Deb for all the fabulous directions.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Note to Self: Invite People In

There are some things in life that you can do all by yourself. 

And there are other things that simply cannot be done alone.
No matter how hard you try.
I try really hard.
My husband says I am one of the most trying people he knows.
But some things simply cannot be done alone.
I need to remember that.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Way You Do It

There's pizza...

and then there's pizza.
 There's anything...

and then there's something more.

What are you gonna do?

Karen says, "The way you do anything is the way you do everything."  I think that's just about the truest thing ever.  Ever.

*just in case you need to know...this pizza is made with my traditional crust (recipe can be found on this blog) with pesto instead of red sauce, some leftover rotisserie chicken, Asiago cheese, red onion and red grapes.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Not Proud. Proud.

I am not proud of my behavior yesterday in the produce aisle of our local market.  But there it is...I was furious.  I let it out...in a mostly safe way...and then I immediately moved on.  It was kindof amazing.  Like the scary valve on the top of a pressure cooker...once I let it out, my anger was completely gone...hmmm, lesson to be learned here perhaps?

Anyway, I am proud of something else.  I have invented a drink.  An adult beverage.  A cocktail!  Well...to be honest, I haven't actually invented the drink itself...I have given it a new name.  A style makeover of sorts.  Seriously upped its "coolness factor".  When you combine 2 parts club soda and 1 part red wine some folks call it a Red Wine Spritzer.  I've always felt that a Spritzer would be the kind of drink somebody named Muffy would order.  Very fah-ncy.  So, we renamed it.

When you want to be served 2 parts club soda and 1 part of Beaujolais (red wine) over ice in a big girl glass in our house, you order a...


Makes that bottle of red last a lot longer...nice. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

You Can't Buy Just One

A quick trip.  A short list.  That's all it was supposed to be.  But it wasn't.  And there was a melt down.  And it was ugly.

I was just finishing up in the produce section of our local market, cart loaded with scallions, peppers and the first Honeycrisps of the season when I was stopped by a friend I hadn't seen in awhile.  Pleasant small talk ensued.  Children were remarkably patient.  Plans were made to get together soon...and then it happened. 

I looked over my friend's left shoulder and saw them.  The bulk bin full of little candy corn pumpkins.  A Fall favorite that has been a lifelong struggle for me.  WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY DOING IN THE STORE IN SEPTEMBER?!?!?!?  I cannot eat just one.  When they are in the house, I cannot stay away from them.  I used to buy them, and then hide them...but it turns out, I'm not stupid and I always remember where I hid them.  And I would just keep eating them until I was sick.  Not sick of them...literally sick, because I had eaten an irresponsible amount of them.  So now I don't buy them until right before Halloween, knowing full well, that I will eat them all.  But then it will be over.  Damage done.  Damage contained to one reckless incident.

So I just walked away.  I walked away.  Knees quivering.  Mouth watering.  Strength dissolving.  Walked away.  Focused hard on my list and moved on to bread and milk and other necessary items.  Mostly recovered, and safely surrounded by salad dressings and other innocuous condiments I began to falter again.

What if I bought just one?  Paid for it so I could truly appreciate the cost, both monetary and caloric, and limited myself like this until the October gorge could begin?  Bulk bin, right?  Sold by weight.  This will work.  I nearly tipped the cart over in my rush to do a u-turn in aisle 7 and made my way back to the other end of the store.  Fighting the urge to stick my whole head inside the bin as I lifted the protective lid, I nudged the scooper in and selected just one confection.  One itty bitty fruit of the vine.  One.  I carefully dropped it into the overly large plastic bulk bag, handed my 3 year old a free apple and turned to place it in my cart...

"Um.  Excuse me ma'am," came the embarrassed whisper of the pimply faced produce adolescent.  "You can't buy just one.  It won't register on the scale at the checkout.  You have to buy at least a whole scoop full."  A scoop full!?  Do you have any idea how many of these little pumpkins I can fit in my mouth at once!?  I don't want a whole scoop full!  It has taken me 15 minutes to build up the strength to buy just one and now you tell me I can't have just one!  My face must have whitened as I fought the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach and shakily turned towards him.  He really did look apologetic, but he had no idea how sorry he was about to be.

"But I only want one," I explained to him, trying to remain calm.

"If you like, you could totally have a "free sample" of one today," was his brilliant solution.  He's feeling soooo clever.  Like he's doing me a favor or something...aarrggghhhhh!  My mind was flooded with images of me hitting this market several times a day to pick up my free sample...get a grip girl.  This is irrational.  You have already decided to pay for this pumpkin.  Money and calories.  Totally worth it...can't buy a scoop full and limit myself to just one a day...have tried that in the past.  Doesn't.  Work.  Oh God...why did he have to offer me a free sample.  

"Can't you just put a price sticker on it for me?  Like maybe 10 cents or something?  I am happy to pay for it.  It's not a problem."  I could hear my voice getting panicky.  Ridiculous, I know.  Don't judge me.

"Um.  No ma'am.  I'm sorry. The bulk stuff isn't labeled for individual sale."

My mind was racing again.  Maybe I could buy the damn scoop full and throw the rest of them away in the trash can right outside of the store...no, probably not capable of that.  This is stupid.  Actually it's quite amazing how fast my mind is working right now.

Back to reality.  "Um, ma'am.  Did you want that free sample?"

"No thank you.  I'll just pass for today," I whispered in defeat and handed him the bag with the solitary orange pumpkin.  And just as I was turning my back to head towards the checkout I saw him toss the whole thing into the trash can next to the bulk bins.  Water welling in my eyes and mouth dropping open I spun around and caught his eye.

"I have to throw it out.  You touched it and now we can't sell it to anyone else," was his pathetic explanation.

Shaking.  Fuming.  Trying not to completely lose it in front of my child and the other unsuspecting shoppers, I gripped my cart for support, swung around so I could roll right past him and said...

"I hope you're happy.  You just crushed my soul.  I wish I could see things from your point of view, but I can't seem to get my head that far up my ass.  Have a nice day."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My...What Big Eyes You Have

They are actually not his eyes at all.  They are just spots on his flesh meant to look like eyes in an attempt to scare away children with sticks predators.  This tiny crawler will one day become a swallowtail butterfly, but for now he just goes about the business of trying to get filled up with enough leaf and when you look at him, you see eyes.  But that's what you're supposed to see.  When you look closely you can see his real eyes...but you have to get really close.  He's busy and he needs you to think he's fierce.  But he's so fragile.

I do this.  I wear an outer shell that looks very much like something it is not.  Just like that swallowtail, my exterior is also meant to scare away children with sticks predators.  My outward appearance says 'I've totally got this all handled' and 'managing my life is such a cinch'.  On the outside you see calm and balanced and tall. (It's funny to me how people always think I'm tall.  I'm only 5'6".  I think tall is what I want you to see, so I wear tall shoes and a tall personality.  But I'm not tall.)   I'm just going about the difficult business of managing two jobs and three children and an extremely busy husband.  I'm just trying to get filled with enough sleep and exercise and spaciousness and peace so I can make it through the day.  I'm busy and sometimes I need you to think that I'm fierce.  But I'm so fragile.

We all do this.  We all wear things on our outsides that are not what they seem.  We are all just going about the business of getting filled up.  But when we let people get close, they can see the real parts.  The parts that are what they seem to be.  And that is amazing.

Monday, September 19, 2011

At the Top of the Stairs

I try to be efficient when I clean and straighten the house.  I do not run willy nilly from room to room or up and down the stairs again and again returning things to their proper place.  This approach, which works very well, often leaves me with a small pile at the top of the stairs.  Usually, I try to grab a handful of items when I'm headed up or down.  But today just as I was about to finish with my piles, I realized I had misjudged my time and needed to shower quickly before the school bus arrived, my kindergartener flew in the door, we scooped up the little one and ran out the door to do a few errands.  So consequently that pile at the top of the stairs was forgotten.

Forgotten when the unattended 3 year old watched Dora while I showered.

Forgotten when we left the house.

Forgotten when we returned, arms loaded with bags of groceries and piles of papers from the school bags.

Forgotten when we settled in for an afternoon of Legos and dress up play.

Forgotten when the big sister returned from school and we zipped around to get ready for dancing school.

Forgotten numerous times today as we all ran right by.

Tonight when I looked again at the top of the stairs and saw the pile I was not frustrated by the fact that my family ignored the pile and chose not to help me return items to their proper place.  Tonight I was not feeling like the unappreciated servant that seems to be the only one who actually sees the piles.

Tonight, I realized how lucky I am to have 3 young children who will ignore a pile like that 20 times in a day as they run past.  I was grateful for my safe walls, my un-punctured furniture and the lack of broken bones, of any kind, in my house on this lovely Fall evening.

 *Pictured, just as they sit, in their pile at the top of the stairs; a 5 pound rubber coated steel mallet, one screw driver and a paper bag full of packing peanuts.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Gridlock...in The Middle

*Photo credit, Dawn Patterson 2011

Depending on what your plans are for the day, there might be quite a bit of traffic.  Lots of things getting in your way.  You have a choice...you always have a choice whether or not you choose to admit it...you can either be patient and wait for the things in your way to move along.  Or get their shoes or turn left or finish writing their check or walk faster!  Or you can choose to do something else.

Is it worth waiting?  Is it something that must be done today? 
If you skip it today will the opportunity be there tomorrow? 
Will this be a miss out or a skip out?
Are there actually things in your way?  Are you getting in your own way?

In the spirit of "Harvest Time" I promised my recipe for pesto.   Because I would have missed out on over 50 servings of pesto if I had chosen to do something else yesterday.  The basil needed to be picked and cleaned and married with cheese.  There are lots of ways to make pesto.  This is how I make pesto.  It is good. 

4 cups basil, lightly packed
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or 1/4 cup Parmesan and 1/4 Asiago)
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well combined.  Use within 3 days or freeze.  I spoon it into ice cube trays and cover the trays with plastic wrap for the initial freeze.  When solid, I take them out and re-wrap them in groups of 5 "pesto cubes" because that is the amount we need for our family to have with gnocchi (our favorite winter pasta choice.)  Each cube is approximately 2 tablespoons of pesto or 1 serving.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

How's That for Interaction!

Facebook is not the solution to the problem of feeling disconnected.  Facebook does not keep a list of who your true friends are.  Facebook does not contain a record of how your friends are truly feeling.  Facebook does not bring people together, it keeps them at home.  Alone.  Interacting with their devices instead of their people. 

That being said...the following is a picture of me interacting with Facebook.  I am displaying this exuberant image of my unwashed, pajama clad self as a way to connect with all of you.  What you cannot miss is how truly overjoyed I am at the status I am reading on my Facebook news feed.  The news that my true friend, my actual real life friend who also happens to be my Facebook friend, is celebrating some amazing news and if I could run up and crush her with my hugs and tears of joy, I would.

She is 2,000 miles away.  I am in my pajamas.  We'll get to that hug some other day.

Facebook is not everything...but it's something.

Friday, September 16, 2011

First and Last

This was the first tomato sandwich I ever ate.  While on vacation this summer in North Carolina I was introduced to this southern gem.  Lightly toasted bread, with a wee scrape of mayo, fat chunks of July ripened tomato and a twist of sea salt.   Enjoyed on the back porch on a gorgeous summer day.  Couldn't be more simple.  Couldn't be more delicious.

This is the tomato sandwich I ate for lunch today.  That same southern gem with my own spin... 
Lightly toasted cheese and chive challah bread, made by me, a generous schmear of locally produced chevre cheese, topped with the last wee tomatoes from this year's garden and a shake of sea salt.  Enjoyed in the warm kitchen, because it's too cold to eat outside today.  Couldn't be more simple.  Couldn't be more delicious.  Couldn't be more somber.  Mournful.  Depressing.  A pathetic harbinger of impending doom.

...Wait?  What....where did this post go awry?

Well, dear readers, this is the last tomato sandwich of the season, for tonight, I plan to commit herbicide.  The frost will come and I will not get out the old sheets.  The cold will snap and I will let it.  The basil has been harvested.  The cukes collected.  And those final little reds sliced and diced for the season's final nosh.

It was delicious and all the more sweet because it was the last.  

Stay tuned...tomorrow I will be processing 5 paper bags full of basil.  Pesto anyone?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Good Advice

When life gives you lemons...make lemonade.   
True.  Not useful this evening.

When life breaks your corkscrew...open a screw cap.   
Yes!  Thank goodness for the wine truck!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wine Truck

Mona says... 

"This is a wine truck.  It delivers wine to people's houses so they don't have to go out and get it themselves.  You can place any kind of order.  It will bring you wine from California or Michigan or even from Italian.  This truck will also bring you extra stems if you run out of glasses for all of your wine people.  It is a very wonderful invention"

Legos are the new favorite toy around our house and I have no idea  know exactly why my children would build a vehicle of this type instead of some sort of spaceship thingy.

It is a very wonderful invention!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

STOP! Thank you for not climbing...

Ahhhh.  The zoo.  Wildlife up close.

Here, a mother primate interacts with her offspring. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

It's Just as Good as a Tree

The situation is, we do not have a tree in our yard large enough for my girls to climb.  They want one.  They asked me to plant a tree of sufficient size.  And they were not happy when I explained that you can't just plant a tree that big.  You have to put in a small one and wait.  Years.  "But Maaahhhhhm.  We want to climb."

My children don't have a climbing tree in their yard.  My children don't have a lot of things.  Ten years ago too many people didn't get to wake up on September 12th and be sad about what they didn't have.  I am sad for the people who wake up everyday and don't see what they do have.  How long have you been waiting for something to appear?  How long have you been seeing something only as the world sees it?   

Is it because you lost someone?  Or something?  Or failed, or missed an opportunity, or simply screwed up?  We fold our tragedies into the layers of our lives.  We build on them.  They either raise us up and make us more solid or rock our foundations and make us unstable.  Your tragedies may not look like anyone else's, but make no mistake...the towers we build collapse all the time.

How many days did you waste wishing for something to be true...that just wasn't?
Stop.  Be grateful for what it is.  Or make it into something else.

See what you do have.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Today everyone's talking about it.  Writing about it.  Thinking about it.  And I don't even know what to say.  So I am not going to say anything.

It's not that I don't think its important.  Truly.  I think it's a very important question, "Where were you...?"

I have an answer to that question.  Everyone does.  Everyone.

It's just that I think a more pertinent question is, "Where are you now?"

I am here.  In the Middle.  With the man who was with me back on that day, and three little girls who have come along since then. 

Here.  On the parade route with three little girls who stood up and waved their flags and sang the national anthem.

Here.  Happier.  Healthier.  More connected.  More grounded.

Everyone who was alive on that day has traveled from there to Here. 

Where are you now?  That's what I'd like to know...