Saturday, July 31, 2010

July 31st

So...I was going to write something thoughtful about my month of daily blogging...but it is late, and again I am wiped out. Relaxing is hard work....we had a lazy day at home and then rolled up to North Berwick for dinner, drinks and sitting by the fire.

And now, to sleep.

Friday, July 30, 2010

We all need goals here are some of mine for the weekend, in no particular order.
  • Sleep.
  • Time outside in the sun.
  • Get caught up on cleaning and laundry.
  • Finish Charlotte's sweater (so close!).
  • Fun with family and friends.
  • Write.
  • Cook/bake something for Monday's work potluck.
  • Send some emails, make some calls.....catch up with people!

A list, because I am really really tired....item #1, soon.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lori vs. the kitten

She might have tiny pointy teeth and razor-sharp claws that could use trimming....but I have a squirtgun.

I think it's a draw.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Positive energy reaps more positive energy?

I just got in from work. Now, it's not as bad as it of the regional managers offered to take the entire Portsmouth start team out to dinner to celebrate having made our July goal. Despite the fact that I don't care much for this woman, I decided that I needed to accept her generosity graciously, without speculating about her motivations.

I am glad I did. There was shop talk, but there was also sharing stories about real life, teasing one another about our little quirks, dissecting everyone's star signs and how closely we each adhere to those characteristics, and enjoying a really nice meal. [We went to Jumpin' Jay's...I had the seared tuna with sesame glaze and wasabi aioli. Their calamari and mussels are fabulous too.] I remembered again what I liked about working with some of these people, and that makes me smile. I laughed, and I made people laugh. A few of us even went for a beer afterward.

Now here's the funny, or maybe the beautiful, thing: this morning I had been thinking about how little I wanted to go. It meant a long day, working until later than I normally do on Wednesdays; it meant socializing with a few people who have driven me batshit crazy for weeks now. It meant being away from home and family, and wearing something other than flip flops and soccer shorts after 6 pm. But it felt like the right thing to do, to show acceptance when someone offers their thanks, to be gracious and grateful and to make an effort when you don't feel like it. You might laugh, but facing the usual meetings and calls, the long day, and the dinner....I actually sat and asked for serenity before leaving the house. And not "Serenity Now!" but the Serenity Prayer.

Do you know that it worked? Absolutely amazing.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Who doesn't like pizza?

This past Friday night we grilled some pizza, instead of running the oven.

Basil. Garlic. Cheese. Mushrooms.

toppings, on deck while the crust grills
just sauce and cheese (guess who that's for?)
yummy. garlic/basil/mushroom, hint of pesto, cheese
Because you have to have pizza after the movies! (Despicable Me, which we all loved).

Monday, July 26, 2010 which I did not disintegrate upon reentry

It wasn't the worst day, but it wasn't the best, either. I began the day with a good attitude, and someone in the office even commented, "Hey, I haven't seen you smile like that in a long time!" But somehow, the deeper I dug into the day, the more I had the thought that it wasn't going anywhere good.

But. I tried to let go of that expectation, that decision, really. And I embraced the moment, the emotional space. I am stressed, and anxious. I don't have to be; this is only work. What do I need to do to walk away from this feeling? What can I get done today?

I worked at holding the even keel. When I got a headache, I ate lunch. And I felt better. When I needed to walk away, I did. When I needed to stop and just breathe, I did. When I realized that the buzz of people's phone calls and student meetings was making it difficult to focus, I listened to music.

I could have done better. I'm honestly surprised, and a bit sad, about how hard it really was. But I think I know what that teaches me. I have some decisions to make, clearly.

It's not as dire as it might sound....and the day did improve. It took a bit longer than I would have liked to shake off the funk, and that may have had something to do with my plan to get some work done after Charlotte went to bed. But we had dinner, just the two of us, and chatted about our day, and about her friends and other things (why does she suddenly have questions about fur coats??). We played a game...and then the bedtime ritual, with stories and kisses and even more questions and I-love-yous.

I padded downstairs, barefoot, and got a glass of water and the work laptop. I sat down to work....and the universe interfered. Between the slow connection and my crappy work Dell, I was just spinning my wheels. For a fraction of a second I got frustrated, until I sat for a minute and listened to the message.

I bagged the whole thing, put it all away, and opened a beer.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Going with the flow

Making loose plans, and going where the road takes me each day, has made this one of the best vacations I've had in a long time. I really can't remember a night before returning to work where I have been this relaxed...or a Sunday night, even.

It's late...tomorrow brings Monday and whatever comes with it.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

such a day...

...such a good day, that I am too tired for words. Instead, a picture of my girl, and a song.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A little sunburn, a little inspiration...thoughts upon slowing down

"Figure out what you have to do in life and then just go to work and do it. Look at your world as a beautiful world. And it is a beautiful world. It's just your job to make it a little bit better."
-Leah Chase, as relayed to Kim Severson

I just finished reading Spoon Fed, and I have to be honest here. I thought this would just be a fun beach read, something along the lines of Cooking for Mr. Latte, or Confessions of a Closet Master Baker- memoirs told through food, with recipes sprinkled in for fun and to illustrate the writer's perspective more clearly. This last, though, was something more.

Severson, who writes for the New York Times, breaks down her journey into so many varied elements. Sure, each chapter deals largely with a woman
(her mom, Marion Cunningham, Edna Lewis, Rachael Ray, Ruth Reichl) who ended up being influential in her life for one reason or another, but it's as much about food and career as tenacity, self-knowledge, love and family.

Food as the outward expression of love, of generosity, speaks to me. Times when I've been too sick or busy or depressed to really truly cook and to feed my family are sad and difficult for me, and I know this is rooted in my past. To gather the family, blood and "adopted", at the table, has always been one of my mother's greatest joys. You're here? Stay for dinner. I've always wanted to have those open arms and doors, but it doesn't come easily to me, and I have begun to realize that it has less to do with being closed off, and more to do with shyness, with fighting the introvert.

But do I need to fight the introvert? Really?

Maybe part of this journey that we're on is meant to include awareness and acceptance of self. For me: finding a way to have the open heart and arms without beating down the introvert.

Maybe part of this is managing expectations, another element Severson explores in her book. This is certainly not a new idea to me- I remember having a conversation with a friend years ago where he frankly told me that he tries to have no expectations on anything in his life. And it's not as bleak as it sounds, it's not out of a fear of disappointment...rather, it's a way to be open to whatever comes his way. I think it's a valuable viewpoint. I find that building preconceived ideas, whether about people or situations, never helps anything, and in fact will often just result in my being rattled by what happens.

I've tried this week to do just that- to abandon the expectations and just go with the flow. Vacations will not go according to plan, workdays will bring unexpected snafus, people will do or say things that surprise you. And it's all fine. It's good, and necessary.

Driving back over the bridge last night from Rye to Dover, we saw the most incredible sunset. It was like driving into the open heart of God. And as I watched the brilliant bands of pink and orange and blue and gray, it occurred to me that the serendipity I've come across in my life is far beyond anything I could possibly have hoped I would find.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The mark of a good vacation.... that tonight, talking to my brother, I realized that I had no idea what day today was. I had some vague idea that it might be Wednesday...and possibly still July...nice.

We had such an awesome beach day today that I am considering going again tomorrow, and then again on Friday. Living the dream, man. We fled the approaching thunderstorms a bit too early (it's just starting to hit us here in Dover now), but the beauty is that in less than an hour- closer to 1/2 hour, really- we can be at one of three or four great beaches. We really are blessed with great places to visit during an at-home vacation within a stone's throw.

Tomorrow I'll try to post a bit earlier in the day, when my brain is still working. I have pictures, and interesting things I found to share...tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


(more pics from the Wild Kingdom tomorrow.)

Monday, July 19, 2010

that child....

Charlotte: Give me more kisses, Mama. Give me all of the kisses you have.

Me: Okay. What are you doing with all of them? Are you throwing them into the fan?

C: I am...that way all the kisses will blow out the window and into the world for all the children who have no Mama or Daddy to love them. So they can have kisses too.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Pete and Lori, Lori and Pete


Hanging out in the yard this morning...

Lou and the vampire teeth she got from the pinata yesterday at Glenn and Joan's
Jenness Beach after dinner

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Wide World of Wallaby

Today we went to a party/pig roast, and although I brought the camera I did not take a single picture. Instead, I give you proof that I do in fact have a knitting project.

I'm going to go watch more of The Wire now...until tomorrow...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Holy crap! Peace and quiet!

It's an uneventful first evening of vacation, and frankly I could not be happier. I have a Kona Fire Rock Pale Ale, my laptop, and my long-neglected knitting, and am hiding in the air-conditioned bedroom. The weekend's laundry is begun (the first two loads done, probably two or three more tomorrow/Sunday), Charlotte's in bed and Pete is out with Dr. Dan. Kitchen's clean, cats snoozing somewhere (somewhere else), and I have nothing I need to do. Oh glorious night....

Thursday, July 15, 2010

8:55 am this might be why people seem afraid of me in the morning!

I look muuuuch friendlier now, don't I?
hmm. perhaps not.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

La cathedrale engloutie

I was listening to the Boston classical station on the way to work this morning, which I like to do sometimes to keep things calm and even as I transition from one world to the other. Today I heard a piece I've never heard before, Debussy's La cathedrale engloutie (The Sunken Cathedral).

The piece was meant to tell the story of the doomed ancient Breton town of the old French legend goes, the people were punished for their sins (mostly false piety) as the sea rose up and engulfed the cathedral and all within it. But on a clear day, if you stand on the shore where Ys once stood, you can hear the strains of distant bells and the parishioners chanting as the cathedral rises to the surface and falls again with the swells of the sea. A cautionary tale, I suppose, for those who might follow the same path.

I'd never heard of this before- I find this sort of medieval mythology fascinating. The music is lilting and beautiful...and haunting and creepy at the same time. I love that.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Had a thought and lost it

"Some people have great ideas maybe once or twice in their life, and then they discover electricity or fire or outer space or something.
I mean, the kind of brilliant ideas that change the whole world.

Some people never have them at all.

I get them two or three times a week."

-Neil Gaiman, The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish

This line came to me one morning recently, and by the time I remembered it fully, I had lost the thought that followed, the place I was going. I think I am feeling of a loss of inspiration, creative energy in a dormant state. Most of my projects of late lie as fallow as my garden this year, and I think it's that flash of brilliance, that spark, that's been absent.

I chalk it up to fatigue. New and improved flavors of insomnia have appeared, keeping me up at night watching bad TV and badly edited movies and surfing the web...polluting my sleep with weird conglomerate dreams, where work and high school and grocery shopping and anything and everything else appear sequentially, like shuffling a deck of cards. Tarot for the hyperactive subconscious.

And now, to sleep....

Monday, July 12, 2010

In case you were wondering....

...a partial list of the movies I must watch whenever I come across them. Bad network TV editing does not matter; I'll watch anyway.
  • The Godfather
  • The Godfather, Part II (but not Three! never Three)
  • The Notebook
  • Goodfellas
  • Dazed and Confused
  • Sixteen Candles
  • The Goonies
  • Forrest Gump
  • Gone with the Wind
  • The Wizard of Oz (of course)
  • Dead Poets' Society
  • Beetlejuice
That is all (for now).

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Ten random thoughts

  1. The peanut butter blondies, which ended up being dense and fudgy, were amazing. I have yet to make anything from a Joy the Baker recommendation that wasn't.
  2. This is not limited to, but including: Strawberry Coffee Cake, Maple Pancake Muffins, Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Root Beer Float Cake. Oh my.
  3. I love not bringing home leftovers from a potluck. It feels like I won a prize!
  4. This is sometimes difficult to remember, but often when kids are up to their least lovable behavior, they need unconditional love (and patience) the most.
  5. I can't believe it's already Sunday night. On some level, I'm in denial about that.
  6. I may also be in denial about whether I'm going to finish my book, in which case I ought to just return it to the library and pay the fine. [Too much of the co-author's voice.]
  7. I don't normally watch Guy Fieri, but watching him make "fair food" at home amuses me.
  8. Another amusement: rediscovering websites I love but have somehow managed to forget about. Not reading for a couple of months provides me with a treasure trove of reading. [Could be another reason I've neglected my book.]
  9. Listening to Ray Lamontagne makes me happy.
  10. So does writing every day.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

July 10th

the giant beetle wandering around our driveway
the Lou
tiny wee bird
really, the beetle was huge. now it's on the picnic table.
see? giant. child's hand included for scale. [no children were harmed by giant beetles during the staging of these photos.]
when it's hot, cats retreat to the bathroom sink
and floor

Friday, July 09, 2010

The things you can't cheat on, the things you can't sub out

I am currently making peanut butter blondies with milk chocolate frosting (Joy the Baker) for a party tomorrow. And as I stir the butter and dark brown sugar, melting them over medium heat, I'm struck by the fact that you really can't exchange the butter in a blondie for another form of fat, or fat substitute.

I've been making blondies for a long time. The original blondie recipe, which makes something almost more akin to a brown sugar fudge if you don't bake them quite long enough, is in The Joy of Cooking. I made that recipe, and the one for banana bread, countless times as a kid/teenager, pretty much from the time I was allowed to use the stove and oven. That was a good half of my repertoire: blondies, banana bread, gingerbread men (from the same book, only at Christmastime), and the "Never-Fail Fudge" recipe from the back of the tub of marshmallow fluff.

The key to the blondie is absolutely the melding of butter and brown sugar, followed by a perfectly timed addition of eggs- too soon, and you have butterscotch laced with scrambled eggs. [I do have a friend who would totally eat that for breakfast, by the way.] So how can you sub the butter for anything else, anything less?

I've been bothered over the past week by an incident that happened last Friday, and three conversations that followed, in which I was surprised by the behavior of two people with whom I work closely. I've known one of them for years and really, shocked does not begin to cover my reaction to a situation that, honestly, did not affect me directly. But this person whose words and actions surprised me is my friend, and what I know or knew or thought of his character has been shaken.

I tried to stay out of this mess, reasoning that it wasn't my place or my business, that the person who had been hurt in this situation wasn't my responsibility...but at the end of the day I had to get involved, had to try to do something to make things better. I don't know if I succeeded; ultimately I think a bad situation was made worse by some poor judgment calls (not on my part) and some unfortunately chosen words, but I am not sorry.

No matter how small, an injustice is an injustice. I think a person has to speak up when the inner voice says so; at the end of the day you really can't sub out fairness and decency, no matter how messy it gets.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

I do enjoy deviance

I recently finished my second of Atul Gawande's books, and besides cementing my opinion that the man is a gifted writer, it's left me with the thought that his ideas for improving performance in the medical profession can (as he hopes) translate beyond it. His Suggestions for Becoming a Positive Deviant:
  • Ask an unscripted question.
  • Don't complain.
  • Count something.
  • Write something.
  • Change.
The idea that we can step outside the routine, the comfort zone...put ourselves out there and make an effort to connect, to divert focus away from the minor dysfunctions of the everyday. That we should be observers of what's around us, and take time to reflect on what we see. That we can effect change in ourselves....and maybe then change our little spheres for the better.

I like this, and I need to think about it more.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

This week.... creeps along. Term start and all its inherent drama drained me more than I had thought; after putting the girl to bed I found I was too distracted to do much other than poke around the interwebs and read. I expect I should have written this post before the zoning out. Not many words left at this point.

Although! I asked Pete what he and Lou had done tonight (I didn't get in till around 8)...and he said they had watched Food Network Challenge: Extreme Cakes. She loves that stuff- the insane decorating, the giant scale, the competition. Now while I wouldn't call us Foodies (we have neither the disposable income nor the free time to explore tons and tons of restaurants), we do enjoy reading about food....watching TV shows about about food...let's call us Food People. Or something.

It's just funny that the girl has the bug too. Nature or nurture? Or just a way to get into the A/C?

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


Because I'm tired, and because it's one of my favorite songs. pick the place and I'll choose the time
and I'll climb the hill in my own way
just wait a while for the right day
and as I rise above the tree-line and the clouds
I look down, hearing the sounds of the things you've said today...

Monday, July 05, 2010

Fireworks in the park

a crowd of somewhat familiar-looking people. I guess that happens after 7 years in the same place.

Helen and Kim
gundalow at dusk
across the river
sweet girl

sparklers, ablaze