Tuesday, July 26, 2016

dance party

Last week my older son and I took a tap class. By the end of each session, I was grumpy, irritated with my feet, the teacher, and the world in general because: tap is hard. The teacher was great, but she moved along at a rapid clip, not letting anyone's stumbling put the entire class on hold. Which was good, but also very, very frustrating.

So I'd go home and practice, pounding out my lindies, paddles, and shuffles on the kitchen tiles (and tripping over the grout) until my toes refused to lift and my taps slurred. The next day's class would go a little smoother...until the teacher introduced yet another new step, at which point my confidence would drain right out of my clumsy toes, the frustration bubbling to the surface once again. 

Every evening, tapping away in my hot kitchen, the fan sucking the slightly cooling air in through the window, the sweat would stream down my face, soaking my shirt, and dripping from my chin and nose until the tiled floor looked like it had been rained on.

“Ew, Mom, that is so gross! You need to wash the floor,” my younger daughter would wail. 

“Shush,” I'd say. “I'm concentrating.”

On Friday night, the kids pushed back the kitchen table so I'd have more room to tap. And then my older son came downstairs with his Bose speaker, told me to move over, and cranked up the dance music. Before I knew it, all four kids had joined me on the dance floor. We did Crank It Like A Chainsaw (what the hey?), Cha Cha Slide, Macarena, etc. Shirts came off. Sweat flew. From his desk chair, my husband watched, laughing and occasionally snapping a photo.

And then, as is becoming my post-evening tap custom, I disappeared upstairs to read my book while soaking my overheated body in a tub of cold water.

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (7.27.15), the boy and the tooth, the girl and the tea party, corn day, classic bran muffins, banana bran muffins, spicy Indian potatoes, and internal warfare.

Monday, July 25, 2016

the quotidian (7.25.16)

Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
everyday; ordinary; commonplace

The first cherry tomatoes.

What a few hundred sweet rolls looks like.

I don't want to see another sweet roll for....a week.

Doorway trippers, but at least they no longer try to sneak in.

Large pieces of meat are my nemesis. 

This same time, years previous: vegetarian groundnut stew, a riding lesson, we're back!, pumpkin seed pesto, cucumber lemon water, birthday revisited, limeade concentrate, and blackberry cobbler.

Friday, July 22, 2016

all practicality

My older daughter thinks it's crazy that girls' shorts are so short. Actually, it's not so much the abbreviated length that bothers her but the subsequent lack of deep pockets. “There's hardly enough room to carry a cell phone!”

She hates the t-shirts, too. The material is so thin that an undershirt is always required.

"Why can't girls clothes be like guys?" she'd fuss. "Their shorts are long, and the t-shirts are just plain t-shirts. Guys' clothes make so much more sense."

And then she learned that one of her girlfriends bought her athletic shorts from the men's section, and it dawned on her: there was no reason she couldn't buy her clothing from the men's section, too!

"Mom, you gotta take me shopping!" she begged.

So off to Target we went, marching straight by the women's clothing and going all the way to the back of the store where she delighted to discover entire racks filled with long, elastic-waisted, deep-pocketed shorts and plain t-shirts.

All practicality, that girl is.

This same time, years previous: on his own, the quotidian (7.21.14), curry potato salad, rellenitos, the quotidian (7.23.12), how to beat the heat, half-mast, and braised cabbage.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

in the kitchen

I now have two batches of pesto torte squirreled away in the freezer. I thought I was doing pretty great by accomplishing such a delicious feat, but the rest of the family was like, “ONLY two tortes? That's not nearly enough!”

Actually, the tortes weren't as complicated or time consuming as I thought they'd be. I made the cream cheese-ricotta part the day ahead of time. The next morning, I set up an assembly line: two bowls in which to measure the basil pesto ingredients and two bowls for the dried tomato pesto. Then whir-whir-whir-whir, the pestos were made, and all that remained was the layering and freezing.

So why not go ahead and make two more? Hmm.....

* * * 

Silly me agreed to make sweet rolls for 250 people.

There's a pastors' convention in town this week and they needed volunteers for the coffee breaks, so I said sure, and how about I make sweet rolls from scratch to keep life interesting?

I'm making the buns small so I can get away with making less, but then I started feeling guilty for being such a cheapskate so now I'm making an extra hundred-plus rolls to assuage my conscience.

Maybe I'll get lucky and there will be leftovers.

* * * 

My daughter requested, once again, a red velvet cake for her birthday.

I have yet to land on a good red velvet cake recipe. The one I made last time was too dry, and this one (from Ree Drummond's cookbook), while wonderfully moist, was flavorless. Help, anyone?

* * * 

Birthday girl requested tostados for her lunch, “with refried beans out of a bag like in Guatemala.”

The kids were unanimous in their enthusiasm and have requested that we eat tostados on a regular basis. Sounds like a plan to me!

* * * 

My younger son has been hounding me to let him cook. After putting him off for a couple weeks and reducing him to tears (shame on me), I finally allowed him to make a cake.

He was beyond proud, and the cake was a smashing success.

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (7.20.15), a tale of two children, statements, all partied up, whole wheat zucchini bread, in my kitchen, homemade shampoo, zucchini parmesan frittata, and salvation's chocolate chip cookies.

Monday, July 18, 2016

the quotidian (7.18.16)

Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
everyday; ordinary; commonplace

Cut smarter.

Books are meant to be shared.

Willingly getting licked: she and I are so different.

Really? Is this really necessary?

Gift fatigue: when your little brother buys you a Costco-sized box of Pringles 
and then individually wraps the cans.

All done.

Stay cool, friends!

This same time, years previous: zucchini fritters, ouch, apricot pie, this new season, Saturday nights, roasted carrot and beet salad with avocado, in the woods, the quotidian (7.16.12), roasted beet salad with cumin and mint, Jeni's best ever vanilla ice cream, and in the pits.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

in which a pit bull bites my butt

As I've said before (probably), sometimes dogs charge at me when I'm on my runs. My response—a top-of-my-lungs, “CALL OFF YOUR DOG”—is instinctive and very loud. It also happens to embarrass my husband to no end. But I don't even care. I have no desire to have some dog take a bite out of my butt.

This—a dog taking a bite out of my butt—is what I obsessed about while we were rehearsing for the last play. (Well, that and a bunch of other things, like slipping off the road while running and twisting my ankle, getting in a car crash, falling ill, and getting thrown from a horse. That last one was easily solvable: I just didn't get on the horse in the first place.) So when I got attacked by a pit bull on Tuesday morning, two days before this play opens, I couldn't help but laugh at the irony.

Getting bitten was slightly less humorous.

That morning, I hadn't gone even a quarter mile down the road when the dog came tearing around the corner of the house and made a beeline right for me. This neighbor's dogs have charged us before—cue multiple CALL-OFF-YOUR-DOG's—but this time, for some reason (maybe because I just woke up and wasn't yet fully conscious?) I stayed mum.

I heard the owner call the dog from the backside of the house. Usually, one shout from the owner and these dogs freeze in their tracks, but since the owner couldn't see me, he wasn't calling the dog in all seriousness. The dog flew across the road and came screeching to a halt right in front of me. I stood there, frozen. The dog paused. Maybe she'll just sniff my feet and go back to her yard? I thought. But then— BAM! A sharp pain in my hip, a scream (mine), and I was lying on my back in the ditch.

“She don't bite,” he called out calmly, tolerantly, as he rounded the corner of the house. He sounded almost like he was smiling, probably thinking, Silly woman, going into hysterics over nothing. Geesh. 

Propelled by the shock of the bite, plus his patronizing tone, I rose up out of that ditch, spitting mad. 

“BULL! SHIT!” I bellowed. And then I yanked my shorts down to show him the teeth marks on my hip. “LOOK.”

“Oh my,” he said, taking a step back. “She ain't never bit no one before.”

The man's daughter came outside then, and he called to her, “She says Jazzy bit her.”

“Aw, she don't bite,” she scoffed. “People just say that stuff because they don't like these dogs.” 

“Look,” I said,pulling down my shorts for a second time. “I'll need to see her papers.”

While the woman went back inside to find the dog's vaccination records, I stood there, crying, holding my hip, and listening to him tell me what a fine dog Jazzy was. Briefly, I considered continuing on my run, but then common sense (and pain) kicked in and, paper in hand, I hobbled home.

The bite isn't that bad—and the dog was up-to-date on her shots—but I went to the doctor anyway, just to be on the safe side. They filed a report (my husband had already filed one with Animal Control that morning when he came flying home from work to make sure I was okay, sweet guy) and put me on antibiotics.

This morning my husband and I went on a run again. Well, I ran and he rode bike (because he was suffering the consequences of dropping a seventy-five pound door on his big toe). I intentionally chose the route that went by The Pit Bull House. Two dogs were out, but they didn't even bark. Jazzy was nowhere to be seen.

Now here's where I could show you a whole series of bite-wound photos. We've been documenting it daily. The colors are rather artistic: a circle of bright red with an outer ring of dark purple. Like some sort of mystical tattoo. But I'll spare you the bloody photos—you're welcome—and settle for a nice, bandaged one.

ANYWAY. The play opens tonight!

Isn't life amazing? I managed to get bit on the butt (okay, okay, hip) and still the show goes on.

PS. If, during the show when I'm lying on the floor being all dramatic, you see me wince and shift my weight from my right hip to my left, you'll know why. Jazzy.

PPS. Tickets! Tickets!

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (7.13.15) and the quotidian (7.14.14).

Monday, July 11, 2016

the quotidian (7.11.16)

Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
everyday; ordinary; commonplace

For the pesto torte.

What the little one wanted for his (second) lunch.

What a softball looks like after getting mowed over.

My daily workout.

Mama, after I get my bath, can we sit on the sofa and read together? Picture books?

At work: the master birthday-chain maker.

In honor of his sister's 15th (today!): decorated.

Practicing for his driver's test.

On his first solo trip: watching him leave.

This same time, years previous: let's talk, a tale, er, tail, the quotidian (7.9.12), splash, what my refrigerator told me, tempero, and strawberry cake.

Friday, July 8, 2016

nose spots

Remember those glasses I bought? They're mostly for reading, but they're also progressives so I can wear them all the time, if I like. Which I often do. My days are heavily sprinkled with bursts of reading and writing so it's often easier to just leave them on.

Except there's a problem. The glasses leave bright red indentations on either side of my nose.

Here, I'll show you:

Oops. Out of focus. Let's try again.

Getting closer. Hang on….

There we go! See it?

I wouldn't mind the marks so much if they faded after five or ten minutes. But they don't. Just one hour of wearing the glasses earns me a good two to three hours of violent red markings. Granted, this is peanuts in the grand scheme of things. I'm not in pain, nobody is loving me less for my spots, and I can see, for crying out loud.

But still.

I was fussing to my blind-as-a-bat husband about my nose spots and he said, “That's weird. I've never gotten marks on my nose and I've worn glasses for years.” And his glasses are about an inch-thick and super heavy. What is up with this, people? Why do some people get marks and others don't?

I feel like I have two optionseither wear my glasses all the time, or don't wear them at allneither of which is acceptable. Is there a middle ground? Have any of you glasses-wearer people hit upon a solution?

(And please, don't suggest “stop being vain” because that's just not going to happen.)

(Another no-no: telling me to adjust my perspective. That's just bad punnery. Don't do it.)

This same time, years previous: the puppy post, the quotidian (7.8.13), zucchini skillet with tomatoes and feta, rain, and peanut butter cup ice cream.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

one weekend only

Back when we were in the middle of Outside Mullingar, one of the other actors tossed me a script. Want to do this play with me?

I read the entire thing on a Sunday morning while the rest of the family was still in bed. A few pages in, I was crying so hard I had to set it aside for a few minutes so I could get control. Good grief, I thought. If I can't read it without crying, how will I ever act it?

Jessica Dickey's The Amish Project is a fictionalized account of the 2006 Nickel Mines shooting in which a local milkman entered an Amish school house and shot ten girls. The play was originally intended to be performed by one actor but has since been adapted for an ensemble. I play Carol, the wife of the shooter. (When the guy first mentioned that I do this play with him, I thought he meant the one-actor version and about blew my top. Put that on top of my then-current crazy and I would sail right over The Edge for sure.)

The play is about much more than the horror of the shooting. It's about the underbelly of humanity, gut-wrenching suffering, and the power of forgiveness. No one is demonized, not even the shooter, and the result is a profoundly moving piece of art, raw and heartbreakingly beautiful.

The play opens a week from today and runs for one weekend. The house—a community center that's being transformed into a black box theater—only seats about sixty people and fills quickly, or so I've been told. Last time they did a play at this location, they were turning people away fifteen minutes before curtain. Tickets are five dollars and reservations can be made here.

Note: for mature audiences due to disturbing content and some language.

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (7.7.14).

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

three things about writing

The other day I came home to discover a box sitting on my computer. A piece of paper lay on top, a note scrawled in my older son's horrific handwriting.

It read: 

What can I say. The boy gets me.


That writing group I started?


(Actually, I'm in two groups. There's the main writing group that meets monthly, and then another smaller, side one—photographed abovea writing group spawn, of sorts, that meets weekly, just for the summer, and is more of a support team for this seminary-theater intern.)

The groups' variety in writing style, content, and genre is tremendously invigorating, and the people are awesome: supportive, interesting, creative, funny, and smart. After each meeting, I am filled to the brim with creative juices and pumped to write. Success! 


The problem with having your writing desk next to your bed: the temptation to sleep instead of write occasionally wins out.

This same time, years previous: reflections from Kansas City, grilled flatbread, red raspberry lemon bars, simple creamy potato salad and French potato salad, and baked oatmeal.