Discolor Online

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


Woo hoo!

Finally able to talk about this thing. Two freakin' years of keeping my big mouth shut, it's nice to finally announce.


Cure for my pain!

First you must keep in mind that I had a hell of a day today, right off the bat. Yesterday was go-go-go from 7:00am to past midnight, and this morning I dove straight back into it. GAMA stuff, Origins Awards stuff, ex-husband stuff, you name it.

A few minutes ago there was a thump on the front porch.

A Cure for Pain was delivered to me.

Unexpectedly. Off my Amazon wish list. For no specified reason. From a Discolor Online reader.

Thanks, thanks so much, you wonderful person. I love this CD, and if there was a day when I needed to hear that I'm not an awful person who is bringing about the downfall of the game industry and discrediting my organization, it was today.

Cure for Pain indeed.


I can live with being smart...


Memory Meme

Post a memory of me in the comments. It can be anything you want. Then, of course, post this to your journal and see what people remember of you.


Family Dinner

Made dinner for the in-laws last night. Bill wears hearing aids and most restaurants are too full of background noise for him to enjoy any conversation. Having dinner at the house was just right, though my chicken took for-freakin'-ever to cook correctly.

I butterflied a chicken and rubbed paste of garlic, lemon rind, salt under the skin, then broiled it on both sides. At the end I brushed it with some of the drippings and sprinkled with bread crumbs and parmesan and then broiled that until the crust was browned. Accompanied the chicken with a bulgar wheat salad (bulgar wheat, chick peas, mixed with a bit of pesto, artichoke hearts sauteed with olive oil and garlic, topped with grated parmesan), a green salad, and hot rolls. For dessert I made a compote of oranges and strawberries in a wine sauce (late harvest riesling and orange juice, cooked with a vanilla bean and orange rind, strained and poured over the fruit). I think it came off okay, the chicken was pronounced "tender" and the bulgar salad "interesting" and there were few leftovers.

We hung around the table talking until after 11:00pm, whereupon the east coasters realized their body clocks felt it was 2:00am and retired for the evening.

Woke up with a TMJ-induced sore jaw, which tells me I've been clenching my teeth in my sleep. Stress from the Origins Awards, no doubt.


Good deeds and do-gooders

My volunteerism is a real drag. No sense bitching about it too much, but there's this gigantic part of me that only wants to help, to make good things happen, to do something meaningful. Believe me, I am NOT getting that with what I'm doing at the moment. Stupid thankless volunteering, is it any wonder nothing gets done when good people burn out over and over again?

At least I got the house in order in time for my in-laws' visit.

At dinner last night with the family, we tried a place that had been recommended to us long ago but that we'd never tried. La Medusa bills itself a Sicilian Soul Food, and despite its very adult-oriented menu they make kids feel very welcome with a ball of pizza dough the kids can shape and then have baked for them (and the usual assortment of cheese pizzas and noodles with butter and cheese on the kids' menu).

While we were having dinner, a young mom came in with her som (about Kate's age) and were seated next to us. The seating in the restaurant is very close so Kate tried to start talking to the boy, and he signed to her that he was hearing impaired and couldn't hear her or talk with her. Kate tried some communication by using the note pad on my Palm pilot and the two of them passed notes and drawings back and forth for a while. His mom also did some translating.

While I did not mean to eavesdrop, I couldn't help but overhear that the woman had never been to the restaurant before but that this was her birthday and she was determined to go out and have a nice time even though she was alone. She only had $20 to spend, and was sad to find that the entrees were in the $13-$16 range, so was asking the waitress to recommend something off the appetizer menu so she could get a cheese pizza for her son.

Because the kids were playing together, she and I struck up a conversation. She's in a culinary arts program here in Seattle, as a single mom. When my marriage broke up, and I was a wreck trying to decide what to do with my life, I looked at that very program. She had the courage to do what I chickened out of. I also spent more than one miserable birthday here when I was re-starting my life (I'll never forget the time I invited an acquaintance to a birthday party that I was determined to throw myself to stave off crippling depression only to have him respond that not only would he not come to my party but he really disliked me and disapproved of how I was living my life... ouch.) and decided to do something nice.

I slipped the waitress my credit card and asked her to please put a dessert on my card and deliver it to the table (preferably after we'd left) and while the waitress made it much more difficult than it needed to be, I think it still went off ok. She almost blew my cover by delivering the reciept to the table while my father-in-law was paying for dinner, and wow, there was almost a scene as he was determined not to let me pay (and I didn't want to explain what I was up to while we were sitting there). I hope our aspiring chef and her son enjoyed their dessert and had a nice night out.

I must say it was much more rewarding to make that little gesture than any of the other supposedly good things I endeavor to do (and get raked over the coals for) the rest of my life. Maybe if I wasn't so used to getting beaten up over my attempts to do the right, nice, or decent thing I wouldn't have resorted to buying the dessert in secret and slinking out of the restaurant before I could be caught doing it.



Taking a break from chores and cleaning in anticipation of my in-laws arriving tomorrow.

Elissa is always a good source for some time-killing quiz action...

Based on how you answered the quiz, your personality is like Oracle's. You're gifted and talented and end up making the best of things. You're sassy and smart and always have something to say. You know you're ~bad~, but you feel unloved—don't! You have people that care for you all around. You wouldn't be able to live more than 24 hours with out your computer or coffee. People depend on you and you're a vital part of this world. Now if only you could see that...


Operation Ruthless Purge proceeds apace.

This was a Kate-free weekend, so I planned to spend much of my free time on a cleaning rampage. I've been reading Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson. This book is a Joy of Cooking for modern domesticity, not a "program" for organizing or stain removal but part history, part philosophy, part scientific explanation, all as interesting and well-told as anything by M. F. K. Fisher.

So inspired was I after reading the preface, I now have a sparkling, top-to-bottom clean master bathroom, complete with new shelves and new towels (Target had very nice towels on sale this weekend 2 for $8, replacing frayed flat towels from purchased in 1989). I also scrubbed on hands and knees the high-traffic area of our carpet, the route from the front door to the kitchen. I purged several jars of old spices and cooking ingredients (some, I'm ashamed to say, decades old), not just tossing everything, but emptying containers, sorting them into the recycling. The pantry is looking much better, but I still have too much to fit in the newly organized space. More to be done there. Installed a new showerhead in the guest bathroom, went to sleep with clean sheets on the bed. Bliss.

Amid all the cleaning and organizing, I was somehow also able to fit in lunch with Chris and Ray at Columbia Ale House, a viewing of Kill Bill (parts 1 and 2) and dinner with Bruce and Tim, and keep current with The Sopranos (thank you TiVo).


Chris is starting us on a new RPG game, playing some Lord of the Rings (Decipher's version). The Star Wars game died out from lack of momentum, even though we had a good group, there were too many interruptions leading into the beginning of the campaign where we couldn't get the group together. I hope that switching gears into LotR might give us the kick-start we need.

Either that or we're just going to have to give up and call this "Dinner at Nicole's" night and quit pretending we have a pretense of gaming.

My in-laws are coming for a week-long visit next week, so I have to have things in order in the house for their visit. Lots on my plate with the company, but I seem to have finally shaken the funk I've been feeling leading into and after GTS, which has enabled me to finally get a bunch of things accomplished. Kate and I both have lingering colds, but I think with liberal applications of echinacea and Umcka Cold Care I will be able to stave off a full relapse. I'm also sure that the improved weather and the longer, sunnier days have had a good effect on my mood and motivation.

In two weeks I've got the Community Services for the Blind people coming by to collect donations of household goods, and I'm going to make an effort to purge a bunch of stuff. I've been pretty good at getting rid of old clothes in the previous pick-ups, but this time I'm going to look at cooking gadgets, dishes, bedding, anything that's taking up room in my house that I can clear out. I have a terrible pack-rat tendancy and those who have seen my mother's house think I'm doing pretty darn well, but I'm still feeling uncomfortably cluttered and restricted by the things I've got stowed away these days.

I've moved so often in my life, I have no childhood "home" to look back on. There were years when I went to a different school every year, and lived in a different house, if not in a different city or different state. Even after I got out of high school, I lived in nine different places over two or three years, from Minnesota to Georgia and back again. All of my nostalgia for the past rests in people and things far more than places, and that's made it much harder than it should be not to hold onto things that remind me of good times, hard times, interesting times...time in general. Now that I'm settled for real, in a house of my own, with a family, a yard I can dig up if I want to, walls I can paint or nail or rip down entirely if I want to, I'm thankfully losing some of that unnatural attachment to random "things" that aren't genuinely useful (or at least rememberances of things truly worth remembering) and I'm quite happy about it.


Time keeps flying by.

The weekend was wonderful, completely beautiful weather that allowed me more time to putter in the yard and get it into shape. I planted some flowers on the border space near the garage, pulled up weeds and nuisance plants that had sprung up between the plants I put into the front yard in the fall, and put out fresh cedar chips. I found a few sunny patches to sow wildflower seeds as an experiment, we'll see how that goes.

I bought a book for bus reading, but ended up getting so engrossed in it I finished it after only two days of bus riding! Girl with a Pearl Earring is a lush, vivid word-picture of life in 1665 Holland and wonderfully imagines what life among Vermeer's family and painting might have been like. Not sure if I care to see a movie of it, but the book was fantastic.

Have started reading The Tale of Despereaux to Kate, and found it to be a charming little story. Very sweet, and it's completely grabbed her imagination.

Over the weekend we also saw Hellboy and aside from Kate not liking the icky elder gods and their monsters, we all thought it was a fine film. Ray and Tynes both found it lacking, but I was entertained. Swung by R&C's and hung out with their other guests, used their grill, and watched some MST3K on the home theater.

Easter passed uncelebrated except that I made a pork roast with apricot-rum glaze and artichokes with melted butter, and angel food cake with strawberries. Any excuse to cook, any excuse to have angel food cake and strawberries.

Now, suddenly, it's Wednesday, and I've been back to work, tracking down orders, organizing endless paperwork, juggling, juggling. Nothing nearly as fun as warm spring days in the sunshine, good books and fresh strawberries, that's for sure.


Girls' Night Out

Chris was off again tonight for yet another punk rock show (seeing The Business again tonight, with The Suicide Machines on Tuesday, if I overheard the plan correctly). This must be some sort of personal record for him, for recent years at least. Since starting Green Ronin, the poor man's socializing has really fallen off, especially with gaming seeming more and more like work. I'm glad he's been making time for himself and returning to the punk rock.

Meanwhile, Kate and I spent the last day of her spring break doing things together. While I have a tremendous amount of things on my plate, I just couldn't stand to "waste" her entire school break (since I had multiple meetings all week for which Kate was well-behaved), especially when the weather today was 70 degrees and sunny with a light breeze. I've spent many an Easter weekend hunting for easter eggs in the snow at my step-grandmother's home in Minnesota, so being out in the yard with the trees and flowers in full bloom was just heavenly.

Kate "helped" me pull weeds from the lawn with a cool little gadget called the Weed Hound that I picked up last week. Works like a charm, though Kate is too much of a light-weight to stomp down on it effectively just yet. She also assisted with planning out several areas of garden (my vegetable patch, several containers, a couple of areas along the side-yard where I'm trying some sunflowers) and digging around in the soil. In the end, I transplanted a medium-sized potted thyme plant and planted some marigolds, lavender, pole beans, carrots, beets, radishes, spinach, celery, leeks, yellow crook-neck squash, bush peas, watermelon, cantaloupe, cilantro, parsley, dill, basil, and a couple of pots of mint. I have some tomato plants and a couple of other seedlings coming from Seeds of Change in May, and many of the seeds I used today also came from them. I've still got a ton of chives and oregano that made it through the winter in the "salsa pots" I bought late last summer.

The back yard is looking quite nice, and I still have more planting I can do if I can scrounge up another decent area to put in another vegetable bed and somewhere for my wildflowers to grow. Seems like everything I want to grow is greedy for sunshine, which is in short supply in the rest of the yard. The apple tree is in full bloom, the other mystery trees along the fenceline seem to have come back a bit from their frightening near-death appearance of last fall, and even my sad, sad little lilac and Kate's raspberry vine seem to be thriving so far. Must, must get drip irrigation set up on a timer before we go roaming the country attending conventions this summer.

We additionally got the bird feeders cleaned up and filled, so now I have a suet feeder, two seed feeders (one platform, one tube) a thistle feeder, and (a first this year) a hummingbird feeder. We've also mounted a squirrel feeder on the fence away from the bird feeders, not that the squirrels have been a problem in the past. You'd think my yard was a lot bigger than it is, for all the stuff I've managed to put back there. The front yard still needs some sprucing up, and I have two large backs of wood chips to strategicly distribute, perhaps tomorrow.

After Chris left for his show, Kate and I hopped in the rental car (as long as we still have it) and went off to see Ella Enchanted, which surprised me by being reasonably enjoyable (at least as far as kid-friendly films go). It gives several clever nods to other fantasy movies of its ilk (Princess Bride in particular, additionally enjoyable with Cary Elwes in a major role), and with a wacky supporting cast that includes Eric Idle, Parminder Nagra, Joanna Lumley and Minnie Driver).


Vegetarian Paradise

For the last couple of days, Chris and I have been entertaining a vegetarian friend who is unfamiliar with Seattle's plethora of excellent vegetarian dining options. One of my favorite restaurants in all of Seattle is Cafe Flora, nestled in our old neighborhood of Madrona, so of course I jumped at the chance to bring him there for lunch. He took my recommendation of the smoked mushroom salad, which is plate-licking good. I had an asian-inspired soba noodle salad, but apart from the soba noodles themselves I didn't much care for the other components, especially the seaweed. Some seaweed I enjoy quite a bit, but this particular type was an unnatural green and had a very fishy taste. Our waiter admitted, as he cleared my plate, that he didn't like this style of seaweed either. On the other hand, Chris's veggie pte plate was excellent as always, and my dessert of vegan coconut cake with mango sorbet was out of this world.

We also tried the Green Cat Cafe on Capitol Hill, which is a hopping breakfast joint and solid for lunches, but sparse on dinner options (to my chagrin, since we showed up for dinner). Still, the vegetarian chili was quite good and I'm interested in giving the place a shot for breakfast sometime (in spite of parking being such a trial on Capitol Hill).

Our last vegetarian adventure ended up being a trip to Carmelita. Oooh, I was very pleased. Carmelita is off in the north of Seattle, which we only rarely ever venture out to, and I'd heard the restaurant was very good but I'd never eaten there. I had only a vague idea of where it was (near Greenlake) but thanks to Vindigo I had a map and directions and only outsmarted myself once along the way.

Carmelita was fantastic. It was the perfect balance of friendly service, upscale presentation, and yet comfortable atmosphere casual enough to bring well-behaved children. Our waitress was wonderful, friendly and attentive, explaining things off the menu (What exactly is a pave? What is muhamara?) and making sure we had everything we needed, when we needed it. My water glass was empty for no more than 10 seconds. It was amazing. I started with a glass of the red Italian varietal (name completely forgotten now) that was very good, then moved into the butternut squash soup with roasted pears and candied walnuts. Rich and creamy! The boys shared the antipasto platter and raved about it. When it came time for entrees, Chris has the pizza with portabella mushrooms, brie, roasted fennel and garlic, with pear relish and rosemary honey. The other adults went for the outrageously luscious truffle-potato pave, with spinach gnocchi, braised kale, tomato confit and lentils. Chris was jealous when he saw the pave hit the table, but I shared liberally with him. We ordered a pear crumble with vanilla bean ice cream for the table, throwing the whole thing over the top into decadence as is our custom. I signed up for their mailing list, and will definitely be back for more yummy vegetarian cuisine.


Spring Break Madness

Crazy juggling of work and home during this week while Kate is off from school. Monday was particularly trying, as Chris and I had business to conduct and in the process I also had to juggle meetings with Kate's therapist, running to the bank to find out why my Friday deposit hadn't cleared by Monday, and lots of driving all over town. Had some moments of high stress and thought I'd hit my breaking point when I realized that I'd forgotten the meeting with the therapist (for which I was going to be charged $120 cash whether or not I attended) and rushed to get there in time to get some utility out of the meeting. Worst was when the therapist told me that Kate's teacher feels Kate is "doing better" even though we've done NOTHING substantially different. These meetings with the therapist have been almost entirely "getting to know you" meetings so far, no actual "Hey here's how to cope with being bullied or with crying in class when you feel frustrated" advice has been dispensed...but clearly the teacher *thinks* there's been improvement because she knows Kate has been seeing Peggy. I find the whole thing enraging, but I'm going to continue for the duration of the school year if possible, so Kate might actually get some useful help from this woman and so the school cannot come to me later and say that I didn't do my part.

Irritated just thinking about it.

Last night Kate had her friend Celia over for a sleepover, and I will have the girls all day today. If the weather is nice, I might break away to go to the park with them or something else that will let them burn off some energy. Lots of squealing and running around. The Experience Music Project is another possibility. The only time I've been there was for a Wizards of the Coast Christmas party (two weeks before a known round of layoffs was scheduled to occur; the mood was rather grim).

Juggling, juggling.


Cooking Club Weekend

Totally gorgeous spring day again today! First thing this morning I got out in the yard to prune some of our bushes and trees, to cut the grass, to bring the weeds under control (especially in the side yard and in the front where I did so much fall planting). I'll bet I spend at least two good solid hours working on the yards, but it made me feel SO good. I snipped a bouquet of tulips and hyacinths from the flowers that are currently in bloom.

Today was the first meeting of our fledgling little cooking club. and hosted the first get together, and our theme was Italian. Christine was out of town, Kathryn was getting prepared for a big event for the zoo (her job), so it was just Bruce, me and Nihar as the cooks, and Chris and Tim as interested diners.

Bruce supplied some delicious red wines and made crostini with three different spreads: gorgonzola and almond, chicken liver, and tuna. They were all divine, though the gorgonzola was my favorite (I'm a sucker for cheese). Nihar made a spicy sausage and vegetable red sauce and an alfredo sauce. I made up Christine's recipe for bagna cauda, but I think Chris and I were the only ones really interested in it, though Bruce did have some. I don't think Tim or Nihar gave it a try, but it was served with vegetables (anti-Tim fodder) and I have a vague memory of Nihar saying seafood is not good for him (and there are anchovies in that). Bruce picked up a 4 pound boneless leg of lamb, and I brought the recipe for cooking it. Rubbed in a paste of fresh basil, pancetta, garlic, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and fresh rosemary, the lamb was baked on a bed of red onions, olives, and olive oil, and basted with balsamic vinegar and red wine. Yum! While the lamb baked, Bruce and I conspired on some pasta. After a little trial and error, we succeeded on putting together some nice fettuccine by using the Cooks Illustrated recipe, Bruce's pasta roller, and my chitarro. Everything was delicious, and we had a great, leisurely time.

After stuffing myself, I whipped up a couple batches of sgroppinos (2 parts lemon sorbet, 1 part champagne, 1/2 part vodka, blend and enjoy) which really capped the whole thing off nicely. Nihar had to go home to tend to his neurotic dog who has been giving him fits since his wife has been out of town on an extended visit to India to see her family. I suggested he look into hiring a neighborhood kid to be his "pet pal" and to come over and play with the dog, to keep it entertained so it stops being destructive. The rest of us stayed around to watch a terrible (in all the best ways) movie: G.I. Bro. "If you're a kraut, he'll take you out." Oh yeah, it was 1977 alright.