Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Preparing for School -- Then and Now

Looks kinda lonely and deserted, doesn't it?

This is the back-to-school section at our local Target, and this is the first time in 20 years that we won't be making an annual pilgrimage there, supply lists in hand, to buy notebooks, paper, pens, and... oooooh -- cool lunch boxes and pretty binders. I walked by this section today and couldn't help but slow down and ponder some of those past visits, especially those years when all four kids were in elementary school and buying school supplies was the highlight of the day -- and the week!

When else can you get rulers for 50 cents or glue for 33 cents or notebooks for 10 cents each? I stocked up on school supplies every August, and I'm sure I still have a few full boxes of pencils (at about a penny a piece), some colored pencils, and definitely a few erasers. (My favorite eraser ever is one we bought at the Ashland, Oregon Shakespeare Festival that says "Out damn spot!" But that's another memory, and another post.)

This summer, instead of spending a few dollars on crayons and pencil boxes, I'm spending a few thousand (or, actually, tens of thousands) on college tuition for three kids -- making reminiscences about school supply shopping at Target that much more bittersweet!

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pondering Spontaneity

There's been a lot of talk about spontaneity around here lately. Last week when my cousin Claudia and her daughter were here, Sophia had her ears pierced, something she'd been looking forward to for a few months, and which she and her mom had planned for the trip.

Cute, eh?
After Sophia's ears were pierced, Claudia encouraged me to get a second piercing in each ear, urging me -- with my daughters' full and vocal support -- to "just be spontaneous" and do it... because "once we hit 50 (which she just did), those things become important." After deliberating for about 10 nano-seconds I decided she was right and I subjected myself to the pain and torture of a second piercing. And, in an act of solidarity, Claudia joined in and had a third piercing in one of her ears!

Rebels, aren't we?Claudia and Sophia left yesterday and I miss them already! So much so that I attribute and dedicate today's spontaneous act to them.

I cut my hair! And for me it's a fairly radical cut. This is how much hair Tahni cut off:

Don't ever say this 51-year-old broad ain't spontaneous! Look what I did! Eeeeeek!

Let me know what you think -- with extra gentleness if you hate it because I'm feeling kinda vulnerable right now. You've been here; you understand. Right?

But I'm OK with my double piercings now.

And speaking of the unexpected and spontaneity -- it rained all day today! On July 29th! OK, maybe that's not entirely unexpected, this being Seattle and all, but this little guy hanging out on our front steps took me by surprise:

Doesn't it look like mid-February in our front yard? See all that wet dirt and those glistening pathways? Now do you see why most Seattleites don't have a sprinkler system? Who needs one here?! (Sigh.)

What's the last really spontaneous thing YOU did?

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Loco Moco is Tummy Yummy!

Peter and Danelle just got back from two weeks in Hawaii, where they spent time with Danelle's extended "ohana" (family). Danelle introduced us to malasadas when we were in Hawaii a few years ago, so we knew they'd bring back a recipe for some delicious dish from Hawaii. Tonight they made "Loco Moco" for dinner and it was delicious! Definitely a stick-to-your-ribs comfort food!

Here's how it's done. Pay attention, because it's quite complicated. (Not.)

Assemble the exhaustive cast of characters: rice, hamburger patties, gravy, and eggs.

Prepare for an evening of cooking with friends. (This is Danelle and Kat. Yes, people do sometimes confuse them. Even Peter has been known to mistake Kat for Danelle when they're both in a room with their backs to him!)

OK, so let's get busy! Cook rice.

Heap some on a plate.

Cook a hamburger patty. If you're feeling especially adventurous, you can barbeque it, as we did. Place the hamburger patty dead center on top of the rice.

Fry an egg.

Balance it delicately on the hamburger patty.

Pour gravy over everything.

EAT. Don't look at the camera. Don't smile. Just eat. (Unless you're the family vegetarian, in which case you can't even be at the same table with hamburgers and gravy!)

The end.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Building Buddies

When we last left our studly builder-men -- which was undoubtedly during daylight hours -- they were digging holes in the dirt. They've since filled the holes with concrete to make sturdy piers to hold the new shed, and today (and tonight) they've been building the foundation and the floor.

Tom and Peter have been tinkering around building (and dismantling) everything from pinewood derby cars to motorcycles to boats to small buildings for the past 20 years. They have an incredibly tight connection that goes beyond father-son, right to a deep friendship that's nurtured by their mutual love of...well, tinkering -- and when Peter moves five hours east to Washington State University in Pullman in just over a week, I predict a sad, forlorn Tom who won't really know what to do with himself. Right now, though, it's late and dark and I have a feeling their muscles hurt, their clothes are caked with dirt, and they both want nothing more than a nice, cold beer -- or a nice, warm massage.

Tomorrow morning, while Elisabeth, Claudia, Sophia and I head into Seattle for our traditional "tourist day" downtown (Space Needle, Nordstrom, Pike Place Market, a ferry ride, etc.), Tom and Peter will be at it again, framing the new shed that will house Tom's new workshop. This is a bittersweet experience for them (well, certainly for Tom) and as much as they want to just get the dang thing finished, I have a feeling they'll both be just a bit sad when that last nail is driven.

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A Girly Visit to Mt. Rainier

My favorite cousin, Claudia and her 11-year-old daughter Sophia arrived in Seattle from the Bay Area on Thursday morning and we've had a whirlwind of activity ever since. From the airport, we made a bee-line to the Aqua Verde Cafe and Paddle Club at UW to show off our fair city from water level, knowing that Claudia and Sophia would love the adventure as much as we had when it was a piece of Kat and Aleks' graduation scavenger hunt from Elisabeth last month -- and especially since they'd just watched Sleepless in Seattle in the plane, and the kayak ride to Seattle Arboretum takes one right by those beautiful houseboats (though, unfortunately, not by THAT houseboat, which lies over the hill on Lake Union)!

But I digress.

Yesterday morning, under blue skies, Elisabeth, Kat, Sophia, Claudia and I piled into the car again, this time heading south toward Mt. Rainier. Last year and the year before, with Laura we'd missed the famous wildflowers, which appear for only a few fleeting weeks in mid-to-late summer, and I was determined to not only share "our" beautiful mountain with Claudia and Sophia, but to also finally see it for myself in the splendor of the wildflowers, as it appears in all those publicity photos, as if those flowers are always there:

It takes about two hours to get to the Mountain from our house and with five females, ranging in age from 11 to 51, you can bet that the car ride was filled with more than just a little bit of estrogen. The conversation ranged from memories of our first periods (some distant and some very recent), to crushes, marriages and relationships in between, to make-up tips and fashion ideas. Claudia, Elisabeth, and I, being the more out-going, did most of the chatting, but Kat and Sophia were fully engaged, listening more than talking, but taking it all in.

Once we entered the park, our estrogen pow-wow continued between frequent stops to marvel at the Mountain's majesty and beauty. The wildflowers weren't out in their full splendor because there was still quite a bit of snow from last year's record winter, and the skies weren't stark blue as they were last year, but a wonderful time was still had by all.

Behold, our day:

The Mountain tried to find its way out of the clouds all day, but to no avail. This is as close as it came.

Some nice stranger offered to take our picture. Left to right, that's me, Elisabeth, Sophia, Kat, and Claudia.Narada Falls is always graced with a rainbow. Oh wait -- not always... only when the sun shines. So... rarely?!

The amount of water is just astounding! This spring practically splashes right onto the road.

The "rock glacier" goes on for miles! (Kat French braided my hair. Damn, I wish I could do that myself; I just love it up and off my face. And yes, it does make me feel like the Bavarian madchen that I am! Ha ha...)

Warm sun and cold snow. Elisabeth loved it!

The mountain tried to escape the clouds all day.

For a fleeting second, the summit emerged. Blink, and you'd miss it.

The wildflowers -- or at least a few of them -- were out. These are avalanche lilies.

And some Scarlet Gilia...

And a few Merten's Bluebell.

There's a huge variety of wildflowers that emerge at Paradise (the highest point on the mountain accessible by car), but guess we'll have to wait until next year, hoping to see them then.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Someone in Redmond, Washington is Hard-Up!

I've seen this sign in at least seven different locations around Redmond!

Poor guy. (Or, perhaps, LUCKY guy?!)

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Two Year Anniversary

Last week, I hit my two-year blogging anniversary. I've now been blogging for 739 days and I've amassed 870 posts. Obviously, I posted more than twice a day in my more prolific past because I'm barely managing once or twice a week since beginning this job last February! It's kind of sad, actually -- I was really on a roll there for a while, "meeting" other bloggers (mostly virtual, but once or twice for real), writing constantly, gaining more readers weekly, and really focusing on (and soooo enjoying!) the blogging life.

Then I started a very demanding, very full-time job and the blogginess I loved so much was sucked right out of me. Not that it's my job's fault; I know that if I were truly committed I'd still blog at least once a day and I'd still be able to form a cohesive sentence after working with The Big Software Company in Redmond all day and online with Mumbai "all" night.


Just for fun, I thought I'd re-post a few of my favorite posts of the past:

I Like Slutty Words
I Met a Man without a Wedding Ring for Lunch
Dinner for Two. Make that 4. Or 6... Actually, EIGHT!
Peter Jaffe Never Kissed Me (Even if I Told My Diary That He Did)
Varied Voluble Vociferous Verbosities
An Open Letter to My Internal Clock and Biorhythm
A Five-Senses Tour of Seattle
Pondering "Pretty"

Ya know, I just realized that almost all those posts were written when I was unemployed and panicking about finding "real" work. I wonder whether, had I cultivated and nurtured my writing and blogging a bit more, I could have made a decent income with...

Ah, never mind!

Sigh again.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Spying On My Guys

Boo would make a terrible spy. I knew something was up when I saw him guarding...

Guarding nothing?

Oh wait! Is that a head?

And another head?

Oh, how cute! It's father and son, digging in the dirt!

I think they're digging all the way to China!

Just kidding. They're not playing in the dirt. They're halfway down a fairly steep hill, digging holes in which to pour concrete for the pillar footings for the new shed -- which will be much closer to the house and more convenient than that-thar shed of the past waaaay down the hill near the forest. (And I love that we'll now have an unobstructed view of the forest!)

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

What a Pile of Shed!

While I was cleaning the garage today -- and while Tom and I loaded the truck full of junk and brought it to the local recycling event, where they take everything from wood to oil to batteries to clothes and household items -- Peter stayed home and "demo'd" (demolished) the shed in our backyard. And it was about time! The floor was so rotten and wet that we couldn't even stand in the shed anymore, and the roof was growing a moss forest!

Oh, to be young, strong and full of energy! In about an hour, the shed went from this

to this

And in the next hour, it went from this

to this

to this

and finally, squeaking through the new landscaping (phew!), to this

thanks, at that point, to teamwork between Tom and Peter.

I made a good amount of progress in the garage today, but will be back in there tomorrow, going through old paints, varnishes, and other gooey crud, and attempting to give some order to tools, fasteners, and a gazillion other things, large and small, that need organizing.

Here's where I left things this evening:

-- and oh my god, does my old 51-year-old body hurt!

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I Don't Even Know Where to Begin!

This is my task for the weekend:

I have been dreading cleaning this damn garage since the last time I did it, over a year ago. But it can wait no longer, as Peter and Aleks have been told that they MUST do a major cleaning of their rooms before they head off to college in the next two months, and it only makes sense that I clear out some household junk as well.

If only Tom weren't such a pack-rat, this wouldn't feel so futile -- but the guy can't let go of anything! Drives me bonkers! There's a four-drawer Sterilite "commode" that used to be by our bed... like YEARS ago -- and it's filled with receipts and old chocolate bars and expired credit cards. But will he go through it and throw anything out? Noooooo! And when I ask why, his answer is (I kid you not), "It's like your journals. Would you throw out your journals if I asked you to?"

Uh... no.

Futile, right? So all I can do is clean around his boxes upon boxes upon boxes of stuff that (I promise you) he will never again touch, but also can't bear to throw out or give away. My rule of thumb is that if I haven't used something in 6 months and it has no sentimental value, it GOES. Unfortunately, when every receipt has sentimental value to him, very little can be tossed out.

So, while Tom and Peter demolish and rebuild the shed that's falling apart in the back yard, and while Tom begins to build the front yard fence I've been begging for (hey, I never said he was lazy... just a pack-rat!), I'll attempt to make a dent in the dark netherworld of our garage.

See you on the other side!

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