Tuesday, November 30, 2010

No Computah

So... I'm writing this on my phone... Every single other person who lives here is hogging a computer right now. I suppose I do want the bills paid, and it's cool if Bud and Roo want to kill some zombies while they're on break. But scheez. I was much better at blogging when I had a nice, working laptop. We're down to just E's and our old desktop and neither one is really doing so well. (BTW, it bothers me to no end that this will post without line breaks. I can't figure out how to do them over email, though.)

Today was a craptastic day. I should have known it was going to be all fail, all the time, when I couldn't fall asleep last night. I was up until 1:00 AM. Never a good idea on a school night! The only saving grace was that I caught NatGeo's showing of the documentary, Restrepo. It was uh-mazing. Heavy, but so good.

Anyway, today was a pile of suck. I forgot to turn the thermostat to "auto" when I left yesterday so my classroom was freezing when I got to work. I was useless until I thawed--I sat there and lost a half an hour! I wore my sweater backwards to school and didn't notice until lunch. Even though I was teaching like crazy all day and I was ten shades of fabulous, I got observed (surprise!) in my last class--after the fabulous was over--and the kids decided to be a bunch of buttheads. I hate that they couldn't see that I was nervous and just throw me a bone. Or maybe they could just not act out in WORSE ways than normal. OR MAYBE THEY COULD JUST NOT ACT LIKE PRESCHOOLERS. I just want people to know I do a good job, and it felt like I got caught on a major "off" moment.

After school I had to grocery and cat-grocery shop, so I just about hit the wall. I had planned to swim tonight... There's just no way. Time to call this one and just wait for it to be over.

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I'm just saying...

  • That having two furlough days the week of Thanksgiving was TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY worth it. I would gladly trade two days of pay for this kind of bliss on a yearly basis.
  • That said furlough meant that I had NINE days in a row all to myself instead of the standard five.
  • That even though I was stuck in bed with the zombie tooth infection from hell, I really feel like I had a week off.
  • That getting my "had-to" grading done before my break was a brilliant idea.
  • That getting my "maybe" grading done over the break was an even brilliant-er idea. Don't correct me. It's brillianter.
  • That I'm thankful that I graded all the essays that were nagging at me and I can go back to work and thoroughly enjoy (or as much as one can do that) teaching Anthem and Hamlet for the next two weeks without that I should be doing something feeling.
  • That Henry dancing is the best thing I've ever seen.
  • That Roodle laughing is the best sound I've ever heard.
  • That someone bringing you coffee is one of life's little presents.
  • That having a spa in your backyard is like a vacation.
  • That this year I'm thankful for potatoes. I'm glad I started eating them a few years ago. They've been good to me.
  • That I'm glad I took a trip to San Francisco and the DeYoung museum with K to see the second half of the D'Orsay museum French Impressionism exhibit because it feels like I really went somewhere.
  • That you haven't lived until your dog spills an ORANGE Pumpkin Spice Latte on your carpet and then runs away only to barf it up. The living's in the cleaning, y'all.
  • That doing something thoughtful for another person almost undoubtedly fills up the heart of the doer more so than the recipient.
  • That I love Christmas trees, Christmas music, Christmas lights, and Christmas movies.
  • That I'm glad I did my lesson plans before the break.
  • That I want to learn how to crochet mukluks and hand-warmers.
  • That having Thanksgiving 2.0 with my mom and dad last night was the bees knees.
  • That I was happy to get back into work time routine today with my Sunday morning walk.
  • That I'm looking forward to going back to school tomorrow.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Our Thanksgiving 2010

Yesterday was really low key. I was just glad to be back in the land of the living! My tooth was cooperating and I could eat--which was what really mattered.  I made two giant batches of my hot salad as my side dish this year.

Roo and I waited in the car for the boys.

My new suede boots.  Cheap score at my favorite shoe store this week.  They kind of look a little bit like Robin Hood boots, but not so much that it bothers me.  They were comfy and warm.


Of all the decisions I've made in my life, I am most thankful I decided to still be married to him (and that he decided the same for me).

Lis, Mom, and Unkie Dave sampling the appetizers.   My favorite was the baked lemon shrimp aunt Anne made.  Yum!

Aunt Anne and D supervising the turkey prep.

My nephew Ty.  So cute.

Chinese Checkers.

Almost ready!

Eating... in the garage.  When we have it at my aunt and uncles we do this so we can all sit together in the same place.  With all the decorations and the space heaters, it was very homey.

The kids' table.

After dinner #1, we hopped in the car to drive to the mountains for dinner #2.

Slight change in scenery.

At the second dinner I finally managed to get to hold my niece, so I took her in the back for some burrito-ing and quiet rocking.  Best ten minutes of my whole day.

While I was having baby time, E and Henry were perusing the ads.

Addie was watching The Grinch with an Auntie.

And pretty soon BOTH kids were in the chair with E.

Today has been even more low-key, if that's imaginable.  I slept in until 10:00 in what has to be the greatest convergence of luck and effort on the part of my husband, two kids, two pets, and bladder.  E got the tree and ornaments down from the attic before he left for Reno, so all of our inside decorating is done.  I don't think we've had it up this early in years.  It feels good.

Twinkle, two-thirds of the way up (and inside) the Christmas tree.

Today really feels like a day off.  I've been out of school that "the Mrs. P show" seems like a distant memory and I just get to enjoy being myself for a few more days.  Tomorrow we're going to put up our Christmas lights.   I hope everyone had a great holiday.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A little disappointment but a BIG success

This Thanksgiving I was going to have the best blog post. My dad and I were going to run Sacramento's Run to Feed the Hungry 5K together and I was going to tell the world how proud I am of him.

I've been waiting to do the race with my dad since this summer. He was ready to go--still is--and I'm a giant pile of injuries and tooth infection. There's no way I'm running the race; in fact I can't run for another three months or so. I'm not bummed for me, but I'm bummed that I won't get to do share this with him.

Let me tell you about my dad. I've never thought of him as overweight. Not at all. He's just always been Dad to me. We have our secret hand signals and our conversations about history; I know that anytime I get him on the phone I will either catch him in one of his wordless moments or he'll be chatty and we can talk all night. But I didn't really give so much thought to his health.

Me and Dad, last Thanksgiving.
But Dad had a wakeup call at the end of last February that landed him in the hospital. It was over quickly, but it was scary, and when his doctor told him that he needed to change his habits and lose some weight, he listened. He joined a gym immediately, and started eating differently. He didn't look back. I've never seen someone attack their health with such commitment and dedication. He was constantly turning down sweets and high-fat foods at family parties--I know that is when it's hardest, when people gather and celebrate with food. He went to the gym rain or shine. He made hard choices all the time.

Not only did he started going to the gym, he started running. RUNNING. I never thought I'd hear my dad say he ran, but he would get on the treadmill and run/walk multiple times a week. Pretty soon the amount of time he could run outlasted the time he would walk. He'd tell me about his pace per mile this summer when we were walking, and I'd realize he was keeping pace with what I'd been doing on my own.

So like I said, as I was training for Urban Cow and he was training for health, I thought about how awesome it would be to run a race with him. He was worried that he'd slow me down, but I could care less about the time--I just started to think about what it would mean to me to do that with him. He's never run outside--always on the treadmill--so there would be the added benefit of being with him when he sees what an experience it is to run a race. We agreed to do it together. But I guess this year, this race, isn't meant to be. I'm okay with it, and I know there will be another but I'm just a little sad about missing this one.

What's more important than races is that my dad has done an amazing job. Since that February day in the hospital, he's lost 55 pounds. He's done it all the right way--eating well and exercising--and he's completely changed his way of life and the way he looks. It makes me so proud to see him, but also to hear how much it has changed the quality of his life to be so much more healthy. He and my mom have made major strides toward health this year. He's an inspiration. At his last visit to the doctor, she actually told him he can stop losing weight. Amazing.

My dad last fall and this Halloween

I'm so proud of you, Dad! I'm sorry I had to bail on the race. I can't wait until I'm better and we can do another one together.

Oh, Lord. Being goofy with my mom a few weeks ago.
photo by Beau Hause

Happy Thanksgiving!

A week that went POOF

All of the sudden I've been out of school five days and I've done nothing, though it feels like it has been about five minutes.  I've had just about the worst dental experience, ever.  In fact, I've had the very dental experience that I play out in my imagination every time I visit a dentist--hence the (previously) unreasonable panic attacks.  And no, experiencing the very thing I fear and/or loathe and making it through successfully hasn't done anything to convince me that dentists are not that scary--in fact it's confirmed every single thing I worried about.  But what are you gonna do?  I can't avoid the dentist, but at least I know what I'm getting into.

I started having tooth pain a week ago Monday--the kind of nebulous pain that you can't really pin on one tooth--but by Monday night it was bad enough that I knew I needed to get in and see someone about it (panic attacks be damned).  My dentist couldn't see anything wrong in my mouth or on the xray but she confirmed BY BANGING ON MY TEETH (yes I'm serious) that it was my back left tooth I where I was having the pain.  Or I should say, where I was having the most pain, because at that point I was having pain in everything in my skull or attached to it.  So at least I knew where it was starting.  I'd had a root canal five years ago in that tooth right after Henry was born.  When I was pregnant, I developed an abscess but I had to wait until after his birth to take care of it.  No bueno, but the root canal seemed to take care of the problem.  The dentist couldn't see anything visibly wrong with it, but she sent me on to see the endodontist that afternoon.

MORE BANGING ON TEETH, more stupid questions about what kind of pain I was having.  I think the subtleties of pain are lost on someone who is at the OH MY GOD I'M GOING TO SCREAM stage. It isn't throbbing pain or stabbing pain or hot and cold sensitivity pain when it's just PAIN with a capital P and fourteen exclamation points.  So long story short (ha, not really) the endodontist decides something's wrong with the old crown--looks like I wore down two layers of crown from a misaligned bite, cracked the thing, and developed an infection.  Awesomeness.  But at least I got some shots of Novocaine which provided the first relief I'd had in two days.  I wanted to sleep while I waited for it to take but of course the chipper dental assistant wanted to talk.  Really?  I'm sitting here with a mouth full of pain, I can't articulate any letters because of Novocaine, I haven't slept, and you want to chat?  Pass.  I closed my eyes until she got the hint.

Not to scare anyone, but the sounds of a root canal are awful.  And I'm pretty sure the sounds of redoing a root canal are worse, because they have to drill through metal.  That's not a sound one wants close to one's brain.  I'll admit to moments of freaking out because the pain was so bad it made me sick.  But at that point I had no choice and the awful drilling was what stood between me and relatively quick peace in my mouth.

Only my mouth is like the Middle East.  Any peace is tenuous at best.

They packed me full of meds, prescribed some Vicodin and an antibiotic, and sent me on my way.  I was knocked on my butt.  The pain didn't seem to get any better--after two days in bed, it seemed worse, but I had to go back to work.  I stopped the Vicodin because I had to drive and I was sure it was all in my head that this was still as bad as it was.  By Friday, though, I was angry.  I shouldn't still be feeling this way.  Vicodin at night was not getting me through and I was starting to have pain that radiated farther out than in the first place.  I called my endo and they said I just needed to keep at the meds.  They called in a new prescription of Vicodin since I was almost out.

I toughed it out, setting alarms every two hours all night so I could keep a steady stream of drugs in my system and alternate my pain meds.  If I missed a dose of either: excruciating pain.  I managed to make Ad's birthday party and my trip to San Francisco with K over the weekend, but it took more alarm-setting, and some faithful taking of medicine.  By the time the endo called on Monday, I had seen no improvement.  I could manage the pain but nothing was better.

So imagine my frustration on Monday when they said "oh... hmm... you should probably come in.  It's been almost a week and it seems like something's not right."  It was all I could do not to scream YEAH YOU NERDS THAT'S WHY I CALLED YOU ON FRIDAY TO TELL YOU THIS WASN'T RIGHT.  *sigh*  Can't win.

I went in, kids in tow, and they did a... wait for it... SECOND ROOT CANAL on the same tooth.  Only really by "second" I mean "third" because this process started five years ago after Henry decided (yes, I blame him) to make me wait out a dental procedure.  And it wasn't the whole thing all over again, but it might as well have been because it was just like the Tuesday before.  I wanted to cry right in the chair, but mouth pain is so bad that I would have probably promised the endo my first child (sorry Roo) just to make it go away.  NOT REALLY, YOU GUYS.  But you get it.  More drilling *tear*, more squeezing my fists tight inside my sweatshirt pocket, more curling of toes... The poor monkeys had to sit in the waiting room since i hadn't anticipated them doing this all over again.  Good thing my kids can essentially babysit themselves.

The endo was not sure if he "didn't get it all" the first time or if it was the fault of the antibiotic they prescribed--and he wasted no time BLAMING ME for my Penicillin allergy which meant he was "so limited in what else he could prescribe." PUH-LEASE.  I can't be the first person in the world with a Penicillin allergy to cross his path.  That was a low blow.  Yeah, thanks, Mr. Endo.  Like I WANTED to have my joints swell up and hallucinate when I was 11 years old from a toxic level of Penicillin in my blood.  Let's do that again.  Not.

Monday night I was pretty down since it felt like I started all over again, but as of today I finally feel like I'm beginning to move in the right direction.  It felt good to shower and to open the windows--everything in the house (myself included) has that nasty stale sick smell to it.  It's time for fresh air and healing.  I'm so ready to move on and be done with this tooth and this pain.  I'd take two c-sections in a row again instead of this--at least after those I could eat.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I read in a magazine recently that it's ordinary items that don't often survive history. Most of us have family heirlooms--clothing, particularly--from special occasions. We have grandma's wedding dress, Aunt so-and-so's wedding veil, our own prom dresses. We take care to preserve the biggies. But the point of the magazine was that it would be incredibly cool to see the outfit grandma wore most days in her twenties, or to have a simple household item from long ago. Apparently it's the ordinary day-to-day artifacts that constitute the more interesting finds for historians because they're more rarely preserved or passed down.

Storytelling is like this as well. Social events like weddings, funerals, graduations and birthdays inspire the same stories year after year. We get the "big" stuff (as we should) because we're reminded of its importance each time we gather for another one of these events. But oral history is passed down at the whim of the teller--the listener is at the mercy of whatever inspiration strikes. Most of us don't think to share the minutia of an ordinary day at some moment in our lives, or we don't think that anybody would want to know about something so average as us. I find the blessings of "ordinary" are both in its universality and unique details. Ordinary is fascinating and it shows so much about a person.

I'm interested in the day to day, the small, walking in someone's footsteps. I love that place and smell and sound are such familiar memory triggers, and I feel fortunate when I'm around to benefit from the stories they inspire in the teller.

I got a dose of storytelling this past weekend as K and I walked the grounds of her alma mater. We filled the time waiting for a former student by circling the lush, green campus and K showed me where she'd spent so much time. The curve of a rounded roof: this is where I took my art classes... A rectangular structure near the road: in there is the basement where we set up a darkroom... The smell of wood and high ceilings, like church: this is where they brought us when we started school... A heavy wooden door: my office was here. Empty cubbies at the top of the stairs: here is where we'd pick up our messages... A shaded courtyard: my dorm room looked out here... A common room with big windows: this was a beautiful living room with a big fire... I could see her there. I could see her better. She walked, musing about what had changed or remained the same, smiling wistfully about details she kept to herself. I walked beside her, a happy and interested audience.

I just can't tell you how much it means to step into someone else's history. It doesn't matter how ordinary. There's something special about bearing witness to a person's story, walking it, making it a piece of your own by listening. Even if all you catch of it are echoes, the tail ends of memories diffusing like puffs of smoke, you glimpse at a person's past and at who they are. It affects you both to share that kind of walk.

I love the Norse mythological notion that one's immortality is in the retelling of his story. We need close relationships in our life to witness these stories; essentially we witness each others' lives so there's a record of us. It was an incredibly cool way to spend a few hours on Sunday. It made me think about what I'd like to show my own kids someday. I'm so thankful K shared it with me.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A character study

Thanks to Travelin' Oma for the inspiration for today's post.  She's so creative.  I'm back among the living today, but not too alive.  This week was Root Canal City, Population: me.   More on that tonight (or maybe tomorrow, I'm tired and my mouf hurth).

A character study

Let's say your life (right now) is a book you're trying to sell to a publisher. How would you answer these questions?

What's the book about? A harried teacher, mom and wife trying to find herself in between class periods.

What's the setting? A small town high school in a not-so-small town.

Describe the hero in three words. verbose, self-depricating, nerdy

What are her three best qualities? loyalty, thoughtfulness, self-expression

What are three character flaws? introversion, nervousness, stubbornness

What outward characteristics set her apart? curly hair, blonde eyebrows, a love of sweatpants

What goal does the hero want to reach right now? Write a worthy piece of fiction, see the world.

What is stopping her from getting it? The nagging stack of papers that need grading, the gunk in the kitchen sink.

Does she have a mentor? K.

List two subplots. Learning to be a runner, trying to educate the hormonal masses.

What do you want people to take from your book? That life doesn't turn out how you think it will, and that's okay.

Where does your book fit in a bookstore? Does it? I'd just be glad to have it anywhere inside the door.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Instead of working

Instead of working right now, I'm:

Playing on Facebook
Cleaning up the family room
Taking pictures
Opening the windows to let in the air and the sunshine
Watching Henry play video games
Moogie-ing the cat
Teasing Roo
Dreaming about real blog posts
Looking for my camera battery charger
Wishing I made a double batch of blueberry scones last night
Thinking about how 8 years ago I was pacing around waiting for my first baby to be born
Wondering where 8 years went
Remembering how amazing it was to be pregnant
Remembering how uncomfortable it was to be pregnant
Remembering how long those hours were that I was in labor
Remembering how scary it was to have my first C-section
Remembering how cool it was to hear Roo cry
Not working
Remembering how I sobbed uncontrollably the night before Roo's first birthday because she wasn't going to be a baby anymore
Not doing much of anything
Being really happy

Enough of that, time to plan my next unit!

If you'd like to read more Roo-being-born stories (no gore, promise), you can read the story of her birth, Sunny Side Up, or the story of her name, What's in a name?

Happy Sunday.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Immutable Hereafter?

Thursday I saw Hereafter. Sad. Interesting. Measured out deliberately and slowly, but good.

Matt Damon's character in the movie believes he has the ability to speak to the dead. The three separate storylines end up intertwining until this paranormal ability (or perceived ability) becomes important.

While I watched it, I felt kind of distant to his character's gift and to the people who so hungrily sought him out. I definitely felt distant about the idea of trying to speak to people (or more importantly, hear from people) who have died--I can't identify. The loss of several characters in the movie, the pain of their families, all of that was incredibly touching and of course, moving. I could accept the reality and fictional universe of the movie enough so that I enjoyed it and I found it really compelling, but it made me think about the fact that I have no desire for or belief in speaking to anyone who has passed on. The kind of desperation that people felt in the movie to speak to their loved ones who died--it made me wonder with honest curiosity if that's more common than I thought.

I absolutely believe in an afterlife, or in something more. And while the faith side of me is strong, the intellectual side (and no, I don't think those two are mutually exclusive) also believes we're just hard-wired, genetically, to long for a connection to something greater than ourselves. I believe that there are stories and archetypes and belief systems that are central to being human. I believe there are plenty of things we just can't understand. So I come out feeling there's a purpose for looking beyond myself, beyond the implications of the here and now, and in my mind faith and rational thought peacefully coexist. Anyway. So yes, I believe there's something more than now. But as I said, the whole crossing over/communication thing is just not something I long for or wonder about so much. I guess you could say I don't believe it. Are there more people who do than I think? I guess that some of my earliest memories of dealing with death are rooted in notions about people being able to "watch over" me from the other side, but still the idea of talking to them seemed moot.

This lead me to consider the naivete of my ideas concerning death. Perhaps my relative protection from death means that I view it coldly or unsympathetically, even if I don't mean to. I'm incredibly untouched by serious loss thus far in my life. As with all things I am sure that my understanding is limited when it comes to something I don't know. I don't know if I'd lost someone I loved dearly if I'd have that kind of longing to continue to speak. It seems to me (now) to be an exercise in futility, a prolonging of painful hopes. It's interesting to me, though, that my ideas of prayer and of speaking to a God who is willing to listen and perhaps shape how life proceeds haven't informed any idea of communication with anyone beyond that. What I mean is that there are belief systems that lead people to talk to all kinds of entities. I suppose that since that's not a part of the religious tradition in which I was raised (or the one I self-selected as a teen/young adult) it's not part of my world view. Mine's not the only right one--I don't understand it well enough to claim I've got it all figured out--it's just an observation about how selective one's knowledge or beliefs can be based on how she's raised.

I have no agenda with this post. I'm just interested in how I felt after watching the movie, and in the fact that this little kernel of thought has been stuck for a few days. I'm interested in writing down my thoughts in honesty even if they're hard to write or awkward. Awkward is interesting to me. Maybe it's more common than I thought for people to want to reach beyond the only great unmovable barrier we have. For a lover of words and verbal connection, that's the greatest tragedy in death--its finality. The lack of communication beyond a certain point. That's what I miss most of those I have lost already, and I perceive it to be what I'd miss most if I lost someone else: the talk. It's an end to the conversation, a final punctuation mark.

And this post leads me to an even greater admission, that I'm pretty scared of death. Again I am sure this comes from my lack of experience. It's not an area you'd like to volunteer to educate yourself, I know. But I personalized a bit when I watched the tsunami hit in the opening scene of the movie--particularly because it was filmed at Ka'anapali Beach and Lahaina in Maui. Strange to see such a familiar place of relaxation transform into one of doom. It felt like watching the (very real) destruction of my hometown on TV. And it's not being dead that scares me, it's leaving my kids without a mom, or leaving my parents without a child. It's the moment between knowing I'd die and dying that scares me. That's why airplanes freak me out. And tsunamis. And volcanoes. And... a lot of other things. Similar feelings exist concerning the potential loss of my loved ones. It's a difficult subject and I don't often let myself go there.

It's just a movie, Heather. It's not real. But as all stories go for me, this fiction reminds that it is always based in fact, in authenticity, in some grain of an experience. Like it or not, death is the great equalizer. I am confident that my feelings on the subject will change in some way as I age, and I am confident that loss will touch my life with greater familiarity. I have no idea how. But at least now these thoughts are written down here for me to read some other day.

Recipe: Hot Salad (aka Roasted Veggies)

I get sick of salad, especially when it's cold, but I still want to eat my veggies.  I also have this thing where I'm not satisfied eating teeny portions (of anything) so it helps me to fill my plate with a big ol' heaping portion of healthy.

My tastes, as I've said before, lean decidedly toward the roasted in the fall.  The recipe I'm going to share with you has been life changing.  I make some variation of it most nights lately.  It totally fills the roasty-toasty niche in my soul, and the kids will eat almost any veggie prepared this way.  Whatever veggies we have in the fridge get thrown in.  It's made me try new ones and it's made me re-appreciate old ones.  Get ready, my friends, for Hot Salad (aka roasted fresh vegetables).

I like to eat it plain as a side dish or with a bit of organic ketchup (tastes better than regular ketchup, swear!).  It also make a good topping for a salad, pizza or a rice bowl.  The possibilities are endless.  I even used roast veggies in my minestrone soup.  You can adapt this recipe for as many people as you've got.  I often do a solo-roast, but it works just as easily for the fam.

Roast on, mes amies.  Roast on.


1.  Olive Oil

2.  McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning (or any other spice rub--but this one is the BEST)

3.  Any combination/variation/selection from the list below (or any other veggies you have on hand)--just make as much as you can eat:
  • Zucchini/ Summer Squash, sliced thick
  • Asparagus, ends removed and/or sliced into sections
  • Mushrooms, bottoms of stems removed and halved if large
  • Brussels Sprouts, ends removed and halved
  • Broccoli/Cauliflower, chunks
  • Carrots/Parsnips, sliced
  • Red potatoes, cubed
  • Sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed or sliced
  • Peppers, seeded and sliced or cut into squares
  • Eggplant, peeled and cubed
  • Red onion, peeled and cut into big chunks
  • Tomatoes/cherry tomatoes, seeded and chunked (or just halved for cherry tom.)
  • Green beans, ends trimmed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

1.  Cut up your veggies.  Try out some new combos--everything is good together.  Go single veggie if you're feeling like a purist, but for true "hot salad" you should mix it up.  Don't cut anything too small--it will get soggy.  Try to make things near the same size so they cook evenly.  I usually have better success with large chunks.

2.  Put your veggies in a gallon size Ziploc baggie.  Add 1-2 tbsp of olive oil, depending on how many veggies you have.  I never measure, I just let it flow for about two glugs.

3.  Dump in some of the Montreal Steak Seasoning.  Don't be stingy!  I give it a few good shakes so there's enough to flavor everything.


5.  Dump everything on a big cookie sheet.  Try to make sure it's in a single layer and not too crowded.

6.  Bake the veggies for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees, turning or stirring after the first 10 minutes.  At the end of this stage, things should be cooked through (i.e. fork tender).  We don't like things mushy, so I tend to under-cook.  But if your veggies are still not cooked through, leave them a little longer.

7.  Most important step: Switch your oven to Broil and cook the veggies an additional 5 minutes.  Just watch them and take them out when they look the right amount of toasty to you.  The toast makes all the difference.  Different veggies take different times to cook, so after a while you'll learn how long you like to leave 'em.


For another roast-veggie recipe, see my Sweet Potato Fry recipe.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Photos from this week

Top left: E avec monkeys, post-Elementary school Halloween carnival.  It was rained out the week before, but having it in November turned out to be a fun way to keep the holiday going.  We had ourselves a little after party at the froyo shop in town.

Top center: Finishing up my grades last night.  I was determined to make today a "real life" day instead of a work day.  I took this pic just before I input all of 5th period's grades into my 3rd period class grade book on the computer.  FAIL!  Good thing I caught the mistake before I uploaded.  I am happy to report that grades are DONE! (Yes, I'm ignoring the stack of papers the kids just turned in this week--that's another story!)

Top right: Twinkle helping me read last weekend.  I'm finally getting into Cutting for Stone and I love it.  It's incredibly dense and it's about things I have no idea about (see: the World)--well, basically it takes place in India and Ethiopia so it's a stretch for me--but it's a really compelling story.  I was happy my little Twink' decided to keep my legs warm.

2nd row left:  My favorite breakfast, the Green Monster.  I don't usually make them on days off, but I was feeling like a healthy breakfast might do me good today.  Ingredients: almond milk, 1/2 frozen banana, palmful of frozen blueberries, tablespoon almond butter, 3 ice cubes, 1 cup of spinach, 1 tsp of instant coffee.  Mmmm!  Vegan!  Healthy!  Delicioso!

2nd row center:  The quote frame on my white board.  This was Wednesday's quote and I liked it a lot.  I've added a few twitter accounts to my quote list this week: Women of History and Philosophers' Quotes.  I love to pick out the quotes for the week.  I have so many right now I'm about two weeks ahead of the board.  :)

2nd row right: My brand spankin' new swim cap.  For swimming.  Awesome, right?  I figured I felt dumb already about wearing a swim cap, so it might as well be one I thought was funny.  And you know what?  Swimming was awesome.  Didn't hurt my hip one bit and I really enjoyed the exercise.  There's something calming about a pool.  Well, calming and simultaneously fatiguing, but once I remembered how to breathe like a normal human I was fine.

Bottom left: This week's brush with magazine publishing.  Small, but mighty.

Bottom center:  The awesome gift basket we won in the raffle at the monkeys' school on Friday.  Awesome!  It was not just full of candy, popcorn and DVDs, but it had gift cards for pizza and four movie passes.  Yeah, I've already used one of the movie passes.  Felt good to hand it over when the guy said "that will be $10.50, ma'am."  HERE YOU GO, NERD.

Bottom right:  Hurley.  Mountain goat, or small cat?  Neither.  He's a boxer with an identity crisis.  He also discovered how to rip apart stuffed animals this week.  Every five minutes it looks like it snowed over here.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Well that just made my little day

Last night after wrangling teaching the hormonal masses, grading some terrible papers and preparing a healthy dinner, I was dog tired; the 5:00 darkness really takes a toll on me and I'm quick to get in bed early on a fall or winter's night. At about 8:00 (after I listened to E clean the kitchen for an hour--what a GODSEND) I was toast. I grabbed my fresh new copy of Real Simple and headed to bed to watch The Daily Show.

Me time.

I snuggled down under the heavy quilts, shoved my arm under the stack of pillows, propped myself up and flipped open the magazine.

And there on page 32 was something I wrote (mine is the first response, "posted by Heather"):

Click photo to open larger, zoom.
You'll notice the artwork was inspired by my little answer, too!

Here it is, enlarged. That's ME!
Cool, right? I mean, it's not a big thing, but it's a little thing that got picked to be in a magazine. It made my little day, as Addie would say.

I added Simply Stated (Real Simple's No Obligation Book Club Blog) to my Google Reader some time ago because I like to see what books they're reading. From time to time, they pose a question for the magazine. I responded to this one some time ago and promptly forgot about it. The blurb (my answer) is about a gift I got from K. It's one of the most beautiful things anyone has given me, period. I was so touched by the sentiment at eighteen, and I am just as moved by it today. It was the first thing I thought of when I saw the question.

The page was marked with a red ribbon

It still sits high on my bookshelf, protected from little Sharpie-wielding hands. I've read it to the monkeys, but I don't want anything to happen to it. K gave it to me with a card (now tucked away inside the cover) and a ribbon marking the passage I wrote about. I treasure it.

Love it

I'm happy that something that means so much to me was the inspiration for my little brush with magazine question-answering. I'm also happy I got to make K's day by calling her up last night to say "hey, you need to go get your new copy of Real Simple and open it to page 32."

So, my friends, I pose the same question to you. What's the most beautiful book you have ever received?

Monday, November 08, 2010

Not running. Swimming?

I've had it up to here (can you see me with my hand up at my eyebrow?) with not running. It was hard to get into a routine but I found it--and now I'm feeling like I've got major antses in my pantses because I can't go have my "me" time and burn off some energy. Plus, let's be honest, there isn't a candy bar around here that's safe lately. If candy bars were white balls, I'd be the orange hippo.

You know, Hungry, Hungry Hippos? Duh. We had that game in prison daycare when I was a kid but it only had like three of the little white balls left. Lamesauce. The game's over real fast when there's only three, and the ghetto kid always got them so I was like you just grab as many as you want, Tito.

Only there were no kids named Tito at my daycare. But you get it. Her name should have been Tito. Yeah, I said HER. Just to mess with your mind.

So anyhoo, today I went and signed myself up for a monthly pass to the (ostensible) awesomeness that is adult lap swim from 6:00-8:00 PM and assorted weekend mornings at my local public pool. Whooo, doggy. Can't wait.

And when I say "can't wait," I mean I am nervous as hell because even though this is just swimming (hello!) and I know how to do that, it feels like there's the chance to look real stupid while I try so I have to be nervous about it. If I wasn't, they might take away my Crazy Club T shirt.

So now if you'll excuse me, I need to go bake some tilapia. I'm feeling inspired by the sea tonight, and my dinner menu reflects as much.