Monday, November 23, 2015

Memories Forgotten, Re-Remembered

Twitter did an amazing thing the other day—it gave me the gift of a memory of my grandmother that I didn’t remember that I had forgotten.

Let me back up, yes? So, even though I’m not really here anymore, I am on Twitter. I have a nice group of people that I follow and interact with on Twitter and it’s a lot more communication and friendship like than just blogging into the ether. It’s also hella more distracting but that is not the point, mmmkay?

So, as it is that particular time of the year, The Twitter People were talking about Thanksgiving and recipes. We were discussing cranberry sauce and the merits of homemade versus sliding it out of the can and carefully cutting along the ridges when one person threw out a no-cook method. Toss the cranberry package in the freezer, then put them in the food processor with some oranges. Blend. Let sit. Add sugar as desired.

As I read it, I was suddenly transported to my parents’ table at Thanksgiving. It’s a round wooden table that would fit 8 at a squeeze, a beautiful old table with elaborate carvings and carved legs. I could see my grandma bringing one of her depression era glass bowls—this one was usually clear, because cranberry relish looks best in a clear bowl, no? No blue or green or amber, but she had all of those, too. I didn’t like it at first, when I was younger. I wouldn’t try it, but I knew I didn’t like it. Such is the way of children. Then I discovered the glory that is turkey with a cranberry accent, and I was hooked. It was all delightful bits of cranberry, with bright orange accents, sweet and tart.

I can see my grandmother’s crippled, arthritic hands on both sides of the bowl, and her smiling at me as I take a helping, looking at me through her big owl glasses with her big owl-like eyes.

When I first hosted Thanksgiving, I tried to replicate her cranberry relish, except I kept thinking it was called cranberry sauce. I searched for cranberry sauce recipes. So, I eventually came up with a great recipe, one I like and other people like and eat. Even Lis, O Picky Child, eats it. It wasn’t what I envisioned, but I was satisfied with it. I forgot the relish. I forgot that memory.

So, when that lovely friend on Twitter said that, I could see it in my mind’s eye—I could see the exact consistency, the flecks of orange, the tart and the sweet.

She gave me a new recipe, but what she doesn’t know is that she gave me back those memories of my grandma. Now that I have them, I won’t let them go. I will make the cranberry relish this year, and surprise my parents—I know they will remember it. I will make it every year after this, and I will remember her depression glass bowls, her hands, her eyes, and her smile.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Bookmarked, Again

Imagine my surprise when I went to pull up my blog, only to not find it not in my history. Imagine my surprise when I typed in the address, only to discover I was signed out. Imagine my surprise when I tried to log in and realized I had forgotten my password.

I suppose it's not hard to imagine.

I spent the last two years writing a legal textbook. I finished it. It sapped my energy, my will to read and write, and my brain. When January came around, I vowed to write several times a week for fun and fun alone. I've been doing really well with that. I just haven't been doing it here.

It's funny--when I was in law school, I suddenly stopped writing creatively. I thought law school had sapped it from me. It turns out, that's not quite true; law school and then being a lawyer had taken my time and energy, and creativity isn't a boundless resource. You have to put x in to get y out. I was not putting x in; therefore, there was no y to be had.

I've mentioned from time to time, that there's a book that I'm working on, probably like every other blogger. I've been doodling and noodling on it for years, but since January, it's really exploded. I have been tearing through it at breakneck speed. I'm not sure from where the fuel came, but I am going to burn it and keep going. So! It's been fun. I'm really loving the writing again, and it's been so long.

The other thing that happened is that one of my co-worker gave us notice that she was leaving, a little over a month ago. We are a small not for profit; there are four lawyers spread out over three programs. I have inherited all 50 (FIFTY!) of her cases. So, yeah, the book I was working on for my job is done, and I should be able to resume my normal duties, but no. I just tripled my case load in addition to my other duties. We found someone to hire--yay!--but that person can't start until April. Boo hiss.

Lis has been... well. There have been multiple nights where I've put her to bed in her room and sat outside her door just crying. I'm sure it's just the threeness of it all, but she can be really terrible. Like, ripping my hair out, trying to claw my face, telling me she hates me terrible. Then all of a sudden, she's sweet and charming and it makes me feel like I'm crazy, like I'm the problem. The whiplash is just too much. It's hard to say this out loud, because I love her so, but man. She is not an easy kid.

I'm still reading all your blogs, though I rarely comment--your security phrases and my autocorrect combine their evil forces and sap my will to comment. I do better by email, or twitter, because I can actually have a conversation with someone on those, rather than monologuing here.

Things are good. Things are busy. Things need my attention here. Things have normalized. Things have changed. There are things I want to do, and things I need to do. I shall go do those things. Maybe next time I check in, I'll have finished this book, or Lis will be potty trained, or our new person will have started, or something else. I don't know; I will return, but there are other things I need to do first.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It Is Done

WELP. I wrote a book. It's done. Now, once I dig myself out of my work backlog and a wine bottle, I can come back here.

I'm kind of stunned still that I managed to do this. I wrote a fucking book. It's a legal book and highly specialized, but it's a book, all 1,000+ pages of it. All mine.

Friday, October 3, 2014


1. We had An Incident at Lis's daycare shortly after my last post. It necessitated time off from work while I looked for a new daycare, weeks of Toddler In The Office time, too much screen time for Lis, and general schedule upsets. We have a new daycare, and it is going swimmingly. I am still angry whenever I think about The Incident and I wish I had a crystal ball so that I could have seen it coming, and I wish that I had picked up a few things faster, and I wish a thousand things.

I really can't say any more than that about it because there are ongoing...things... as a result. AS WELL THERE SHOULD BE. Cue rage.

So, that is part of the reason I disappeared for more than a month with nary a word--I got so back logged at work I couldn't fight my way out.

2. I found a spot. On my skin. And it's growing. I... well. My parents have both had bouts of skin cancer, so let's say I am rightly FREAKING OUT as I wait to get into my doctor. Not a long wait, but any wait between discovery and examination is terrifying.

Good thoughts or vibes would be appreciated.

3. As if that wasn't enough, I have some how landed myself on the nightly news twice in the last couple weeks. People! They want to interview me! For Reasons! (Not related to Lis's daycare, related to my work). It is...awful to see yourself on camera. I mean, JEBUS camera woman. You are a woman, too! You know you shouldn't film someone from that angle! It's just mean! At least I sounded like I knew what the hell I was doing.

4. Speaking of Fake It Till You Make it, I joked with someone that I was wondering when someone was going to realize that they were putting ME out there in presentations and in front of the camera instead of someone who knows what they're doing. Instead of laughing, this person blinked at me, and was all "You're joking, right? You're becoming the go to person."

Well. I guess I'm not a baby lawyer anymore; I've been faking it long enough; I've made it.

5. My cousin died. Another cousin, from the same branch of the family tree that I lost two cousin last year--one to a sudden heart attack, the other to cancer. This cousin was only 14, and it was a plane crash. Fucking plane crashes.

6. My posting on here will be sporadic until January. My huge publication deadline is the end of December, and it is a dead sprint until then to get it all done.

Fake it til you make it, indeed.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Tomato Allergies Suck

Are you a tomato-hater? Are you allergic to tomatoes? I have a pasta sauce for you!

Personally, I adore tomatoes. Vor, alas, is allergic. Tomatoes are in EVERYTHING. I've come up with viable work arounds for lots of things over the years except for two things: barbecue sauce and red, marinara-like pasta sauce. I'm still working on the BBQ sauce, but I have mastered the pasta sauce.

Here you go:

2 tall cans of roasted red peppers
3 golden beets
3 carrots
1 package bacon or other meat
3 garlic cloves
onions, to taste
spices you like (I used rosemary and basil from my garden, as well as dried oregano, pepper, thyme)
cream or half and half
red wine
beef stock

Drain peppers; peel veggies. Sautee bacon, garlic, and onions together (start the bacon first, then add the others). When bacon is done but not crispy, add put in the peppers, carrots, and beets. Add a combination of wine and beef stock to come just short of covering the veggies. I added probably about half beef brother, half wine. Add the dry spices; save any fresh herbs for later (you can also add salt, but I felt like the beef broth was salty enough). Simmer until veggies are soft. Blend very well in a blender or food processor, then return to the pot. Add any fresh herbs, and a splash of cream to get it to the right color. Simmer until it reaches the consistency you want.

I actually stopped when the veggies were soft, let it cool off in the fridge overnight, then blended for dinner the next day. That also worked really well, since the flavors had time to blend.

Another variation: I once sauteed half the bacon, and saved the other half for when I added the vegetables. that was delicious--the bacon cooked with the veggies, and I had some crispy bacon pieces, and some not.

There you go. Red pasta sauce that actually tastes like marinara sauce, but does not make my husband break out in hives.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Seattle: The Vacation That Wasn't

If you can’t handle some venting, imagine tears brimming in my eyes, and just skip down to the disclaimer, and read to the end from there.

Also: This post is likely to be heavily redacted within 48 hours. 

Also known as A Vacation In Four Parts: (1) [REDACTED]; (2) Most Of My MIL’s Friends Are Absolute Dingbats; (3) Weddings Never Count As Vacations; and (4) I Am Never Moving To The Pacific Northwest.

That should pretty much sum up my vacation, but in case you weren’t sure, let me just offer you this mental image: toddler puke, down my shirt, into my bra, in my hair, in MY EAR.

Part 1: [REDACTED] Lis stuff ed her face with watermelon and resulted in some of the most disgusting toddler puke I have ever been witness to. Watermelon puke. Ew.


Part 2: Most Of My MIL’s Friends Are Absolute Dingbats. D is a chain smoker who orders his wife to get him plates of food, and when his wife obeys, he gives Vor a smug look and actually says, “There. See? Learn anything from that?” Vor, wonderful man that he is, responds, “Yeah. That you don’t like sex.” (I LOVE HIM SO MUCH). L is a whiner who revels in being the helpless female. She wants so very much for Lis to love her, that as soon as she sees Lis, she gets in Lis’s face and starts demanding hugs and kisses. Lis responds typically by hitting her or running away, and then L is all weepy and injured. I couldn’t care less. J argues over every.single.dime he spends and whines about the cost of everything. If I had thrown a dollar into Puget Sound off the ferry, he would have jumped overboard to get it. C is an okay guy, but he lets the door slam in my MIL’s face, which bugs the crap out of me. Hold the door for her, dude! You’re dating her! Plus, he has zero experience with kids (not the problem), so when Lis got whinny, as toddlers do, he would mimic her crying and whining (THAT’S the problem). B? She’s really nice and chill. I like her.

Part 3: Weddings Never Count As Vacations. Especially when you or your immediate family members are in the wedding party. In this case, Lis was the flower girl, and Vor was the…man of honor? Best man? Dunno how to say that. His twin sister was the bride, and she was his woman of honor or best woman or whatever, and now, vice versa. So, Vir had lots of set up and duties and parties and obligations and Things To Do, and I…was on toddler patrol. All the time. So I was either chasing Lis in decidedly non-toddler friendly places or I was stuck at home while she slept. We (I) did ONE half day sight-seeing thing of the entire 8 days we were there. Every other time, Vor was busy and I was on Lis duty.

Part 4: I Am Never Moving To The Pacific Northwest. Look, I like rain and clouds. I am a definite sun avoider. But geez, it can be really miserable out there. It’s not just cloudy and rainy, it’s positively dreary. This actually was not a problem for me, but Vor’s moods are definitely affected by sunshine, and he was a grouch. He even admitted he was being grouchy, and then plaintively said, “I just want some sunshine.” Me too, buddy.

I cannot handle the level of hippiness out there. At one house where we had local family, she was getting some trees trimmed, and her neighbors started telling her that she was killing the threes and they could hear the trees screaming. They freaking took pictures to document it. Apparently, you have to have a permit to even trim your freaking trees out there (which she did), but her neighbors decided to report her anyway, for tree cruelty. She barely had them trimmed!  Another dude was pissed that there were signs pointing the way to the rehearsal dinner from the place we had to park to the house. He was walking around, ripping them off. He was grumbling about wasted paper and killing trees and the environment. There were like two signs. That’s it. Vor and I try to be conscious about things, but this just felt like a whole new level.

I can’t stand the “parenting” I encountered either. I took Lis one rainy day to the kids’ museum on Bainbridge Island, and I have never encountered such incredibly rude and manner-less children, and the same type of parents. I take Lis all the time to the zoo and to playgrounds and to the Children’s Museum here, so it’s not like I’m a newbie and didn’t know what to expect. These parents just stood around, talking, drinking their hippie coffee, while their kids (older kids, mind you, old enough to know better) cut other kids off, skipped ahead in line, shoved Lis down repeatedly, snatched toys out of her hands, etc. It wasn’t just at the museum, either. They were all like this, every parent and child I encountered on the island, at playgrounds, at parks, at the museum. I got incredibly pissed at the museum when a 5 or 6 year old shoved Lis off a stool so that she could cut ahead of Lis and take her turn, and I turned to her parent and said, “You should watch your kid so she doesn’t shove mine off the stool AGAIN.” The parent got a snooty look on her face and said, “I believe in free range parenting, not helicopter parenting.” I almost cut a bitch. It’s not helicopter parenting when I’m trying to prevent a mass of the most unruly children I’ve ever met from injuring my much younger, much smaller child, bitch.

So! Weather, over hippied people, terrible entitled children who are being “free-range” parented. No, thank you.

DISCLAIMER: I love my family. I am especially indebted to my MIL, who is the most awesome grandma Lis could have, and a second mother to me. The wedding was beautiful, and was one of the best days there. I had a great anniversary dinner with Vor (six years!) and we danced to our song at the wedding, which was the same day as our own anniversary. The puke only lasted for 24 hours. I’m sure there are plenty of nice people and children on Bainbridge Island (CP, I’m looking at you!) and in Seattle. I know the PNW is rainy and it’s really beautiful when it’s not rainy.

It’s just the combination of all this that made for a non-relaxing, pretty close to awful vacation, and I am so glad to be in office today that I cried with relief. I needed a break, and I didn’t get one. I am so burned out right now. I know Vor needed a break, but he ended up being so stressed that it was exponentially multiplying my own stress.

As a bonus bright side, Vor and I agreed that the next vacation will be a real vacation: We will go someplace with amazing weather and tons of sun; we will stay in a place with our own space; we will keep Lis with us and not allow other people to interrupt her schedule; if we want time on our own, we will hire a local sitter; we will have no major to-do list or vacation agenda. It’s just that this dream vacation won’t be happening for a long time.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Sprint, Not A Marathon

I don't know that I'm going to have too much to say around here until after we get back from Seattle. It's going to be a sprint from here until vacation time; there are general wedding things to be done, packing, all the lists that accompany a long vacation, and oh God, work. So much office work to do before I leave.

I'm super excited about this trip except for one thing: pictures. Despite eating well and going to the gym/running 3-4 times a week, my weight is stuck. I kind of hate everything about my body right now. I feel terrible. I don't even want to talk about it. I sure as hell don't want professional photographic evidence of it.

Daisy posted this thing about life as Mom and whoa vacation lists, and I have nothing to add. Except, you know, my own lists: my list, Lis's list, the general us list, the electronic list, the work list, the food list (we are renting a house and need to get groceries when we get there) and so on. LISTS VACATIONS MEANS LISTS.

Work? Work. Jebus. I'm bringing it home at night, working through lunch. I'm taking it on vacation. I'm flying out for the change of command ceremony for my brother and I'm looking forward to the travel time so I can WORK. IN PEACE. This publication deadline is starting to loom, and I just submitting a grant for $600,000 and if that doesn't make you hyperventilate, then you're a better human than me.

The light at the end of the tunnel? That would be the mental image of me, sitting on the porch of our waterfront house on Bainbridge Island, looking across at Seattle, wine in hand. I will make it.