Thursday, September 27, 2007

To The Rescue

At Guadalupe Schools, the buses have seat belts. Yesterday, 3-year-old Xander stuck is finger in that little square opening in the flat metal part of the seat belt buckle. Then he couldn't get it out, so the bus driver brought him back to school and after about 45 minutes of messing around with it, called the fire department.

Great excitement among the preschoolers when the big red truck arrived, discharging 5 burly firefighters and a can of Pam. Pam and dental floss did the trick.

I Need a Weekend

Gorgeous, huh? Boy, when fall comes to Utah, it's really something, isn't it? This is my backyard.

No, I'm lying. This is my desktop wallpaper. I just wish it were my back yard.

All Eyes on Burma (Myanmar), Please

I'm way out of my blogging comfort zone, here. I follow current events, but almost never write about them for fear of displaying ignorance; but this week, all I have been able to think about are the people of Myanmar. It's eating me up.

The President announced today that the US will tighten sanctions against the ruling military junta, but he describes these sanctions as being focused on particular individuals, and I'm not sure that they will be sweeping enough to make a difference. At any rate, the only way sanctions can be made painful is with the participation of the major players in the Burmese economy: big multi-nationals like UnoCal, for example; and China, which at this point refuses to take any action rather than to urge restraint. I'm imagining one parent saying to another, "Now, don't be too hard on him, Honey."

Buddhist monks who were leading the protests are now being arrested, beaten and detained. I'm imagining how they will be treated in detention, and wishing I had a less vivid imagination. Today citizens returned to the streets, despite the diminished number of monks, to face an even tougher crackdown than they experienced yesterday. Gives a new perspective to all of our hooting about "patriotism" in this complacent country. We're so clueless, and that hurts me.

Could we hope that China would be pressured to place economic sanctions on Myanmar if there were a threat to the Beijing Olympics? If enough countries threatened to boycott the Games, would China in turn put the screws to Myanmar? Other than that, I see no positive ending in sight. Keep your eyes on Myanmar, and keep the Burmese people in your thoughts and prayers. They are suffering to reclaim ownership of their government, and they've suffered for a long time already.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007



Time To Re-Do The Downstairs

I like to document home improvements, so here we go again. Time to do something about the miserable, unused rec room with the worn out carpet. Actually, this project is about getting rid of ugly carpeting from the whole downstairs: rec room, office, guest room, hallway.

There. Good-bye, carpet! Hello, problems that were formerly concealed by the carpet. The floor has a major fault-line running through it. Simon thinks this is a crack that could be effectively filled by the brownie mixture I made the other day.

"What Kind Of Cook Are You?"

You Are a Learning Cook
You've got the makings of an excellent cook, and the desire to be one.But right now, you're just lacking the experience. You couldn't be a top chef yet, but you could be an apprentice.
Are You A Good Cook?
I question the vaildity of this test.
Just 'cause my brownies can be used as construction material...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Well, the Kids Liked It...

It's been a while since I've blogged about my cooking experiments, not because I haven't been doing them, but because they haven't been very exciting. Today, I did a pork loin roast simmered in leeks and white wine that was a big success; but my Mocha Toffee Fudge Brownies were, well...

For all the men out there who have lusted after me because of my alleged culinary skills, this should be a good reality check for you. No these ones aren't mine. This is the picture in the magazine, which promised me "fudgy", "gooey", "the best chocolate brownie ever".

Fudgy? Check. Gooey? Absolutely. But can it be described as a "brownie"?

Uuuhhh... So much for my career as a food stylist. The only possible salvage for this would be to toss is on top of some ice cream and call it "sauce".

Not a keeper.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Potions Master

Yeah, sorry. Another "Harry Potter" reference. Nathan is currently dividing his time between being Harry and being a bat. I have to tell him that his dinner is bugs.

Nate is the potions master. For a couple of weeks now, he has been concocting weird brews of water mixed with hunks of Chapstick, pencil shavings, grass, dirt, crayon stubs, flower petals, etc... He dips a magic marker in it to tint it. Mostly he mixes these up in plastic bottles.

What we didn't realize is that he had been pissing in the potions. Not until we tried to figure out the origin of the awful stink in his bedroom.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Camp Cloud Rim

So, Sara's first Girl Scout outing was a canoe workshop at Camp Cloud Rim. It's called "Cloud Rim", I suppose, because it's so damn high. Maybe 9,000 feet. Hence the many layers worn by everybody and my fervent wish that I had smuggled a hip-flask along.

As soon as I heard there were canoes involved, I was all over it. I even bugged off work on Tuesday night to be a chaperon. The only bummer is that, to get up to Camp Cloud Rim involves driving all the way up Big Cottonwood Canyon, right past the the little "closed in winter" road that leads back into the woods where we used to live. Would we stop and trek down the road to look at "our" cabin, asked Sara? No way. I made that mistake once, right after we sold it to a guy from California who wanted it for a winter ski getaway. Walking past my house and seeing it standing empty was sad. I didn't literally walk right up and press my nose against the front window, but I did emotionally. Nah! Let's just drive on by this time.

Here she is, ready to go. Do you think she looks nervous? Lighten up, Sara!

That's better! It's cool to be chillin' with her friend N., and to have her own paddle.

Even the launch of the Spanish Armada cannot compare.

Here I am, in "Saturn" with Sara and N. At the moment, I'm sitting down in the middle like a good girl. I spent a lot of the time maneuvering myself under the cross braces, backward and forward, so I could get at one girl or another and adjust her grip. Pretty much ensured a wet ass. But at the moment that his photo was taken, everything was working. Nobody fell in, we saw three moose and there were hot dogs for supper. Sara doesn't like hot dogs, so I got hers as well as mine. Thanks, Sara!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Nathan and His Parts, Chapter XXVII

[Thanks, JYankee, for your guidance on linking text. I'll try it today.]

Five-year-old Nathan LOOVVES potty words and references to male anatomy. I am mystified, but have been told this is normal. Nothing makes him fall off his chair laughing like the word "pee-pee". Why say "Tuesday", when you can call it "Toot-sday", especially if you can pull off a fart-on-cue at then same time?

His lexicon is expanding, but isn't really (I would say) becoming more sophisticated. At supper last night he informed us in his piping little voice that girls are dumber than boys. Frozen in the glare of three females all within striking distance (sister Sara, cousin A. and myself), he utilized another highly gender-specific skill and backpedaled like mad.

"Well, what I mean is that the little girls at daycare are dumber than the little boys at daycare."

"Oh, really. And what do you base that on?"

"Weeeellll, when we chase them, the girls all run away screaming every time. They don't know they should run right at us and kick us in the 'nads!"

Monday, September 17, 2007


* "Harry Potter 8" will be about how Harry makes a living in a post-Voldemort world. Auror positions will be hard to come by in peace-time, but Harry will make serious bank in the Muggle world by summoning all our lost s***.

Harry, I need you. I have tried the summoning charm, but I am a mere Muggle. Nathan has wandered around the house and front yard with his wand, but still no results. My gorgeous, NEW, hand-tooled, Navajo silver hoop encrusted with numerous tiny but VERY fiery opals (damn, damn, DAMN...) remains lost. I wore them to a meeting on Friday, and then I came straight home. I was sitting at supper when Sara asked me why I only had one earring in. I reached up and the earring back was actually still there, pressed against the back of my ear lobe. I have hunted high and low.

Harry, how much would you charge? And while we're at it, could we do a general shout-out to all the earring that I have lost? The cute little wooden ones that were in my car when it got stolen; the ones I bought in Africa, that slipped out of a hole in the bottom of my purse while I was in the Peace Corps; the spectacular danglies Mom brought me from Israel. The list is long, Harry. We'll need to hold out a big bag to catch them all. And while we're at it, let's summon:

  • my dad's rhododendron hiking stick that he used for 40 years before losing it in the Escalante wilderness.
  • the perfectly seasoned rope that fell out of the top of my backpack while I was fording a river in Alaska. Whoops.
  • the super-cozy pajama bottoms I left in a hotel on a business trip. There are a bunch of hotel losses, actually.
  • the red and white umbrella that was a parting gift from my students when I left Poland, signed by all of them (also in the stolen car). My most painful loss.

Anybody care to share? If you could get a wizard to serve as YOUR summoning consultant, what would be returned to you?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Mr. Right Number Five

[Let me preface this evening's blog with a request for help. When I want to link the text of my blog to another entry to which I'm referring, how do I do that? I notice that most of my buddies in Blogoverse are able to make this happen. Share the knowledge, please.]

The reason I want to do this is that my cousin A. is now staying with us, for better or worse. Since I don't yet know how to make the link, all I can do is invite you to scroll down to "Pushing the Limits of Tact", where the story begins. She arrived on Wednesday night, and she's here for a week. I will say that she's no trouble at all, except that she's...having a little trouble functioning. Please find a job, A. Puh-leeze?

She's willing to do anything. ANYTHING, she long as there is no pre-employment drug screening that will reveal her twice daily toke. My views on this issue are fairly liberal, but opting out of the work-force in order to spend more time with your bong just seems a little excessive to me. S***, at least it isn't meth. You know, A., there are these kits you can buy for about $30; word is that you can be ready for a pristine piss test in only a couple of days....

I would tell her that, except that I don't see her very much. She has signed up for one of those "Get Control of Your Dysfunctional Life: We'll Knock You Down and Rebuild You" seminars. It meets every evening this week, Wednesday through Saturday, from 4 - 10 PM. So she's gone when I get home from work, and she's getting back at about midnight, so our conversation is limited to [whispered], "Hey! How did your day go?" "Good! You?" "Good! Do you need anything?" "No, thanks! Night, night!"

But what is she doing here during the day? She's got the Web, the classifieds, so I figured... Yesterday morning, I asked how the job search was going. She had called me a couple times at work the day before with questions about logging on, etc..

"Well, I didn't actually start looking for a job. I know that sounds really bad, huh? The thing is, I have a lot of homework for this seminar."

"Really?" I keep my voice from squeaking. "What kind of homework?"

"Oh, you know... five things I really like about myself; five things I don't like about myself; five things that happened in the past that have affected who I am today. Stuff like that."

"Hmmm. Well, that sounds interesting." I don't say, "Oh for Chrissakes A., how long did that take you? That took all day? Couldn't you manage to carve out a LITTLE time in your busy list-making to check the want-ads?" I just think it.

Because...and this is good...she's not my responsibility. Not MY kid, not MY spouse, not MY student or staff member. She can f***k around all week and it's NOT MY PROBLEM! I prance around my bedroom, singing this to myself while I put on my jammies. "Not my problem! Nyah, nah, nah, nee, NYAH, nah!" I tell it to my reflection in the bathroom mirror. ("A., you are not my responsibility!" No, no. Try again. Maybe I should emphasize "not". "A... you are not my responsibility.") But then I stand in the shower and think, "OK, job prospects first; then we need to get to work on the resume. Housing after that - it's better if she can find an apartment near her job...NO! STOP! NOT my kid, spouse, student, staff member, remember?"

Oh, yeah.

So... [whispered] "Hey, A. How was the seminar this evening? If I cut up that pineapple in the fridge, will you eat some for breakfast?"

I have been conveniently "forgetting" to call my mother, so she won't find out that I'm not taking her advice, and that A. is here. I'll remember to call home again after A. has moved on.

One thing has ironed itself out, though. Her fifth husband is all lined up and ready to go. Or he would be if he weren't five years old. Nathan has proposed several times in the past and been rejected, but now that the "bad man" she was married to is off the scene, Nathan sees his chance. The age difference is beginning to dawn on him though. The other morning he asked me, "Is A. old?" "Well, she's an adult, if that's what you mean." "Yeah, but is she really old. You know, older than YOU?" (Triassic Period, in case any of you were wondering. I just have a good moisturizer.) "Yeah, she's seven years older." "Oh." This "Oh" was heavily weighted by Nate's consideration of the problem: the 42 year age difference. Love will find a way, though, he's sure.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Valuable Training Seminars

At our school's last staff meeting, I agreed to serve on the "Safety and Facilities" committee. I figure this might give me opportunities to throw stuff out. Will I finally get to tell that pack-rat of a Second Grade teacher's assistant that she can no longer fill the computer lab with bulging plastic storage tubs of dryer lint? Looks like a fire hazard to me.

My colleague who is chairing the committee came to my office yesterday to tell me that, as a member of the Safety and Facilities committee, I have been invited to attend a seminar called "Boilers and Burners: Efficiency and Safety". This $700 2-day conference is being held in 7 cities nationwide (Hmmm...Anaheim? Chicago? Ooooh...Syracuse!) and includes seminars such as, "Burner Basics", "Gas Valve Train Assemblies" and (now this one sounds fun) "Fundamentals of Combustion". Could damage my nice-girl reputation, though.

She was pulling my leg, although Syracuse is beautiful in late October, I'm sure. Unfortunately, we didn't budget for "Boilers and Burners".

As a busy professional, I prefer training videos to destination seminars, anyway. I was sitting in the office of the Director of Childhood Education, and saw a video on her bookcase entitled "Head Lice To Dead Lice". It promises "safe solutions for frantic families". I'm not sure why, but he photo of the mommy on the case is actually a man in drag, including the five o'clock shadow. I'm intrigued (Kate says, scratching her head). Maybe I should take it home over the weekend.

Monday, September 10, 2007

La Caille

This is probably Salt Lake's Most Expensive Restaurant. After living in Salt Lake for 15 years, I have finally had a chance to experience La Caille. This is the annual Snowbird "Thanks-For-Last-Season-Let's-Do-It-Again-This-Season-U-Rah-Rah!" dinner. Mere mortals like Simon and I would never have entered the gates without the patronage of a sugar daddy like D.B., the owner of Snowbird. D.B. is a well-known figure, and his name is hardly secret; but I'll just use his initials in case he decides to Google himself and scrolls through about 8,000 references until he finds this one. He would, too.

This restaurant isn't just a building. It has le Grounds. Its own le pond. Le vineyard. Les peacocks. A place to hit golf balls. It's meant to be Country French. Think trailing vines, cobble stones, elaborate almost to the point of being tacky, but... stopping just short.

I wore my sequined skirt and gorgeous, agonizing shoes. I even wore makeup (eyeliner, lip liner, eyebrow shading - a three pencil affair)! And blew my hair dry. The ultimate. Even so, I was intimidated. I the other Snowbird people on le terrace and a server immediately appeared at my elbow. "To drink?" "White, please." Then I looked at Si's friends and saw they were actually holding mixed drinks. "What," I whispered, "Not just beer and wine?" "No! Whatever you want!" Well, hell. I found the server and changed my order to gin and tonic, since D.B. was footing the bar. "Certainly. Do you have a preferred gin?" Uhhhhh..... My mind was a blank. I was still trying to absorb the concept of free cocktails. I told her anything was fine. Later, of course, I thought I could have said, "Tanqueray, natually." The classy answers always come too late.

I had two goals for the evening. One was to stay out of D.B.'s line of fire. He's an elderly Texan, and he's been too rich for way too long. He loves to call the wives of his executive staff "darlin'" and kiss us not once, but two, maybe three times. Then he'll pay us flowery compliments, all the time spraying us with crumbs from le canape. At supper, he traditionally gets up to give a really long speech, which contains abundant Texas-isms, such as my perennial favorite: "Well, Joe got that crazy idee 'bout buildin' a tunnel raht on through the mountain, and whoo-eee! That made my heart sing, and my thing sing, and my socks roll up and down!"

My other goal was to see if the servers really had to wear the costumes I had heard about. It's true. The men all wear loose, blousy shirts and knickers. The women wear these sort of peasant dresses complete with tight, low-cut bodices. The server who took care of our table was particularly well endowed. I confess that there is no foundation garment currently available that would give me cleavage like that. She smiled at Simon and poured him an extra big glass of wine, and he turned pink, causing hilarity.

This reminds me of the story of the largest boobs I have ever seen on anyone.

My school used to be the beneficiary of funds generated by an annual party held by a club called the Martini Foundation. It was a black tie affair, and I found it to be a real challenge for my wordrobe. I fussed about all the ladies there in $500 dresses. "Don't worry about it," said my supervisor at the time. "Of course they have great dresses. They're working girls." It took me literally YEARS to figure out that she meant "escorts". For the longest time, I thought, "Well I'm a working girl...I need to find out the line of work they're in." OK, now I know. At any rate, there was a woman who attended his event for two or three years in a row, and she had decided to...enhance her God-given gifts to the point that they were insane. A gimmick. To quote a favorite local folk musician, "She was a walking, talking dirty joke." One time, Simon and I ended up in the elevator with her. She was wearing a silver cocktail dress with spaghetti straps which literally didn't make contact with her skin until they reached her clavicle, they had been pulled out so far. Eevery woman in the elevator was looking at her date to check his response; and every man in the elevator was carefully looking at the ceiling.

Saturday, September 8, 2007


It's early September, I know. Snowbird, the ski resort where my husband works, puts on an Oktoberfest in September because they are optimists, and they think that the snow will have started by October.

Yesterday was Staff Appreciation Night, so free food and rides. We went up for supper and goofed around on the alpine slide, tram, etc...
Nate likes food.
Just in case I have ever fancied myself an amateur photographer, my attempts at an "action shot" of Sara's back-flip on the bungee tramp reminded me that I need to find other things to pretend.
"Did you get it that time, Mom?" "No, not really. Do it again."
"How 'bout THAT time?" "Ummm..."
Fourteen attempts later, she is thinking, "Mom, you are the biggest doofus."

My sunset picture didn't turn out as I had hoped, either. It was a gorgeous sunset - I took this while actually driving the car, while Sara scolded. "Mom, you should pull over to take a picture, for heaven's sake. Are you done? Good! Hand over the camera. I'm going to put it away." Bossy! Where does she get that?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Dave Kerring

Every time I mentioned United Way's "Day of Caring" this past month, my colleagues would laugh. "Dave Kerring? Who's he?"

Now it's over, so we can allow this dog-eared joke to die. Right, Diane?

I'm lacking blogability this evening. Too much stuff competing for my emotional attention.

  1. My cousin left me a message today. She'll be staying with a friend for a week, then come to my place for a week. After that...uh...back to the other friend, I guess. Musical Guest Rooms.
  2. Lately, I've started having long conversations with an old friend on the phone, and I feel strange because I'm not good on the phone. Face to face is so much better. The phone is the medium guaranteed to make me come across like a dork.
  3. And Simon has announced that he thinks he is having a mid-life crisis. Oh, goodie. We haven't really delved in to what this might mean, yet, but he's ordering a book from Amazon, so it must be serious. I don't know what book, yet. One of my friends said to me, "Is it 'Seasons of Manhood?' You'd better hope it's not 'Seasons of Manhood'." God, I really can't imagine Si reading a book with such a drippy name. This could make for humorous blog fodder in the future. We'll see.

So for tonight, I'm reduced to my "High Point / Low Point" game. If you'd like to play along... you need to write the single best moment and the single worst moment from your day, even if the high wasn't that high or the low wasn't that low. I do this from time to time, and I love reading everyone else's highs and lows.

OK, for me the high point was this morning when my husband pushed the "Public Forum" section of the Salt Lake Tribune across the breakfast table to show me that my letter had been published. I was glad because the letter I was responding to was so egregiously illogical and xenophobic. I respond in my official capacity to every anti-immigrant letter that appears in the Tribune, but I never get published. Usually, I'm genteel, so as not to embarrass my school. This letter was only worthy of a snarky response, though, so I wrote in as just me. Next time, though, I need to remember that I should remove my e-mail signature and contact information in that case....

Low point: I headed up a team of corporate volunteers on a cleaning project for Dave Kerring ( I mean Day. Of. Caring.) I brought cleaning stuff from home, they brought some stuff, too...When they had finished, they packed up and left with (I think) my galvanized steel bucket and two screwdrivers that I'd swiped from Simon's tool box this morning without saying anything about it to him. I can call the volunteers tomorrow and ask if they have my stuff ("Thanks so much for your hard work yesterday, and for your service to our community. Do you think that perhaps a big metle bucket and some screwdrivers managed to find their way home with you?" Oh, ick.); or I can buy a couple of screwdrivers, pronto.

How about you? High point? Low Point?

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


Thanks, blog-buddies, for your excellent insights regarding my cousin. Now, I'm just waiting for her to call and say she's on her way. I'm thinking (at least this is my thought at the moment), that I won't call her. She knows where to find me.

In the meantime, other things are competing for my attention, as usual. Peaches are getting ripe, so the peach processing plant has opened for business. This essay is entitled, "How I Spent My Labor Day Weekend".

In spite of losing a big bough a few weeks ago, the tree is loaded with an overwhelming amount of fruit; some of it is pristine, some bird-pecked, some crawling with earwigs. I'm not afraid of earwigs per se, but they scuttle onto my hand and startle me and I scream and drop the peach. Ooof.

Luckily, they don't all ripen at once, so every day, I go out and pick the ones that are ready. This was Sunday's haul.

In clear violation of child labor laws, Nate and Sara work in the peach processing plant, slipping the skins off the scalded peaches. Fine, call OSHA.

Yum! Pies, crisps, cobblers, chutneys, salsas...Cool, but I have to keep this up for a week or so. I have another date with the "Fruit Fresh" bottle late tonight after work.
In other news, I put Nathan on the bus to Kindergarten this morning. He's ready: he's been cramming "Hop on Pop" all weekend. But when I went in to wake him up this morning, his little eyes popped open and he said, "I don't wanna ride the bus! Please, Mommy, don't put me on the bus! What if I can't find my teacher?" I reminded him that we've practiced going to the right place, and that Sara would help him. RIGHT, Sara!?! She promised she would, in her most cloying and patronizing tone. For once, Nate didn't whack her for it. ("Don't worry, Sweetie!" [she strokes his hair] "I'll show you exactly what to do, 'kay?") Oh, gack. This, from the girl who just last night wanted Nate evicted permanently from her room because he kept farting and she didn't want the smell to contaminate her stuffed animals.

So, good luck today, Nate! And remember:
1. Go potty! Don't stand there clutching your crotch until it's too late.
2. Your "get to know me" Show & Tell bag is in your backpack, with the 5 objects that you chose: the petroglyph fridge magnet; the magic wand made out of a peeled stick; the transformer; the octopus finger-puppet and the bolo tie. WHAT they tell about you is a little bit of a mystery to me, but hey, you'll come up with something, I'm sure.
3. The wand needs to stay in the bag after Show & Tell. No "unforgivable curses", please.
4. "CUP. PUP. Cup on pup." Words to live by.
5. You're brilliant! I love you! (Sniff! Sniff!) (I wave my imaginary handkerchief at your receding form...)