Friday, April 21, 2017

May I Help You?

Watching stuff while exercising is my favorite. Lately, I've been watching Clueless in snippets. Clueless, undeniably the greatest movie ever to come out of the 90's, has some real gems.  Cher Horowitz, the supposed "clueless" teenage heroine, has adopted a new friend to foster and indoctrinate, and discovers a greater depth of humanity and life when she reflects,

"It's like that book I read in the 9th grade that said, 'tis a far, far better thing doing stuff for other people.'"
I have a couple experiences I'd like to share regarding the service that has been rendered to me as a customer of late and this quote doesn't really have much to do with it but the movie is such an ingenious classic and I wanted to share, I mean "Cher," so there you go.

These two moments I'm going to tell you about made me laugh and, in spite of my frustration, are the kind of spice to my life I so enjoy. So I exasperatedly make fun but I owe a lot to these people and thank them from the bottom of my heart.

The first was when I was in the bakery portion of a local supermarket.  This place has a more gourmet quality, especially in the bakery and deli area so I allowed myself to have a bit of hope. Always on the desperate hunt for a decent baguette, eying the bagged, oblong bread loaves, I asked the girl behind the counter,

"Now, is this a crusty, classic baguette? or just a loaf of 'french bread'" snobbily knowing full well there is a difference and wondering if she will too. 

Her confused confirmation:     "yes, it's crusty french bread."

Me, trying again, but already knowing the answer:     "Ok, but it's soft, right?"

Because a baguette is not just a soft loaf of bread. The consistency is completely different and the correct crust, the air holes are imperative. Anyone who's had a good baguette will tell you this.

Helpful girl:     "It's soft, but if you want it crustier, you can just leave it out for a day or two."

Me:  and then

Then later, when relaying to Sean and the jokes come in:

"Just leave it out on the table for a while. It'll get hard."

"Great, thanks, because STALE bread is what i wanted.  This bread is too fresh! Gross."
Makes me be like, lol, and smh.  I still laugh about it.

The second story is about my poor little cat.  Cat, or Kat, or King Kitty, because his name fluctuates and nothing is set, recently injured himself. We think he got in a fight. We went down to the Goblin Valley some weekends ago for an overnighter.  Saturday evening upon our arrival, we noticed something weird about him. Even weirder than usual, i mean.  He was despondent, seemed a little out of sorts, and, as completely unreadable as a cat is, maybe even in some pain? I had him on my lap and was trying to brush him and when i got to a snag on his tail he hissed at me and, reprimanded, I ceased and desisted. The only thing strange about this is that he hissed instead of biting me which is his usual way of telling me he's had enough even though he was loooooving it two seconds go (smh).  But then later, with all of those factors combined with the fact that, as pointed out by Sean, his tail was hanging completely limp and Kat wouldn't move it at all, we realized something must be the matter. Wow it took a super long time to get this paragraph out. So complicated, for some reason.

The following Monday I called the vet. The conversation went like this:

Receptionist: Hello, you've reached the vet.
Me: Hi, I'm calling because something seems to be wrong with our cat's tail and I'm not sure if I should bring him in or what.  He won't let us touch it and he seems pretty out of it and possibly in pain.
Receptionist: Ok, so what do you mean about his tail? Like, is the bone exposed?

Jen: Ew, no. It just hangs there limply and he doesn't move it around. I'm wondering if he's been bitten. {retains grossed out face}

Ha ha ha ha.   And the jokes:

"Hi, yes. I'm wondering if there's something wrong with our cat's tail. He seems to be in some pain, seems kinda out of it. Also the bone is sticking out... is that normal? Is that not ok?"   
"There seems to be something the matter with our cat's tail. The bone is exposed. Do you think that could be part of the problem? Should we just wait it out or what..."

Or a continuation of her asking questions and me responding, horrified.  This is Sean's, as the receptionist, in a trying-to-be-helpful receptionist voice:

"Ok, so you think something might be wrong with the taill. Is the tail still attached? Did the tail fall off? And the kids are playing with it and won't give it back?"


"NO! Nothing like that. It just seems to be hurting him!"  {Grossed out face}

All of these jokes are at the cruel expense of the cat but still! What the what? So hard to convey in text, but so, so funny to me.

These little run-ins have delighted me and have served me quite well on my eternal quest for funny stories.  So there you go. Special thanks to vet receptionist and bakery counter girl who taught me two important lessons:

1. If you want a classic French baguette, just leave any old loaf on the table for a few days and voila.

2. Having the bone exposed is generally a sign there's a problem and you should probably let a doctor at least take a look, just to be on the safe side.

Friday, April 14, 2017

What is Easter?

Good Friday, to all of you.  I have about an hour to clickety-clack out some thoughts so I thought I'd share some tidbits on Easter, something I have a great love for, a love that grows every year, it seems. In other words, it's going to get a little religious here so, let that be a disclaimer.

I recently watched a blip of an interview where Stephen Colbert had Ricky Gervais on his show and the two had a debate on religion.  Stephen is a believer in God and Ricky is not. A fan of both, I was excited about this.  Here's the interview if you want to watch.

To start out, to confirm, Ricky asks Stephen if he believes in God and Stephen says, "in three persons, yes." Essentially they debate their reasons for believing the way they do and I loved something Stephen brought up which was having great feeling of gratitude for existence and wants to direct that feeling somewhere.  I believe gratitude is one of the greatest, most powerful effectors of change and control in one's life, regarding one's attitude and outlook on it. The ol', instead of living in a state where you're focused on what you have not, choosing rather to focus on what you do have and the complete transformation that elicits. I love it. It's changed my life, to emphasize.   So, as a reason for his believing in God, Stephen says,

"I have a strong desire to direct that gratitude toward something or someone."
We all have or ought to have our reasons for believing the way that we do, and I love this. It's such a beautiful reflection of humility and submission, to a person, to an idea that there IS a person, to the idea that if there IS a person then this is how you would hope it would be, or what you'd like to do with that person. It's just beautiful.

So, with Easter upon us, and as a fellow believer in God, I thought I'd share some of my Easter thoughts, little experiences I've had that act as evidence or reasons why i believe in God and Jesus who allegedly died for all of mankind and lived again. Easter.

I've got a journal I keep in my bag and at the top of a certain page, in block lettering is, "What is Easter?" Here is what I've written down, the bulleted and italicized paragraphs word-for-word with the expansion of my thoughts following (naturally):
  • Going to a cemetery one year in Bklyn and feeling like I was standing in the middle of where other people's feelings and pain of death hung frozen in time, the unacknowledgement that it actually isn't the end after all.
    Greenwood Cemetery is this crazy old, nay--ancient-feeling cemetery with tombs and mausoleums (mausolea?) and grassy knolls growing over tombs like homes in The Shire. The epitaphs are old and scrubbed out, or new and sparkling and pristine with long family lines, poetic and tragic stumblings to make sense of such things.  It's SUCH a beautiful place and I think we went on Easter once, sort of by accident or for lack of anything else to do on a lovely spring day, and it was remarkable the feelings I had, walking through, submerged in so many people's pain. It felt sad and hopeless and created a kind of dissonance inside myself. It felt like an abrupt end, a hopeful resolution stolen away but that ought to be there. It felt frustrating. It was quite an experience.
  • Driving to church one eternal winter and feeling a deep depression for all of the bleakness- the bare trees, the universal gray that covered the earth, and the monochromatism I viewed all around me seeped into my heart. Hopelessly I lay my head against the window and as I thought the words, death, death, all around is death, I really felt afraid that it would stay that way forever.
    If Stephen Colbert holds to the need to direct his gratitude, I may hold to the need for hope in the universe. It's why I love the balance of things, the opposition, that if there is this then it must be that there is that.  I love to believe there is something bigger and greater than I, something to look to for guidance and example, to conceive for myself that there may be a better way and that I might not have all the answers I'll ever need to know in life. Plus, winter just blows and spring brings back the hope.  This is Easter.
  • Working on an arrangement of We Three Kings and learning the words so intimately, repeatedly and realizing it's actually an Easter song.

    The verses start out in the voices of the kings who visit the child Jesus. They take turns presenting their gifts and the second-to-last verse goes like this:

    is mine: it's bitter perfume
    Breaths a life of gathering gloom.
    Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding dying,
    Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.
    And ten the last verse is this:

    Glorious now behold Him arise,
    King and God and Sacrifice.
    Alleluia, alleluia!
    Sounds through the earth and skies.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Pippin, a hobbit, and Gandalf stand watching the doom of Mordor approaching. Afraid of dying, which he feels is imminent, Pippin expresses to Gandalf he never believed it was going to end this way.  Gandalf replies, "Death is not the end. Death is just a pathway, one that we all must take."  And he describes a beautiful place, an existence that comes next, and Pippin cheers up and says, "well that doesn't sound so bad." 

    That hope can exist at such a time where it feels so absent, that there is no finality to things that feel so final, is Easter to me.
  • Watching caterpillars. They eat and live for one purpose: to shed their old skin and to transform so that they can live again.  It is in their nature.

    I talked about this already. What was sad and meaningful to me is watching the ones who died immediately thereafter, or even those that didn't make it to the metamorphosis stage.  But they all--ALL--did what they were meant to do. Which was work toward becoming. Eating, climbing, working.  Their lives spanned different stages.  Watching them was a sacred experience.
  • Going to the Good Friday concert St. Matthew Passion, by Bach. It begins so dark and tumultuous and ends so joyous and triumphant.

    So one year in NY, Sean and I decided we needed some culture so we got tickets for the philharmonic orchestra for some random Friday.  We were a little clueless in not realizing it was Good Friday and the piece performed was specifically about Good Friday.  I loved that we didn't really know what we were in for though, because it made it all the more poignant.  We listened to the music and it's just so stirring, so tragic and dark. This is where O Savior Thou Who Wearest a Crown comes from.  And it was so emotional and evocative, by the end, where hope is reborn, life returns in exuberance, Sean and I were both a little shook up, I think it's safe to say. WOW.  It was kind of a shock for both of us. It made this Good Friday so meaningful and created a desire in me to study more on all of Holy Week.  Easter to me feels so much more religious than Christmas. Christmas feels like so much, it's almost overwhelming. But Easter I can wrap my head around, and I love it.

    So, a good Good Friday to you and yours, and here's to celebrating the life and death and life again of the Son of a God who sent him, the perfect example of love, of hope, who gives us this fragile and precious existence, the one to whom I direct all of my gratitude, the keeper of my hope.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Hidden Treasure

The other morning it was frigid outside.  It was the kind of day that looked quite deceptively warm all day long. Sean, who lives in a cave, kept questioning me: "But it looks so nice!"   "NO, Sean. Don't be fooled, it is nasty out there. Don't try it. You'll be sorry!"  Constant wind with such a bad bite, not even the desert sun could penetrate it.  I was not amused by it.

That morning began like any other morning.  For example, upon immediately waking up, I probably put on pajamas part II, also known as "pajamas for the public" or "presentable pajamas."  It's lounge wear I put on after I wake up but before I get truly dressed for the day.  I've never enjoyed lingering about in my pajamas for very long. So since I can't get up and immediately get ready,  this is a compromise.  Julian probably woke up on his own. The cat was no doubt outside my door with his trademark morning meow/yowl that is this close to sounding like a human "hello?"  We surely had breakfast that morning and it was likely to be pancakes, the mix of which i make ahead of time in a ziplock bag because it's my favorite recipe that has a beautiful combo of cinnamon AND cornmeal in it and takes too long to make on our rushed mornings. And then, when it was time to depart to school, I surveyed the boy and saw all kinds of beloved things:

1. His grown up, dimply face
2. His cute gap toothiness
3. His glasses with the strap
4. His cool jacket I'm super jealous of
5. His light-up tennies
6. His general color scheme and blockedness.
7. His space backpack.  Julian never cares much about these things but he tells me he often gets compliments on the backpack from other kids, and I'm just so pleased he has a mom as cool as he does.

I had to take a picture so I commanded him to stand in the frozen morning air by the pinwheels to let me. Ever the cutie, he nailed it on the first try:

 But then I noticed something strange. Obviously I knew it was there but to catch it looking at you is always as startling as ever.  Zoom in, why don't you:

 AAH! This gem is a faux stone angel child someone gave me and Sean for our wedding 13.5 years ago. WEDDING.  Like, as a wedding present. ??? The obvious question is: who hates us so much? My parents have been storing random nicknacks i never took with me to NY when setting sail those many years ago and upon moving here, they were all too excited to give me every last box of my junk, one of which included this thing. It's creepy, it's somehow even creepier to think that someone would want to give it to us. Like, why? Who? What were the circumstances? I have half a mind to think there's something dangerous hidden inside to be retrieved when it's safe, or some kind of spy gear or something. Joke's on them, it's been in a box for over a decade.

 But now that we've found it a home, I've grown rather attached, and like to prop it up as you see here.  Sometimes, somehow, it's angled to be appearing to look right at us, no matter where we are, often through the window into our home. Thanks, creepy angel. And thanks creepy wedding friend who gifted it to us. It really does make me want to dig through my junk at home and take it to weddings.  Mazel tov!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Cat's Vomit

When I was younger I had a bunch of phrases or words I'd use as profanity replacements. Things to shout out when I was mad or frustrated. There were made up words for good feelings too-- I had a friend who used "Yeah, baby!" a lot when he was pleased, in reference to Austin Powers and i give that a big fat thumbs down. I tried it out for a time and hated myself a little.

So one of those faux-swears was an addition to the classic "rats!"  To take it a step further-- "rat's vomit!"  Because what's grosser than a rat? a rat that's just vomited. The vomit of a rat. {cringe, grossed-out face}

A few mornings ago, all felt hopeless and lost. I have been feeling a little suburban mom life-stifley and Julian lacked any decent story to tell which is basically a reiteration of what I just said, what was happening to me.  And then the cat puked and it saved us all.

It was truly foul. I have accepted having an inside pet, something I never had growing up--Sean never had any pet at all-- but it took a little bit of time. Like, we walk in the house seeing the cat roll around in the dirt and then ten minutes later he's napping on our bed. {cringe face} But, you know, we take care of him and he's a fluffy sweetie and has taught Julian how to love so the pros outweigh the cons.

Normally in situations such as this, I would absolutely confer this task to Sean. Julian has thrown up one time in his life where it wasn't immediately cleanable. As a baby he threw up in his crib. I had been out late and upon entering our apartment I sniffed and declared a funk in the air. Sean didn't notice anything strange. I went into Julian's pitch black nook, bent looow in his crib, breathed in, and then died. YUP. A FUNK.  We turned on the light and it was eeeverywhere, ha ha. So gross. I took the baby and Sean took the bed and that sealed it, sorry Sean.

But this time, he was busy working and it just sat there on the rug, seeping in, and I had to bite that disgusting bullet. I felt like a true American hero, and declared myself as such to Julian (as if he needed any more proof).

So as I sat scrubbing before school (and later re-scrubbing, vacuuming, then scrubbing again) Julian toiled and fretted because it was Monday and they had a "weekend news" journal and what would he write about?? The fact that Dad hurt his back (which never happens)?? Or that the cat threw up?? And he did not know which exciting thing to talk about! I wished him luck at making such a tricky call and spent the rest of the day sitting on the floor, scrubbing whilst reading Reader's Digest, again, a good shake up to the day. Cat's vomit!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

)en's Cookbook: Soft Boiled Eggs Part I

I spend a disproportionate amount of my life thinking about breakfast.  This is the one meal of the day I care about and actually have some skill in.  (I use that term loosely. By "skill" i mean "ounce of clue.") 

As a subset of breakfast which I'd actually prefer to call "hero," I'd like to talk about eggs today. I've got a lot to say about eggs but specifically I'd like to tackle the elusive nigh unto impossible task of making a soft boiled egg.  Hard boiled eggs are great. In fact, I purchase them by the bag because I'm too lazy to boil my own. Plus I need those un-boiled eggs for other things. But a quick boiled egg is the best way to grab some protein as a quick snack or toss on a salad, for example. Since the bagged eggs come de-shelled and are a bit dicey in their lifespan (or "eggspiration" date-- {cry/laugh face})  what I do is grab a paper towel as a receiving mitt and then shimmy one or two eggs up the bag so as to have 0% contact with my human and therefore contaminant-hands.  Then I salt them and enjoy and they are the best.

Anyone can hard boil an egg. Just put it in boiling water and forget about it. But the soft boiled version is much more precarious and I have yet to accomplish it. But I love it. So sometimes you get out the eggs, set to experiment, and risk wasting a good many of them.  Since I know my recipes are quite popular, I thought I'd share with you my experiences from the other morning.

The day dawn was breaking and sunlight poured into my kitchen. It was the end of the week and I had entered full "don't want to do anything today" mode, save for accomplishing a really good egg. I had been trying sporadically in days previous so this time I made a few adjustments.  Here's how it went down, as written in present tense as a sort of mish-mash of a scientific study and a kitchen recipe. I think Julia Child would be proud of me (at first I typed Julian Child--OMG, I think I just discovered his Halloween costume[!!])

1. Take out a carton of eggs. Understand that you may use anywhere between 2-12, depending on your egg desperation and success.

2. Start with two. Two is a good number. Enough to satisfy and use for experimental purposes (call them Subject A and B if you'd like).   Use a mid-sized pan because you want to have enough water to cover the eggs.

3. Fill up the pan. Eyeball it.  Toss in some salt and turn up the heat to high so that it gets it to a rapid boil.

4. Use some tongs and carefully place eggs in the pot.*

5. Abiding by a certain recipe found somewhere but half remembered, remove the pot from the heat and cover with a lid. Let it sit for 5 minutes because it told you that would give you a medium-level amount of doneness. Your goal is a semi-runny yolk but a pretty done white part.

6. Take out one egg. While holding it, tap a knife around the top to take off and examine. See that the entire thing is 1% cooked and therefore inedible. Toss down the drain. Leave shell in the sink too. Curse a little.

7. Let the other egg sit for a minute longer and take it out. Find exact same results even though that dumb recipe told you otherwise. Pretend it's a little more done. Eat a bit, gag a bit, then toss it as well.

8.  Disappointed but determined, start again. This time with four eggs because you need more subjects and also you are hungry.

9. This time, leave eggs to boil on active burner for like a minute or something because you have forgotten to set a timer.  You are a good scientist.  Then take it off the heat to leave to cook under a lid as done previously.

10. After 4 minutes, take out one egg (Subject A). See that it's still way too runny. Toss. Curse a little more. Do this with Subject B as well.  Examine Subject C after another minute and fool yourself into thinking it's a bit more edible.  Question how exactly a soft boiled egg is supposed to be. Discuss with a family member/fellow scientist. Question your definition of a soft boiled egg. Wonder about how others eat them and what's an acceptable/un-hazardous to your health form for them to be eaten or not.

11. Wait a minute or so longer and pull out Subject D, your last egg and hope.  Say a little prayer. Tap a knife around the top to get the lid off and also burn your fingers a little because these eggs are scald-degrees but you have negative amounts of patience (scientist). You must know. If you are taking photos at this point, do an impossible feat of photo-taking where, both hands being busy, you may need to take picture with some part of your face.

12. Put your egg in its little cup.  Examine:

13. Notice that the egg white is solid. Say another prayer.  Dig in a little. Remember: Your goal is a semi-cooked yolk. Become distracted by the surprisingly beautiful photo you've taken here. Good ol' morning sun.

14.  As you dig in further, see that the yolk is completely cooked. Examine further but knowing full well you have failed. Again.

15. Confirm your failure. 

16. Be dejected next to a sink full of useless egg goo and shells. 

17. Eat your dumb fully cooked boiled egg anyway:

18. Shake your fist and shout to the heavens, "soft boillllled!!"  

19. Don't give up. Tell yourself it's for the love of the egg.

*I think I figured it out. There are so many variations to making this egg but I think I forgot I had let the egg sit in the water before bringing to a boil. This makes it so you really have to keep an eagle eye on that water but it may make all the difference.  Stay tuned for part II...

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

The Unlocking

This may come as a surprise, but the seasons and weather are very important to me.  They give a percussive, underlying rhythm to my life and I walk by it every single day.  There aren't many days or even moments where I don't view my life and what's going on inside it within the context of the nature taking place around me.  I have my particular feelings and opinions about each season. I feel like I've spent the majority of this winter blogging about winter which I'm sure is really fun to read. Sometimes it's all I can do in winter.

And now we enter that fickle transitional period of winter --- > spring.   I always get a little restless this time of year. Maybe because the earth is too, and I try my best to mirror whatever the trees do, as a rule.  But I feel restless, noticing full well the sun outside my window but feel a real trepidation at allowing myself to go out, to be outside just for the sake of being outside, something I end up vowing never to do again until I am SURE the snow will never show its face again.  But I'm noticing the pockets of snow hiding in the shadows are breathing their last breath. I'm noticing the buds on the trees and the slivers of tulip leaves slicing through the earth, slipping through unnoticed until they are, startling everyone, like one of nature's many pranks. It's a brave new world during a brave new time. And we find ourselves facing it again, waiting to be reintroduced.

I can never put my finger on why this transitional period is so difficult for me. Is it difficult? Maybe unsettling is the word.  Never quite knowing my place in the natural context.  Am I here or am I there? Is it time? Where do you want me? How do I feel? What IS my place? Where AM I going? All of those silly questions begin flashing through my mind as the reel starts up again, thoughts I've had before as an eerie celebration of the anniversary of questions I always have this time of year.

Well. A friend recently sent me an excerpt that I love and that, I think, finally explains a little bit of the happy dissonance taking place. Because I do enjoy or at least appreciate it. I'm excited! But also nervous. It's like a tightly bound thrill is beginning to be unfurled.  Spring! Or is it? Yes? No? When? Soon? SPRING! Is it??

Here's the answer, as explained by Kurt Vonnegut:

One sort of optional thing you might do is to realize there are six seasons instead of four.  The poetry of four seasons is all wrong for this part of the planet and this may explain why we are so depressed so much of the time.  I mean, Spring doesn't feel like Spring a lot of the time, and November is all wrong for Fall and so on.  Here is the truth about the seasons. Spring is May and June! What could be springier than May and June? Summer is July and August.  Really hot, right? Autumn is September and October.  See the pumpkins? Smell those burning leaves.  Next comes the season called "Locking."  That is when Nature shuts everything down.  November and December aren't Winter.  They're Locking.  Next comes Winter, January and February.  Boy! Are they ever cold! What comes next? Not Spring.  Unlocking comes next.  What else could [March and] April be?*
 Ah ha! And there we have our answer! Fickle March is fickle because it isn't winter and it isn't spring! It's unlocking!  And that period after fall has finished but before winter has begun is the last few sweeps of Earth tidying up and closing shop! Locking!   I love this so much, it explains so much. I gives a balm to my soul, a name to my feelings, and I wish you and yours a very thrilling Unlocking indeed. 


Wednesday, March 01, 2017

If You're Going to San Francisco

If you're going to San Francisco, I don't know why, but be sure to wear some flowers in your hair. Maybe because if you're going to San Francisco, you're going to meet some gentle people, gentle people with flowers in their hair as well, and you'll want to fit in.*

*Thanks, Scott McKenzie, for an outstanding song.

When I was a youth, I was in the school choir. This was the kind of choir that basically admitted all seniors and some juniors if you were really good. It was sort of the cool thing to do, i suppose, and I had a lot of fun, trying to sing well but not once practicing. Joking around with my nearby fellow singers.  For our choir tour where we competed, our destination was San Fran.  We drove all night on a bus and had a rip roaring fantastic time.  It was also one of the first times I fell in city love.

What did I love so much about it? It's hard to say. It wasn't any single thing, I suppose, but the feeling and the energy I found myself exposed to and ultimately infected by. I looove a town with a personality. And it was beautiful and exciting. And so, so hilly. And charming with the trolleys and the stunning bay and, as they always are, the awe-inspiring city bridges, stretching like mammoths linking other mysterious lands green and sparkling.

While there on the choir tour, I debated with some trolley drivers about cities vs. the country. Though I was loving my time there, I felt loyal to my roots and defended the need for living space vs. what the city had to offer. Yards vs. parks. I did not know then that I would have a serious change of heart in about 5 years to come.

Whilst living in Bklyn and loving the heck out of it, whenever we'd try to consider another place we could see ourselves living (when anything other than NY really felt intolerable), I conceded to say that I could live in San Francisco. I'd always wanted to go back and revisit that first love and last week we did, and we took the boy with us.

The highlights included:

  • Being in a city again. All three of us put our city legs on and couldn't wait to just get out and walk. It's all I really want to do in a town like that.
  • The loveliness of all of it. It felt so much like New York and even Julian, who left when he was just five, could feel the likeness and commented on it often. But it was cleaner, prettier, smaller, with the energy efficient, eco-friendly old timey buses still in use and trolleys that are just still the best ever.  It had its own Union Square but with palms surrounding it. Yay. Also, it felt so mediterranean to me! With its brightly colored houses stuffed into the hillsides by the bay, something I'd forgotten the last time i was there.  It's really so beautiful and even the midtown area that's supposedly newer and not the beauty focus of a city (at least the midtowns I know of) were charming and full of museums and very pleasantly walkable.
  • Speaking of, the museums. We went over Sean's birthday and to celebrate, I wanted to hit every museum possible. But it was tough to manage, especially with a boy who is actually quite museum-tolerant but to a point. We did manage to hit up the MoMA and just filled our museum bucket as much as we could. Sooo much good art there. New shows and the regular ones. We ran from room to room, trying to see it all before we tired ourselves out. We commented on our favorites and least favorites. Julian said he prefers the sculptures. I particularly loved Chuck Close, photorealist painter. He paints these giant portraits of people and Sean told me Chuck suffered some kind of spinal cord problem that left him partially paralyzed. It hampered his ability to paint with such detail which to me feels so tragic, but he continues to do these giant portraits by other means like using a billion scraps of paper of a billion different shades of gray which made me be like {shocked emoji} and then {cry emoji}.  Amazing.  Anyway, click here for his google images and here for his wikipedia. Here's a pic of his paper scrap: 

say whaaaat.

  Here's a quote of his I took off the wiki page:

"I went to the Seattle Art Museum with my mother for the first time when I was 14. I saw this Jackson Pollock drip painting with aluminum paint, tar, gravel and all that stuff. I was absolutely outraged, disturbed. It was so far removed from what I thought art was. However, within 2 or 3 days, I was dripping paint all over my old paintings. In a way I've been chasing that experience ever since."

I love that. The rage! Of being exposed to something that comes from such an opposite realm you live in, to ignite such strong emotion and then to be fundamentally changed by it.  I watched Julian have his own mini-outrage in this museum visit:  "I could make that! It would take me ten seconds, no problem!" 

Other highlights and hopefully in a more condensed format:

  • The Wharf and the sea lions and the aquarium and clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl which was totally legit.
  • The Musee Mecanique with old timey--some SUPER old timey-- and functioning (!) video games and fair games. The WONDER! Pure magic.  I couldn't get over it. Such old weird scary contraptions meant to amuse and delight. Everything moving by crank, either hidden inside or employed by the patron. Yaaaay. Julian kept asking what his prize was and I said "your own amusement."  Just the BEST ever. This place was legit as well and I would highly recommend.
  • The Exploratorium, an enormous museum? i guess? jam packed with what I would call a billion totally interesting and astounding professional science projects.  Of all categories--physics, biology, and other... fields of science.  This place was vast and too huge to see everything. It was so much fun trying to figure out what everything did and maybe learn the reason why before we moved on. My favorite thing and what blew my utter mind, was in the biology quadrant where there was a table displaying four egg yolks in petri dishes covered in what looked like a simple sheet of plastic wrap and showing the various stages of LIVE EMBRYO DEVELOPMENT. LIVE.  I SAID LIVE.  I had NO idea this was possible. They had things labeled and it was the coolest most basic example of life i've ever seen in an up close way, to state it weirdly.  I took a video of the chick embryo where you can see the heart beating(!!! no big deal!) In the video you can hear me reacting to what a man near me said about watching a show about this, how they hatched a chick from a plastic cup(!!!)

  • We walked the town until our legs fell off, a particular goal I had.  Ohhh i have lost my walking legs. They have forgotten. It is so sad. I was SO sore which was exceedingly lame, but worth it.  We hiked up and down those hill-mountains.  We saw the Lombard street and then manually walked ourselves to the trolley stop for not one more step we could take.  Loved every second of the trolley.

  We ordered seamless to our hotel for dinner every night because we COULD. 

Is there anything better than eating _________ in a hotel bed? (pictured: ramen)

  • We ate fancy tapas where the cool nice owner approached us to thank us for bringing our kid (you're welcome?) and offered to show him and Sean the back cooking area and to give us a bunch of free tapas--yay. Julian ate octopus and became obsessed with Alcatraz, as we knew he would. Creepy old prison? Right up his alley. So you would have thought we'd have bought tickets in advance to take the tour but we did NOT. And could not. {sad face, full of regret} So sad. Parent fail. He was enthralled. We have decided to put it on our "next time" list, to ensure there is a next time and not too far off in the distance.  He did get a stuffed shark though and named him Alcatraz.

  • As I do whenever I detect a hint of a possibility it might be of decent quality, I purchased hot chocolate whenever I could. Sean told me later he was keeping a running tally of how many hot chocolates i got (wise guy) and gave me a total of five.

When we got home I had (have) severe post-vacation depression so to ease my pain Sean and I watched Vertigo last night. I never really saw Vertigo much in my Hitchcock adventures; I don't know why. But I thought it was super weird. Kind of interesting, at the end, I guess.  Who am i rooting for, exactly? Who's the villain? Is it the vertigo? Maybe these are all important questions. Though it may not be my favorite of Alfred's, the SF shots were glorious and it did help a bit.  Now onto making our list of good things about being back...  hmm....{thinking with a pen poised}


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Winterly Update

My my my. My winter hibernation must have been a heavy one to allow an entire month to trudge by with nary a post. I'd apologize but it's only to myself. I do have a good excuse though.

Usually if you follow someone's blog and they don't post for a long time you start to wonder what's up.  Are they going through personal tragedy? A major life change or emergency? The answer for me is yes. And it goes by the name of:

 Winter. (ha ha, sorry for the disappointment)

Honestly, that's it. I've been getting through winter.  It started well, with high hopes, fire fed by desperation as its fuel.  I always get like that.  If you can't beat it, embrace it.  And I did, I tried. I spent a lot of days shouting "in the name of HYGGE!" over and over again, my new winterly mantra I clung to.  I spent hours cutting out the most ornate snowflakes I've ever seen because I practiced and practiced.  I played in the snow, broke all the bones in my body building the world's biggest snowman. Or at least that had ever graced our lawn. I went snowshoeing and mountain sledding.   I drank literal gallons of hot chocolate (though I would do that anyway).  You notice how I'm speaking of this time in the past tense? It's because for me, it's over.  I'm past it. (in case you'd like to know, "past" is looking like a complete non word to me right now. p-a-s-t? What nonsense)   As mentioned in my desperate tribute to the solstice, I gritted my teeth and loved winter so hard. Too hard, perhaps. Or too falsely. Or maybe winter is just too long. I think that's what it is. I didn't hate it this whole time, i swear. I would shovel snow with glee, put on my winter skin and walk as I watched the snow fall.  

But the love bred from hate felt a little too twisted, a little too unsustainable. A little too Stockholm Syndrome-y and while I could, for a time, convince myself my captor was actually my friend, in the end, the true colors of death shone through and the dementor, latent but sure, returned and I was slowly tapped of all cheerfulness on the subject.  This is how it always is.

January 31 was a day I really thought I would never see.  The week leading up to it was fantastically slow. I was shocked at the phenomenon taking place before me. But I did my best and that elusive February did eventually show its face.

The problem with that is that February is still February.  January's ugly, less charming sidekick. I felt myself starting to succumb. I lost the fervor, replaced by fatigue and a general state of just being really bored. Another factor might be what I call Suburban Suffocation. Have i mentioned this? Sean and I share in this feeling and it comes and goes. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, i think a flare-up coincided with winter and the result is my feeling extremely restless. Excitement-starved. An intense need for a shake-up. I told a friend the other day I'm this close to starting a fight club. But Valentine's Day saw us through, as it always does, and we have an upcoming what has been officially and SCIENTIFICALLY [by me] declared an "End of Winter Trip" planned so, let us rejoice.

To conclude, a bulleted list of everything I have done since I last posted. Everything.

  • As I said, made a million paper snowflakes. They were going to be strung up somewhere like a winter garland but I never got around to it. I think just cutting them was enough for me. Totally relaxing and a solid tribute to the Hygge.
  • Wore thick socks and sweaters and watched a heck-ton of TV.   So good.  This includes Poldark season II, Sherlock season whatever, Victoria, all other british series (seri?)  and more. Aren't we so grateful for TV? I feel like I could tack on "and watched TV" at the end of every bulleted item in this list.
  • Downloaded an app on my phone called Marco Polo. Apparently it's like Snapchat but since I don't snap, I can't be sure. Basically it's a simple app to send videos to your friends as text messages. There's not much to it.  But one of the best things to come out of this winter was when I casually made a group video chat called "Bachelor" where I added two local friends and one faraway friend who have since all become close through our detailed back-and-forth analyses of the finest show winter has to offer.  It's honestly been so much fun and it is a great way to feel more connected with people. You almost feel like you're having real conversations and does much to rejuvenate the soul. So if you want rambley videos of me at odd times, hit me up.
  • Visited friends, tried to get out with friends. Giving in to the Hygge (pronounced hue-guh, though I thought this video was extremely helpful and entertaining.) by definition means staying in more and embracing the solitude, but everyone needs to get out sometimes.   I did this by: going to dinner, chatting, snowshoeing, and playing high competition-level games.
  • Played a couple rounds of tennis with strangers
  • Read books, talked about books.
  • And very often, did nothing. Absolutely nothing. Another attribute of Hygge--embracing the do-nothing'ness.  And it felt fine. I was in hibernation so, in a literal sense, doing anything made me feel productive in my day.   And that's alright.
 As for blogging, I anticipate more frequency. My computer is located downstairs where it's frigid so that was a discouragement for me. But you'll be happy to hear I have commanded nature to bend at my will so it'll be warming up soon and that means I can blog more. Yay for everyone. 

What has kept you going this winter? Or to rephrase, what have you been doing to while away the time?  I am curious. Do you sit back and let winter be winter? Does it play an active role in your life? Is it a non-issue? Do you embrace it? Shun it? Endure it? Does life look the same for you whatever the season?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Clue: A Story

Once upon a time I played what is for some strange reason one of my favorite games, Clue. I think it has to do with the pivotal game I played so many years ago.  I also like mystery and intrigue so I guess it's just a good fit. And, it seems like something ALWAYS happens when I play Clue. This story illustrates:

One restless night, I demanded that my friends come over to my house to play Clue. This was about three years ago. I insisted they come because i had just purchased this game and it's just not a two-person game. You can do it that way, as I've played several times with me and Sean with Julian on the team of whoever he thinks will win--a method he wishes he could suddenly alter whenever he feels he might risk being on the losing side.  But anyway, it's not the same.  So two friends came. Their names are Suvi and Suzie.  If you try you can combine the names, like Suvzie (and I always try).  These gals are winners because they're always up for fun and spontaneous silliness. They're always "game," if you will. 

The game was close. Or something. The tension grew. Ever one of the gals, Sean was there as well, so the four of us spread out like the detectives we were over that special anniversary edition of the game. All the rooms, all the weapons, all the suspects and hidden passageways. Who was it? With WHAT? WHERE???  As we collected our clues and made our deductions the race to solve the crime grew fierce.  Trying to get to a specific room without looking like you're really trying to get there is difficult. "oh, i guess I'll just go in here then and make a guess, why not?"  *shifty eyes*  But you start to sweat when you see others following and you're stressed but the thrill that you might be right goads you on. Come on, figure it out! THINK. What do you have left? Which one is it??

Come with me, if you will, into the murder mansion itself:

I can't remember all of the details. I believe I was fairly certain on the location (since we were all or close to all congregated there) and the murderer, but I knew EXACTLY which weapon was used as I had crossed off all but one. I then made my guess:

"OK. OK. I've got it! It was... IN the library... WITH the wrench... by PROFESSOR PLUM!"  (Must implement as much drama as possible when playing Clue)

Inexplicably, someone proved me wrong by showing me the wrench. What?! How can that be?? Stupefied, I explained that that could not be possible as I now had all of the weapons crossed off.  We were all so confused and made comments in the voices of nerd detectives, possibly with a British accent:

 I exclaimed, "What happened?  What's the third card?? Ok, I've got it. [someone sinister tone] The murder took place in the library... AND the billiard room!"  And Suzie chimed in, "...and he killed him by DRAGGING him, back...and forth...back...and forth...?" And we all laughed, giddy and nervous.  The tension at a breaking point, we had to open the orange envelope to solve this crime once and for all.

Turns out, we were correct. At the start of the game after shuffling each of the piles, I had accidentally included one person card and TWO room cards and, sure enough, it took place in those very rooms we surmised, a grisly death by merciless dragging to and from the library and billiard room.   Case closed. (Winner [and loser]: me.)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Shoveling & Mean Jokes

The other day I spent the better part of a lost hour shoveling the snush outside.  Snush, as we all know, is snow that looks like snow, but is sooo wet it's all slush underneath that fine top layer. It's a trap of nature and utterly disgusting. I hate slush and snush. I should have known the higher temp would just melt away everything (which it ultimately did) but for some reason (meteorology) I thought the temps might drop and then we'd have a heck-ton of ice on our hands and if there's one thing you don't want on your hands, it's a heck-ton of ice.  As I'm sitting here, I can actually think of several things I don't want on my hands.  Moving on.

So I went out and back-breakingly shoveled the front steps and the sidewalk. We live on the corner so our designated sidewalk is vast.  I actually love to shovel snow because as a lazy exerciser, this is perfect for me. Plus I'm all out in the elements and start to feel alive and things.  Since it's a rule when you move to the suburbs, we bought a second car. The little black Honda (bless its little heart) is sitting in the garage this winter since we mostly use one car, the other one being a sturdier Pilot and can handle the harsh weather things.  It sits on the driveway. For the longest time we had both cars on the driveway because we couldn't understand why anyone would want to fill a garage, aka EXTRA SPACE with cars! When there's plenty of free parking right outside the garage door on the driveway! I still feel this way but got scared for the little car, that it might not make it if we left it out.

Anyway, the task was arduous. I sweated, I snotted. I hunched and worked at lifting from the knees, not the back. I tried other shoveling maneuvers since I don't really know the best way to shovel. For example, I started the "plow method" where you push the snow with the shovel and then sort of shove it to one side, never really picking it up. In fact, I just realized that's probably what a shovel is meant for.  A shovel = tool that shoves.  Anyway, it looks ridiculous and sometimes I try to slide on the icy snow while I do it and then get a shovel handle in the gut when the shovel catches on an uneven piece of sidewalk and I almost impale myself. It's a risky game.

By this time I'm hurting. So for the driveway, I shoveled one side pretty well, then shoveled the other side pretty well so that when we parked directly over the snow strip in the center, passenger and driver alike will get clean cement when exiting or entering the vehicle.   I finished up and went back inside. Sean would be home soon so I texted him and asked if he'd drive over (to mash down) a big snush puddle directly in front of the driveway which also would be a big fat time-waster as drivers would immediately splash a slush wall right back where it had been.   Oh well. This whole winter/ snow caretaking housework is all theoretical for us anyway. It's just another example of us at "playing suburbs," like when we "do yardwork."   As a game in the summer, I'd go out and "weed" for a bit. Everything is in quotes because it's not real, it will never be real.

Sean did that, parked the car,  and came inside.  We were in the middle of a pleasant conversation about something when I glanced out the window and was like, "WHA-- Why did you do that?? I specifically shoveled the driveway so there would be clean cement on both sides! Why would you DO that? That's just MEAN!"  Because what he had done was THIS:


Now, if this incredibly mean joke had been intended t as such, that would have been solid. But totally mean. But he didn't even mean it to be a joke! His explanation? If he parked the car over to the side like that, there would be room for the little car in the garage to come out!  This makes 0% sense for the following reasons:

1) why would we, in these cold snowy winter months, EVER prefer to take out the tiny civic to snow-drive with and leave the big car home? Why. Why.  When. 

2) Sean works from home. He often goes many days without driving.  Me? I drive a bunch. I'm scraping the morning ice (happily, as it is a pittance compared to the old life). ME.  Him? Never.

3) If the little car IS needed, that means one of us has the big car--taken away, far away leaving the driveway wide and clear.

I was utterly baffled.  And for a while, just couldn't let it go. "I just.. why? Why would you.. I mean, you want me to tramp through the snow to get in the car??  And the whooooole driveway is open. Let's make me walk through snow?? Or what, enter through the passenger side?? WHY? WHAT? HOW? WHAT."   He laughed at my completely appropriate reaction and the grossness of his own foibles and with a bit of shame, vowed to go out and fix it.  But I honestly thought that would be the meanest joke to play on someone.  After all, it's the only scenario that setup would make ANY sense.

Funny times...

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

2016 Summation

I've decided to do the classic end-of-year bulleted list of key events for the 2016 year.  Now, there were big things like weddings and tragedies and trips and whatnot but I'm looking for the really important stuff.  The kinds of things that shapes a life.  Let's see what I come up with.

This year, I:

  • Finally made the transition from regular deodorant to not.  I mentioned this to a friend the other day and he said, "like... from using it regularly to not?"  HA HA.  No. I think I've reached an age where conventional deodorant doesn't really work anymore. My skin has built up a tolerance and i'm scared. Scared I've actually achieved a reconfiguration of my chemical make-up and I'm just not sure I want that. I also grow ever aware of the realities and commonality of cancer and I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that deodorant has chemicals (parabens?) and toxins that are linked to it.  SO.  I've switched.  Sean has been using Crystal for yeeears and swears by it. I finally tried it and I like it too.  I like it too! I also bought a fancy deodorant online that took like two weeks to arrive and it's nice too, when i want to smell like something. So, that's a pretty big deal.
  • Met a hair person (who does my hair) that I love and want to stick with. For my entire life I've jumped around getting my hair cut by this random person at that random place with this groupon or by a friend for free.  I met this new stylist at the Great Clips, of course, and she and I hit it off right away.  We always have the best time. Love chatting with her, love that she knows my hair and the evolution therein. I send her an SOS haircut text and she gets me right in. And she just gets me. And my follicles.  
  • Threw a backyard dance party with the help of a camp shelter, a disco light, and a top drawer dance playlist. Am thinking of making it an end-of-summer tradition. Dancing with children is my favorite and so cathartic. Highly recommend.
  • Downloaded Marco Polo on my phone.  I am app-resistant. Well no, social media app-resistant. I have what i like and I need nothing else. And then my friend who I trade 4-min. long voicemails back and forth with sent me an invite and now we can send videomails of ourselves back and forth.  It's simple and a lot like what's already out there but sort of specialized and separate and I like that.
  • Said goodbye to a bubble tea place I truly loved. There's not a day that I don't think about that avocado bubble tea. I happily drove the 30 minutes just for that. But now I can't because it just up and closed one day and I've never found a place with tea that compares and it is a true tragedy.
  • Read The Chosen, which little bit kind of in a big way changed my life.  I loved it so much. I feel like it's the best book I can think of to depict my own religion (which is not Judaism) to  and religiosity to non-believers. Or at least what I might aspire to. It was truly remarkable. 
  • Fell more deeply in love with someone very close to me-- our cat.  He is the softest, snuggliest, strangest, at times wildest little fur-buddy and I am so happy he is here with us.  Cats are the best. The very, very best.
  • Took a tennis class with a friend that gave me the breath of life.  I used to play daily when I was in college and everything was at my fingertips. I think Sean and I played one time in NY but there you had to reserve courts and probably pay a hefty sum of hush money or something and it was just too hard.  But here it is too easy and this class was AWESOME.  I loved being part of a class environment. I soaked in all of the helpful information my teacher gave us and even was the smart kid sometimes when he asked questions.  It was just a dream and I smiled like a nerd on crack the entire duration of each class. Just so happy to be there playing a sport I love. Nothing like it. I remember pausing one cool night on the college courts some 15-odd years ago, looking around me at the shadowy trees standing against the light of dusk. I was just so happy to be alive and playing, and I remember telling myself to soak it all in and remember that moment. And I always have. And the very same feeling finally returned. Bliss.
 I'm going to end here. Reviewing these major life events leaves me with a feeling of intense satisfaction at a year well done. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Creativity

I have to say, I love 25 Days of )en.   It is one of my favorite Christmas traditions. It keeps the gears of my mind oiled, it gives me the sense of constant movement and progression, which I need in my life. I saw a friend the other day whom I haven't seen in a while and she asked if I got my hair cut. I told her, always.  One of the things I love about having short hair (it is dumb to be talking about my hair, I realize. But it's still a "thing," for women, you know?) is that feeling I get of constantly being in flux. I never know what I want my stylist to do when I get it cut because I never remember how exactly it was when I liked it because that phase lasted about three days. I should probably be taking more selfies (a philosophy that is certainly always true) and when I learn how to do my hair I have to stop and change the way I do it because it's different now. I like that. It's frustrating but I still like it. It forces me to re-think and adapt and again, gives me the sense of change and fluctuation, that life is moving forward and I am aboard that train.  And that's enough about my hair (in this post, anyway).  

That said, every year I am terrified to do 25 Days of )en.  Especially if I've been a little stagnant and haven't been posting often. I'm afraid I've lost my words, once and for all, and to force myself to find at least some of them for every day for almost a month is daunting to me. I'm scared I can't do it. But then I do.  In some type, in some form, of some caliber, anyway.  It just feels good to me that every 5th day or so I can choose to start digging and actually find something. On this subject, and the subject of creativity, I recently asked a question to a couple of my friends.  Here is the question, followed by their responses:

Would you mind thinking about creativity in terms of yourself? What it does for you, what type do you love best, how you exhibit it, etc?

My friend required a response to my own question first so I obliged by saying,

"I get an enormous amount of satisfaction when I put thoughts and ideas into physical form. Like the shaping and molding of clay (purely as metaphor as I cannot sculpt).  You know, the feeling of, where there was nothing, now there is something.  I LOVE that, and nothing makes me feel more fulfilled or productive in my day.  It can really be anything, but I often get this feeling from writing.  I feel like I dug into myself and unexpectedly found treasure.  Not that it's all diamonds, mind. But haven't you ever dug unwittingly and at least found like a cool rock? And you were like, that was there the whole time!"*

* it is weird to quote myself in my own blog. I once listened to a man giving a talk who said, "to quote myself..." and I was like {huge grin emoji}

My friend said, "any time I can create (put a piece of me into something) I feel enlightened! Whether it's teaching something--reading, writing, songs, etc, altering a recipe, designing a card. I think creativity is putting a piece of you in the world. And the world and you become one for just a split moment and together you sigh in the beauty you've created." 

I asked another friend this same question and she responded responded with,

"I feel like for me it's an outlet where I can put all my thoughts and ideas into something real. All the things in my head can be expressed.  Also it helps me to be me. Not just a "stay at home mom."  It's like my version of being a working mom.  I like when my creativity can be shown in something physical- like a quilt, a well thought-out gift basket, artwork, graphic art or some type of DIY project/craft. Anything visual!"

I attended a class where a portion of it was devoted to the creative process.  The woman lecturing asked the audience when they felt creative.  People gave some answers. She then asked, "what do you think about when you have nothing to think about?"  And I rubbed my hands together and said, now that's my kind of question! 

I think her point was to bring up the idea that there isn't enough in-between time for people and that maybe that's where true inspiration lies. That we don't give ourselves enough of a chance to let our minds wander.  I could not even list all the things I think about when I have nothing to think about.  But I loved thinking about this question. 

I recently listened to a podcast with John Irving, novels, who had spoken for some event and it was recorded in the Academy of Achievements (podcast is called What it Takes).  He talked about the writing process for himself and at one point he likened it to wrestling. Wrestling is a series of moves that you do over and over and over again until they become second nature. You maybe adjust your reaction time or whatever but in relation, writing to him is more revision and repetition, less inspiration.  You get better the more you do it. I like this and believe it to be true but I'm also a believer in the inspiration of a moment, sort of as experiment. I like sitting down and seeing what will happen, if anything. I definitely go back to things I've written (and again and again) but I love the thrill of what if I saw down here for a moment and something happened, new and interesting? It's rare, but what if?

Mr. Irving referred to himself not as an artist, but a craftsman, and that in writing his novels, he was building a house.  But what if it was a house with a particularly inspired foundation? Anyway, I'm rambling but my point is: to create is to live, to live is to create. I bet that's a famous quote from somewhere.  Thanks for reading, Internet pals, and Merry Christmas Eve.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Meat 'n Cookies

Cookies 'n Meat.  This could probably another term for Christmas.  Noel. Yule.  Cookies 'n Meat.  I'm just kiddin', I'm pretty tired and totally failed to post something for today.  Why? Because I was participating in Sisters Christmas Cookie Fest 2016 all the live long day.  We gathered and made THIS platter of cookies:

From left to right: 1) rugelach (apricot and black raspberry), 2)a coconut macaroon with chocolate ganache, 3)lemon-drizzle raspberry somethin' cookie, 4) Grandma's gumdrop oatmeal cookie, 5) lemon drop cookie with lemon rind, 6) pink macaron, 7) pecan butter cookie, 8) peanut butter truffle, and 9) a gingerdoodle.  Not pictured: almond butter pretzel truffle.

I made the oatmeal gumdrop, lemon drop, pecan butter, and almond butter pretzel thing. Stretched it out all week long. And Sean didn't help ONE BIT.  This isn't a complaint, it's a brag. A brag.  I know. I've grown so much. We made those lemon drop cookies a couple of weeks ago and Sean did the icing and lemon rind and of course it was so much prettier than mine. I snapped a pic:

Ahhh! They're so pretty. So tiny and lemony with perfectly curled peels. Beautiful.

Anyway, any cookie at this point makes me want to barf. Doesn't mean I won't eat it though.  All of them were delicious but I think Steph's rugelach are my favorite. I'm a sucker for jammy cookies.

Other important picture of late:

Julian being the Grinch. This mask and a green tee were the extent of his "Whobilation" costume party.
Slightly disturbing.

One of my favorite things to do is play games by the Christmas tree. This week it has been pure madness and we've had nary a night to spend together, so we finally made it happen last night. And speaking of the Grinchian, here he is last night trying his hardest to cry after he came in 3rd place in Chutes and Ladders.  Ha ha ha. Come on, Julian! You can do it!
I feel a little bad exploiting him like this. But he deserves it because that "cry" was really something else.

I went to a fancy dinner with some gal pals the other night. It was delish and so fun. Nothing I love better than to eat at a nice restaurant and then stay and talk forever. Long, drawn-out dinner. Yaaay. The charcuterie came with some thinly slice meat, a pot of honey, some mustard, crusty bread, some cheese and small pot of olives. Since the others hated olives I took them all for myself and they were varied and delicious.  They had provided a small bowl for the pits which I took advantage of. It wasn't until after some time that I realized how amazingly festive they can be! I mean, look at that rainbow! Weirdly, friends were not impressed. But look!

Ha ha. You're welcome for that. The one time a food pic would be acceptable.

On Thursday I stepped outside of my house and was smacked in the face with the sky on fire. I actually saw its reflection on the mountains out a window facing east and said to myself, "something strange is afoot..."   Lo and behold:

Whaaaaat. No filter on that, friends.  So shockingly beautiful. A bunch of moms were parked outside my house and as they pulled up I wildly gesticulated the majesty of the sky to them. I hope some of them caught a glimpse.

Lastly, tonight a delivery truck stopped by my parents' house where they unloaded the cut up and packaged carcass of 3 pigs, a cow, and some additional beef. It was an INSANE amount of meat. INSANE! It's like it rained beef and pork and my parents sorted it into boxes and packages for their kids as they do every year. This is an overwhelming gift and watching them sort was quite a sight. Also, my mom is the best:

Meat, meat, mo' meat.

Merry meat and cookies!