Friday, December 31, 2010

Home


I hope that 2011 brings all people a safe, warm place to sleep, food enough to eat and share, work for hands and mind, and love to give and receive.   Everything is temporary -- sadness and happiness alike, none stays.  No matter the sorrow or pain, I know that we are blessed and lucky.  Happiest of new years to all visitors to this space.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy birthday to me

Today for my birthday I wanted to give you all this poem by Philip Larkin (From Collected Poems, which you should buy if you like poetry at all.); and this one by Christian Barter (From The Singers I Prefer, which you also should buy.), because the Larkin poem always reminds me of it; and this last one, which Will sent me a long time ago, just because.

Whenever Will had a high fever I would think about the Barter poem, and about how when I first sent it to Will so many years ago he wrote back immediately that it had made him cry---such a perfect description.

They are long---sorry.  If you don't like poetry don't read them, but the Larkin poem especially, I bet, will haunt you if you do.  I think of it almost daily, the perfect cautionary tale.   

The Mower
by Philip Larkin

The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
Killed.  It had been in the long grass.

I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably.  Burial was no help:

Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence
Is always the same; we should be careful

Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.

*************************
Something Else
by Christian Barter

I know a woman who calls me
every week or so when she has something
on her mind and starts by saying,
"I have something to talk about
but let's start by talking about
something else." It helps her get it out.
So I ask her how she is and she says
okay and tells me about some poet
or politician she's met and how
he wasn't at all what she expected
or about the DC weather,
the traffic jams, the dirty Metro.
Sometimes she never gets around to her point
at all, but ends by saying,
"Now I don't want to talk about it
anymore." Last week I had a fever
for four days and the world
took on a kind of flickering darkness—
it seemed so thin, so insubstantial,
not the kind of place a person could live.
This guy who came to the card game
last night, he says he dreams
of a dead friend all the time,
this friend walks out of a black alley,
walks always in a kind of shadow.
I asked him what it's like to be dead,
the guy said, fumbling a face-down card,
and he said it's not a place, heaven,
it's a feeling, the feeling of knowing
everything you never knew. Then the friend
told him one of the numbers to play
this week in Megabucks. Sometimes, though,
she does get around to what's on her mind—
a sadness for her little sister, killed
in a wreck, or a fear that we
won't see each other again, won't ever
feel whatever that was we felt when we
were making love. I don't know if we will.
I don't know if she will ever see
her little sister again except in dreams,
which is somewhere, I guess.
The number was eight.

*************************
[Anonymous poem found in Laundromat]

By accident, you put
Your money in my
Machine (#4)
By accident, I put
My money in another
Machine (#6)
On purpose, I put
Your clothes in the
Empty machine full
Of water and no
Clothes.

It was lonely.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Solstice

 

Our small solstice fire.  On the solstice we eat dinner by candle light and (starting this year) have a small fire in which we burn our hopes and wishes for the upcoming year.  Liam wished for "fish." (I have no idea where this came from.)  And then he didn't want to burn his wish. 

"Mommy, if it goes into the fire and up in the air, will it come back?"
"Well, not exactly.  We believe that if you burn your wish on the winter solstice it puts it out into the world in a very special way, so everything, everywhere will know your wish and be able to help you with it."
"I don't want to."

Okay.  So, maybe not quite the thing for a three and a half year old, especially one with his second cold in three weeks.  We taped his wish to the refrigerator.  Fish.

My sister is here.  We are trying to enjoy Christmas.  Trying to be very gentle with ourselves.  I am not sending Christmas cards.  Not yet ready to sort through the last photos and movies on the camera, or any of the other things that eventually must be done.  Not writing the thank you notes I should write, yet. Still ambushed by sadness daily -- an ad for a movie I know Will would like to see, he loved movies, a scrap of paper with a doctor's phone number, the sky in early morning, a long drive, something I know he would think was funny, something I want to ask him..

Someone wrote me and said: "we'll be thinking of you and your son as you make your lives together in this new way."  That's really what it is, it's a process of finding ourselves, our new selves, together and separately.

Will made the bowl we're using as a fire pit.  Years ago, before I knew him, he did a lot of metal work and sculpture and we're very glad to have a lot of the results -- the fire bowl included.   And we really miss Will.

(Auntie Chris lit the fire by flashlight.  A thoroughly modern solstice.)

 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A few things

This is the picture we used on Will's memorial card; he painted it years ago and it had been put away, but I found it when trying to go through all the art supplies and preserve what we can for Liam.  It seemed perfect for the card.  On the back we put one of my favorite blessings.

May the blessing of the rain be on you—
the soft sweet rain.
May it fall upon your spirit
so that all the little flowers may
spring up,
and shed their sweetness on the air.
May the blessing of the great rains
be on you,
may they beat upon your spirit
and wash it fair and clean,
and leave there many a shining pool
where the blue of heaven shines,
and sometimes a star.

Fitting since it has rained going on four inches or so around here since Friday.

This is the link to Will's obituary.  The service was well attended and lovely, so that was a relief.  My sister when home to California for a week today; she'll be back for two weeks at Christmas and then we're well and truly on our own for a while.

The family dinner after the service went okay, I hope.  No yelling or crying, so I guess that's good.  We have lots of leftover food.

The dog is taking it very hard.  She went to dog daycare and then my parents' on Friday.  Yesterday she came home lethargic and sick to her stomach.  Finally around 5:00 I took her to the emergency vet.  Pancreatitis*, they said, probably caused by stress and grief.  Rest, IV fluids, and various medications to treat pain and nausea are needed.  Fifteen hundred dollars later (late tonight or maybe tomorrow morning) she can come home to rest here.  Pray it doesn't become recurrent.  Poor dog.  I hope it doesn't make me a completely horrible person that I find it sad, worrisome, and annoying in equal measures.

*Mildly ironic because people with CF often get this, although Will never did, at least not officially.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

No better way to say it

There's nothing you can do that can't be done.
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung.
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
It's easy.

There's nothing you can make that can't be made.
No one you can save that can't be saved.
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you
in time - It's easy.  All you need is love.

There's nothing you can know that isn't known.
Nothing you can see that isn't shown.
Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be.
It's easy. 

All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.

Rest your earthly body easy John Lennon, your voice and your spirit live on and on.

Thank you everyone for your kind wishes and compassion – it means a lot to me.  Today was making of memorial cards for Will’s service.  Tomorrow is making of food for the family dinner.  Friday is the service and reception and dinner.  Saturday is two weeks.  After that is after that.

Thank you.

Monday, December 6, 2010

New bed

This was Will's hospital bed at home.  There's no easy way to think it and no good way to communicate it but to be out with it: Will died at home on November 27 at about 1:22 in the morning.  I know the time because I had been there with him for the past 48 hours or so and I had my head on his shoulder and my hand over his heart when it fluttered and stopped, fluttered and stopped, and then just stopped.  We had been giving him medication every hour through his IV port trying to ease his suffering. It had been a long two and a half days.

I woke Will's sister.  Called my sister downstairs.  She trained as an EMT (in addition to her zillion other useful skills) and confirmed what I already knew.  We called Will's parents. They came over (I think they had left only hours before).  We called the funeral people.  They came over.  Turns out they are neighbors (about 4 houses down) and thought this would be a good time to let me know how  they had tried to buy this house too, but we had got it right out from under them.  I said, "Oh, umm, sorry?  I'm sure your house is lovely too."  They went away and took Will with them.  And now he's just gone.

What happened you might ask.  Well, nothing really and, of course, everything.  Will was in the hospital in mid-October.  His decline in lung function was continuing and he was not recovering.  He was increasingly short-of-breath all the time.  Going up the stairs became something to be carefully planned and limited to once a day, if at all.  Will didn't want to die in the hospital.  At the end of October his doctor of going-on twenty years recommended hospice care. We tried that, but they kicked us out when the medications Will needed for palliative care proved too expensive, or something.  That part is still a little mysterious to me. 

Will went back to the hospital in mid-November.  Through the grace of God and big, big efforts on the part of Will's hospital doctor (pray you are tended by this woman or her twin if you ever get sick, really sick) and his regular doctor, we got him home with put-together palliative care and all the oxygen they can put in a house on November 22.   He had really good days on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Wednesday my sister arrived.  Will sat a the table and ate dinner, played with Liam and Chris.  Planned for Thanksgiving.  On Thursday morning he started out okay, but then almost immediately called me from the kitchen to "help."  More oxygen, he said.  We turned up all the oxygen we had.  Gave the medications we knew to give.  A nurse came over.  We were all still planning at this point -- how to make this set up work as best as possible, what would Will want from the nurse over time, that type of stuff.  We thought it was just a bad morning.  But by mid-day he was getting worse, not better.  By late afternoon we had paged the hospital doctor and got new instructions, been told this was probably the beginning of the end.  Sent Liam to my parents.  Waived off Thanksgiving dinner, half cooked.

By Friday morning he had pretty much stopped talking.  By Friday afternoon he couldn't swallow at all.   More new instructions.  We gave medication through the IV port. 

I don't know what else to write.  I wish it were different.  We're planning a memorial service for Friday.  People have been amazingly kind.  Liam is steady -- happy and sad.  The worst is when he says: Mommy! We used to play [whatever] when Daddy was still alive.  No, the worst is when he asks: Mommy? Will Daddy be back in the spring?  No, the worst is when he asks:  Mommy? Does Daddy still have the big, big sickness even though he died?  No, the worst is yet to come.  His worst days are long in the future.  So we bend towards it, trying to think of what we can do now to make those days easier, more understandable for him.

I'm not sure what I'll do with this space.  There is much going on.  Much remembering of Will.  Much growing from three towards four.  We probably will be back here in some form, someday.  In the meantime, I thank anyone reading for helping me to have a space to remember what I want to remember, in the moment but also held apart.  Thank you.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tigers and bears


Liam requested a tiger costume for Halloween.   He's been pretty interested in tigers this year and has seen baby tigers at the zoo.  About a month ago (I need lots of time for these things.) we went to the fabric store and he choose the fleece.  Please don't tell him it is leopard.   He has declared it tiger.   I had a pattern that was a sort of footed pajama approach. . .you know, I bet you had something like that your mother made you for Halloween, I know we did.  Well, footed pajamas went by the way in favor of pants form a home traced pattern, made a month ago and worn weekly since, and a tiger "coat" which is the top of the pj pattern cut long and finished.  I don't know why the ears look so rabbit-y.  They are the tiger ears from the pattern, maybe I was supposed to gather the base or something.  I may fuss with the ears a little tomorrow.  It still needs the zipper and the hem, but that's it: basically done a whole week early.  Thank God.  Fleece fake fur is horrible to sew. 

Like most things I have time to make these days, it's pretty cobbled together.  The hood did not work exactly right and was big enough for me to wear (Cute too!) before I attached it to the jacket.  I'm going to have to take in the center seam with safety pins or something because it falls into his eyes, which he doesn't like.  There is no way I am ripping a seam on a fleece fur Halloween hood.  It is not going to happen, life it too short.  Other than the hood in the eyes thing, he thinks it's great.  I think the pants and jacket approach is going to be versatile. . .this way in a week when he wants to wear his tiger costume to school next week I can say "Yes!" and he won't be stuck in pjs all day. 

Will is sick; his is having an infectious flare up; and his pulmonary failure, and probably lung rejection, is progressing.  He was in the hospital a few weeks ago, home now on iv abx and inhaled abx and even though he's almost two weeks into treatment he started running a fever again yesterday.  His lung function is way down -- he's short of breath with any activity (i.e., sitting or standing up makes him out of breath), and sometimes at rest.   He's keeping it together but tired of being sick.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Our first star chart


We've been talking about getting a cat.  It's a big deal to me.  Most times the thought of being responsible for keeping another living creature alive makes me tear up.  At the same time, we are cat people.  The dog is an aberration.   I think a cat is in our (near) future.  We're looking at this one.  My only criterion so far is that it must be orange.

I got to thinking that maybe Liam could help take care of the pets.  He used to feed Mollie most mornings but the habit has fallen off lately.  So, we made our first star chart. 

As we made the chart we discussed all the ways we take care of Mollie.  Liam noted that one of the ways we take care of Mollie is by telling her to"be quiet" and "go lie down."  Oh dear.  At least he also got feeding, petting gently, and letting outside. 

Overall, the whole chart idea was pretty well received and he earned his first star by feeding Mollie her dinner tonight.   That's about it; I'll let you know how it goes.  During the making we had this exchange:

Mommy: Here's how it works, we'll put a sticker on each day that you help take care of Mollie, and at the end of a week, if there is a sticker in every day we'll have a special treat.
Liam:  Ooooohhhhh.  Like a vitamin?  I want my vitamin.

Still with the vitamins.  His favorite food. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Overdue update

 We are fine.  Busy end-of summer time.  And my work got busy for the first time all year at the same time so, you know.  Since I was last in this space we have:

Enjoyed a visit from Will's sister and her family and survived Liam and cousin K making footprints and hand prints on the back patio.  And later that week, enjoyed a visit from my sister.  Who is coming back for Thanksgiving this year, and already I can hardly wait.

Worked on our bedside manner.  He has a ways to go.  (The stethoscope is real, we have a number of them around from when Will had chemo and they would put a dedicated-to-his-germs-only stethoscope in his hospital room.  We brought them home for reasons I still don't really know.)

Played with boats.  All of them. A lot.

Hosted at least one birthday party.

Wished a lot of days would never end.  And lots of stuff I was too busy doing/enjoying to take pictures of.

We also had our pictures taken by a real photographer.  The remarkable Clane Gessel who, in addition to his regular gigs, takes photos of CF-families.  So, if, at long last you want to see what we really look like, all cleaned and photoshop-ed up, you can see Clane's pictures here.  If you are getting married or whatever, and want photos, call Clane; he's the best.

More soon.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Go to chocolate cupcakes


If someone had told me 5 years ago that I would become a person who makes chocolate cupcakes at least once a month I would have called them a liar -- totally failing to predict any of it, the rise of cupcakes as a food trend, Will, Liam, the whole thing.  And, so, here I am, a chocolate cupcake maker.

There's a story, no doubt apocryphal, about our Governor from back when she was still the Attorney General, or maybe before that.  How she would call people up at 10:00 at night to discuss this or that about whatever issue, or make sure they were going to actually wear a tie to the meetings the next day (I've heard it both ways), and all the while she was making cupcakes for something or other for her daughter.  This is not an invitation to associate, I'm not nearly as smart, and certainly not as driven or ambitious as our Governor.  I guess though the Governor and I do have that in common: we both work, we both raise a family, we both make cupcakes.  It's some kind of solidarity.

At any rate, this batch of cupcakes was made on Saturday, no late night required.  I made them while Liam was at Sand in the City with my parents; Liam and I frosted them together in the afternoon.  They were in honor of a visit from Will's sister and her family.  Liam's cousin is about 2 and I have yet to meet anyone in the 1 to 4 year old set who doesn't think a cupcake is about the world's most perfect food.

We use, exclusively, the Martha Stewart "one bowl chocolate cupcakes" and they are just great.  Not too sweet or chocolate-y, they come out right every time, you can half the recipe no problem, and they really do take only one bowl.  We make them mini-sized (half a recipe makes about 30 mini cupcakes, which is plenty) and frost them with butter cream frosting, generally in all different colors.  I credit the fact that Liam can pretty reliably predict that yellow and red make orange entirely to cupcake frosting.  Although, when I made them for Liam's school-birthday-party in June I frosted them all with white and colored sprinkles to prevent a riot over who got the last one frosted in blue or orange or whatever.

More later this week including an update, with photos, on the great house painting extravaganza of 2010.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Planes and cars



Will and Liam like to watch YouTube videos of planes, trains, big trucks, etc.  Sometimes this gets a little out of hand.  A few days ago Will made the mistake of showing Liam a video of a plane landing on a car on the freeway  (Will tells me no one is hurt and it is made up, but I haven't seen it.)  Liam was immediately obsessed and has been landing the airplanes on the little cars ever since.  Today when he wanted to watch it I told him he wasn't old enough for that video, and we had decided not to watch it anymore.  He was not happy, but I think it's better this way.  Good grief.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Nature Walk

Last Saturday Liam and I walked down our neighborhood greenbelt/trail to the new park at the beach where Liam decided to put water in his hat (inspired no doubt by this storybook where Mrs. Teaberry fills her hat with water and pours it on Tabby the cat's head to cool off on a hot day), looked at the big ship, ate a snack, and walked all the way home, picking blackberries along the way.  (So good!)  It's about a mile round trip, I'd say, and Liam walked the whole way.

This weekend we're going to do it again and may even get brave and take the dog with us; and a bucket for blackberries, I have ideas about jam.  Wish us luck!  I hope you all find a way to get outside this weekend.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Creepy Crawly

Will's family has a tradition of the "creepy crawly" which is a very nice animal unless you make it mad. 




Saturday, August 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Will

Forty-two years is a lot of years.  I'm glad to have spend this last one with you.

We had our small at home family celebration last night; the bigger party will be tonight, at Will's parents.

Ours featured a dozen balloons (I thought Liam's face was going to crack open he smiled so wide when he saw them in the car), all of the little animal candles we could find, steaks, and summer vegetables.  A few small gifts.  Liam choose to give Will Tinker Toys ("maybe Daddy will share them with me") which was okay, since they both really do enjoy playing with them. 

Will's been not feeling great lately, but remains pretty stable all told.  I'll post a real update about all that sometime soon.

Liam gave the Tinker Toys right away, as soon as we walked in the door, but the other presents were given after dinner.  Liam helped Will open all the presents -- and then he decided he might try to read to Will from one of his new books.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

In the evening we play in the yard & Liam channels house painters


Truly, I don't know what we did before the great yard makeover.  Liam is out in the yard continuously.  Tonight it was a lot of walking on the logs and, as usual, swinging. 

Painters start on the house tomorrow.  We have been saving for this since we moved in three years ago.  A long time coming.  I hope it looks better than great when it's done.  Tonight we were talking with Liam about the painters and it went like this.

Me: Liam the painters are going to start working on the house tomorrow.
Liam: Whyyyy?  Who?
Me: To make the house look nice.  The head painter's name is Murph.
Liam: I'm Murph, I'm a painter.
Me: Hi Murph.
Liam: (I'm not making this up) Sorry!  Sorry, we're running a little late.  That's right. We're running a little late.  We're not going to paint the house today.  We'll paint it tomorrow.

Thanks Murph.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Get the preschooler to the table on time


Updated: I checked back to this time last year; Will has been feeling pretty sick this week and I was trying to remember when he started getting sick last year.  (A: exactly this time, pretty much to the day.)  I was reminded how much Liam has changed in a year.  Last year he was still using half sign language and some half-words for talking.  Now, it's more words than you can shake a stick at and just this past weekend I asked him if he remembered how he used to say "more"  and "please" when he was a baby and he had no idea what I was talking about; I had to show him the signs.  Every time I get the notion to stop this writing I'm reminded how nice it is to be able to look back.

I've decided Liam is a preschooler now.  I think; now that he's three.  At any rate.  One of my (many) struggles as a (working-full-time-outside-the-home) parent is getting dinner to the table on time and then getting Liam to the table to eat it without an epic struggle.  Remembering that 5:15 pm is not the time of day when I am at my highest and most mindful best, it often goes something like this:

Me:  Liam, dinner is almost ready, 5 minutes, please wrap up what you're doing.
Liam: (Ignores) or "I'm playing! I'm playing! I'm playing!"
Me: Okay, finish up your playing and get ready to take a break for dinner.
Me: Liam, 2 minutes until dinner, get ready please.
Liam: No, no, no, no, no; I don't want to eat.  I'm playing.
Me: Well, we're going to eat dinner, so wrap it up please.
Me: Liam, dinner time, it's on the table, come on.
Liam: (Crying fit.)

Last week the child developmental specialist I see to help us know how best to talk with Liam about Will's sickness and hospitalizations suggested something I should have thought of on my own, that we give Liam a dinnertime ritual to help him transition from play to the table.  (Her first idea has always been: almost no kids this age eat dinner at the table; don't fight it, this is a battle for when he is five.  But, since dinner at the table is one of the only parenting outcomes Will has requested, I told her we had to try.)

So, Friday, we started "candle time."  Now our conversations go more like this:

Me: Liam, almost dinner time, 5 minutes, please finish up what your doing so you can get the candles out.
Liam: Is it ready? Is it on the table? Is it time?  Daddy, Daddy, will you help me get the candles?

Seriously.  I don't know if it will stick, but so far it's about that good a transformation.  We still have trouble keeping him at the table, but now at least we can get him there.  We use these candles given to us by Will's sister.  Liam loves them more than words can express. The giraffe has already been glued twice. 

Tonight's dinner was a weeknight favorite featuring leftover chicken: quesadillas.  They are the easiest thing to make.  Get some flour tortillas (we use whole wheat), thinly slice some cheese (we use cheddar or monterey jack or whatever is around), slice some green onion and some tomato if you have it.  Shred up the leftover chicken.  Make a tortilla sandwich with the chicken, cheese, etc.  Pan fry/grill (use very little oil and only a medium hot pan) until golden and melt-y.  Serve with sour cream for the non-calorie-counting set and a side of whatever vegetables you have around (tonight green beans and carrot sticks; often it's black beans and sauteed squash).  Totally toddler approved.  Will likes them too.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Learning the Aunts

I have this photo from my mother's wedding up in our guest-sewing-art-room/office.  It generally has lived on my desk and this is as close to a desk as I have at this house, so.  It has me and Auntie Chris, and my mother (of course), and her two sisters in it; and boy do we all look alike.  (Well, it was a bunch of years ago now, so none of us really look like that anymore, but, whatever.)  Liam is fascinated with it.  A few months ago he undertook to learn all the names.  He'll get there eventually.  My favorite is "Auntie Grandma."

Rainy day today -- makes me think that winter with a 3-year-old is going to be L. O. N. G.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

People are sweet & you can help

I got this message (as part of a longer message) from someone I went to high school with and recently re-found on Facebook. 
"I just remembered something I wanted to tell you.  At our food Co-op, there are these jars.  If you bring your own bag, you get a bean to put in a jar.  There are various and sundry jars, each bean represents a donation the Co-op will make to whichever jar: Humane Society, Food Bank, and the like.  There's one for CF research, and A [her daughter] always always puts her beans in there.  I've told her about your family, and she wants to help."
Thank you S and A.  That does help.  Every one who raises awareness and everyone who gives towards research for a cure helps.  Everyone who brings dinner, or walks the dog, or drives to doctors appointments or the hospital, or babysits, or offers their thoughts and intentions helps.  It all helps.  Thank you.

*****************
In other news, Frank Deford (NPR sports commentator) the other day did a story in which he touched on presumed consent.  This is a policy where, upon death, people are presumed to agree to transplantation of their organs unless they have left specific instructions otherwise.  It's a good idea.  In the meantime, please register to become an organ donor and make your intentions known to your family.  That helps too. A lot.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Grilled Pizza!


We are eating a lot of pizza made on the grill these days.  It started a few weeks ago and shows no signs of slowing down.  Seems like on all the mom-being/home-making/child-raising blogs I read they are grilling pizza these days, so we're in (really) good company.   See, for example, here, and here

Here's how we do it, the full-time-working-mother-has-to-have-dinner-on-the-table-fast way. 

On Saturday or Sunday (or Monday night, or whenever but not the day we want to eat the pizza), we make the dough.  I use the basic pizza dough from Mark Bittman, basically.  It works just fine.  Three cups flour (I use 1 white 2 whole wheat), 1 tsp yeast, some glugs of olive oil (probably 1/8 - 1/3 a cup, this is more than Bittman calls for) and 1 to 1 1/4 cup warm water.  Mix all the dry ingredients, including the yeast.  Add 1 cup water and the oil.  Add enough more water to make a dough.  Kneed until smooth and let rise.  Punch it down and put it in a plastic bag in the fridge until you're ready to use it.  We don't add salt (Will's mom is low salt), but  Bittman says you should.  It works best if you take it out of the refrigerator as soon as you decide you're going to grill pizza, so it starts to warm up a little before you have to work with it.

When you're ready to make them, get the grill really hot.  We make these individual sized.  Pull off hunks of dough about the size of a baseball and stretch them out.  Because you used some extra olive oil in the dough and the grill is smoking hot, no need to oil.   Put them on the grill.  Turn down the heat to medium high.  Let them cook until the bottom is done and the edges are starting to firm up.  Flip them.  Now you're looking at a cooked side and the raw side is down on the grill.  Top with sauce, cheese, etc. and drizzle with just a little good tasting olive oil. Put  the grill lid down for a few minutes until everything on top of the pizza looks melt-y and the bottom is cooked and, voila, you're done!  I guess it's more flat bread with toppings than pizza. 

We've been sticking pretty close to tomato sauce from a jar, fresh mozzarella and/or ricotta, and basil.  Sometimes we add caramelized peppers and onions.  I have an idea that smoked salmon, corn, goat cheese and basil also would be really, really good, but we haven't tried that yet. 

These will be good no matter what you do.  Trust me.  I have screwed up the making of this pizza every way possible.  Grill too hot: done that, you get more char than you want, but it's still really good.  Grill not hot enough: done that, you get less char than you want, and it takes a while to cook, but it's still really good and everything melts perfectly.  Forget that you have to flip the pizzas over and put the sauce on the raw side.  Embarrassing, but you can flip them anyway and the sauce just chars a little.  Still really good.  They are so, so much better than any pizza you will ever make in your oven, I promise, you really should try this. 

Liam pretty much likes them, although his excitement about the prospect of eating pizza surpasses his actual consumption so far. 

Because it's summer we pretty much always have the following in the fridge: sauteed zucchini leftover from dinner past, barely cooked green beans good for snacking, carrot sticks.  Put one or all of these on the plate with the pizza.  Liam eats a lot of carrot sticks. Salad is good too if you have time to make it!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

We shall not be moved

Music for small children as far as I can tell is an interesting mix of some new songs and A LOT of old and older songs and nursery rhymes.  On account of this, Liam comes home singing some interesting choices.  Lately, we've been hearing a lot of  "We Shall Not be Moved."  It's pretty interesting; it's an old, old song that has been picked up and used so well by so many.  As a spiritual, as a civil rights anthem, as a call to action for fair treatment of all kinds.

Here's a part of Liam's version:


And here's a completely beautiful version by Mississippi John Hurt -- really, you should listen to this, it has some of the sweetest, simplest finger-picking guitar you'll ever hear.

The classic Mavis Staple version, used here as a soundtrack to documentation of the people fighting for fair treatment and elections in Iran.  Striking.

I gotta say, I think he could be coming home singing worse things.

In other news: the next new music we're going to buy for Liam is this CD right here, and I don't know about him but I can't wait to hear it.  In the TMI department, if I could pick anyone of all time to sound like when I sing, it would for sure be Nathalie Merchant.

First Peach


If you're lucky, when you return home from a long day east of the mountains, after a 4-hour drive, you will find that the farm-stand just outside of Cashmere sold you some perfect peaches.  And you will get to introduce your 3-year old to eating a perfect peach -- leaning over the counter, juice dripping.  And after that, you can wash up and go straight to bed.

We've got colds here -- I think Will had it last week, Liam and me now, so we may be a little quiet.  Nothing too bad, just a summer cold.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Why we buy toys. . .


I do not know.  Really, a pillow and an imagination is all that is needed.  This photo is from a few weeks ago (when we were still having our cold, cold, rainy pre-summer).  I can't remember who Liam was pretending to be -- he likes to be "Pilot Joe" who drives the seaplane that lands occasionally at the dock across the channel from my parents' house or assorted other people from his daily life -- only that the pillow was the funniest of hats, ever. 

Lately, still, he is being a bat, wearing a blue hooded puppy-dog towel "my blue bat fur" and flying around the house with his mouth open catching bugs. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Go to sleep


Stay tuned. . .we're working on a project.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Table

When Auntie Chris was here at the end of July, one of the many things she did was build us this remarkable patio table and benches. I've had the plan for this table "sturdy picnic table in a weekend from dimensional lumber" torn from a Sunset Magazine for at least 10 years. I can save stuff -- no fooling.

Auntie Chris made it very beautiful. She chose all the wood -- ceder -- carefully for straightness and interest. She sanded everything a lot. She tried out different combinations for the table top to get one that made the best use of the grain and knots. She finished the top so it will stay clear and the legs to let them weather to ceder gray. She patiently, patiently encouraged Liam to help her set the pegs in the top.

It's built like a bomb shelter and now officially the place we're all going to run to when the next big earthquake comes. (It's only a matter of time.) Takes two grown-ups to lift, our table.

We love our table and love the love and skill with which it was made. We inaugurated it this weekend and the only sad part was that Auntie Chris was back at rocket-scientist school and couldn't be there. We can't wait to eat lots and lots of meals outside for the next 50 years. Hopefully most of them with Auntie Chris in attendance.

Monday, July 12, 2010

How to see bats, sort of

To see bats, you have to live in a place where bats also live. Luckily, bats live in most places. We have a big colony of bats around here. Then you have to get the notion to go look at the bats. This happens when Mommy reads in the newspaper that the local bat researcher gives talks about the bats once a month down by the lake and carries around a little machine that slows down bat speech so it can be heard by humans. Get really excited about the idea. Get even more excited when Mommy says that GoGo (grandpa DH) will meet us there to see the bats too.

Stay up to way past your bed-time before you even leave to see the bats. Finally, about 8:45 pm go down to the lake. Park the car. Wait for the bats to come out.

Talk with a lot of people while you wait. Tell all of them that your are going to see bats. (They know this already because they also are waiting for the bats to come out, but most people play along really nicely.) Have I mentioned that our little town is also the state capital? It is.

Keep waiting. The bats are kind of late tonight.

More waiting. It's not clear the bats read the newspaper article about the bat talk. They may not be coming.


Check out the bat habitat while you wait. Bats eat bugs. Bugs fly around over the lake. Our bats fly 16 miles round trip from where they (mostly) live to the lake every night to feed.

Get really tired. Look at Mommy like she is crazy when she tries to show you a bat flying around. Smile and agree when Mommy says they are really small and really fast. Pretend you see the bat so you can all go home.

In the car on the way home admit that you really didn't see a bat. But Mommy did! Which is very good! And you can look at videos of bats on the computer. Decide to try again in September when dark comes earlier.

PS -- Liam has been being a bat ever since this (sort of lame) outing on Saturday night. He runs around the house "going really fast" and has learned to swim his arms in the air just like bats fly. He demands to be addressed as "bat" as in "that's really fast, bat!"

Friday, July 9, 2010

Water play


Liam and I stopped and bought a sprinkler on the way home from school/work today. He was super-excited about the idea of running through it, but turned out to be not totally happy that he had to get wet. He'll grow into it I guess. Happy weekend everyone. Boy those 4-day work weeks seem long for some reason.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I love you; I love your hair

Liam turned 3 a few weeks ago. A summer baby; born on the eve of the solstice. At three he is still a sweet, sweet little boy -- not a baby, he'll tell me, as if I could forget. But also trying to figure out people and what works and what doesn't. He likes his candy-flavored vitamins (what a mistake) and will tell me "I need an extra vitamin; I'm having a rough day" or "I need vitamin to help me." And the fit he has when I explain for the 147th time that vitamins are medicine and he can only have one a day, well, it's something to see. But he rallies and will then try: "Okay Mommy, how about chocolate cookie." Sweet boy; sweet tooth.

The baby boy at three also says, for reasons I do not know: "I love you; I love your hair." He says this most often to Will: I love you Daddy; I love your hair. He repeats things he hears; puts them together in new ways.

He wants to swing high and higher on the swings and will say "I want to remember that this is an airplane." He wants to be friends with Mollie the dog; he wants her to play with him. He starts swimming lessons next week and is beyond excited, although today before bed he said to me "GoGo will stay with me at swimming, right Mommy?" (A: yes, he will be with you the whole time.)

He has decided that he wants to be rocked to sleep again. When he asks for something he thinks I'll say no to he whispers. So when I say: how do you want to go to sleep tonight Liam? He whispers "rock, rock." I don't mind. He's figured out a way to tuck his little head up beside my arm so I can feel it pressing against my lower ribs just where it sat pressing for the whole last trimester of our pregnancy. He snuggles in and sighs and goes straight to sleep.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sparkler


Auntie Chris leaves us tomorrow and we're already sad. Actually, I haven't told Liam yet because I'm afraid he will cry and I want to give him as much time as possible not worrying about what he can't change before we tell him. Three is tough that way; so far I think of it as the age of obsession with every little thing, especially worrisome or unwelcome things.

Besides making every single thing nicer and more pleasant just by being around Auntie Chris (with help from Grandpa SuperDave): put in a new sink and new toilet in the bathroom upstairs, replacing the 1902 models (no fooling) that came with the house; powerwashed and primed the fence (Grandma and I helped with that too); assisted with the big yard makeover including all the skilled labor (wisteria trellis; pea trellis) and much of the unskilled; and, all by herself, built the most beautiful patio table and benches ever (photos of this later). She also thought to buy the perfect fireworks, just the right speed for a three-year old, that even got his father out of the house to enjoy himself for a little while.

She never stops helping out in her good-sported-way. As I type she's over at Grandma and Grandpa's helping them let off fireworks with Grandchild K, an only slightly pre-teen boy visiting from California for the week.

PS - yes, Liam's shirt says "next stop, mars." In her spare time, Auntie Chris is a helicopter pilot and a rocket scientist. No fooling.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Swing


We've been doing a lot of this lately. Auntie Chris made Liam a swing as part of the great yard makeover. She was in charge of all the skilled work. I moved dirt, and wood chips, and gravel.

Happy three-day weekend everyone!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Well, that was strange. . .


I didn't mean to be gone from this space and from blog-land for almost a month. We've been busy, taken on a big yard clean-up project. Other projects. Work. My sister has been visiting for the past few weeks. At any rate. Hi. I'm going to try to be back here a little bit. I have lots of pictures stored up to share.

Today, as a little gift to you all, I submit the perfect egg to milk ratio for quiche. I made these relatively recently for a friend's spouse who was just dx with breast cancer. (Stupid cancer.) It's easy. You should have a stack of these in the freezer for the next time you don't want to cook.

I believe in all butter pie crust, use your favorite one. I use the Martha Stewart one and it always works. Put it into the tart shells and put them in the fridge to chill while you prepare the fillings. I like tomato, rosemary and feta (pictured). Also bacon, pepper and a little cheese. Other things are good too.

Get the oven ready. You want a 375 degree oven and with a sheet tray large enough to hold all your mini-quiches in the oven heating up. For real, the hot sheet tray is important.

Mix up the eggs and milk. The best ratio is 1/3 cup milk to every egg and mix it up good. I've used a lot of egg to milk ratios over the years, and this is the one that always works. Use 2% milk or better. I use whole milk because we have it on hand for Will. It's not diet food, this stuff. Pour the egg mixture over the fillings. Then, quick, quick, get your filled cold mini-quiches onto your hot sheet pan in the oven. Cook about 30 minutes or until they're done. Don't under cook.The hot sheet pan ensures a brown crispy bottom of the quiche. Essential if you're going to pop these out of the little pans and freeze them to take one-by-one into the office for lunch, which I recommend.

They freeze like a dream and can be thawed in the fridge overnight and heated in a toaster oven or thawed/heated in a microwave.

See you all soon.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Waterfall


Liam is fascinated with waterfalls. We have a local waterfall/river with a walking path around it that he goes to pretty much once a week.

I don't think I have many pictures of Liam's room here, but as he gets older he likes to play up there more and more. This weekend, the rain being unrelenting, he made his own indoor waterfall from blue blanket and slid down it. Over and over. "Look Mommy! Look! A waterfall!"

Still with the cold here today. . .Liam is much better except for a tendency towards crankiness and a hacking cough. Will has contracted Liam's cold and feels awful: can't catch his breath, terrible cough, O2 sats way down. His PFTs were way down in clinic yesterday, which is always super upsetting, so he's got that going on too. He feels bad enough that he's talking about going back to the hospital tomorrow to be admitted. . .which means he feels pretty bad. We hope today was the bottom of it and he starts to feel better tomorrow.

Waterfall.