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Discolor Online

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

 

Trick or Treating

Kate has gone to meet up with Flo and Jade. I gave her my cell phone in case anything changes or there are any problems. I'm dressed up as "Devil Red Ridinghood" (black and red wig in pigtails, devil horns,red cape with hood, blue lips) and am giving out candy from a basket. Listening to NPR and drinking red wine in between TOTers. Pork roast and white beans roasting away in the oven, should be ready after Chris gets home...Kate should be done TOTing by then, too.

EDIT: Me as Evil Red Ridinghood


 
 

Distraction

I spent today viciously distracted. Woke up with a "pre-headache" (the headache before a real killer) and felt almost hung over even though I specifically didn't drink last night. Hell, I poured the scotch and decided to pour it down the sink instead but felt like crap when I woke up anyway. Popped some pain killers and some echinacea with my morning coffee, unsure whether it was stress or sickness making me feel this way.

Tried a new recipe for oven-fried chicken tonight; chicken and butternut squash with warm spiced cider to drink. What a fall menu! I also baked some Date, Fig, and Walnut bread which I intend to have for breakfast. We carved jack-o-lanterns last night and I baked up the pumpkin seeds. The seeds were toasted just right but came out a little salty. Should have used unsalted butter or olive oil I guess. Kate could not be more excited about trick or treating tomorrow. Her school skating party is also tomorrow, so it's a double-whammy of thrills for the girl.

For myself, my thrills include the fact that I've filled out my mail in ballot for the mid-term elections. It's off in the mail tomorrow. Wednesday afternoon I'm going to work at a get out the vote phone bank. Kate's away this weekend and I'll be doing a little early birthday celebrating: dinner and the Can Can with friends on Friday, Seattle's Cookin' on Saturday. OK Go (they of the treadmill dance video) are playing Neumos on Sunday night if I want to get really crazy, but my boys Speaker Speaker are playing a VERA Project show Saturday night and I might just go to that if I'm up to it after indulging in food porn all day at the Qwest Field Event Center. If I do that there's no way I'll have the stamina for another night out on Sunday.

 
 

Astrology for Food

Apparently there's nothing astrology can't do.



Scorpio Pie (Oct. 23 - Nov. 21)
Dark Chocolate Cheese Cake with Morello Cherry Demi-Glaze
Scorpios are sensual, obsessive, mysterious and intense. Scorpion food choices have to live up to these qualities. Nothing would be better than Dark Chocolate Cheese Cake with Morello Cherry Demi-Glaze for their complete satisfaction. Morello cherries can be purchased, packed in syrup in glass jars, at specialty stores and usually at Trader Joes.



The recipe?

Dark Chocolate Cheese Cake with Morello Cherry Demi-Glaze

Cheese Cake Crust

Ingredients:
1/4 cup fine crumbs of graham crackers or chocolate wafer cookies
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon water


Preparation:
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 2) In a medium mixing bowl, combine crumbs and 2 tablespoons sugar. Stir until combined.
3) Add the melted butter and water; mix until completely incorporated.
4) Spoon the crumb mixture into an 8-inch spring-form pan.
5) Using fingertips, press evenly onto the pan bottom and 1/2-inch up the sides.
6) Bake 12-15 minutes until the crust hardens slightly. Set aside to cool.
7) Reduce oven temperature to 300F. Place a 9-inch cake pan filled with water on the bottom oven rack. Cheese Cake Filling

Ingredients:
8 ounces dark chocolate pieces
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup brewed espresso or strong coffee
3/4 pound cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preparation:

1) In a heavy-bottomed pot, melt chocolate with coffee over low heat, stirring often, until chocolate is completely melted. Set aside.
2) In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and creamy.
3) Add sugar and salt. Beat on medium speed 1 minute.
4) Scrape down the sides and add the eggs one at a time, beating on medium for 30 seconds and scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition.
5) Add the vanilla. Add the melted chocolate mixture to the bowl, scrape down the sides once more and beat on medium speed 1 minute.
6) Pour the batter into the prepared crust.
7) Bake 60 to 65 minutes or until the internal temperature is 170F. Turn off the oven; let cake stand in oven for 20 minutes.
8) Remove from oven, cool 20 minutes on a wire rack.

Cherry Glaze

Ingredients:
1 pound Morello cherries, pitted
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon almond extract

Preparation:

1) In heavy saucepan, combine the cherries and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
2) Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the liquid is slightly reduced, approximately 20 minutes.
3) Add the cornstarch slurry and simmer until thickened and glossy, about 3 minutes.
4) Stir in the almond extract and remove from heat. Let cool.
Refrigerate overnight. Cut into 12 slices, topping each slice with 1 tablespoon cherry sauce just before serving.

 
 

Bouncing Souls Show

Chris started my day off right by making me his famous homemade hashbrowns (which I'd woken up craving) but the rest of the day just blew: missed two buses, had to run all over town in a hurry for everything as the Flexcar timer ticked away while people on the road tried to cut me off, run me down, and generally endanger everyone's safety (at one point I had to slam on the brakes to avoid a car with a crashed in windshield that came shooting across the middle of the road ; another time it was to avoid hitting a woman who decided to dart across four lanes of traffic). By the time we got to the show, I was prepared for anything.

When we arrived opening band Left Alone was mid-set. Despite some impressive mohawk action, I was pretty bored by this band. Songs about how no one likes them (literally just "No one likes us and we don't care" repeated over and over) or how emo kids look like girls (ooh, picking on the emo bands, there's a hard target!) were just juvenile without being ironic, funny, or even catchy. Glad I missed half their set.

Next up was Whole Wheat Bread. All black punk rock outfits are few and far between and these days hip hop seems to suck up all the black musical talent. From Jacksonville, Florida, these guys weren't straight up punk (though apparently they're often compared to early Blink 182 or something... god I can't believe we're to the point of referencing "early Blink 182") and actually had the crowd yelling out "Whole Wheat Bread ain't nothin' to fuck with!" Chris and Rick didn't dig them but I enjoyed their set just fine. Of course, the fact that they can play their instruments, had a ton of energy, and were buff and easy on the eyes surely affected my enjoyment. The band has stayed together despite one of the founding members (their former bassist, the drummer's brother) getting himself arrested and jailed for robbery in June, which makes the drummer's comments in their bio ("Being in a band with my brother is great. We have been playing together since middle school and musically we can read each other's minds. Plus someone has to be there to keep him out of prison!") poignant.

The third band of the night was a better known band, The Street Dogs. Chris and Rick know this band better than I do and have seen them before. I'd only heard a few songs so only knew three of the songs in the set (including the Dropkick Murphys song they did). Singer Mike McColgan used to sing for the Murphys, but then left punk rock to become a Boston firefighter and served in the first Gulf War only to return to punk rocking with the Street Dogs a few years ago. The fans in scally caps were out in force.

When The Bouncing Souls started up, I was convinced that singer was high or something. He just seemed so glassy-eyed and out of it. He loosened up (or sobered up) a bit later in the set, but for a few minutes there I was having flashbacks to that infamous Replacements show where Paul was so drunk he fell into the crowd on the first song, broke into Hello Dolly and then told us all to fuck off and left. Thankfully, it wasn't that kind of a show. Pramas remembers them from his days at ABC No Rio when they would play or come to shows and told me that even then Greg was a little spacey and stand-offish, whereas Bryan was more social and talked and hung out. There was about 30 minutes more Bouncing Souls than I needed, personally, but that's just because I'm a cranky old fan who likes their older, punkier sound. I'm lukewarm on the Kinks covers or the new ballads from The Gold Record. They played almost all the old stuff I wanted to hear, though, so I shouldn't complain.

In an hour or so it's off to Queen Anne for Kate-retrieval and breakfast. Mmm, breakfast.

 
 

Sleep!

Yesterday was a rough day. I was so groggy and miserable all day, it was like I was moving in slow motion with my head stuffed full of sand. I couldn't face the prospect of cooking dinner, so I suggested that after I finished running errands that we all go up to Freemont and grab dinner out. We ate off the belt at Blue C Sushi and were home by a little after 8:00. I messed around on the computer for an hour, had a glass of wine and tried to watch some TiVo but I was dead asleep by 10:00.

To my delight, I awoke this morning at 8:30am! No middle of the night wakings, I dreamed (can't remember the dream, just that I did and that it wasn't the sort of anxiety dreams I've been having lately like the one I had the other day of crashing the Flexcar) and I awoke feeling awake and fully rested for the first time in ages. I desperately needed that night of good sleep.

This afternoon I have to take Kate out to a Halloween party, then she's spending the night with John and Jenny so Chris and I can go to the Bouncing Souls show. In keeping with the Halloweeny theme of the day, I believe they have plans to watch Something Wicked This Way Comes. We'll meet up tomorrow for breakfast and Kate retrieval on Queen Anne.

Today is shaping up to be a lovely fall day, a cool and foggy morning burning off to a crisp, sunny afternoon. The leaves are turning fast. Bushes that were a bright red ten days ago are barren and leafless today. Trees are dropping gold and brown leaves all around us but some remain bright green and the grass has bounced back from its summer-drought coloring to a vibrant emerald. This is the part of autumn I really enjoy.

Bonus content: farmer's market photos from Columbia City's last farmers' market of the season. Pumpkins and other gourds, apple cider, and root vegetables in abundance.



 
 

Sign You're Procrastinating

When you keep putting off reading that "Break the cycle of procrastination" e-mail that's been in your inbox all week.

 
 

Micky Fricky Insomnia

After a brief respite from the insomnia, I was wide awake at 4:00am again this morning. I've slept pretty well the last few nights. I even slept long/hard enough to dream the other night. (When I mentioned this to the family, Kate piped up, "Mommy, you never dream!" Out of the mouths of babes.) Yesterday I crossed a large number of small-but-nagging items off my To Do list, and while I did have a little bit of stress it was all early in the day and nothing that was nagging me at night. I shopped the last Farmer's Market of the season for Columbia City, made dinner, took out the recycling, watched a little TiVo and was in bed asleep before midnight.

Damn annoying to be awake, especially when the kitchen is cold and I know the flannel sheets are warm and should be inviting.

Meanwhile, I have been cooking so I figured I might as well update my Recipe Pages. Here you go:

THREE-BEAN CHILI WITH VEGETABLES
CHICKEN WITH CIDER AND DRIED PLUMS
PORK LOIN BRAISED WITH CABBAGE
SLOW COOKER BEEF POT ROAST WITH GREMOLATA

 
 

Playtest

I rarely talk about gaming here, this is NOT a gaming blog and aside from general job-related venting over administrative details that occasionally piss me off I make every effort not to discuss Green Ronin business here.

Today I'm making a brief exception. At last night's game night we playtested the final version of a product that's on the schedule for 2007 and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Loved it. Had a great time. I'm pretty excited about this release and for jaded ol' me that's saying something.

So, woohoo 2007!

 
 

Embryos

Lately I've seen several billboards popping up around my neighborhood in Seattle. They show sweet-faced, chubby (white, of course) six-month-old babies with the text "WHAT! Embryos are BABIES!"

I know science is out of vogue at the moment, especially with the evangelical rapture-loving right-to-life set but I'm still frustrated by the constant attempts to bamboozle and confound and obfuscate on every damn issue. Embryos are NOT babies, they're EMBRYOS. I know, I know, it makes it a lot easier to guilt people into thinking about chubby, healthy little white babies for the purposes of fighting stem cell research but how about some facts instead?

Embryo is not just a highfalutin way of saying "baby" here, the word embryo actually has specific meaning: 1) An organism in its early stages of development, especially before it has reached a distinctively recognizable form. 2) In humans, the prefetal product of conception from implantation through the eighth week of development.

Embryonic Stem Cell research uses human blastocysts. That would be this:



Blastocysts are approximately .2mm in size. This is not a "baby". It has the potential to turn into a baby. It could become a baby under the right cicrumcstances. It also represents a possible solution to any number of horrible, debilitating conditions that weaken, cripple, and kill your living, breathing human cohabitants here on planet earth. Embryonic stem cell research could hold the answer for diseases that are currently incurable diseases (juvenile diabetes, cancers, Alzheimer's, Lou Gehrig's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis), birth defects, crippling injuries (like spinal cord injuries).

Millions of people need these solutions. Millions of people are waiting for us to do the right thing.

 
 

Project "Weekend Together" = Success

For the first time in a month, Chris and I spent the weekend together without having to work. It was touch and go for a while, as Chris thought he might be called upon to do five or six hours of work Sunday afternoon... but we dodged that bullet. Chris has been exhausted and I've documented some of my insomnia and other troubles already so I suppose people have some understanding of how crucial this weekend of uninterrupted relaxation together was. Only one phone call even threatened to inject work into the weekend and that was quickly deflected. Neither of us spent much time at the computer, either, lest we accidentally get drawn in.

Instead we watched movies, slept in, delved ever deeper into Season Two of Lost (we've only got the last four episodes of Season Two to go), drank coffee and ate bacon, went to one birthday party, and just generally had the time that a weekend should be. Tomorrow it's back to the grind but at least we finally, finally had a couple of days to recharge a little.

 
 

American Hardcore

After dropping Kate off with her dad last night, I had a couple of glasses of wine with R&C and then met up with Pramas in the U District to catch the late showing of American Hardcore. There we were, all 20 aging punk rockers who showed up for opening night, spikes and patches, leather jackets and wallet chains (and me, looking all middle-aged mom). In all honesty, I was never part of the hardcore scene. Hell, I lived in Minnesota! I was a nice girl... angry and depressed to be sure, but not fucked up enough, still hopeful enough, too innocent to go seeking out the kind of scene I might have been able to dig up in Minneapolis if I'd known where to look (which I didn't). I didn't live in Hermosa Beach, Boston, DC, Austin, or New York. I collected recipe books and learned to cross-stitch, while listening to The Replacements or Husker Du albums. It took me years to become fully aware of bands I came to love after the fact. Giving credit where credit is due, it was Pramas who gave me my hardcore education. American Hardcore is the test I was able to pass because of his influence. I knew and recognized nearly all of the bands, most of the songs.

There are several scenes (one clip is part of the trailer) where Vic Bondi is being interviewed and even today he's got that passion, that anger, that disgust with those things that disgust me, too. It's still right there, close to the surface, intelligent and rebellious. I'd never seen him speak before. I like me some Vic Bondi. I've seen Mike Watt, Keith Morris, Henry Rollins, and Ian MacKaye interviewed plenty of times, almost to the point of over-exposure, so it was great to see interviews with people like Bondi, Joey Shithead, Greg Ginn, H.R. from Bad Brains, Paul Mahern and others having a chance to speak.

A lot of the footage in the movie is great. That is to say, it's jerky, amateur, out of sync, blurry and full of energy, fury, and that balls out passion that marks hardcore. Some of the interview bits are hilarious, especially several clips of H.R. who is apparently being filmed out in a public park during prom season as a series of teens in formal wear wander in and out of shots in the background. The movie focuses tightly on the period of 1980-1985. Much like Punk Attitude, to watch this movie you'd think that everything in hardcore happened in a period of four or five years and then it was "over". While it's true that many of the originators of hardcore were getting out of it after a brief couple of years, there was certainly more hardcore happening after 1986. We also get a bit of a glimpse into the lives of many of the old-timers; while some of them are still involved in the music scene and appear little different from their 80s selves, we also see third grade teachers, Rastafarians, yogis, vegan composors of electronica, and (in the case of Black Flag's infamous roadie, "Mugger") independently wealthy CPAs.

I give this movie a thumbs up if you have even a passing interest in the subject matter.

 
 

Weekend in Portland

In addition to sleeping poorly, I've been in a terrible funk since my birthday/wedding attendee plans fell through. There was no way for me to make it to the wedding when our plans changed on short notice, which absolutely breaks my heart, and my most stalwart and celebratorily-inclined friends are going to be out of town on a birthday junket of their own. Sure, I'm sure we can muster some people to go out to dinner or something... but that's a pretty anti-climactic substitution for a weekend in the English countryside and a wedding send-off for a friend I've known for over 15 years, especially after pinning my anniversary celebration to that as well. This is where being a sentimental sap is a bit of a drawback; I feel disappointment deeply.

Chris and I are going to take the Thanksgiving weekend for ourselves. I hope we'll still spend Thanksgiving itself with the usual suspects, but whatever happens with Thanksgiving dinner, we're off on Friday morning for a weekend at a resort hotel in Portland. Now I need to find some restaurants! JD is a big fan of Caprial's and has mentioned it several times over the years. Vindigo, my usual source for restaurant recommendations in an unfamiliar city, gives Caprial's a high rating, but other highly touted restaurants (Higgins, Genoa, Wildwood, the Heathman) come without any personal recommendations and Portland hipster and bon vivant Richard Speer ardently believes they're all quite past their prime. After my experience at Palomino in Indianapolis, I'd especially like to avoid bad service, even if the food is still pretty good. I don't need (or expect) to eat high-end at every meal but I do want to hit one exceptional eatery on the trip, if possible.

I'm not sure what we're going to do with ourselves once we're in Portland, other than NOT visit my family and attempt to find a decent restaurant. Maybe find ourselves a show? The Decemberists are playing Seattle the weekend before. The Thermals are going to be in Europe (heads up Londoners: they're at Barfly Camden November 26th). The Epoxies are playing in California the weekend before, nothing listed so far for Thanksgiving. What, all these bands have homes and families?! Boo.

 
 

A night of sleep

Hit what I hope is the bottom on the insomnia thing yesterday. Four hours of sleep Tuesday night, then spent yesterday with lots of anxiety, a stressful day of constant running around (bus to the Seattle Refugee Women's Alliance, a trip to Queen Anne, a trip to the shipping supply store, two trips to two different post offices, a trip to UPS, a stop at Kate's school and a short stop at the farmer's market as long as we were right there, a stop at the bank, another trip to Queen Anne...) topped off with getting stuck in traffic (so that it took me a full hour to get back to the house on what should have been at most a 20 minute drive) and having to turn right back around to return the Flexcar on time (plus the joy of having to take three buses home in the rain from the Flexcar location because I'd gone after the Freedom 7 car to maximize my hours). Dinner wasn't on the table until 9:00! Sucktastic. I think I saw Pramas for all of two hours, Kate slightly more than that because she was in the car with me after school.

I brought a notebook to bed and right before I fell asleep I made a list of all the things, both personal and work-related, that were on my mind. I listed everything I hadn't gotten around to yesterday (from big things like filing quarterly taxes to small things like ordering a bus pass for November), rolled over and went to sleep.

And slept all night! Yay!

Now, one night of sleep isn't enough to erase weeks of sleep deprivation but it's something.

 
 

Like I'm Made of Glass

I'm struggling to write. Everything I consider, every topic, every thought is too intensely personal for me to share here. My blog keeps me in touch with my friends and family but I am all too aware that there are people who follow my blog out of spite, too. Despicable people. Vindictive people. Petty, hateful people. I find it hard to write when the fact that they're lurking is too much in the front of my mind.

I told a friend the other day that I feel like I am made of glass right now. Fragile. Transparent. Vulnerable. I hesitate to say even that much because I don't trust that there aren't people out there who would break me just for the fun of it. Sneering, mocking princes of the internet... how I hate them. I may return to my pen and paper journal for a while if this block continues; it's been years since I've done my writing long-hand into a book.

Instead of writing, I assuage my anxiety by cleaning, organizing, cooking. Salvation through domestic goddesshood.

 
 

Ready to settle in

Pramas is home and I couldn't have been happier to see him. Not that it helped me sleep at all; even though Pramas got home after midnight and we settled in to bed after 1:00am, I was awake at 5:30 and after laying there for an hour and a half hoping to fall back asleep I gave up and got up. Argh. I'm SO ready to settle into a routine, hunker down at home and not worry about going anywhere for a while. I kept myself occupied this weekend catching up with all sorts of household chores. Fall cleaning instead of spring cleaning, I guess.

I caught up on laundry, put all our summer clothes into storage and pulled out the sweaters and moved everything into the dressers. I reorganized the living room to accommodate Tim's tv, bought and assembled three IKEA shelves, moved the old entertainment center out to the garage and reorganized things out there so we can once again walk. The recycling bin is full to the top and I have several large bags and boxes full of packing peanuts that need to find a home at Office Depot or some similar drop-off location. Dead tedious crap for the most part but I can look around and see the results of my efforts and that sense of accomplishment is always good for my soul.

For the first time in ages I'm also ready to do some cooking. Between the travel and the summit it's been eating out, eating leftovers, or eating quick meals with Kate like frozen ravioli or canned soup. Kate and I did a big shopping trip and came home with the ingredients for: Chicken and Goat Cheese Quesadillas; Slow Cooker Beef Pot Roast; Pork Roast with White Beans and Cranberries; Three Bean Chili; and Pork Loin Braised with Cabbage (on the menu for tonight). I'm also going to whip up a batch of Jasmine Chai Rice Pudding, because it is SO rice pudding weather. These are all new recipes I'm trying out, so I'll be sure to post recipe page updates if they're worth making.

 
 

Brick

Watched Brick last night. Great movie, I loved it. Film Noir with modern "teenagers" as the cast. I put the quotes around "teenagers" because, of course, the actors playing the supposed teens are all in their 20s. No matter, the film works anyway. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is nearly unrecognizable as the kid from 3rd Rock from the Sun and has quite handily made the jump from goofy television comedy to serious film (unlike, say, French Stewart). I saw Gordon-Levitt in Mysterious Skin at the SIFF a couple of years ago and thought he was very good then. I loved him in Brick. Other names from the cast are Emilie de Ravin (for you LOST fans) and Lukas Haas (who will always be the little Amish boy from Witness to me).

Outside of Ray I didn't hear any buzz about Brick within my circle of friends. I don't get the impression many people I know have seen it. I think it's one of those movies best seen fresh, without knowing too much about it going in, so I'll refrain from going on about the plot and characters and just say that I enjoyed it a lot and highly recommend it.

 
 

Interrupted Sleep

For the last two weeks I've been waking up in the middle of the night again. Somewhere between 3:30am and 5:30am I wake up and I'm awake for an hour to an hour and a half before I can fall asleep again. I've tried getting up and doing things, I've tried just laying in bed and trying to fall back to sleep, either way I seem to be stuck with being awake for at least an hour.

This happens to me from time to time, just like my periodic bouts of full-on insomnia (usually where I wake and I can't fall back asleep at all, as opposed to being unable to fall asleep in the first place). I was never a poor sleeper as a child; in fact, if anything I slept too deeply (making me a notorious but inadvertent blanket hog, among other things). Occasionally I would be unwilling to fall asleep because I was caught up in a good book or some other activity but it wasn't until I became a mother that I had such a hard time with insomnia and interrupted sleep.

Kate was a restless baby who often only slept for 45 minutes or an hour at a time over the first year of her life. She was a year and a half old before she could sleep through the whole night and even then she didn't do it regularly. At three she was still waking me up by climbing into my bed a few times a week. After years of interrupted sleep (and that first horrible year of intense sleep deprivation) I've been much more prone to waking than I ever used to be. Early on in motherhood I was quick to wake at Kate's sounds, Chris couldn't get out of bed without waking me because every movement triggered my "mommy radar" and I couldn't help but come awake. Now, though, it's nothing like that keeping me awake. When I wake, Kate is sound asleep and usually Chris is as well. No sound, no movement, no need to go to the bathroom, no waking from a bad dream... I'm just no longer asleep.

I've begun to dread those early morning hours. My mind churning, lists of things I "should" do, snippets of songs in my head, anxiety about not being asleep turning into a more general anxiety. Needless to say, such broken nights of sleep are not restful. I noticed this during the summit and wrote off my exhaustion to our busy pace but in the week that's followed I'm still waking and still unrested. It's wearing thin, I'm tired of it. Perhaps it's time to follow the lead of my friend JD and start a routine of melatonin.

 
 

Travel Garbage

I don't react well to uncertainty. I don't "transition" well: I want to be HERE or THERE but I hate the in-between stuff. When planning events (travel, a dinner party, our convention presence) I prefer to do it far in advance and in as much detail as I can manage. I like things to be settled.

The last couple of months have sucked in that regard. After GenCon, Chris was supposed to travel on two different weeks and I planned accordingly only to have the travel plans (which hinged on others with whom he was supposed to meet) fall through at the last minute, two weeks in a row. The last three weekends have been Chris traveling to Oakland, the Green Ronin Summit, and Chris traveling to Ft. Wayne, IN for the Alliance Open House. I believe on the 21st we will finally have a weekend to ourselves!

When Chris was approached to go to Oakland, it was over our anniversary and he did ask me if I wanted to go make a weekend of it. We could have gotten a hotel, maybe stayed in the area an extra day or two, something to celebrate together. I told him no, that it was okay, we had another trip to take in November as well and I'd rather we plan to take the money we'd have spent on bringing me to Oakland (where he had game store appearances and other very non-anniversary focused things to do) and plan to make it up on our November trip, which fell across my birthday anyway. I had everything in place for November (my mother put in for vacation time and planned to travel up from Oregon to stay with Kate, my ex- amazingly also agreed to take Kate for additional time around the trip) and even though we would be scheduled to be in business meetings on my birthday, we were going to be able to end the trip in a bed and breakfast and attend the wedding of a dear friend. Because I like to have everything sorted out for things like this well in advance, I had everything in place... except the people we needed to meet with now can't meet with us at that time after all and the trip has had to be canceled. A huge disappointment, considering the number of other people who stepped up to cover everything in anticipation of my being gone, not to mention that at this late date it's too late to salvage the birthday or attend the wedding.

The end of the month is the GAMA Trade Show booth deadline, six months out from the show. Convention planning for summer 2007 is about to begin; when most people are planning for Christmas, I'll be sorting out what we're going to do about summer convention travel. After the last several weeks of ups and downs, and the high intensity of the Green Ronin Summit still fresh in my mind, I am cringing at the thought of convention travel. Pramas and I have been passing each other like shift workers (he gone to Oakland, me gone to OPI, then the summit keeping us busy from morning til night, now he gone to Alliance). Possibly after Thanksgiving, when we can take an actual four day holiday break together, I'll have the internal fortitude to steel myself for convention prep. Today? Today I just wish that I wasn't facing another weekend of being a single parent, that Chris was spending the weekend at home, able to have Sunday breakfast with us, catching up on TiVo and just generally lazing around.

 
 

Spatial Relations

One of my talents is that I'm pretty good at spatial relations. By looking and rotating objects in my head I can usually pretty accurately assess whether something is going to fit inside something else (Will that TV fit inside the back of the van? Will those books fit in that box?), how best to pack items into a given space (loading groceries in the car trunk or loading the dish washer) and so on. Best of all, I enjoy this kind of puzzle so I don't mind at all when these sorts of tasks fall to me. Right now I have a spatial relations challenge that I'm finding very distracting, mostly because it involves one immovable element so I can't actually try out any of my ideas to see how close I am to visualizing the answer.

Tuesday night, as we didn't have to return the van we rented for the summit until the next day, I got the brilliant idea to ask the visiting Steve (who had innocently offered to help me tote things earlier in the day) to help us move Tim's television. Tim had recently upgraded to a shiny new HDTV and was looking for a home for his big, HEAVY, older tv, which we happily agreed to take. He warned us that it was heavy and would take three or four big, strong people to wrangle but even so I think we underestimated what an ordeal it was going to be relocating it (helped in large part because the television stand came apart in transit and gave us a great deal of trouble, in addition to the heavy and awkward television itself). I dare say I had little idea what I was asking Steve to agree to when I asked if he'd help (and hadn't planned on asking Tim, still on antibiotics and recovering from some gunk, to help either) but they were troopers and we wrangled the television into the living room and into the only real space for it. This space is close to where I'd like the television to finally reside, but doesn't make me entirely happy. Unfortunately, since it weighs half a ton, I have to figure out and prepare the place for it before I press any more friends into service to move it.

Right now I have a small loveseat taking up half my dining room while I mentally move furniture and come up with the optimal arrangement for the new tv. As I do not want a loveseat in my kitchen indefinitely, I am eager to come up with a solution to this puzzle that doesn't involve having to remove too many pieces of furniture from the living room entirely. I guess I know what I'm going to be doing while Pramas is at the Alliance Open House this weekend!

 
 

(NSFW) Tickle Me Harder Elmo

It was only a matter of time...



Those of you with corporate overlords who might object to something you view from work might want to view this from home, just to be safe, I suppose.

 
 

Summit Day Three

Day Three of the Green Ronin summit was much more subdued. After a long day of working and an active night out at the Can Can, I picked the guys up early so we could get breakfast and squeeze in a trip to Snoqualmie Falls. Those who were here with us last year remembered joining us for breakfast at Cafe Flora and the breakfast was, as always, excellent. Schwalb enjoyed my usual favorite of Hoppin' John cakes, greens and cheese grits while several others went for the gingerbread pancakes. Bill devoured some delicious-looking blackberry French toast and I tried a savory tart that included apples and puff pastry. Just the thing before a strenuous nature hike!



Last year we took Steve and Hal out to see Snoqualmie Falls and it was so nice we decided to do it again. The local boys gave the trip a pass in favor of sleeping in a little longer and Jim had come into town early to visit friends who took him to the falls themselves. Hal rode out with us but decided to save his back and not make the hike to the base of the falls with us. Bill, Chris, Rob, Steve and I make the hike (which is always perfectly nice going down and kicks my ass on the way back).

Sunday's meeting was the most intense because we had many important decisions to make and the team members were not always in agreement on what the best course of action was. General fatigue also began to weigh on me (and I assume everyone else) so we wrestled with things as best we could and beat some vexing issues into mostly satisfactory resolution. I did nothing fancy for dinner this time around but instead ordered in pizza and pasta from Piecora's.

As always it's been great to get the whole team together outside of a convention. I laughed my ass off all weekend. We have such a great, funny, irreverent, creative group of people! I hope the summit was the right mix of work and play for everyone else. Even though I drove a thousand miles this week I'm personally feeling pretty good about things.

Later this morning I'll get the hotel settled, get Bill to the airport, pick Kate up from her dad's, and later tonight I'll be going to hear Frank Rich for my first Seattle Arts and Lecture program of the year.

 
 

Risotto cakes

Risotto cakes
Risotto cakes,
originally uploaded by Nikchick.
I only managed to take one set of food photographs from the Green Ronin summit but this is a nice representative sample of the food we enjoyed at Carmelita.

 
 

Summit Day Two

We got down to business yesterday and kept pretty much on schedule as we covered the topics on our agenda. We met pretty straight through the day with a break for lunch and a couple of short "take five" breaks to shake things up. With only a couple of days a year to sit down face to face and go over everything under the sun and moon it can sometimes feel like we're only brushing the surface, but I'm very pleased at how much we have been able to cram into a day of work. There will be much follow-up by e-mail after everyone returns home, I have no doubt.

Of course, it was my delight to provide food and company bonding experiences for our Green Ronins as well. Lunch was just a simple spread of various good quality meats and cheeses, bread and crackers, tomatoes, avocados, roasted peppers and other such sandwich fixings. Dinner was at Carmelita, where we enjoyed lovely food that I actually remembered to photograph. I'll post them when I'm not so pressed for time, but suffice to say even the non-vegetarians enjoyed themselves. Finally, it was off to the Can Can.

I briefly thought that all of my months of planning and establishing myself as a "regular" was going to be for naught, when I showed up and found no familiar staff faces. We were told it would be standing room only and (to add insult to injury) I was chided for not making a reservation (when I'd been told that reservations were for dinner only, not for performances). After grumbling and cursing out front while I waited for the second half of the party to arrive, I decided that I was going to try lurking and scowling until seats opened up. It didn't take long. In fact, we lucked out because the bachelorette party left mid-show and we were able to sweep into prime seats for the duration of the performance. And my ego was soothed not too long into the night when both the fellow who performs as Juan Carlos/Vladdie/the Acrobat and (eventually) the owner both recognized me and took good care of my group.

As it turned out, there was no burlesque last night, but there was plenty of entertainment. I may have time to go into detail, but the short version is it worked out better than I'd dared hope, as they had both Ultra and a new fellow (dubbed Sparkle) in addition to Juan Carlos and the ladies so Steve and I weren't left out of the oogling. Pramas getting dragged onto the stage to prance around with the dancers at the end of the night was particularly good fun, from my seat at the table, anyway.

Ooops, must go pick up the lads for breakfast at Cafe Flora! More news as it happens...

 
 

Summit

Fresh on the heels of having my ass kicked by 10-year-olds out on the Olympic Peninsula, the annual Green Ronin Summit has begun. Yesterday was a blur and I almost didn't make it to my own scheduled outings out of sheer exhaustion.

The day began with an international conference call, just to get things off to a start. Then it was driving to pick up one employee who'd stayed over at another employee's house, getting lost on the unfamiliar, winding roads that separate Lake Forest Park from Shoreline. Stopped for lunch, drove Hal back to our place to pick up his things, drove the boys to their hotel, picked up Rob (already at the hotel), drove back to our place where everyone planned to gather before dinner. At this point I took a little break from business-related driving to pick my daughter up from school (as the class had just returned from their jaunt to OPI) and drive her to her dad's. Drove back to Seattle and met the fellas in time for our dinner reservation, where I truly thought I might fall asleep in my plate. Thankfully, I did not and a little meat on swords from the Ipanema Brazilian Grill perked me up.

The team split up in various cars after dinner with plans to reconvene at Acme Bowl (chosen for its location, as it was both close to the guys' hotel and close to the airport for speedy Steve retrieval) for a little bowling and billiards time. In retrospect, I kinda wish I'd gone to the Garage instead, where they wouldn't have hassled Jim about his hat not conforming to their dress code. Ah well, bowling with jackboots, who knew? Bill and I headed back to my vehicle only to find that I'd been locked into the garage, which unbeknownst to me had closed up for the night sometime during the hour and a half I was parked there. After a brief scare, we were eventually released by a security guy who thought nothing of it and made our way to Acme. I got the fellas settled and immediately turned around to head to the airport where Steve, our latest summit arrival, had landed and dragged him back for bowl-o-rama where the games were already in progress. On towards midnight I herded my exhausted and jet-lagged staff back to their hotel and hoped that they were sufficiently tired to sleep the night and not wake up as if they were still on Eastern Time. I judged myself to be too physically tired to make good on my initial plans to make a big breakfast for the team like I did last year, consigning them to the dubious "delights" of a hotel breakfast buffet. Finally, drove back to my house and collapsed.

Of course, with all the arrivals and reservations and whatnot swirling around in my brain, I utterly failed to take photos of any of the food I've indulged in over the last several days. Chris and I had dinner at Umi Sake House, which people have seen before of course, but when Hal arrived in town for our owners' meeting we took him to Shiro Sushi (which I give big thumbs up and will try to review when I have more time), we bought Bill lunch at Judy Fu's Snappy Dragon (and the Crispy Eggplant in Spicy Sauce was as delicious as ever), and we finally got to the Ipanema Grill (which I'd been talking about doing for more than a year, since it moved to its new location and expanded itself). I'll do my penance tonight by remembering to take photos of our dinner at Seattle's exquisite vegetarian restaurant, Carmelita. Aside from picking the guys up at the hotel this morning, I intend to do NO driving until dinner.

 
 

"Camp"

Or how a pack of unruly 4th and 5th grade students kicked my ass...

After spending the weekend without Chris or Kate, both came home Sunday night. Pramas and I passed in the night as he returned from his Bay Area excursion and I fell directly into bed after my Dropkick Murphys show. The next morning I arose at 6:00am to depart for a thrilling couple of days on the beautiful Olympic Penninsula where my daughter's school was sending all of their 4th and 5th Grade students for a week of environmental education with the fine instructors at the Olympic Park Institute.

I'd been to this particular park before for Rob Heinsoo's wedding. His wife was a long-time instructor at OPI and I was very excited that the kids were going to take part in the program. I was randomly assigned to a cabin which turned out to be the same cabin I stayed in at the wedding. That gave me a little chill. Then Kate was randomly assigned to sleep in the room that I slept in. That was a little weird.

I had both a good time and an awful time. On one hand, I couldn't wait to flee (and at times was full of regret for having taken the time off with the Green Ronin Summit looming) and on the other hand I was sorry to be missing some of the experiences, was sad to leave "my" girls, and felt guilty for abandonning the other parents who were so incredibly over-extended even with my help!

The bad: it was completely overwhelming, with the student to parent ratio being something like 15 to 1 (or a terrifying 30 to 1 in the one boys-only cabin!!); the kids did not initially click with or transition well to the program and some of the instructors seemed to be, if I may say, touchy-feely, hippie-dippie white kid environmetalist tree-huggers who condescended to our inner-city, largely minority school and then proceeded to make some very unkind and largely incorrect judgements about our kids; I felt completely out of my element as I'm an introvert who has at most spent a handful of hours on a couple of day-trips or pot-lucks with these kids; the kids completely wore me out both physically and emotionally.

The good: I got to know a lot of Kate's peers and classmates better and came to like several of them very much; I was clearly desperately needed and had a positive impact with the kids; I was able to be an effective advocate for our students to the OPI educators and helped them connect better and have a better experience on both sides; "my" girls did did a fantastic job, followed the rules beautifully, came prepared to learn and were generally just a joy to be around; I was able to see that some of the kids I was the hardest on and the most strict with actually responded very well to the structure I offered and they sought me out as a confidant and mediator.

After I got back to town I ran summit-prep errands for the rest of the afternoon and then met up with Pramas to hear about the cool new project he's just started (as of today). What I expected to be a 30-40 minute drive ended up taking me over 80 minutes, much of that time in bumper to bumper, 5-mph traffic. UGH! So we went out to Umi Sake House for a little tempura battered sushi and a bottle of sake to dull the pain of it all (and toast the new project). Kate gave me a call on the remaining parent's cell-phone to let me know that "my" girls won the clean cabin award tonight. They were SO close last night, I knew they could do it. I'm so proud.

I might have time to write up more details about the last couple of days (including the bomb scare and bomb sniffing dogs at the ferries, my run-in with the class tough-girl, what sorts of things we did for "class", and more) but I'm utterly exhausted right now. I finally got home this afternoon and had only enough time to throw my bags in the house, return the Flexcar, and catch the bus to the airport to pick up the rental van for the Green Ronin Summit. People start arriving for that tomorrow afternoon and there is an amazing amount of work yet to be done to prepare for that.

Now, to unconsciousness!

 
 

Murphys

The Murphys were hot last night. I was running late to the show, waited over 45 minutes for a bus to downtown, which, when it came was packed because the previously scheduled bus hadn't come. When you're waiting for a bus that only runs every 30 minutes anyway and you're out there long enough to see two going in the wrong direction, things aren't good. I missed the first opening band (which I gather was some sort of 80s hardcore sort of group that wasn't very popular with the crowd) but got there in time to catch all of The Briefs, who I hadn't realized were on the bill. I'm beginning to feel hooked into the Seattle scene a bit now: I not only recognized the band and some of their songs but I caught when they were doing a couple of covers (they did Angry Samoans' Todd Killings, for example).

The crowd for the show was an uncomfortable (for me) mix of punks, skinheads, frat boys, and regular joes. The skinheads in full regalia are a little intense for me (and boy did they go nuts when the Murphys played Skinhead on the MTBA and Never Alone) and I had the unfortunate luck to be up in the old punks lounge with what I at first took to be drunken frat boys (complete with baseball caps and sports jerseys). As the night went on, it became clear that these weren't just any frat boys, they were Seattle Firefighters Pipes and Drums fans and members. The Seattle Firefighters pipers and drummers opened the Murphys' set and then changed out of their gear and spent the rest of the night enjoying the show from the lounge. Those guys were forever pushing back and forth in the crowd for more beer, carrying four or six cups each for their buddies. They were also constantly jostling each other, high-fiving, hugging, and jumping around singing. As the night went on, their circle of chaos grew wider until I found myself between two guys who really, really needed to high-five again (while holding full cups of beer, natch). Unsurprisingly, it was one of those guys who slopped beer down my leg late in the show. Rick found it hard to be too annoyed with them, as they're public servants and all but they were indistinguishable from drunken frat boys to me.

If I sound cranky, I'm not really. Well, except over getting beer dumped on me. It was a good time and they played all the hits except for Which Side Are You On, which I would have liked to hear. Next up: The Bouncing Souls at the end of the month.

 
 

Another Busy Weekend

With Kate at her dad's and Pramas in Oakland, I thought I might be spending an exciting weekend at home catching up on laundry and TiVo or scrubbing the kitchen floor (oh, how it needs it!) but such was not the case!

Friday on my way home from dropping Kate off I got a call and an invitation to meet Ray, Christine, and Bill at the Black Bottle wine bar in Belltown. A little wine, a little food, a little shouted conversation at the bar while beautiful people lingered in the doorway, clearly feeling hungry for our seats. After a while of that we walked up to lower Queen Anne for a couple hours at Chopstix, where a table for four in the corner seemed made just for us. I tried to get pictures of the crowd there, because it was just so over the top: jello shots in syringes, test tubes of mystery liquid being offered by waitstaff with whistles, and THE WORST mixed cocktails I've ever 'enjoyed'. Sounds terrible but it was crazy fun. I clapped so much I lost the stone from the ring my mother gave me this summer (sob). Left Chopstix at some point and walking back towards our cars we hit yet another bar: Mira which is hidden away in the basement of the Seattle Labor Temple. It's kinda like finding a bar has been installed in your old elementary school. There were comfy couches and lots of space and the place was entirely deserted but for us and the bartender (who thankfully mixed better drinks than Chopstix). We hung there, chatted up the bartender for a while, and I had yet another opportunity to sing the praises of Flexcar (for the bartender heard me talking to Bill about it and asked for details). I've become a regular Flexcar evangelist; I've had conversations about Flexcar and how great it's worked for us at Evan's birthday party, at Ray's Birthday party and at Jess's birthday party this summer, plus I've had people stop me in parking lots and at gas stations to ask about the Flexcar while I've been out and about in it. Wacky. From Mira we decided it was absolutely necessary to have breakfast at 2:00am at the 13 Coins. I chatted up two of the servers from my giant swivel chair at the bar, ate a platter of Ukrainian Joe (whatever the hell that was) and finally made it home to bed around 3:30am.

I figured that I'd get a few things done on Saturday. I made it to the post office and from there took the bus downtown thinking I'd buy a couple of new long-sleeved shirts as cool fall weather seems to be upon us for real this time. That turned into me hooking up with Christine, Carol, and out of town friends Chuck and David at the market, going up to see Carol's new house (which is so cute; if I were single it would be just the kind of place I'd want), then off to Ray and Christine's where Ray was in the process of doing up a batch of his famous homemade green pea and mascarpone ravioli. Christine busted out her purchases from the market, cheese upon cheese, breads, crackers, olives, balsamic marinated onions, and on and on. Wine flowed and Chuck entertained with tales of his trips around the world and the fascinating people he's met. Dinner followed (the aforementioned ravioli in a cream sauce and then some gorgeous grilled salmon for those of us who can eat fish), more wine, and then there were threats of gelato and a pear tart at which point I was nearly comatose. I moaned, "It starts with the cheese..." and had to beg off any more wine or desserts. Instead Christine piled four different kinds of chocolate on the table and started offering coffee. A friend from the UK once complained that I was trying to kill him with food. I know how he felt! Decadence! It was glorious. I think I made it home and to bed by midnight last night and I slept like a rock.

Today I really do have to catch up on laundry among other things. I have to be in Burlington to pick Kate up by 4:00 and then tonight I'm seeing the Dropkick Murphys. Pramas will be home by the time I get back from the show.

Tomorrow I leave to go to camp with Kate for a couple of days. She'll be gone all week but with the Green Ronin Summit scheduled to begin on Thursday, I can't stay for the whole thing. Holy crap I'm going to be worn out...