Wednesday, August 24, 2005


So I don't know how much attention the blog is going to get for the next couple of weeks. Today I hardly sat still, there was so much media and photography and craziness going on. I was at work until past 7:30 p.m. I barely got home in time to kiss the boys and make them brush their teeth and read to them. But at least I got that.

Anyway, blogging might be low priority for a while. Unless I get really stressed and need to write.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Sam's birthday

But now I am Six, I'm as clever as clever
So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.

-A.A. Milne

May the year ahead bring joy and accomplishment, sweet son!

Birthmom "T," wherever you are, we are thinking of you with love and gratitude today.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

That's what it's all about

Do you work for something you're fully invested in, something you believe in with the deepest part of your heart? I'm so lucky; I do.

If you're not much for inspirational stories and me getting all mushy, you should stop here. But if you can handle it, you should read this story.

I've had the privilege, in the last few weeks, of starting to meet the incoming students of the first class at UC Merced. I randomly pick a kid -- excuse me, a young person -- to talk to, and inevitably I end up with an awesome story. Every one of these students is just amazing.

Some have immigrated with their families from Mexico or Thailand as refugees or farmworkers or both. Some have found their own talents in math, music, science, sports or other fields and risen to the top of their teenage potential, often in small, rural high schools without the advantages city kids find in their education systems. Some have capitalized on the amazing support of parents, foster parents or grandparents who believed in their abilities. Some have pushed on in spite of lacking that kind of support. Some have volunteered amazing amounts of time, building houses for Habitat for Humanity overseas or organizing a hot rod show to benefit tsunami victims.

They set their sights on becoming doctors, pharmacists, or mental health professionals, many of them, because they have an incredible urge to help others. Or on scientific research, because they have latched on to the value of knowledge and realized that learning makes a difference, not just for individuals but for whole societies.

Some of these students have literally walked through the valley of the shadow of death, jungles in Southeast Asia, pursued by Communists bent on punishing sympathizers with the United States. Now they come to the land Bountiful to pursue their dreams.

Godspeed to them. Rock on, founding class at UC Merced!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Casserole epiphany

I've figured out the thing about Mormons and casseroles.

Yesterday I made this gorgeous summer Sunday dinner: barbecued chicken, corn on the cob, green salad with ripe tomatoes and cucumbers, hot oatmeal muffins, butter and honey, peanut butter pie. I'd been to the farmer's market on Saturday, you see, and it was alllllllllll about August. It was so tasty. It was ready at 6 PM, when my husband said he would return from fulfilling his church-related obligations.

When he arrived at 6:45 it was all cold.

See, if I'd made a nice chicken and rice casserole with (gulp) cream of mushroom soup, I could have turned the oven down and held it for him. But all that fresh-made stuff -- not so much.

Of course this didn't stop him from wolfing down two chicken breasts, four muffins, two ears of corn, a mountain of salad and two pieces of pie. Some people and their metabolisms are just unfair.

Anyway, I think that's why my mother's generation made casseroles. Maybe I can figure out how to make a casserole I would like. One with NO cream of anything soup.

Friday, August 12, 2005

The big, sweaty fruit of my stress

It's been a crazy week. I got a call Tuesday from a man who sounded -- well, mentally unstable. He promised he could get Lance Armstrong to the university's Grand Opening in a few weeks and then went off about his connections with important media outlets. He'd been through our Web site and found the story I wrote last year about a scientist studying hippo skin secretions. I gave him some background and sent him on what I thought was his mildly mentally ill way.

The next day the calls started coming in. They didn't seem to care that this is essentially an old story. The Merced Sun-Star did it a year ago and I did it on the Web site in December. It's hot outside, and they want a story about a big, sweaty hippo.

I don't want to complain; publicity is publicity and that's what I'm supposed to be doing. When I'm not writing scripts and going to meetings, that is. It's just that right now there are a lot of scripts and a lot of meetings. And the scientist in question wasn't particularly available. He had to juggle and strain to make time for reporters. To some TV folks I just had to say no. I had to do a lot of back and forth calling to make the schedules work.

Here's one result. (Free registration required) It was on the front page of the Fresno and Modesto papers. There was also one TV story. My boss thinks it likely that it will get picked up by AP, because it's such a quirky story and the Bee reproter did do a good job with it.

I can't wait for the other TV crew -- the one I said no to -- to call me up today and ask why the other station got the story. I won't have a good answer for them. They were simply lucky enough to get onto the professor's schedule. That's all it was.

Moral of the story: just because you have a random caller who sounds pretty much crazy, doesn't mean he can't get things done. Take seriously. Check availability of parties involved before giving him background information on a story he wants to pitch.

So that's what my job is like. In between scripts and meetings, and illicit blogging.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


That is going to be my child's WWF name someday. (I think fake wrestling is called something else now, but I don't know what.) He is the extreme child.

DH is a SAHD this week since Abe's school is closed in preparation for the new school year. Sam is still going to his summer program. So the idea was for me to take advantage of the chance to get to work a bit early instead of taking the kids to school as I normally do. (Anybody else unable to bring themselves to say "daycare?" It's school! I swear! OK, I'm ridiculous, I know.) Anyway, right. I haven't been into work before 8:10 all week. Only one day has DH taken Sam in. He prefers to go with me because that's his routine. Routine is important for a 6 year old. I know.

But today I didn't even wake up until 7:10 and I felt like I had an anvil on my chest. Not sick ... just slept funny and feel sore. I dreamed all night that I was driving my minivan and couldn't control it. I kept coasting backward whenever I applied the brake. I kept careening through busy intersections, past semi-familiar buildings ... all without a scratch, but it was terrifying. Of course I also had a reporter and photographer in the van with me (something I'll be doing this afternoon). Waking up after a night of stress dreams always sucks.

So I rushed to get ready and eat breakfast. I did feed the kids but didn't get them dressed. Then when I finally was ready to get out the door at 8:00, Sam panicked because he wasn't ready to go with me. I refused to wait for him. I felt so mean, but man ... dad can take him to school just as well as I can. It's not often I get to take advantage of having a spouse at home.

Anyway, that kid sure can throw a fit. I just needed to write to reassure myself that his psyche will not be scarred. I felt pretty bad leaving him crying, watching the garage door close and hide his sad little face.

Monday, August 08, 2005

12 years later: Not a wild honeymoon stallion, but not bad either

We had a Napoleon Dynamite date for our 12th anniversary on Saturday. Takeout tamale's from Pedro's Place, tots toasted in the oven, tetherball at the playground, and a cake building contest.

All this with the kids, because I just haven't seen them enough lately. They loved it. I loved it. Just the fact that Glenn put the thought into it to plan it all out in advance ... that's what I love the most. I don't need fancy. I just need time, and thought.

After we put them to bed, I got my "card."

Ain't no sexy better than funny sexy.

My husband promises he intended this to look more like a Napoleon drawing than the real me. That was effective. Anyway, I laughed my guts out.

Here's to another twelve happy years!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Lime chiffon pie

I got thinking about my mom's summer desserts this week. Lime chiffon pie was always a favorite. I looked up a recipe in my trusty Farm Journal cookbook. My grandma always says, if you ever see a Farm Journal cookbook, buy it. They are always worth it. She is right. I have this one from the 1940s and then also a bread recipe book. Both have some funny midcentury food ideas but also some outstanding down-to-earth recipes. Plus the mini comments are always entertaining -- serving ideas, background information, a brag about a blue ribbon at a county fair.

The chiffon pie recipe I have in my Farm Journal book is actually for lemon chiffon. But same difference. I'm modifying the directions somewhat to make it clearer.

Lime Chiffon Pie

1 packet unflavored gelatine
1/4 c warm water

Combine and stir. Set aside.

4 egg yolks (reserve whites in metal or glass bowl)
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. lime juice
grated rind of 1 lime

Combine in top part of double boiler. Stir over boiling water until thickened to the consistency of pudding. Remove from heat. Stir in gelatine mixture until smooth. Refrigerate to cool while you complete the next step.

4 egg whites
1/4 c sugar

Beat until stiff peaks form.

Fold cooled gelatine and lime mixture into beaten egg whites. Spoon into graham cracker crust. Homemade is great but who are we kidding here, it's summer.

Chill at least one hour.

Now for the charming serving suggestion from Farm Journal:

Serve with frosted grapes. Dip small bunches of grapes (3-5 grapes in a bunch) in egg whites and then in granulated sugar. Refrigerate 1 hour.

No grapes in the house, dang it, or I would totally do it. Lime and grape is a yummy combination.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

It's a character flaw, the way I read

When I get my hands a book I like, I read like an alcoholic drinks. Binge reading. It's not good. I get annoyed when people talk to me, I stay up all night, I'm cranky and mean in the morning. I consume the story in a matter of hours, so eager to get it into my brain that I often do so in a sloppy, careless way. There's no good excuse for it. Except that the books are so ... delicious.

I read when I'm on the elliptical trainer at the gym. I think it's a good plan. My office mate says that would ruin the reading experience for her. I think it's the only way to get through the numbingly boring exercise experience. It's far better than plugging in the headphones and watching whatever silly movie is on TBS on the dozens of TV screens around the room.

But then I suffer from can'tputitdownitis when I get home. I shower in a hurry and then get my still-warm, but clean, self into bed and read and read and read.

So I think it was maybe midnight last night when I finished Life of Pi. I loved it. The voice was endearing, the story compelling, the details of the impossible plot utterly real. Pi is a mystic, an engineer, a child, an observing scientist, a poet, an animal.

At the beginning of the book his story is described as one "to make you believe in God." I'm still turning that over in my mind after reading the ending of the book. I won't spoil it. But the ending had me tossing and turning. Thinking about truth, and good, and desire to believe. And the natural man, and the reality we live every day humans, surviving in our various ways. And how those two could ever fit together.

Go read it your own self!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Abe's report on his Tuesday

DH had the kids out at the lake on a friend's boat when I got home from work, and then I was at Mutual, so I didn't see my kids between 8 AM and 8 PM. So that sucks. But at least when I see them they tell me the really important stuff. Like this, from my four year old:

"I was playing with Rachel and I was telling her about my bad dreams. And I told her about all of them. And then I said, 'What do you think of my bad dreams?' And then she grabbed my head and kissed me, for real!"

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Stuck in the middle with you

Current posts on Times and Seasons and Feminist Mormon Housewives referencing gay marriage and the LDS Church's past involvement with the California ballot initiative to ban it have me flummoxed. I'm emotional about this topic, I doubt myself, I fear for the future. So instead of making a fool of myself in the comments on someone else's thread, I'll just sort out my thoughts here. Because of course the topic continues to come up in my new and much-loved home state, not to mention the rest of the country. I probably should try to figure out what I think and feel.

So far, I've been lucky, you might say. I lived in Utah when Prop. 22 was going on in California, and in California whenUtah had a ballot amendment on the topic last year. But I know I can't escape the debate forever. Sooner or later I'm going to have to show where I stand. Looks like it might be soon.

I think most who read here (all three of you, and I thank you) know my situation. I have two gay brothers. I love them. They were deeply hurt when other members of the family did as they were asked and campaigned for Prop. 22. I understand that hurt and I don't want to perpetuate it. I also believe in the gospel and mostly in the LDS Church. I believe that someday, in this life or the next, something is going to change, either on the policy end or on the biology end, making it possible for people who are or were gay to be full partakers in the restored gospel. When that day comes, I don't want the emotional rift between me and my brothers to be so deep that they cannot or will not return. If I am less than compassionate, I believe I would bear some responsibility there.

But there's this. And this. And this.

Is hurting your family (a family in which, by the way, the last convert baptism was in something like 1856) to crusade against gay marriage the same as leaving your family to follow Christ? I'm not sure. But I'm thinking, and I worry.

I'm not sure gay marriage is a great social ill. I understand that it wouldn't work in the Church. But I think there could be solutions that wouldn't require the Church to perform such marriages. And I think there are rights we often associate with marriage (like health insurance or being with a dying loved one in the hospital) that are basic human needs or rights having nothing to do with sexual orientation. Without direction from the Church I would probably campaign for legal domestic partnerships with the same rights as marriage. With direction from the Church ...

I will probably just try to keep a low profile. I hope that's not a big mistake.