Monday, December 31, 2007


the last day of the year.


what i really hope for this year is that americans will take the recent and not so recent events worldwide and be appreciative of their ability to vote in "free, fair, and democratic" elections.

(i put that in quotes for obvious reasons, but the sentiment stands)

without having to riot, without assassination, and without the battle battle battle to put a ballot in a box.

sure, our elections process on all levels could use more oversight and they are far. from. perfect.

BUT, fuck man. we have the right to vote!!! there are people in this world who can't even imagine that right. who will work all of their lives and battle all of their lives and will never. have. that. right.

and even when the system breaks down and doesn't work, oh and it does, we still get to vote. which means we get chance after chance to try and change it. it does do good. it really does.

not voting is not sending a message. not voting is a threat to democracy.

so i say 2008 is the year to stop bitching about what is and seek positive change for what can be.

and you can start by using your right to vote again and again and again and again and again.

if the bulk of the voting population actually voted, rather than these dismal numbers we generally see, we'd see the difference it can really make. but we also have to be willing to keep voting and be patient for the shift.

and isn't it cool we can do that without risking life and limb and liberty?

so lets make 2008 the year we encourage one another to use our right to vote and make steps towards positive change.

here's to a happy new year!


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

rookie mom move.

you'd think after nearly 11 years at this gig and countless years before as a nanny i'd know the basics.

you know, keep the kid fed, wiped down, and always have a hat/snack/drink on hand.

but two nights ago i threw myself my own wrench. proving that the basics have far reaching tentacles that can mess with the program at. any. time.

it was the second to the last night of hanukkah and the boybarians received a card game. a card game requiring 4 or more players.

i know, huh? what the hell? and when i relayed this story to others the reactions were one of two

"wow, i'm really surprised you missed that."

and you can just hear their cogs a turning reviewing all they previously held as favorable opinion of my skills as a mother.


"what in the hell were you smoking!"

and then you just hear laughter of the 'you are so screwed' variety.


my kids LOVE games. my husband and i DO NOT. i always tell the duke he was born into the wrong family. that somewhere out there his real family exists. a family filled with game playing freaks.

and wingman wins every game he plays no matter what so he's ALWAYS down for a game. surprising.

i can't believe i didn't read the box. the ideal situation gone horribly wrong. a new game is good for at least three days of the kids playing it together, elsewhere in another part of the house. three blissful days of something to do that doesn't have to do with me.

unless you don't read the box. and you purchase and give a game that requires 4 or more players.

i have, and will continue to suffer the consequences and not be so cavalier in the future. i can't afford to be.

in other news, i informed the boybarians we will be moving their desks upstairs to their room.

this will serve two purposes. one, though they rarely use their desks for school, a dedicated space somewhere away from everyone else might be quite attractive.

and two, the duke's desk looks like a yard sale gone wrong and just left in the yard without ever being packed back up, and wingman's desk isn't much better. except right after he cleans it, then he takes every little tchotchke he owns and "displays" them on his tiny desk rendering it deserted gift shop creepy and absolutely useless.

anyhow, i was explaining this and letting the duke know that i knew that the finish on his desk was not conducive to writing and i would get him a blotter so he could have a smooth surface.

then he said

"yeah, and i'll need a coffee mug that says 'world's best boss', too. you know, for my pencils."

well, he got the 'boss' part right.

now all he needs is that suit and he's set.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

easy, quick, and good!

and no, i'm not talking about your girlfriend.

i made this last night. it's easy because it uses 2 ready made ingredients which i am not used to using...but it turned out so good! and it was quick, which was even more important last night.

from gourmet. sorta translated by me.

(sorry, no pictures. but it looked really good plated up!)

parmesan crusted polenta with sausage mushroom ragout

1 1/2 lb to 2 lb precooked polenta (in a tube)
1/3 c grated parmesan
2 TBS olive oil, divided
1lb sweet italian sausage (i used turkey last night)
1/2 lb mixed sliced wild mushrooms (could use regular)
1/2 c dry red wine (any red will do)
1 1/2 c ready made marinara sauce

preheat broiler

slice polenta log into 8, 1/2 inch rounds (recipe called for 4, which was NOT enough)

place on lightly oiled heavy baking sheet and broil 3-4 inches from broiler for about 7 mins or until little golden brown spots appear on polenta.

turn polenta over and sprinkle generously with the cheese. broil for about 7 more minutes or until a bit more browned than the first side. remove from broiler.

meanwhile heat a heavy 12 inch skillet over medium high heat and add 1 TBS of the olive oil until shimmery. remove sausage from the casings and break up with a spatula. cook until *just* cooked through, about 4 mins.

remove sausage to the bowl, leaving the rendered fat behind. add the other 1 TBS of olive oil and cook mushrooms until soft, about 3 mins.

add the wine and bring to a boil scraping any bits off the bottom that stuck. continue to boil until wine is reduced by half, about 2 mins.

stir in the sausage and tomato sauce and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. salt and pepper to taste. i found it needed pepper. but that's me.

put two polenta rounds slightly overlapping on plate, cheese side up, spoon a generous helping of the ragout over the rounds and offer more parmesan cheese at the table. serve with a green salad.


cook's notes:

i had two complaints about the original recipe. the first was they only called for 1 polenta round a person. fine for kids, but adults need at least two apiece. i changed the amount up top to reflect this.

the other was the cost. ready made sauce, precooked polenta (need it for the tube shape) and the mushrooms made it a bit pricier than i like. BUT, you pay for the easy and the quick. and, you can substitute regular mushrooms and red wine you already have whether it's *dry* or not, or any wine you purchase to drink to cut down on the cost. it need not be pricey.

also, regular sausage (which the recipe calls for) is cheaper than turkey sausage. but i was going for health. you pay for THAT too!

now, i will make my case for boxed wines. they are better than they used to be. the technology has greatly improved, so the taste is unaffected. AND they last well over a month after opening. PLUS you get 4 bottles in a box, and since they are not individually bottled they are several dollars cheaper *per bottle* over all.

some good brands are black box, three thieves, and delicato. i know i know, anyone who grew up in the central valley will remember delicato as being sort of the bottom of the barrel kinda wine. a bit below the old school gallo. you know, before they turned all yup.

not so anymore. it is now a delicious, award winning label and deserves a second try.

does anyone remember that billboard on hwy99? where the wine is being poured into the glass and it looks *real* because it's those little shimmery circles that sway and catch the light and look like the wine is really pouring?

that was my favorite billboard evah! as a kid.

what a surprise.


Monday, December 10, 2007

pa-rum-pum-pum-pum...mmm, rum.

so i took the boybarians to the nutcracker on friday. we did a little bit of studying of tchaikovsky and his music, but i kept the whole ballet thing under my hat.

the duke was familiar with the nutcracker being a ballet from t.v. and the paper, but it was news to wingman.

sure enough about 10 confused minutes it he was like "so, how much longer?"

there were a few parts he really dug. there's a battle and cannons and the chinese dragon was a big hit.

but all the dancing, not so much.

i love ballet. i used to take ballet when i was in college and in my 20s. i totally sucked but i loved it. it's very soothing and comforting to watch.

so we're there and there's a buncha kids and of course the girls are all dressed up, and some of the boys are even wearing suits. great. just what i need to start up the "suit conversation" with the duke.

okay, so some months ago the duke decided he needed a suit.

"for what?"

"just to have."

so then i explain that since he's growing so fast we should probably have an occasion for which to make such a big purchase. and since we're not a suit occasion kind of family i can't see it happening. i mentioned going to a thrift store for a used suit, but he wasn't so into it.

on friday he sees all these kids in suits and he said

"see mama, if i had a suit i could have worn it today."

"i agree. if you really want a suit, let's try the thrift stores after christmas. kids usually get a suit and wear it once before outgrowing it. i bet you could find something"

"no. i'd rather go to the men's warehouse. i bet they've got a lot of great suits."

seriously, where is the rum-pum-pum-pum.

then we continued our urban holiday adventure with a stop at the restaurant where their uncle is executive chef. it's all floor to ceiling windows and wrought iron and singles. and apparently the busiest, most happening restaurant in the city.

we asked the hostess for a table and she said

"wow. okay, you can have a table but we are booked solid so i'll have to have it back by six."

it was 4pm so i knew we were good. but i said

"what if we aren't out by six?"

she did not think that was funny. no sir.

so this is a wine bar and they specialize in small plates for tasting with the wines and all that.

the kid's menu does not have all the fried crap that is de rigueur on most kid's menus and instead offers all kinds of good stuff, healthy stuff. salmon and veggies, things like that.

of course this makes no impression on wingman whatsoever, who promptly ordered macaroni and cheese because that's just how he rolls and he makes no apologies.

the duke abandoned kid's menus years ago and while i was perusing the wine list, or binder i should say!, the duke is looking at the small plates. he says

"the queso azul served with fig jam and crackers, and the drunken figs with shaved proscuitto look good."

indeed. add in a glass of aptly named "writer's block" syrah and we'll call it good.

they also had a milk flight. which is four tasters of flavored milk served in wine glasses. very cool.

then we actually got to sit with their uncle and chat a bit, which is a rarity because we never see him. i have known this man well over a decade and can i say when my sister first met him he didn't know how to go grocery shopping and when i first met him i swear he ate delivery pizza and ben and jerry's every night. he started out washing dishes when they moved here, and now, bon appetit is requesting his recipes and he's in a cookbook and the restaurant is very very successful. it's nice to see someone you love do well.

it was a nice afternoon and lo and behold we were gone by six. because i'm all about making the people happy.

and then just to spice things up we added in a mad dash to the ferry in three inch high heeled boots. i didn't fall, thank god, but i almost did and i am ashamed to admit i reached out for wingman to steady myself. i'm not proud of this, using my own small child with the very real possibility of taking him down with me.

BUT, i didn't fall in front of a crowd and i think there's a LOT of value in that.

so i make it to the ticket counter and i'm all worried about making the ferry because they called last boarding and i'm sweaty and discombobulated and the ferry guy asks

"are these your two kids?"


"so they're the men in your life, huh?"


"are there any more men in your life?"

oh. really. okay.

"yeah, there's another one at home."

"is it another son?"

seriously? okay so here i am in a huge hurry and this man is flirting with me? can i say nobody ever flirts with me! and here it is at the worst possible time and he's whippin' out the lines and the sly smile. glad to see he's got all the time in the world.

"oh, no, it's a husband."

"ah. i see."

i give him my sweaty smile and dash to the boat and make it on just as they're stretching the little chain across.

and just when i'm smugly thinking that this old girl still has it enough to inspire flirtation there isn't one. seat. to. be. had. on. the. ferry. and then when we do find three together, we find that the third seat is being occupied by the newspaper of the man in the fourth seat.

"oh, do you mind?"i ask indicating the paper and giving him the newly minted obviously flirtation inspiring smile to which he replies

"i'm saving this seat."

"oh. of course."

and then for the entirety of the 35 minute sailing no one else ever shows up and i ride with wingman all the way on my lap.


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

the early bird gets to wake me up first.

so yesterday morning before i had even hauled my ass out of bed wingman came in and announced he had finished his math assignment and done his spelling. then he shoved a book under my nose and said

"and i want to make a compass!"


i do love his enthusiasm and eagerness. i love it more two hours later in the morning, when school actually starts, but i'll take what i can get.

so you might have heard about some weather here in our fair state. it's cause a LOT of destruction and damage and disruption and some people have died. a bridge near us is completely gone, part of the interstate is under water, and so many homes across the state have flooding of water or mud or have been submerged to their rafters in flood water. not to mention the mudslides eating up homes and carrying cars away.

every year the storms are getting worse. there's more death and damage.

instead of the republicans bickering over policy and when life begins and the democrats campaigning against a lame duck president who can't even run again perhaps they could give a bit more priority to the issue of global warming and all it encompasses. and our role in that.

because while i understand that warming is a "natural" trend, this rate of warming is not natural. and since it's only going to get worse maybe perhaps we oughta get crackin'.

just sayin' is all.

just don't tell al about my beast of a truck. shh. we'll just keep that amongst ourselves. poor dear works so hard, i'd hate to bother him with this. or to see him weep.


Monday, December 03, 2007

when it rains it floods.

well, that was fun. a little break. i only wish i can say it will help me get back here more on a regular basis, but i can't. life is busier than ever!

let's see. hmm, what's up? well, the biggest thing recently is that my favorite kitty is gone.

you will remember yancey?

remember he was slated to go to a new home earlier in the summer with his brother, but at the last minute i just.couldn't.part.with.them? and he stayed by my side the whole time i was terribly ill this summer? he's gone and i miss him terribly.

we've done everything from skulk about the animal shelter, to passing out fliers, to posting a lost and found ad on craigs list.


he is adventurous and fearless and curious. i am assuming this caught up with him and he got lost.

i can only hope that his charm and fearlessness has secured him a nice, dry, loving, TEMPORARY home. even if he isn't here with us, at least he wouldn't have become coyote food.

he does have a microchip, so if he was found and "they" do eventually get around to taking him to a vet or whatnot there's a good chance we'll get him back. i just wish "they" would get off their asses and take my kitty in already!!

oh, and as an aside, if you call the microchip people and get put on hold, guess what they play on a loop while you wait? yep, reunited. as in the sappy crappy song from way back when. so here you are all worried and sad about your lost pet and they've got peaches & herb on an everlasting loop of absurdity to comfort you.

more recently, however, this morning we are having record rainfall mixed with nearly a foot of melting snow and just for shits and giggles the sump pump decided to suck up the water in the basement and spew it back into the basement! right on the "dry part" of the basement. the higher part we put all of the stuff the we don't want to get wet if the basement decides to be wet.

good times.

other than that we are readying for the holidays that are on rapid approach. i think the only holiday we don't celebrate is kwanzaa. gotta look into that. in the meantime there is much to do and little time to do it in.

and as usual, this year i am going to attempt to enjoy what the holidays bring, and why we have them, rather than sitting in the corner with the punch bowl full of high-octane egg nog and a straw.

i'll let you know how that all pans out.

in the meantime, could you send out a little thought for my yancey?