Friday, February 27, 2009

Don't Take It Personally...

An Update on My Silence

Now that we're at the end of February, I guess Chef and I have been performing at 150% for a full month now. Our kitchen is staffed by three...well, it's supposed to be. Our third team member has failed us, er, bailed on us, in order to pursue, well, maybe I should hush now and just say that we cannot, at this time, fill the position as it still belongs to said person. So Chef and I are shouldering the burden of three full-time employees on our two (somewhat weakened) backs.

Please forgive my lack of communication with you, here and otherwise. I'm not keeping up with anyone or anything (though I did manage to pay bills a couple of mornings ago).

All signs point to the likelihood of March following much the same pattern. The weary that follows me home is palpable...and has a bad aftertaste to boot.

Oh, did I mention that the insomnia is back?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Make or Break

This evening, I had to tell someone I couldn't continue our relationship. When it began, I took the stance that I wasn't prepared for a serious something. Somehow it became an exclusive togetherness and, not surprisingly, after awhile, I freaked. Granted, many things in my life are tumultuous right now. Most notably, work, where I'm putting in extra hours whilst a co-worker feigns injury...oh yeah, and that whole pesky pending divorce thing.

Anyway, I was tormented today, knowing I needed to tell my friend (and I mean that with all my heart) that I wasn't capable of giving him me right now. We spoke. I said it in almost those exact words. And he understood. Then he brought some things to light about me that I've overlooked/swept under the rug/ignored.

I've chalked a lot of good things that have happened in my life to luck or happenstance or good universal vibrations. He pointed out that I busted my ass for these things. My perfect job? Sure, the story is great. But I worked for it. I sought employment for months before that happened. My perfect house? Seemed too good to be true...out jogging, getting lost, tah dah! Not really. I looked. I might've even begged a bit. I made it happen. And the way I make ends meet? That's almost amusing. But I'm ultimately responsible for me and have more power than I've previously given myself credit for.

Deep down, I like to think that I know this about myself. I've proclaimed to be smart and strong more than once. Maybe even out-loud. But I don't know how much of the new-me believes it. The old-me is a rather powerful saboteur and has a habit of throwing pebbles and rocks and the occasional boulder to keep new-me from feeling good about herself. And many of you, my treasured friends, have told me these things over and over. But it's good to hear. Again.

So in the end, I'm feeling confident that I've gained yet another wonderful friend who lifts me up and respects me and makes me feel great about myself (much like you do). And I'm left with a little more time to address New Year's Resolution #1. Figuring out what the heck I'm going to be when I grow up. Because good things come to she who busts her ass to create a fabulous life.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hungry for Adventure

As of Sunday I had worked 19 of the previous 21 days. Pair that with sole parental care of my Three Little Diggs for most of the last two weeks and my mental state was somewhere in the realm of (whole wheat) toast. But that wasn't going to stop me from savoring my subsequent free days.

I was extraordinarily blessed over the weekend by Big Sis. She left her warm bed before 4:00 a.m. on Saturday to drive across this long, boring state and help supervise the young 'uns while I worked my long weekend. We had a nice visit each of her evenings here, though I think I snoozed off mid-sentence more than once. Isaac had a sleepover with a friend and his dad observed Sis and I, deciding that if the two of us were intermingled at a table with several others, most wouldn't guess us to be sisters. There are a couple of physical similarities, but our personalities are starkly different, along with our political leanings and spiritual paths. All of this being true, we still get along fairly fabulously -- especially in the company of wine.

On Monday I didn't work so we hit the town, kids in tow, to seek culinary treasure. Despite our differences, we both are irresistibly drawn to interesting foods and kitchen treasures. We stopped at The Better Cheddar, a gourmet shop sampling wonderful cheeses as well as chocolates, sauces and whatnot. Then to Taj Mahal (no passport necessary) for a phenomenal Indian buffet for lunch. After a generous fill-up, we headed to Phoenix for teas, Costco for wine and more cheese then to the River Market area to a restaurant supply store (we both needed half-sheet pans) and across the parking lot to Planters, a unique seed and spice shop. The kids tolerated us to some degree, but we had to abandon our field trip after that to set them free to roam the backyard in the (cool) sunshine. It was a rather full day, bookended with spinning class before sunrise and yoga in the evening.

She scooted back across the state early this morning. It was a fun visit and I'm glad she was willing and able to help me while Martin was out of the country. And I realized as I was driving my slightly bruised minivan through the city that in the last few months I've done enough gallivanting about town that I have a pretty good grasp of how Kansas City is put together. Sad that it took me more than five years to find the confidence to venture out, but it made yesterday's culinary quest all the more delicious.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Haitian Relation

As mentioned in rather quick passing in my previous post, Martin is in Haiti.

I can only give you a vague reason why as I don't know much for details. He was hired by a friend who owns a P.R. firm to follow a priest around with a video camera. That's all I know.

Well, what else I know is that I'm caring for the children full-time and working full-time and sleeping part-time. Add to that some sticky complications at work and my brain is a bit on the mushy side.

But I'll manage to make the best of all of this madness. Friends, family and fun. It's how I roll.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Coincidence would be putting it mildly. . .

Last night when I picked the kids up from a friend's house (oh yeah, did I forget to tell you that Martin is in Haiti for a couple of weeks?), Audrey innocently asked if we might be able to swim this weekend. As it is my light week, I thought it wouldn't be such a big deal. We haven't been to the Y in awhile. "Probably," I replied. Then she mumbled, "I don't suppose we'll go to Great Wolf Lodge." "No," I responded. "I don't suppose."

On a seemingly unrelated note, I found a grade-school classmate just two days prior on Facebook. (Are you seeing a trend here? Addiction is a very strong word, albeit appropriate.) He had joined a just couple of days earlier and Facebook kindly suggested I might know him based on mutual friends. A few short comments were exchanged and he noted I lived in Kansas City. Saturday morning, his wall post told me he and his family would be visiting KC this weekend.

At the Great Wolf Lodge.

I didn't tell the kids right away -- I couldn't bear an entire day of, "When are we going?" and "Is it time yet?", so I led them to believe we were going to the Y for water play. Finally, I told them that we would be meeting up with an old, I mean long lost (does 23 years constitute long lost?) friend of mine and that he had four little girls. Isaac looked like someone had kicked him in the gut and was about to fuss that he wouldn't have anyone to play with when I simply asked, "When was the last time it was hard to find someone to hang out with at Great Wolf Lodge?" A priceless expression followed.

So we met up with Mike, his wife, their four daughters, and a whole slew of friends and relatives. I had a great time getting the scoop on the folks with whom I spent the years spanning 1978-1984. I don't attach myself to any "hometown," but I lived in Logan longer than any other. It was wonderful to hear that most of my 15 classmates are doing remarkably well and it seems as though Mike is some kind of Keeper of the Flame for all things good and otherwise in Logan, Kansas.

I'm not sure if this post is more about Audrey's prophetic utterance or the oddity that is the remarkable timing of it all. I think I'll simply chalk it up as another precious piece of my perfectly charmed life.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Super Fantastic Happy Monkey Giveaway #1

Surely you don't think I came up with that on my own, do you? Hardly Mountain of Laundry-esque. I just wanted to let you know that my sweet artist friend Alex is giving a precious piece of her artwork to someone -- maybe even you -- just for popping by her site and leaving a comment. It's a fun place, and after just a few weeks, her readership far surpasses mine. . .but I'm not jealous or anything.

Perhaps I'll do a drawing for prize here too. Like a flat tire. I tend to keep a spare one of those at the ready.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Spare Change

While scrolling through my blog recently, I came to the realization that Mountain of Laundry has become little more than a forum for self-deprecation...and an occasional recipe. It appears I chronicle an awful lot of ridiculous episodes -- which would seem to mean that I experience an inordinate number of them. I'd like to think that most everyone has their fair share of foibles and missteps, but seeing them here in print -- big ones like cars attempting to drive themselves through my house and amateur thumb dissection -- go far in making me look like a ditz. And there are plenty of lesser events like running out of gas and showing up to a party a day late or even ruining the aesthetics of a pie by dropping frozen vegetables on it that might indicate that I'm not playing with a full deck.

So as not to confuse or disorient you, fair reader, with a personal triumph or inspirational story, I will continue in my bumbling ways and tell of yet another tale of ineptitude for your entertainment (and self-esteem).

Today I picked up part of a shift and was driving over shortly before 2:00. I had been running errands earlier in the day, stopped at home to make a phenomenal green curry from my overflowing vegetable supply and headed out before realizing I was wearing not-kitchen shoes. I was closer to work than home and was considering stopping at a thrift store to grab a pair, but first I thought I should update my Facebook status so as to alert all of my "friends" of my silliness ( seems I enjoy making a fool of myself to the masses). So I pulled out my handy dandy phone and started typing. What did you say? I should not text while driving? Pish-posh. I'm invincible. Ka-Thunk!

I hit a curb. I ripped out the sidewall of my tire -- my less-than-a-year-old tire. I limped the car into the nearest parking lot, stopped the van and then updated my status to "Jennifer has a flat tire." I put in a quick call to Chef to alert him I was running late, found a pair of gloves and stepped out to change the tire. Amazing how quickly I moved in 25 degrees. It took me thirteen chilly minutes to finish the job only to discover that the spare was flat. I called Chef again. He came armed with an air compressor from work, but the spare was toast. We loaded the original flat into his truck and headed to a used tire shop that I googled while waiting for my rescue (see, the phone has its merits when used properly), had a new tire put on the wheel, returned to the van, replaced it and we were at work cooking and cleaning by 3:15.

Let me tell you...I'm glad this all happened. I believe this to be a gentle nudge from the Universe that I need to put down the phone while driving. I could have just as easily hit a car or a dog or a child. I also feel remarkably fortunate that I didn't experience a flat with the dud of a spare while traveling with the kids, while it was sleeting or on a dark highway far from civilization. And as Chef and I have already shared more than one misadventure, I'm feeling remarkably assured that this will most certainly not be our last. I've got to keep you coming back here somehow, right?

Monday, February 2, 2009

And the Beet Goes On. . .

I've had a hankerin' for beets for the last few weeks. My body knows it's winter and the time is right for some tasty betanin (a phytochemical that's thought to bolster immunity). I've never prepared them, and haven't even eaten them since I was a kid. I remember home-canned jars of them lining the basement walls. I wasn't a fan then. Why on earth would I want them now?

Because they're earthy. Add to that healthy, low-calorie and red and you've got a winning combination in my book.

A few weeks ago, I picked up two small bunches at the market. Then life happened. And they turned to sad mush in my fridge (there's a reason folks use root cellars). Today being my day off, I needed a grocery fix. My fruit stash had made a run for the border and my icebox -- though far from bare -- needed a little boost. While at the store, I once again spotted the beets. I picked up a single bunch and promised myself I'd eat them. Today.
No surprise here. . .I used a recipe from my latest issue of Eating Well. Warm Beet & Spinach Salad. It came together in about half an hour and was absolutely delightful. There's none left for sharing, so I'll scout more beet ideas and share them with the kids when they're here later this week. I can promise they'll be better than the specimens from the glass jars of my childhood.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Rambler

Having fought on both sides of "The Mommy Wars," I feel rather qualified to weigh in on some of the pros and cons that the mothers of America face in their own personal battles. From time to time, I hope to cover my observations here. A point that I hadn't considered before made itself apparent in the previous week and I feel it is my duty to share my opinion.

Score one for the working moms: Paid sick days.

Oh, never mind. I'm not taking sides here. But it just dawned on me that in my previous life, no matter what ailed me, I was unable to relinquish my duties, let alone be paid to recover.

Last Wednesday I began losing my voice. I wasn't feeling remarkably icky (good news: icky passes spell check), but it was out of the norm enough for me to comment to Chef that, (and I quote) "I never get sick." By Thursday, I could barely squeak. At work again, a nurse decided to peer in my mouth, only to loudly exclaim, "Your throat looks like #@*t!", then gleefully showed me off to two others before telling me that she thought I had strep and needed to get a rapid test. Pronto.

It never would've crossed my mind that this could be any more than a mere cold. But now that the charge nurse had made her diagnosis, I couldn't pass through the hallway without being hounded as to whether or not I had made an appointment with my Dr. So I did. No strep. It was the flu.

Now again, without someone telling my how ill I was, I would've called it a cold and sipped an extra cuppa tea. What amused me most (yes, as a matter of fact, I was amused) was that this year, for the first time in 15, I agreed to a flu shot. I don't much buy into immunizations -- most certainly not the "let's take a stab at which strains might hit your region" ones, but I thought as a gesture to protect my residents who have suppressed immune systems, I would take an extra measure of care. Suffice it to say, there will be no injection (nor its accompanying bruise) next year.

Anyway. . .Chef and I agreed that it would be best that I take Friday off. Better I recover sooner than later. So Friday morning I scooted the kids off to school and came home. Not feeling too far under the weather, I tidied the kitchen, had my tea, goofed on Facebook, and started making plans for a mellow, yet productive day of rest. I took my shower, took a gander at the computer once again and basically melted where I sat. I was wiped.

A three hour nap later, plus two more hours laying helplessly in bed craving curry, I acknowledged that I was not well. It was my night with the kids so I had to pull myself together. And I did. I managed a trip to the store for milk and cilantro and whipped up a delightful green curry. I think I ate three servings and felt quite a bit better afterward. Lesson: Listen to your cravings.

Saturday I worked. Way more sitting than usual, but everyone was fed. And Sunday, more of the same. I feel pretty good now. No complaints from me. I enjoyed a few episodes of Good Eats on the computer while debilitated. The bug came and went quickly. And I got paid to nap.

I suppose I could've said, "I was under the weather and now I feel better." But then you would know that I was really sick.