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2 kids. Memories of Wolf and Boo. Many dear friends. Three siblings. Two parents. Samarra the crazy dog. The Player and Pi the Cat. I love you all!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Must Love Dogs Who Love Hummus

Thursday night I made hummus!  Ok, it looks like Pablum but it's not.  Really.  It's very garlicky and lemony, not bland at all.  Real women eat garlic!

This is definitely the dog for ME!  He loves hummus!  Who woulda thunk it?

Some people are not so forthcoming about their love for hummus...

That's better.

Must also love dogs who love to roll around in the warm spring grass.

Those helicopter things are getting annoying.  Tonight one landed in my cleavage!  Ack!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Wednesday in April

The lilacs are showing signs of age this week.  Last week it was as if the life force of the entire universe seemed to be exploding through those magnificent blossoms.  I could smell nothing but lilacs when I opened the back door. One day driving through the north end of town I had one of those "thin veil" moments when it seemed like the entire world was made up of nothing but lilacs, purple, lavender, and white, and there was a gentle rain and "Tears in Heaven" was playing on my car radio. 
These are my lilacs last week, looking like God herself!

But yesterday the lilacs looked a little droopy.  And I had to stick my nose way into the flowers to pick up the scent. (While Wolf sticks his nose into the previously left scents at the base of the bushes.)   I can relate to those lilacs, too. 

Yesterday these other things happened too:

I received, in the U.S. Mail:

The Pursuit of Happyness from Netflix, which I hope to watch this weekend.

A copy of the United States Constitution in tiny booklet form, from the ACLU, hoping to entice me to donate money to their very worthwhile cause.

A recipe for hummus with ideas for garnishes from a local grocery in Nashville called Publix. At the bottom of the recipe there is a reminder that if you don’t have time to make your own hummus you can buy some really good hummus. At, where else, Publix. (This came from my mom who is not Theodore).

There is a good line about Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of hummusness just waiting to be written here, but I'm not sure what it is..

Last night the BBC featured a story about Marilyn Monroe’s writing and poetry. What? 

Also yesterday at my job, I met a young man temporarily stuck in a wheelchair (while very broken smashed up leg heals.) He lives in a small town, can't work yet, is understandably bored beyond belief.  He discovered that if he wheels around town and goes through the drive-in teller at the local bank, they will give him free suckers.  I'm thinking the tellers probably are way bored, too, and enjoy his visits.

Before I went to bed, I went outside to look for the full moon but it was too cloudy. So I walked over, sniffed some lilacs, and went in to sleep.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


"Gawrsh!" is what the Disney character Goofy says.  He is a positive character, not always so bright but always kind.  He is a dog.  (We love dogs.)  (Must Love Dogs.)  I want to focus, here today, however, on the idea of being goofy and how great that is.

Yes, it's good to be kind, and bright, and smart, and influential.  But the most wise women know that it is not only okay, but a really great gift, to be goofy some times.  Tis a gift to be simple 'tis a gift to make serious people laugh.  I'm good at that.  I have patients that just sit around feeling sorry for themselves all day until I arrive and make them laugh.  It's the best medicine.  I know.

So how do I make people  who are sick or in pain, laugh?  First I give them some reasonable hope that we can help them.  I don't promise anything, but I do give them what I hope is a realistic idea of what they might accomplish.  THEN I just act, well, goofy.  And then when they do what they are supposed to do (their exercises or whatever) I tell them how great they are.  And how I know what they do is hard.  And look what good things have happened beause they have done those hard things.

Then I act goofy again.  And they smile.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Why I'm Late

Today I slept a little later than usual, through my blogging time which is usually 6 to 6:30-ish.  I didn't get up until 6:30 this morning.  Sierra likes to get up with me so we can have some time together, which I adore.  And this morning, after we got our hot chocolate (Sierra) and coffee (me), we snuggled up together and she asked me if she could do some typing on my computer.  So instead of working on my blog while snuggling, I helped her type a letter to her teacher while snuggling.  Here is what the letter started out saying:

April 27, 2010

Dear Miss A,
I’m having a good time at school. I’m having so much fun at recess...

After she had typed that much, she stopped and decided to change it.   Next it looked like this:

April 27, 2010
Dear Miss A,
I'm having a good time at school.  I'm having so much fun at math and science and social studies and that's all. 
Have a great day.

Here she paused to tell me about the new program they are using in school called "Type to Learn Jr." and how when she gets to fifth grade the words they learn to type will get harder, like the word Mississippi.  We though it might be funny if she gets a teacher with the last name Issippi some day.  But I digress.

Lastly, Sierra added a postscript:

ps.  Wolf is the best dog ever.

And so helping to compose this tribute to Sisi's teacher and dog was the worthwhile cause that kept me from blogging this morning.  And now a tribute to Sierra:

April 27
Dear Sierra
I am having a great time at home.  I really love playing with you and watching you learn things and listening to you. 
Have a great day!

ps - Wolf really IS the best dog ever.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Free Time!

One of the features of the retreat I love is "free time" which is Saturday afternoon from lunch to dinner.  I love lunch and dinner too, actually.  Usually during free time I take a walk in the nature center next door to the retreat center and look at the wildflowers that are bursting with color and divinity in April.  But this year it wasn't to happen.  What did happen is that I stayed up very very late on Friday night, then by free time on Saturday I was in quite intense need of a nap.  So I napped for two hours.  It was bliss!

I love naps.  I think I might have a passion for naps.  I also love sleeping in general.  And remembering dreams.  Actually I think what is happening here is that after a weekend of a retreat about passion I now feel like I love everything. What a great thing.  I'm feeling like the world is my hummus oyster.  I hope this feeling lasts through the day, or at least until my next nap.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Retreat from Normalcy

This weekend I attended the annual NCC Women's Retreat at Villa Maria in Springfield.  Mostly what happens there is lots of talking and laughing and talking and eating and talking and drinking and talking.  It is a magical time and place every year for the women who attend.

We have large group and small group discussions.  This year in my small group one person's fabulous doodling of a seahorse led us to various inside jokes that eventually became shared with the group at large. Most of the jokes involved the word "undulate."  You know, rhythmic wavelike movements. 

When I got home I thought of the word ungulate, which seems to rhyme with undulate, and means a hoofed animal.  Like a horse not in the sea.  Then I thought of an undulating sea-ungulate.  Then I read about seahorses and found out They Are Fascinating Animals, as are the women at the retreat every year.  Here are two interesting facts about sea horses:  1.  they mate for life and are really truly monogamous;  probably because 2. the males carry and give birth to their young.  Yes, the female deposits her eggs in his little belly pouch and then she's done.  Very very interesting, those little undulating critters.

Each year at the end of the retreat I experience a resistance to leaving.  I wish the retreat could be just one day longer.  Nothing structured would be needed, just more time to read and talk and eat and talk and talk and talk.  Or nap and doodle. 

Now I'm back to Normal, Illinois, and better for the experience of my weekend with these amazing people.  Thanks all!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Burgers on the Grill

Sierra helped me make burgers on the grill Thursday night.  They were absolutely delicious.  No hummus, but I confess that on Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon I went on a total hummus binge.  And on Friday I am making a double or triple batch of hummus for my NCC Women's Retreat.  Nikki said if I made a big batcha  hummus she would make some olive dish to go with it.  And I actually love olives as much, if not more, than hummus.  In fact, the hummus binge began with a calamara olive binge, thanks to the Schnuck's olive bar.  (Fans of Fresh Market take note!)  I've never met an olive I didn't like.  To eat that is.  But lately I'm gettin' picky.  Used to like those basic canned black olives, but now they taste kind of plastic.  Thanks, again, to Schnuck's olive bar.  The Schucks over by Barnes and Noble doesn't have an olive bar.  But the one in North Normal does, and it is fabuloso! 

So, we had burgers on the grill, cole slaw, and hash browns.  I know, hash browns, gimme a break.  But that's what the kids wanted, and that's what the kids got!  The adults wanted wine, and they got what they wanted, too.  All's fair.

The kids are currently running rampant around the house with my camera, and somewhere my cell phone is beeping, indicating a message, and the radio is on, WGN 720 A.M., and we are listening to the Cubs lose to the Mets (only the 6h inning) and now...well, it feels a bit chaotic.  It is chaotic, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot as my pastor Bob would say!

Now, here's the deal.  Tomorrow I get to go to my NCC Women's retreat, in Springfield Illinois, for the ENTIRE WEEKEND, hanging out with my friend Jean as well as all many of my NCC buddies.  It's always a fun and enlightening time (my 7th year, no itches so far!) and I am looking forward to it very much.

Saturday, no blogging.  Sunday, blogging late.  But don't expect much about the retreat because (all together now....)  "What Happens In Springfield, Stays in Springfield!!"

A True Story by Jeremiah

[spoiler alert by Jeremiah's mom: everyone is okay]

The is my dad:

My dad's alarm went off.  Sierra and I were scared.  We didn't know what to do.  It went off first.  I was sitting in my room, not knowing what to do, and yelling "Dad!"  My sister was scared, too.  She was also yelling "Dad!"  We went outside.  Dad called Mom and then he went to the neighbors' and then he went back to the house.  They tried to fix it, but they couldnt' fix it so then he went to the other neighbor's house.  Then Mom came and they all tried to fix it but they couldn't.  Mom called 911.  The fire department came.   Sierra, I and our friend Nolan tried to convince Mom to let us sleep at Nolan's but we couldn't, so we went home to Mom's house.  We saw our good dog Wolf.  Then Mom called Dad and Dad said it was just that the batteries were old. 
The end.

Epilogue by Jeremiah's mom:

The smoke detectors and the carbon monoxide detectors are very loud at Francisco's house!  I don't worry anyone will ever sleep through any kind of problem there.

One thing I've noticed since I started blogging is that both my kids seem more interested in writing, too, so from time to time you may get to read their work, for better or for worse.

My book club met last night, that's where I was when I got "the call." I thought that's what today's blog would be about.  Boy, just when you think you know what you're doing, the universe provides a completely different experience.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Shantytown Snack Shack

Sierra built a cardboard playhouse in the back yard this weekend.  Then the wind blew it down, so she relocated and rebuilt it in my garage.  Now I park in the driveway or the street and my car is covered in funny white and purple oblongish spots.

 What are those things?  Oh.

Her playhouse has a place for the dog, the mail to come through, and for her to sell snacks to me if I so desire.  Jeremiah and Sierra wanted to sleep out there last night, in the dark creepy garage, on the cement floor on a rug in the cardboard box.  I said no, not on a school night.  That will buy me a few days.

Sometimes when they seem so at home in such rugged conditions, I wonder how that might save their lives some day in the distant future if the worst case scenario of the recent spate of apocalyptic movies ever comes to exist.  I don't watch those movies but the commericals are everywhere and you can't help but think about it if you have little young people in your life.  So, maybe the ability to build a home out of cardboard and tape, sleep on a rug on a hard floor, will be a useful skill someday.  I hope not.

I prefer to imagine her building skills making backdrops for Broadway productions, with much more sophisticated materials than we have on hand today at home.  I think she could build just about anything with the right supplies and tools.  Imagination and self-esteem are in abundant supply in my daughter and that's a great thing.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Reading before Writing

I know that writers are supposed to read a lot.  I read a lot more than I write, that's for sure.  But sometimes reading something so very good makes it hard to write for a while.  That seems to be the case for me today, after I finished Franny and Zooey yesterday, then plunged on into re-reading more Salinger, taking on For Esme With Love and Squalor.  A long-ish short story that I first read about 30 years ago and the story that got me hooked on J.D. as a writer.

I read a bit about J.D. the man yesterday, but found his life story to be somewhat, well, full of squalor.  Squalorful?  Squalorous?  Help!  The man clearly wanted his writing, not his life, to be what people read and thought about and discussed.  So, I will honor that and stop reading about him. 

As I mentioned above, what I found today, is that I made a bunch of false starts trying to get my blog going.  It's as if the writing part of my brain says either,"sorry, busy processing and cannot produce" or "for gosh sake's what's the point?"

Zooey would say "Write for the Fat Lady."  And I suppose that is what I shall continue to try to do, after my brain recovers!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ends and Odds

Yesterday was Poetry Sunday at our little church, NCC.  A variety of people of a variety of ages read their own poems or a favorite poem during the service.  Kathleen did a great job of setting the tone and the guidelines (one poem per person then sit down, handraising optional).  I wanted to read a poem with the word bitch in the title, but I was hesitant until John, Kathleen's father, read a poem by e.e. cummings with the very same word in it, so I hopped up to the mike.  (I was hesitant because of some youth-type people in the congregation, but I saw them titter with hands over their mouths when he said it, and also noticed that no parents fainted or grabbed their children by the hand to whisk them away.)  So, I read Enlightenment is a Bitch, by Dane Cervine, published in The Sun magazine in March of this year.  I forgot to read the author's name until the end, so some people who must think more highly of me than I imagined, thought it was an original poem.  They were somewhat confused about the part mentioning "my wife" but I got that straightened out at the end when I said "Oh, yes, and this poem is by Dane Cervine."

Dane, thank you for the poem I have loved since the minute I first laid eyes on it last month.

Afternoon brought an ISU baseball game in just about perfect April weather.  Sunny enough for sunscreen and hats. Cool enough for blue jeans instead of shorts.  Sierra, in typical fashion, was ready to go home as soon as the popcorn and soda were consumed.  The middle of the second inning, if I recall.  Francisco took her home and Jeremiah and I stayed to watch the entire game.  We made a pact to stay to the end no matter how long it lasted, thinking of that 20-inning game on TV the night before.  The Redbirds trailed most of the game, but in the bottom of the 8th inning they pulled ahead and won 9 to 7.  Jeremiah spent more than half of the game up on the deck behind the 1st base side seats, hoping to catch a foul ball.  No such luck.  But some day it will be his day to catch one, somewhere.  Or maybe hit one playing for a college team!  Preferably one with some scholarship money for ball players!

Evening was  peaceful.  At bedtime Jeremiah wanted to make his own snack in the blender.  It came out looking pretty disgusting:

It looks an asparagus shake, but it is really orange sherbert with a little milk and several colors of food coloring that generally don't go together, whipped up in the blender.  It was delicious!

I got in on the baking act last night, with another pie:

Also pretty tasty.  (Leftover rhubarb inside).  There's a story behind my rhubarb pie recipe that I will save for another day.

No hummus again yesterday.  Perhaps it's a winter addiction?  Once baseball begins, hummus falls sadly by the wayside?  Time will tell.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

My Mom is Not Named Theodore

If y'all read my comments from yesterday's blog, you may have noticed someone wrote that they are my momma but the name on the comment was Theodore.  This may be due to a technical difficulty due to the technical fact that my parents share an email account that is probably listed in my dad's name first.  Anyway, my mom is NOT named Theodore.  Her name is Ellen, and you've seen her picture and the Fulton County Sherriff now has her license plate number thanks to the photo in my blog yesterday of her car JUST after she broke the law in it. 

But on to other topics.  It is baseball season.  And last week I saw the wonderful documentary We Believe about Cubs and Cubs fans, of which my mom and I and my son are 3.  But as a kid I grew up a Cardinals' fan, since I'm from that zone halfway between the 2 cities of Chicago and St. Louis.  And in the 60's the Cardinals were a winning team.  I loved listening to Harry Caray on the radio then, and grew up with the names of Lou Brock, Orlando Cepeda, and Bob Gibson, among others.  When the Cardinals made it to the World Series one year, the grade school let us watch the game on the brand new TV (purchased for "educational reasons") in the multipurpose room. 

But as a grown up person, I lived near Wrigley Field and Harry Caray was an announcer for the Cubs by then.  So, maybe I was just a Harry Caray fan....?

Anyway, last night I had plans to do a lot of important stuff.  Wash the dishes.  Finish reading my book club book.  And important things, you know, like that.  But I accidentally found the Cardinals-Mets game on Fox in the afternoon.  Seven hours later the game ended, in the 20th inning, 2-1, Mets.  The Cardinals probably lost for several reasons, but ultimately the reason was they had a backup outfielder pitching the 19th and 20th innings.  Poor Mather, his pitching record is now 0-1.

The game didn't make the record for the longest game ever, or anything like that, but it was different and I'm glad I stayed up to see the end. 

That's one of the things my friend Bob says about why baseball is so great.  There is no time limit.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The End of the Road

Continued from yesterday's blog "Road Trip"

We came to the end of the very muddy, rutted, almost impassable road, that had clearly been marked "CLOSED."  I quietly breathed a sigh of relief (appropriate cliche in this case.)  I really did not want to get stuck in the middle of nowhere with 4 people over the age of 70, on a road that we were not supposed to be on in the first place, and have to call a tow truck or worse.

But when we got to the end of that road and got closer to the Road Closed sign facing the other way, it was not a relief at all.  The sign was mounted on 4 metal posts that were firmly dug into the ground, spaced across the road, and rope was tied between them.  On either side, a deep muddy ditch.  No apparent way out

But did that stop the old folks?  No, it did not.  Donna and my parents hopped out and immediately proceeded to figure out how to disassemble the road block. 

Now, I'm just not a person who goes around in broad daylight flaunting the law or even road signs.  But, it appears that is not a trait I inherited from my parents.

In no time at all my parents and Donna had the rope down and were trying to figure out which space between the metal posts was wide enough to let the cars through.

First they tried to get through the spot between the sign and the post Donna is holding.

But one of the front tires of the van got into the deep rut and after that we determined that the van couldn't fit through that spot anyway.

Next we tried a spot on the other side of the sign, also too small.  Finally we got the van through the space between two metal posts on the far right.  SUCCESS. 

Now just the Alero left to get out.

Now I was able to really breathe that sigh.  Whew.  Donna tied that rope back up, no one was the wiser (until now) and off we went to Bernadotte.

Here's where we ate lunch.  It's one of those small town diners where the food is awesome and none of it is healthy.  They don't have hummus on the menu.  I was planning to have a tenderloin sandwich that I hoped would be bigger than my head and singlehandedly raise my cholesterol 20 points.  But they were out of tenderloin!  O!  Heartache!  Fortunately the special was a braised pork chop, mashed potatoes and gravy, and either applesauce or cole slaw.  So, I get half my wish, the cholesterol part.

After lunch we drove up to the Bernadotte cemetery. Bernadotte is on the Spoon River and my grandmother used to say that the people who inspired Edgar Lee Masters anthology are buried there. The cemetery is small and many of the markers are falling over. It looks, somehow, just right for the place where it lives.

Here they are, the queen troublemakers.  Making mischief together since 1947!

It was a memorable day in every way.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Road Trip

Answer to the question:  Not if it's in cans.

On Thursday I took a road trip with my parents to Vermont, Illinois, where they both grew up.  I have not been there for many years, since all my grandparents died.  The town is so small they count every single person in town on the population sign: 

I think maybe all the residents balance their checkbooks to the penny, too.

We drove through town, which is kind of sad as the town is not a thriving place.  No gas stations, very few stores, a lot of closed businesses along the main street. 

The water tower is next to an empty building that used to be the jail, according to my mom. She said she almost got put there one night in high school, when she and her buddies got caught tipping over outhouses for fun.  Like I said, a small town.

We had lunch with a friend of my mom's and her husband, Donna and Jack.  Donna and my mom have known each other since 6th grade.   And yesterday, we almost got sent to the county jail, again, on our ride to Bernadotte, pronounced Bern-ee-dot, where we drove to have lunch.

We drove through an area where a POW and US Army training camp was located during WW II, called Camp Ellis.  We drove down a road that, about halfway to our destination, was clearly marked "Road Closed."

My dad drove Jack's  4-wheel drive van, and Jack and I rode with him.  Mom drove with Donna in my parents' Alero.  We came to the sign, on a mud and gravel back road.   Jack said to my dad, "Just go around it."   And he did.  Mom followed.  A ways down the road, the mud and gravel got messier and the ruts got deeper, and the going got tougher, but did we stop?  No we did not. 

The road was bad.  No doubt about it.  I drove through Baja California in a beat-up little truck in the 1980's and thought those roads were bad but driveable.  This road, though, was a little worse.  Or maybe a lot worse.

Somehow, though, my parents got both vehicles through the rough parts, and then we came to the end of that road where we were to turn onto a paved road to Bernadotte.  But guess what? 

To be continued...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Rhubarb Pie

It's Wednesday night and I am making a rhubarb pie.  It's one of my dad's favorite things.  I got some fresh rhubarb yesterday and tonight I put together a pie, and it's in the oven and smelling mighty fine.  My dog might even approve. 

This afternoon my parents and I went out to Parklands and walked a bit along the Mackinaw River.  It's quite beautiful right now, bluebells and redbuds are creating a quiet riot of color in the woods.  Here are some pictures Sierra took on our walk.

This is the only bad thing about Parklands.  :(

Redbuds in action!

Bluebells across the Mackinaw.

On the way home from Parklands we drove by the land where I lived as a kid, the land with the lilacs.  My parents enjoyed stopping and looking at the place again, how it has changed, what things are still the same (the old corn crib is still there,  a small windmill, many of the trees.) One thing that's missing are the black raspberry bushes.  The people who bought the place from my parents took them out.  My mom still says "that woman was so stupid" when we reminisce about those bushes.  Another fond memory of that place, eating black raspberries off the bushes in the backyard throughout much of the summer and still always having enough for pies, freezing, whatever else we could think of to do with them.  So very good!

For dinner tonight we had salad, including some chick peas.  It was good, and fulfilled my hummus jones a bit.  Salad is a good thing to have before PIE and ICE CREAM.  Which is certainly next on the agenda.

Standard joke from my childhood, "Do you think the rain will hurt the rhubarb?"

Answer tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sniff Sniff

Lilacs are starting to bloom!  I love lilacs.  On the land where I grew up, we had some lilacs out in the middle of the pasture that would bloom every spring and smelled fantastic.  I travel back to that place and time in my mind every time I get a big whiff of lilac fragrance.  The lilacs in my back yard now are outside my bedroom window.  I've let them grow tall enough that I can open my second story window and screen and put my head out into the flowers and inhale deeply.  So soon I'll be mentally wandering through lilac memories. 

I think the way smells can trigger memories so instantly is an interesting thing about us.  I wonder when my dog is busy smelling the grass carpet of the entire neighborhood, what else he is able to know from the smells besides what other dogs have peed there.  I imagine there is a lot of information there and he would tell us if he could.  He probably thinks he DOES tell us by peeing around the perimeter of the yard.  He may even think we are kind of dumb for not paying attention to this wealth of knowledge he's leaving for us. Maybe we are. 

Hummus smells like garlic.  That brings back memories of a family I rented a room from a long time ago.  The father decided to make soup in the crock pot one morning and had no cooking experience.  He put in twenty cloves of garlic.  We all came home that evening to a garlic-permeated atmosphere inside. 

Hummus smells like lemons.  That inspires memories of dusting when I was a kid.  Lemon Pledge.

Some day my kids will smell something that reminds them of these days of my hummus addiction:  "Oh, that smells like the hummus my mom used to make.  Ick!"

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The other family addiction

In my family we like to do crossword puzzles.  Everyone except my mom. She does stuff that is actually useful while the rest of us do puzzles.   My dad and all my sibs and I like to do them, and we really like to do them as a tag team.  Our favorite is to get one that's too hard for any of us, work on it and pass it around.  But any two of us will do that, as my dad and I have been doing today.  He has a book of puzzles edited by Will Shortz (a gift from my niece that likes to do home repair projects with her dad),  that proceed from easy to harder to really danged hard to probably would require 50 of us to finish..  He's in the middle of that book, so he and I can handle most of them together at that level.  BUT if we get to the next level, we will need some help.  And next year, sometime in the summer, we all hope to be together for a family gathering celebrating my dad's 80th, my mom's 75th, my sister's 50th, my brother's 40th, and my nephew's and my son's 10th birthdays!  All in 2011.  So there will definitely be some puzzle passing at that event.
My son and my dad worked on a web-site today that kids can use to create a crossword puzzle.  They didn't complete it, as the weather was too beautiful to stay indoors.  There were just too many distractions.  Shortly thereafter the activities included jumping on the trampoline while the sprinkler was spraying away underneath it, (that would be the kids, not my dad), drinking wine (that would be me), grilling some salmon (also me), and eating the salmon (that would be all of us.)

The kids went to spend the night with their dad, who also drank wine and ate salmon with us, and now my dad and I are working on crossword puzzles to our hearts' contents.  Mom is in Chicago visiting some relatives, and so it is pretty quiet on the western front of Normal.

Monday, April 12, 2010

We Are Family, Too!!!

(Caroline - thank you for lending me the name of your blog for today.  You can use mine anytime, too!  Or any of the butchered pronunciations from my son...)

My parents are here for a visit.  My mom likes to talk and she's talking now while I am writing my blog.  I am hearing family stories about cousin's children that I didn't even know existed!  Mom knows stories about all our relatives.  She talks to eveyone and writes emails and is on facebook.  She is the quintessential networker and storyteller.

My dad is sleeping or pretending too because it is too early to get up.  Later he will get out his tool box and fix all those little and big things around the house that I either don't have the time, energy, or ability to fix.  On my list today are:  light fixtures in both kids rooms and a towel bar in the upstairs bathroom.  Mom is now telling me about how my brother and niece like to fix things around the house together.  (My mom is telling me this story as I type.  She wants them to start a TV show about that.)

Last night we sat around and told stories and laughed very hard.  They tasted my homemade hummus and didn't like it.  I think they don't like hummus in general, not just mine.  So I guess my addiction is NOT genetic.   I am so glad they are who they are.  I am so glad they are here this week.  I am planning to interview them (I bought a digital voice recorder that will get a trial soon) and then transcribe the interviews so our family can keep their stories.  My mom said she has been writing some of her stories down for some time now, and I can have those, too.  Just as I was interested in stories of my grandparents, my kids want to know and will want to know more about "the way things were." 

Now my dad is up, wearing a shirt that says "Laissez les bons temps rouler" which of course means "Let the good times roll."  In French.  And I agree!  Let the good times roll....

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Hummus WHAT?

Yesterday morning while I was working on my blog, my son was watching and looking at the pictures of Ubehebe crater and asking some questions, and then I heard him say “mumble, mumble, anus.” I kind of paused, then said, “Sorry, what did you just say?”

“Nothing, Mom.”


More typing on my part, uploading a picture, more typing, some conversation with him about Death Valley and what caused the crater, and then again “mumble, mumble, anus.”

Finally I just asked point blank, “Did you just say the word anus?”

“No, Mom, I didn't.”

“Do you know what anus means?”

“No, Mom.”

“Are you sure you didn’t say anus?”

Then a little louder on his part, “Hummus AMOS?”

OHHH. The name of my blog. “No, honey, it’s Hummus Anonymous.”

“Well, what DOES anus mean?”

A little conversation here, I will omit the details. (If you don’t know what it means, ask your mom.)

Then, a pause and he said, “No, Mom, I’m pretty sure I said Hummus Amos all the time.”

Yes, honey, I’m sure you did.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


This is a photo of Ubehebe (pronounced You Be He Be) Crater in Death Valley National Park, California.  Yesterday I had breakfast, conversation, and laughter with Curt and Kathy, friends I've known for 40 years.  For a very good reason which I shall refuse to go in to here, that's my story and I'm stickin' with it, I was retelling the story of the night I went hiking in Ubehebe Crater and got the giggles and couldn't walk out because I was laughing so hard.  I had to lie down and look at the full moon and laugh until I had it out of my system, which seemed like a very long time.  As I was reading about Ubehebe online, it did mention it's a hard hike out.  I would have to agree, especially in the condition I was in that night.

Breakfast was at the Coffee Hound.  Collectively we had 3 big cups of coffee, 4 pancakes, and a hearty bowl of oatmeal.  We saw Colleen, and spoke with her.  We reconnected and had a wonderful time.  I hope we'll get to have some hummus together someday!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Dreams of "The We"

Thursday afternoon, just after writing the blog entry in which I poked fun at Wikipedia and the wisdom of the unspecified "ancient people", I read a chapter in Healing Dreams called The Invisible Community.  I was astonished to find a very long collection of stories of people who dream of and with their community ancestors, angels, friends or family who have died, wisdom teachers, and so on.  One of the people mentioned in the book is the author Amy Tan. She claims to recall as many as 20 dreams per night, and once had a long series of dreams with a friend of hers who was murdered, dreams in which he taught her to fly.  I think these folks are clearly tapping into a spiritual realm during their dreams that I have rarely encountered. I have had a couple dreams along those lines that come to mind, and one sort of out-of-body experience during a massage once where I had a vision of my grandmother. But some of the stories these folks have to tell are truly amazing. In one case the dreams continued about the same story for almost a month, the story unfolding slowly over that time, and later the dreamer, a psychologist, met her client to whom that story had happened exactly as she dreamed it.

In a fascinating research study also mentioned in the book, people were woken during dreams and asked to describe them to another person who wrote them down. In a room down the hall, a psychologist unknown to the dreamer, was studying a work of art. In something like 60 percent of the recorded dreams, images from the artwork appeared in their dreams. This was duplicated with many different dreamers and art-gazers.

The veil is thin in our sleep, at least for some people!

I think I will try to dream of a bottomless tub of hummus and never-ending bottle of Rioja.
Children often have dreams of “the Wii” in which they believe if they whine enough their mothers will buy them a Wii. They also dream of DS’s, their own cell phones, iPads, and motorcycles. My daughter keeps reading to me from a little book she has called “God is Great” the page that says “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Perhaps we both need a little work on the difference between DO and HAVE. Yes, I'll get right on that.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Wisdom of the Old Farts

According to Wikipedia, ancient people believed chickpeas had medical uses such as increasing sperm (they forgot to mention that in It’s Complicated!) and milk, provoking menstruation and urine. Personally, I don’t want any of those things increased, provoked, or even helped along a little bit. Maybe those ancient people were wrong. Because we all know I eat the same amount of chickpeas as the entire population of Rhode Island, and as far as I know I don’t have ANY sperm OR milk production going on, recently decreasing levels of menstruation, and regular amounts of urine.

Speaking of urine…why do dogs like the smell of pee so much? Is it the elixir of the dogs?   (I’ve been wanting to work that into the blog for a long time but couldn’t figure out how, until now. I know, it’s a stretch.)

Those mistaken ancient people also thought that chickpeas could be used to treat kidney stones. I think this must be because they thought it would increase urine flow, which is recommended in cases of kidney stones. Did you know that if you pass kidney stones you are supposed to save them and take them to your doctor for testing? That’s testing with an E, not tasting with an A. I think you could just take some dried chick peas in to the doctor and pretend those are the stones. Maybe that’s what those ancient people have in mind.

And by ancient people, do they mean people who are just really really old? Or people from ancient times? Or people from ancient times who were really really old? Maybe Wikipedia was trying to be polite and instead of saying “demented old farts” they said “ancient people.”

Soon I may qualify as an expert source for Wikipedia on the topic of hummus.  I think I will say that it improves your finger-chopping off skills, your ability to raise one eyebrow, and makes you cool as a cucumber.  (Did anyone else see the Colbert report last night?  Now THAT guy can raise one eyebrow.)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Is that thunder?

No, it's my stomach growling!

Today I am trying hard NOT to think about hummus.  Or a peanut butter sandwich.  Or the Cookie Dough Ice Cream in my freezer.  I am on a clear liquid diet today to prepare for a medical test tomorrow, one we'd all rather not discuss in polite company.  But the thought of food...glorious food.  I am hungry to say the least.  Apple juice, 7 Up and soup broth just are not quite filling me up.  I don't know, maybe I could have some garbanzo bean juice?

There is a beautiful thunderstorm outside my window.  Wind howling, rain pelting, and some thunder along with my stomach noises. It's a good afternoon to be indoors at home.  Usually on a Wednesday afternoon I would be driving from one patient's home to another, getting myself and my big work bag in and out of the car and into their houses.  When it's raining I am always glad to see an open garage door or a covered porch.  Ringing the doorbell and waiting for someone with a walker to come and answer it can seem like a long time when it's raining cats and dogs.  Today, though, I get to sit on my happy behind (so far, anyway), listen to the storm, and drink 7-Up.

I am still trying not to think about hummus.  And failing. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

If you don't like lemonade

The saying goes "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade."  But there are many other interesting and useful things you can do with lemons.  First, of course, you can use them in hummus.  But you already knew that.

There are many other culinary uses of lemons, and I hope Caroline will add to this list.  My favorite of all, after hummus of course, is anything that requires lemon ZEST.  I love that word.  I don't particularly enjoy zesting a lemon, but the very word sounds like it should be fun.  I sort of imagine Julia Child laughing with glee to describe the word ZEST.  I know it's also the name of an old brand of soap (is it still around?  I just use Ivory Soap.  But I recently visited a friend in Chicago who had a bar of soap she got on her trip to Greece that was made with olive oil.  Great stuff.)  Well, if you get a lemon and don't want to make lemonade or hummus, you can zest it or just look at the lemon and think of the word and laugh out loud.

Next there are the desserts:  lemon meringue pie, lemon cake, and so on.

If turning a lemon into food isn't your thing, you can use lemons as a cleaning product.  If any of you have been to my house, you know I am no expert on cleaning, so you will have to take the world wide web's word for that.  Laundry, too:  you can supposedly get underarm stains out of clothes using lemon juice and water.  But since none of my Gentle Readers have that problem...

Last, but not least, in an emergency, or just for fun, you can make electricity with a lemon.  Place a strip of copper and a strip of zinc in the lemon.  Attach wires to the strips, and then to a light bulb.  Voila!  (Does this sound a little like the battery cooking episode?) 

Do all these uses of lemons make you want to participate in hemifrontalcranialkinetics?  (Yes, I made up that word.  Aren't I clever?)

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Bargain

I finally succeeded in getting a photo of Jeremiah raising one eyebrow.  I did it by first photographing his dad, his sister, and myself trying to raise one eyebrow and looking like, well,  ugly creatures from another planet.  I think he figured, and rightly so, at least he would look better and certainly more competent than us. 

Here is Sierra with her beautiful eyebrows in order.

And here is the same child trying to raise one of them. 


Next we have Jeremiah's dad giving it a try.  I promised not to write anything mean here.  He's not really shorter than me, I just stood on a chair to take his picture so it wouldn't look like he had a big double chin.  What? 

I will never get my kids to do anything for me again if I don't include a picture of myself giving it the old college try.  I think I may see a hint of an eyebrow lift there, don't you?

And finally, the man of the hour:

I tried to find out if there is a word for this talent.  So far I haven't found one.  Any suggestions?  AND if you feel sad because you can't raise one eyebrow, there are several websites that claim to teach you how.  I think you'll need a mirror....

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Raising one eyebrow

I can't raise one eyebrow, just both together.  One of my sisters, I think it was Connie, taught my son how to raise one eyebrow and he is pretty good at it.  (Jill, if it was you instead, I am sorry.  I have the "over-fifty" memory problem.  And I've slept since then.) 

Yesterday after I wrote in my blog that he didn't raise an eyebrow at the scene in The Blind Side where the act of procreation is referred to, I had this great idea to get a photograph of him raising one eyebrow and put it in the blog.  Since my blog is low on photos.  Hypophotographia?  Yes, that's what my blog has.  Not a virus, just a condition that could have been fixed if my kid would have cooperated.  I got him to raise one eyebrow.  He looks adorable doing that.  And the rest of the time as long as he isn't doing his sassy kid thing.  Then the kids and I tried to see if we could wiggle our ears.  That was hysterical, since none of us could do anything except open our mouths and eyes very wide and grimace.  So far so good.  Then I got out the camera.  Suddenly everyone looked totally normal.  No facial contortions to be found in the room.  I asked and even said please.  I whined and begged a little.  I stopped just short of bribery because I have to keep some dignity as a mom.  I think I do, anyway.

So my blog is still sufferiung from hypophotographia (I like that word and I'm kind of proud of it.)  The last photos and the only photos are from the first day I made homemade hummus.  Which I tried to do last night only to discover I had no lemons in the house, and I wasn't about to run out to the store in the middle of the Duke-West Virginia game.  So no hummus OR photos yesterday. 

Today I will buy lemons, make hummus, and I'll be darned if I don't find a way to get Jeremiah to pose for the camera.  Maybe I WILL bribe him.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Friday nights

My kids call Friday nights "sleepover party night" because when they were toddlers I would let them watch a video in my bed at bedtime and then they'd sleep with me.  Now it's evolved into a night where we all pretty much relax together and watch a movie and eat whatever we want.  It's usually pizza or somthing we call "blue tray."  Blue tray is served in a plastic blue hors d'ouevre tray and I put different things we like in each section.  Usually sliced pepperoni, cheese, black olives, some veggies if I can convince them like carrots or tomatoes, and crackers or chips.  Essentially blue tray is pizza before you assemble and cook it.  The kids still want to sleep in my bed but now I lay down with them and then when they are sound asleep I go to another bed to sleep.

It's an important family tradition, and we give up things sometimes to have this time together.  I didn't apply for a job recently when I found out that I would have to work late on Fridays because this is important time together for us.  They have decided not to go to certain events, or when I've suggested that we go "out" to a movie on Friday they rarely want to do that.  I am grateful that, at this age at least, they'd rather spend a night chillin' with Mom than doing something else.  One time Sierra chose to go to a friend's birthday party on a Friday night, and occasionally I go to a weekend retreat that starts on Friday.  But in general this is our family "Sabbath."  It's necessary and sacred to us.

This morning they are sleeping a little late because we stayed up a little later than usual.  Jeremiah and I watched the movie The Blind Side.  This was a big deal because it's his first PG-13 movie.   I had already seen it, of course, and knew he'd be able to handle the drug references and the violent scene in the drug dealer's apartment.  The thing I thought would be difficult for him to understand was the flashback of the kids being taken from their mother to go to foster care.  And the thing I thought would lead to a question I might not be ready to answer, when Leigh Ann tells Michael "if you get a girl pregnant out of wedlock, so help me God I will drive up here myself and cut off your penis" didn't even cause Jeremiah to raise an eyebrow.  My original plan was to somehow distract him during this part, or ignore it and hope he did, too.  But instead we watched the scene together and in spite of myself I laughed outloud.  Still no eyebrow raising or questions.  Either he's somehow got all the facts on his own or he's oblivious.  Sadly, as his mother, I still have no idea.  All those Viagra commercials during sporting events on TV and still no questions.

The day will come when we will talk about the birds and the bees.  But apparently that day is not today. 

Friday, April 2, 2010

Old and New

Part one:  Old Testament Commentary

It’s Passover. The holiday when Jews celebrate their liberation from slavery in Egypt. They were only liberated, of course, after God visited the 10 plagues upon the Egyptians. I taught a group of kindergarteners once about the plagues, and ask them if they had a favorite one. I expected them all to pick the raining down of frogs, but Joshua yelled out “The Wiver of Bwood!” which I supposed shouldn’t surprise me. He’s the same adorable kid who tried to write “I hope you get better soon” in a get well card he made for a member of our congregation but he forgot the t’s in better, and so wrote “I hope you get beer soon.” The card may single handedly have cured her, if humor works as well as I suspect.

Back to the plagues, the one that finally got Pharoah’s attention required God to slay all the first born children of Egyptians but pass over the Jewish households (here‘s where it gets complicated for those of us who love non-violence AND the Sacred Mystery.) That God of the Old Testament -- definitely mysterious, but he hadn’t yet invented Jesus, Ghandi or Dr. King, I guess.

Chametz means “not kosher for Passover” or not kosher-enough anyway. Sadly, hummus is Chametz. The processing seems to be most suspect. So, if you grew your own chickpeas, lemons, garlic, sesame, and harvested your own salt AND if your food processor had never been used for food that was not kosher, you might be okay. But you can’t be sure. So for Passover, better safe than sorry. No hummus. Bummerus

Unless you aren’t kosher, then what the heck! My first spouse was Jewish and not kosher and my brother-in-law used to eat ham and cream cheese on Matzoh. We tried to figure out how many dietary laws he was breaking at once by doing that. But we got distracted by the macaroons we were eating like crazy as they are delicious and KFP. But not hummus macaroons.

Part Two:  New Testament Commentary

Yesterday was Maundy Thursday, the celebration of the last supper. Did you know that in art portraying the last supper, the size of the food portions has increased over the centuries? Yes, I read that somewhere! Or maybe I dreamt it? Well, MT services used to be one of my favorites back when I went to a more conventional church. Leaving quietly with lit candles and contemplating Jesus' last meal with his disciples. But yesterday, all the attention was on April Fool’s Day, and MT got pushed to the back of my mind, until I saw a church marquee reminding me that it was also MT. So I felt like an April Fool. Today I will contemplate the last supper which probably did not include hummus since it’s chametz. And I will think about non-violence.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Odds and Ends

Yesterday I made hummus and then ate the entire bowl myself.  Nothing bad seemed to happen all day.  Whew.  The boy and his dad arrived home safe and sound.  I think the girl will go back to school today.  I will go back to work today as well.

The period key on my keyboard seems to be malfunctioning, I have to tap it harder than usual.  Or maybe it's my right ring finger acting lazy.  Or there could be some hummus under the key making it sticky.  It's definitely slowing me down on the typing front.  Not necessarily a bad thing, to think twice before I end each sentence.

I am reading Healing Dreams which is a very interesting look at dreams that give us experiences on many levels.  The author suggests that dreams may use US in some ways.  Now there is a thought that demands a pause at the end.  Last night I was reading through a recent journal and found that I dreamt about our dog a month before we got him:  "Dreamt I went to get a dog and/or a bike.  Dog too old but sweet.  I rode the bike until I came to where I knew a mean dog lived and then turned back.  Rode over a saw blade and got a flat tire."

So in the dream I get the bike instead of the dog.  But that didn't end well.  In life I got the dog.  The too old but sweet dog.  There's more to the dream, the saw blade and the flat, that beg some attention. But that will have to wait for another day and another bowl of hummus. 

Sweet daydreams!

When I read the journal entry about the dream, and to this moment, I cannot remember anything about this dream.  But I wrote it down on 11-16 and we got Wolf on 12-17.  Did you notice that Wolf spelled backwards is Flow?  Nah, me neither.