Saturday, July 26, 2008

Organize and simplify

I think Toby has caught the whole Live Simply (tm) Organize (tm) Declutter (tm) fad. He's got the bug. I often come around the corner to find a row of something, like this:

Or this:

He has his priorities straight. Keeps his grandparents close and his toys closer, even when running through their sprinkler.

This is not to say he doesn't let loose every once in a while. I believe his exact words were:
I taked apart a sanwich! I would like another!!

Unfortunately for him, however, it is clear he shares our genes.
He can't hide his freak flag forever.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Going green

There is a tiny little dot exactly between wanting all the area's classical enterprises to have an audition in the fall and wanting them all to just hold their horses a bit longer (a year longer, maybe). I am that dot.

Auditions would motivate me, even though there are only a couple of groups here I truly want to join. I still have to play all the auditions in case I feel like playing or in case I feel like buying shoes.

Last weekend I did a wedding gig here. I had sworn off weddings after I started daydreaming about a car wreck or an irreconcilable fight between the bride and groom preempting the nuptials so I wouldn't have to play Canon one more time. (Strychnine in the guacamole.)

Gig quartets are like a mold, spread subtly across the underpinnings of the western world. You're never more than a mile from one. The gig books alone are some kind of hermaphroditic organism. This wedding I played Saturday included the exact same five songs at the exact same moments in the exact same kind of ceremony I have played on the opposite side of the states. They all have these sad feed-lot cow pieces in their books; most even have the same horrible arrangements.

Molds reproduce using spores. I suppose those could be the few self-arranged tunes a group pulls out when the reception has gotten too loud for anybody to hear anyway. Led Zepplin maybe, or the Beatles. Lots of groups keep a second binder of actual real legitimate quartet works: late Mozarts, early Beethovens and the occasional Piazzola. These are usually the things the quartet really wants to play, the things that keep them from "accidentally" driving over nails on their way to the outdoor wedding on a hot day. These give us hope that we'll be able to use some of our artistry in addition to our coping skills and keep us from all spontaneously taking up something lucrative. Like becoming a Hummer salesperson.

It's hard to get connected to musicians when you haven't joined any group full time. Most are running around, drumming up work or working every chance they get or practicing for work or looking for friends from work on facebook. You know the drill. So that made it comforting, somehow, to tuck into my very own Violin III part on Canon, to emote shamelessly through Bach's Air (not on my G-String) and come out the other end with a nice check to put toward diapers.

I was happy to be part of something even if it has the musty smell of sameness.
World Wide Wedding Quartet (n):
multiple, genetically identical nuclei and is considered a single organism, referred to as a colony. Spreading soon to a ceremony near you.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

WFMW- Labels make me happy

This post is part of Shannon's Works For Me Wednesday Series.

I have fallen in love with my labeler. It's a cheap little gizmo that smells slightly of the 70's and it makes a satisfying ca-clunk as each letter is made. Also, it can do the following:

1. Nifty looking gifts: wrap the gift in brown shipping wrap or an inside-out grocery bag. At Christmas I taped the seams with colorful and cheap electrician's tape to continue the minimalist look. Make a label with the recipient's name and slap it on there. I like them just like that, but if you add a few frills it will look... frillier.

2. Label your file folders, especially those for daily sorting use. I find myself much more likely to use a file if I like the way it looks and it's clearly marked. I suppose I'm shallow that way. Disregard the crummy focus point of this photo. Thank you.

3. If you like plain jars of hand soap, labeling is nice so visitors don't end up all slimed with lotion by mistake. I am jonesing for a bunch of one-gallon glass canning jars. I will put them on their sides on a shelf in my garage with their contents labeled on the lid: white rice, brown rice, rare gems, wheat germ, etc. It will look neat and my housewife stock will go up 2 tenths of a point at least.

4. The obvious- your name and number can go on stuff you'd rather not lose. iPods, stuff you loan out like books and dvds, it all looks more formal with a strip of brightly colored tape. This here's my car Bible, and I figured I'd better label it for when I take it into churches filled with post-modern emerging church Word stealing-types. For all I know they might take mine and hand it out to somebody on the street, and we can't have that, now can we.

5. Here's the best thing for you muthaz. Use it to label your kid's drink cups! This totally warrants that exclamation because I've run it through the washer like four times and it's still there. When you do want them off, there's no sticky gross mess. And, I think pre-readers can find their own cup more easily when you put their name on with this. Is it because nobody else's mama is nearly so anal? Maybe, but they will have their water and that's all that matters.

Epilogue: You can get carried away, so try to limit your daily labeling to one or two items.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

No good very bad day.

I didn't practice.
I don't practice enough lately.
I don't even take my viola if it's just an overnighter anymore.

And everyone was crying at naptime. Everyone.

We had such a good thing going, but then it turns out he isn't having any fun in preschool, and my expensive-ass mixer broke, and Isaac cried so long in the carseat that Toby finally joined in, and my parents are having kind of a tough time, and he wants to learn to use the bathroom but I'm not sure how to teach that yet, and Isaac bites even though he's all gums (gums of steel), and Toby climbs out of his crib six thousand times a day. I have to talk to him like Hitler must have talked to a mosquito buzzing in his ear as he tried to sleep.

I hope he doesn't remember today, but then again what does it matter: there will be more days like this. How do you ask for grace from a toddler?

Saturday, July 05, 2008


Our weekend has been unexpectedly busy, an abundance of good things to do.

Toby decided to join in by trying out some firsts.

1. First jello. Lime. I believe he would have liked to eat his weight in it.

2. First time climbing out of his bed at home. He's been in a pack-n-play since birth. It has no slats to climb, and he has not tried this with his bed yet. Once upon a mattress... Do you think this'll keep him in his room?

3. First (coincidental?) successful use of the toilet. We have not started training him, but he asked us if he could sit on the pot and who are we to say no? Maybe he read my blog. I suppose I will be googling all sorts of strange things tonight, things I never anticipated willfully reading.

Here's the dastardly duo plotting parental domination.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Lightning bug

Both these photos are from last year's trip to Wallowa Lake.

Last night we had the best thunder storm. The lightning was striking all around and above us, sometimes almost at the exact moment the bedroom lit up. Through all of this I was shocked that, while J and I lay there awake and drowsily enjoying the show, both boys slept. I won't say "like babies" because that would mean they woke repeatedly and needed help to relax. No, they slept like teenagers.

Storms have always had a special place in my psyche. When I was around 5 we lived on the outskirts of Helena, Montana in a house with a spectacular second story balcony providing a view of the valley and the lights of the city in the distance. It was a pretty vista even on an average day, but what sticks in my mind was that we would all sit on it after dinner and watch the lightning sweep across the scrubbily junipered sage speckled bowl. I loved everything about storms, from the way your chest walls reverberate sympathetically (Shostakovich 5 has tympani parts that do this) to the loamy smell. It always smelled like fresh clean earthworms to me. Wrinkle your nose if you will, I was a rock-overturning child and still appreciate buggy things.

When I was a little older, both Poltergeist and Firestarter made gathering storms seem even more important. The insane weather was one of the few things I enjoyed of my freshman year of college in Texas.

Like escaping for a few hours while somebody else takes the be-diapered reins, something about a storm makes me feel wild oaty. I wish Portland saw more of them.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

WFMW- Teriyaki Salmon, Meatballs

This is for a food-themed Works for Me Wednesday. If you've been looking for good dishes with five or fewer ingredients, click on over there and enjoy the links. I'm sure I'll be printing a bunch of new stuff for my kitchen binder tonight.

Here's mine:

1. Teriyaki Salmon
Salmon fillet (steak would work, too)
Soy Sauce

Line one of those shallow square brownie-type pans with tin foil.
Pour the soy sauce and mirin together at a ratio of about 1:2. So if you pour 1/3 cup of soy sauce, use 2/3 cup of mirin. Put the fish in the prepared dish with the marinade. You want just enough liquid to wet the whole fish and have a nice little pool around it, though while you marinate more's okay. If you have a very big fillet (like one of them Costco half-a-fish fillets), you'll obviously need more.

Let the fish marinate for anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple hours. Pour off most of the liquid and leave just enough juice for that little pool we mentioned. Cover the top with foil, too.

When you're ready, heat your oven to 375 and cook about 15 minutes. Remove the top foil and cook another 5-15 minutes, until the fish flakes when you poke the thickest part with a fork.

OR lightly oil your grill and cook the salmon there. You can even use some oiled foil in the grill if you like- of course, you won't have the little pool here, though.
*Mirin is a sweet Japanese cooking wine available in most grocery stores, but if you don't want to bother (even though it's totally worth having some on hand) I think you could improvise with cooking wine and a few tbsp brown sugar instead.

2. Lunch Party Meatballs
1 Big Bag Italian Style Frozen Meatballs (those Costco suckers work great)
1 Medium (10 oz or so) Jar Grape Jelly
2 Jars 12 ounce Chili Sauce (a ketchup-like substance found in the ketchup aisle)

This recipe is eminently half-able, and as far as I can tell the proportions aren't super critical anyway. I've even heard tales of folks using Ketchup instead of chili sauce and adding a few spices (cayenne? garlic salt? chives? probably.) with some success.

Put all the above in a crock pot. Cook for about 4 hours on low, stirring once or twice. Remember, don't open the pot more than that lest lots of the heat escape.

These are super popular at baby showers, pass-a-dish parties, and the leftovers (if you have any) are good for sandwiches or on rice. Put out some fancy toothpicks and cute napkins and you're good to go.