Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


Goodbye Mr. Rogers

March 20, 1928 - Feb. 27, 2003

"You don't set out to be rich or famous. What you set out to do is to be helpful."

Fred Rogers, gently soft-spoken stalwart of my childhood, died today of stomach cancer. It seems such a hard, cruel way to lose such a gentle man. If there is anyone who deserved to pass peacefully from this life in a painless slumber, it's Mr. Rogers.

In the 60s and 70s, when what was hot for kids was the frantic muppet capers of Sesame Street or the neon "Hey You Guys!" hysteria of The Electric Company, I'm sure frazzled mothers across the nation really thought they were pulling one over on their kids every time they plunked us down in front of soothing, boring ol' Mr. Rogers. And perhaps for kids who came from stable, predictable homes Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was something to be mocked, a "baby show". Not for me.

Mr. Rogers offered something to me, and thousands of children like me, that we didn't have in our own lives. For half an hour a day, we were basked in gentle, predictable adult attention. Mr. Rogers was going to walk in the door of his little cottage, put on his sweater and sneakers, and invite us to join him on whatever simple adventure or project he had in mind. Every time. For a girl like myself, living in a transient world of new homes, new schools, new friends every year, a child of stressed and harried young parents, this predictability was blissful. I had no gentleness in my real world. I was a victim of bullies, ruthlessly teased, awash in grief at my parents' divorce, very little extended family around me. My parents disciplined through an ever-escalating routine of nagging, yelling, and physical punishments including slaps, hair-pulling, and spankings with hands, belts and spoons. An adult with the attitude of Mister Rogers did not exist in my life.

That's not entirely true. My father had a friend named Steve, a fishing buddy who we spent a good deal of time with. Steve and his wife didn't have children then, but they were gentle and patient with my brother and I when we saw them. Steve goofed around with us in a carefree, unfatigued way. He talked with us, not at us, not down to us. But most importantly, when we screwed up, Steve's manner was shockingly different than anything I was used to. There was a time when we kids were down by the lake, wildly swinging our fishing lines through the air without a thought in the world to the potential dangers of flying fish hooks. Steve shouted for us to stop, and I (ever the overly sensitive one) burst into tears. Part of it was from the shock of Steve raising his voice to us, it was so uncharacteristic. Part of it was from the shock of being reprimanded, since I was too young and inexperienced to make the flying fish-hooks connection for myself; I wasn't trying to be be "bad," I didn't mean to be bad. Mostly my tears came because I desperately feared I'd disappointed Steve, and I'd ruined it for myself, that he'd gotten fed up with me and the days of being treated with patience were done.

What Steve did at that point is something so very simple, but so meaningful to me, I try to remember it as often as I can with my own parenting. Steve came down to my level, sat close to me and looked me in the eye (or tried, as I sobbed and hid my face in fear and shame). He made the connection for me, explained that he hadn't yelled because he was angry at me but because he cared about me and saw that I was doing something dangerous. He cared about me, he didn't want me to get hurt by getting a fish hook in the eye, and we could go on having fun. That was a Mister Rogers moment.

I couldn't have been more than 6 when I had that exchange with Steve, because my parents were still together then and I was still living in the town where I was born. Within another year or so, my parents had split up and we moved away not too long after. While we still occasionally saw Steve and his wife, and later their children, the visits were brief and years apart. I never forgot that taste of being treated with gentleness and respect and, until I deemed myself "too old" for Mr. Rogers, Fred Rogers kept that memory aglow through his television example.

Bless you, Mr. Rogers, for all you've done. We need more people willing to take their strength from gentleness and set out in the world to be good and helpful.

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Sure enough, all that travel on buses, trains, planes, and subways (not to mention hauling around in the pouring rain) left me feeling completely ill. Killer sore throat, pounding headache, the works. Slept for 10 hours last night, and don't feel any better.

Of course I have tons of work to do. This is one of those times when I really wish Chris could drive, because it's up to me to drive even when I feel sick. Kate has drum chorus tonight after school, so I have to go pick her up from that, I have to go to the post office to make sure some folks with missing orders get their replacements before they go nutty, I have to go to the store for food (since I made sure we were out of everything before taking off for our trip). At least I'm just feeling bad and not feeling like I'm dying, like when I had pneumonia.

I guess my fevered ranting about how awful the American government is behaving is going to have to wait until I can get up a full head of steam. Just heard that some Canadian friends of ours are so angry and worried about how the US has turned they're considering selling their house here and going back to Canada after something like 10 years of living and working here. I don't blame them, not one bit. I feel like packing up and doing the same! The years I lived in Canada were wonderful, Kate would be closer to her dad, and we could run our business from anywhere.

Back to bed before I depress myself.




Didn’t make it out to see the Intrepid after all. It was pouring freezing rain on us the whole last day we spent in NYC, and in walking the short 6 blocks from our hosts’ home to the PATH train we were all soaked through. I had to wring out my hat in the station, my gloves were soaked, and by the time we made it to Katz’s my coat was soaked through. Kate was such a trooper, it was all a big adventure to her (a cold, wet adventure, but worth it to her anyway. I was so proud.) and a nice matzo ball soup was just what the doctor ordered, until we left the deli and found it was pouring rain even harder than when we’d arrived. Yuck.

Wet and exhausted, we decided the Intrepid would just have to wait. Kate did insist on buying herself an I [HEART] NY t-shirt and a mini Statue of Liberty. She loved New York, even at the tender age of 7 and Chris is just so pleased (after I did not fall in love with the city myself: it’s crowded, noisy, filthy; everything I hate and more of it. I’ve softened on the city a little, but I’m not gaga for it like some people I know).

The trip back to Seattle was amazingly painless. Quick baggage and security check-in, a not-unpleasant-wait to board, seats all together (you’d be amazed at how often we have trouble with that simple request), arrived perfectly timed to make our connection in Pittsburgh. Home sweet home.

Too tired to write any more, but tomorrow I expect I will be refreshed enough to write up some of my thoughts on the current political climate, massive anti-war protests, and atrocities like this:


Rants tomorrow.




Tried to update the ol' blog when I had a few spare minutes and some web access several days ago, but Blogger's site was funky and I couldn't access Discolor Online. Kinda ruined my plan of posting updates about the trip. Oh well.

We're in the last stages of this whirlwind tour and we're all exhausted. We arrived on the east coast by plane, landing in Providence, RI about midnight on Valentines Day. Oh, the romance.

Saturday the 15th we drove to the Boston area and spent the day with Chris's folks. Sunday we drove to Maine to see the waterfront property they'd acquired since our last visit. Beautiful little place on a scenic Maine bay, windows all around. I could imagine spending a week there in the summer, supping on lobsters pulled fresh from the water and working on laptops. Oh, to make it happen!

Monday I was supposed to meet up with the New England members of my mom's group, but an incoming blizzard put a stop to that plan. I was heartbroken, especially when I learned that the people from New Hampshire drove down to Boston in spite of the storm, with their children! I had nightmares Monday night about what a horrible person I was to arrange a get together and then not make it. I spent most of the day feeling depressed and sick, full of anxiety. One of the women who made the trip with her kids had also traveled to Washington DC specifically for a get together with me on the eve of my wedding... when I was supposed to be in the area and having a "bachelorette party," except that I came down with pneumonia and couldn't make it. Not only did I not have any sort of pending-wedding celebration of any kind (something that I was really, really disappointed about) but those wonderful ladies spent their precious time (busy moms, all) and money to come to a get-together with me and I left them hanging. I understand that blizzards and pneumonia are circumstances beyond my control and reasonably legit excuses, but I still feel bad. Out of proportion bad.

When we dug out from the snow on Tuesday, Kate and I went to a quaint little museum of dolls and trains. Thank goodness it was hands-on and interesting for Kate. My child was thrilled with the massive snowfall, but needed something else to occupy her that didn't involve getting soaking wet or freezing cold. Dolls and trains were just the ticket.

Wednesday we finally made it to the Boston Museum of Science. I'd bought tickets in advance and was worried that they wouldn't honor them since we'd missed our time slot for Monday, but there were no problems. Unfortunately we'd gotten a late start and so had far too little time at the museum for me. Again, I was sorely disappointed. Traffic had been awful getting into the city (I'd thought we were taking the subway, but Chris's father insisted on driving us to the spot) and by the time we arranged the tickets, quickly ran off to the Egyptian exhibit (not even stopping to check our coats because the tickets they gave us for entry were for exactly that moment) then came back to the coat check, then stopped to feed the starving child, etc, we had about an hour and a half to visit the general exhibits. Just not enough time and once again I was bitterly depressed that the few things I'd planned for my own fun and Kate's entertainment were just not going well at all.

Had sushi with a friend of Chris's from high school, and that perked me up a bit. Fun was had by all, and hot sake never hurts my disposition.

Thursday very early we were dropped at the subway and had to make our way with our bags to the bus station for our New York City leg of the tour. Arrived in plenty of time, but the bastards at Greyhound announced the bus was full as we got to the front of the boarding line! Despite having purchased tickets for the 9am bus, we were forced to wait for the 10am bus. Joyous. Once we reached the outskirts of New York City our bus driver was driving like a maniac, plowing through intersections, laying on his horn, stopping inches from other vehicles. Right along Central Park we became stuck in traffic for a good long time. A couple different passengers got the idea to ask if they could just be let off where we were, but no, the driver insisted that wasn't possible. When traffic began to finally move again, however, the bus driver misjudged how close he was to a truck and ran right into the guy, tearing the side mirror off the bus. To a chorus of groans, he pulled off to the side to exchange info with the truck driver. In the process, he left the door to the bus wide open, and it took all of 90 seconds before restless passengers decided to make a run for it. We grabbed our bags and rushed from the bus like refugees.

Since we were in the vicinity of the Museum of Natural History we treked the 18 blocks or so, checked our coats and bags, and spent the rest of the afternoon roaming the exhibits. Kate and I paid extra to tour the exhibit of live butterflies. After dinner at a Spanish place with tasty sangria, we hoofed it to the Path train and out to stay with our friends in Jersey City.

Yesterday Kate's only request was "no more museums!" so we took advantage of the freakishly mild weather and toured the Empire State Building. Kate was quite delighted and has been holding up on tour amazingly well for a 7 year old, but had about reached her limit for walking and standing in lines. We made a quick stop at the infamous Compleat Strategist where Chris shopped for games for the 9 years he lived in NYC and then shot up to visit with friends at a hip little cafe, where Kate managed to eat about $15 of chocolate mousse and hand-squeezed orange juice and then took a long nap in the booth while the adults chatted and drank espresso and chocolate martinis. Off to Charlie Mom's for dinner and meeting up with Green Ronin cohorts Brian E. Kirby, Robert J. Toth, "Crazy" Todd Miller, Rob Lawson, and assorted delightful spouses and friends. Fourteen of us made for a robust party, the food was delightful, and much game industry business was discussed. Unfortunately Bill Simoni wasn't able to join us, but all the other NYC Freeport pirates were able to come and a great time was had by all.

I'm officially exhausted now, which explains why I've monopolized the Kirby's internet connection for this update. I can't seem to motivate myself to move from the chair, even though our plan is to pack up and head out before lunch. We intend to make our traditional stop at Katz's Deli for giant pastrami sandwiches and matzo balls as big as Kate's head, then I hope we can stash our bags in a locker at Port Authority and maybe make it over to the Intrepid to kill time before our bus is scheduled to leave tonight. Back to Boston after dark, and then tomorrow to Providence to catch our flight back to drizzly, predictable, Seattle.

Here we go!



So Tired

Procrastination has always been a habit of mine. A bad habit, of course, but a comfortable habit. I had meant to be much more prepared for a ten-day trip to the opposite coast with my child, I had imagined packing my bags a day or more in advance, loading carry on bags with toys and games and goodies to keep us all entertained. I hoped that I would be caught up on the household chores.

I did manage to get Kate's clothes washed, but nothing has been folded or packed. I have half a bag of books and toys for Kate, but nothing of mine organized. As of dinnertime tonight, my beloved thought we were leaving tomorrow night instead of tomorrow in the early afternoon. In fact, to be safe, we should arrive at the airport by 11am. Hah.

My saving grace was that it was game night tonight, so I cleaned, took out garbage and recycling, and made sure dishes were washed before anyone came over. We had turkey "philly" sandwiches, coleslaw, pickles, and chips for dinner and ate from paper plates. Kathryn brought banana bread and cookies, so the valentine cookies I bought will need to go to Massachusetts with us or go stale, but Kathryn's goodies were yummy, the meal was easy and good, and clean-up was a breeze. The dishwasher hums along, cleaning the last of our mess, and if nothing else the mail has been put on vacation hold. I'm amazed that I remembered to do that one so far ahead.

Boston should be fun for us. It's always nice to see my in-laws, they're just wonderful people. I also have four "mom friends" in the area, like my girlfriends who joined me in San Diego, so we're going to meet up and bring all our kids to the Museum of Science to see their Egyptian exhibition in particular. I've been to Boston several times now, but have really done no sight-seeing in the city itself, and I'd like to rectify that on this trip.

We've also got a few days in New York to enjoy, though it won't be as enjoyable as prior visits because of the bitter cold they've been experiencing. Despite being from Minnesota, I'm not a big fan of arctic temps and frigid winters. This is also the first time we've been back to New York since the World Trade towers fell. Leave it to me to plan a trip to New York City during a state of heightened concern about terrorist attacks, and on the virtual eve of war. Ah well, at least the Koreans don't have nukes that will reach that far (as far as we know).

Must get some sleep so I can get up, pack, finish a few last minute things for the business, and get to the airport early enough that we don't have to worry about missing our plane because of intrusive security measures that back things up. (I will never forget the time we got to the airport to find a two-hour long line to check in and then another two-hour long line to get through security! We'd gotten up at three a.m. in order to take a six a.m. flight but weren't anywhere near our gate when it was time for the plane to leave, and the next flight we could get seats on was after noon. Going through all that was bad enough, but going through it all with a tired, bored child was additional torture. Never again!)



Duct Tape

So, in the interest of homeland security, we're being told to stock up on bottled water, plastic sheeting, and duct tape. Duct tape! Is there nothing it can't fix?

Meanwhile, The Onion brings tears to my cynical eyes:

Saddam Enrages Bush With Full Compliance
WASHINGTON, DC—President Bush expressed frustration and anger Monday over a U.N. report stating that Iraqi president Saddam Hussein is now fully complying with weapons inspections. "Enough is enough," a determined Bush told reporters. "We are not fooled by Saddam's devious attempts to sway world opinion by doing everything the U.N. asked him to do. We will not be intimidated into backing down and, if we have any say in the matter, neither will Saddam." Bush added that any further Iraqi attempt to meet the demands of the U.N. or U.S. will be regarded as "an act of war."

I know it's satire, but the best satire usually ends up being roommates with the truth...

Oh, and did everyone notice that the CIA has announced it believes North Korea has the ability to nuke the west coast of the US, should they feel like it?

Shitty news day.




I came home from shopping for Kate-sized winter wear feeling dazed and a bit numb. Shopping does that to me sometimes. By the time I got home, Kate was home from school and I received an enthusiastic greeting. I guess she missed me over the weekend! We happily tried on boots, hats, gloves, socks, and long-johns. I also thrilled the girl by stopping at a used video game store and picking up several used cartridges for the hand-me-down Gameboy pocket she has. For the entire time she's had this game, she's had only one cartridge for it, so in anticipation of spending several hours on the road with her (on planes, trains, and buses) I picked up several brand new games for her and it was like Christmas all over again.

I whipped up a quick dinner of ginger-lime chicken breasts, wild rice pilaf, and fresh, steamed green beans and to my amazement, Kate ate what I made! As much as I like to cook, Kate hates to eat, so this was a banner night. Woohoo!

After dinner we spent an inordinate amount of time building our own wrestlers for Mucha Lucha and ended up with Fireina. I'm raising a little geek girl, but we had so much fun.



Get Away

Just returned from a glorious but whirlwind tour of San Diego and I'm feeling both exhausted and refreshed. This weekend away with girlfriends (and no kids) was just beyond words. Everyone there was so fantastic, funny, entertaining, oh I just hated to leave! It was my first time meeting our hostess, Sheryl, in person (after 8 years of knowing her through e-mail correspondence) and she was a fantastic hostess. She drove us all over town, made several trips to and from the airport, and let six rowdy, uninhibited, riotous women invade her home for the weekend. Only one of the other attendees was someone I'd never met in person before, and she was also a funny, wonderful woman (which I'd always suspected from e-mail but you can never be sure how people are going to connect in person until you do it). The other four attendees I'd met before at various other organized get-togethers and felt as comfortable around them as I would feel around anyone I'd known for the better part of a decade. These women are so much like the sisters I never had, it was like going home.

After predictions that the weather was likely to be cold and rainy, I was pleasantly surprised that it was quite mild and sunny. The poor Phoenix contingent might not agree, it was on the cold side for them, I gather. I, on the other hand, reveled in the sunshine, the ocean, the exoticness of the cacti and palm trees everywhere. Quite a welcome break from moist, chilly Seattle.

We did typical "girl stuff" which is a whole new ball game for me. Traditionally I've hung out as one of the guys and I'm quite a bite more likely to whip out the power tools and start a home improvement project as I am to curl up under a comforter with chocolates and a novel. This weekend it was all about eating and drinking (largely Mexican food, margaritas, and chocolate), playing games, shopping and shopping some more, and gossiping, wise-cracking, and laughing until our sides hurt. I tore through The Bone Setter's Daughter and The Bean Trees, both of which I found completely immersive. I bought The Green Mile because I was sure that The Bean Trees was not going to last me the whole flight home (and I'm not quite ready to start into something as massive as The Poisonwood Bible) but I was tired enough to sleep on the plane (from staying up late with the girls and then going off to stay up even later reading after they'd all turned in for the night) and only finished as we were pulling into the gate in Seattle. I've never seen The Green Mile movie and I haven't read a Stephen King book in many years (since I borrowed The Bachman Books from my friend Stewart ten years ago, I'd bet) but I figured I'd give it a whirl.

Home for four days and then we're carting Kate off to Boston to see her Yiayia and Papou, with a little side trip to New York City for her "mid-winter break" from school. Should be interesting to see how Kate handles the snow and cold, as the east has been having quite the cold snap and Boston got 10-inches of snow over the weekend. Kate's exposure to extremes of temperature has been very limited, though she's much more likely to wilt in the heat than to complain about the cold if our past encounters with the seasons are anything to go by. Must remember to buy her a decent hat and scarf this week, and probably a pair of decent lined boots as well.

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Bed Night In

As it turned out, Kate and I were both feeling a little fatigued and ready to just hang out at home. Instead of girls night out, we tucked into the king size bed (Kate brought every pillow in the house and half a dozen dolls to join us) and watched re-runs of Gargoyles and ate microwave popcorn. Then I read Kate the last chapter of The Miserable Mill and the began The Austere Academy. After four books in the series, Kate is now able to accurately translate what baby Sunny shrieks about 90% of the time and is greatly pleased with herself whenever she blurts out "That's because it's Count Olaf in disguise!" only to have me read the next line, "That's because it's Count Olaf in disguise!". There are adult references in the books that definitely go over her head, but I would rather read a thousand Lemony Snicket books than the pap she brings home from the school library.

Tonight was supposed to be game night, but three of our players have begged off (one for a possible case of kidney stones!) so it looks like gaming is off for this week. At this rate, we're never going to get through the Freeport adventure Chris is running us through. It is supposed to be a playtest game, so we're all trying to behave ourselves and not simply slaughter each evil baddie who crosses our righteous path. [begin game geek rant] We have such a non-standard group, though, I don't know how useful this playtest is going to be. One of my gripes with 3rd Edition D&D is that the designers have assumed that each group is going to be "optimized" and have a standard array of character classes/spells/whatnot. Which means when our non-standard array of characters traipse through the Heart of Nightfang Spire without a cleric, it's an awful lot less fun that it was meant to be. (Did I mention I hate undead?) Currently, we've got a group made up of a halfling rogue/fighter, a witch, a pirate, and a puny sorcerer, which is fun for us but doesn't give much insight into how the average (presumably "optimized") party is going to handle the same adventure. [end game geek rant]

Tomorrow, I leave for a weekend in San Diego. I'm attending a get together with five or six friends of mine who are also mothers of seven-year-olds. The chicks from Phoenix are driving to San Diego, where two of the moms live, and one is coming down from San Francisco. I love these women, they're all so cool and so inspirational to me as parents. It's been 8 years that I've known these women now, though I really can't believe it's been so long. We all met as part of an e-mail support group when we were pregnant (most of us with our first baby) and those of us that stuck with the group have become lasting friends. I've attended several of these get togethers over the years, once in Michigan, once in Las Vegas, several smaller get togethers with three or four moms at a time in Seattle, San Francisco, and Boston. Very few times in my life have I said that I'm looking forward to some chick-time (I'm much more of a tom boy with lots of guy friends) but in this case I can hardly wait to get on that plane. Woohoo, chick time!

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Ah ha!

In addition to a spiffy new guestbook, I now have a spiffy new comments function. Thanks to Martijn ten Napel, and his great Blogcomments.




I've added a guestbook to the site. It's not as nifty keen as an area for comments would be, but chose poorly when deciding which company was going to host Nikchick.com, and finding a comments program that works within my host's limitations has been a pain.



I wrote an entry about productivity, how productive I'd been today and how tomorrow is Wednesday, traditionally "girls' night out" for me and Kate.

Then it was all eaten up as my computer froze. I have an extension conflict somewhere, but I hate the thought of facing the tedious process of finding it. I hate trying to make up lost writing, it's never the same and it's never as good as what was lost.

Instead of trying to repost it now, I think I'll just retire to bed and try again tomorrow. Maybe I'll have something more interesting to write about than productivity. Productivity is good for the soul, but it makes for rather boring reading. Stuff got done. Tomorrow, there will be more stuff to do.




I used to be fascinated with the timing of seemingly random events, coincidence, synchronicity. Like when you're thinking of an old friend you haven't heard from in years only to receive a card or a phone call or an e-mail from them, or see their name in the paper. For a while in my twenties, after years of being very aware of the common thread running through an experience or feeling deja vu frequently, I stopped noticing. The mundane became truly mundane, synchronicity wasn't something popping into my consciousness as I went about my life.

Last night I watched Network on DVD. I hadn't seen the movie since I was a kid, too young to really "get" the film in any meaningful way. For those who aren't familiar with Network, it's a fantastic film and creepily close to what we see now with the advent of Reality TV, modern shock talk shows, and "extreme" everything. If you've every heard anyone quip, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" it comes from this movie. Several times over the coarse of the show, the mad prophet anchor tells people to get up, throw open their windows, stick their heads out, and scream that line or another in the same vein.

Anyway, the DVD ends and as I'm ejecting the disc, the last 5 minutes of whatever was on the Food Network pops up on the screen. Happens to be an episode of Good Eats with our favorite theater-major-turned-food-guru, Alton Brown. It was an episode I'd never seen before, something about coleslaw. The episode draws to a close, and one of the other actors (Good Eats uses a lot of skits and actors as hapless food buffoons to give Brown a stage from which to share his particular quirky brand of cooking savvy) asks if Alton has anything else he wants to say. Sleepily, I click to attention as I hear him say, "Well, yes. I want you all to go to your windows, throw them open, stick your heads out and yell [something something something... I think the cartoon sound of my head whipping around as I did my double take drowned out exactly what he was saying]... I want SLAW!"

A younger Nikchick would have been convinced this was a sign of *something* to come. The older Nikchick merely took note and delighted in the strange, entertaining event, and toddled off to bed.

I woke up to find that on the right hand, the Chair of an organization I volunteer for just made a major, last-moment decision to significantly alter an event in progress, and that decision is mightily unpopular with volunteers, administrators, and participants alike. Major shit-storm to ensue in T-minus 3, 2, 1. Hoorah.

On the left hand, I was asked to step into an Executive Committee position with another organization where I serve as a volunteer as the position is being vacated after (as near as I can tell) a series of rather unpleasant personal interactions between a member of the board and one or more of the organization's key staff members. Half of me feels that I should step up and help the organization in any way I can, the other half of me wants to scream that I've had enough of their stupid bickering and they can all go to hell in a hand basket for all I care. I have no doubt this situation will cause no end of chaos with the organization and it reminds me why I hate politics so deeply. Anyone wanting to enact even the most benign change, to pursue some ideal for the common good, is pulled down to roll around in the mud and suffer for their good intentions. It's enough to make a person want to pack it in, I swear.

Definitely looking forward to my "girls' weekend away" in San Diego at the end of this week.

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Party fun

Oh hooray, the cocktail party went swimmingly! It was wonderful to have a full house and see so many of the people we don't see day-to-day anymore. I managed to make the correct amount of food, and there are very few leftovers to deal with today. The giant bowl of non-alcoholic punch went nearly untouched, to my surprise.

I must say that the response to my menu was very enthusiastic, with people coming up to me over the evening to remark on the food, ask for recipes, or just tell me how great everything looked. I must give props to Betty Crocker's Entertaining Basics for this one. So much of the menu came out of this book! Poached Samon Appetizer with Honey-Mustard Sauce; Marinated Peppers, Olives and Cheese; Roasted Vegetables with Creamy Caesar Dip; Spinach Dip served in a bread bowl; Hot Crab Dip; Sweet-and-Sour Meatballs; both recipes for the punch I served. I also made a tray of chocolate- and white chocolate-dipped strawberries that were very yummy. Had some palmiers left over as well, so I enjoyed strawberries and palmiers with my morning coffee. Decadent!




The space shuttle Columbia is gone, broke up on re-entry this morning. Chris's response was that it's like the 80s all over again and I look around me to see how true it is. Not only the mourning of the loss of the spacecraft and those aboard, but the Republican controlled government, the threat of nukes being loosed on the world, and let's not forget tax cuts of the rich and the so-called desperate need for a missile defense program (back in the day it was known as Star Wars, and twenty years of development hasn't made it any more effective).

At least the Columbia wasn't being broadcast live into the classrooms of small children when it blew. Small miracles.

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Cocktail Party and Thoughts on Life

The cocktail party is on for tomorrow night. Technically "tonight" since the date clock has advanced, but there is still a "night's" sleep between me and it, so I continue to think of what tomorrow brings. If tonight's sleep is anything like last night's sleep, I will be greeting the sun before insomnia finally stops kicking my ass and I get a little shut eye. Ah well, all the better to party the night away, I suppose. Kate is safely ensconced in Canada for the weekend with her dad, so at least once I fall asleep I can stay asleep for a while. Several people waited to the last minute to RSVP, so my attendee list doubled today, but I've come to expect that from our group of friends.

My weekend agenda includes going to the store to pick up last minute items (like fresh bread) and to fill out our stock of alcohol and mixers. I spent an hour putting together a dozen or so wine charms while watching Law and Order tonight. I was inspired to do that after seeing ljc's Shrinky Dink wine charms. They came out pretty well. I used a bunch of wacky charms and buttons from the bead-craft aisle at Michaels, because I'm no artist. Just taking on this small project reminded me of how much I really love little crafty projects.

For part of high school I lived in rural Minnesota, in a small old farmhouse that my dad rented. It was surrounded on all sides by corn fields and held a great old barn that was now completely unused but not yet falling into total ruin. My dad fits well in rural Minnesota, taking pleasure in duck and pheasant hunting, fishing and ice fishing, maybe playing golf or softball in the summer. Long, cold, dark winter nights never bothered him much, but I took up crafting to pass the time. If we'd had the internet back then, I suppose I would have spent time online and the world might not have seemed so close and quiet; I don't recall even having cable TV at the farmhouse, though I did go into "town" often to watch TV or listen to records with my boyfriend who lived within the four square blocks that make up the city of Dundas. I passed the time in Canada when I was living up there with no authorization to work or go to school, by cross-stitching a huge, ambitious jungle scene, 12" x 12". As a relative novice, I should have been much more daunted by the undertaking. Instead, I threw myself into the effort and came away with a really lovely finished piece. I gave it to my then in-laws for their young son. I haven't seen that boy since he was in pre-school, and since they're no longer my in-laws, I doubt I'll ever see them (or the cross-stitch) again.

I was raised in the I'm Ok, You're Ok era and it was made clear to me from a very early age that I could "be" anything I wanted to be. Not that I could "do" anything I wanted to do, but *BE* anything. I could *be* a fire fighter or an astronaut or a doctor or the President of the United States. The message I took from that teaching was that what you do is who you are, and that if you weren't *doing* something Very Important then YOU weren't very important. Being a homemaker was something the adult women of my youth were struggling to leave behind, it was a punishment, a waste of a woman's potential. Those close to me have heard me lament more than once that I don't have a calling, that there's nothing I'm better at than anything else, that I don't know what to "do" with myself. A large part of that is definitely because of my childhood belief that what you do is who you are, and you'd better not waste that potential, girl! The question of what I want to do is intimately wrapped up in who I want to be.

The honest truth is that I enjoy homemaker pursuits more than any other profession I've tried (or considered). Not saying that I want to sit home watching soap operas and playing bridge, but I do so love to cook and decorate and organize. I'm not crazy about cleaning, but I'm a lot more enthused about it at 33 than I have ever been before. That "you can do anything" upbringing means I'm not merely hosting cocktail parties, but I'm there and involved in every aspect of the care of my home. I installed our garage door opener. I've assembled and installed every shelving unit, rack, or utility device in the house. I've purchased the computer stations, the desks, the tools. I fix the blown fuses, replace the light bulbs, keep the dust buster charged, defrost the fridge, fix the leaky pipes, hang curtains and put up wall paper. I know the recycling and garbage pick-up schedules, I mow the lawn, trim the trees, put up and take down the Christmas lights. It would be quite a reward to be able to do that work as my only work, to be in charge of running the house.

Each time I plan one of these little soirees, I can't help reflecting on how much I enjoy those typical homemaker, house-wife pursuits, right down to selecting plushy hand towels and matching decorative soaps, or making wine charms, or cross-stitching some elaborate pillow cover. God, am I really saying that I want to be Martha Stewart? There's a horrifying thought to send me off to dream-land!

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