Teenagers, school, and grey hair.

<em srcset=What? I\’m not right for the first time in my life?” width=”300″ height=”225″ />How do we get to Friday so quickly now when it used to seem as if it was forever hovering in the distance of my pseudo nine-to-five work week? It’s amazing, and I’m left feeling yet again that I need some kind of a drive through where I can order a few more hours each day with a super-sized box of salty hot fries.

And I’m pensive. But that shouldn’t stop my Friday Follies, because I’ll indulge in a bit of Peaflock egocentrism instead of worrying about the economy, or whether I’m being green enough. About whether the RTR will persist in his subtle efforts to resist all half-assed attempts at parental pressure to become a neurotic type-A studentisto at some point in the future. Smart young man.

So how is my almost 16-year-old last birdie in my nest doing these days? I thought you’d never ask. Outside of continuing to be the gentle and respectful, scruffy around the edges, but hugging type person that he’s always been, I’d like to say he’s seen the light and has become an organizational sensation with a sparkling bedroom. A notebook that one might be able to detect some semblance of order to. A backpack whose lumpy contents I don’t have to wonder about.

He hasn’t.

But his bathroom is cleaner than ours now, because The Gramster is sharing it with him. It looks like a real bathroom now. You know, with a mirror you can actually see your reflection in and everything? And he’s loving the guitar, the lessons, and even his cool guitar teacher. I keep asking him when he’s going to get House of the Rising Sun down so I can sing, and you know, I think he’s working on it. I’ll let you know if I actually get a gig on YouTube so you can snort your cereal milk or coffee out through your nostrils onto your keyboard.

But school? Well, let’s just say we’re gently reminding him that if there’s not a solid “C” in Spanish and Algebra II, then the MoH has decreed that when we get back from Italy this summer, he’s getting a J.O.B.

Um? So I’m still trying to figure out exactly whose consequence that is since the RTR doesn’t have a driver’s license, and since I remain challenged to completely understand which higher plane of existence he spends most of waking moments on, I’m not comfortable with the idea of him being behind the wheel of any vehicle. Too. Scary. That means that I would become the J.O.B. taxi.

I hate driving. Thoroughly.

Besides, I think our philosophy is losing credibility faster than you can yell, “Phony!” at me. If I haven’t raged enough about it before, or, if you were smart and skipped through the pretty pictures of those twenty or so posts, you know that I do have rather strong opinions about the general quality of public education. In spite of the two decades I spent working as an educator — a damn good one, thank you very much — I’ve always believed that what we do best is try to fit all children into the same sized hole. And because my pensiveness is about my son today, and not public education, I’ll leave it at this: If I truly believe that, then how, how, how do I continue to find myself veering toward that norm? It’s amazingly difficult to pull away from that force.

So how is the RTR winning this? About two months or so ago, his art teacher invited a spokesperson down from a school in San Francisco to speak. The funny thing about it is that each day when I pick him up at school, we have the same exchange:

Me: How was your day?

Him: Pretty good (although this fluxuates between other responses such as, fine, average, normal, okay…)

Me: Did anything new and exciting happen?

Him: No.

It’s one of those warm, fuzzy mother and son moments that we smile about. So it figures that the one day I forget to play the tape, he actually has something to say:

Him: Mom. You know how you always ask me about whether something new and exciting happens at school?

Me: Yah?

Him: Well today, a person came to our art class.

Me: What did he talk about?

Him: Well she was from this art school in San Francisco and it sounds really cool. You don’t have to have SAT scores.

Me: Really? *Oh. Swell.*

Him: Yep. And when she asked if anyone wanted information, I raised my hand.

Whoa. This is the part where I have to control myself and not act like I’m giddy that he is showing an interest in something that doesn’t resemble tiny military figurines or tanks, World War II and YouTube comedy segments. He’s spoken to someone from admissions on the phone twice.

Do you know how difficult it is to keep up with the whole, “It matters that you WORK hard in school, because in life you have to WORK hard if you want to find the right kind of WORK for yourself instead of just finding a job that pays well- blah-blah-blah-dee-dah-work-work-work…” diatribe when the school your son has decided he’s attending has this philosophy:

The Academy of Art University maintains a no-barrier admissions policy for all undergraduate programs. The Academy was built on the educational philosophy that all students interested in studying art and design deserve the opportunity to do so.

All he needs is a high school diploma. Period.

Okay, so… and parents who are willing to pay the tuition.

But it’s right up his alley of interests. So go figure.

Guess the MoH is going to have to whip out his checkbook. But the RTR is still taking the SAT next Saturday.

Just. Because.

And the next two years will fly by as we continue to pander to the great education god in the sky and resist temptations to walk the streets with signs that plead, “Will clean your bathroom for son’s GPA.” Okay, so maybe not.

He told me the school doesn’t recognize GPA, either.

Go figure that his non-plan looks like it’s going to work. Just think about all the grey hairs and wrinkles I could have saved worrying about that sweet kid.

Where does the time go?

Swooning in FoodLand

It’s May 28th…the end of the month. And you know what that means, right? I made dessert to match my blog. Nice, huh? Sort of glows?

I’m in Foodland, and we’re all woozy on Opera cake right now. I haven’t quite drooled on my keyboard yet, but there are some incredibly amazing flavor combos out there, and quite polished presentations, so it’s only a matter of time. Seriously. I’m always left inspired by the talent.

I went for the lava look myself. Dessert tonight after our salad dinner. Small pieces. Very. There’s TWO CUPS of buttah in ONE aspect of this creation and I lost count on the eggs. Yes, there’s sugar. Jeez. Does it count that I purchased one ingredient at our farmer’s market?

Wanna lick? No pushing.

Just didn’t want you to think I was flaking around on you. This one took all of yesterday, and was finished this morning.

My back’s feeling it, but I got in my three miles this morning.

And then I had two pieces for breakfast.

Tiny ones.

Taste testing, okay?

Jeez. How many calories could there possibly be in two tiny pieces? Eight-thousand? Feh.

But you can lurk if you’d like some calorie-less viewing privileges. You know. Because we’re friends.

Okay, and I have absolutely NO idea why that link looks like that. I’ve done it five times, exactly the way I always do it, and hell. I just guess it wants some notice.

Whatever.

If it looks normal to you right now, it’s because I persisted and well, it finally paid off.  And if it still looks strange, trust me.  I tried.  So just go click on Sass & Veracity in the blogroll and cut to the chase.

Clearly, my brain has been rotted by the sugar and fat.

What a way to go.

Indiana Jones & Film Critics

My menfolk know I’m a sucker for Indiana Jones. I always have been. Sure, Harrison Ford has something to do with it, but I’ve always been easily swayed by anything related to Raiders of the Lost Ark and all that followed. I get a sappy grin on my face and know that no matter how many times I’ve seen any of the movies, if the opportunity arises, I’ll plunk down and watch. I love the corny humor, and the “no way could that actually happen” adventures Indy and his side kicks become involved in.

If you’re shaking your head on this one, here’s my thinking — and it is relatively similar with respect to books and music and food, of course: if I like it, then it’s good, but I won’t argue. What’s the point? Isn’t beauty in the eye of the beholder?

I can sit and watch No Country for Old Men and enjoy it as much as I enjoy something like The Holiday or Amazing Grace, or Four Weddings and a Funeral, or Citizen Kane. In other words, I’m all over the place when it comes to anything I say I enjoy. But as much as I can say I have a wide range of movies I enjoy, only some rate watching over and over. The Lord of the Rings trilogy fits into this category, and so do the Indiana Jones films. No, they have nothing in common other than I enjoy them.

So when I read Union-Tribune Arts Critic at Large, Lee Grant’s review of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull last week, you’d think it wouldn’t bother me, being the magnanimous person I am with respect to others’ opinions being sacred.  Right?

Wrong.

Movie critics drive me crazy. They remind me of disgruntled wannabes, whether they never made it as an actor, or screenwriter, or had fantasies about being the next great director. Hell, half of them can’t even write, yet they are paid to write about movies they frequently don’t enjoy just to crap on everyone else’s entertainment parade.

“The film is a disappointment, as dull as a bunch of 60-year-old guys sitting around and, for fat paychecks, coming up with something to recapture their youth and the blockbuster movies made a generation ago,” Grant grumbles, most likely annoyed that the fat paycheck he mentions won’t be going into his own pocket. And if George Lucas and Steven Spielberg want to make a movie they know people like me (and my boys who grew up on those blockbuster movies Grant mentions) will enjoy, why not? I’ll probably purchase the DVD when it comes out, too. Why? Because it’s guaranteed to make me smile which comes in pretty handy some days.

Returning to my rant…

Grant takes the time to mention in his review that “the film is set in the late-1950s and we know that because the initial soundtrack music is Elvis Presley’s ‘Hound Dog.'” Oh really? Clearly a significant piece of information. I’m thinking it was smart to set the film in a later decade considering all the actors had aged quite a bit and nothing is more annoying that trying to make us all think they haven’t.

But I’m ahead of myself here. Friday, six of us (including a nephew, my mother, and one older) son piled into two cars, headed to a favorite sports bar to eat, graffiti up the paper that’s spread on the tables for just that purpose, and then went to see the latest of Indy Jones. Outside of having to stifle snickers about the young woman sitting behind me having to rely on her date to explain what was going on and who the characters were, the movie was everything we thought it would be: a fun trip down memory lane with a few new things thrown in for good measure. We had some time to talk about the movie afterwards at Cold Stone while slurping on ice cream in the very winter-like weather we’ve had in Paradise this holiday weekend, but only comments about the parts we liked. My middle son knows everything there is to know about the older Star Wars movies and all things Indiana Jones, so he was in rare form talking to the two younger boys non-stop.

Hell, he’s the one who should have written the film review, not Grant, whose ideas must have taken an entire three minutes to put to paper. Does one lose one’s credibility as a critic if one doesn’t slam a beloved character? Why not just avoid writing about it at all?

I don’t need a film critic to tell me that Indy’s “iconic bullwhip [is] now used with a little more difficulty,” but that “he’s not a guy you’d trade in for a fresher model.” Well, not yet, anyway. Hmmm…maybe that’s the bigger issue. Mayhaps Harrison Ford is a reminder to some that they, too, are aging.

Like this is new information? I get it, okay?

Grant drones on with his attempt to mimmick a turd found in the punchbowl before the party starts by judging that Cate Blanchett is “struggling” in the role of Agent Spalko, and that “those big, bad Russians seem dated.” The film did get a rise out of members of Russia’s Communist party, however, evidently offended that their youth may be negatively affected by how Russians are depicted, accusing the West of tricking them. Now that’s completely hilarious.

Am I missing something, or did Grant actually go to this movie thinking that any of it was supposed to be believable. Really? Scary to think he might me in sync with the offended Russians on this. Isn’t the point of movies like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull part kitschiness? The characters are generally exaggerated, and reminiscent of those found in films from an earlier era. I don’t want Indiana Jones to be realistic, or believable, or anything other than what it’s been.

But what do I know? I’m not a film critic. I’m only someone who’s spent a lifetime loving movies in all shapes and sizes.

Well, and Indiana Jones.

Okay. So, Harrison Ford, too.

He’s looking pretty nice for 65.

The family that views together?

My mother loves watching television. Loves. It. So it’s been a challenge for her since arriving back in Paradise to adjust to our television viewing habits. Um, we don’t exactly have any?

She’s got to feel like she’s in TV Hell.

We do have shows we enjoy, but from my perspective, it’s more about being with my menfolk in the evening after dinner than the show itself. Sappy, but true. Now, the MoH would probably say, “Whatever,” to my response being the avid one-who-looks-forward-to-his-three-shows-that-aren’t-sports type person that he is, but you do get the idea, right?

Outside of those few shows on our highly intellectual viewing agenda (American Noodle, Bones, House, Top Chef…), we surf. Someone grabs the clicker while I’m putting the finishing touches on the latest recipe I’m subjecting my family to and their job is to find something we’ll all enjoy while we’re eating — nothing anyone really cares about. You know, like Dirty Jobs, which is great viewing while eating. Have you seen the one about the clean up after the toilets exploded? Nice.

This isn’t always as easy as it sounds since we’re usually ready to park our butts on the couch with food and beverage in hand around 7PM most nights. There’s never really anything on. One-hundred-fifty channels, not counting choices for the On-Demand channels or pay-per-view options and there’s nothing on. If you have a closet full of clothes and often feel as if you have nothing to wear, it would be similar to that feeling. Completely hopeless.

Like I said. We surf. It doesn’t matter that it’s 6:50 or 7:12, the one with the clicker stops at whatever looks good — erm, that would so not be Cash Cab, okay? Who thinks of that crap? We settle in while we eat, try to ignore the Doggo who waits patiently for any finished plate to lick, never blinking lest she miss that opportunity, and like the relatively content saps we are, watch whatever is semi-interesting. Sometimes, that means staring at the pretty pictures on one of the HD channels.

This is all very contrary to what my mom is accustomed to. She is a stalwart TV Guide person, planning her television viewing time meticulously. In fact, she enjoys reading said TV Guide aloud to others so that they, too, can know what is on and marvel at all the possibilities. So I’ve explained the on-line Guide to her. You know. That place that lists all shows on all channels across all hours of the next few centuries? Yes. That one. I’ve also shown her how the DVR works. That way she can record her favorites, then watch them while I’m wasting the prime years of my life *snort* sitting at my Mac every freaking morning of the week. Okay, so maybe not weekends. But still.

So she’s adjusting, but it’s got to be strange. Annoying? Probably downright aggravating. I know we can be that way. So I also encourage her to watch television in our bedroom when we’re downstairs. Warm the bed up, blow the cobwebs off the Sony and fire up the engine to see if it still runs. And she has. Once.

We have been enjoying American Noodle together, and that’s been fun, but I’m sure she’d like to hunker down with her own schedule, with her own television, which, by the way, is sitting in the garage with the rest of her Earthly possessions and is just about as big as the little bedroom I wedged her into. In fact, now that I think of it, that television is so enormous, I wonder if it will fit through the door.

Okay, so maybe not that big. But I don’t want to think about trying to carry it up the stairs. Besides, we don’t have cable active in that part of the house. Gawd forbid giving the RTR another reason to hole up in his cave. Besides, can TVs actually pick up stations without being hooked up anymore?

So this morning, after diligently recording Boston Legal and Grey’s Anatomy, do you think she’d actually be able to sit down and enjoy them? One would think so. But for some reason, the sound wasn’t working on the television. One of us must have pushed a mysterious button on the clicker and it’s hopeless to try and figure out which one it is without dorking the entire operation up beyond all repair. So I clicked off the power surge for a few minutes and let the whole thing reboot.

It works now.

But she’s upstairs messing around with her laptop which was freezing up every time she had more than a couple of windows open.

I have my fingers crossed that it’s fixed now, too.

Because, like I said, I’m in the prime of my life and have so many swell things to get on with.

Like vacation plans.

I finally found a cute little place in Sorrento for the second leg of our trip to Italy (I booked an apartment in Rome for the first leg) which is happening in less than six weeks and I am sooooooooo not ready…The Hotel del Mare sits nearly at the Marina Grande and is a winding, hilly walk to the center of Sorrento. A great way to work off the breakfast that comes with the room!   It sounds like the four of us will be shoulder-to-shoulder and have some family bonding time.

But I am starting to get pretty excited about the whole thing.

It’s finally beginning to feel real!

Sometimes you feel like a dork…sometimes you don’t.

This would be one of those times. You know. Where you realize it seems like you were pandering. Not you. Me. I was pandering.

Pandering for attention.

But I wasn’t. And now I feel like it seems as if I was even though I’m one to pay attention to myself, so have never really needed anyone else to, and if that doesn’t convince you I’m a piece of work, nothing will.

I said I was wondering about those things that I was mulling over yesterday when it was grey and chilly out (like about 65 degrees?) and….well, sometimes, that’s enough.

I used to like grey days, so who knew?

I’d not delete my words. There are too many and they count for something. And in the past, when I’ve done that, I’ve regretted it, because part of my life has gone with whatever I’d erased. Even if it was the flowery writing of a teenager, or the wistful thoughts of a young woman.

I’ll never quite remember who I was when I put those words down.

So, no deleting. Just figuring things out, which is something I’m quite familiar with.

Like my new camera. I’m trying to figure that out and I’m thinking I need an adult beverage right now, because the software’s loaded, and well, it’s yet another new thing.

I swear. Just another thing to be thankful for. That my brain works. It’s kind of nice on most days.

Yanno?

What’s the point of this, anyway?

It’s funny how things sometimes change, and as much as I can see that beginning to happen — to not want it to happen — it does anyway. There’s nothing I can do about it. Things that once mattered end up in a place we never intended for them to be, and they get lost amongst all the other parts of life that are…well, life.

I guess I’ve reached the point where I’m wondering what this is all about. This. At first, I began here to simply write. But I’ve never been a journaler, not having the patience to put down what happened in a day’s time I’ve always been more of someone who has a noisy mind, and writing always helped to get some of what was there, out. It’s been nice that in the process, I’ve also gotten to do something I love: work with words.

I love words. And as odd as it may seem, the simple look of some, or the feel of others as I speak are fascinating. Regardless that English has myriad synonyms able to get across a particular point, only one of those synonyms is the best for a sentence to convey exactly what I intend. When it matters.

But there seems to be so little time now, and I’m not sure why that is.

I’ve had my other speck in the bloggosphere as long as I’ve had this one, so that certainly isn’t the issue, although that speck is extremely high maintenance. Sometimes, unbearably.

I’ve enjoyed working with them both, as they’ve allowed me to know a variety of people with different interests. But with the growth of my high maintenance speck, this one — troubled as it’s been with its identity crisis — seems to get pushed aside. And now, often, it just sits here. Doing nothing.

That makes me quite sad.

As much as I love all things food, and as much as I can have my mind wrapped around it quite a good portion of my day, writing about it doesn’t provide me what this space does. And when I don’t take that time for myself, I miss it. No one wants to hear my horror-scope and then take a gander at my cookie recipe. Or survive my latest rant, and then dig into a chocolate mousse. Somehow, that doesn’t quite work. When I’m in my kitchen, I’m usually not waving a wooden spoon and complaining about the guy I have to listen to on the radio each morning when the alarm goes off. As much as writing here provides me a sense of balance, so does being in my kitchen. The two are completely unrelated.

I miss being here quite a bit.

Are blog years like dog years?

So is this the part where I sort of fade off into the sunset? I’ve noticed when others have stopped writing. Their blogs sit there unattended. Forever. Others just disappear. I know I couldn’t do that. There’s too much of my life wrapped up in these words and to me, a significant part of my life. I’d have to put it somewhere because like all the photos I’ve taken in my life, it’s part of me.

I’ve always embraced change and chided those who avoid it. Change is inevitable. It is the one thing we can count on in life — and learn from. But I also know that in spite of change, constants remain.

Maybe the constant for me here is to write when I can.

For me.

There is a little box I can check to keep my writing private.

Is that what I need? I doubt it.

I was going to write about something I saw on one of those network morning shows yesterday that really got me going. But today, it’s overcast and chilly, and I just don’t care now.

This is the part where Scarlett O’Hara would remind herself that tomorrow is another day, and Annie would begin singing, Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you, tomorrow, you’re always a day away…

Tuesday has never been my favorite day of the week.

Friday in my world.

Welcome to my Friday Follies. I figured it was a great way to cover what competes for attention in my brain. You know. In case anyone is actually interested. And since Friday is only so long, I can’t exactly include my entire list.

Question of the Day/Week/Month/Lifetime: Would any of the unthinkably serious crap that is taking place in the world right now be happening if women ruled? Seriously. Clearly, I’m not opposed to men in general. I’m quite fond of four of my own, all of whom are quite pleasant humans. But I will never, ever understand what possesses some to be so consumed with a desire for power, that they destroy what and whomever lies in their path. It makes absolutely no sense.  I would say, “Nuke ’em ’till they glow,” but Greenpeace would revoke my membership and I’d have to take my sticker off my Mac.

Now I’ve heard everything: BBC News is reporting today that we can now blame the obese for the planet’s energy woes. I can officially expect the BBC to pick up some of the crap I write since they have decided to bring attention to this illustrious study and call it news.

For the shopper who has everything and can’t resist yet another… um…thing: The ultimate cake server. My VBF handed it to me unopened the other day on our morning walk saying she didn’t want it. I think it was something she received at a dinner party? Lo and behold, a wonder of design revealed itself after I was done fighting with the packaging. Just chuck the magnetized heel, and you’ve got a swanky brushed stainless cake server that may or may not fit in your utensil drawer. My VBF is sooooo getting this back.

For summer travel plans: Consider Paradise your destination. Palm trees, fish tacos, an excellent ball park with a less than stellar ball team, and no more spine-wrenching plunges into bathtub-sized potholes! An end to days of signs warning of sewage spills at the bay? Standard & Poor has finally given our fair city an acceptable bond rating again. We will now get to use plastic to pay for street repairs, faulty sewer lines and broken water mains. Party on! Maybe they can also do something about our pump prices?

My gentle menfolk: I am willing to act like I’m somewhat interested in anyone who can convince me that a person interested in the arts needs to take advanced mathematics. But I think I’ve heard it all before. The RTR will be bypassing pre-calculus for statistics as a junior next year since it’s the lesser of two evils and he has to take a third year of math. The MoH has concocted a bribe — monetary — if the RTR can squeak by with a “C” in Algebra II and Spanish. He does have an “A” in PE, however, which is huge when one considers that actually moving his now more than 6′-tall lankiness is not something he enjoys. And that he has a swim coach who makes the entire class do 45 laps — yes, that would be 45 — to compensate for kids caught sneaking into the locker room early. Maybe the RTR needs to swim with me this summer. And pigs will fly.

My Tiny Paradise:

I saw this guy early this morning when I should have been sleeping in. My VBF had an early appointment so I didn’t have to stumble out of bed at dawn’s crack to walk. Do you think I could actually sleep? Um. No. So of course I got up and thought…Hell. I can take macro snail shots while enjoying my coffee! He looked so cute, I couldn’t bring myself to chuck him over the wall into the early morning traffic. Which probably saved me a law suit now that I think of it. Gawd forbid that I hit someone’s Maserati with snail guts.

On the menu? Feh. I never have a menu. But my friend Gina always does. *sigh* In my next life, I’ll be as organized. Our meals are all mushed around in my head with all this other crap I think about. But I have finally edited the photos from our latest dinner party featuring Rick Bayless’s Mexican cuisine and will be getting around to doing that mammoth post today. And I’m thinking next week is going to be Indian…Tiki Masala, anyone?

Me & my mom: Things are great! We’ve only had 3 arguments, 5 disagreements, uttered 49 sighs of exasperation, clucked our tongues 89 times, and been disgusted with one another once or twice. Don’t get me wrong — that’s all normal — at least it has been since I was In High School. We have our laughs and snorts, too. We’ve been on a few field trips, (Wally World, Target…) have drunk umpteen gazillion pots of coffee, analyzed the state of the human condition at least 14 times, moved my bedroom around, and jeered each other’s candidates with gusto. Her cat finally ventured down the stairs by herself today to be greeted by my hissing pretentious attack cat, and the doggo has stopped following my mom up and down the stairs, realizing her favorite person isn’t going anywhere. Her hips thank her. The dog’s. Not my mom’s.

I’d say that’s enough folly for a Friday.

Don’t you?

I feel so much better now.