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Sunday Kitchen Stories

Tonight feels successful. Let’s hope this sets us up for a good week.

Accomplished:

  • Icing the foot, twice
  • Soaking three bowls of beans
  • Cooking three types of beans
  • Baked two loaves of bread (whole wheat, barley flour, unbleached white)
  • Visited Meat Market (food club meat on hiatus via lack of fridge space)
  • Cooked chili
  • Prepped lunches
  • Crock pot roast slow cooking
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Catching Up in Photos

Sometimes Levi gets a hold of my phone, when it’s locked. He used hit number after number, locking it up further with wrong combinations. Now, he’s realized that he can at least play with the camera. And, so he does, until I come along.

So, today, I bring you a few photos taken by Levi and me of the last few days and weeks.

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Getting Lucky at the Lab

Levi, my lovely child, is walking through the Pumpkin Patch last October. Our children deserve safe, stable, healthy, affordable homes. Come celebrate with me so we can make sure all children have access to great housing!
Levi, my lovely child, is walking through the Pumpkin Patch last October. Our children deserve safe, stable, healthy, affordable homes. Come celebrate with me so we can make sure all children have access to great housing!

It’s my birthday, and I’m throwing a party! Okay, clarification, it was my birthday, but I’m still throwing a party. Come join me at the Lucky Lab Tap Room on Friday, September 13th. Join me and raise money for CAT!

Why do I want to raise money for CAT? What is CAT? CAT is The Community Alliance of Tenants, Oregon’s only renters’ rights organization. I’ve spent a lot of time there, over the last five years, because I firmly believe that societal change begins at home. And, that’s what CAT does – we empower renters to make sure they have safe, stable, and affordable homes.

It is our job to make sure we leave this world in a better place. I believe this world would be a better place if we could all realize our potential. I believe in Maslow’s Hierarchy of achieving self-actualization – our potential – but it starts with taking care of basic needs. And basic needs start with having enough to eat, enough to wear, and a safe home to call home.

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Mommy and Levi posing at the coffee shop, our community space where we spend time together over cocoa and mochas.

I am celebrating my 35th year by raising $3,500 for this organization I love. And, I am celebrating at the Lucky Lab Tap Room. Don’t worry, if you don’t live in the area, there are plenty of ways to give! Donate to the organization I love, and help make my dream of raising $3,500 come true. Change starts at home. At CAT, we make good renters. Good renters make good communities, and good communities support one another to make our entire society better, more understanding, and more loving. At CAT, we make positive change a reality.

You’re invited. Please join me on Friday, September 13th as I toast my 35th year by raising $3,500 for the Community Alliance of Tenants. You can RSVP today or just give if you can’t come. I would love to see you all there. YOU are a part of my community, and I would love for you to help me celebrate a better society for us, for our children, and our children’s children.

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And, now we wait for Daddy

It’s July. It’s Saturday. It’s actually a significant Saturday, though all told I treated it as quite normal.

In the morning, after I left the house and parked my car, I walked by the sign that read, “Portland’s Museum of Modern Art” on a 2 story clap board building, across from Cherry Sprout Produce. I felt like I was walking into an episode of Portlandia. [Note, Sunday, Jun 21: I just checked my bank account, and the charge came through, not as Sweedee’s, rather Cafe Portlandia.]

We had an incident of sauerkraut tasting salsa, but besides that we weren’t Portlandia.

Later, we got our hairs cut.

Levi and I finished the day washing the windows in the car – after a much-needed nap.

And, now, we wait for Daddy.

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Following My Feelings

Levi Growling
Levi climbed onto my flour bins. I told him to get off, and he growled then giggled. This is the transition from growl to giggle.

Let’s piggy back on last week’s post. Last week’s post was supposed to describe the irony between trusting your feelings and not, as preached by my pastor at the church I attend.

In recent years, I’ve been trying, as a good adult, to understand my place in this world. I’ve been trying to get a sense of the annoying middle school years, the searching high school years, the thought-provoking college years, the pontificating twenties, the studious college years, and the self-awareness that evolved in my thirties. I usually toss a few tenants in my head:

  • Each person holds the entirety of the human condition inside themselves.
  • Everyone wants to take care of those they care about – whether it be family, friends, oil entrepreneurs, or puppies.
  • Everyone has stages of success and insecurity, and it’s always interesting to see when you meet someone where they are on the roller coaster.
  • Everyone has a place in the world, it’s just really hard to find it.
  • We all have special gifts, talents, or strengths, and it’s our job to identify how those fit within the world.
  • If you ignore your feelings, you do a disservice to those closest to you.
  • It’s your job to name and articulate your needs.
  • There is no grand conspiracy (or rather, I refuse to believe in one), everyone really just wants to take care of those they care about (back to bullet #2, though not numbered lest we think one is more important than another).

By not following my feelings, I have found that I have done grave disservice to myself and those I care about. I’m not saying follow my pleasure from one hedonistic event to another – I’m saying feelings, those important indicators that let me know how I’m doing, how I may have affected someone, how someone may have affected me, and the navigator that should chart my course in this messy world.

This sermon my dear pastor gave is still ringing with me – two weeks later. He told our congregation, in more than three masses that we should not follow our feelings. He told us that our feelings are not to be trusted and in return, we should simply turn to God and God will solve all of our problems.

And, what I have realized is that by not following my feelings, I have ignored the navigator that God gave me.

My husband was checking in with me last night. He was making sure I had things I needed. I noted that I doubt I get enough quiet time – not TV time – quiet time where I can be alone with my thoughts. This time, right now, while Levi is bouncing between Legos and the Flintstones in the other room, would work as a semblance of quiet time. I am sitting at my computer (with new hard-drive and new battery!) noting these confusing thoughts and feelings in a way that allows me to reread the words and make sense of the incident that troubled me.

I follow my feelings when they indicate someone is holding something back, when someone close to me is angry or confused, when a friend is sad or tired. I follow the knot that bundles in my stomach to help unravel the mysteries we navigate daily.

I follow my feelings to understanding. When I follow my feelings, I find that I follow them towards spirituality. I follow them towards wholeness. I follow them towards being closer to my family, to my friends. I follow them away from the pleasure-seeking things that might have attracted me in my twenties – when I was really just starting out and really just starting to make sense of it all. As I mature, I have found my feelings draw me away from a lifestyle to which my pastor also wanted to draw us away from.

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Airport Security

NLIHC - 1

Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

[This post began February 15, 2011.]

I have a new niece. My brother had surgery on his neck. We have a vacation booked in a few weeks. We fly, of course. So, what does that mean, but Airport Security.

I really hate airport security. I find it intrusive and ineffective. I’m sure someone who is obsessed with security, terrorism, and the like would show me several studies proving how all these measures really make us safer, but I don’t believe it.

The first time I remember airport security was when I was in high school. I had the opportunity to fly to D.C. with fellow classmates in a project called, “Project Close-Up.” It is a week peak at Washington D.C. for teenagers. You are assigned a 20-something Georgetwon grad student (or similar) who serves as your own personal tour guide: taking you to lobbyists, congress, the Smithsonian, teaching us how to use the Metro. It was amazing.

Getting there was even more exciting. It was April. 1995. We had a snowstorm the night before. We had to meet at a school an hour away to bus-pool with a few other schools to Detroit-Wayne County International Airport (DTW). We averaged 30 mph on the freeway. The bus drivers were talking in their radios how they didn’t get much sleep the night before. We slipped and slided, in a big yellow bus, all the way to the airport. My knuckles were white nearly the whole way there.

We arrived, with twenty minutes to check into our flight. We had 20 students and teachers in our class.We were rushed to the front of the line. We ran down the cooridor to airport security.

We were waved through. One gal had some metal piece stuck in her ski jacket, and they waved her on after three wand swipes!

Waved us by! That was 1995.

Six years later was, of course, 9/11/01.

In 2004, I flew back to Michigan for a quick 4-day weekend to celebrate my maternal grandfather’s 80th birthday. It was held at the Rock Township hall where most family celebrations were held. To expedite this trip, I needed to fly from Portland to Escanaba. The most cost-effective flight took me from Portland to Denver to Kansas City to Milwaukee finally to Escanaba.

The airport that had the most stringent airport security was both Escanaba and Kansas City. We flew a puddle jumper in and out of Escanaba. Escanaba is a town of 30,000. Kansas City was one of the slowest airports I had ever visited. I came up with a conclusion the day I questioned why Kansas City had airport security at evcry gate and I was rewarded with a pat down for my question. I learned that the smaller, more insignificant hte airport, the more airport security works to validate their job.

I often wonder how that makes us safer. I really don’t think it does.

I believe that knowing our neighbors makes us safer. That means, we need to interact with them, ask them to check our homes while we’re on vacation. We interact with them over fences and on front porches. We wave and smile while they walk by. We don’t have to know them intimately, but enough that they are no longer strangers.

How can we shrink our world so we feel more neighborly in the big airport full of strangers?

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Why TV Has Its Place

[This post was started on January 31, 2011.]

Then

I’m watching Chuck. I don’t watch this religiously, and it’s easy to pick up if I miss a few or several episodes. I find it endearing. It hits the action, spy, and campy love stories. I enjoyed watching TV as a kid, and always had the lineup of my favorites. Then, I got older and TV became less important. Movies, in some form, were always a constant. Soon, I moved out on my own, and I found myself, like many young people, with meager belongings. I didn’t have a television. I was fine, though, because I did have my radio – and that was my connection to the outdoor world.

I have blogged about this topic before (TV Confessions of a New Mom), but it rarely fails to fascinate. My mom used to chime, often, “Garbage in, garbage out,” an accusation on why we shouldn’t watch TV or certain TV. I’m sure my mom was flabbergasted that as a 13-year-old girl, all I wanted was (the original) Beverly Hills 90210.

Now

Patient Mommy No More!
Patient Mommy is in Bed by 9pm

Well, now as an adult different desires for TV watching transpire. As a child, I felt like I was cool if I was able to keep up with the cool TV watching. Some shared in that desire, and we’d swap entertaining stories about the latest punch line. Some didn’t, and I failed to be cool like I thought I was able to be, by watching TV! Now, as an adult, though, I watch TV for different reasons. Sometimes it’s art. Sometimes it’s education. Sometimes it’s a distraction.

Mostly, it’s distraction. I’ve written before about how tiresome balancing these roles has become. As such,sometimes instead of writing, I watch TV. Back again are the lineups. Back again are the pontifications. But, mostly, it’s about the brain drain. It’s about not thinking.

I don’t have to make any choices, expect which show I want to watch when. And, since our lineup has been minimized, we have gone to borrowing our favorite shows (Burn Notice, Leverage, and Psych) from the library. Now, we can have our “date night Saturday nights” however we’d like them and in what order.

The pattern is, get up, quickly get ready for school, encourage the kiddo to eat, make lunches, put on make up, rush out the door by 7:40 am. Providing we’ve all rushed around together, we make the family trip to drop Levi off at school. We switch, so I drive the husband back home, then I take off for work. The desired arrival time is 8:10 am.

Then it’s work, work, work. I generally work through my lunches, but once or twice a week take an extended lunch to dine with a friend or testify for City Council. Then, I finish up work between 5 pm and 5:20 pm, rush to get the kiddo by the 6 pm cutoff. We race home, and have an hour for dinner activities, before an hour for bedtime activities. As soon as 8p hits – my brain is dead. I’m tired of having a polite smile on my face. I’m tired of being patient. I’m tired of measuring my words. I’m tired of thinking before I speak. I’m tired of forcing smiles on my face when I’d rather scream. I’m tired of considering laundry. I’m tired of thinking about what has to be done before the night is done. I look around at all the obligations, and it just makes me more tired.

And, on those days, a good fiction in the form of moving pictures on the TV is all I want. And, as an adult, making a cognizant choice to numb my brain – I think that’s okay. There are so many more opportunities for thinking, for feeling, exchanging  community building, and growing – that my nightly ritual of dumbing down… it’s a-okay.

And, now, I’m learning, it’s an introverts way. Maybe not TV specifically, but the absolute need of refreshing. We express so much energy interacting, that quiet time, alone, refreshes us so that we can be chipper and friendly to do it all over again the next day.

So, that’s why TV has its place. It helps me refresh in this crazy world with too many obligations and conflicting priorities. It helps me think of nothing else than fictional bombs blowing up while our favorite former CIA guy goes around rescuing the under-served  A bit of hope in a world where it’s not always clear who will be the good guy and where the winners are.

 

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15 Minutes

I have 15 minutes before I’m off onto the next thing. I am forcing myself to sit here for 15 minutes (well, maybe only 11) and simply write. There is so much going on, and the introvert in me needs this constant refresh time. But, I am having such (for over 18 months now) a hard time keeping the bum to the chair writing…

Sometimes things are too personal. I don’t want to write about family goings ons because I do keep my blog public, and some things are meant to be private. Sometimes things are too tenuous. There are a lot of changes going on in the spheres in which I operate. Sometimes it’s just not right it to broadcast it to the world. I’ve anonymized posts before, and even though I don’t remember all the specifics when I reread those posts months later, it takes a lot of effort in order to be able to do that. It takes an effort to filter out the nuance and get to the heart of the matter in order that I may dissect the understanding. Given all the roles I play, sometimes that takes too much energy and my refresh time is simply zoning out in front of the Boob Tube, not thinking about all the places where my interests lie.

That was 2 minutes worth of writing. Now what?

So, it’s that time of year again. Cold season. It’s interesting having a son whose birthday is in the same month as mine. In part, it’s my norm. My mother and I share the same birth-month. In fact, my son and my mom’s birthday are a mere 3 days a part! So, if the Giselle institute’s theories and patterns of equilibrium and disequilibrium follow through to adulthood, Levi and I both fall into disequilibrium in the fall months. It seems àpropos that disequilibrium would coincide with cold season.

Thus far, I’ve been able to keep the cold at bay with periodic trickles of some naturopathic herbs that are supposed to boost the immune system. Yet, the scratchy throat persists. Thankful that our big event didn’t happen this year, no matter how it has affected cash flow. That means less stress for me in dealing with these other things that are going on.

Overall, 2012 can suck it. It’s not that every day is a bad day. But, this roller coaster of a year has been … well a roller coaster. I want more status quo. If the Mayan Calendar meant a rough year, I can’t wait for this world to end. I hope it doesn’t mean Apocalypse  rather change. Astrologists might argue that this is the dawning of the age of Aquarius .. perhaps we head further into the age of science and reason which could mean equilibrium for all.

Okay… that was… 7 minutes. All done, regardless of missing my 15 minute mark. I now have to get my things together, grab my coat, turn the lights off, order pizza, get the kid, and head off to the next meeting. Now, we chat about diversity – what it means and how to educate others about it.

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We’re Getting Old: I’m Getting Old

Salmon Dinner

Our dinner consisted of 1 of the last 2-2 lb salmon fillets from Ilamna, fresh roasted asparagus from ProFarm, and Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain Blend.

This realization does not come lightly. I have consistently resisted this thought. I’ve fought against it. I’ve argued it. I’ve stated that age is a state of mind. I continue to believe that life must be celebrated, not dreaded. But, slowly, in my 34th year, the realization has set: I am getting old.

There is something about 34 that rings differently to me. It’s one step closer to 35. Something about 35 is so close to 40. Those I know who have crept past 35 show their age in different ways. Some show it in their eyes. Some show it in their calm demeanor. Some show it in their resignation. Something about getting close to 40 that sets the perspective wheels in motion.

Today, it was technology that set off the thought. This thought has percolated since my birthday. I segment my 30s in threes. Between 30 and 33 it’s the first bit, the early thirties. 34 to 36 is the mid thirties. This is followed by the latter thirties with the age range 37-39. And, after 39 is 40. And, shouldn’t we have it all figured out at 40? I’m nearing half way through my 34th year. It’s another year of introspection, and today I was considering technology.

I don’t want to learn anymore technology. (More or less says the gal with the iPhone who covets a new Retina Macbook Pro and wants to integrate her house on the cloud with a dream kitchen of touch screen recipes perhaps sequenced into the stove.) I’ve mastered countless databases. I’ve learned expert levels of Word and Excel. I could navigate any Windows system (XP and earlier) like counting freckles on the back of my hand. I could trouble shoot any system to the awe of the computer frightened, walking in like the Savior to rescue a mis-saved document.

But now, my speech stutters to find the right terms. I’m tired of how it changes all the time. I don’t care about learning the new Windows (7), the new version of Ubuntu, or where the print icons in Mac are and how they differ. I just want it to stay the same. I want it to all be stagnate for a while.

But now, my speech stutters to find the right terms. I’m tired of how it changes all the time. I don’t care about learning the new Windows (7), the new version of Ubuntu, or where the print icons in Mac are and how they differ. I just want it to stay the same. I want it to all be stagnate for a while.

And, while I was considering this, with whatever technological gizmo that set off the thought, it occurred to me that I am old. I’m tired of the fast pace whizzing by. I am tired, and I can’t keep up. I want routines (4p dinner anyone?) and consistency so I can just work on what I want to work on. No longer do I care about the next new thing. No longer am I impressed with how fast our cloud-based app world moves. I am complaining about the speed of life, like an old person, so that must mean I am old.

My son has admitted that I’m old on a few occasions now. So, that gives further credibility to the claim.

And, then tonight, my friend pontificates over dinner the difference between smoking and Facebook. That’s right, she argued that Facebook has supplanted smoking in after-dinner routines (as I uploaded my dinner pictures to Facebook). She queried, “What? Are we so bored with our friends that we must look to our technological gadgets to entertain us?” Certainly not a new argument. I enjoyed the cigarette comparison where we are giving our idle hands something to do. But, “No,” I eventually countered. I think it’s just that we’re getting old. (My Facebook upload aside.) We are older so we can sit longer and be quiet longer. It’s these young kids (the person in question is 26) who need constant entertainment to grab them. They have not been thoroughly, or properly, introduced to quiet mediations and the importance of silence in conversation.

Yes, I think it is simply that we are getting old. And, you know, I’m finally okay with it.

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Tuesday, May 22nd

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Birthday Cupcake Ideology (Photo credit: alexis22578)

I have moved the computer to the kitchen. One light bulb is out, and the orange glow in our soon to be outlawed incandescent lights is disturbing my visual field. The dishes need to be put in the dishwasher. The floor still needs to be mopped. We have grocery bags that don’t have a great home, scattered among the chairs. Levi is in bed, whining for his squeezy bottle.

Tonight was one of those interesting parental evenings, where the child needs some semblance of attention and is manifesting that want in ways that are not comprehensible to the parent (me).

I picked the child up from school tonight, thankful for a low traffic night in this resurgence of rain and 60 degree weather. He was waiting, coat on, backpack on. As soon as I got to the door he was there with his teacher. A far cry from the night before where I could not find them. They ran an errand just as I arrived. Mind you, I was pushing the 6:00 clock pick up with my 5:58pm arrival. (I’ve been sick; I was trying to nap.) So, tonight, arriving twenty minutes earlier, they were ready for me in more ways than one.

The child was fairly pleasant. He removed his backpack immediately upon my arrival, claiming he now needed to get his snack. (I usually let him get it out after we get settled in the truck.) This was an amusing feat, regardless, for myself and his two teachers. I signed him out, and we resettled his backpack.

All was chipper.

We were low on a few grocery items that I don’t procure from my buying club (cheddar cheese, sour cream, yogurt, pasteurized milk, deli meats), so we ventured en route to the nearest grocery store.

The child continued with his chipper, playful, obedient mood. All this, to the pleasure of his mother (me).

We have an uneventful trip at the crowded grocery store, collect our items, and a new toy, and head out. The grocery store trip was accompanied by the 5-year-old being able to ride on the cart (in ways store staff don’t always approve) most of the trip. I was comfortable with this mode of transport as it 1) let me know where the 5-year-old is always and 2) kept him occupied in a pleasant way. All tactics aid to keeping the 5-year-old chipper, avoiding meltdowns, and allowing said child to remain obedient. All these things make mother pleased.

Once we are loaded into our car, backed out of the parking light, where full-trendy-grocery store parking dances commence (the car next to us pulls out, another pulls in, we pull out, another pulls in behind us, while dancing around drivers who quickly turned to pedestrians whilst navigating said parking lot and dance), and on the road — I tell the 5-year-old what’s for dinner. It goes something like this:

“So, when we get home, we’ll have grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. Okay?”

“Ooh, and I can have gold-fish crackers too!” replies the now excited 5-year-old.

“Yes! You can have gold-fish crackers with your grilled cheese sandwich.” I assure the 5-year-old, relieved that tonight, we can forego the nightly dinner argument.

Fast forward to being home, having groceries put away, the 5-year-old watching a Barney-Thomas the Train-Bob the Builder DVD on loan from the library, me grilling the sandwiches away. (Mine is more gourmet adorned with the deli meat and swiss cheese).

Note: Our microwave broke several weeks ago, beyond repair. We are down to a puny heel of bread. I brought two, very frozen loaves up from the deep freeze. They are now (3 hours later) thawed to a usable stage.

I let his small, grilled cheese sandwich cool, cut in half, on a plate while mine finishes. I mention to the 5-year-old that his grilled cheese sandwich is nearly done. I will even let him eat in the living room. (I don’t want arguments. I want easy dinner time which should transfer to easy bedtime.)

I hear no reply and mistake (yes, mistake) that for continued acceptance of before mentioned and vetted dinner menu. The gold-fish crackers have already been consumed.

The 5-year-old walks to the kitchen. The 5-year-old notes that these are indeed grilled cheese sandwiches.

“But, I want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich! Grilled cheese is too dirty!”

Get it? Grilled cheese is toasted, crumbly bread, after it is grilled appropriately. It makes more crumbs than a fresh loaf of bread (one that is not available due to our no-microwave-fresh-from-the-freezer-state of bread).

I insisted that this indeed for dinner. After a 10-20 minute whine-fest in his room, the 5-year-old comes out. (The rule is that the living room and kitchen are more or less “happy zones”, any other inconsolable fit must be had in his room. He is allowed to return when he is in a better mood. We have found this to be a good tactic toward self-soothing.)

He says, “I can eat the grilled cheese sandwich in the living room, right?”

Ah, the life of a parent. It’s never-ending, unpredictable roller-coaster ride of developing minds.

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