Wednesday, July 30, 2008

When Irish Eyes are Smiling

As I watched my marriage unravel over the last couple of years, I considered the lifetime of lonely that was to follow. For more than a decade, I claimed that if something happened to Martin (never acknowledging that something might happen to the relationship), I wouldn't pursue another love interest. I figured I'd heard enough friends bark about what pains in the asses their husbands were, that in fact, all men were the same. Why bother getting another model of the same lemon?

Then several months of lifeless matrimony passed and I realized that I could probably put up with some pain-in-the-ass in exchange for an occasional reasonably-good-time and perhaps a now-and-then kiss or two. When I suggested to Martin that we date others because we were clearly not going to fix what we had, I figured I'd goof around a bit at the bars with my girlfriends, maybe meet a couple of fellows who would turn out to be just like all of the others, then burn out like my other single friends -- followed by the aforementioned lifetime of lonely.

But my script has been hijacked. Though the potential for long term singlehood will always exist, and I did meet more than a couple of slouches who confirmed my hypothesis, it seems I have found -- or have been found by -- someone who makes me beam so obviously that it can be heard over the phone. I want to shout from the rooftop that I am deliriously smitten and happy and grateful to know Wasabi. There are many reasons that I feel this way, but today he showed me a sweetness that I've never before known. And now that loud smile has made it all the way up to my slightly-damp eyes.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

On the Fringe

When I heard about the Fringe Festival a year ago, I envisioned quirky performance art like women shaving their heads, rolling in paint then weeping for 40 minutes. Wasabi Boy suggested we attend this year's event and as I trust his judgement (and really, what's the harm in watching two men stare at newspapers while wearing galoshes and clown noses?), I happily agreed, found a babysitter and we hit the town.

The first show we chose was the Bric-a-Brac Vintage Vagabond Variety Show and it was remarkable. It reminded me of my Renegade days (oh, if only I could link to that!) but happily didn't leave me longing to take the stage. I do, however, want to learn to play the bass now. That will have to take a back burner. . . Wasabi & I left really impressed and excited to see our next venue, The Alley Cat Revue, a delightful burlesque show that was equally impressive. I initially questioned the necessity of an Elvis impersonator dressed as a circus clown doing cheap magic tricks, but in the end it seemed to work. We then hit our last event of the night, a performance of Dances of India. It was good, but dragged on a bit and quite frankly, made us hungry for Korma Sutra.

While out on our date, we ran into a couple of acquaintances. Martin's best friend, Rossanna was at the burlesque show and a pair of Wasabi's friends who knew he and his ex- were at the dance performance. It was first a bit awkward, and then refreshing to be "outed" of sorts. Martin had told Rossanna of my new relationship as she and Wasabi have actually gone out once. And as for the other couple, well, they've not taken sides in the separation of their friends and it didn't seem they were uncomfortable with the notion of Wasabi out with a new woman. Kansas City is fairly small. Neither of us were surprised to bump into those we knew. Could it have been more dramatic? Sure. And we'll leave it at that.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

. . .and the horse you rode in on. . .

Big Sis did a marvelous job of documenting my children's week at Camp Fulton Manor. Though I'll resist posting all 67 photos she gave me, along with the dozen or so that I took, I'll start with these three collages. . .

Catching toads, playing with Ringo, holding Basil while walking Dutchess, and playing with Slim


Riding Jet (who would later betray him), the eggs he gathered daily, climbing the rock wall treadmill at the Y, and the aftermath of being bucked off of Jet


Digging the kid-size treadmill at the Y, riding Dutchess led by Cousin E, where her tooth used to be, and playing with Most-Fun-Uncle

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Labor of Love

I'm being paid to do something I love.

I was mid-lasagne -- chopping onions and garlic (and my fingertip), building a sauce from scratch and blending cheeses when I realized how fulfilling my new job is. And though the occasional meal is a festival of fried goods with little or no creativity required on my part, most of what I'm making is inspired and delicious.

On Saturday, Chef and I headed to the Farmer's Market to choose vegetables and spices for the week. We were giddy looking about at local and unusual produce. The smell of fresh peaches and canteloupe wafted from the kitchen while I incorporated corn, tomatoes and herbs from nearby farmers into today's entrees.

So despite the tired that is draped over me after seven consecutive workdays, I'm gratified that I will return in three days to baste and broil for an appreciative public.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Silent Night

The kids are gone. I don't miss them.

Does that sound bad? It's not that I don't love them. I know I will see them again very soon. But you must remember that in nearly 13 years of motherhood, I've had approximately three days away from the children. That's 4,672 days of parenting less three in Portland. A vacation is surely in order. A working vacation, that is.

And I don't have a problem with that.

When I call to check in on the kids, Big Sis will ask if they want to speak to me and twice, Audrey's reply has been, "About what?" They're having a fabulous time. I only hope that the rest of the summer can compare to the adventures they're having at Fulton Manor. Today they went to the zoo and swimming. Isaac has taken over egg collecting duties. Audrey is enjoying Big Sis's cooking. Emily, well, I'm sure she's breaking some kind of Nintendo Pokemon records. I know they all three spent an evening catching toads. There have been fireworks. And they've been promised at least one more visit to the owl barn. My children are not missing me.

An unfortunate ongoing theme for me has been another string of nights with insomnia. I think, (though my memory is fuzzy at best) I've enjoyed reasonable sleep one out of the last six nights. So tonight when I returned home from work -- with no evening plans -- I first listened to the deafening silence of my home, laid down for a few minutes, started laundry, mowed the lawn, then drank a cup of tea with a two Unisom chaser. I expect to be incoherent very very soon.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fledgling Enterprise

As planned, the crew headed over to the barn where Big Sis and family know a pair of owls reside. We were instructed that Most-Fun-Uncle would push open the door, then one, maybe two owls would fly out an open window off to the right. Keep your eyes high. This won't last long.

So as the heavy door slid across its rail, we all gathered inward and gazed upward, hoping to see a bird of prey. A bit of a racket, then a large barn owl soared across the barn then out the window. Just as promised. It was amazing to see such a majestic bird at close range. Then another! We were thrilled to have seen both. But we could still hear rustling up in the rafters. A few seconds later, a smaller, more awkward bird flew out into a rough circle and returned to its roost. Still more noise. And another startled youth attempted to drive us away. I excitedly tried to snap pictures, though my old camera labored to focus and flash quickly enough to capture the darting fledglings. We helped the kids up onto a tractor where they could have a better view of the activities. It was clear that they had not been flying long and their intruders had them flustered. We saw at least two of them bump into surfaces and disorient themselves. One managed to land face first on a wooden beam along a wall and floundered to reestablish its balance. Wings slightly downward,it resembled a moth more than the magnificent bird that was. I climbed the tractor in hopes of capturing another image or two of this remarkable sight. And I spied one resting -- perhaps trying to block out the madness of this home invasion.

We counted six babies. Though Big Sis and Most-Fun-Uncle believed the parents might have been nesting, no one anticipated witnessing such a sight. I think my Three Little Diggs saw something few city kids do. I only hope the rest of their week out west brings such wonder.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Kindly Ducks of Fulton Manor

The drive was so far from unbearable, I'm a tad embarrassed that I have not been a more frequent visitor here at Fulton Manor. Granted, working cruise control was a huge aid. And as it has been two years since I've made the drive, my children now behave at a somewhat more mature level (for the most part). Though there were rain showers for the first two hours, the overcast skies kept the car from being a rolling solar cooker. All in all, a delightful trip -- which I will be making again. Soon.

Upon arrival, I was offered dessert and wine and a comfortable chair. I gladly accepted the Apple-Port-Cheese Pie with Almond Crust and Charles Shaw Shiraz, but held off a bit on the chair. The kids were glad to see their old friend Slim, the bird dog who was included in the purchase price of the property, as well as two new cats, Basil and Ringo. And there were hens mulling around the yard playing chicken tag.

After dark, Big Sis and I went for a three mile walk around her "block." Not the hilly terrain found in my neighborhood, but gorgeous starry skies that no city can offer. Today I look forward to seeing the owls that live in one of their barns as well as taking a horseback ride. And I think I'd like to meet Darjeeling and Oolong, the kindly ducks of Fulton Manor. Somewhere there are a couple of goats, one of which Melissa refers to as "Yummy Goat," as he is slated for the dinner table in the near future.

It's a different world out here.

But my biggest adventure of the day will be the return trip home. I realized that I have never, ever driven six hours all by myself. Heck, I don't know that I've had that much time alone in any setting since college. I have my music, a couple of books on tape, and once I get back on the highway, my cell phone. Nevertheless, I might try a few minutes of silence here and there. Just to shake things up a bit.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cruisin'

For the seven years I lived in Los Angeles, I gave little, okay, no thought to cruise control. I only left the city by car a handful of times and even then, the traffic was stop and go for a good sixty miles.

But upon arriving in the Midwest five years ago, I was immediately grateful that the minivan we'd bought from Judi and Pete had cruise. My first roadtrip practically blew my mind. Seventy-five miles per hour for two hours straight. I'd completely forgotten what it was like to not ride the brake.

But all good things come to an end, right? On a trip to Chicago three winters ago, after a gas stop, the cruise control stopped too. A fluke? A fuse? I couldn't figure it out. After our return, I trouble-shot it a bit, but for the most part, I stayed in KC much like I did in LA, where I didn't think much of it while in the city. Only when I'd hit the road to see my parents or my sister would I regret not addressing the issue.

So as I will be taking the kids to Big Sis's this weekend, then returning to KC for a seven day stretch of work, then again back and forth for the retrieval of the children, my sense of dread regarding the ankle ache of a six hour drive forced me to consider having the car repaired professionally. That's a big step for me.

But first I had to give it one last try. I dug a bit around on the internet trying to pinpoint the problem. I knew it wasn't the clockspring. I knew it wasn't the switch connector. It's probably a vacuum hose. But I didn't know where to find it. And as my spare time had recently become sparse at best, I surrendered. I would take it in to the shop. So after spinning class on Wednesday, I dropped the car at the local Goodyear, despite their warnings that most cruise repairs need to be done at the dealership. I told them my diagnosis and they said they'd charge $27 for an estimate. I walked home, hoping it could be fixed within the day, and for less than a couple hundred dollars.

A few hours later, the shop called. They'd fixed it. It was a vacuum hose. And the $27 fee would cover it. I drove for three years without cruise because of a less-than thirty dollar repair.

Oh well. It fits nicely into my charmed life theory. And my upcoming cross-state drives will surely be nearly delightful.

Monday, July 7, 2008

PieSpace

A couple of weeks ago I was chatting with my friend Steve (formerly known as most-recent-nice-man-from-MySpace) and I told him I was jonesing to make a pie. He's my go-to guy when I need to bake something but don't want to eat too much of it. So at my behest, he suggested he might not mind taking a key lime pie off my hands.

I don't think it was even a day later that my perfect job came along and I was postponing delivery. Well, as today was the beginning of my three day "weekend", I found a recipe (I'd never made key lime before) and whipped up one, okay two, pies. Nearly effortless. Other than the labor of juicing those teeny little fellers, it came together in minutes.

Once chilled, the kids and I dug into one and unanimously voted it a success. Silky and sweet and tart and refreshing. A great simple summer treat -- and if you're really feeling crazy, top with a little whipped cream infused with lemon oil.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

New Math

Seven days since Martin flew to China. I'd have to say, of any week in my recent past, this was definitely one of those first day (week) of the rest of your life -type weeks.

As I mentioned, Martin left last Sunday. After dropping him at the airport, I came straight home and cleaned out his closet. No, I'm not moving him out -- just taking advantage of the space he's not utilizing. And I do feel like we, as a family, will not be long for this house once he returns. Then I lit incense, turned on music and cleaned the house. It was the most enjoyable day of housework I can recall.

Monday I made my first trip to Hope Care Center as a new employee. Got my schedule, passed my drug test with flying colors and confirmed that I am, in fact, free of felony convictions.

Tuesday I started cooking. And have been running with it ever since. Though there is much to learn, I ran the show solo from breakfast to dinner today and have a pretty good feel for the way things roll. It's a good job. At a good place. With good people.

And my big week was interspersed with wonderful visitors. Sunday our friends Bucky and Bill came from Los Angeles with their amazing daughter. Deva joined their family a year ago and has been a beautiful blessing. They are doting fathers and it was a joy to watch them in action. Bucky was front-row and center for more of my three children's early years than just about anyone. Glad to know that didn't scare him away from parenting.

Tuesday, Betsey and her brood from Cincinnati made time for the Diggs. We joined them at their hotel pool then to Blue Nile for marvelous Ethiopian food. I delight in the fact that my kids would sooner eat legumes and curries than a hamburger.

We managed to squeeze in fireworks with neighbor Teri -- actually, we lit some sparklers for the kids (it's safe to build a mini-fire in the driveway and let them feed from that, right?) and then they wandered the neighborhood to watch other folks who were more committed to pyrotechnics than she and I. But everyone had fun. We're pretty good at that.

Finally, Saturday was my really-finally-actually last day working at the new Halfy's. I had not found true joy at the new Halfy's like I had at the old one, so I was not saddened by my exit. My wardrobe, however, might suffer.

I think I'll stick with these changes for awhile. I'd like to adjust to the big stuff before I add to my plate. Though I wouldn't mind subtracting a husband.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Red Flagged

I've chatted with Martin a few times since he's been in China -- both via emial and Skype. One of his first communications included the question, "What's up with your blog?". Before I replied, I checked in with a couple of readers to be certain I was, in fact, still publishing and out there in cyberspace. And I was. Turns out, though able to read many other blogger sites, mine is apparently inaccessible from where he sits. I've heard numerous stories on NPR about the censorship of the web in China, but to know that Martin can see all of his friends' sites, but my little ol' blog is supressed makes me think I might be more exciting than I'd led myself to believe.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Working Girl

My first day at Hope Care Center as Not Your Average Cook went very well. It was quite a relief to know that it was, in fact, my perfect job. I've had a job or two over the years that seemed lovely in concept but by the end of the first shift, it was obvious that it would be employment to be endured, not enjoyed.

And I can already tell I'm going to enjoy this.

It was fun working in a different kitchen -- especially to be cooking with actual fire. Chef and I get along well and are already learning from each other. I helped with various components of both breakfast and lunch, but my big hit of the day was a carrot cake. Chef designs the menu but as cooks we can we're encouraged to take creative liberties. I'm excited to see what tomorrow brings.