The anticipated day arrives…

The Crack o’ Dawn It’s the end of yet another long month. And while many could be looking forward to a pay check, my head is in another place all together. Although I’ve never been one to turn away from what I’m due after a job well done, my payment takes a different form now.

As the end of each month nears, my anticipation builds until the day arrives. Not just any day. The designated day. I have whiled away my time and have analyzed and questioned. I’ve mulled and had a bit of angst. I have done my duty by following the protocol. And after it all, I am still left to wait. Time is the one thing I don’t seem to be able to twist to my submission.

At times, the days drag. The end of the month feels as if it couldn’t stretch any farther into the distance. But when the day arrives, like a child awaiting her birthday, I stay up until the wee hours of the night, or rise at the first light of dawn, creeping downstairs to quietly make my coffee, and then upstairs again to settle in.

To finally check on the post that has already been written and saved — saved and designated to publish at the appropriate time just in case I happen to be asleep.

I’ve waited to reveal the photos that have been planned and scrutinized, but kept under wraps.

I’ve tested my patience to find that I would either bask in the glory of success, or plummet in flames of having tried and failed.

And the day is finally here. The day that all 97 members of an uber secret virtual society can unveil the results of their latest challenge. Sounds scintillating, doesn’t it? Now you know where Dan Brown got the idea for The Da Vinci Code.
At the end of each month in an amazing number of blogs around the Bloggosphere, the same recipe appears over and over again. You notice these blogs sport odd badges in their sidebars you never really paid attention to before, and you begin to wonder…who are these people? And was this planned? How….? They hail from France, from the Southern U.S., from Ireland, Canada, Sweden, and the UK. From SoCal and San Francisco, from Ohio and from South America. They’re everywhere, and they’re quite the amazing group of kitchen zealots.

They’re the Daring Bakers. Daring Bakers Strike Again And I am one of them. Hoo-Zah!

You do know that I have currently raised my arms to exhibit my biceps, don’t you? And I’m looking for someone with whom to bump chests in solidarity…or something like that.

Okay, maybe just a high five?

A wink?

I love the anticipation of events. Anticipation is the best of everything as far as I’m concerned. And when this day arrives, with coffee in hand, I begin my visit to each of the Daring Bakers’ sites to read their posts, wallow in their despair, or cheer in celebration of a success. It’s rather amazing this business of belonging — this getting to know people you may never meet face to face. And to participate in an event each and every month with them as well.

It’s amazing. Period.

Yes, I’ve always loved to cook. And if you’ve been reading my blathering for the past five months, you’ve most likely learned that I’ve been at it since about the age of eight. As have many of the Daring Bakers. No, I haven’t been to culinary school. But some of the Daring Bakers have. And I’ve never worked in a restaurant. But some of those in the Daring Bakers have — in fact, their family has owned one. I’m most certainly not a professional pastry chef. But yes, there are professionals amongst the members of the Daring Bakers. How. Cool. Is. That?

Some are just beyond talented, creative, persistent, and inquisitive. They’re all awesome.

My days are often filled with thoughts of food instead of my makeup. I stare at glossy photos in magazines or cookbooks of marinara and walnut tarts instead of whether my abdomen is as concave as it once was. I wonder what a particular recipe might taste like instead of whether others are checking out my new jeans — or my glutes in my jeans. I spend my time questioning whether I’ve got quite enough cardamom for that apple cake, deciding whether to purchase green onions because the grocery store is out of leeks, and risking the purchase of those interesting looking little eggplants to try a recipe for something I’ve never liked. I can’t imagine doing without exceptional flavor, of not wanting a meal to be more than just eating. Of not being interested in any of it at all. What a loss for those who aren’t interested. I weep for them. And I’d offer to light one of those little candles in church to help them out of their misery, but consider it just a thought.

I’m a hopeless foodie. A gonner plain and simple. I swoon over perfectly sauteed chantrelles with just the right amount of marsala in the cream sauce, and a boca negra with a hint of cayenne and a sweetened tomatillo sauce on the side. When I die and walk through the proverbial pearly gates, there better be a 60″ duel fuel 8-burner Wolf range at my disposal, or someone is going to pay.

When I do my perpetual laps around the Bloggosphere, please know that as much as I love this particular piece of virtual heaven and all of you who so graciously help to make my days go by, only half of me is here. My heart lies in the land of plenty. Food Land. The land of the Daring Bakers. The land where you don’t have to think about Technorati ranking, or Google Page Rank. None of that matters. All that matters is that I belong. Well, if I constructively participate I belong. Otherwise, I might be gently invited to leave. And why not? Why would anyone belong to something they weren’t involved in….Hmmm?

Take a walk through my challenges from past to present…and if you’ve never checked out my other blog, well…

Unofficial First Challenge: Red Velvet Cake (If you eat it, will your mouth turn red?)
Red Velvet Cake

First Official Challenge: Gateau St. Honore (This complete disaster looks interesting, but don’t let the brick fool you. Hell, have you ever made puff pastry by hand? You have? Feh. Wot-Evah.)

Gateau St. Honore

Second Challenge: Honest to Goodness Real Bagels (Yes, they’re hand made. Completely. Not a Kitchen Aid dough hook in sight. Just my mom who is very good at telling me how to think (*heart you momzer…*)

Real Homemade Bagels

Third Challenge: Strawberry Mirror Cake (Have you ever even heard of this or seen one anywhere?)

Strawberry Mirror Cake

Current Challenge: Milk Chocolate & Caramel Tart (Go ahead and melt that sugar with nothing else in the pan and resist touching it until it melts. I dare you…)

Milk Chocolate & Caramel Tart

Yes, I prepare savory dishes as well nearly always on a nightly basis. And rarely does a month pass that we have the same meal more than once. Am I swaggering? No, merely confessing my very odd culinary proclivities. Life in my kitchen is just a grand experiment. It always has been and always will be. Realistically, what is the risk? Someone might not like something? Goodness. Life is too short to be worried about not liking something you’ve eaten. Excepting those individuals who have serious food allergies, I’m sad for those who are afraid of trying something new.

What could happen?

And consider the incredible sense of satisfaction that can be had by simply trying. Not just the tasting, but the cooking as well. And who cares if others don’t like it. It’s all an experiment. An amazing way to widen the boundaries you’ve set for yourself in life.

Go ahead. Try the escargot.

I have. But would Andy Beard…? Hmmm… I wonder… Just an experiment.

And so have these wonderful people: the Daring Bakers. Not all of them may have posted their challenges today, but I’ve checked nearly all of them, so know that most have. Give ’em a round of applause. Keeping a food blog can be ass-kicking difficult work.

Fly Snappin’ + Eau de Espresso = Blog Love (mwah!)

I’m whipped. If my butt was dragging any more than it is right now, I’d have to have a skid plate installed on my caboose. And it’s Monday. Jeez. But let’s review why I’m suffering from a serious hitch in my giggy-up today:

Remember those maggots? The ones the RT and I worked so hard to rid our hacienda of — what, about hmmm…nine days ago? Yes, those. And since I’m in a quizzing type of mood, how many days do you suppose it takes for one of those lil’ maggots to hatch? Uh…that would be…yup. Nine. Give or take a day. Are you still with me here?

So that would mean that when I came home from somewhere last week after only being gone for a couple of hours, what do you think I was greeted by? Do I hear anyone with “flies” for $500? Yes, flies.

Hundreds of them. No, I’m not practicing hyperbole. It’s true. They were congregating in one corner of a large window that looks out on our patio….and two more windows that are in the dining room, and another window in the living room. Totally and completely gross. But just for the records, no where near as disgusting as the maggots. House Fly

And do you think that we’d own a flyswatter? Uh, no.

But damp dish towels and dishrags are swell fly snappers. You can just go crazy flapping the rag and watch those little black winged annoyances hit the floor in any number of gruesome parts. A head here, a thorax there. The only problem is, sometimes they’re just stunned, and then I find one sort of wandering in a dazed, limping fashion and have to snap it again just to practice my aim. The dog totally hates it, and lowers herself from the couch to slink upstairs. No, I do not hit my dog. She’s just a big chicken.

This swatting ‘stravaganza went on for three days. Three. I think I got the last one this morning. The problem is, they’re ready for sex and babies two days out of the pupa. Little suckers. So that means while I’ve been snapping the 250 progeny of that one fly left in our house not quite two weeks ago (yes, those little obnoxious insects can lay that many eggs in one sitting…) the remaining one was most likely having an orgy somewhere in our house last night with a friend just sitting and waiting out of my range for the occasion.

And I’ve been persistent about getting rid of all of them because of course, they carry disease. But wait, you say? They were born and raised in our house, so where could disease come from? Well, they were fairly stupid flies, never exactly finding the cat box in the laundry room, but that was a possibility. The real issue is that they could have found the RT’s bathroom. The one I don’t want the health department to find? The one I tried to shoot Lysol POWER Toilet Bowl Cleaner into from about five feet so I wouldn’t have to actually walk in there? Yes, that bathroom.

Like I was saying, no flies for me.

Plus, my oldest son, my brother and his family came to dinner last night, so I couldn’t exactly have buzzing insects in the room and on the food. It’s disgusting to even think about. I scrubbed, and wiped, and vacuumed around and under everything. Hell, I even vacuumed the Yack-Star. I’m sure she’s ready to leave home since I gave her a bath last week, and now have resorted to using the upholstery brush to suck the fleas off her hind quarters. I don’t think she could quite decide whether she liked it (she had her rear hiked up in the air) or was flipped out (her eyes looked as if they were ready to pop out of her head). She’s lucky I don’t have a Flowbee… Flowbee

So I’m completely pooped. But it was worth it, because dinner was relaxing. Very. And to be honest, I could be whipped for more than just snapping flies and cleaning and cooking. Perhaps it was this…
German Wine
Have you ever tried German dessert wine? Well, have you? It’s thick. It’s sweet. And this one smells like flowers and tastes like apricots. You have to SIP it. S-L-O-W-L-Y. And of course, there were two more types to sample after this one. “It never gives us a headache,” my sister-in-law told me the last time we sampled the wine. Umm-hmm. Right.

But today, well, as I mentioned previously, I’m considering that skid plate about now. But it could have been worse…

Waking up to the fragrant aroma of a rich, dark coffee, my day would have been perfect. Except the smell of coffee was coming from…uh…me. I reeked of it and most likely have the remnants of a fine grind on my sheets. No, I didn’t sprinkle it on myself in an attempt to stave off the anticipated hangover. Last night, I opened a fresh container of coffee I occasionally treat myself and others to on special occasions. Espresso It has a lid with a pull top and must be vacuum sealed. I’m not sure about what went wrong, but when I pulled the tab, there was a very loud pop, a rush of air, and a good portion of the finely ground black gold sprayed me from head to chest. And whatever hit my head, promptly dropped down my shirt. If I had died from an insta-caffiene attack, the police wouldn’t have had to use white tape to mark my body because of the amount of coffee sprayed across the kitchen behind me. I’m sure there was an outline left. Bless the MoH’s heart. I was already trying to wipe it from my eyes and hair and dig it out of my decolletage when he gently offered, “You need to go in the bathroom and check yourself.” Oh, really? I suppose he could have said, “BWAH—–HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. You look hilarious,” and grabbed the camera for a photo op. But no. He’s a very nice man. Check myself, indeed. Considering that it was quite warm, and I am no stranger to a perpetual coating of sweat, hot morsel that I am…I was bound to smell like the filter in my coffee pot.  Oooooo, baby.

Yes, I showered. No, it didn’t help.

Clearly, I needed some R & R today. That’s all.  I don’t think it was too much to expect that I could park my sorry coffee-scented butt at the computer and wallow all over my seriously neglected Bloggsville. But no. My computer or service provider, or who the hell knows — did that ridiculous reassigning of our IP address. I think it does this to get even with me. So I had to fiddle around with the router. And the cable modem. And my network settings. But no. So I had to call the service provider and get warm and fuzzy with the level two help who was nice. While I was crawling under the desk, I asked him about whether they considered that people could be 85 and not able to crawl under desks.  He didn’t answer me. I asked him if I was annoying him.  “Oh, absolutely not!” was his quick reply.  Not helpful.  But then I fixed it.

So here we are. Finally. Together again at last. I do have a little smile on my face after all of that. Because look what I have.

Love Your Blog Badge

Yes, it is so. Another badge. WOOT! I LOVE this one. And many, many thanks to Dawn and Ann, the superior creators of TwistedSister and totally Pissed Off. I heart their blog, too! They’re really just softies. I know they are. And they love a number of the same blogs that I do. Meleah, Paisley, Mad Goat Lady, Sam — whom I neglect = ( I’m so sorry, Sam!)– are excellent people. Great minds do think alike. I’m just getting to know Amber. And I can add Freak Parade, Thought Sparks, Radioactive Jam, and last, but certainly never least, The Domestic Minx. Quite the diverse group, don’t you think? That’s what makes it all so worthwhile. You know there are lots more, right? Lots. So if your name isn’t on this list, don’t get your drawers in a wad.

Thanks you guys for totally making my day and loving my little spot in Bloggsville– even if I still can’t get the coffee smell off of me. Good thing the MoH likes the way good coffee smells, huh?

Minx interview reveals no pink ruffles for Kellypea

I love Thursday. It’s always been my favorite day of the week. The whole idea of a weekend and its promise stretching out before me has has always confirmed that looking forward to something is one of the finest pleasures in life. Mind you, nothing spectacular has to be planned that causes this feeling of anticipation. It’s simply the possibility. The opportunity. The choices that can be made. I love to wallow through them one by simple one. They’re rarely something that would catch another’s attention, and you’d most likely laugh if I took the time now to say what they are, but I’ll save that for another time. Don’t hold your breath, though.

So to celebrate Thursday, and that I most diligently worked for the better part of the day yesterday, today, I’m here. First thing. Completely and utterly committed to responding to five questions put forth to yours truly by The Domestic Minx, that clever, purring, femme fatale of Bloggsville who has quite the alluring way with words, and proclivity for risque art.

I vaguely remember volunteering for this interview some time ago, fascinated and curious about what she might want to know — clever Minx that she is…

1. Like you, Kellypea, I love to get lost in a good book. Your blog is like that; fascinating, funny and filled with your incorrigible wit! If the whole shebang was to be made into a book, what would the teaser be? Tell me the blurb!!

Hmmm…get out your Wellies for this one, folks:

We’ve often been told that the sum of the parts are greater than the whole. That would not be the case with a small, but colorful place of Bloggsville that has an exceptionally large presence, leaving the reader with a sense of, “What the hell was that all about?” three whole minutes after they’ve left kellementology. Kellypea, the author of kellementology draws in the unsuspecting surfer in Bloggsville with a Warholesque visage of a female in the header that one may be not quite prepared for. But she claims to know something about “grasping life by the short hairs,” so perhaps a brief visit may uncover tips which can be capitalized upon.

Perusing entries of Kellypea’s weblog such as “Lub Notes and Swollen Body Parts,” and “Math and Sunshine in Dark Places,” may give readers the idea that she is just another woman with great feet and a relentlessly persistent pretense of wanting a body like Kate Moss. But then you stumble upon pieces like “Complexity + Change = Simplicity,” and “Teenagers and Circus Hoops” and you begin to understand that she’s a bit more complex than you may have thought — even if you are really only searching for “ricky lake + diet + book.”

Kellypea is kellementology, and without her convoluted nature and shameless self indulgence, this blog would certainly be just another blip on the Technorati link train.

Now if it was all to become a film, of course that’s another matter entirely…

 

Movie Poster

2. I know how challenging it can be living in a house full of men, darling. How and when do you use your femininity to your advantage?

Okay, so what would “feminity” be, exactly? I have conflicting images creating havoc in my mind of Marilyn Monroe singing “I Want to be Loved by You” in Some Like it Hot,

Marilyn Monroe in Some Like it Hot

June Cleaver in a negligee, and Phyllis Diller greeting her husband at the door after work wrapped in Saran Wrap.

I’m wondering if it means crying when I don’t get my way, or laying in bed all day with a head ache and expecting room service.

I’m more comfortable just being me. No ruffles, no pink things, no girly stuff. In fact, I really don’t get the whole “girly girl” thing. It actually makes me uncomfortable. And using it to an advantage? You’re kidding, right?

When I’m fed up with something, I get mad, I don’t cry.

When I want something, I get it myself. I don’t hint around about it. I take care of it. Well, most of the time.

The whole pampering thing escapes me. I don’t like people doing things for me. It makes me grossly uncomfortable. I’m sure there’s some kind of bizarre psychological explanation for that one somewhere out there, and goodness, chime right in with your comments.

Nope. No feminine wiles. I am what I am.

3. Although your recent sojourn by Lake Tahoe must seem an age away, I was horridly jealous reading about it. Describe in infuriating detail your perfect holiday escape.

Warm, crystal clear water the color of a softly worn piece of sea glass. Sand so white, it can’t be real. A sky dotted with clouds here and there, floating slowly through a balmy breeze. A hooded lounge chair perfectly positioned on a deck just outside a beach house with an unobstructed view of the ocean, not 50 yards away. Palm fronds rustling against one another high above, casting occasional shadows across my legs. An excellent book about nothing that matters. The possibility of an afternoon sail. A fabulous dinner of fresh, fresh food and someone to cook it perfectly. The MoH snoring softly next to me…

And a guy in khaki shorts and a white linen shirt who never lets my glass empty of Yellow Birds.

Atlantis was spectacular…and about as close as I have gotten to what I’ve described here.
But a small beach house with no one else around? Now that would be truly heaven on Earth.

Yes, that would just about do it.

4. Promises of “Extra Sizing your man unit with Extra Size Plus” may not have your heart pounding, but do tell, what would be the very best thing that could be delivered to your Inbox?

Ahhh…the patience I have for SPAM. With absolutely no hesitation, I would swoon for legitimate and free monthly surprise packages from places like Dean & Deluca, The French Gourmet Store, Tabula Tua, Bittersweet Pastries, and A Cook’s Wares. And an opportunity to try them out, sample their wonderfulness, and then write about them. For pay, of course. I know it’s not as exciting to some as perhaps getting free shoes such as this in the mail,

 

but it would be wasted on me. Really. But red shoes? Now that’s a completely different issue all together. So call me Dorothy? Uh, minus Kansas.

5. Being a busy wife and mother means there never seems to be enough time to orchestrate the pampering one needs on a regular basis…What are the delicious treats you can’t do without, Kellypea, what are the indulgences you wish you had more time for and what things get left by the wayside?

Busy? Uh, no. For the very first time in my life, I’m not busy at all, so I can’t put myself alongside all those who are working, or raising children — or both. Oh, and going to school as well. Yes, I’ve done those things and although it was exhausting, it was worth it. Should I be busy? Well I’d have to define “busy.”

If you’ve read even one or two of my posts, you know by now that I might be considered one of the fortunate few. I don’t go to a “job” or necessarily work for someone else. At least right now, I don’t. That could change. It has been quite the luxury and I could stop there and consider it the ultimate extended pampering session. But a funny thing happened along this path to taking time off to consider myself in this life. I did what I normally do. I learn something and end up occupying my time with everything but what I thought I would have. It figures. So I’m never bored, but most likely am not indulging myself in the pampering sessions others might prefer.

The ultimate indulgence would be to have someone come to my home, take a look around, finish all the projects I’ve left undone, fix what my eye hasn’t quite seen the right way, clean and scrub and buff to a sparkling state, and organize what needs to be organized. Closets, garage (which really isn’t so bad if you can believe that), drawers, and cupboards…family photos…all of it. And I’d love to join in on the effort, of course, because I’d find it interesting. Plus, I’d get to make those labels I’ve spoken of. I’d LOVE those labels. Now, I could probably devote a week to the effort by myself and not have the Magic Martha show up at my front door, but I’d be distracted and never finish. That’s why I’d salivate over this indulgence. Everything would be organized, lined up, fluffed up. No fleas, no hairballs, no stinky teenage bathroom. Just clean, sleek surfaces and fresh, lightly scented air…

Okay. You get the idea.

Not exactly burning up the pages, here, am I? Predictable? Most likely not. Screaming out about a cause? Hmmm…I’m more private about those kinds of things for some reason. But I enjoy blathering on about whatever strikes my fancy, and responding to questions from Minx has certainly helped to make my Thursday the best day I’ve had this week.

And I haven’t been distracted the entire time I’ve been writing.

Fancy that.

I know. Shut up and go back to work.

Dust Motes and Have To Tasks

I’m remembering the days when I was finishing my degree. I used to settle in at the kitchen table, spread all my books and class notes around me and plan to spend an entire evening or Saturday getting ahead of things. It all sounded so grand and I imagined that all would be good at the end of it.

But then I’d notice the dust ball under the coffee table.

And the cobweb above the front door.

Or the smudges on the kitchen cupboards.

And wait!  Wasn’t that the microscopic Lego piece the boys were trawling through their toy chest for that I told them I didn’t have time to help them find?

Oh, and then there were the dust motes.  They drifted down from wherever they began in their dissent to the floor, just waiting for me to purse my lips and puff in their direction to watch their panic.  They were so distracting in the sunlight I wished I could venture out into to do anything but sit and stare at the work in front of me.

So much for plans.

And that’s what the past several days have been like. Without the dust motes. Not a dust mote in sight.  It’s not quite as romantic, but replace the dust with the monitor. It’s as distracting. More so.

The first day, I began my work downstairs. What?  You don’t think I know myself?  I had enough to read and sort through, so I wasn’t worried. But eventually, I had to go upstairs to do more investigating by way of the Internet. Sounds sneaky, doesn’t it?

It’s true. And so I did.

But the Internet may as well be a room full of bright and shining objects. A million dust motes reflecting the light of the sun, all determined to keep me from doing what I have to do. I know how children in dull classrooms feel trying to listen to something they have already deemed unworthy of their attention. Email that wasn’t worth glancing at is suddenly my link to an afterlife.  Desktop icons scattered across my screen are calling for my attention, annoyed that I’ve left them to exist in such a state of disarray.  I’m such a failure at this game. I used to be so good at it. I believe I’m used up.  One can only play so long.

Perhaps the maker of all things has put me in this position so that I will finally make a decision. Or the decision. The one I may have been too naive to make all those years ago. The one I’ve been stepping around for far too long. It’s a game we play, that maker and I.  I’m almost there.  But maybe this project is the cherry on the sundae.  Maybe when I’m done, I’ll actually get to the real task.

I have gotten some work done, but in memory of those days when my older boys were so young, and I so idealistic, I distract myself from my task with anything bleating for my attention.  Anything.

It reached the heights of hilarity today when I gathered up my fat, female cat — yes, the Yack-Star — and feeling sorry for the fleas she’s been enduring, lowered her into a sink full of warm water. She was less than happy about this.  Mind you, this was after I had used a regular brush, a flea comb, and a warm sponge on her feet to try and rid the white fur of ugly flea droppings.

But she outlasted the ordeal with flat ears and howls of horror while the water in the sink turned brown, and then mahogany from the droppings the fleas had left. At one point, I thought there was something wrong with her and that she was leaking.  Or something.

Afterwards, she purred in the towel as I rubbed her fur and murmured to her that all would be fine. She actually seemed fine, and maybe more comfortable for the effort of it all.  I would not have tried this diversion from my work with my black cat.  It would have been an ugly sight for the MoH to come home to if I had.

I would think that bathing one’s cat is quite a stretch to take to avoid doing one’s work.

It’s funny how I’m never distracted by anything when I’m writing here.

Ever.

If there was a blogger’s god, she would pay me for this work I put my heart in to.

Wouldn’t she?

What if I promise to stay on task, keep my house spotless, and never say bad things about my neighbors again? Eat fish on Friday? Give money to the slackers that beg with signs at the busy intersections around town?

No?

Fine. I’ll get back to work tomorrow. And stay on task. No memories. No shiny stuff. Just work.

I know. Quit whining.

Whatever.

August Dog Days of Sweat

See the face up there in the header? The one with the gaping mouth. That would be me. Me dealing with — or half-assed trying to deal with and summarily failing to deal with the heat. And the humidity. OH MY GAWD.

I knew I never liked this kind of weather. But now I know I really detest it. Completely. And one might think that one might lose some poundage since she’s sweating rivers all day. But no. Instead, I make like a dirigible, or something. Oh, that I could float away on a summer breeze to a place far, far away.

So if you’ve been taking notes, don’t ever plan a vacation here in August. Ever. Or September. Or October. It’s too freaking hot. And I don’t want to hear it from you guys from the Right Coast. Okay? You’re so done with the sucky weather about now, aren’t you? Plus, you get rain. We never get rain. Well, at least we haven’t had any this year. Okay, I know Texas is floating away and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, truly, but do you have any idea when the last time it rained here? Huh? My glasses are sliding off my nose. The inside of my elbows (is that an anatomically correct description?) are sticky, and the back of my knees (see parenthetical insertion earlier in this sentence) are beginning to drip. Hell, my fingers are sweating. Is that even possible? I’m beginning to feel like a braised dumpling.

It’s Sunday evening. I’ve just finished making yet another knock down drag out pasta dish. (Check out the lips in the side bar….swagger, wink) And a salad I’ll have to try again all by itself just to savor the interesting flavors. And where do you suppose everyone else is? Downstairs. They’re watching 300. A couple of them for the umteenth time. They’ve eaten, and now they’re going to wallow, yet again, in surround sound, chest thumping, guts and glory. No thanks.

I’ll just bitch and moan all by myself. (Insert fingers in ears at this point.)

I haven’t been cranky all day. I did get to slide into the Pacific a bit after 8:00 this morning, the sea grass no longer grossing me out to the degree it used to. The water a soothing 75 degrees. The water smooth as glass with barely a swell to disturb the surface. If only I could get my fins on gracefully. But no. No matter how regally I stride into the water, and then lower my body in to slip on my fins, even the most gentle swell pushes me back into the sea grass, knocking me on my ass, scooping copious amounts of heavily grained sand into the crotch of my conservative black Ralph Lauren one piece suit. The one that’s three years old. The one that if I suck in my gut, I don’t look quite so bad. Well, to me, anyway. Like that matters, since what I’m there for is to swim. I’ve developed a bit of the buff attitude since I’ve figured out that quite a number of people are less than comfortable with the idea of swimming in the ocean. Interesting. (This is another swagger opportunity.)

Today, I decided again to try the snorkel and mask so can swim differently, pick up more speed, and if I gird my loins, take a peek at any fish that may be swimming near by. Do I need to tell you what a pain in the ass the whole mask and snorkel are? Yes, the fish are great — well, the small ones — but the little black gizmo that keeps my snorkel pipe attached to my mask broke while I was already out some distance, so I had to find a different way to keep the stoopid pipe in the air. That would be the whole purpose of wearing it — so I could breathe while I was swimming, right? But then all was fine, and I was able to look at what little I could see under the surface of the water.

Long golden strands of kelp still attached to the sea bed swayed in the current, the water a slightly cloudy and pale aqua hue. A shadow here and there — perhaps my own or that of my friends — caught my eye occasionally. And there were columns of bubbles rising heavily to the surface, released by scuba divers far below. Occasionally a fish would leap from the water and then quickly back flop back in. And if I wasn’t paying attention, I found myself swimming in circles with my friends far ahead, calling, “Where are you going?” like it was some kind of a plan on my part. Yes, a plan to put one arm and then the other into the water and stroke, stroke, stroke to shore where by 9:00, the small sandy beach was already packed with people, their towels and blankets spread on the damp sand, ready to bake themselves in the already sweltering heat.

I’d like to be there right now, floating in the briny water. Letting the gentle swells lift me up, then leave me behind to wait for the next. It was lovely.

But now it’s hot. And it’s nearly 10 PM.

Wrecked Web

I’d go out on the patio to cool down since every window that can be opened is opened, and the air is thick, damp, and still. But I can’t. It’s that time of the year, and the orb weavers are back. They have a tendency to build their webs very near the patio door, and across the patio, so when one of us tries to venture out to get the cats in for the night, or to look up at the stars or the moon, we snap the web across our faces and run screaming back into the house. Well, not quite, but we’d like to. It’s pretty disgusting imagining whether the spider is in my hair or not.

Wjat

The white blob in the center is the spider. If it’s this large already, I can’t wait to see how big it grows this season. Perhaps I’ll give them names this year. Gus. Or Barney. Maybe Eddie. Why not?

And it’s a bit sad to see the damage we cause after they’ve worked so hard all evening to create their webs. I’m sure they’re disgusted by us and our nighttime fumblings. But they get right back to business after we’ve gone, and by morning, they’ve taken the whole web down and are no where to be seen.

Just. Like. That.

I owe, I owe, so off to work I go.

Well, it’s happened. I actually have a responsibility that will take up quite a bit of my writing time. And I actually get paid to do it. Yes, it’s writing. No, it isn’t creative — well, not creative writing. The writing is for a project that is very creative, and extremely worthwhile.

So much for languishing in Bloggsville whenever I want for as long as I wish.

Now I have to figure out how I’m going to manage writing here, writing for submission, and writing for the project. Okay, reverse the order on that list, and that’s the frame of mind I need to be in.

I know there are most likely people out there who can manage this — in fact, much more — and I would have been able to as well about this time last year. But I know myself. And when I jump off the treadmill, it’s quite difficult for me to jump back on while it’s running at a good clip.

So schedule it is. Goodness knows I’m good at that. I scheduled every minute of every day for most of every year for nearly two decades. I still shudder with the horror of it all.

Regardless, I will recommit to the habit of each night, doing my schedule for the next day. It’s a compromise, considering that my life was scheduled from a yearly, monthly, and weekly perspective before. I’m not breaking out my planner. Yet. But I may have to. Ugh. It gives me the heebie-jeebies.

But I can’t neglect you. It would keep me awake at night, wondering about how you’re doing, and imagining what you thought about why I’d abandoned you.

So don’t give up on me. Not just yet.

It’s all for a good cause. I’ll tell you about it later…

Time is money.

Sigh.

p.s. The woman across the street is speaking very loudly to her gardener about making the hole for her lemon tree deeper so the water can run into it. He has an accent and his English is very intelligible, but broken. She must think that if she yells her directives as if he is deaf, he will understand her better. And the man must be quite patient, tolerating such a client.  He’s already completed the task, and the woman is now praising him with the tone a Kindergarten teacher uses on a 5-year-old who has remembered to wash his hands after exiting the restroom. I’d pay money to know what he’s thinking about her right now. Who the hell came up with the idea of “ignorance is bliss?” Jeez.

Okay, now I’m behind. Ugh.

Birthdays Boys and Paradoxical Sunsets

I could mull over the paradox that is “America’s Finest City,” or what I lovingly refer to as Paradise:

palm trees and NIMBY pettiness;

temperate climes and a questionable, tenacious city attorney;

luxury housing and chronic homelessness; or

cutting edge schools and an on-going disparity in achievement between African American and Latino students, and Caucasian and Asian students.

But I’d rather not. Well, not today, anyway.

It was the MS’s (Middle Son) birthday yesterday, and at his request, we moseyed on over to Joe’s Crab Shack to sit upstairs, squint and sweat in the setting sunlight, eat, drink, and listen to The MS’s good friend talk about techniques for meeting women. It seems he’s purchased quite a number of products on eBay on the subject and is very close to being a poster child of sorts, soon to hit the road and profess his new found wisdom. The MoH was enthralled, but only long enough to ask about the young man’s success rate.  Mmmm….numbers.

The RT remained mortified throughout the meal, especially since the MS’s friend directed a good bit of his commentary toward the RT, and encouraged him to “take notes,” because if he’d known at 15 what he knows today…well. The RT? A kid who couldn’t bring himself to walk down the “pink aisle” in Toys R Us when he was little? Uh, no. No note taking on the “how to snare women” lecture.  But graciously, the MS’s friend shifted his tutelage to that of something more closely related to the RT’s interests:  war games.

Before long, the two were discussing a way to profit from purchasing models, painting them, and then selling them.  Of course, with some financial padding from D-A-D to really get things going.  Great.  Headlines on Yahoo read:  “Teen makes fortune in garage.  You, too, can have a home-based business…”

But the MS was quiet — a rarity. He’s already familiar with his friend’s good-natured schtick, but still. It was his birthday and he’s been making his presence known verbally since he was born, earning him the nickname, “Cryin’ Ryan.” No, he’s never been a whiner.  Quite the opposite. He is much more quiet in his utterances now, but he always has something to say, always. Information, information, information.  So I found myself wondering whether he regretted inviting his friend, whom we all have known since the two were in junior high, and have enjoyed. Who knows.

Maybe he was mulling over being yet another year older. Uh, what about me, here?  Or rethinking Joe’s. They have been known to circle the table to howl a birthday ditty while urging the guest of honor to gallop around the restaurant, straddling a child’s pony on a stick. Really. Or, he could have been lamenting the lack of a Birthday Check at that point in the evening, which did surface later.

Perhaps it was the homemade card. Homely Mugs (No, it’s not snowing — that’s art.)

The MS’s Bday “Cake”

The birthday “cake?” (I had the peaches, okay? And those are blueberries, not raisins, so unscrew your nose. Besides, it’s not your “cake.”)

Note And the greeting for his arrival on our front door? (What’d you expect? Balloons? That’s so junior high.)

Aren’t you glad you’re not one of my offspring? It takes work to keep them humble, but they keep coming back for more.

We finished our dinner and beverage-ez right at the 7PM tourismo hour, walked across the street to the beach and headed toward Crystal Pier to enjoy the sunset. Various and assorted “night folk” were already gathering, others settling in for the night with blankets, bags full of worldly possessions, and a ragged novel in hand to squint at in the waning light. Welcome to my bedroom…Only one less than cogent fellow verbally accosted us, yelling something none of us could quite understand. But we weren’t special, because he seemed not to discriminate in his quest to let people know he was there. Yelling. And trying to get into the restroom, which was locked. So add that to my list above:

Blazing sunsets and incoherent drifters.

Yes, you might be able to see just why Paradise is a veritable paradox — a place where you never actually have to stick your head in the sand to be a card-carrying member of the “not my problem” club.

You can just allow yourself to be hypnotized by the pretty colors.
Sun Orange Glow in Paradise
Oh, and very handsome men. Whattahunkster. Nice guy, too. But he h-a-t-e-s having his photo taken, so this was a serious gift to me.

Birthday Boy

I’m surrounded by them.

Cheers, Dude.

But you won’t ever find me whining in the men’s room.