Monday, April 2, 2018

*you could cry or die or just make pies all day

Once a year, roughly around March 14 (Pi Day!), my framily celebrates with Pienanza! Pienanza! is a holiday made up by my friend Rhea. It’s a potluck party but guests only bring pie. Any pie will do, and the band of okay for how you define pie is quite broad. This year we had pizza, empanadas, quiche, and Boston Cream Pie along with seafood pot pie, mushroom pie, cherry, blueberry, apple, buttermilk, lemon meringue, and Mexican hot chocolate pie. Rhea’s original Pienanza! (aka Pienanza! Classic) takes place around Thanksgiving. Since I am invited to the first and host the second, I actually get to celebrate Pienanza! twice a year, because I am a greedy greedy GENIUS.

My husband and I usually make a seafood pie, and it’s pretty easy so long as you’re willing to buy excellent seafood. This year it was gulf shrimp, grilled wild caught Alaskan sockeye salmon, and lump crabmeat. He sautées some onion and briefly cooks the shrimp then cuts it bite sized. The shrimp, onion, crab, grilled salmon, and some frozen peas and grilled corn kernels went into a partially baked pie shell (I like this Savory Pie Crust recipe these days), and is mixed with Progresso clam chowder. (He says next time he’ll make the clam chowder). Top with pie crust and bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

The very best part though, even better then the plethora of pies, was gathering my people close and telling them I love them, one of my favorite ways, by making good food and creating a space to share it.

*Making Pies - Patty Griffin

Saturday, March 24, 2018

*I’m going to leave it all out there to dry

I was going to do the thing where you say wooo it has been so long since I posted blahdetty blah blah but then I realized I carry weird guilt and obligation around like “You started a blog you had BETTER FINISH IT” or “You started that book you had BETTER READ IT”  or “You said you wanted to watch all eleventy million seasons of Supernatural GET CRACKING!”  And then I decided to for once in my life not be crazy and now I realize too late I explained it so apparently you are the boss of me and I am sorry.

The Uncles (husbands not brothers) came over last night and I hadn’t seen them in three years and it was bliss.

I spoiled them a little because I like spoiling them. My husband, Jeff, made tostones as an appetizer.  My uncle Ricardo said they were “pintones” because they were a tiny bit ripe not super green and they were perfect perfect perfect. We were drinking a yummy Albariño and talking talking talking. The rest of the meal was Cuban bread with butter, salad of mango and avocado, black beans, and Cangrejo con Harina which is literally crab and grits and is delicious comfort food. I actually didn’t make the harina as described in the recipe because I like this Bon Appetit Fresh Corn Grits Recipe and I DO WHAT I WANT. We finished off the meal with some 7 year old Havana Club rum, Café Cubano, and a flan so light and perfect that I’m pretty sure angels were buzzing around it, and I’ll keep that recipe to myself today (but I gave it to the Uncles because I love them).

They couldn’t spend the night but if they had, they would have had café con leche and pan tostado this morning. My husband and son love this breakfast and think it is such a treat. I already told you how to make café con leche, and the pan tostado tastes like a salty crispy fluffy pancake. The secret is you must have Cuban bread - none other will do. Cut it lengthwise, and butter both sides with a good European salted butter. Put a piece in a frying pan fluffy, buttered side down then smash it down with a heavy skillet.

After you think it is golden brown (I don’t know how I know when that is) flip it over and smash and brown the other side. Then it’s yummytime.
We have an unexpected free day today, like the eye of a hurricane in this nutty party filled entertainmenty Spring. I might paint...or plant...or cook...or swim...or loll. I am an exceptional loller. (Is too a word, shut up) but I don’t get many opportunities. It’s a good thing to do, especially if you are worry spinning and it’s time to stop being crazy. Not that I know anything about that. I meant for you. I’m fine. I’m going to leave it all out there to dry.

*“You Worry Me” by Nathaniel Ratliff & the Night Sweats

Monday, June 22, 2015

*we gotta get out of this place if it's the last thing we ever do

Did you ever read The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler? In that book the protagonist, Macon Leary, is a writer of travel guides for people who hate to travel. He guides them how to travel and still feel like they are at home. For example, the French put extra pickles and onions on their Whopper Burgers, so you have to scrape some off. Some who travel seek fine wine. Macon Leary's travel guides show you where to buy pasteurized homogenized milk. Quirky, but adorable, no? YES. (Blah blah embrace change blah blah, bookworms.)

I'm  sorta the Accidental Camper, in that I'm not super fond of camping and I want to pretend I'm at home. I am super fond of my husband and kid, so I do go 4 or 5 times a year. BluntMoms published a little piece I wrote about that. If you're like me at all when it comes to camping you're going to need these tips.

Here's a picture of three of my kids lounging around reading comic books in the air conditioning when we set up a tent in the living room. LIKE YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO. I totally have happy feet in this photo.

*We Gotta Get Out of This Place - The Animals

Saturday, June 13, 2015

*and so she woke up, woke up from where she was lying still, said I gotta do something about where we're going

Almost four years ago we put Griffin in a group home and it was the only thing left to do and also one of the hardest things. He was only 17 and it felt way too young. I had planned this for him at 21. At the time I was looking for accounts and personal narratives so I would feel less alone. There were very few.

The Mid has published my story, and you can read it here

It's not an easy read, but here on the other side and years later I know it is a good thing for him, not just the rest of us. Also, it wasn't all bad. Here is a few seconds clip of Jeff and Griffin telling a joke from the year before we placed him, which was a very hard year. 

*Running to Stand Still - U2

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

*cause the players gonna play play play

I can highly recommend an elementary school talent show on your lunch hour.

My kid played a Jackson Browne song on his viola - because he's adorable and awesome.

Then later he played vaudeville style viola riffs while two of his friends told jokes.
OH and a tiny peacock told jokes. Really.
OH and a totally wonderful kid OWNED the accordion.
OH and a wee girl in glasses demonstrated her kuh-rah-tay!
OH YEAH, and the principal? He started the whole thing off with a "country song his pappy sang to him" that he played on the dobro. What was it you ask? "Shake it Off" by Taylor Swift.

Surreal and hilarious. Not like that one time when I was in a parked limo and the Elvis impersonator across from me started singing the theme song from the Mary Tyler Moore show and then was joined by a guy in a hard hat who stuck his head in the window, but, you know, right up there.
This beat kitten and puppy and platypus pics for sure. Yay!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

*you get a line I'll get a pole and we'll go down to the crawdad hole, honey baby mine

Real quick-like - have you thought to yourself that you really might like to take a workshop - either the retreat or the ongoing class on memoir writing with Spike Gillespie? But then you talked yourself out of it (you won't know anyone! and it's scary! and maybe you suck!) I can assure you, you don't suck, and even if you are a wee tiny bit tempted, that's going to be plenty for you to get SO MUCH out of it aaaaand you know me! Plus there is a super cool thing Spike does once in a while where some of the writers read their work - in public! I'll be doing that next Wednesday, June 3, at 7pm at Hyde Park Theater which will let you check it out all incognito and furtive-like, and you should totally come. It's free and you can either hold me hand, hope I trip, or BETTER STILL, check this cool thing out for yourself. Should I read the one about the Saran wrap/rabbit crotch? Or Not a Real Phone Slut? Or the long version Belly Davis? (See - you want to come now because what the hell am I talking about!)

Okay - musical interlude as we segue to my regular old life full of ummmm mudbugs.

So, somehow, Harrison has talked us into letting him spend all his own money to get a tank and a couple of crawfish as pets. He has a blue one (Bluecinda Williams) and a white one (Hedwig). Ah, my nerdy geeky boy.

This kid is organized and persistent. First, he told us every single FREAKING day about the delights of the crawfish his 3rd grade class cared for, then, he begged me to allow him to use some of his precious screen time to RESEARCH the care and feeding of crawfish. (Right? he begged me to let him do science research.) He WROTE DOWN this research. Finally, the trump card, he showed us he had saved enough money to buy the whole thing.

I feel like Cassandra. DOOM! I see only DOOM. They are going to get sick and die or (OMG PLEASE NO) ESCAPE!  Whatchagunnado though? I have grand-lobsters. They look like little tiny weird colored lobsters anyway. Harrison facetimed his godmother to show them off, so I guess now she has godlobsters.

What I'm Reading: Armada by Ernest Cline - awesomeness, very exciting, often funny. It's more video/war game oriented than I have background for, yet full of delicious relationshippy nooks and crannies for me to roll around in. It comes out soon! Gitchoosum.

What I'm Listening To: Ready Player One with Harrison still - so good - we are on the second key. Wil Wheaton is adorable. We just passed the bit where he had to say his own name as a geezer on the OASIS council, HA! BTW, he will be reading the audio version of Armada.

*Crawdad Hole - American Folk Song - brilliantly covered by Dan Modaff on the sadly out of print Fun Just Like Today

Monday, May 18, 2015

*it's hard to know when to give up the fight, two things you want will just never be right

The APS 20 Year Anniversary show was incredible, brilliant, perfect. Jeff took the stage twice and gutted the audience. I wish you could have seen it. He cut their hearts out. In fact, I wish you could have seen them all. I would list every single one and say oh but then! and then! and oh! Suffice to say it met all hopes and expectations.

I was so happy to be any part of this group, and this show. Here's one of mine.

Obsessed with the sweatshirt - Hanes - baby blue, 
slightly too small and cuffs of sleeves well chewed 
my son wore it every day - he of exuberant nakedness never took it off in daytime even after hours of jumping in the humid air on the trampoline, 
the cumin smell of children's sweat ground deep in. 
At night he rolled out of its blue safety and slept with it clutched in his chubby fist...
me waiting each night for him to fall deep enough asleep that I could pry it damply loose, 
then staying up to wash and dry and put it back.

I throw it away - afraid to pack it away because I know I will be weak 

and three weeks go by 
and he still begs "shuht shuht shuht shuht shut?" all the way home 
the staccato repetition in little boy robot voice begging by numbers, by quantity, if not by tone, 
"shuht shuht shuht shuht?"
and he doesn't give up either, he checks all the places he can check, opens every cabinet destroys bags packed with folded winter clothes
"shuht shuht shuht shuht?"
me the chastened mama patrol trailing behind and repacking, tidying, replacing order
relentless in his driving obsession he checks on top of the refrigerator in the linen closet, every suitcase in the house
"shuht shuht shuht shuht?"

Finally way too small it has to go. 
By now it has a name in his limited vocabulary "shirt" means only this shirt...and sounds like "shuht" since he doesn't speak very well, my son (and still I am grateful remembering the 6 years he didn't speak at all)
6 years later in a store, buying school clothes for him to take to his group home,
 I am pretending to be fine and then I am pressing hard on my chest 
holding the sudden starburst of pain at the sight of a rack of sweatshirts.
I want to buy him an armload. 
Hanes. baby blue. 
I want to bring him home - my broken boy who screams and fights and bites and beats with man sized fists. 
His mystifying and relentless obsession now his fragile brother, so even though he is our child he can’t live with us,
My heart stretches thin. shuht shuht shuht Between us a frayed wire. shuht shuht shuht. A broken bridge. 

We had a good visit with Griffin this weekend - longer than usual to make up for last weekend. Griffin was happy for the bit of sunshine we had and played in the pool quite a while.

Right now I have my Marnie here, (my dear friend since 1990) and it makes me so happy. I have a few days off work to spend with her and that blisses me out so much.

What I'm Reading: Couldn't really get into The Year My Mother Came Back, I gave it up. HOWEVER, oh you guys, I just finished Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng and I don't even know what to say about it. It's a brilliant debut. This poor dysfunctional family struggling after the oldest daughter goes missing and is found dead will find the tender spots in your heart and they will squeeze them out.

What I'm Listening To - Harrison and I are still listening to Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, read by Wil Wheaton and it's so good. Long commutes are a treat.

What I'm Watching - Got to see the Age of Ultron - you know, for me it delivered. It's a very enjoyable popcorn flick. Game of Thrones. Series finale of Mad Men on deck. DON'T TELL ME ANYTHING.

*Rain by Patty Griffin