Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Curiosities in Nature

Why have I posted a picture of dog vomit growing in the mulch beneath my blueberry bush?  HA!  You were fooled!  That is NOT dog vomit.  It is Dog Vomit Fungus.  For real.  It is commonly seen in the spring after soaking rains.  Here is an informative and amusing link for your further edification.  It is actually not a fungus, but a slime mold.  Fascinating! 

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Maybe we do need a TV

This morning I found the hooligans sitting in front of our new front loading washer, transfixed by the spin cycle.  I am simultaneously amused and concerned:  would Saturday morning cartoons really be so bad?  Clearly they are desperate for screen time.

On the other hand, if this is so entertaining, we should just go to the laundromat instead of  ever spending money on movie tickets.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A household hint

If you think there's any chance that bright ferrari red model paint might be spilled all over your wood floor, I'd recommend keeping some of those silver polish wipe cloths around.  I was frantically digging under the sink (And swearing.  A lot.) for anything that seemed like it might work.  Strangely, these took the paint up like magic.  The floor appears undamaged.  Also, try not to lose your temper with the perpetrator.  You'll just feel like a worm if you do.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

More artistic relations

Is a step parent still your step parent after the parent to whom they were married is deceased?  I'm assuming so.  The Man Who Lives In My House's stepdad, Mike Smith, is many things--all of them good.  And I do not say this lightly.  This man came and took care of the hooligans when we really really needed help a couple of years ago. (It was not a pleasure trip.)  But even if that were not true, the pictures he takes will take your breath away.  You may recognize a hooligan here and there, but the subject matter is wide ranging, and starkly beautiful.  Click the link (above) and enjoy.  The lady with the round glasses is my late mother in law, the poet Teresa Anderson.  More about her another day.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Based on the weather, I think we have displeased the gods.

Finally, it's let up, but many of you have also been laboring under the deluge that was the month of May, and the first part of June, for that matter.  The rest of you are thinking, "Duh, it's Oregon, doesn't it rain all the time, there?" Well, yes, but usually not over six inches in one month.  My garden is generally a lush and bountiful place, but right now it's like the tropics, only not very warm.  The slugs and snails seem to be about to overthrow the government. Now that I think on it, they may be more ethical and able than most politicians--and similarly slimy.  Possibly smarter, as well.*  We may not even notice the difference.

Weather is a big deal in our house because my father in law is a meteorologist, and no, NOT the kind on TV.  The kind who does research that SAVES LIVES.

Here is where you might be saying, "Huh?"

So I'll just ask you, last time you or someone you love got on a plane, did you worry that a micro burst thunderstorm with wind shear would cause the plane to crash?

No, you did not, BECAUSE my father in law did research in the 80s that led to the development of technology that allows planes to identify and avoid these situations.  Before that, wind shear was a very common cause of aviation accidents.  So he goes around quietly, masquerading as a typical citizen, but his brain has saved lives.  Maybe that's what he's doing when we think he's fooling around on the computer in his office.  Of course his superhero name will have to be The Mighty Weatherman.

Here he is, The Mighty Weatherman, disguised as an indulgent grand-father.    

So The Mighty Weatherman's offspring, The Man Who Lives In My House,  is much more interested and attuned to the weather than most (young) people.  He does not watch the Weather Channel--but only because we do not have a TV.  We have about five or six weather sites bookmarked.  He checks them quite frequently and makes predictions in an authoritative manner.  I like to call him SON of WEATHERMAN.  He thinks I'm mocking him, for some reason.  Probably because I've been trying to convince him to put his underwear on over his pants and wear a cape.  I could post a picture of him right here:

Unfortunately he will not cooperate.   He won't even let me take a picture in his lycra biking gear.  You will have to use your imaginations. Last Thursday, I drove to Portland through the moist and juicy mist  and took off for California. When my plane touched down (safely) in Oakland, we had a fun little text exchange:

Me:  I stepped of the plane and am blinded.  I hope it's not permanent.
TMWLIMH:  That big yellow ball in the sky is called the sun.
Me:  I'm afraid I have only vestigial eye buds left.  I have devolved. Perhaps I should sacrifice something to the mighty big yellow ball.
TMWLIMH: Blog-able!

You would think/hope the gods would wreak havoc/hurl thunderbolts over the corporate offices of BP.  Let us hope that they take it easy with the hurricanes this season.

*You may be surprised to learn that slugs can be trained.  Back in high school, my friend Chelsea won prizes for a science project proving this.  I will try to get her to guest post to share the details.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Food. Because I can't seem to pull my other posts together

I was away having fun fun fun for the weekend.  We all were happy to see each other when I got home, which is the goal, right?  Anyway, to express my appreciation for being home, I asked the Man if he had any special request for dinner.  "Something I've never had before!" was his answer.  I love this!  If I lived with a picky eater it would be a problem.

As to dinner, we had this sandwich at a local pub recently: it was pumpernickel bread smeared with goat cheese, orange marmalade, and bacon.  So good!  And simple! I could not get it off my mind.  I don't think bacon belongs in chocolate bars or ice cream, but on a sandwich? With some tart/salty cheese and sweet/bitter jam?  Yes please.  So, with this in mind, and pleasant weather, I concocted this recipe for grilled chicken wrapped in bacon with a marmalade glaze:

1.  Brine chicken pieces* (I use one package of thighs and one of drumsticks) in one cup orange juice, 2 cups water, 1/4 cup each white vinegar and balsalmic, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 2 T salt, plus 4 or 5 cloves of mashed garlic.  If you're doing a lot of chicken, adjust so that the pieces are covered.  Brining is trendy, but unlike bacon or liver in your ice cream, this is a good trend.  It makes chicken juicier and much better.  Put it in a big heavy duty zip lock (or dish with a lid) and leave it in the bottom drawer of the fridge for half a day or so.

2.  To make the glaze, melt 1 cup of marmalade, 2 T brown sugar, 1 T balsalmic, salt (I like a lot) 3 cloves of minced garlic, and a cup of white wine in a saucepan.  While it thickens, rinse the brine off the chicken.  Pour about 2/3rds of the glaze over the chicken and roll the pieces around to coat.

3. When it's time to grill, wrap each piece in a strip of bacon, or two, securing with toothpicks.

4.  Place the chicken on a hot grill and hover over it, turning to get an even brown char, then set the pieces on a sheet of foil and turn the heat down (or move it to the side if you're using charcoal), and put the lid on.

5.  Finishing:  about halfway through the cooking process, brush a little more glaze over the chicken and bacon and put the lid down again.  Use a couple of tablespoons of the glaze to dress some sliced zucchini**--wrap in foil and put on the grill to cook.

6.  Serve with couscous.  If you want to be fancy add some diced feta and currents to the couscous, but plain with a little butter is just dandy.

* I think you could use pork or shrimp with equally great results. If you don't eat bacon I feel very sorry for you, but  you could make do with sprigs of rosemary.

**Is anyone else getting sick of asparagus?  I didn't think it was possible, but I may have overdosed this spring.  Also the thing where your pee smells weird grosses me out.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

My last nerve

is shot.
        The smaller hooligan is in that state where I know he's going to end up weeping, no matter what we do.  I already feel bad about it, even though I am also repressing the urge to kick him to the curb.  
        He keeps edging into "NO" territory.  Nothing major, but in rapid succession....overfilling the bath, knocking over the checkerboard in response to getting "kinged," turning on the computer after we said it was time to turn it off, casually opening the freezer to help himself to his third popsicle, picking up his brother's book and pretending to read--deliberately losing his place, walking outside in his socks and skateboarding down the sidewalk (helmet-less) instead of going upstairs to put on his pajamas,  stomping through the kitchen and knocking over the recycling, all in the space of ten minutes.  And he called me a big banana slug..
        Anticipating 10 weeks of summer vacation makes me appreciate our school even more than usual.  I ask his teacher about his behavior every so often--she looks at me quizzically.  Apparently he is well modulated from 8 to 2:30.  I'm very glad to hear it.  And I need to study her methodology.  Mine is lacking.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Cliche I'm Embracing

A long long time ago, when Bill Clinton was just a friendly, big mac eating, flirtatious, long shot, the pundits said that IF he won, it would be thanks to the soccer mom vote.  I was a single twenty-something,  working as an assistant at a private school during the week and teaching skiing on the weekends.

I was (mostly) having a ball.  I had roommates in a big purple house.  We had parties. We had friends who made home-brew. One time there were 37 watermelons in our living room. (Why?  I don't know. But it was fun.  They make a tremendous noise when you chuck them off the roof.) And a lot of dishes in the sink--most of them mine. (I was a PIG! Sorry, Tia and Jeff!!) And man I was broke!  Teaching skiing was the only way I could afford to ski.  It didn't pay enough to afford gas AND beer, so we carpooled.  My love life was torturous: I was really good at dating guys I'd quickly realize I wanted to be shed of, but I was not so good at cutting them loose.  And I don't even want to go into the episode where I was the one who got cut loose!  The Horror!  The Humiliation!  The wretched snivelling (thank you to all the friends who put up with my misery! Boring!)

I remember driving from one job to another, the gas gauge hovering near E, listening to those pundits and thinking:  "Soccer mom.  Mini van.  Dog.  Sunglasses on top of my head.  Car full of kids in shin guards. Juice boxes.  No more dating.  Hallelujah!  And you get to decide who's president.  Doesn't sound so bad.  I could do that, maybe.  Someday."

So I voted for Bill.

Someday is here:
Some girls in the carpool!  Yay!  We banished the boys to the way back. 

A van full of freezing, muddy, hungry kids singing ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall.  I have a slight headache.  Bill, do you feel my pain? Still, when I think back to the era of diaper bags and nap schedules and midnight feedings,  it's comparatively light duty.  I'll take it.

Do I still get to pick the president when I'm an empty nester who drives a mini?