At 7:40 this morning Levi, 6 years old, flopped himself on the sofa and said:
"Mom, I'm gonna tell you a little story called Mac's Not Eating Vegetables. I put a carrot in his bowl. Long story short - he licked it and walked away. I thought he'd like a healthy snack. Apparently not."
At 7:40 this morning Levi, 6 years old, flopped himself on the sofa and said:
Play it again. You know you want to.
That is good stuff right there.
The kids and I had our first regular sit down breakfast of the school year. I made strawberry banana pancakes. (We ate them with some of the marionberry syrup that our lovely neighbors brought to us from their family trip to Oregon this summer. Yum!)
Making breakfast for my kids is one of the routines that I love about our mornings together. It is a meditation of sorts for me. We'll occasionally have pancakes, waffles and French toast. Regularly we have oatmeal, yogurt with fresh fruit and granola, toast and fruit (often with our homemade jam), and sometimes we'll have eggy breakfast sandwiches (now with local eggs from my lovely neighbor's chickens).
I learned long ago, mostly from my father, that meal preparation is a tangible act of love. In setting the table with our lovely blue and white plates, making minty tea for Maddy in her new happy face mug, letting Levi pour milk on his cereal from a small pitcher, I am loving them. And whether or not they realize this fact, the point is that I know. I must feed them. I choose to make this time a little bit more special when I am able.
These days I am taking some time for quiet and some yoga in the morning. I am cutting back on caffeine and I am often making my bed. I'm never going to be perfect. I may holler at my kids while they eat the meals I prepare. I will fail miserably at things that are important to me some days. But some days I'll do some things well. And I will feel hopeful. Today I feel good about the pancakes.
Even though Maddy said she could do without the bananas. Sigh.
My brother and my son chatting about food:
"Have you ever had a Big Mac?"
"No, but I had a half-pounder."
"Really, where did you have that?"
"Some burger joint."
"What is that place?"
"That's Panda Express."
"What is it?"
"Oh, I thought that was a coffee joint."
Seems to me I need to stop saying joint. Time to start introducing other, less offensive, words for restaurant. Maybe something like bistro, cafeteria, chophouse, hash house, noshery, pit stop, or tearoom.
I'm pretty sure I'm goin' with hash house.
Dinner - Pasta and salad
Dessert - Chocolate chunk cookies that we all make together
After Dinner - Showers, jammies, tooth brushing, hair brushing, reading and worrying
Bedtime - tossing and turning and changing beds and stressing out and possible crying
I'm going through sexual assault crisis advocacy training right now (through the local YWCA Rape Crisis Center). I'm learning more than I ever wanted to know about myriad violations committed on people. And I swear to god, it is redefining the way I see the world. Lordy.
Harassment - did you know that this is unwanted and unwelcome attention? Of any kind? And it only has to happen one time. So that SUV full of college-age guys saying things out the window to the 15 year old on the corner? They are harassing her. And those guys? They feel like they have the right to talk to pretty girls. But in a big vehicle, in a group, with the age difference - they could be scary. How is she supposed to respond? Should she ignore the comments? What if they call her uptight or a bitch? What if she tells them to fuck off? Will they get out? Will they grab her and throw her in the car? Will they take her some place and do something to her?
I don't know if she's thinking all of this.
But I am.
All. The. Fucking. Time.
I am now well versed in the language of sexual assault:
Rape, unlawful intercourse, incest, molest, sodomy, oral copulation, digital penetration, visual assault, gang rape, human trafficking, and oh, so much more.
I can speak intelligently about domestic violence, the cycle of violence, the power and control wheel and the gagillions of reasons that people will choose not to report a sexual assault or to leave a violent relationship. How our society is a rape supporting society. How more than 60% of children in homes where violence occurs grow up to be violent or violated themselves. Even if they were shielded from the actual violence occurring in their childhood home.
You know what?
I DON'T WANT TO KNOW THIS.
I'm feeling a little nutty. My chest is tight and my head is throbbing. And tomorrow we go to the county hospital where the forensic exams happen. And where I will go if I decide to do this thing. And this hospital is the one where my family spent a lot of time together about a decade ago. Holy shit.
And now I share it with you. Maybe sharing it will make it smaller in my brain. God, I hope so.
Morro Bay was delightful. We spent a little time shopping in the cute little shops (looking for t-shirts for the kids) had a delicious lunch with a gorgeous view of sail boats, kayakers and the amazing Morro Rock. Though it was too windy for us, we wanted to rent an electric boat to tool around the bay. Next time.
Fun for the whole family:
The Morro Bay Museum of Natural History
Electric Boat Rental
Next stop, Santa Barbara. We spent 2 days at the sweetest beach, complete with parasailers flying above, a lovely restaurant and a snack bar, totally decent bathrooms and ample parking. What more is there? Well, paddle ball and being buried in the sand. But that's about it. I will mention that we were there during the middle of the week. It is totally likely that on the weekends parking could be a nightmare. But not for us. For us, heaven.
State Street is the awesome shopping district downtown where we spent a couple of evenings. It is the home of The Territory Ahead's flagship store. Here we also found a wonderful respite from vacation food in the Natural Cafe. Levi and I shared a big salad and soup. Maddy had pasta. Healthy and delicious and no fries. Yum.
Stearns Wharf is so beautiful. I am not overstating it when I say that the wharf is not to be missed. I've not yet seen a photo that captures how lovely it all is. Make the trip. Totally worth it.
We visited the Mission Santa Barbara (and we did get credit for this holy act from my mother in law). It was hot. And quiet. I'm not a huge fan of mission history. On the other hand the Natural History Museum, just down the street, was a delight! Mostly because of the beautiful Butterflies Alive exhibit. Bright and muted colors, fluttering everywhere, every flower and leaf alive with quick and tiny movements. A slice of heaven. Maddy did not agree. But she and Levi both did enjoy the Grossology Exhibit. The Barfometer, the Urine Game, snot, poop, and burps. Remind me to tell you about the kids father getting a big whiff of the bacteria commonly found in the anus. Good times.
I can tell you what was not such a good time. Solvang. Kinda lame. Very cutsie and touristy - and that is about it. We went to the Hans Christian Anderson museum. Also hot and quiet. We left with a book and not much else. Pastries for my brother, pretzel and fudge and t-shirts and sweatshirts and a little wooden shoe magnet for us. Cause the entire purpose of the town is to make people like us buy that crap. Mission accomplished.
And now we are home. And tired. And the laundry is still not done. And our dogs are happy to see us.
Vacation is great but being home is good.
I just read this really great article. Lots of food bloggers and chefs respond to the question, "What would your Last Supper be?"
Ignoring the obvious issue of despair at leaving my friends and family - for me it would depend entirely on the season. If it were a beautiful and mild summer day like today I would want a Chesapeake Bay crab feed, with newspaper covered tables, nut crackers and picks and mallets everywhere, sweet corn on the cob dripping with salty butter, mountains of crabs coated with the thick paste of Old Bay seasoning and beer steam, garlic bread and salad with chunky blue cheese dressing (my aunt Rosemary's recipe) in big bowls and pitchers of lemonade and iced tea around a huge table with dozens of my beloved clan around me, talking and laughing and hammering and splashing crab juice all across cheap plastic bibs. For dessert fresh tree ripe summer peach pie with hand churned homemade vanilla bean ice cream. Perfection.
Winter, however, would be a whole different story...
And now I ask you. What would you want for a Last Meal?
Things that I don't love about living in the mountains:
1. Driving forever and a day every time we need to do so many things.
2. Being home alone at night because we are so far away from emergency response and what if something happened? How long would it take the police or ambulance to get to us?
That's about it.
Things I love about living in the mountains:
1. Trees the size of small countries just outside my windows.
2. The big and small birds that live in those trees. And the animals that call my yard their home.
3. The air and the space and the privacy.
4. Meals on the deck outside feeling like we are sitting on top of the big beautiful world.
5. The neighbor who walked up to me at the mailbox to give me something. Fresh eggs. From her chickens.
The list is much longer than this, but today I am feeling so touched about the beautiful, soft brown, fresh eggs.