Thursday, April 28, 2005

Sing, sing a song

I made a Rhapsody CD for my girlfriends and myself for this Vegas trip. I have to say, it's a fun one. When you read this, you have to know that for the last 5 years or so I have more or less gotten off the train of current music, and confined my listening experiences to a lot of folk and jazz and nerdy-good stuff. I know, I might as well just tatoo GEEK on my forehead. Why hide it?

However, lately for some reason I am interested in current pop music again. Who can say why?

Still, I did not choose all these very hip and fun songs. All my girlfriends did. Hi Church Ladies!Anyway here is our list. Vegas or bust!

1 Get the Party Started by Pink
2 Another White Dash by Butterfly Boucher
3 Almost by Bowling for Soup
4 White Flag by Dido
5 Lonely No More by the yummy Rob Thomas
6 Fallen by Sarah McLachlan
7 Karma by Alicia Keys
8 Vertigo by U2
9 Rich Girl by Gwen Stefani
10 She Will Be Loved by Maroon 5
11 I Just Wanna Live by Good Charlotte
12 Collide by Howie Day
13 Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day
14 Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson
15 Lady by the gorgeous and amazing Lenny Kravitz
16 Mr. Brightside by the Killers
17 Mockingbird by Eminem
18 Breathe (2 AM) by Anna Nalick

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Selfish Mama

So I'm going away again. I have had this Vegas weekend with my Utah girlfriends planned for months, since long before my grandma's birthday party was planned. No way I'm giving it up. It's going to be great.

Still, it feels mighty strange to leave the family two weekends out of a month. Between this, and Young Women, and work, and miscellaneous other stuff like singing at the cancer relay last weekend, by the time I get back I'll be almost a stranger. My kids seem strangely taller lately. I've been missing a lot. It stinks, and I feel guilty. But not guilty enough to stay home this weekend.

I've resolved, after this trip, to say NO to the next five things I'm asked to do. Well, maybe three. We'll see if something really good comes up.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

What to eat in springtime

Our weekly downtown Farmer's Market starts tonight! I'm so excited. It takes place on the street below my office and at this season will feature strawberries, little purple onions, asparagus, and ... hmmm ... we'll have to see what else! Probably some local honey, some handcrafted items, some kettle corn, some music, and of course the bounce house for the kids. (Later in the summer, grapes and nectarines and figs and almonds! Yum!!!) I am hoping the plant lady from last summer will be there. I bought two big, gorgeous purple, silver and green Wandering Jew plants from her ... and killed them. But I want to try again. I also want to buy some Hmong textile art this year to put in my new house.

What I'm really hoping for, though, is that gorgeous pencil-thin asparagus for a dollar a bunch. Here's what I'll cook with it.

Springtime asparagus scramble (because my omelette skills suck)

1 pat butter
1/2 bunch very thin asparagus, snapped at bottom of stems and cut in 1" sticks
1 small red onion, diced
4-6 eggs, beaten
1/4 c milk or water
salt and pepper
1/2 - 1 c shredded Swiss cheese

Set butter to melt in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add asparagus and stir until color deepens.

Mix eggs, milk, and salt and pepper. Pour over vegetables. Lift and turn until mostly cooked. Top with cheese and allow to melt (you can put it in the oven if you like at this point.) Don't let your eggs get brown; that's the main thing.

Eat it with some fresh strawberries on the side, and some good crusty bread.

Monday, April 18, 2005

They're scared of us, we're scared of them

It was a big weekend for my extended family. We had a party for my grandma's 83rd birthday (I thought it was 85th but I was wrong) and almost all her 18 grandchildren came. Even my two gay brothers, and one of them brought his partner.

Different people were scared of this situation in different degrees. Over the almost-13 years since my first gay brother told the family about his sexual orientation (awkward closet doorknob: painkiller overdose) my immediate family has made peace with the situation. Some of us have remained in the Church and some--the two gay ones and one sympathetic straight one--have not. There's some heartbreak on both sides. But we each let everyone else make his or her own choices without preaching or punishment. Okay, I have a hard time understanding the sympathetic straight one. But we get along, we enjoy each other's company, we hang on through the disagreements and the hard times. We love each other.

We have not been sure that the extended family, especially on my mom's side, would approach things the same way. After all, some Mormons we've run into insist they would never have a gay couple in their house for dinner, even if one member of that couple were their brother. (This was in the comments on Times and Seasons, probably in one of the ever-popular same-sex marriage threads, but I can't find it now.) And my mom's side of the family has some pretty close ties with some pretty conservative groups. (Yeah ... that link is way beyond conservative, I know!) We hadn't ever tested how our conservative family would really accept, not just my brothers, but their homosexuality. Our worst fears were that there would be some kind of blowup or sermon or horrible thing at the party.

Well, the fears were groundless. Everyone was polite. Not gushy, but very polite. We honored our wonderful grandmother. Everyone smiled, hugged, ate, talked, and met the new spouses and babies and girlfriends and ... gay partner. A couple of people told us how much they liked my brother's partner. And that was right of them. He is a great guy. My mom and sisters and I were relieved and happy and grateful.

After the party, I learned another thing that my mom had been afraid of. She was afraid of how my brothers, and the one brother's partner, would treat her conservative Mormon family. And in fairness, those fears were not groundless. At a family party on the other side of the family two Christmases ago, two of those brothers along with some exmo cousins were absolutely ruthless about the Church and the insinuated stupidity of those who stay in it, all in the home of our still-active grandparents. They thought they were just talking amongst themselves, but it was not a private conversation. It was inexcusable behavior, arrogant and inconsiderate. (Really ... do they think those of us who stay in the church have never considered the things they are talking about? It's so important for all of us to realize that two people can look at the same data set and draw completely different conclusions.)

But that kind of behavior didn't happen at this party, either. There was some gentle smiling afterward at one uncle (a bishop in his rural Utah ward) who always likes to have a "program," and who inexplicably believes that as the eldest son he is the leader of the family since Grandpa's passing in 1999, somehow clueless about the strength of the women in the clan. But there was nothing cruel or unjustified or even inappropriate. At least not while I was there.

I hope that was the case even when the former Mormons of the family were away from the active members. I hope the conservative wing of the family stayed kind, too, once we all parted ways. It's hard for all of us to trust each other. We keep trying. Over time, things get better.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Going to the closet, going on a trip

Does anybody remember that song from Zoboomafoo? Unlike the one on Zoboomafoo, though, my closet is not going to dump its contents on me when I open the door. I have a walk-in now. No more cramming, yay!

Anyway I am headed for Salt Lake this weekend for my grandma's birthday party. It's my first-ever trip alone, without the little wild things. It feels ... very weird, oddly selfish. I have had a getaway with Glenn before, but not all by myself.

Things are fairly well ordered ... the meals are planned, and there's even a casserole in the fridge that they can take to the ward potluck on Friday. (I know! It's so Mommy Mormonish!) So why do I have this fear that no one is going to eat or go to bed or do laundry?

Thankfully I do not have to worry about the rest of the housekeeping. Glenn usually does it anyway. I am a lucky lady.

I take the airport shuttle to Fresno at 2 pm. See you all when I get back, Monday.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Pre- and During-MS

It's struck. The PMS that starts 5 days before Cycle Day 1, then lingers for a few. Blessedly, I have not bitten any heads off this month. I've been trying really hard. I've also been so busy with moving and houseguests, that I kind of forgot it was coming. Maybe that helped. Maybe anticipation makes it worse. Or maybe it was just all the therapeutic shopping I did with my mom while she was here. Oh, that was fun!

What I have been is ... weepy. Holy moly. Last night at Ward Choir we started "Consider the Lilies of the Field." I couldn't vocalize, I was so weepy. And those who know me, know that vocalizing is what I really love to do. But the "sweet tender children who must suffer on this earth?" Oh my goodness. That's not the thing for a mom who wants more babies and can't afford another adoption yet but persists in looking at orphanage pictures online.

I never said I was smart.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Chicken-fried rice with pickled ginger and sesame seeds

It's spring! Time to ditch the caramelized vegetables and bleu cheese for a while and eat fresh, fresh, fresh stuff. Gotta love the Central Valley of California for that. However, this week's inspiration actually came from further afield ... a Maui pineapple brought back by a kind co-worker. I'm almost not jealous of her now.

Chicken-fried rice with pickled ginger and sesame seeds

2 chicken breasts, diced
1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 onion, diced
1/2 c baby carrots, halved lengthwise
1 head broccoli, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 c cooked rice (I used leftover)

1/4 c soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp brown sugar
pinch allspice
Your favorite hot sauce to taste (I use Sriracha for all Asian-themed applications)

pickled ginger (the deep red, julienned kind is best for this)
toasted sesame seeds (I toast a bunch and keep them in a jar in the fridge)

Mix soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, brown sugar, hot sauce and allspice in small bowl. Add water or broth to make about 1/2 - 2/3 c of sauce.

Season chicken to taste with salt and pepper. Stir-fry in hot oil until no longer pink. Set aside.

Stir-fry onions and carrots in same pan until onions begin to soften. Add broccoli and bell peppers. Stir until broccoli color deepens. Add rice, chicken, and sauce. Stir occasionally until heated through.

Serve in bowls. Use pickled ginger and sesame seeds to garnish. Don't skimp, this stuff is what makes the dish. Yum.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Domestic Urges

We moved over the weekend. I am thrilled with my new abode. It's still a rental, still a tract home, but it's all remodeled and bright and pretty. This in contrast with the green shag carpet, paneling, harvest gold appliances and so forth that we'd been living with.

The move seems to have brought out the domestic urges in me that were previously suppressed. I didn't even want to be in that old house, much less decorate it. I still cooked, I still cleaned -- those things are necessary. But honestly, there was no point in trying to make my home a heaven on earth. It is going to be a green shag hell forever, until the selfish, greedy landlord wakes up and realizes that even at his bargain price, nobody (at least no working American) should have to live with such ugliness. Honestly, all he had to do was let us rip up the carpeting to expose the hardwood underneath. I would have stayed. But he wouldn't do it, and hallelujah, I've moved.

Today I did not want to come to work. I wanted to stay home and help my visiting mother (domestic goddess Judy, all hail!) make slipcovers and curtains to match the fabulous rug I found for the tiled floor of the family room and paint a 50s-era dresser a shiny dark blue with copper handles for my boys' room. In other words, I had almost-overwhelming Martha Stewart urges. This is basically unprecedented.

What do you think about home? What have you heard about what your home is "supposed" to be -- from official and unofficial Church sources? Second only to the temple in sacredness -- does that mean we should all get the cool buff leather chairs like they have in Bountiful? Heaven on earth -- are we going to have to stop playing Led Zeppelin on the stereo? Humble and simple -- should I have been satisfied with the green shag? Where do you find your balance?