Why is hair such a pain?

I sincerely hope that the future holds advances in hair technology. I would like to adopt a kind of manga-blue-spiky do without dye, gel or hair spray. Just a quick trip to the techno-stylist, lower the cone over my head and Bam! done. No odor or chemicals seeping into my brain. My small hope for the future.

Food food food

I’ve been cooking like a demon for three days for no reason except I have some free time. Black bean soup, two kinds of quick bread and mango-coconut sorbet are currently populating my freezer. I feel so accomplished and grown-up when I put ready to eat food in the freezer. It’s like putting money in the bank. If I have a busy day, or want to stay late at the beach, we don’t have to resort to hot dogs or pancakes for dinner.

I have wanted to make my own mustard for a while and finally remembered to order mustard seed in bulk so I can experiment. My all time favorite book for preparing any kind of preserves, pickles or condiments is The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard, a pair of professional home economists. Reading the book is as comforting as having your Aunts in the kitchen with you.

The recipes are usually as reliably good as your Aunts’ recipes, too, but I’m having trouble with the mustard. My first batch turned out as thick as old glue. It is very tasty, so I’ll probably mix it with some mayo to make it spreadable.The dijon mustard that I was trying to make called for 3/4 cup of dry white wine. I bought a bottle of cheap sparkling wine, thinking I would have plenty left after my husband and I drank a few glasses. Oops, not quite enough. I made up the difference with white wine vinegar. That was my only divergence from the recipe, and it doesn’t seem enough to change the texture, only the taste. I’ll try again tomorrow. Wish me luck.

Some other delicious food coming out of my kitchen is granola, without seeds, for my mom, and hummus. I used to buy hummus. Then, I had some at a Lebanese restaurant, fresh and lemony and tastier than anything you can purchase. This recipe is fantastic, if you’re interested. I don’t bother with the yogurt or almonds, or with the bread part of the recipe. It’s well worth the effort to make your own.

One last food observation. My favorite dinner is salmon, salad and fruit. I have come to realize that I feel happier after I eat this particular meal. It’s not the ‘oh, yeah, cake!’ kind of happiness that comes from sugar and fat. I experience a deeper feeling of well-being. I think there is something about those foods that actually improves my mood. Weird, but true. I keep making the meal, in hopes that my pre-teen will experience an improved mood, too. Again, wish me luck.




Happy Geek Pride Day!

I know it’s late and if you didn’t realize it was Geek Pride Day today, this isn’t really a great time to find out. After all, as a geek you’re not likely to be out partying at this time of night. You’re probably in bed, alone. All alone. Or, you’re watching Star Trek again. That actually is a great way to celebrate Geek Pride.

I celebrated Geek Pride Day by writing. I conned the kids into watching tv (bad mom!) so I could have a few hours without a constant stream of questions. It was difficult to convince my son to watch. He wanted to make a board game instead, his new geeky obsession. He managed to do both, watching Survivorman while cutting, taping and constructing game pieces. Have you seen Survivorman? It is my new favorite series. We plan to try some of the fire starting techniques, in anticipation of a few planned camping trips. We’ll probably skip the eating of various bugs, though.

As I was writing, I asked myself: what do I want to read about? I should ask that question more often, because the answer isn’t necessarily what I produce.

What I want:

  • adventure
  • humor
  • fast pace

What I produce:

  • conventional characters
  • complete lack of fantasy

Why why why? It must be my old nemesis, Fear. I will conquer you, Fear! You have been warned.

The weather has suddenly become perfect here: warm and sunny days, cool nights with enough rain to save me hand watering the new plants every day. My son can hardly be contained indoors. He is out first thing, still in his jammies, and again after his evening bath. With all the outdoor pleasures, I just haven’t been committed to blogging daily.

We’re approaching the end of our second year of homeschooling. It was a life-changing decision, and one that we reassess regularly. Questions we ask: are the kids happy, are they learning, is our family happy? Are everyone’s needs being met? Yes, to everything. Why didn’t I even know this was an option ten years ago?

Our community of hippie homeschoolers is more accepting and relaxed than any group of parents that I had contact with in the public school system. Perhaps the schools we attended were just too big. Maybe a return to a one-room schoolhouse is in order. While we’re at it, let’s stage a comeback of work-live spaces. Business downstairs, home upstairs. My husband and I run a business out of our home, so we’re close to that arrangement. As a girl, however, I wanted to have a flower shop. My idea was to have a large variety of flowers in buckets. Customers would come in and pick what they wanted, making their own arrangements.

Another great downstairs business would be an old-fashioned hardware store. I loved wandering the aisles as a kid, and I still do today. The best stores have an old guy at the counter, one who knows a bit about all the trades. There should be a wide variety of gadgets and animal feed. My favorite hardware store item is, by far, door hardware: brass handles and pulls, beautiful big hinges, hidden magnetic closures. Heaven.

Duck sex

We witnessed a miracle of nature today, a biological imperative. Duck sex. I have to start out with this observation: duck penises are really icky. Kind of like a folded wet rice noodle.

We were sitting next to Paint Creek, at Children’s Park in Lake Orion, just enjoying the sunshine. Our feet were in the water, mainly to test out new waterproof sandals (research), not as a prelude to jumping in the invitingly cool water with all of our clothes on. Really. The ducks were dabbling and preening. A group of them started chasing each other, biting and quacking. At the same moment that I realized it was a fight for the lone female, one of the males emerged as the victor and unceremoniously mounted the female. It was uncomfortably violent. The male was biting the female’s neck to hold her still.

My son, alarmed, chased the male away. This is when we got the eyeful of flaccid duck penis. I guess being chased by a 7-year-old human is a real killjoy for ducks. They waddled away as a group and napped in the dappled shade of a willow tree. There were no more attempts at procreation. Believe me, we were watching closely.

spring happenings

Most of today was spent outdoors. Georgia and I planted some annuals, finally. They’ve been waiting in the garage for a week, since we anticipated a late frost. Last year was a turning point for Georgia; she finally started to want to become involved in gardening. So, I’ve been teaching her how to transplant seedlings, how to plant the seeds and water, etc. She really likes to have a plan, clear instructions to follow. I am more of a fly by the seat of your pants type of gal so having to express all of the gardening knowledge that I have in a concise and logical manner is a challenge. We definitely learn and process information differently.

It amazes me, even after 20 years of parenting, how very different my children are from me and my husband. They share certain traits with us, for sure, but far fewer than I anticipated. I guess I thought they would like the same foods, music and games; that they would be little copies. To take it to an even more basic level, my middle daughter doesn’t even really care about food. She eats just enough, and only really pays attention if she’s desperately hungry. She is almost completely uninterested in learning to cook. I always thought people who said things like that were lying.

While his sister and I were working, Oscar played. I can hardly keep him inside now that the weather is lovely. The very second I stop working and sit in the hammock with my book (World War Z) he comes and climbs up with his new comic book. Sometimes I wish my kids liked television more.

A few funny things my kids have said to me recently:

  • Oscar asked for some wire so he could learn to pick locks. He is seven. This could be a retirement strategy for us, so it is under consideration.
  • Georgia came back in the house from doing something with my husband and announced that she had “a pocketful of danger.” She proceeded to empty out of her pockets: two lighters, small firecrackers and a pocketknife. Danger, indeed.

We’re living the good life.

Summer reading list

I usually start 4 or 5 books at a time and read them all in bits and pieces until I really get hooked, about half way through, and feel compelled to read that one until it’s finished. Now that I’m finishing up the last of a group, I’ve started accumulating some new ones. I picked up a few at the library today: Miss Hargreaves by Frank Baker, and Widdershins by Charles de Lint. Both seem to combine a novel of manners with fantasy, two of my favorite genres. Also, a friend lent me The Chosen by Chaim Potok, and my mother¬† wants me to read The Help. Having a nice stack of books-in-waiting makes me feel like I just went on a shopping spree, or like someone gave me a plate full of cookies just for me, no sharing with the kids.

I am finishing up World War Z , An Oral History of the Zombie War, by Max Brooks. It reminds me of watching a ballet, say Swan Lake. When the lead dancers do their pas de deux, they are so graceful and expert that the dance looks effortless. Reading World War Z is like that. The story is involving and the writing relaxed, so you think ‘I can do that’, but in reality the author is so talented that he just made it look easy. Genius.

I’ve decided to start making my daughter’s junior high and high school reading lists. The idea came when a fellow homeschooling mom requested ideas for her daughters’ summer reading list. I remembered many great books that I enjoyed as a teen, but it took a few days of brainstorming. I’m familiar with classic American and British lit, but I would like to include literature representative of Eastern cultures as well as South American and African. Any ideas would be welcome. As soon as I have a working list, I can divide it by year/age and start looking for them at used book stores.