Monday, March 31, 2008


I've never met Maxine, unfortunately. She is Simon's main road-trip buddy. Whenever Si calls home while he's traveling, I always ask, "Is Max there?", followed immediately by, "Did you go shopping?"

I don't shop much. If a pair of my shoes falls apart, I will look at the pieces in some surprise and exclaim, "By God, I guess I need a new pair of shoes!", after which I will go and find a pair. Sometimes, Simon will go shopping with me. It's novel - a special occasion. Sometimes, I even wonder if watching me disappear into a changing room and pop out wearing different, unfamiliar outfits is a turn-on for him... Once, I was lured into (the WAY too youthful) "Wet Seal" by a cute skirt and ended up trying some things on while the teenage sales associate assured me that I really WAS within the store's target demographic. The clothes were kind of skimpy - Si loved it. Pretty soon, he was roaming among the racks, picking stuff out and tossing it over the changing room door, calling out, "Try this on!" "Christ, Si! I look like a medieval serving wench!" "Really? Come out! Let's see."
My point is, I don't shop much.

Maxine LOVES to shop. If she and Simon go out to find a restaurant in whatever town they are visiting, she will always find the priciest, most upmarket resort-town boutiques and plead, "Simon, I just want to nip in there for a sec!" He winds up sitting outside the changing room, holding Max's handbag while she tries on one $500 ensemble after another. His eyes glaze over with horror when he tells me about the money she spends. My favorite part is when she suggests they stop to look at jewelery. She'll drop a couple of hundred bucks and then she'll say, "Now. What are you going to pick out for Kate?"


"Kate. You were planning on getting her a present, weren't you?"


"Sure you were! "

"Well, the prices here-"

"- are really reasonable, if you know how to shop! Here! Would she like THIS?"

"Ummm...I don't know very much about-"

"Oh, yes! Look at THIS! This is it! She will love this, and it's marked down! Buy her that."

For never having met me, she always gets it right. Thanks for the choker, Max! I love it!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Cause and Effect

Well, crud! I'm too tired for more than a mini-post tonight. I didn't get much sleep last night 'cause I was too wound up after work. This is a problem with working at night. Yesterday, after classes ended, I had to have a confrontation with one of the teachers on my staff - she had promised to cover a shift for another teacher, then at the last minute said she didn't want to do it after all. I had to tell her to work the shift or have a reprimand put in her file. She didn't like either of those choices, I guess, judging from the fact that she had a cow (like I knew she would), and stomped out with her nose in the air (like I knew she would), saying she would be discussing this with the school's executive director (like I...well, you get the idea...). That's fine. I know what the executive director will say if she goes to complain; but last night it meant that I wasn't able to leave the office until 11:00, 'cause I had to write an incident report, document everything, e-mail the executive director, etc...

This caused me to get home late, feeling tense.

Which caused me to take a spoon and eat Pomegranate Chip Hagen Daazs (How do you SPELL that?!? It looks wrong. Well, you know what I mean) right from the container.

Which caused me to have weird dreams.

Supervising people can really be a pain in the ass sometimes.

At least last night I wasn't scared, alone in the house. I was too pissed off. Tonight is another story, though. Earlier, while I was visiting all my blog-buddies' blogs, I was distracted (although, when the intro to the music on CinniBonBon's blog came on, I jumped! "What the F-?"), but now I'm starting to imagine things again. I"d better get my butt into bed.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My Man Done Left Me

Well, just for a few days.

Simon is in Crested Butte on business until Sunday night, so I'm on my own. He always feels guilty about these trips: says he hates to leave me with all the chores and stuff while he's gone. Usually, I don't envy him, with the glaring exception of the night he called me from Hotel Telluride and told me he had a room with a stone fireplace and a bed that must be ascended by step stool. I do miss him; but in some ways it's kind of nice, too. This morning, I was helping the kids get their stuff together for school and I reminded them that Dad would be gone for a few days. This is the part where I ask them to be extra helpful, etc... "You know what that means, don't you?" Nate thinks for a few seconds and squeals, "ROCKY ROAD!!" (Si hates marshmallow, so we eat Rocky Road ice cream and other things he doesn't like while he's gone.)

I'm pretty lazy about cooking when Si's not around, at least on week nights. We will eat macaroni and cheese (the gross-looking, neon yellow kind from a packet). I will be able to make the bed with a quick tug on the barely-disturbed covers. I will have all the hot water I want. On Saturday, the laundry will be less. I will not have to negotiate, listen, compromise, inform or discuss for five whole days. In fact, when you don't have a relationship to maintain, it's amazing how much time you save!

BUT. This is a BIG but. My house scares the S*** out of me.

As I'm sitting here typing, I'm pausing every few seconds to look over my shoulder at the office door. I do OK when I'm upstairs in the part of the house where we spend most of our time; but down here in the basement, where the office is? Every ping from the vents, every thump of the furnace...I find myself wondering, why the hell am I DOWN HERE? Just about every light in the house is on. In a minute, I will turn off the downstairs lights and scurry upstairs as if a chain saw murderer were after me. Upstairs, I'll be OK - I have strategies: leave a light on in the living room all night; take my shower with one eye on the door knob. [Mr. Hitchcock! Cue the strings! WREE WREE WREE...]; I keep the radio playing low until I'm ready to sleep, so I can attribute odd sounds to it (Was that a drunken maniac trying to break down the door? No, just Toby Kieth);I forgot to buy one of my important crutches, though- Tylenol PM.

OOOOKKKKK..... if the axe murderer (or was it a chain saw killer?) appears at the office door this minute, I will...THROW...something! Um... my teaspoon! I will HURL the teaspoon at him, and it will jam the chain in the chainsaw. No. The phone! Have you seen the trailer for the "Get Smart" movie? Where he says to the bad guy, "Never underestimate the power of..SURPRISE!" and he THROWS the phone receiver at him, but the cord is too short? That's me. If I live to see another day, I will blog again. Otherwise...

Maybe tomorrow, I will blog about when we lived in the cabin. There, I used to get REALLY spooked (It was the perfect setting for one of those teen horror flicks.) and some funny stuff DID happen up there, too. Tomorrow. For now, I think I hear someone murdering the children. He's going to phone in a second and ask if I've checked on them lately, so I'd better publish this.

Monday, March 24, 2008

13 Small Happinesses

Ew. That sounds sappy, doesn't it? Right out of a f***ing fortune cookie. I'll have to write something really dark and angst-ridden tomorrow, to make up for today's buoyant mood.

This weekend, I was made happy by:
  • Bacon.
  • A new vinyl tablecloth, as the old one was getting dingy.
  • The beginning of gardening season! Only a heady optimist like myself could see this...
and think "raspberry jam".
  • Sara writing, "I love you, Mom" in the steam from the bathroom mirror.
  • Looking sidelong at the kids during "Horton Hears a Who". I love watching kids laugh at movies. Go see it! It was good, even for grown-ups.
  • Lots of coffee, but no heartburn.
  • Devilled eggs, made with shrimp, parsley and bacon. Huh? Did somebody say, "bacon"?

I can overlook the Easter egg neon dye seepage and the Christmas plate if you can.

  • Successfully running 8 miles. In only three more weeks, though, I'll have to manage 13, so I'm not letting myself be too proud.
  • My Easter babka,

only slightly lopsided, as always. The only awkwardness is that Nate pronounces it "vodka", as in, "Thanks, Mom for letting me have extra vodka, since it's a holiday." or "I'm telling my teachers that no one makes vodka as good as yours." or "Vodka is my favorite part of Easter."

  • Sitting in a sunbeam, idly watching Sara and Simon labor over a jigsaw puzzle.

  • Doing two Sudokus, even though I screwed up before I finished either of them.

  • Finishing "Middlesex", by Jeffrey Eugenides. Book review to come, after I've had a few drinks, so I won't be too worshipful. (It was a great book.)

  • Hurrying up to Snowbird this morning to ski a few runs with my friend, Alan, then going to work.

How about you? Got any small stuff?

Thursday, March 20, 2008


OK, I'm finally ready to shift my attention away from the devaluation of my sexual favors and focus on food, the Other Passion. Last night, the test kitchen was back in business with Balsamic Succotash.

I'm going to post this recipe as a tribute to 6-year-old Nathan, who climbed up in his chair, looked at it and said,"WHAT are THOSE?!"
"It's succotash! Corn and beans."
"I HATE succotash!"
Sara and I, together: "You've never HAD succotash!"

He snarfed it right down and asked for seconds.


2 T butter

1 C chopped onion

1 garlic clove, minced

2 C frozen corn kernels

1/2 C chopped red bell pepper

1 t dried basil (hey, if you have fresh basil this time if year, more power to you)

1 (10 oz.) pckg. frozen baby Lima beans

1/2 C chicken broth

1/2 t sugar

1/2 t salt

1/8 t black pepper

1 T balsamic vinegar


1. Melt butter in a lg., non-stick skillet over medium heat.

2. Add onion and garlic; cook 3 mins or until onion softens, stirring occasionally.

3. Add corn, bell pepper, basil and beans; cook four minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add broth, sugar, salt and black pepper; cook 7 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates.

5. Remove from heat and stir in vinegar.

6 servings.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

bedroom toys

Thanks, Sue Sun, for this very funny quiz, which addresses the whole "Eliot-Spitzer-Paid-What?!?" issue.

I had to take the quiz twice in order to provide an honest answer about my body type; but I mean, really! When the choices are: "eggplant, apple, bunch of grapes (???), carrot..."? Uh, none of those... Yesterday, I went for "upside down pear", then realized that, given the roundness of my backside and the flatness of my chest, I'm a right side up pear. Thorough as always, I went back to change it this morning, but my next best choice was... "eggplant". Eggplant?! Awww, c'mon. That cut $15 off my rate!

Several of us at the office took the quiz, and guess who got the highest rate-quote? Our sweet, innocent Mormon colleague, Emilie. She laughed at me and pointed out that she has youth on her side (I have to admit that I topped out the age-chart). She also thinks that this may be one instance in which a Masters Degree is not an asset.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I Blame Eliot Spitzer

I'm not as indifferent to Eliot Spitzer's problems as I would like to be. I wonder, sometimes, about the barometric pressure at his family supper table these days. I have occasionally stopped to ponder how, when the stakes are so high, the guy couldn't keep his zipper up.

Simon, though , is fascinated. He gets a glint in his eye when he talks about it.

Now, I don't think my husband is cheating on me. I don't think he ever would. But I have to admit that his fidelity has more to do with his aversion to risk that his undying devotion to me.

When I happened to mention that I thought it was unwise for a high-profile smut-buster to engage in extra-curricular donkey-dipping, Simon's expression softened.

"Well, yeah. But I understand why he did it."
"You do?"
"Yeah. Look, he probably loves his wife. This isn't even really about her. This is about The New. The Different. The Exotic."

He spoke with a relish.

Later, Simon told me that he had seem a picture of "Kristen" on MSN. I couldn't help being a little bit interested. I have been trying to figure out what makes a f*** worth $5,500 an hour. Does she know how to do stuff I don't know how to do? Like what? (If I could type with my hands on my hips, that is where they would be.) As Leonard Pitts said in his Op-Ed piece the other day, "What does she do? Sweat Dom Perignon?"

"Aaaaaaand? Your opinion?"
"She's bodacious!!"

Again, the relish.

So I had a look for myself. Can you believe it? She's better looking than I! And she's 22, which helps. Once, a long time ago, I was 22 for a whole year.

I went to find Simon and acknowledged that Kristen was hot. But I pointed out to him that I am almost as bodacious as she is, and with the added bonuses of proximity, affordability and culinary skills.

I do want to address something else, here. This whole thing about men craving The New. The Different. The Exotic. Yeah, right. And women? All we want is you, The Spouse. The moment the rings go onto our fingers, we look at no one, desire no one else. We wish for nothing more than the privilege of boffing the same guy for the Rest Of Our Lives. It's all about you, Mr. Hot-Stuff.

I tried this out on Simon, hoping that he would be awed by the sudden insight. Instead, he countered that the vast majority of prostitutes service men, not women. If women want what men want, where are all the gigolos?

Uh, well...hmmm.... I didn't have an answer to that. Any theories?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Oh, Spare Me

Our local supermarket is the closest grocery store to four local ski resorts, so it's always full of sunburned people with east-coast accents who can't find anything.

I was in the pasta aisle with my kids and watched a guy go over to a pretty, 50-ish woman and say, "Hey, are you from around here? Do you know the area?"
"No, I'm not from around here."
"Oh. Well, I'm looking for a Blockbuster. Well. Hmm. By the way, where are you from?"
"I'm from Florida."

At this point, she was clearly done chatting with him. In fact, he had obviously lost her from "Hello". He moved away from her, down the aisle.

As I passed him, I stopped and told him that I had heard his question, and that I know where there's a Blockbuster. It's easy to find, even if you're not familiar with the area; so, I gave him directions and part way through telling him, it hit me: he was not tuned in at all. He was not interested in Blockbuster. But, what do you do? I just... finished telling him, he smiled this fakey smile and thanked me,and I went on down the aisle, with my ears feeling little bit hot. He moseyed back toward the other lady, who was still in the aisle

"Soooo...I lived in Michigan once. How long have you lived there?"

I felt like turning around and saying, "Look, Buddy. She's not that into you. Can't you tell? Go find Blockbuster, rent a movie and call it good for tonight."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Spring Forward...Dummy!

All day yesterday, I couldn't believe how productive I was! I kept looking at the clock, thinking, "Oh, look! It's only 11:00! Wow, I finished that project really quickly!"
"Lunch time! Where is everybody? Maybe they're all in meetings."
"Only 2:00. Cool. Plenty of time to send those e-mails I needed to take care of."

All day. All day this went on, and it wasn't even Sunday. It was Monday by this time.

It finally hit me late in the afternoon, after I was 40 minutes late to get the groceries and pick up the kids. Mad scramble, frantic phone calls.

It had been such a relaxing, productive day, too. Why can't every day be a day when I'm an hour behind?

And did I learn? No. The clock still isn't changed in my office (we need someone tall to reach it down), so I found myself thinking just now, "Oh, great! It's so early. I have plenty of time to blog..."

Monday, March 10, 2008

Wipe Out

Let's do I feel? What would be a good analogy? The Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz? An over sized Utah Jazz bobble-head? Really, when you think about it, skiing is a weird sport.

"Si, have you really thought about this pastime? How it would look, for example, to aliens from outer space? What would they think of the fact that we like to strap on our weight in gear and slide down steep hills at high speed?"

"If aliens arrive, their opinion of skiing is going to be the least of our worries. And, anyway, they're aliens. They'd think everything we do is weird."

It's been a stormy winter and most days when I've been out skiing, the visibility has not been good. I skied slowly, 'cause I couldn't see. I should have stuck with that plan. Yesterday, I chose to attempt a more...uh...assertive style, which is why I am unhappy today.

The first time I wiped out, it was sort of funny. I saw some sweet-looking powder that I wanted to ski, so I went off the groomed run and started to make my way over to it. I went off the piste, hit the soft stuff too hard, and didn't adjust my technique quickly enough. I felt myself losing it and tried to get back onto the run, but went ass over teacups before I could quite get there. The only body part that got back on-piste was my head; it slammed hard enough against the surface that my goggles flew about 6 feet. I was lying there, watching the little birdies circling around my head and this guy skied over. He was very good-looking (the kind of guy I always meet when I'm in compromising situations). Muzzily, I thought to myself, "Cute! I wonder if he's ski patrol?" Looking back, I'm worried that I said this ALOUD, 'cause he then said, "I am a patroller; just not at this resort." Ack! Maybe I DID say it aloud! At any rate, he handed me my goggles, checked that I wasn't about to pass out, and he was gone. Who WAS that masked man?

Not a big deal. I felt sort of carsick for an hour or so, then had a headache for an hour or so, then I was fine. Today, however, my neck muscles would like everyone to know: they played a vital role in preventing my head from coming off and are now making a serious bid for recognition. I find myself thinking about huge cervical collars with longing. Oh! That would feel SO GOOD! Who knew that holding one's head up was so much work? I appreciate you, neck muscles! Really!

This is the bummer: I wiped out again, later that day, in the exact same damn place! We were skiing at both Alta and Snowbird, so we're talking about a lot of terrain. What are the chances that I would crash again, right there? So, yeah...headed toward the sweet powder-shot again, failed to adjust technique again, ass over teacups again. But this time, it was my knee, which is a giant pickle. I want to run in the Salt Lake Half-Marathon in mid-April, and I don't want anything messing with my training routine! I sat for a bit, trying to assess the damage while Si stood there waiting.

"How is it? Do I need to get ski patrol?"

Yikes! Y'know, it's one thing to WANT a hunky patroller to rescue you, and a whole different thing to NEED a hunky patroller to rescue you. The fuss; the ride in "blood-wagon", while people look at you speculatively...

"No! How embarrassing."

"Well, in that case, can you ski well enough to get to the top of the tram? Then you can take the tram down."

Hundreds of people ride the tram UP every hour. You know who rides the tram DOWN? No one! "'Scuse me, Ms. Tram Operator? Would you mind if I ride down with you? My knee hurts."

"No! How embarrassing!"

"Well, in that case, you'll just have to ski the whole thing."

Obviously, I managed that; and I would like to say that it was hard work, what with the distance, the knee injury, and the 12 tons of ego I felt it necessary to transport intact. Which I guess just goes to show that I can't be hurt too badly. I hope my body gets the memo.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A Better Day


Yesterday was better than the day before.

1. My school's fundraising breakfast is over! Thank God! And my students were ROCK STARS! They stayed cool under pressure: remembered to breathe; to speak slowly; all the things we practiced in our numerous dress rehearsals. The audience loved them - understood them, got all their little humorous references and laughed in all the right places. Here they are, wowing the crowd at the Salt Palace Convention Center. It's a bummer this picture turned out so blurry. I remembered, with only seconds left to go, that I had my camera clutched in my sweaty palm, and hastily snapped a picture.

After the event, they were approached over and over by total strangers wanting to shake their hands and tell them how great they were. People followed us out to the elevators, down to the lobby, out into the parking structure. They were tickled. She's a housekeeper, he's a metal worker - how often do they get to tell their stories and actually get listened to and congratulated on their contributions and hard work? This event is hell to prepare for. It's a huge project for them to write a whole speech in English, correct it, edit it, and read it over and over while I correct their pronunciation and inflections. ("Frus-tra-tion. Frus-traaaaa-tion. Careful. Not 'froos'. 'Frus'." Ad nauseum.) But it's a great process-driven learning experience. I wish more of our students could do it, not just so they can learn to write and give a speech, but also so they can finally be heard and seen by people who often don't notice them.

Here's the best part. Relaxing after it's over! Nothing left to do but count the money!

So that cheered me up. As icing on the cake...

2. I called KCPW, one of our local Public Radio affiliates, to see if I could get them to air a Public Service Announcement (PSA) to recruit volunteer English tutors. The person in charge of PSAs must have had her Wheaties that morning. Not only did she offer to take care of the PSA, she offered to be a volunteer herself, and has asked me to come to the studio on Friday and do a 10-minute spot about our school.

3. A friend sent me a fun e-mail that helped me realize: I don't need to talk myself of out of a bad mood: a trip to the Dolomites is what I really need! The itinerary and activities are all mapped out! I will never have the opportunity to actually take this trip, but now I'm at least able to say, "Well, of course I'm bummed out! I'm not in a villa on Lake Como."

4. We received some more donations at the school. There were three girls' sweaters in teeth-achingly happy pastels. Super-fluffy, fuzzy chenille. They're way too small for us, but my colleague, Emilie and I each put one on and made Mark wear one, too. Charlie's Angels.

Mark, is there any dumb-ass thing you won't try on?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Guess I'll Go Eat Worms

Do you ever just feel so miserable and you cannot figure out why? I was all set to create an upbeat post about snowshoeing, but I'm actually incapable of it today. I'll put in a picture of some aspens in the snow, as it is appropriately bleak.

There! I feel better already. Well, not really.

Sometimes, when I'm inexplicably bummed, I can figure out what the problem is; I just need to stop, consider my day, and try to locate the molten core of Planet Pity-Party. That hasn't worked well, today. Not even a gin and tonic, reading Harry Potter aloud and a dish of Girl Scout Cookie Thin Mint ice cream have helped me find my center. So, my last resort is to slap myself around a little.

Multiple choice quiz, Kate:

Are you being a self-absorbed schmo because you...

A. are hormonal? In which case, live with it. PMS happens.

B. have a backache from lifting weights yesterday? In which case, take a hot shower and live with it.

C. are tired because you were up until 2 AM doing office work? So, go to bed! Duh.

D. are pissed off because the neighbor boy came over to play yesterday and, when it was time to go home, his 13 year-old brother professed shock and horror that the boys were about to watch "Transformers", which he said was "inappropriate"? ("Have you started this!? Where are you in this movie? He's not allowed to watch movies like that!") In which case, shrug. No, don't. It hurts your back.

E. are nervous because the school is having a major fundraising breakfast first thing in the morning, two of your students are featured speakers, they are both English language learners who have never done any public speaking before, and you're responsible for making sure it all goes well? In which case, excuse me?!? You think YOU'RE nervous? They are about to stand up in front of 500 people, including the mayor of Salt Lake. This is SOOOO not about you.

F. are aggrieved because you'll have to get up at 6:15 AM tomorrow to be at the breakfast on time? Well, that solution is (again)... gettest thou to thy beddie-bye.

G. feel paranoid that the mild nausea you are experiencing is some sort of killer super-flu which is poised to hit you at any moment? Or, could it be caused by the fact that you're hormonal, achy, tired, pissed off, nervous and aggrieved? Mixing gin and tonic with mint chocolate ice cream wasn't very bright, either.

Just....go to bed. Give up. Tomorrow will be better.