Monday, December 27, 2010

Getting my just desserts...

Dec. 24, 2010 (Yes, I have a lot of other things I should be doing. Don't judge.)

My Mother in law is a great lady, and is an excellent cook. I think I can hold my own, but she has mad skills that can turn three tiny dabs of saran wrap covered leftovers and a hunk of meat into a meal for six (four univited). I am always bringing something a little diffferent to holiday meals and she politely tolerates my weird cooking, even if I believe she just wishes I would make some damn brownies and shut up about it. She knows about the layers too, I am guessing. She loves me anyway. And I her.


For Christmas we are bringing tamales from my favorite local Mexican Chef, Mayra. (She says she is a cook, I say she is a Chef. I am not giving in.) I sampled them today before the big dinner tomorrow to make sure they weren't poisoned, and they were delicious. DELICIOUS.  DE - LI - CIOUS. She makes a great spicy avocado sauce for them too which is so good I could eat it by itself.


I am on tamale and dessert duty for Christmas and no.. I am not making brownies. Or pie. Considering our Mexican theme, I am making this:


Daisy Martinez's Chocolate-Chile cake


Let's hope mine resembles this, even slightly.
It seems the right flair for our Mexican themed dinner. The aroma of the sauce of coffee, butter and cinnamon sticks was pretty dreamy, pre-cayenne. The teaspoon of cayenne gave it a wee kick that you only get just at the end of the taste. Very warm. After tasting the buttery concotion a few times I poured it over a boatload of well earned, Ghirardelli chocolate.  I whisked with the new whisk the kids bought me and the chocolate tasted great. I placed the springform pan in a water bath inside a roaster in the oven. This was new to me, and I learned the hard way that I should have used WIDER foil to put around the bottom of the springform pan. THe skinnier version had a lot of layers (ba-dump-bump), and the water seeped in a little. EEEEk! $25 worth of chocolate! I was able to get the water out and re-group with the wider foil. It is just out of the oven now and is not at all wiggly, as suggested by the recipe. In fact, I wish it would "wiggle it - just a little bit (name that tune)".  I fear it will taste like a hot dry brownie. It is cooling itself down this moment. I am trying to do the same.


The cayenne will make the fam raise an eyebrow, but just one, they are used to me. "That girl. Another layer. Chocolate that is SPICY? "HOT" chocolate, but not "HOT CHOCOLATE?". Weird. In fact, she is a little weird.." I think my father in law is a closet weird eater, so he always likes my crazy offerings. So, that and my husband will even out the votes for me. Phew. 

As a back up, and for the kiddies, I am also making this monstrosity of sugar, below. It was very easy, and seems like you could add any old thing you wanted to change things up (fruit and jam were mentioned). I am going with plain, for my little plain Janes who will be at the gathering. And for German-born Opa, who will not want to even consider spicy chocolate.  This cake was a layer of very thick cheesecake with breading on both sides, and a whole lotta butter, cinnamon and sugar. It used whomp cresecents (you whomp them on the counter to open them), but don't judge. Wish me luck with both! I hope I can get them all done before Santa gets here.

Sopapilla Cheesecake


**Post Holiday Wrap-up**

Below are the desserts I made, post dig in (I always forget the before photos -CURSES!). We ate so much prime rib, tamales and homemade refritos, so we weren't as hungry for dessert as we should have been. No matter, we went for it anyway. The Chocolate-chile torte was RICH. It made me feel that it would be better served as candy, as even a small-for-holidays size slice was a whole-lotta-chocolate. I couldn't finish all of mine. Still, I thought the flavor was really good and the spice level was just right for those who have a more adventurous palate. I served vanilla bean ice cream with the slices (recipes suggested cinnamon, but I couldn't find any) and the duality of the cool and the heat was really nice. I like duality. I added pomegranate seeds to mine too, for a festive look. Ole'!

Give it a shot, but slice those slices THIN To WIN. Below are photos of the carnage.

Chocolate-Chile Torte


I seem sweet, but I am also spicy. Me, or the cake? You decide.

The fam gave the torte nice-but-mixed reviews. No one disliked it, but I had a few "It's really different.." responses and everyone agreed it was very rich. Opa had already said whatever those things (tamales) were at dinner, he was ok if he never had one again, so I didn't push my luck with spicy cake. Ole? 

On to the cheesecake!

This was fluffier initially.
It was a little deflated by the end of the holiday, as was I.

This was a winner with most everyone, although I (and several other online reviewers) found it to be a little TOO sweet. No duality at all here, folks, just sweet goodness. I think one could cut the sugar on the top by at least half, and I didn't drizzle with honey as I think it would have sent me into diabetic shock. This kept very well in the refridgerator, and as suggested, was pretty good as a cream cheese danish the morning after Christmas. And this morning. Don't judge.

You're judging, aren't you?

Friday, December 24, 2010

"...at the carwash...."

Although it was frigid weather today, and I mean C-O-L-D, I still elected to take the grey box through the autowash this week. It was so grungy that a person could hardly go near the car without getting smuch on them.



My daughter was with me and we are both suffering from a weekend basketball tournament hangover. Our hair was limp, and had we not committed to ringing the Salvation Army bell, we would have still been on the couch.

I felt a little bad for the fellow doing the pre-spray to the grey box. His many layers of coats and hoodies could not protect him from the spray-back from the hose. I felt it sucking FOR him. I imagined he was underpayed. I felt annoyed at me FOR him. Moving on.

My sweet baboo reminded me that she used to have to hold her brother's hand when we went through the spray wash, since the sound frightened him. I had COMPLETELY forgotten about that. I. had. forgotten. How will I ever remember all of the important things? I need to write things down. Moving on.



As the wash revved up, I held my hand out to her. She smiled at me and held my hand. It was sweet, and made up for the times lately (more often than ever) that she thinks I am annoying. We agreed the spinning brushes looked like dancing ladies, and we cranked up the radio so we could hear the GLEE CD better. We belted out our favorite cover of "Don't Stop Believing". I told her about Journey and Steve Perry.


Then, we sat silently as the scrubbers surrounded us and the next ones wagged side to side over the car. At one point, she said "cool" very quietly. It was pretty cool, and I wished we could just shut the car down and stay in the car wash. Forever. Or, at least for a nap.



The spell was broken as we exited the car wash, and we hustled to our usual busy lives. But, for those few minutes....

IwillnotforgetIwillnotforgetIwillnotforget....

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tis the Season to...Catch Up with the Mentally Ill

I was in a rush this morning, and although all of you assume I go to the grocery store looking GREAT in my tiara and hotpants, today my hair was a bit of a fright. I was comparison shopping for high end baking chocolate to continue my love affair with the PW truffles and butter toffee and was literally RACING back and forth between aisles, muttering to myself like a crazy person with bad hair.

I made my selection and was headed back to put the non-sale candy bars back when I saw JJ (names have been changed to protect the mentally unbalanced..and me FROM the mentally unbalanced) racing TOWARD me down the same aisle. We physically collided. I smiled and said hi, as I have known JJ since junior high, and seem to run across him randomly about every two years. He looked overly happy to see me in my candy bar and bad hair frenzy and said "Hey, I was trying to chase you down!". Huh? While JJ and I know each other because he annoyed me daily when he sat behind me in Mr. Hall's 8th grade Social Studies class, we weren't friends in school. In fact, i don't know WHO JJ was friends with, as he was a bit of an oddity even then. He was a smidge of 'Bender' in The Breakfast Club, all about the inappropriate language and classroom outbursts and also like some of the folks I see on the 16th street mall in Denver. Except friendlier, like that guy who talks to you the whole flight. Mix that all together. 


A little Bender, plus...












Talky guy on plane, plus...












This sweet specimen = JJ

















This crazy JJ fellow is always happy to see me, and I must admit, it is always an adventure seeing him. I saw him many years ago when I had first returned to the area. I was working at a bank, which was the worst job I have ever held. It was stifling. From the lowly teller line, I could see JJ sitting, slumped in a chair in the loan, looking bored, his foot up on a chair leg in the waiting area. He waved, I waved and then slunk back to my prison of a job. He didn't look nervous...just annoyed to have been kept waiting by the banker...at 21 years old. As I left for lunch, i caught a glimpse of JJ, riding down the road on a new (to him) motorcycle. It wasn't fancy, but he looked like a kid on Christmas Day as the wind whipped his Bender style haircut. He was grinning hugely, and gave me a big military style salute. The loan was for this bike, and he has gotten it. Of course he had. 


In the grocery aisle, JJ didn't let my shock bother him one bit, and instead launched into a story about (I think?) quitting smoking. I smiled and said "good for you", which only inspired more talking about the following things:

(Please picture me smashed against the spice racks, holding 6 giant candy bars against my chest with a terrified smile on my face, trying to look relaxed. Add a lot of nodding)

 - Murder (I suggested adding murder to his quitting smoking list since our reunion is in a few years, but he said it was OK, since no one would find the bodies. Seriously.)

 -  Dominating the scrap iron business - he felt his success could also lead to retribution by his competitors and would need to start "carrying a gun again." Yep, he said again.
 
 - His Girlfriend - he loves this one, so they are NOT going the "ripping each other's clothes off" route this time. She has had an extended illness, so there may or may not be an issue with her legs - I was unclear on that. However, he did tell me she was beautiful with long blond hair (i thought of my own shaggy hair at this moment - WHY?), and that her t*ts were just were just where they should be (ahem.). Most Excellent. We agreed I had probably heard enough descriptors at that point. (OK, maybe I said that.) He threw his head back and laughed, saying "Stacie, you are cracking me up!"

 - Several physical altercations - i can't really describe what I heard here, as he was getting pretty animated.  I did hear every swear word I know, even the ones you NEVER hear...and especially not in the baking aisle at 9:15 in the morning. He was acting out some of the fighting, so he was pointing his finger one inch from my face as he demonstrated the tirade he gave to someone who had it coming. I know my eyes were freakishly wide, although I was trying to pretend this was all old hat to me. ((Nervous giggle, while looking around nervously)) Passersby seemed to be considering dialing 911.

 - Drug use - not his, but a lot of other people who were "gobbling up 'shrooms in the poolhouse" (Poolhouse?? in Wyoming?) and "taking more than their TIME.. (wink!)", etc. I have some new catch phrases for drug use now, anyhow.

 - Financial Stability - I should be honest and say that I know not a thing about JJ, including where he lived or lives. His father was also a bit of an eccentric, lived out of town on land with a spray painted graphic (and misspelled) sign to potential trespassers at the entrance.  I can't say if either were financially set as I was told today. However, maybe they are? According to JJ, it's remarkable. And why wouldn't I believe it? He has told me everything else this morning.

 Do you have a good visual? I hope so. Don't be afraid. Although JJ has apparently put the smack down on many, and seems slightly off balance, here is the weirdest thing:

Seeing JJ made my morning today. As I shared the story with others who knew JJ from back in the day, I couldn't stop smiling. As I write this, I still can't. JJ is a colorful character and a part of my history, and made the effort to chase me down at 9:15 am, even though he had finished his shopping JUST to share a bit of time telling me how things are going and even to ask a bit about me. JJ is a character, but one that made my mundane morning a little less mundane, you know?

Merry Christmas JJ. It was nice to see you. Please don't kill anyone in 2011.  




Thursday, December 9, 2010

Let the Holiday Eating Begin...

I am eating a leftover hunk of wrapped brie for lunch. A big hunk. Sigh. The holidays are officially here. I am trying hard NOT to think about the caloric intake of soft cheese baked in bread, and am instead focusing on the pomegranates and pecans that are mixed in. They're heart healthy, you know...

It's a superfood...unless you wrap it in cheese and bread
I am having some ADD about all of the things I would like to cook this holiday season, and when. So far I need to make some delivery plates for clients and friends, some cookies to decorate and something to bring to my BFF's house for a goodie exchange. I *could* make something that covers ALL of those bases, and then pat myself on the back for my efficient planning. But I am not going to. Because there are TOO many good things to make and I just hijacked my sister's extra nice mixer while I was feeding her dogs. It would be a waste not to burn it up in the time I have it before she gets wise to me.

Besides brie, I have been consumed with thoughts of chocolate and sea salt. Together. You heard me. Something about that sweet and savory mix is making me freak out a little, and I am downloading way too many recipes and buying a lion's share of Ghiradelli from the grocer. I am trying to sort out the plans for cookies (I forgot to steal the wheelbarrow of cookie cutters while I was getting the mixer :-/ ), sweet rolls, toffee, and some ludicrous PW Truffles  that scare me to death. And finish my Christmas shopping, wrapping, and other whatnot. Oh, and work.

But not today. Today I am recovering from a fun but late night with my daughter by pretending I am a cat; laying around, sitting in the sun, pretending I don't care, etc. Our cat is pretending to be ME, as she also ate too much of the brie while I typed this. Except she STILL doesn't care. Those pomegranates better pay off, as the both of us are getting a little fluffy.

Origins of "Pain in the Neck" (and Other Stuff You Never Needed to Know)

I have a crick in my neck today, which has set my mind slightly off kilter along with my head. I have been reminded of the genie in Aladdin flinging out of the lamp saying this:


                       10,000 YEARS...will give ya such a crick in the neck!


Want to watch this part? Rub the lamp...er, click the link..

I like words. I want to know their meanings and even their origins. I particularly like the origins of phrases. SO, since my neck is making me appear that I am saying "huh?" all day long anyway, I wondered where the phrase "pain in the neck" originated, and so on. See why I can't get anything done?


Origins of "Pain in the Neck" led me to the origins of the true phrase "pain in the arse", which dates all the way back to the 1900's. That was the same time as many electrical items were invented, so the surfacing of this phrase around then makes a lot of sense. 

Women's suffrage also became big talk on the radio during this time period, so I guess we started being a pain in the neck too - in the best kind of way. While I appreciate the effort, I am certainly glad I missed out on the hunger strikes that occurred to guarantee my rights.   

So, I am including the P.I.T.N/A. definition for you...don't say I never shared anything.

p.s. There was an ad under the phrase that shouted "Tell me your symptoms!", which made me come up with all kinds of sarcastic answers... 

Idioms & Phrases

"pain in the neck"

Also, pain in the a$$ or butt .  A source of annoyance, a nuisance, as in Joan is a real pain in the neck, with her constant complaining , or Jack told his brother to stop being a pain in the ass . The first of these colloquial expressions dates from about 1900 and originated as a euphemism for the two less polite variants.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.


If she were "Team Jacob", she wouldn't have this problem, just saying.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I love a good challenge...

Sadie from RitIC sent out this challenge, and you know how I like a challenge...


The Challenge:
A lawyer, a mixed martial arts champion and a drag queen all came to Thanksgiving at my house.Punch line to be named later...I will tell you there was one bloody lip...One really drunk person...One person sleeping on the sofa...A lot of spilled drinks....and no one had a nose ring. 250 words or less. Go BIG.

(I cut as much as I could, but 250 words or less...um, no. Also, this is in no way autobiographical...we had our own share of TDay madness, but nothing like this.)






The cheese by-product was squeezed into celery, and the rolls weren’t burned. The kids were somewhere in the house, frying their brains with video games and possibly Scotchguard. The smell of pies wafted through the house like so many memories of calories past.

I bustled around the house, kicking socks under the couch and hiding just-now-occurring-to-me-to-be tacky items in closets I hoped no one would open. I was feeling the strain of the day, and as I rounded the corner, my slippers (don’t judge) caused me to skid a little as I went around the corner. I thought briefly of my frazzled hair and pre-Thanksgiving lack of dieting and compared myself to the short, fat cartoon witch who sheds hairpins and a cackle at every corner she takes. I took a slug of my wine (Again, with the judging). I cackled my best impersonation of the witch to myself, just because I had already been in the wine. My beloved looked around the wall from where he lay on the couch and gave an odd look and a shake of his head. The look said “woman, you have got a lot of layers..”


The doorbell rang and I whirled around and raced to the door. When I opened it, there stood my old college boyfriend Charlene (formerly Charlie), holding a foil wrapped ham under his arm like a football, and decked out in some manner of printed mu-mu and a fabulous hat...and beard. He followed me into the kitchen where I refilled my empty glass of wine as if it were my first..or, second.   I perched upon a kitchen stool and ignored that weird burning plastic smell. I was developing a bit of a alcohol-induced lean and told myself I would slow down on the refills. I took a long slug and said,  “So Charlene... how’s tricks?”

I was showing Charlene my skidding, cackling witch impersonation when the doorbell rang. It was odd, since Charlene was to be our only guest. I went to the door and peered out the glass. Peering back at me was what can only be described as a man-gorilla. He wore a TAPOUT T-shirt (which I recognized from the redneck channel) and was covered in muscles. I could further see that he had no neck and the bridge of his nose had decided to retire. He had his head cocked to the side and looked impatient.  He had one cauliflower-ed ear pressed near the jam of the door, listening to me breathing on the other side.  Eek... I opened the door a crack, as if he couldn’t break the entire thing down with one shove. “Y-y-yeesss?” I inquired meekly. “Lady, lemme in. I gotta eat dinner with your sick kid..”. ???  My sick kid? I let the giant into the foyer where, as he explained the Make-a-Wish program, I considered the ways in which my very healthy son would become terminal...after I finished this wine.

My son was like a schoolgirl around “Hans the Destroyer”.  I couldn’t bring myself to explain what was so wrong with my parenting that my son would lie about such a thing, so I filled up my wine glass again and thought.... F.... it. It could have been the wine talking.  The weird smell was still lingering, but the food was all done so I went to get my beloved off of the couch to carve the bird.
My husband wouldn’t wake up. I shook, prodded, cajoled and even cursed and nothing. Well, snoring, but nothing concrete. I even told him there was a topless model joining us, but he said he didn’t care to see Charlene’s nipples...again. Fine. FINE....!

I asked Hans to carve the turkey, but instead he just ripped it apart with his bare hands. It was mesmerizing, if not a little unsanitary. The sheer force of ripping off the legs sent all of the drinks flying (luckily, I had switched to drinking out of the bottle(s)). A bit of medical drama occurred when Hans and my son shared the wishbone and my son tugged so hard he punched his own nose.  Hans said he knew just what to do and made my son sit on a stool in the corner, stuffed a couple of tampons up his nostrils and made him rinse his mouth with water and spit in a bucket. Problem solved. We all got a hunk of meat and threw some instant mashed potatoes and other crud on the fine Chinet.  

While we ate and I cackled some more, I heard the doorbell ring again. What the hell? I stumbled over to answer it and there stood an uptight looking fellow in a suit. I slammed the door and went back to the table. My guests looked at me quietly. “ I mUsH bE dRuNk..” I slurred. “ThErE’s a LaWyEr OnA fRoN pOrSh...”

The whole table busted out laughing and shaking their heads. They knew I was drunk; no one invited a lawyer to their Thanksgiving....

Saturday, November 20, 2010

On Being Thankful...

Sesame Street Thanksgiving
Wow, that is one BIG BIRD...


I tried to find a font that was the most like a Pilgrim, but no such luck. Pilgrims wrote in chicken poo with a big feather. Would that be Script?


The things I am thankful for include, but are certainly not limited to:

(In no particular order)
 - The squirrels I brought into this world. May they continue to remind me of what really makes me happy, and that sarcasm is genetic.

 - Newspapers. Online just won't cut it for everything. I want to feel paper.

 - A sense of humor. Everyone should get one.

 - Special Agent, who tolerates my many layers, and even appreciates and encourages a few of them.

 - Working (and some days not working) from home

 - Epidurals - I feel compelled to say this, even 10 and 7 years later.

 - Starbucks Chai Tea Latte. Addiction to caffeine is my most rewarding vice.

 - GOOGLE! ( I love thee)

 - Family - the blessing and curse of living in the same town mostly leans to the blessing side. 

 - Changing your mind - because sometimes the road forks, and you chose incorrectly.

 - Online bill pay, because paying bills in one click is like ripping the band aid off quickly..

 - The Pioneer Woman, who is my cooking obsession right now. It would be considered stalking, except she already has a bazillion followers.

 - The opportunity to have a glass of wine at lunch. We could learn a lot from the Europeans.

 - Differing opinions - how boring would this world be without variety? It is the spice of life, I'm told.

 - Good friends - The ones who know it all and like me anyway.  We are our own inside joke that only we get.

 - DVR/TIVO - Because life doesn't stop for Grey's Anatomy, and neither can I.

 - Facebook (you heard me...) Any medium that brings people, ideas and information together in one fell swoop can't be all bad. If FB is wrong, I don't wanna be right.

 - Tolerance. May it grown as large as our national debt.

 - Ice cream trucks...is there anything better than hearing the music and having cash in your pocket?

 - INFORMATION - Research is my religion. For every question, there is an answer, even if that answer is 'no one knows for sure". But we keep trying.  

 - Thanksgiving - because it is like Christmas, without all of the hullabaloo
Please to enjoy..
I recently heard some good words from comedian Louis CK about the good old days, and how maybe our expectations are too high at times. I tried to get the actual clip, but it was unavailable to me (so I am not thankful for NBC's copywriting at this moment). But Louis CK has some funny and true words in his monologue of "Everything's fine, nobody is happy", which he discusses on Conan. Have a listen. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Special Agent's Rules for Manly Manliness (as observed by the Onion)

Note that our specimen wears no turtleneck, pants or jewelry.
His barber must be booked through the holidays.


While no formal list exists, my husband maintains a basic list of personal rules for manly men, to include:

1.  No turtlenecks or sweater vests. Nyet.

2.  No drinking from straws (exception - fast food cups which come with a lid..sometimes.)

3. No jewelry except wedding rings, watches and cuff links. Don't even THINK of wearing a bracelet.   
    Hemp or puka shell necklaces are verboten. No, no, no.

4.  When possible, men should have their hair cut by a barber, (where fishing is discussed) and not in a salon.

5.  No matter the weather, no umbrellas. Ever. You will get wet. You will not mind.

6. No perfume.  That means cologne too. I think aftershave in small quantities made the cut.

7. No putting lotion on your hands. Soft hands are not manly.

These are rules I had never thought of as specifically unmanly and they cracked me up as I learned them. However, I have become a subscriber over the years.  When I see a man with an umbrella, I am immediately thinking "uh oh.., breaking the code." The Puka shell necklace makes me cringe, but I think I would have gotten there on my own.  Kenny Chesney, take note.



Kenny, fire your stylist.
                  
I have been taking a straw poll and have found that all men seem to have their own list for manly manliness. A google search was ablaze with lists, sites, even books! They include some and none of these above listed elements.

Some of the other noteworthy items include:

 - Friends don't let friends wear Speedos. EVER. Issue closed.
 - Never use eight words when four will do.
 - Do not listen to "***** music" such as Erasure, Color Me Badd, or Oldies (no idea what the stars mean)

Other crazy lists....
International Rules of Manliness
Man Stuff - Rules for Manliness
Return to Manliness - Yard Beer (this one just made me laugh)

Now, before anyone gets offended, these are Special Agent's rules. For HIM. He isn't trying to impress his rules upon anyone else. However, if he sees you in a restaurant, with a gold bracelet on (drinking sweetly out of a straw) you're going to get the eyebrow (There is some flexibility for Europeans, who can rock this look.) But your choices are all yours. But know, he is internally making fun of you over chips and salsa. It isn't nice. I know that. Pull up your big boy turtleneck and get on with it.
*                      *                    *                   *                      *

My Research About Research..You Heard Me


I like to look things up.

Go on, and say it...I am a know-it-all. As Johnny Cash would say, "Well, maybe I am..".

If a question is posed and no one knows the answer, it just sort of hangs there heavy in the air, waiting to dissipate. Many just wave the air away like a bad smoke ring and move on. For me, no answer to the question means I JUST DON'T KNOW. And we can't have that.

I will look up anything anyone wants to know, with the exception of pipe bomb construction or porn (although I did have to research Playboy for an article once). Pretty much everything has an answer that can and must be found. When it can't, it bothers me immensely. Even when it isn't my question, it still bothers me. Botherbotherbotherbother botherbotherbotherbother.. The answer is SOMEWHERE...if we only just look for it!

Bing, you suck.

I have researched breastfeeding legislation, after market drunk driving prevention devices, command codes for an R2-D2 and so on. It gives me a real sense of accomplishment to put a lingering question to bed like a sleepy baby. The introduction of the Blackberry has is both a blessing and a curse. I can access information anywhere and everywhere, but i can also access information ANYWHERE and EVERYWHERE. :-)

Once I start, I have trouble stopping. I have OCD of research.

My Swami Pema would sigh and remind me that there isn't an answer for everything, nor should there be an answer for everything. Some things we just aren't meant to know. Yet, my compulsion lingers. So..what do you want to know? I can Google it for ya.









Thursday, November 4, 2010

Leaning into the Sharp Points

**DISCLAIMER**DISCLAIMER**DISCLAIMER**

I am not a Buddhist. Truthfully, I am not even a Methodist. I am a subscriber to things that speak to me, make me think, and help me learn. So there. No need to call out for an exorcism. 



Pema, before (note sweater for later)

Pema now...





















I have my own Swami...so what if she doesn't know it? Her name is Pema Chodron. Some of you might have seen her on Oprah. I appreciate that she is a Buddhist nun, but she is also a mother and has been a wife in her past. Twice. She taught elementary school (and I think I have a sweater just like the one in her before photo). I like my female role models to have some perspective on the real things that happen in the life of a wife and mother (Can Oprah say the same?...no, she cannot.).  We (Pema and I) have our sessions together randomly, and mostly on YouTube....FREE-OF-CHARGE...

A few years ago when I met Pema in her book, "When Things Are Difficult", she told me that hope had no place in my world. WHAAAAAT?  In this time where HOPE is the new buzzword? As in "I HOPE I don't get laid off", "I HOPE I can find a job soon so I can pay my rent?", "I HOPE no one realizes I have no idea what I am doing..", etc. How discouraging...

"Hope and fear come from feeling that we lack something; they come from a sense of poverty. We can’t simply relax with ourselves. We hold on to hope, and hope robs us of the present moment. We feel that someone else knows what is going on, but that there is something missing in us, and therefore something is lacking in our world."
Pema Chödrön (When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times)


I read these words myself during a time when I kept hoping that things in my tiny corner of the world would improve and was trying to impatiently wait it out. So, this was a downer of a thought initially.  However as I read further I came to see that she meant that it was a waste of time to spend hard days *HOPING* that things would get better in lieu of just accepting that things weren't good right now, may not be good for a while, and that there was nothing logical that I could do to speed up the course of the hard time except bear it until it was over. She called it "leaning into the sharp points". Pema told me that being happy and comfortable all the time were not what made us the people we become in our lives and that no bumps on the path mean no growth for the person. Well, fine then.

"…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are."
Pema Chödrön


At that time, I mustered up my strength and leeeeeeeaned in, stopped telling myself it would get better soon, (or, even worse, my mantra that I was FINE..) and truly bore the hard times until the day when I realized I had leaned THROUGH the sharp point until it's tip no longer pierced me. It was really freeing, actually. My hard times changed me and I learned a lot about what I wanted from myself and my life in that period. I added those lessons to my li'l book of tricks and carried them along my way for the next bump in the road. 

But I fail to look through my book of tricks often, and I am still trying to FIX things. SOLVE things, even for others. *sigh*. I really feel that if Pema really cared about me, she would move in with me and help me overcome having to SOLVE things and FIX problems and use logic as my favorite emotion.

We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart."
Pema Chödrön

I am trying, Pema. I really, really am. 


Get your Pema on...




"Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look."
Pema Chödrön (When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My Helicopter Crashed and Burned

The end of the helicopter Mom

I don't think of myself as a "helicopter" Mom. I mostly see the office staff of my children's school when I am bringing in forgotten violas and lunch money.  I am a relative unknown at the school my children attend, which is why I became PB Elementary's enemy #1 yesterday.


I created a lot of drama after I was seen watching my son's recess from the hill above the playground. I learned today from another parent that due to someone "watching recess", the school officials had all of the kids go in early, and called the 5-0. Sigh.


My young son has been having the usual trouble kids have at school where there is one kid they really don't want to play with, who in turn tortures them so that he can continue to participate with them in some way. This has turned into a game of one sided tag, where the one kid is constantly the chaser, and my son and his friends are the ones who are chased. I suspect this boy does not want to chase them instead of play, and I know my son is tired of being chased. It's a sad situation, and I think it is becoming routine. I don't think continuing is kind behavior on the part of my son, but I also am not certain that he feels he has any choice. So.....


I sat on the grassy hill at the park above the playground yesterday to catch a little of post-lunch recess. It SEEMED harmless enough, and it was a nice day.


Failure # 1: I did not inform the school that I planned to do this. I didn't tell them because I thought it was embarrassing to be helicoptering about in such a manner. Had I know I would cause this level of trouble to them, and heightened embarrassment to myself in the long run, I would have.


I watched as the kids ran out, and searched for a kid with untied shoe laces, pants that are just a tiny bit too short (and unzipped) and no jacket to run by. Sadly, there were many who fit this description. How in the world would I be able to tell what was going on way up here?


Failure # 2:  As I gathered my sunglasses to head out the door, I ran across my son's binoculars. Yes, I brought them. I'm no spring chicken, and besides, I'm thorough.


I finally spied my golden boy, locked in a bear hug from behind by the chaser. Because I had binoculars, I could see that he was not enjoying this bit of play and was trying to get away. He squirmed away and said something to the chaser. I was hoping he was telling him what I had suggested, which was to stop chasing him, that he didn't want to play that game, etc. However, with no audio....I had to guess. The kid went elsewhere though, so I felt there might be some success.


Then, as I suspected... the worst of the worst happened (not the the Police, although I am sure they were being alerted about now).  I saw my son's buddy approach the chaser, who was hanging on his own behind a play structure, and talk to him.  My son walked up about then. The friend talked to the chaser a little more and then turned and ran.  And so did my son. The chaser, of course, chased. My boy and buddy were egging it on!! (The golden boy told me later that he had asked the chaser if he liked to chase them, and the chaser nodded. Hmmm. I am doubting he does.) I leaned back against the tree in disappointment.

Failure # 3:  When leaning against the tree, I stuck the back of my hair into a gob of tree sap. Unlike my pride, it is still there today.

I thought the recess seemed like it ended quickly, but since I don't spend a lot of time at school, I had no idea of the time frame. To my horror, I learned today that because of me, and the playground monitors watchful eyes, my actions made the playground monitors nervous, and thus made the kids go in early. The school called the Po-po. And put the teachers on alert. Just because of little ol' me. And my binoculars.


To say I am mortified would be an understatement. I had to call the Principal and tell on myself today. He was very nice about the whole thing, and had suspected it was someone's crazy Mom.  He didn't say crazy, but was surely thinking it. As I explained my reasoning for scaring their staff half to death, my grand plan sounded sillier and sillier to my own ears.


The FAA called, and I think my helicopter has been grounded.