Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays

Today I sent out email Christmas cards (which is about as good as it gets for me any more). Now I have to wrap and cook roast beef, tomato soup and mac and cheese (hard mac, as my nephew calls it.)

I'm having a bit of spell of holiday cheer. I love the Christmas email because people email right back to say hello. It's very sweet and reminds me of my good friends and family.

Christmas Eve begins at 5:00. That gives me 2.5 hours. Have a great Christmas if that's the way you roll, as Erik would say. Who picked it up from one of the many times he watched Alvin and the Chipmunks. Because it's a long drive from mountain town to mountain city, but well worth it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

On being sick

Sometimes, I prefer the sick version of me. For the four days I was sick, I learned how to be a better guest--not always getting in the way, worrying about compensating my hosts every twelve minutes by offering to cook or clean or empty the dishwasher. I let Erik's parents, just wake up with Z and play whatever she wanted without saying, Zo, Grandma and Grandpa can't play nonstop. I finally realize they only do this a couple weeks a year. They can get up early. I finally let my mom make me three kinds of toast and tea and find movies for us to watch all day Sunday. I let Val cook tacos without helping or even doing the dishes. I let Erik shop for gifts without worrying if I was doing my fair share. Erik cleaned and shoveled and I just laid in the bed and listened. I think I found an off switch. I kept seeing it in my head. It's electric blue and if I focus on it enough, my brain truly does not speed at a thousand miles an hour.

But being sick also irritates me. I missed a big deal party with for one of my friend's kids. We're trying to repair our friendship and this set us back. I missed a neighborhood party at my friend Sylv's. I missed going downtown every night and I love going downtown when I'm here. I'm also annoyed by realizing how frantic I get in trying to make everyone even--seeing everyone exactly the right number of times. I drive myself nuts and then end up in a crabby mood because I'm always fretting. I don't like being a fretter and I think that's part of the reason I was sick for so long. Also, I was not eating enough yogurt.

It is snowing like crazy up here in the Cove. Perhaps we'll ski tomorrow. Or sled.

I'm actually getting excited for Christmas. Perhaps I should finish shopping? Tomorrow. Today, I have to make up for all the writing I didn't do although I do think I
Plus I have a list of other things due by the end of break.
  • 1st year review (I know. I've been there 3 months. They review yearly.)
  • AWP talk.
  • National teach-in day presentation.
  • Syllabus 1.
  • Syllabus 2 (speaking of which, I'm still getting emails for people asking me to let them into my class. I'm already over by 4 in each! Stop. It's Christmas week!)
  • Holiday cards? New Year's Emails? Some sort of missive into the nonblogging universe saying hello.
My hope for everyone? May no one be sick for the rest of the week. Maybe even the rest of the year.

Friday, December 19, 2008

We did make it

We're here. It's snowing here too. Apparently, it's winter.
We're at Erik's mom's house where the snow hits hard. I have a stomach ache but think I'm on the mend.
Rick's sister and her daughters and her two dogs are staying here. Erik's sister and her dog is here. We're hunkering down, making halibut and salmon even though Rick's sister and her daughters don't eat fish. I'll make hollandaise and try to convince them that everything is edible with hollandaise on it.
Update when stomach is fully returned to its steely self.
Happy weather!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Will We Get Out of Here?

It is forecast to snow thirty-one inches by five p.m. tonight. I don't think we'll get that but Erik has shoveled for an hour and a half today after an hour's worth last night at nine. Cleo looks like a little skunk out there. I'm taking her running because if at all possible, we're heading north in the morning--come rain or shine or snow or sleet. We'll be like postmen.

For HighTouch I've included a picture, thanks to Egg who reduced it to a reasonable size. I need Photoshop.

Friday, December 12, 2008


On Yahoo today, they posted the 13 most overrated careers:
Not only was Professor on that list but so were all my back up jobs. What? Being a farmer that sells a $2 pair isn't an easy gig? I had planned on going to med school if this whole professor thing didn't/doesn't work out.

But perhaps I am particularly ill-suited to the rhythms of the academic calendar. In August and early September, I am all embittered complaint wondering how the hell I have to be some place on time when I just want to work on my whining. I mean writing. And then, when the semester really gets going, I hunker down and the rest of the world drops away. I hardly leave the house. I email my students (rather than just respond to their emails). I say yes to every independent study and special project. Then, at the end of the semester, I am alternately cranky and. Oh wait. Just cranky because students still want stuff (4 people came into the advising center yesterday. On a Thursday. Of Finals Week! One asking me if I knew if they could graduate sooner under a different catalog year.) But I do start to look up and around. I try to make phone calls and emails to people who aren't students or don't work at my work. I make 7 plans for fun. I start writing again. But then Christmas takes a huge chunk of concentration and then it's time to think about the semester starting again: First year review, syllabi, new marketing project.
I presume early January will be full of complaint then no one will hear from me from the middle of February until April 1st. And then I'll be wondering, isn't this all over all over again?

Final analysis: Winter break isn't long enough to feel relaxed and re-absorbed into human culture and summer break is too much absorption altogether.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Easy Monday Meme

As Seen at Anastasia's and Inside the Philosophy Factory

1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightening at sea (spelled lightning, no?)
14. Taught myself an art from scratch (do hand-turkeys count?)
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning (Bambara with Leonard Schwartz. Lobster “pie.” Ew.)
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset (I like the idea of someone not doing this. They close their eyes every evening from 9 until 10 in the summer and 5-6 in the winter).
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors (I was born in the place of my ancestors. And I have been to Evanston Wyoming too. Also England and Germany).
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language (the latter half)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (some days).
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke (unfortunately for the audience)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant (no but I bought some groceries for a woman at the check out whose card wasn’t working)
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance.
47. Had my portrait painted (Thanks Bek!)
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China (KJ—wait to do this meme until July)
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (only once. Don’t tell my mom)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person. Twice.
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating. (I’ve caught trout but I don’t think I did the head-bashing or gutting).
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life.
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous.
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person.
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake (Although I don’t think “swimming” is quite the term).
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Ridden an elephant

Obviously I need to sing in a band and ride (and fall from) flying machines and give more blood (although it makes me pass out).

Sunday, December 07, 2008


There are deer hanging out inthe back yard. A lot of them. I hope we have some delicious grass. It's cold out there.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Bullets of De-complaint

I can't think of the opposite of complaining. Plus, mostly I mean a retraction. Perhaps I won't even bullet this list.

Oh, but I will.

  • The makers of nebulizers proved un-helpful but Zoe's pediatrician's nurse proved a godsend. She heard my plight, took down Z's name, wrote a prescription and faxed it over to the home health outlet right by Zoe's school.
  • The bestowers of licenses and license-plates were quick (ish. 1 hour). I got new license (not horrible picture) and new plates that are protecting the environment as we speak for a mere $25 more dollars.
  • The soup Erik made for dinner spilled only a little in my bag and was as delicious today as it was last night.
  • My kind friends and friends on the internet (and in real life) buoyed me with their kind comments and good ideas. I shall indeed meet for writing group and connect my bullet points in so preparing for writing meeting.
  • And, I might have figured out a plan for the would-soon-be-failing writing project. A little bit of one.
  • I still have no fantastic email but I'm sure it's just stuck in the pipe somewhere waiting to fall upon me like so much delicious soup.

The Bullets of Complaint

  • Zoe's nebulizer broke last night. Now she's all hacky and I have to try to find a new one today. Last time, one just arrived at our door but that was thanks to a hospital stay. I'd rather drive the desert long to find one myself than have the hospital involved.
  • The people who are helping me find a nebulizer are not calling me back. Perhaps my phone is broken and calls cannot get through.
  • It is also though my email is blocked and only the most persistent and determined emails can get through. Thank you for ye who email.
  • I must register car today. And get a driver's license. Have I gotten a haircut in the last 8 months? No, I have not.
  • I have university-wide committee meeting that tends to go for two hours. Two!
  • This last week of class? I have no motivation.
  • I haven't slept well in two nights.
  • I have an impossible writing project that I really cannot do because I am too lame. Perhaps I can write a writing project all in bullets. That I can at least accomplish.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Report: Thanksgiving

It seems that Lis, in the cold, cold north, and I, in the cold at nights, warm in the day southwest, practically worked in the same way on Thanksgiving. I too made my own broth. Nor would I let anyone help in the kitchen except for Em to mash the potatoes and Rick, who, the day before, was allowed to make his own cheesecake. I too am a kitchen tyrant and need the order and the manner of things to go just so (although I relented much on Saturday and Em helped me a ton to make roll the pasta and to peel the butternut squash for the lasagna.)

However, Lis and I departed on a few key points. Sadly, in the ways that make me come off a bit more boring. Cranberry sauce? Just orange zest and the juice of an orange. Stuffing? Mushrooms, onions, celery and sage. The yams and sweet potatoes had a bit of brown sugar, pecans, sage and butter. They were supposed to be tossed, thanks to Martha, in cayenne pepper but I forgot and then used Z as an excuse for not doing it (thanks Z!). The worst deparature? My lame thinly sliced, raw turnips, beets, radishes, cheese and crackers for lunch/appetizers. I always forget the early feeding. And we had no fancy cocktails. Just wine. And not even too much. Weird.

I did brine the turkey however. In the cooler went about 2 cups of salt, 1.5 cups of sugar, some juniper berries (Alton Brown called for allspice berries which I could find nowhere). I let it brine overnight and until noon the next day. Then, ala Alton, instead of stuffing the bird I infused the cavity with an apple, sage, rosemary and onion. Covered the whole thing in Canola oil and cooked the 16 pound bird for 2.5 hours (first 30 minutes at 500, then the rest at 350) using the new Jenn Air oven and its integrated probe. When the meat of the breast reached 165, the oven turned off! The turkey came out entirely brown, entirely cooked and moist. Even the useless white meat was pretty tasty. Next time, I think I'll use a bit more salt or salt the top like I would usually.

Again, the whole thing seemed like two days of work for 20 minutes of eating but it was good great fun. The gravy was the best ever. The appreciation large.

I just ate too much leftover turkey. We had a lot of leftover turkey. Not so many leftover mashed potatoes, most likely because 2 of the 7 of us are vegetarians. And the 7th, being Z, ate almost nothing.

I believe our guests for the long weekend had a good time. We went down to Sedona for lunch on Friday at Oak Creek Brewery, walked along the creek of the same name at Slide Rock park and hiked up to the vortex. This time, we had to hustle because lightning was striking in the near distance and if lightning's attracted to anything, it's a vortex. It was a quick trip down the canyon. Next time, I would like to linger in Sedona. Maybe even eat dinner and stay the night. When there are no tourists. Which might be never. That night, we played Cranium as we had the night before but Friday night, we stupidly brought out the Trivial Pursuit which brought out the uber competitiveness of some and stupidly made us stay up until midnight. Z slept with us because the other beds were packed with guests, coughed all night, and kicked Erik in the head. I was surprised to find myself able to function the next day.

But function we all did. On Saturday, the guys played disc golf, the women-folk walked Cleo the dog and Zoe the cold-ridden toddler who every nine minutes or so all weekend made a lovely noise when she wanted something, much like the noise made from a cow mooing because she's stuck in the mud. Perhaps her lungs felt muddy. Surprisingly, the noise was entirely unpleasant.

Saturday night, the lasagna. No games. Just chatting and a tiny bit of wine. Lovely.

Yesterday, after the folks left, cold-ridden myself and nearly comatose from turkey or a lack of sleep, I still managed to grade. And watch 3 movies, ET, Forrest Gump (ugh. And yet not that bad.) and Ratatouille plus the t.v. shows, Property Ladder and Top Chef. All in all, a complete weekend.

Now I have to finish a grant proposal that's due today and make some big decisions about books and travel plans. Thankfully, I'm fully sated with the egregious amount of leftover turkey I just ate. However, I still need to think of what to make for dinner. I have basil. And leftover turkey.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thank You

Thank you for reading (and commenting) on my blog.
Thank you to you who drove down from the north for Thanksgiving.
Thank you to you who are hosting my Grandma and her people in that north.
Thank you Rick for making cheesecake.
Thank you sugar for holding out for cheesecake, apple pie, pumpkin pie and whipping cream.
Thank Alton Brown for guiding me through these many dishes.
Thank you CSA for the pinto beans and oranges, the butternut squash and the basil.
Thank you boss and boss's wife for making my job fun.
Thank you mom for taking care of my sick kid.
Thank you El for taking care of the same said sick kid.
Thank you Erik for building the fires, fixing the leaks, displacing the brine for the turkey in the cooler with milk jugs filled with water. Also thank you for thinking you're funny and for often actually being funny.
Thank you internets although sometimes I think you are my albatross. Or my Achilles heel.
Thank you sisters for being so funny and for sometimes thinking you are.
Also thank you sisters for cooking and talking and living near each other through the internets.
Thank you Cam and Lil for liking your cousin so much.
Thank you people for hosting my in-townedness--C&T in GR, A & M in GR, A & M (different A and different M) in Tucson, El & Rick & mom in Salt Lake (not all at once).
Thank you magazines for publishing my poems and my essays.
Thank you people for coming over for dinner, for having me over for dinner, for going out to dinner with us.
Thank you mom. Again. For good measure.
Thank you Z for being the sun and the moon and for not using such powers against me too often.
Thank you again Egg for always reminding me, just by looking at me, how good we have it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Live Turkey Blogging

The cooking has begun.
Z and I have roasted the pumpkin and pureed it's sweet flesh. Now, it has to drain for 4 hours. Also, I need evaporated milk! Even for a "from scratch" pumpkin pie recipe. To the store again. Grim.

Next: Pie crust. Usually, this is Little Hand's project but I am here and she is there. May we both have flakiness in our future.

Then: Make broth for the gravy from giblets and other parts. Start brine. I think I'll use the recipe Lisa B sent me since it seems simplest--and most pure. May I salt properly.

Also. I think we'll make butternut squash lasagna. Z makes delicious pasta noodles in the pasta maker. Let's see if we have it in us.

Guests arrive soon!

More later!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More thoughts on brining

I want to brine my turkey for Thanksgiving. Has anyone brined before? I know I need a large container. Where ever shall I get one?

Can I keep the large container, full of salt and water and turkey in the garage all night? (It's warm in the day here but 26 degrees or fewer at night).
What's good to put in the brine?

When I used to smoke my own fish, I'd use all kinds of spices--juniper berries, dill, pink peppercorns, thyme, Worcestershire sauce. I'd use apple juice, beer and and lemonade for liquids.
Any ideas what would work with a turk(ey)?

Let me know if you plan to brine and if not, what other ways you might torture your turkey into submission.

The brine

By singular demand, I bring you a not much adapted recipe from Bon Appetit for brining pork chops--the key? Beer!
And not only brine, but a rub. Delicious.

1 beer.
Edited thanks to Lis less than 1/4 cup salt (Bon Appetit uses 1/4 cup salt--I think it's too much but if you love salt even more than I do--which is a lot, then use the whole 1/4 cup).
3 Tbls Molasses (I use honey. See? Adapt.)
3 Tbls Brown Sugar
4 ice cubes.

In a pan, heat beer, salt, honey, and sugar until sugar dissolves. Let cool. Add ice cubes.

In a plastic tub or freezer bag, place pork chops and brine. Turn twice during the 4 hour hour brine. Don't brine for more than 4 hours or chops become too salty.

The rub
5 cloves of garlic (BA says 7. Less is more, no?)
2 tbls dried sage (though I used fresh and it was just fine.)
2 teaspoons salt
3 tbls pepper.

Crush all this together--I use my cutting board and a knife but you grind ingredients in mortar and pestle too.

Take the chops out of the brine. Dry them. Let them dry. Do something drying so the rub can stick.

Heat grill (you could do this a little earlier. )

Grill chops as you would usually. The thin ones about 5 minutes a side. Thick, about 8.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Conflicted Productivity

At my only Z's expense, I got a ton of work today. I hate to take her to school on days where I don't have to go into the University because she a) walks around like a lost puppy for the first few minutes and b) tends to contract one of the millions of diseases the kids (or is it the teachers?) keep on hand for her arrival.

I also let her watch two, TWO!, movies this morning before school. But I did get this done:
  • Wrote Letter of recommendation
  • Wrote metablogging presentation
  • Made linky for said blogging presentation (if you get more hits after tomorrow, you can thank me and my metablogging way).
  • Contacted other creative writing directors in this fair state to introduce myself
  • Contacted AWP to ask them to make me their contact person.
  • Responded to student essay.
  • Compiled Nonfiction Contest responses from students. Rejoiced when they agreed. Shook my head when they didn't and read the essay myself.
  • Emailed students about teaching Intro to Poetry
  • Emailed chair to make sure said teaching was going to happen.
  • Emailed one-time summer scholarship student and said I'd write her a letter of rec.
  • Checked mail for birthday gifts, acceptances, and money. None of which was therein but it was worth checking (I'm pretty sure this high altitude makes it difficult for mail to actually reach me in a timely fashion.)
  • Brined some pork chops (oh. And dumped the first brine all over the kitchen when trying to shake the liquid upside down. So brining and cleaning. I think that might be worth two bullet points.
  • And, most important, finished a 69 page nonfiction proposal.
  • And blogged.

Now I have many other proposals and grants to write and essays and poems and things to revise and laundry to finish and sweet potatoes to bake but I first will go retrieve my poor child who bears the brunt of productivity. Hopefully, her lost puppy-like ways became something more complacent monkey and less sad-making five minutes after I left. Usually, she's happy if she finds the pink shovel for the sandbox but man will the guilt be even heavier if not only did she go to school on my "off" day but if the pink shovel could not be found.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Further South

We went to Tucson for Veteran's Day. It's the furthest south I've been on this half of the country. Well, maybe San Diego's further south. I could check lattitudes (can't you just imagine a book of poems called Lattitudes?) but I'm not feeling researchy. Or googly (which are becoming simultaneous in my undergraduate mind).

Tucson was warm. Not warm enough to swim but warm enough to sit in skirt and shirt by the side of the pool. The first night our hosts made a delicious dinner of salmon and greenbeans and the best foil-wrapped, rosemary-attended, red potatoes I've ever had. Megan sliced them so thinly that they cooked in like ten minutes. Then we were off to the Day of the Dead parade. Spooky, both in the creatures parading--weird goldpaint-covered monkeys, a giant rabbit head, umbrellas divested of their fabric, the requistie ghoul faces, and some somber drum beats and the fact--I felt like I knew everyone in and watching the parade. The U of U and U of A had some strong connections while I was in grad school so that's part of the feeling of knowing everyone but everyone seemed very familiar--a westerly connection? A parade effect? At the Pride parade in Salt Lake, I felt the same thing--but then, I did know a number of people parading and applauding.

The next day, certain people played disc golf for 7 hours! But who cares because Megan and I went to BevMo and bought one bottle of wine and the second was only five cents. Five cents! I came home with 6 bottles of wine for the price of three (plus $0.15). Then a delicious lunch of tacos at El Charros. Then, more sitting by the pool. With wine. When the guys came home from disc golfing, they jumped in the pool. They suffered for their machismo. Or at least shivered for it.

Dinner at Terra Cotta. Delcious poblanos stuffed with shrimp and rice in one and pork adobo and sweet potatoes in the other. I could live on stuffed poblanos. If they came with avocado. After, we played Ticket to Ride--a train game that I almost won and then someone (one of the hosts no less!) tricked me and scored 20 extra points. I think I'll stick with Cranium.

The hightlight of the trip was the desert museum and were I less lazy, I would upload pictures, but I am not less lazy (see above, reluctance to even Google). Mountain lions and barrel cactus, otters and agave. Wolves and ocatillo. We left from there the back way and made it back in four short hours. Edited to add--Also! Raptors: Harris Hawk, Barn Owl, American Kestrel.)

Z was a great traveling companion--she watched Shrek 3 and Tinkerbell on the way down (and the way back), stirred sticks in the pool, played train game with us, stared at the otter as long as I did, and appreciated the salmon and greenbean dinner (her favorite. Which our hosts knew.)

All in all, the whole moving to AZ project makes a lot more sense now that the drive between here and Tucson seems short for the payoff.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Now What?

Whenever I do yoga, which is maybe twice a year, I overstretch my hips. Interlocked somewhere between pelvic bone and the iliofemoral ligament is where I bury all my stress and all the disease that my students and my child try to inculcate me with. Yoga stretches and therefore releases all those toxins into my blood stream. Yoga, though healthy-seeming, makes me sick for about a week.

It's been 8 long years. 8 years that I've been hunkered down, writing useless letters against delisting Gray wolves from the endangered species list and hunting cougars with dogs. I flip off people who drive Hummers and buy organic milk and pretend this has an effect. I feel embattled and yet I go about my business like everyone else, keeping my headdown, my politics publicly diffuse, my apocaplyptic visions quiet. Then, Tuesday happens and unleashes all that pent up stress. Now I'm sick and bored and freaked out.

The internet has nothing for me. My inbox? Empty without MoveOn and mybarack.obama emailing me every 7 minutes.

It might take a long time to recover. And, like yoga, a mere one day change isn't going to effect a lifestyle change. But I feeling stretched, if sore, and like there's something new to do. Something to help begin to make the change everyone who voted for Obama called upon themselves to make. It's just a start. But maybe if I do something politically, socially yoga-esque not yearly but weekly or even daily, the hunkered-down feeling won't return and the something planet-healthy might take hold.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Halloween Wrap-up

I went as "Today's Mail" for Halloween which goes to show how much time and energy I put into this year's contest. I used tape and binder clips and paperclips to attach that day's mail. Except, the mail that came on October the 31st was kind of boring and/or bills so I had to root around for a bit more interesting mail.

I just removed a paperclip and a return address sticker from the shirt I wore today. Apparently, I did not wash said shirt over the weekend.

The best Halloween ever was had by us because all the events are downtown. We walked from the library to the haunted house to the music in the square where women dressed like zombies and did body-falling-off dance moves to the beat. Almost everyone was dressed up--butterflies, prison-escapees, ghouls, disco dancers, Nemo and Dory. We sat and had a glass of wine at Cuvee 928 and watched the band and the kids collect glow sticks. Then we went from shop to shop to gather candy from finely dressed shopkeepers. My favorite was Bunnicula.

Egg had to work so Z and I finished trick or treating and came home to a happily door-bell-ring-free existence. We ate pumpkin seeds, radishes, turnips and carrots.

A perfect Halloween until that night when Z woke up with a sore throat and couldn't go back to sleep (or stop whimpering). She woke up feeling fine but we were all zombies (insert All Soul's Day joke here) So Saturday was kind of a loss but we managed to go on a walk and make delicious lasagna with butternut squash, sage and andouille sausage. Z and I made the softest, most magical noodles, making me think November will be a fine culinary month, even if not everything else works out (insert election is tomorrow and there's too much anxiety in my heart. Also. Have you seen this ad? It made me cry, not least because I used to sing that song to Z in the NICU.

May we all sleep a little tonight.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween--a retrospective

Thanks to LisaB, I realized how close it was to Halloween and that I didn't have a costume. My favorite option of hers was "Closet Yeti" which I would steal if it would act like fall down here and cool down. It's still 70 degrees. It's almost November. These are the mountains. It should be snowing. They say maybe next week.

So, lo though the weather is interesting, this Halloween may prove to be the least interesting in a decade. Erik has to work and there are no parties insisting that I dress up. So instead of listing potential costumes for this year, I shall list the costumes of years past. I'll begin with 1998 for that was the first year, as it was my first year in grad school as well, that I put effort into my work.
  • 1998--Twister (Twister board as toga, spinning device as mortar board.) Party at Craig and Satina's. Car shot with automatic rifle sometime in the middle of the night. Fortunately, I'm not in it and no one got hurt.
  • 1999--Costume? This is the one year I can't remember. I blame it on PTSD from the previous party at Craig and Satina's, where it was held again this year, but in their new house. That's what I should have gone as--PTSD.
  • 2000--Group project with KJ and co as The Monkey Wrench Gang. Party at Mary Anne's. Halfway through, KJ and I realized we should have gone as The Blair Witch Project. If only we'd brought our video camera.
  • 2001--Martha Stewart. I came prepared with edible scary treats marshmallow and licorice spiders, scary dismembered hands made from gloves and popcorn and other Stewarty like crafty-foods. Party at Kate's.
  • 2002--Lemon Fresh Scent. Shorts and shirt adorned with lemons--car scent tree hanging from neck. Lemon drops in pockets. Kate again hosts. Kate's porch suffers from too much fun.
  • 2003--The Drought--sand glued to dusty clothes, empty water bottles dragging behind like so many ghostly chains from a Christmas Carol. Party at Rebecca L.'s.
  • 2004--Binicula. Party at Erik's friend's house. No one gets the bunny ears and vampire teeth.
  • 2005--Stuccoe'd O'er with Quadrepeds. Zoe, newly born, goes as one of the quadrapeds (a lamb) other four-legged Beanie Babies pinned to outfit. No one gets the Whitman reference. I send a photo to my dissertation director.
  • 2006--The Forest Floor. Again with the safety pins. Amanita muscaria of red felt with white dots and fall leaves stuck to me. Zoe goes as a bear. I carry her to make the sense of floor more (or possibly less) clear).
  • 2007--The Michigan Real Estate Market--Cheap and Easy. Blue eye shadow. Glitter. A sign (safety pin) on my bum reading "Price Reduced."
  • 2008--The Stock Market? I could get really drunk and go as "Tanked." Otherwise, I'm slightly clueless. Z is going as a Fairy Princess but I could convince her she's a butterfly. My friend at school suggested that then I could go as a cocoon but I worry it would look to much like the tampon a friend of mine of went as. He was pissed when someone squirted ketchup on him. Irrationally so.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Please Let the Election Be Over

And please let it be over in a good way.

I called Indiana today. Last week, at the MoveOn Party, I called Virginia. 4 sheets of names, 14 names per sheet. I only ended up talking to about 10 people. I want to tell MoveOn--people have Caller ID. I wouldn't answer either. (Although Egg did answer the phone yesterday all willy nilly, no caller ID checking and they--of which I am one-- called to see if I'd go to New Mexico. I told them I couldn't do that but that I'd make calls from here.)

Still. I got two volunteers although one was only 16. I wonder if she showed up at the volunteer office.

Today I called 25 women voters in Indiana. It's getting easier. It's funny how much shame I was living with--either from being from the Reddest State or from the bad turnout in the last two elections. But I'm getting prouder. So I made calls without sweating as I dialed. It seems most of the women in Indiana had been contacted before. I talked to about half of the people--which is surprisingly good odds. Most were sick of being called. A few were strong supporters. Most I just tried to convince to vote early. One still hadn't decided. I went over my handily available tax information with her telling her unless she made over $600,000, her taxes weren't going up. She still wouldn't decide. She said she'd read everything she could get her hands on and had watched all the debates and still hadn't decided. I kind of admire that--waiting to get into the booth to commune with whatever is holy to help you decide. She was 82. I said I'd keep my fingers crossed that she'd vote for Obama.

I went to see my Ob/gyn today. She says she's a one cause woman. She'll vote democrat until she dies to keep women's right to choose. She gave me hope too. I reminded her to vote early.

So even though the bad news is that the rangers who protect the gorillas in Virunga have been flushed from their posts by Congo rebels and the habitat for Orangutangs in Indonesia is being destroyed at 1 football field per hour in Indonesia, some of the information I received today was good news.

My blood pressure? Not such good news. I blame it on the election. And the stock market. And Z's cough. And the 17 meetings I have scheduled this week. Maybe they could take my blood pressure when I'm on vacation. Or in a coma. Perhaps next time, I'll take Xanax first.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Loneliest Number

Both Cold, Cold North and Little Hands tagged me for the meme. I'm the least likely to ever do memes but how can I deny the freezing one or she with tiny hands? Also, I was able to pinch a bunch of their ideas so in order not to tax my one-worded brain.

Where is your cell phone? Taped
Where is your significant other? Computered
Your hair color? Blond
Your mother? Awesome
Your father? (Like the) Dow
Your favorite thing? Butter
Your dream last night? Anniversary
Your dream/goal? Water
The room you’re in? Dining
Your hobby? Dining
Your fear? Bronchitis
Where do you want to be in 6 years? Portland
Where were you last night? Teaching
What you’re not? Revise-y
One of your wish-list items? Obama
Where you grew up? SLC
The last thing you did? Coffeed
What are you wearing? Sweater
Your TV? Dora!
Your pet? CleoBox
Your computer? Always
Your mood? Scratchy
Missing someone? Steve
Your car? Depreciated
Something you’re not wearing? Bikini
Favorite store? Powells
Your summer? Missing
Love someone? Dozens
Your favorite color? Green
When is the last time you laughed? Sarah
Last time you cried? Obama

I tag Mary Anne, Mapmaker, Xena One and Two, Econtrario, What Now and Pretty Hard, Dammit

Monday, October 20, 2008

Productive Productivity

This was a good weekend. Unlike last weekend, which was 50 degrees max and 19 degrees min most of the days, it was 70 and sunny Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Egg, Z and I went to the playground to fly a kite (and some of us went to slide on the slides) went to dinner on Friday (OK. Is it dinner if it’s 4 o’clock? Really, it was a late lunch.) With wine. On the patio on the way to Sedona. I was fighting a cold so we just came home to have a fire and watch TV.

Saturday, feeling mostly healed, Z and Cleo and I went running and then there was much house-cleaning and laundry-doing then a good bit of writing done by me thanks to the editorial suggestions of Egg. Then, we went over to some people’s house—our first visit at the home of someone who lives in this town. They had a 2.5 year old and a 18 month old. Z played with the little girl (yay! A friend for Z!) while we ate guacamole. We also walked up the hill to a block party (other blocks’ parties are even more odd than one’s own block parties) for which I’d made a frittata (thanks to the brilliant suggestion of Little Hands) and hummus. No one ate it because we were so late they’d finished off the savory chapter of the pot luck and had moved onto the dessert portion of the evening. We took both back to the new friends’ house. Perhaps they finished it off after we left? I can only hope. They cooked some chicken wings from Sam’s Club. Z liked them a lot. We came home and ate peaches and yogurt and then went to bed at 9. Productivity plus new friends plus block parties equal exhaustion.

But Sunday was by far the most productive day of the three. Egg took Z to the park again—to play disc golf and to slide and then to the grocery store. My list will look so much more productive in bullets:

  • Finished essay about demi-glace.
  • Made bread.
  • Began to fix essay about Z and butter.
  • Took Cleo running.
  • Read for Grad Class.
  • Showered.
  • Made delicious salad of smoked turkey and turnips.
  • Went to party.
  • Called MoveOn-like folks in Virginia to get them to volunteer (stressful but not nearly as as calling undecideds).
  • Stopped at Ace for Egg to get him some clear silicon caulk to cover the nails on the roof (I had no idea how many kinds of silicon caulk they have. I stared at tubes for 15 minutes until I found the right one).
  • Raked and stuffed 5 bags worth of pine needles. They’re everywhere and seem to be a fire hazard. Some of our neighbors seem to rake them up, some don’t. So we’re doing a half-assed job and doing some of them.
  • Made guacamole.
  • Sat on porch and played letters with Z.
  • Moved inside. Egg set up the stereo (our last box! We’ve been listening to the iPod magic player for 2.5 years. We never unpacked it in GR. I think we may stay here for awhile.)
  • I found and dusted speakers.
  • Danced to music with Z.
  • Made tacos.
  • Watched Mad Men.
  • Read student essays while Egg gave Z a bath.

Went to bed when? That’s right. 9 o’clock. Thank god we’re on Pacific Time and the sun has been down for 3 hours already so it doesn’t seem entirely lame.

Now, I’m ready for another weekend. Instead, I have two presentations this week (one about publishing, another about PhD school), 16 more essays to read and comment on, 3 student meetings, hardcore advising now that students are registering for spring semester and trying to graduate in the spring, plus a dinner party on Friday and, I hope, some submissions going out the door.

Next week will be also busy but soon we go south to visit our friends and then it’s winter break. Well, my birthday, then Thanksgiving and then winter break. November. What a great month. Almost as lovely as October.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The great thing about my mom coming to visit:

She comes to see me almost as much as she comes to see Z.

She plays with Z so I can write (except when she needs help working the remote).

She cleans the spots, like behind the kitchen faucet, behind the toilet, between the washer and dryer, I don't clean and rather than suggesting I clean it myself, just points out tools—such as toothbrushes and Comet, that make such cleaning easier.

She pets the dog even though she doesn't like dogs.

She loves everything Egg and I cook—even if the pork chops were slightly undercooked. She asked Egg for his green chile stew recipe.

She loved the breadmaker and ate every loaf I made—even the very experimental underdone dill loaf.

She bought me a new bread knife to cut said bread.

She loves turkey vultures ("a committee of" is a common collective term we learned) almost as much as I do. She even wanted to put out some hamburger to see if that would bring more but then she decided that would be messing with the system a bit much.

She brought Play-doh and race tracks for the Z.

She knows how to get Play-doh out of a sisal rug (let dry. Use knife).

She's amazed at the number of ravens circling overhead.

She wipes Z's nose, puts Vaseline under that wiped-raw nose, puts Menthalatum on her chest, learns how to use the Albuteral nebulizer, and wakes up when Z coughs and goes to sleep in Z's bed when Z asks.

She brings tissues wherever she goes.

She loves lunch, the Grand Canyon, Walnut Canyon, Slide Rock, and Sedona in that excellent and proper order.

She and her great boyfriend are up for about anything, including hikes with tarantulas and stopping at 3 different grocery stop on a Saturday, plus the 3 additional grocery stop trips they took on their own, restocking our entire kitchen.

She brings her boyfriend and his great vegetables for his great garden.

She's willing to play Cranium.

She and Egg can talk politics and yell at the TV during the debate in great animated good fun (they're on the same side and yet still manage to disagree over the details—in good humor).

She can watch Z do her singing and dance moves for even longer than I can.

She dances and sings.

She likes to learn new songs like Frog Went A Courtin'.

She tells me what her favorite songs were and when.

She sings the songs she sang to me to Z. And then some new ones.

She promises she'll come back soon.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Temple of My Familiar

There's a street behind my house. Behind that street, there is forest--a Ponderosa-filled, trail-ridden, semi-hilly, sometimes flat, sometimes hilly forest. I like the idea of living on the edge of the wilderness. From the trails I run every other day, I could conceivably run/ride my bike/walk to Walnut Canyon which is a National Monument. The trails only let you near the actual canyon but inside that canyon supposedly live bears and fox and owls and mountain lions. This space is temple-like to me. That it exists right behind me seems like a miracle. And because, like any empty property next to any (every?) house I've lived, the space has been eventually developed, that eventually, this place will have more streets and more houses on it makes it all the more precious.

My mom was here with her boyfriend last week. We had nonstop good fun including going to the upper rim of the Walnut Canyon as well as the upper rim of the Grand Canyon. As well as the pinnacle of Sedona's vortex (can a pinnacle be a vortex?).

We also went on a hike in behind the house. As we rounded the last turn to go back up the hill, what crossed our paths but a gigantic tarantula. The cephalothorax was all black. The opisthosoma was a rusty brown. He didn't like being on the path with us. He could sense our footsteps, my mom thought, and so was already on the move out of the way. He crawled, as quickly as he could without calling too much to himself by scurrying, across the path. I wanted to tell him that we already noticed him and that we too wanted to look cool but that we'd go ahead and wait for him to make it into the crispy grasses.
Then, Erik and Z and I went walking on Sunday far, far back behind our house and there was another. And then on Monday when I was running with Z, there was another.

At the risk of letting my arachnophopbic sister know this story and vow to never come visit me again, I thought that this was a particularly good October story. And although I'm a little sketched out by seeing 3 (three!) in one week, in these dark times I worry less about big spiders trying to eat me and more that I'll end up having to eat them.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Plan Is Working!

I'm trying to end all my sentences with the phrase "in these dark times" and it's working to great effect.
Such as, "We'd better go to the store today. We don't want to run out of milk in these dark times." And, "Z, paint while you can. This may be the end of expensive crayola paints in these dark times." "Extra butter on my English Muffin. You can't fatten up too much in these dark times." This sentence changes it up a bit: "The house can stay messy. In these dark times, the dirt and dust may be the only thing we actually own." "Dear Students, You've asked and I've finally agreed. In these dark times, you don't need to be on time, turn in your papers on time, or participate in workshop. The University may not even be here by the end of the semester."
You get the drift. See how much more fun this is than talk like a pirate day? Talking like a doomsayer comes more naturally to me. And has I hope a cathartic more than a prophetic effect.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Freaking out

IN general, I'm just feeling the panic of a new job, no accessible friends, the constant panting for the emails of acceptance, the sharp personalities of graduate students, and the pressing day-to-day business of trying to eat at home, get out onto the trails or into the mountains during this gorgeous season, hit the farmer's market and try to make my own cheese to go with my new-found ability to make bread.
But the main panic is the Obama. The news today claimed that the level of racism in this country suggests that Obama just can't win. He'd be 6% higher in the polls if he wasn't black. As it is, he's dead even. And that's a poll of people willing to admit that they have "negative thoughts about black people." I imagine people fully planning on voting for Barack going into the voting booth and just not being able to do it.
I hope I'm wrong. I'm trying to force myself to call swing state voters but it makes me very nervous to do that kind thing. But if I don't, and he loses, I'll kick myself for doing nothing except sending a few bucks Obama's way. Because while I can't talk people out of being racist, maybe I can talk them into putting their racism last on their list of priorities. Saving the environment, providing health insurance for the 46 million without, fixing this suddenly socialist economy from further capitalistic greed, finding our way back to some kind of global honor, protecting the Endagered Species Act, letting women choose what happens to their own bodies--these things have to be more important than the judgement of someon'es race, don't they?
God I hate to cold call.

Edited to Add: Called 10 numbers. 6 not homes. 2 refusals to talk to me. 2 all for McCain. I think I'll be done for now.

Monday, September 08, 2008


I am finishing an essay and thought, hm, I'd better change the names to protect the innocent, etc. So I go through the essay in Word and replace "Tom" with "Rob." Sadly, this essay is about tomatoes. So now, there's a lot of Robatoes that need fixing.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sarah Palin is

the new George W. Bush.
She scares me. Like Bush, you'd think, she's too crazy (no sex education?) and too evil (did you hear what she said about Obama?) and too dumb (or fake dumb) to win. And you'd be wrong.
McCain is old. Palin's giving him a flat tire standing so close on his heel.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Another good thing/bad thing list?
Sure, why not.
1. The campus is pleasant but I don't know where anything is.
2. The admin staff knows much but seems reluctant to share what they know with me.
3. There was a lot of orientation. None of it orientated me toward where the printer is.
4. I have a new computer. It's not ready yet--still needs to be tagged as "property of."
5. We're starting the new MFA program. We're starting a new summer conference.
6. There's a union with many food choices including sushi. They take only dining cards.
7. The school is located right downtown and I can walk to other fooderies but I haven't gotten paid yet so I may as well be taking a dining card to the downtown restaurants since that would be as effective as my debit card.
8. I am on two committees. I am on two committees.
9. I teach in the late afternoon/evenings. I teach in the late afternoon/evenings.
10. I unpacked all my books, bought with my no money (read AmEx) two plants, and opened my two lovely windows. There's construction out those windows.
11. I taught my first class. I have two more to go and the first week is very hard for me. I hate the syllabus spiel.

In other, less binary news, I love my colleagues. They're pretty mellow, pretty funny and, in the advising center, I advised a student well with my advising coach looking on and I got all accolades. Was even called a whiz kid. I like positive reinforcement. A lot. The chair took some of my ideas to the Dean and he loved them. Yay. Now we're looking for a name for our new program to brand it a little. I'm sure it will be hokey but I love hokey as much as I like anything else (which includes not much so I shouldn't complain either way as to my likings).
In my first class, the laptop cord was broken, only I didn't know that so I kept trying to get my laptop to put up the cool stuff on the screen. I looked like an idiot. Today, I found out the cord was broken. I hope everyone who taught in that room looked like an idiot so I'm not alone in idiocy but this isn't that techy of a department.
The first week has already been brutal and I'm only at the halfway point. Advising, committees, 400 emails, and a general lack of knowing where anything is or how any thing works is draining. An example of the the how-anything-works-lack-of-knowledge: the rooms have codes. I arrive at my first class, and my first grad class ever, carrying 18 Writers Chronicles, two books, one laptop (unusefully), 18 syllabi, a camera and my purse. I arrive. The students are waiting outside. I'm told by the students that I'll need a code. A code? It's 4:30. The English Dept. office closes at 4:30. I run down three flights of stairs. The AA is still there. She looks surprised that I didn't know that I needed the code. She practically shakes her head in disapproval at me as she gives me the code. Perhaps there was yet another orientation I missed? The how-things-work-around-here one? You know, the truly useful one.
But, back to list of good and bad: most faculty offices are in the same building as the classrooms! But the classrooms have codes and I still need 3 more to remember.

If I recall, the first week is always beyond rough. I'm sincerely hoping that next week is less frantic with busywork and more thick with content.

Monday, August 18, 2008


I am proofreading my syllabi. I have been replaced by an alien. Or at least have enough bile-inducing memory of reading typos aloud to the class.
I'm getting a little nervous. The first day of class with no books, no assignments, no papers, just me and a now proofread syllabus drives me a bit mad. I'll bring in some exercise called make a poem from the syllabus. The students will find the word chicken therein. They should be able to do something with that.

I have time to proofread because Z is at school today. From 11:30 to 4:30. I can't quite stand it. I can stand it quite a bit. I just fear I've just dipped her in a vat of germs and 3 to 5 incubation days from now, she'll come down with the dreaded cough. But, in more optimistic and productive news, I've called the city to have them come remove the old stove, talked happily with Deon, the plumber who has installed the new gas line and put the gas line into the new stove (they call them ranges. I don't like it. I love the word stove), and have helped him lift the stove (see, sounds heavier, no?), and sympathized when he realized he had to move the whole down-draft blower mechanism. I drove to campus, going turny-turny (Z thinks I drive too turny-turny and that's what makes her car sick. Today, I didn't have to avoid turning) the whole way there and turned back toward her school to spy on her class if they were outside (which they were not), and found a good carne asada taco down the street. I also just stopped in at the "Farmer's Market" store which is kind of a Mexican green grocer with all kinds of peppers and bulk items. I bought Z gummy bears and Egg cinnamon bears and for me I bought pablanos and Anaheim chiles. They call Anaheims New Mexico Chiles here and they'll roast them for you. A case is $25. If they scrape the skins off them, then I think Egg and I will be convinced it's a deal (an unroasted case cost $20). I also drove over to the Prairie Dog town where I ate my tacos. I heard the noisy dogs but saw nary a one. The wildflowers hide them well.
I still have an hour and a half before Z gets home and, did I mention I've already proofread my syllabi? Now what to do? Oh, the expansiveness of time. I may have to proofread one of my mantel-piece manuscripts (my friend Steve calls his manuscripts mantel pieces in that they, like so many ancestoral portraits, can be placed on the mantel to gaze at adoringly. They're easier to dust than frames).
Orientation tomorrow. All day. I already figured out how to use their HR Portal, what benefits I want, how to enroll in said benefits and how to check my email. What else will I need to know?
Perhaps I'll bring my computer and continue my proofreading extravaganza.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I Am So Dedicated

I have just spent 30 minutes searching for and adding wingdings to my syllabus.

My students, and their aesthetic pleasure, come first.

In the end, actually, I ended up using the tilda. Boring. Perhaps I can make it up to them by finding a stimulating font. And alternating between italics and boldface letters. Oh, how they will pay attention to the details thanks to these machinations. Late papers. What are they? Not accepted! (ha.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Stress and Distress

I knew the trip to GR would be exhausting. It's a crazy long flight from here. SW to NE via the south. It was great to see a few people. I made two new friends of the guy who now has my job and his partner. I ran by my old house and through the college. I sat outside in the near-perfect temperatures. The air was thick with oxygen and water and bird noises and city sounds. I stayed out until too late with my old students, whom I love. I went to a lovely wedding and made better friends with friends I'd left behind. But. Friday was a loss from the too-much-with-students night. I slept in until 10 almost every day. So whatever hopes of this becoming a writing retreat quickly fled from me.
And flying is killing me. It's the rush to get there and the attempt to rush the plane to make your connection and the freak out if I should have carried on my luggage and the fear of making your almost-brand-new friends wait for you at the airport. And the turbulence and near-death experiences.
I hurt my neck again too. Like the last time I traveled frantically, I think it was to Chicago, I hurt my shoulder carrying too much stuff on it. It's been 5 days now and I can barely move my neck. I'm supposed to be having last fun of the summer with Z but mostly I just say ow. Ow.

But the truest ow is that Little Hands and son are sick. He's been in the hospital for at least three nights now. I'm pretty sure the Hotel California means the Children's Hospital. I'm worried and sad for them. I had bad dreams last night remembering Z's incarceration. I would feel better about things if the doctors ever knew what was going on but with viruses, they seem completely idiotic. IV fluids and a lot of hemming and hawing. You can hem and haw. I'm going home to quarantine myself, I want to say.

I wish I could do more but I can't even offer the IV fluids.

Oh, and school starts. Soon. And my syllabi ? They're MIA. Poor syllabi, lost in the forest of my computer. Perhaps they'll find their way into shape and home soon.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


If eating locally means not having to drive to the store and eating what's in the fridge, then I've been a champion since moving here. The store is 10 minutes away. This is insane. I used to live two blocks from Smiths, or half a mile from Nature's or a mile from the D&W. I could walk or ride. Not that I always did. But I did once and awhile. And I could drive in like 2-5 minutes. This 10 minute thing might be good for me though. I've been planning meals, stocking way up at the farmer's market, and shopping more thoroughly at the Safeway.
So yesterday, I looked in the fridge and saw that I had whole milk ricotta, a bag of basil, and a bunch of tomatoes. And I'm leaving tomorrow for GR and these things will not be good when I get back (I can rely on Egg to eat the tomatoes but not to use the ricotta. Or probably the basil).
So I googled those ingredients and came up with a fettuccine and fresh tomato dish. But then I saw the fettuccine was supposed to be fresh too. Instead of bailing to the store or making it with regular spaghetti, I remembered I had a pasta maker.
It took an hour but Egg and Z helped pull the sheets and hold the machine down as I cranked the handle. Z had her noodles with peas and butter. We had our ricotta. Z's was better but in both dishes, the pasta was great.
Fun fun fun. I love being hobbled by my hatred of driving to the store!

Friday, August 01, 2008


The internet was down at the house from 4 p.m. until 10 a.m. The next morning. I literally started twitching. I suggested going out to dinner not because we had no food in the house or because I didn't want to cook but because I held some hope there would be internet available at the restaurant. I drank my glass of wine at the pizza place a little too quickly to try to cover the withdrawals.
When Middlebrow was here, we talked about how we'd been trying to be on the internet less. While he said he actually was putting pen to paper, I just nodded and applauded myself for not taking the computer on my walks with the dog. I've cut down my usage by about 1%. Usually that 1% is dedicated to playing puzzles with Z.
I think it was the not knowing when Qwest would fix the phone line that drove me the most crazy because it's not like I missed that much. No, even when I'm online, I'm like, where is that thing that used to make me spend so much time looking for it? And then I spend so much time looking for it, which is the thing I think I used to do that seemed so interesting but was probably not that.
We're having more guests this weekend. Perhaps I'll knock off the habit a bit.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Life Is (Was?) a Vacation

tThe nice thing about moving closer to home and close to vacation spots is that people come to visit you. Egg’s mom and step-dad came down for a week. Unpacking and moving furniture sucked the life out of the first few days but by Wednesday, we were in adventure mode. On Wednesday, up the ski lift to the highest peak. The chair lift was so slow— letting on people who do not usually ski takes many a brake-lever and backwards-moving motion. It was no quad so on top of the slow-down per rider, it went trudged up the hill but the views of the peaks and the valleys and the Grand Canyon off in the distance made it worth it. At the top, we learned about a prehistoric yellow-flowered plant whose protected status meant there was no climbing down the mountain. We weren’t planning to hike down anyway because we had the Z, but the thought of the slow-speeded chair lift almost made us want to attempt it. The next day, amazing ruins. The solidness of the Pueblo architecture impressed. The layers of rock and mortar lasting 500 years—most of them without the care (or the misguided re-building, ranger-living-inside-of, re-enactments-on-top-of and kicking the modern natives out of) and help of the National Forest Service. The next day, red rocks and Z climbing high on boulders and vortices and a shared porterhouse with my step-dad-in-law, known more easily as my Rick. Then, Z’s birthday with the mountain biking, Saturday’s Prairie Dog Town Visit and last week’s adventure to Lower Lake Mary (empty), Upper Lake Mary (wide and shallow) and Marshall Lake (odd and sedge-filled with many a noisy but hidden duck).

Whilst Dr. Write and Middlebrow and son visited (starring as the most delightful visitors of all time), we went to the in-town forested park to watch Egg and Middlebrow finish up their game of disc golf. We stopped downtown for a beer and then came home to tacos and more beer and wine. The next day, we drove both of our front-wheel drive cars toward the ski resort, taking a left down a bumpy and muddy Forest Road 245 and another left on Forest Service Road 171 to the damp and dark caves. The lava was hard on the knees and the climb hard on the thighs. The tourists were too many to enjoy the experience entirely but Z and Son did a great job climbing pretty far in. The sheer number of people made the place more claustrophobic than the narrow and the dark parts. I kept imagining having to climb over people to get out. And that would be rude. But necessary. We returned home to more rain, more wine and beer, more great times.

We have one more set of visitors due this weekend but it’s already feeling like the end of vacation times. Egg went to work at a horrible job because nothing great has turned up yet. I have to go back to GR for a student scholarship thing (not so fun) and a wedding (yay!) I am working on syllabi and readings and finishing up summer writing projects. I plan to visit Z’s school this week. Do dry-cleaning. Perhaps someone else can schedule a visit so the summer isn’t really over. I could live in vacation-time all the time. I really like adventures with such fine folks all around this town.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Copying Dr. Write

Who knew Dr. Write and I liked like so much.

We're metaphorists at heart. Or girls from the valley.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A little weird

This Ponderosa-filled town is weird. All towns are weird but this one seems particularly paradoxical. It's in the mountains but it's in the desert so it's hot with both the desert and sun so close but cool with the elevation and the monsoons. It's a small town but it appears to be transportation central--planes, trains and cars galore. It's pretty difficult to travel through because of all the other modes of transportation and other cars in your way. It's full of super rich people because people buy their summer homes here to escape the desert but super poor because there's no real industry except for the University to support those who live here year round. A summertime economy does not a middle-class make. There's a lot of chain stores and some cute boutiques but not so many locally-owned mid-sized shops. There lots of people here with fancy kitchens but no gourmet store. There are a lot of wine and beer shops but no real bakeries or deli's, at least as far as I've discovered. I'm still on the hunt for deliciousness and the farmer's market has been great. Tomatoes already!

The mountains are spectacular--we watch the sunset from the porch every night and the trails behind the house are lined with Indian Paintbrush and Lupine and little yellow flowers and Rabbit Brush and, of course, Ponderosas.

It's really beautiful, a little noisy, and the downtown area is full of cuteness. On Saturday night, we went downtown and ate good sushi. Z ate her edamame with chopsticks!

As long as we have access to some good fish, wine and beer, and fun places to walk, I think we're pretty happy.--except for the part when we actually might need to go back to work. I've already begun constructing lectures in my head. Lectures with the words "discipline" and "what is the point anyway" in them. Perhaps I'll take one more week to work on my own stuff before I start thinking of ways to torture my new students.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Z's Birthday

An open letter to Z, who turns three,
I think I finally get you. It’s mostly the talking but it’s also the way you make hard things—like moving across the country, saying hello and goodbye to so many people—seem easy. You laugh, over the top, at the tiniest joke. Your favorite joke is this: We don’t swim in your toilet, please don’t pee in our pool. And, for potty training purposes, I’ve adapted it to: We don’t sleep in your Pull-ups, please don’t pee in our bed. If you call out mom, and I answer “Bart” in a low voice, you giggle so hard you snort. Yesterday, in the car, you kept asking us where mom and dad were. I answered, “ummm, right here,” making the “right here” interrupt the “ummm” at new and surprising places. Mostly, you make me feel like a comic genius. Finally, someone recognizes my true talent and I thank you for being so perceptive.
You love to be surprised and so you like hide and seek the best although we’re not sure of the rules of your version. You run and hide for about two seconds and then come find us and say boo. If we’re feeling really lazy, we can get you to hide in a box and you jump out every minute or so and we jump as high as we can get our lazy bones to go, in absolute shock. Where were you? In that box? Just like you were a minute ago?
You do so love to count and yet you’ve banished the numbers 3 and 4 to the end of 10. I know this is just stubbornness on your part but when you start school next month, I bet I’ll sound like one of those poor mothers who really needs to get a grip and realize that her kid’s paste-eating is not a sign of future culinary skill. But really, the 3 and the 4, they pissed you off somehow. Perhaps now that you’re three, you’ll begin to forgive the pair.

You have the narrative gene that must have skipped a generation. Every time before nap, I get a rundown of what just happened and a preview of what will take place after the nap: “Brush teeth, go to the potty, change clothes, make coffee, go on a walk, eat breakfast, brush teeth, go to bed.” Then “Wake up (note that all the phrases lilt up in the end like a question. Not a question if that’s what’s going to happen but a question like, you’re getting this down, right?), play puzzle, hide & seek, play monster, make dinner, find Box (Box has been losing himself in the wilds in the day), change clothes, brush teeth, and go to bed.” Sometimes, we think you’re of Italian heritage because many verbs and nouns have an extra “a” to them: “We go-a to the park. We park-a the car. You also ask-a that if we take-a mom’s car, that I not turna so much. It makes me sick”. It does make you sick. You throw up if I turn too many u-turns looking for a parking place.

You got to spend a lot of time with your Maestra and your grandma and grandpa and your aunts. And your cousins. Lately, the narrative litany of activities included, “go to Maestras” or “Go to Lily and Cam’s,” “are Grandma and Grandpa here yet?” and “go to Salt Lake.” The number of activities attended this summer outweighs the sum total of your life up to this point. You went swimming with KJ, and with Cam and Lil, you went through the forest every day, Mice took you on a bus, on a light rail, and on a choo choo train all in one day. You went kayaking twice and swung on a swing either at Little Hands’ or at Grandma’s every single day. You went to Liberty Park and went on the Ferris Wheel and the Merry-Go-Round. Mice and Bart and I took you and Cam and Lil on the alpine slide. You rode your big wheel that Lil lent you. And, you learned how to be a cool cousin to Cam and Lil. You rode in the car to Ponderosa Town. You went to the peaks here and then the pueblos and then to Red Rock wonder. I hope your birthday holds new adventures: a trip to the lake, a bike ride, maybe a movie???

You still eat a lot of kinds of foods. You now like lettuce once in a while. The other day, you ate your taco like a normal person instead of like your mom who still keeps the meat separate from the cheese from the lettuce from the tortilla. Your palate may have already transcended mine. You still like raw onions, pickles, turkey, sausage, broccoli, peas, and red bell peppers but lately, you’ve liked salmon more than anything. At the wine bar, we had to order a second plate of smoked salmon. You loved it, although the capers, not so much. Two days ago, I was shucking corn and you sat on the counter and ate of two of the cobs, raw. And then you ate another cob for dinner. You love cherries, and, thanks to your grandma, eat around the pit. You love blueberries and strawberries and raspberries like all reasonable humans. You pretend to like coffee and then you take a sip and say “gah, what have I put in my mouth.”

You change clothes 4-5 times a day. You also like to tell me what to wear. “Go upstairs, find a dress, change your clothes. Wear a dress.” I usually comply although lately I’ve been saying, “you get to wear what you want; I’ll wear what I want.” This confounds you. Obviously, you have better fashion sense than I should listen to you. Mice bought you a new purple dress to replace your old purple dress which you wear every day. You also wear the dress that Little Hands got you. Every day. You still like purple but pink is even better. You still don’t like your clothes dirty, but sometimes it seems you spill just as an excuse to change your clothes. You have ways of the girl—all your stuffed animals are babies and you’re the mama. You also like to climb on rocks (and furniture) and go on hikes in the forest (both our backyard, Grandma’s backyard, and the real forest just behind our house). You love to swim and are learning to blow out rather than to suck in, albeit not as fast as you would like.

You sing. A lot. Going on a trip and then add in the people above houses to which we’ll go and mom and dad. Or you’ll sing “we’re on a bike ride, going on a bike ride, bike ride, bike ride” if we are, for instance, on a bike ride. You dance too and can do an arabesque, a leap and downward dog using your head instead of your hands. Many talents you have.

There are some cute and yet, what is the euphemism, challenging elements to the Z. You ask why a lot. Like why are there two lights and three over there? Where is there a stair there? Why is that my plate? Where is the chicken? (In your mouth…) When can I see some ducks? You also say “what” a lot even though you’ve heard exactly what I said (methinks you get this from your dad). My favorite thing about you is how nothing gets by—which is why there’s all those why’s and what’s. A pinecone in the road makes you mad. “Put it over there.” An empty Coke cup in the road, “why?” A raven caws, “what’s that.” The refrigerator kicks on, “what’s that.” You remind me that noise is called “thunder” every time the clouds bang together. You tell me how bright it is when the sun is out and that you need your glasses. Which you keep in your purse. Along with your sunscreen and lip stuff.

You also have a mommy-thing lately which, while sweet for me, isn’t very friendly and is a bit wearing. “Can daddy take you to bed?” No, mommy take you. My likes mommy.” My is I around here sometimes. And sometimes “you” is “me.” I can’t wait to teach her about the accusative case and direct objects. However, you do ask “May I have one more gummy bear” with the diction of a blue blood. I will be sad when proper grammar takes over entirely.

She also refuses to sleep in her new princess room. She sleeps with us. Sometimes she sleeps vertically but not every night. But the cuddling. It’s not so bad. And, you’re a bit of a romantic kisser. One arm behind my neck and you pull me to you like so many princes. You pucker nicely. And the random hugging is pretty nice.

So far this morning we found my sunglasses! Yay! And then we went for a bike ride on your trike with Cleo and you pedaled and steered. Simultaneously. And then your dad and I took you mountain biking on the trails behind the house. You went in the bike seat on the back of my bike. You weigh 33 pounds. Ow. My legs.

We’re off to lunch and then maybe to the lake to see those ducks you’re always asking about.

I hope you have a good birthday Z. I can’t wait to see what adventure is next.