Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tuesday nights are for reading

A quick picture of Will and Liam reading. This is the pre-bedtime reading. Later they have the post-bath, pre-rocking to sleep reading upstairs. Liam likes to select the books and he especially likes this bright one about, of course, cars and driving.

Aggravating night in the extreme, trying to deal with getting my flaky, flaky tenant out of the rental so the new, seems-like-he-has-his-act-together tenant can move in. This is complicated by the fact that she is not really living there any more and it seems to be inhabited mostly by her stuff (lots!) and her (illegal!) sub-tenant/lessor. I now realize that the other point of a security deposit is that it is some motivation for her to get all her c-r-a-p out of the place, since, of course, I'll keep it until she does. As it is, I was over there to do the walk through and get the key at 6 pm tonight as scheduled (with Liam!) and she was hours away from being done, stuff everywhere, all over the yard, I have no idea how it's all going to go into the already jam-packed cars. So I'll be back tomorrow morning at 8 am (with Liam!) to try again. I will not be sad to see this one go.

And then I had to work the phone to make sure the new tenant has a place to stay, since he was planning to be there tonight. A: yes, he can stay with friends and/or get the key from flaky tenant, probablly around now. This is a good outcome since for about 30 minutes there I thought I was going to have to run around like a crazy person and pick up the house and fold the 2-weeks worth of clean laundry piled on the guest bed so he wouldn't be in the street. All these kids are young, it's a college town, and they don't have the money to keep a place for half a month just so they can have a slow, easy paced move.

Will had a very high fever this AM and most of the day, so we're really hoping it is transitory and he's not headed back to the hospital any time soon. (Cold for Liam = pneumonia for Will, generally.) I can't wait for cold and flu season to give us at least a small break. It seems like we've all be sick for the past 100 years.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Funeral today

Our dear friend and colleague Mike died last week after a six or seven week ordeal. He had heart bypass surgery and was recovering really well, and then had a stroke and was finally starting to recover from that, and then got pneumonia and died. I had forgotten how l-o-n-g big Catholic funeral masses can be. Long. But, the church was full to the rafters and the Mayor and most of the city council were there even. I think it's probably a comfort to the family to have so many people and such a manifestation of their loved one's service to and connections in the community.

Lovely service except there was the whole: Catholics who are able can come forward and receive communion. . .everyone else, stay where you are. (For those of you not steeped in the Catholic faith, I'm no longer eligible to receive communion, pretty much, ever, since IVF is considered a mortal sin because "extra" embryos are created and they "die," and, also, some people end up discarding unused embryos (which we did not) and I refuse to repent and say I would never do it again, because, well, of course I would do it again if it were the only way to have a child, which, for us, it was.)

Anyway, the whole thing was pretty long on theology and pretty short on fun stories about Mike and what a great guy he was, and what a profound difference he made in so many lives and in this community. And that was too bad, because I heard at the cookies and coffee after that lots of people had some really fun stories they were hoping to share. Rest easy Mike, you'll be sorely missed, but there is an entire town (pulse some more) of people who are going to do their best to help take care of your lovely spouse and beautiful daughters. And, I hear you might get a public memorial down at the new LOTT interpretative center or at rotary park---wouldn't that be something to make you grin!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Still snowing here

The snow seems to excite the hummingbirds --- we have at least 3 and maybe more, they're hard to tell apart. They have been zipping around the yard all afternoon. This snow didn't stick; but it did pour rain or snow or some combination all day. The rain gauge says .86 inch in the past 24 hours. Seems like more. Liam has learned the hummingbird noise except he doesn't make a "zzz" or a "t" sound yet so the "tzzzik" noise comes out more like "mmmmik." It's still pretty cute and is now the default bird noise, replacing "da, da, da, da, da" in a high voice, which is what birds used to say.

In other news: 4 dishes of chicken divan were made by me today. One to eat and 3 for the freezer. This is what happens when you buy an enormous block of cheddar cheese and an enormous bag of broccoli at Costco thinking: "neat, we eat cheese; we eat broccoli, this will take care of itself." Not so much. Turns out, you have to eat a lot, every day, for this stuff to be consumed by the time it should be.

If you look up chicken divan on the Internet you get recipes that are mayonnaise based, cream soup based, milk based, and broth based. Some have sherry, some don't. Some cheese, some not. Many have curry powder. None of my present cookbooks have a recipe (not even the "new, improved" Joy of Cooking). So, since the one we ate for dinner was pretty good, in the spirit of public service, here's what I did:

Make the sauce. Melt 2T butter and 2T flour and a liberal pinch of salt and pepper over med-high heat to make a roux. Add 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth. Whisk away until it's smooth and let it cook a bit until it starts to thicken. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy cream and a few tablespoons of dry sherry or white wine. Whisk again and cook some more. Add about 1 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese. Whisk again. Check for seasoning and adjust, I added more pepper and salt.

Assemble the dinner. Butter a baking dish. Spoon in the broccoli (I cut it pretty small and did not steam it ahead of time). Add the cooked chicken layer. Spoon the cheese sauce over top. I made it so the cheese sauce pretty well came up to almost the top of the chicken layer, but did not totally cover things. Add some bread crumbs to the top. Bake in a medium oven until it's hot and the broccoli is cooked. I think this took 20-25 minutes. Serve with rice. We used brown rice and are therefore officially labeling tonight's dinner as healthy. Tzzzzik!

Friday, March 27, 2009

The garden

A few weeks ago when Auntie Chris was visiting we got up pretty early Saturday morning and built this kitchen garden. The two raised beds are about 3 1/2 by 10 feet each and we also cleaned up the existing bed by the fence for herbs and the existing bed by the south side of the porch for peas and later pole beans. We'll set out tomatoes in pots, I think, on the triangle of gravel and cement walk way on the south side of the porch. Except for the last 2 years, very year for the past 19 I've grown a kitchen garden, so I'm glad to finally have a place for one here at the new/old house.

Anyway, the process is pretty simple. Pick a sunny spot. This is the sunniest spot we have, with the most southern exposure. Dig out all the grass -- this is the hard part, but in a spot that is about 10 x 10 it only took the morning. We used the grass clumps and sod to fill in some of the many holes Mollie has dug all over the yard. Build the raised beds -- this is where Chris is really good because she knows how to measure and cut things. These are just fastened to 4x4 "posts" at the corners, the posts go down about 10 inches. Put cardboard or something down in the areas that will be paths. Fill the beds with dirt and the paths with something else, we used gravel, and away you go.

We also had to rig up some chicken wire "fencing" to keep Mollie out. I hope that once the beds are filled with plants we'll be able to keep her out some other way. She often doesn't dig plants, but she can't resist dirt.

Peas, carrots and swiss chard are already planted. We'll get some spinach in the ground this weekend and the rest when it finally warms up a little. Liam is interested. So far the things he has seemed to like best are stomping on the gravel, he likes the noise and feel of it under his feet; and "planting" peas, he threw the seeds at the ground and I moved them into the furrow. He also likes the feel and smell of the rosemary bush. We can't wait for vegetables!

Thursday, March 26, 2009


After my lovely trip to Ephrata on Tuesday, I got to go to SeaTac on Wednesday (for a meeting), and (joy!) to Hanford today (via SeaTac) (for another meeting). That's about 650 miles of driving (plus the airplane ride!) in 3 days, for those keeping score on their own.

I'm very happy to be safe at home with Liam tucked into his own bed for a change, and looking forward to my more typical 2 mile "commute." And some sleep. Photos tomorrow, I hope.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Ephrata is a small town in Eastern Washington that I drove to today (for work). Two hundred and fourteen miles (give or take) each way. That's 424 total. It wasn't a bad drive, I like being up early. I was glad the sun came up when I was just over the top of Snoqualimie Pass because it was snowing to get all out and daylight made that a lot easier. But, that and the deadly and nervous-making Highway 18 was the worst of the driving, the rest was easy. And the work part went fine too.

I brought the camera to take a picture, but it ran out of batteries immediately, so, no photos. This picture is from the Chamber of Commerce page (and by Bill Carrell).

Liam's cold/ear infection/eye infection all seem to be on the mend. He's still really stuffy (and pretty dry too, we have the humidifier turned up to full tonight and started running it in his room before his bath); I think he'll be back to full-tilt soon. Will thinks he is getting a cold, or something. He had a small fever this afternoon and feels congested and sore-throated. He's considering starting Colistin, just to keep anything bacterial at bay while his immune system works on whatever virus he has. At least neither of us has pink eye, yet, knock wood.

Liam seems to be on the new-word-a-day plan. Today's words were: "Ollie" (from these delightful books), "Abby" (name of my parents' absent cat, he says this perfectly), and, maybe, "egg." There is no rhyme or reason to it. I've noticed that as he's become more interested in talking he gets really frustrated if he's trying to say something and I don't understand it and repeat it back wrong---which is the case 25-30% of the time. This happened today on the way home from my parents' house and resulted in screaming, fist clinching, feet kicking, turning red, and throwing the music toy across the car. Lovely.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Liam and I went to a book reading by the fantastic Nikki McClure at the local library. She has illustrated a new book which is 2-weeks now on the NYT best sellers list for children's books. I think this is so great, first because I really love her work and second because it is just so nice to see someone do so well.

Liam was wonderful at the reading: interested, not too shy, patient. A few times he ran up to touch a picture in the book that he was particularly captured by. Peas, mostly; he and I planted peas this weekend and we've talked a lot about peas and pea plants, so he's pretty focused on them.

At the reading I looked at the library bulletin board about other events and was really surprised to see that Molly Wizenberg will be there to talk about her new book A Handmade Life. I'm so excited! What wonderful and unexpected things we have in our little town!
**The photo is from the BuyOlympia site. Since you missed the chance to get your copy of the book at the Friends of the Library event, BuyOlympia would be a great choice.


Neglect. I have neglected this space; I don't have a good excuse. Certainly there have been more hectic times when I've found the time to post. So, here goes.

These are some of the things about Liam lately that are amazing and wonderful to me.
  • He has started to sing to himself, a lot. He generally sings some version of twinkle twinkle little star or baa baa black sheep (same basic tune); sometimes he sings "ga, ga, go, ga" etc., sometimes "ma, ma, ma, ma" sometimes some other combination. This is not singing particularly for public consumption. It's to himself. He enjoys it.
  • He is big enough to run around outside and really runs. . .I have to run to catch up to him, I can't make it by just walking really fast.
  • Will has been reading stories to him every night after bath, and he really looks forward to it and will clamber over Will to get to whatever book he wants (often "mm, mm" a book about a cow that Will and I both fail to see the charm of).
  • He has been eating great. Saturday morning's breakfast was: scrambled egg, leftover green peas, toast and milk.
  • He is learning new words every day.
  • He is just so engaged with things around him and so sweet.

Dear Liam has a bad cold and a terrible runny nose. Even so, he was so sweet at the doctor this morning, he actually smiled at the doctor and didn't cry at all when she listened to his lungs and examined his nose and ears and mouth. (Verdict: pink eye and right-side ear infection. More antibiotics. Thank you day care!) At the end of the visit I asked him "do you have a 'thank you' for Dr. Tammy" and he smiled and signed "thank you" right away. So sweet.

Will's parents have Liam tonight because I have to leave at about 4:45 tomorrow morning for a work trip. I miss him. I'm also happy to have taken a nice hot bath without any fear of interruption and be now settled down to (finally) update this space and watch my new favorite TV show, which is, unexpectedly, about cars. You can check it out here.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Low tech video chat

We couldn't get the high tech version to work, so these pictures are of Liam talking to Grandpa DM in the hospital. He continues to recover very well and may be able to come home this weekend. Yay!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

We are not disappeared

just quiet. It's been a busy and not busy few weeks and I seem to have fallen thoroughly out of the habit of updating this space. We're all fine. Will continues to feel okay and has even been able to get out rowing occasionally. My work is distressingly slow when means (if I'm lucky) it will really pick up and I'll spend the rest of the year climbing out of the hole created by the first part of the year. Oh the joy of billing by the hour. Liam is good, growing like a weed and starting to experiment with new sounds and, even more, with running and climbing. The weather has been crazy. Those are the highlights, I think.

Grandpa DM is recovering very well from fairly major surgery -- I stopped by the hospital to visit him today and he looks great. We're hoping and praying that this continues and that he is home soon (maybe this weekend). Auntie Chris is visiting and impressing us all with her energy and patience with driving back and forth, here and there, and generally being her practical, helpful self.