Sunday, December 30, 2007

Apple pie!!!!!

Shannon said, "Hey Mom! Let's do something FUN!" So we made an apple pie together. She peeled the apples and sliced them. I made the crust and mixed the suger and spices. Laura, who would ordinarily be a lot of help, was painting six inch vertical stripes in yellow and white on her bedroom walls.
Look at that beautiful, sugar encrusted pie crust. Here are some pie tips:
  1. I ordinarly refuse to eat shortening in any way shape or form, but it is necessary for a good pie crust, unless you have lard. My grandma kept a bucket next to her stove and poured off the fat from beef into it, so she always had lard. Once I had lard left from a roast beef and I made a pie crust with it. It was the best crust I ever ate. But in the absence of lard, use Crisco.
  2. Sprinkle some flour into the bottom of the pie plate before laying in the bottom crust. Just do it.
  3. Never bake a fruit pie at 400 for however long they say. Bake it at 350 for an hour, and then start to check it every 10 minutes until the juices start to bubble out.
  4. If you are married to my husband (which, I am glad to say, you are not, but maybe your husband feels the same way...) always sprinkle the top crust with sugar before baking.
  5. Always, always, always remember to dot the fruit GENEROUSLY with butter (REAL butter) before putting on the top crust. Use at least 1/4 cup (1/8 lb.)

Enough already. Here's a piece of pie. Doesn't it look good? I ate that piece of pie, thank you very much.
But before I ate it, I took a picture to remember it by.

Here is my pie, Shawn's pie and Jonathan's pie. Note the flaky crust, the apples swimming in buttery sauce speckled with cinnamon and nutmeg, the dreamy ice cream. Laura was painting her room and Shannon was in there with her, reading Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen aloud to keep her entertained whilst she worked. DJ was at church, because he is better than the rest of us. Not really, I'm just on a guilt trip--tonight I ate apple pie AND skipped church.

Food pics

I am experimenting with taking pictures of food with my new camera. Shannon and Laura made these cookies. Don't they look luscious?

Here is a bowl of fruit. There are apples under the oranges, but I didn't think to pull one out so you could see it. None of it will last long. Apples, oranges and bananas go as fast as cookies around here, sometimes faster. And is it any wonder? Just look at them!

Here is a Yule Log, also known as a Buche de Noel. This is a traditional Christmas dessert for our family. It is a chocolate jellyroll rolled up with whipped cream. It is surprisingly easy to make. Julia Child used to decorate these with meringue "mushrooms". I don't.

Here is Jonno enjoying his yule log. Actually he is cracking up because he had been making disturbing faces and I yelled at him.

This is not a picture of food. This is a picture of my handsome husband. He likes this picture because he looks swarthy in it. Swarthy is one of his favorite words but, being Swedish, he has never been very successful at attaining the swarthy look (I go for the clean cut look myself, so it really isn't a problem). Still, Shawn was quite taken with the swarthiness we achieved through lighting, F-stops and stuff like that, and photo editing afterwards.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Our girls are so strong!

Our girls are so strong! Look at them playing with their dad!

They swing him UP. . .

They swing him DOWN. . .

And then. . . they DROP HIM!

Poor Dad. But he's still smiling. Actually he has a bigger smile than some of these girls with sore backs.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


I haven't been blogging much lately.  Maybe that's because David says blogging is of the devil, which intimidates me into staying away from it--at least when he is home.

I never even wrote about how Shannon, Jonathan and I went and cut down a Christmas tree.  I'm not sure what day that was, or how it worked out.  It was not the weekend; I think it was a Friday, and for some reason Shannon and Jonathan were not at school.  Everybody else was busy and the days were getting down to the wire, so Shannon and Jon and I got in the van and drove to Mexico, NY.  We were the only people at Grangers' Tree Farm.  They loaned us a sharp saw, and we hiked into the woods, and Jon picked out a tree and cut it down, all by himself.  Shan and I carried it out of the woods.  It turned out to be a GREAT tree--really tall and not too fat.  It fills up the vault in the family room ceiling without covering up the fireplace like last year's tree.

I got a camera for Christmas, so maybe I can start posting some pictures pretty soon.  We didn't take any pictures until after Christmas, but that's OK.

We didn't buy as much this year, and it was a really nice thing.  We decided there was no need to go all out, because the kids weren't even asking for anything.  We are content--we have everything we need and most everything we can even think of to want.  How blessed we are, and we don't even stop to think about it very often.  With less gifts, the mess after gift opening was so much smaller!  And in the ensuing days, it wasn't such a squeeze to fit our new acquisitions into the house.  Such beautiful peace!  I gave each child a family game so we could enjoy playing games together over the school vacation.  Last night we played Balderdash, which was fun.  I love having a family of six.  It is just perfect for family game nights.

The kids all bought gifts for each other, with their own money, and they are big enough to drive one another out to stores without us, so it was just great!  It was such a blessing to see them get excited and enjoy the pleasure of giving... something they never had the opportunity to do back when I did all their Christmas shopping for them.  I love having older kids.  I just love it.

We didn't make all that many Christmas cookies this year, either.  We made my original recipe of Spiced Christmas Cut-Outs (a.k.a. "Little Brown Boy Cookies"), and that is just about (not quite) all we did.  I did not mind having less sweets around--besides it made my birthday cake on 12-22 that much more appealing, and for once it was all consumed before it was dried out and nasty.

We had a relaxing family Christmas, and we enjoyed it.  These days, it is such a rare treat just to be able to be together at home and relax.  We visited the O'Briens for Christmas dinner, and Frisbies were there, and after dinner about 12-14 teenagers came (at various times).  At one point, a young man came in the front door saying, "Merry Christmas!" and as he went off to the basement to join the other kids, Debbie O'Brien looked at me and said, "Do you know who that is?  I don't!"  We have been doing Christmas with the O'Briens for six years or more now, and this has never happened, so I wonder if it is because the Frisbies are very popular with teenagers that we had all these extra people.  Strange--the Frisbies' two kids were the only ones who were NOT in the basement.  (?)  Amber wasn't feeling well--she had a bad cold.

So all in all it was a very satisfying and pleasant Christmas, and it was a joy to see how much fun and contentment there can be with less gifts.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


MP stands for maternal-paternal, meaning the paternal side of the maternal side, which is my father's family.

I am thinking about family and roots and heritage, because it is Christmas time and, after shopping, the economy and massive giftage, family is what the world focuses on in the midst of holiday festivities.

My dad's family is English. They have been in America just about since it began. I was always told that we are related to George Washington's mother. This always seemed strange to me until I grew up and read a book about George Washington, and in reading I learned that George Washington never had any children of his own. He married a young widow who had two children whom he adopted, but he never personally reproduced. So I guess being related to Washington's mother is about as close to being related to Washington as you can be.

The family name is Rainbow. I understand from the family lore that some of the English Rainbows were notorious. Of three Rainbow brothers, one was a criminal and was sent to Australia, one came to America, and one stayed in England.

There are actually some Rainbows of English heritage here in Syracuse, NY, but I have never been gutsy enough to contact them and ask if there is any connection.

My grandma and grandpa met in Iowa. Grandma's father was a schoolteacher. Grandpa's father was a gentleman farmer. They were quite well off... until the depression.

Living in New York, I get the sense that easterners were not as affected by the depression as midwesterners. The Great Depression was totally traumatic for my father's family. His dad was a hard worker and a responsible person, but there just wasn't enough. My dad grew up in a family of seven children, he had a sister and two brothers ahead of him, and a sister and two brothers after him. It went like this: Virginia, Jack (really John Corbin), Bud (really William Clark), my dad--Jim (James Robert), Marilyn, Douglas and Donald.

Dad has great stories about growing up, some happy and some sad. He used to tell me stories at night before I went to sleep, and then he would sing me hymns. He told me about how he and Jack and Bud and Marilyn would run around in the country in Iowa and try to jump over puddles without getting a "wet foot." He told me about how once when Marilyn was very little and just learning to use the toilet, she fell in.  He came along at the opportune moment and... flushed it.  I believe he got in pretty big trouble for trying to dispose of his little sister like that.  He told me about how his mother used to work in a grocery store in Iowa. This store was owned by a man who had an insane sister. She used to wear a dress and pantyhose into the store.  She would walk among the aisles and when nobody was looking she would lift up her dress and drop cans of food into her pantyhose until she was dragging heavy-laden stockings with cans hanging all around her ankles. The store owner had instructed my grandma just to leave her alone. My dad said my grandma wished she could have had some of that food to feed her family.

My dad says he and his siblings only got a half a glass of milk per day. He loved his milk and always wished for more. I think I heard a lot about this because I hated milk and refused to drink it at all. One of my dad's favorite childhood meals was lima beans, which his mother would cook and serve in a "gravy" over slices of bread. My mother surmises that he liked this meal so well because it was one of the only meals they ate that was plentiful enough to fill him up. My dad adored canned peaches, which were a rare treat. As a child, he promised himself that one day he would grow up and work hard and make so much money that he would be able to eat a bowl of canned peaches every day. For as long as I lived at home, my dad always ate the same breakfast: a tall glass of skim milk, a medium glass of orange juice, two slices of home baked white bread (toasted and buttered) and a bowl of canned peaches.  Now he eats Cheerios so he can stay off Lipitor; his cholesterol is under 200.  He still eats a bowl of fruit, and it usually has a base of peaches.

When my dad was about ten, he had a paper route. He says that Jack got the clothes when they were new, Bud got them when they were worn out, and by the time he got them, they were in shreds. I suppose he wanted the paper route largely so he could buy himself some clothes. Minnesota winters are cruelly cold. That is one thing I truly do not miss about living in Minnesota, even though we now live in Syracuse where winter is no stranger and we get record snowfalls. But unless you have lived in Minnesota, I don't think you can understand the depth of the cold, how it freezes down and doesn't thaw until spring, how the snow that falls in November doesn't melt until May, how minus 20 degrees feels on your eyeballs when you blink on an average winter morning, waiting for the schoolbus.

So anyway, my dad, at ten, was out trying to deliver newspapers in a coat that had been worn by Jack and worn out by Bud, and he was cold. One day he was walking downtown and saw the warm lights of Colburn-Hilliard's menswear store. He went in and smelled the rich scents of leather and wool, saw the racks of thick, warm, beautifully made men's clothing. He walked over to a rack of warm, woolen jackets and reached out to touch one, feeling the thick wool and heavy lining and dreaming about what it would be like to deliver papers in such a jacket.  It was 1942 and the coat cost $4. The store owner came over and said hello, and my dad had a thought. He said, "Sir, this is a very nice jacket. I would like to buy it from you, but I don't have the money yet. I have a paper route, though, and I will bring you a quarter every week when I get paid, if you will just keep this jacket for me and not sell it to anybody else until I can pay you for it." The man looked my dad over and sized up his worn out shoes and the holes in his elbows and the patches on his knees. "I'll tell you what, son," he said, "You just give me what you can right now, and you can take the jacket with you. I trust you to pay me every week."

My dad's family was an anomaly. They were poor, but they had class. They read poetry and spoke proper English. Manners and aesthetics were very important to them. They worked hard and dreamed big, and when the depression was over, they rose from the ashes. Grandma taught me to cut up apples and section oranges, then use the pieces to create circle designs on a plate, a beautiful visual fruit salad. At Grandma's house everything was special, everything had its own little ceremony. She read me poems and played records for me to listen to. She introduced art projects, cooking projects, even gardening projects, and she had a way of making each one so special and precious. She let me pop popcorn in her fireplace.  Of course, by the time I came around, they weren't poor anymore. But in plenty or in want, Grandma had a way of sitting down and looking at you and listening to you, asking you all the right questions to touch your heart and stimulate your creativity.

I was astonished to learn, much, much later, that Grandma had been hospitalized for a nervous breakdown when my dad was little. He remembers driving to the hospital, and how he and his siblings would sit out in the car and wait for their dad while he went in and visited her. My grandma was the most kind, gracious, amazing person I ever met, so learning that she was overwhelmed and overcome back in the days when all her kids were little gives me great hope for myself. I didn't learn about this until after my kids were past the most difficult stages, when I really thought I was losing my mind, and I kind of wish I had known earlier. But just the same, it gives me hope for my own future.

Rainbows are cheerful, generally. They are tender hearted and have a good sense of humor. Their eyes tend to twinkle, and they have a knack for catching beauty and laughter and priceless moments. One day I was visiting my Aunt Marilyn when Shannon, David and Laura were very small. Aunt Marilyn has lived in absolutely stunning homes, so I was a little nervous about the children and their behavior. David was about two, maybe three. As Aunt Marilyn and I chatted, she at one point gestured quietly toward David. I looked and saw that he was picking up a candlestick off her end table. I moved to stop him, but she silently motioned me to wait and watch. David set the candlestick on the floor, backed up, ran towards it and jumped. Marilyn burst into a huge grin, “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jump over the candlestick!” she reminded me.

Rainbows have a rare appreciation for beauty and for the unusual and eccentric, which is probably why two of them (Jack and my dad) married Herbold women. We’ll talk about that next time.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Rat race

The rat race can stop anytime now.  Really.

I mailed the packages--only three this year because I wimped out and sent gift cards to most the relatives.

The family shopping is mostly done.  Mine is, anyway.

I look forward to family breakfasts and games played by the fire in the family room, hot cocoa and Christmas music in the background.  I don't care about gifts and stuff like that.  Pajamas beat party clothes.  I just want the frantic schedule to stop.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A poem

There was a cold woman
Who lived in a house,
She always wore her coat
But the cold still made her grouse.
She turned on the fire
And sat on the floor
Soaking heat from the hearth
Far away from the door.

Do you know that whenever something has to be recycled, I try to hand it to another family member because I so dread opening the door to the garage and feeling the icy blast that hits whomever is throwing something into the recycling bin?  I am very thankful whenever another family member recycles something for me.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Out of the closet

We have a closet in our front hall. I suppose it is supposed to be where we put the coats of our guests when they come over, but to do so would generally be a serious health hazard. At least, that was true until last Thursday.

This closet has old dress coats from when the girls were little, current family coats, and a lot of miscellaneous stuff, not the least of which is all of our non-Christmas wrapping supply. Every time I buy wrapping paper to wrap a gift, the leftovers are stowed in this closet. When we receive a gift in a gift bag, after extracting said gift, I pop the gift bag into the closet, and the tissue paper, which I fold and tuck into a box with my opened and half-used packages of new tissue paper. Especially pretty bows go in there, too, and nice baskets filled with raffia.

On Thursday, I cleaned out the closet. It was at the point where you didn't dare to open the door for fear of what would fall on you. Since I do tend to keep coats that we wear in there, this was quite inconvenient. The wrapping supplies needed to be taken in hand. When you can't use things, there is no use in saving them. The point of saving something is to someday be able to find it, access it, and use it.

I emptied the closet into the foyer. Wow. Let’s just say I did a lot of sneezing. I had no idea how much stuff I had, and how randomly it was stored. It seemed to multiply as it came out, until I drafted a very large, tattered gift bag to hold garbage, and then later a few very large boxes. I also did a lot of vacuuming. I had to change the vacuum bag mid-project and clean the vacuum filter. I was very productive.

Do you know what I found?! I found the original box where I used to store the things the kids made when they were tiny. I thought that was long gone. I know that if I go through that box I will find the original papers on which Shannon and DJ first wrote their names. Shannon was only two when she first wrote hers. We had read a story about somebody who needed to be able to write his name so he could get a library card. I closed the book and set it down, and Shannon leaped out of my lap, proclaiming, “I write my name!” She ran to her highchair, where she usually colored, and climbed up. I gave her a piece of paper and a crayon. I wrote her name in big, block letters, and she laboriously copied it over. I’m pretty sure the S and at least one of the N’s were backwards.

The thing I remember about David first writing his name is that he did it backwards. I am clueless about left and right, but people had been telling me he was left handed ever since he was about six months old. He grasped the pencil in his left hand and made a perfect, fairly small, capital D. Then he moved his hand to the left. I tried to guide him to move to the right, but he shook me off. He moved to the left and made a perfect I. Then left again, and a V. As I watched, he spelled out his name perfectly in small, neat capital letters, DAVID, and when he finished you never would have guessed that he had done it backwards. I found the box that has the paper in it that DJ did this on! How amazing is that?

I also found a box that is full of old notebooks and folders of my “creative writing” from long ago. Was I ever unorganized. But somehow, I don’t want to part with it. I have faith (maybe false faith) that someday I will organize it all and be inspired to write the novel. It’s just one unassuming box, not too big.

I went through loads and loads of gift wrap, threw away a lot, and organized the remainder into accessible containers of tissue paper, wrapping paper, bows and neatly folded gift bags. In order to do this, I had to go through numerous gift bags and empty them. Some held empty packages from toys. Some produced candy wrappers, buttons, Easter grass, old cards, and paperclips. There was a lot of dust. At one point I found something that indicated that I had not cleaned this closet for seven years (wish I could remember what it was—it’s a blur). Somebody should fire me from this housewife gig.

At the bottom of a particularly classy bag, I found a giant Symphony bar—you know, Hershey’s milk chocolate with almonds and toffee—my favorite. I remembered it, it was from Valentine’s Day, 2006. I was happy to find it. It was well wrapped—even had a couple layers of tissue around its own intact wrapper.

It’s just fine; I already ate a square. The best thing is—no competition. When I told the kids it was from 2-14-06, they said, “Eeewwwww.” It’s all mine, people, it’s all mine.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

My Christmas list

These are the things I would be tickled to receive for Christmas and/or my birthday:

1)  (the long shot)  Plane tickets for the whole family to go to Minnesota over Christmas break.
2) A leather coat, black or very dark brown (because I shed, and I am tired of trying to pick all the hairs off my wool coat).
3) A nice digital camera and someone who can teach me how to post pictures here, on this site.
4) A new showerhead for our bathroom, one that comes off the wall and sprays where you want it to spray (e.g. when you are cleaning the tile).
5) Something pretty--probably a necklace.  Not too big, not too funky.  Good colors for stones would be red, black or dark brown.
6)  Rubber scrapers
7)  Pot holders
8)  BBC movies of British books (David Copperfield?  Middlemarch?  James Herriot?)
9)  Our Mutual Friend, the book by Dickens.
10)  A pair of really beefy kitchen shears, the kind you can use to cut through poultry joints.

I could use some clothes, too, but I probably need to pick them out myself.  Ugh.

By the way, please forgive me for being so self-centered.  But I can't list what I plan to get for other people, for obvious reasons.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


So many Americans are overweight. There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of books, theories, over the counter pills, surgeries, therapies and motivational speakers that all claim to help people lose weight. Yet the average American continues to get fatter every year. Even children are obese. What to do?

The first thing is that we have to come to terms with a fact that nobody likes: When it comes to nature, you can't beat the system. Any attempt to trick nature will inevitably backfire on you. I believe that this is because God created nature, and any human attempt to "improve" upon it is destined to ill fate. Whatever you believe, the evidence is there, it doesn't work to try to get around the natural order of things. As the old saying used to go, "It's not nice to trick Mother Nature."

I believe that the incredible increase in obesity in America is due to the fact that instead of learning the system and working within it, the mindset is always to find a way to get around it, to seem to be having more when you are really having less. It just doesn't work, folks.

My family is not overweight. And guess what? We use real butter, real olive oil, real sugar and real meat. We sit down to meals together and enjoy them. We have dessert, for goodness sake! Artificial sweeteners are taboo in this house, not only because I get wicked migraines from them, but also because I believe that they make you fat.

Artificial sweeteners make you fat? Yes, I believe they do. Your body was designed to take in a certain amount of sugar, to maintain a certain blood sugar level. Your taste buds were designed to help you do that, appropriately. When you eat or drink something that tastes sweet but does not deliver the expected blood sugar, your body is cheated. Something happens, and the body begins to crave more sweets. The more it is cheated, the more sweets it craves. In the end, artificial sweeteners stimulate the body to consume more calories (particularly sweet ones) than ever, because of distorted appetite.

The Bible says, "My soul will be satisfied, as with the richest of foods," (Psalm 63:5). Of course, this is talking about how God Himself is truly the answer to our deepest longings, and we must not lose sight of that. But there is also an implicit understanding here that people see mot have forgotten in the present age: Rich foods are satisfying, and it is good to be satisfied. It is also good to know when you are satisfied, and to stop consuming and just enjoy the feeling of being satisfied.

There are three principles that I think would help most people in America lose weight if they followed them.

(1) Learn how to cook well, and then eat delicious, satisfying, home-made food. These days it is cheaper to buy Little Caesar’s pizza or burgers off the “value” menu at Wendy’s or MacDonalds than to cook a nutritious meal at home. But it is still worth it to cook at home. The wholesome ingredients and the satisfaction of sitting down to a family dinner can not be duplicated with $5 of fast food. You know that. It’s obvious. So learn how to cook—GOOD food. Master roast chicken, beef pot roast, lasagna, chili, homemade macaroni and cheese from scratch, meatloaf, tuna noodle casserole, beef stew, homemade chicken soup, the list goes on. Don’t just decide that nobody likes it because all you have ever eaten was burgers, pizza and tacos with the lettuce and tomatoes left off. If you didn’t like your mother’s recipes, find new ones. Learn to puree your butternut squash and eat it with brown sugar, butter and cinnamon. Steam your green beans with little pieces of bacon. Pour heavy cream on your Brussels sprouts. Butter and salt your corn. Peel up some apples and bake an apple crisp. Fix your food with love, make it taste good, and then sit down and eat a nice, satisfying meal.

(2) Do not eat indiscriminately between meals. There are times when a snack is appropriate. At our house, we used to have a snack just before 4 p.m. This was mainly because, in my childbearing years, if I didn’t eat shortly before 4 p.m. I would descend into a downward spiral of nausea that lasted a l-o-n-g time. It was also because Shawn comes home from work late, and dinner is never before 7 p.m., so the little ones had to have something to tide them over to dinner after their naps. Now the afternoon snack is simply upon arrival home from school. It involves sandwiches, leftovers from dinner the night before, fruit, any baked goods that might be around, bowls of cold cereal, crackers, cheese and often chocolate milk. The other night we had a lovely snack comprised of homemade hot cocoa, Amish friendship bread, corn chips and salsa, apples and almonds. It was a Sunday, and the snack took the place of dinner on a hectic weekend. So if you need a snack, schedule it in. But do not, I repeat, DO NOT eat constantly all day long. It is very important, if you are to maintain a healthy weight, to be able to discern when you are hungry and when you are full. If you eat out of habit, because you are bored, or just simply because something looks tasty, whether you are hungry or not, you are sure to be heavier than you ought to be. Eating is not like breathing… you don’t do it all the time. Eating is much more like going to the bathroom (same system, you know). You do it at intervals, and between intervals, you feel fine and think about other things (unless you are sick, but that’s different). When your body signals you that you need to do it again, you arrange to do so, and afterwards you again go off and do other things.

(3) Let yourself get hungry. I cannot tell you how many parents I have watched feed their children every minute of the day—a dish of dry cereal, a cup of juice, a cookie, a cracker, some chips, more cereal, more cookies—snacks by their side while they are playing with their toys, while they watch TV, even when they go outside with friends, they take a snack along. Then at dinnertime, the family sits down to the meal and the children pick at their food and only put down the tastiest parts. The poor kids aren’t hungry. Nothing appeals to them. Of course they only want dessert. Let your kids get hungry. Let yourself get hungry. It is a good thing to get hungry. Foods taste so much better when you have a true appetite

Other things that help with weight—do not confuse hunger with thirst, and learn to drink water. In fact, if you think your body is confused on this point, make a rule to yourself to always counter your first urge to eat by drinking a glass of water. You may be surprised how much this satisfies. Of course, if you are truly hungry, the water won’t help, but it won’t distort your appetite, either, and having water in your stomach when you sit down to eat may help you to feel full faster and thus eat less at the meal.

Do not make food your main focus. Enjoy it at the proper time, and thank God for it. If you are sad or angry, do not turn to food for comfort. It will always make you feel worse, if not immediately, a few days later when you see the pounds you’ve put on. For physical hunger, go to food, eat and be satisfied. For emotional hunger, pray, read a good book, do a good deed, talk to a friend, or, if all else fails, sleep. Never eat to fill an emotional void.

Don’t eat gross things that are loaded with artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, refined sugar and corn syrup sweeteners. Tear off their trendy, slick disguises and see them for what they are—junk food. And do not eat them. I mean really, what do you want? A blue sour-patch something or other with crystallized something or other all over it, or a homemade brownie with pecans and fudge frosting (real butter, no trans fats)? Or would you rather have some Bugles or a serving of beef tenderloin? Recognize what is gross, and never eat it.

It isn’t that hard. It just requires some retraining. If you have terrible eating habits, talk to your doctor, but I would recommend fasting for a day, and then slowly adding back foods, drinking lots of water, until you are getting hungry and satisfying your hunger with regularly scheduled meals at least 3 hours apart. Try it; you might like it.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Two in one day

They say it never rains, it only pours. Today it is blizzarding and I almost had a fatal car crash whilst attempting to pick up my dog, Schubert, after he was surgically altered (neutered). I slid past the vet's office and fishtailed around in the turning lane between two crazy lanes of rush-hour-during-a-blizzard coming from opposite directions on each side of me.

Of course I prayed, like crazy, and God was merciful (see previous entry). The irony was that I had to turn around in the parking lot of the psychic who lives on the far side of the vet. How mortifying it is to sit in the turn lane of a busy road during a blizzard and look like you are taking your life into your own hands in order to get a psychic reading.

We have been having issues lately. Safety issues. Car issues. You name it.

This past weekend was the New York State School Music Association All-State Conference (NYSSMA) in Rochester, NY. DJ went with his saxophone. He didn't make the All-State jazz band, but we went over to Rochester on Saturday night to hear the NYSSMA jazz band play. It was pretty good, but it was kind of like when you put together an all-star basketball team to play in the Olympics--everybody was trying to take the shot (or the solo, as the case may be). There is so much competition and jealousy among musicians, sometimes I honestly wonder why we devote so much time, energy and money to music in this family.

I was glad that DJ was not in the NYSSMA jazz band. Totally and unreservedly glad. And not because of anything I just mentioned. I was glad because of this: If you had been there, you might have noticed that it was held in a smallish, clubby-feeling auditorium. The first six rows of seats were on the main floor. Then there was a section that inclined at about 45 degrees. Above that, in the uppermost section, the seats rose at an angle of about 60 degrees. In the 45 degree section, there were wooden banisters. In the 60 degree section, there was a sort of metal loop on only one side of the aisle, about one every three seats or so.

When we arrived, the auditorium was already mostly full. We entered on the left side and climbed all the way to the top without finding three seats together (it was Shawn, Jonathan, and me). Jonathan spied three seats together over on the right side of the auditorium, but you had to descend to ground level, walk across and then climb up again on the other side. He took off like a mountain goat. I struggled to follow him… and tripped. Mind you, I was in the section where the seats inclined at a 60 degree angle, where the hand rails were so few and far between as to be virtually non-existent. Had there been anything to grab, I would have been able to save myself. But I fell, in slow motion like a bad dream, down five or six incredibly steep stairs.

I finally landed in the back of the shoulder of a poor unfortunate man. I apologized profusely and asked him if he was okay. He was nice, genteel in fact, and didn’t yell at me or call me a stupid clumsy fool to my face, for which I will be forever grateful. I probably gave him wicked whiplash, but he said, “I’m fine, it’s YOU I’m worried about.” I could tell I’d hit my knee pretty hard on something, but I choked back tears of pain and shame and said, “I’m fine,” and took off trying to catch up with Jonathan as fast as I possibly could.

So that is why I was glad DJ wasn’t there. He would have been so ashamed, probably nearly as ashamed as I was.

We got home late that night and Laura had plans to sleep over at a friend’s house because she needed to be at church the next day, and the rest of us were going back to Rochester to hear DJ play in the All-State Symphonic Band. Shannon was going to take her over to her friend’s house, and I decided to go along because I needed a few things from the grocery store. We got about a quarter of a mile from home, and Shannon made a careful right turn with a green light, followed by two careful lane changes for which she signaled responsibly. Just then we saw those dreaded lights behind us.

Yes, we were pulled over. After sitting and waiting with sweaty palms and shaky knees for about 10 minutes, we learned from a harsh-faced trooper that we had a headlight out. He gave Shannon a ticket. Ugh.

The next morning we drove to Rochester again, in a blizzard. The concert was really good, and on the way home we enjoyed a van-picnic made from groceries I had purchased the previous night after getting a ticket.

It was overcast on the way home. Shawn turned on the lights for safety (I hope it is obvious that we had not had a chance to fix our headlight between 11 p.m. on Saturday night and 7:30 a.m. Sunday morning, which is when we had to leave for Rochester). But anyway, on the way home, about half a mile from our thruway exit, we drove past a trooper who was parked off to the side of the road. Sure enough, he pulled out behind us and pulled us over again for driving with only one headlight. At 2:38 in the afternoon, if you can imagine. This trooper, however, was nicer than the one the night before, and he gave us a form that we could send in to prove to the court that we had fixed the light (which Shawn did immediately upon arriving home).

All-State Band, being pulled over by a policeman (twice), getting my dog neutered, almost perishing in an accident, and on top of that, Laura’s ballet class (the one she teaches) had a recital Sunday afternoon right when we got home. That’s enough to put me under. It’s hard to face a busy week when you get no rest on the weekend. I am HOPING for a snow day tomorrow so we can all sleep in.

It never rains, it only pours, except when it snows.

Justice and mercy

The human condition is to desire that justice be brought to everyone except oneself--one desires mercy for oneself.

The American condition is to assume that mercy is an entitlement.  Of course that is an oxymoron, because mercy, by definition, cannot be an entitlement.  Mercy is when something bad is supposed to happen to you, but out of random benevolence, someone (or Someone) finds a solution so that you do not have to suffer the pain that you have coming.

Loopholes are not an entitlement, either.

Try telling that to the American Bar Association.