Saturday, June 30, 2007

Happy birthday, dad!

This is one of my favorite pictures of my dad, holding Jimmy when he was only a few days old. Look at that playful grin—he looks just like a kid himself! Today dad turned 59. Don't feel too sorry for him, though; he's already taken an early retirement and is living the good life in Tucson (that is, when he's not cruising around the U.S. and Canada racing his Formula Ford). Dad, I hope you had a great day, and that you got the card we sent. We love you! Oh, and Lo, if you see this before he does, please let him know...

Friday, June 29, 2007


I remember being a kid and my aunt, who didn't want to get chewed out for cussing in front of me and my siblings, using "g.d." as shorthand for a certain sacreligious expletive. As a rule I try to avoid profanity, expecially now that I have a child of my own (though I've been caught from time to time when I burn my hand on the cast-iron wood stove or in other similarly painful circumstances).

Certainly those two letters stand for a lot of good things such as garbage day (today, thank goodness), generic drugs, Gerber daisies (like the lovely pink specimen above), Golden Dynasty (a great little hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant in Seattle that Jim and I used to frequent), glazed donuts, Gunga Din, and great danes. They also stand for a few things which I could take or leave (depending on the day): the Grateful Dead, Green Day, grand dames, Gadolinium (chemical symbol: Gd), Gérard Depardieu, and Geena Davis. Of course, a few "g.d." things are never a good idea: the Great Depression, gastrointestinal distress, genetic determinism, global domination, gold diggers... and gestational diabetes.

However, after learning how to use my glucose meter, meeting with a diabetes training nurse, and having my consultation with a dietician, I'm starting to see that this is a unique opportunity to make some changes I've been wanting to make for a long time. And (dare I say it) I'm starting to feel cautiously hopeful that what I initially dreaded will actually be a catalyst for permanent change. That makes this a very good day!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Poetry thursday 6.28.07


is the cry that croaks
(this desperate whisper barely chokes)
from parched and rasping dustlined throats
that crave a balm which cools and coats—
the gliding flow of


Dark water tapping in my brain
staccato dancing of the rain
it beats my bedroom window pane
I listen from my bed.
A wicked trickle in my mind
that leaves no solace left to find
a dreaded dripping still enshrined
it echoes in my head.
And so I lie awake, alone
and listen to the drumming drone
of rain against the window blown
and clutch at sleep that's fled.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I had trouble in getting to solla sollew

As a child, I was fortunate to have a family that encouraged and supported my voracious love of reading. In particular, my Dad's father and his wife sent me books or magazine subscriptions for almost every Christmas and birthday present. I still have some of them, and they're among my most cherished possessions. One Christmas back in the 1970s they sent me a multi-volume anthology of Dr. Seuss stories. Of the dozens of tales included, one of my favorites was "I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew", in which the protagonist is on a difficult journey to the elusive Solla Sollew, "where they never have troubles, at least, very few."

Funny how when life gets crazy, you can be grounded and find comfort in what you learned as a child, even from the most unlikely sources. Over the last couple of days, I keep thinking back to that story, and how the hero learned that in the search for an easy life, it is actually our challenges that teach us and help us grow. Most of all, the clever rhymes that have stuck with me for decades remind me that keeping a sense of humor is paramount.

Forget kindergarten; all I ever needed to know I learned from Dr. Seuss!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

On pins and needles (part 2)

Yeah. So.

Nurse Debbie called this morning and it's official: I have gestational diabetes. I'm relieved to not have to wait anymore; I'd much rather have the bad news, cope, and get on with life. It's still soon enough after the call that I'm trying to process how I feel and come to terms with it. Right now my overriding feeling is a sense of frustration and disappointment in myself at not taking better care of my health—and worry that I've already hurt the baby in some way. I'm desperately hoping that since we caught it quickly, the baby and I will both be fine. From what I've read, this is a relatively common pregnancy complication and thousands of women with it have gone on to deliver perfectly healthy babies. I know that dwelling on my sense of failure will only be counter-productive and now it's time to buck up, move on, and continue changing my lifestyle.

Hopefully some time in the next day or two I'll get there; I'm still working on it. Meanwhile, I'm off to the pharmacy after lunch to pickup my glucose meter.

Monday, June 25, 2007

On pins and needles (part 1)

"I hate waiting."

So says Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride, as he languishes atop the Cliffs of Insanity, marking time while the Dread Pirate Roberts laboriously scales the precipice below. Like Inigo, I'm ill at ease when waiting. suggests some of the following synonyms for "ill at ease":

edgy, fidgety, on tenterhooks, on edge, overwrought, worried stiff, tormented, fretful, hung up, and (my favorite, which seems in this case to be particularly apt) on pins and needles

This morning I showed up at the lab at eight a.m. for my glucose screen, having fasted twelve hours, and feeling rather weak and cranky. The lab staff tried to pull up my record but couldn't find it until they noticed that I was actually scheduled for testing tomorrow. Looking back at my planner I realized that Nurse Debbie and I had in fact set the appointment for Tuesday (I had even written it down correctly), but for some reason my brain was set on Monday, and that's when I showed up. Those lovely lab ladies, who are so nice, rolled with it and decided to go ahead and do the test today since I was there and ready. Here's the catch: Debbie had scheduled me for Tuesday because she and Dr. Herman were going to be out of the office today. So even though I swilled the vile glucose beverage and subjected myself to needles and poking, I have to wait until Debbie is back tomorrow to find out if I've got the dreaded gestational diabetes.

Like Inigo, my suffering is of my own doing; he could have prevented having to wait so long if he hadn't allowed Vizzini to cut the rope at the top of the cliff, forcing the Dread Pirate Roberts to slowly climb with his bare hands.

And if I had just checked my planner... (to be continued)

Friday, June 22, 2007

He's so cute... when he's asleep

Last night as I was climbing the stairs to get ready for bed, Jim whispered to me from Jimmy's room, "Hey, honey, take a look at this!"

Despite the sultry night, Jimmy had gathered his little posse of plush pals around him for a good snuggle, and in the process reminded me how much I love my little rascal—a much needed reminder, after a cranky week's worth of whining, backtalk, and pushing the envelope of appropriate behavior. I hadn't put the band of gypsies on speed dial yet, but this came just in time.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I’d love to but I can’t

Six little words that will save your sanity. I learned them from my friend Laurissa one day when we were talking about the guilt that often comes from saying "no" to a commitment, even when saying "yes" would mean spreading yourself too thin. She said she had first heard about them from her own sister, who told her that it was the perfect, succinct way to graciously decline an unwanted obligation without giving offense or going into unnecessary detail. Thank you, Laurissa; I needed those words today.

When I got home this afternoon, a message was waiting for me on the machine. I had just finished grocery shopping after visiting an elderly friend on the mend from a back injury—all with Jimmy in tow, who’s been wearing his cranky pants the entire week and wasn’t about to stop just for me to run my errands.

So the last thing I wanted to see as I panted into the kitchen with several armfuls of groceries was a blinking light attached to the following message: “So-and-so [an older woman from my church] is having a yard sale on Saturday and we’re looking for some ladies who could work a shift to help her out. I know you’re pregnant and so I understand if you’re not feeling up to it, but if you can, please call me back.” A friend had left the message, and I know she didn’t intend any sort of guilt trip. I confess, my initial and completely uncharitable reaction as I listened to the message was, “Why, yes, I am pregnant! Why aren't you sending someone over to work a shift helping me to put my groceries away, cooking my dinner, and scrubbing my two disgusting bathrooms?” But when I thought about it, I realized she probably did call someone else first, and I’m probably a ways down on her list—so then the guilt kicked in.

Or at least it tried to… however, I spent too many years in therapy working out my inordinate need to fix other people’s problems to relapse now. Just ask my poor sisters what a hopeless busybody with boundary issues I was before, sticking my oldest child nose where it had no business. I like the feeling of being useful, of knowing that I've helped someone, but I would often get overwhelmed with doing things for other people to the point where I mismanaged my own needs. Recently, I've been better at finding the balance, but it's something I still have to think about consciously when I sense that I'm getting overcommitted.

No, I definitely got my money’s worth from counseling; one of the best lessons I learned was that saying “no” when it’s not my problem or I’m feeling maxed out makes it easier for me to give myself permission to say “yes” when I feel it’s appropriate for me to help. So, while I may say “no” to watching my ankles swell as I work a sweltering afternoon at a yard sale, I can say “yes” wholeheartedly to having my brother-in-law over for dinner with us a couple of times while his wife is out of town.

After mentally sorting out my boundaries, I called my friend and said (with no pangs of remorse) those six magical words: “I’d love to, but I can’t.”

Poetry thursday 6.21.07

Tree of Life

I would rather taste of pure love
of trust, sacrifice, faith
and exhilarating abandon
open to the full extent of both pain and joy:
sweet nectar of embracing each moment fully
salty tears of mourning each loss keenly
and every flavor in between
than spend another safe hour
unforgiving and unforgiven
sipping slow and serene
the bitter dregs of regret.

and for good measure, a couple of haiku...


I am master of
my destiny: free to choose,
I choose to be free.


Curling, swirling, so
sublime and sinuously skewed
serpentine spiral.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Glucose blues

I went in yesterday for my monthly prenatal checkup. Let me just preface this by saying that since my last checkup I have been faithfully sugar-free. My one slip-up was about a week into the change when we were eating out at a Chinese restaurant and without thinking, Jim handed me a fortune cookie. I wasn't thinking either, and bit in. As soon as I swallowed the first bite, I realized my mistake and put the cookie down.

Nurse Debbie weighed me in and evidently all my hard work has paid off: I didn't gain any weight in the last month. I know I've been getting bigger, but my body must be redistributing my "assets". I was elated. Not so much when twenty minutes later we got the results of my regular pee-in-a-cup test, and my urine once again had sugar in it. So now I have to take another glucose screen—and yes, it will be the full-on, three hour, human pincushion version. Oh, and more bad news: I won't have another ultrasound until a week or two before the baby comes, so I'll have to wait even longer than I thought for the chance to find out if we're having a boy or girl.


In a moment of anger last night I told Jim that I might as well have been eating ice cream all month long, for all the good that going sugar-free has done me. He rightly pointed out that isn't true, but it still stings me that I might wind up with gestational diabetes after all. And it will sting even more if I do have it, since I will have to poke myself four times a day to test my glucose levels.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

All the world's a slow lane

Something unprecedented happened this morning. When I got to the pool at 5:30, there was no one in the medium or fast lanes. So the five of us there that usually swim in the slow lane fanned out across all five lanes. For my entire 35 minutes of laps, I had a lane completely to myself. It was such a luxury to swim with early morning sun filtering down through the blue, having an oasis of solitude, not having to slow down or speed up to accomodate anyone else.

That got me thinking, while I swam, how I had actually learned a lot from swimming in the slow lane—not just about practicing my strokes but about practicing at being with other people: allowing them to go at their own pace without it disrupting mine, not chafing at having to accomodate for differences in individual needs or personality, sharing space without resenting it by having flexible but appropriate boundaries. Not to mention that I've developed personally from the drive required to learn a new discipline and become proficient. And yes, I need my alone time to contemplate, to focus, to renew; but I also need to be around other people to learn, to recharge, to grow.

Who knew swimming at the public pool could be a step on the path to enlightenment?

Sunday, June 17, 2007


This is my baby sister, Meredith. Isn't she gorgeous? Her eyes are to die for, and she writes killer poetry, too.

Yesterday we drove over the mountains to Seattle for Meredith's high school graduation. Of the nine sisters in our family (four born to my Mom and Dad, one born to Mom and Mark, two born to Mark and Millie, and two cousins adopted by Mark), four of us were there: Meredith, Dory, Ramona, and me. It was wonderful to be together and rekindle that connection so unique to sisters. And even the ones not there (Elaine, Kathy, Mahana, Margaret and Ruth) were part of the connection, their love felt across the miles.

We're all so proud of you, Meredith: your determination, integrity, intelligence and compassion are an inspiration. You've just passed a milestone on your way to a brilliant future. And we, your sisters, are behind you all the way, girl!

Friday, June 15, 2007

My painting angels

Meet Christina and Krista.

Oh, wait—first, the back story. Once upon a time, we had a hideous guest bedroom with brown shag carpet, walls painted a stomach-churning shade of mint-pistachio green, and mauve trim—all to sort of match a bizarre floral wallpaper that I can't image was ever in vogue (I think our landlady must have been smoking some of her home-grown crop from what used to be the underground greenhouse when she came up with that winning home decor combination).

When we got pregnant, we decided that Jimmy should move into a "big brother bedroom" so that the baby could be in the smaller bedroom right next to ours. Being the loving mother I am, I worried that the mint/mauve combo might stunt his emotional growth and sense of aesthetics. I couldn't do much about the carpet, but a coat of white paint and some cute fabric overlaying the wallpaper might freshen it up to a tolerable level. Paint was a problem: Jim's honey-do list was already too long for me to add such a project, and I couldn't do it myself because of the pregnancy ban on painting. What to do?

Enter Christina and Krista. These two lovely young ladies, who I work with in our church's young women group, volunteered to paint Jimmy's new room. They gave up one of the first afternoons of their summer vacation and got us one step closer to the new big brother bedroom. Are they sweet or what?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Poetry thursday 6.14.07


With love each moment
Ceases to be separate
Seconds, days, years fuse into
One eternal now.
With love each person
Ceases to be separate
Bodies, minds, hearts fuse into
One eternal we.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Chocolate moose tracks

Not that there was ever any doubt that Jimmy is my son, but his taste in dessert definitely came from my side of the family. Not only does he eat cake like me (lick off all the frosting, ask for another piece) but he's got that uncanny predilection for chocolate ice cream.

Not to mention an amazing talent for licking the last possible drop from the bowl, the spoon...

...and every single finger. Yeah, it's a gift.

My little deer in the headlights, confronted by the imminent prospect of collision with a washcloth (you're going to do what to my moose track goatee?)

And I just noticed this, but it seems like the last few times I've posted pictures of Jimmy, he's been wearing a red shirt. For the record, he does own (and actually wears) shirts in other colors. Go figure.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Strawberry rhubarb bliss

Just because I've sworn off sugar for the rest of my natural life (or at least until I birth this baby), doesn't mean I can't do my part to send other people into diabetic comas of their own.

Yesterday I baked two pies for Pat, a lady from church whose husband was celebrating his seventieth birthday. A few weeks ago at a service auction night for our Relief Society women's group, she got into several bidding wars when other ladies offered up the service of "baking the pie of your choice". I think she actually only won one of those. After the bidding was over, I asked Pat why the great need for pies, and she told me about the upcoming birthday celebration. Her four children, along with all the grandchildren and great-grandchildren, were gathering from across the country to help their dad celebrate.

So I did what any hare-brained pregnant woman who wanted to help a friend would do: I offered to bake her a couple of pies. Last Monday, Pat called with an offer to pay me if I was still willing to bake for her. Seeing this as the perfect opportunity to start up my cute diaper bag fund, I said, "You bet!" I made her a french apple pie (with a brown sugar crumb topping) and a strawberry rhubarb pie, after calling in my own favor from a friend who had a bumper crop of rhubarb and wanted to get rid of some. I chopped the rhubarb the night before, made the dough in the morning so it could chill, and then spent several hours in the afternoon doing all the peeling and cutting of apples and strawberries, and rolling of crust before assembing the pies. I even went the extra mile and finished off the strawberry rhubarb pie with egg yolk glaze and dusted it with sugar. I had to put my feet up while the pies were in the oven to counteract the effects of all that time standing, and I was so covered with flour that a small, grainy white cloud went up when I plopped down on the couch.

As soon as the pies were done baking, I loaded Jimmy in the car and we delivered them to Pat and her hungry brood, fresh and hot from the oven. They were delicious, according to the family of taste-testers. The strawberry rhubarb pie was a new recipe to me, but I wanted to make it because lately I've been revisiting childhood memories of my grandmother's rhubarb pie. And it turned out so pretty that I just had to snap a couple shots of it to share. But the best part of all? My kitchen no longer smells like burnt sesame, and that makes all the work of toiling over those two pies seem like a pittance to pay for my new aromatherapy of strawberry rhubarb bliss.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Poetry thursday 6.7.07


One quart of warm water
     pours steaming into stainless bowl
one third cup of sugar
     dissolves slowly feeding
four tablespoons of yeast
     sits for fifteen minutes foaming sharp and sweet
one quarter cup of olive oil
     slips palest silken green into bubbling brew
four teaspoons of salt
     adds flavor for in life and food nothing’s worse than bland
three tablespoons of vinegar
     bites bitter mellowing with time and heat
nine cups of flour (four white, five wheat)
     beaten in by wooden spoon

knead ten minutes
     squeezes supple sticky soft between fingers
let rise till twice its size
     spills tender lofty dough over silvery rim
form into loaves and place in greased pans
     makes three or four
bake at three hundred fifty degrees Fahrenheit
     converts to metric if you must
for thirty minutes
     wafts wheaten perfume permeating whole house

I dare you to burn your tongue eating a slice
though it would be worth the price
hot buttered manna straight from oven.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Diaper bag envy

So far I've put off buying baby things because we don't know yet whether we're having a boy or girl. A few weeks ago, though, I was looking for something in Jimmy's closet and spied, languishing in a corner, the tired red diaper bag I used when he was a baby. It looked rather forlorn, its usefulness outlasted, but it got me thinking. The things I liked about the red bag were its sturdy construction, functionality and bold color. Best of all, it was cheap—not poorly made, but it rang up at a modest $35. World-class tightwad that I am, I've never been able to justify spending a lot of money on something I know will get dragged through the mud, spit up on, and possibly worse.

This time around I'm raising my standards. As I started my online diaper bag research, I realized I want all the same things embodied in my old red diaper bag, and more: I want cute. I'm even willing to pay a little extra for cute, although I still prefer to not break the bank. Anything above the $100 mark is definitely overpriced (*cough* Petunia Pickle Bottom *cough*). I'd prefer to stay under $75 if at all possible. So I was cruising around on, eBay, and Google, and then I found it.

Behold the Kecci Shanghai II Mommy Bag in Blackberry. Cute and economical, it's roomy, with plenty of pockets, and includes a changing pad (not actually attached to the bag, which was the one failing of the old red diaper bag).

Kecci even makes a matching security blanket. Do you think that would be too over the top?

Monday, June 04, 2007

My kitchen reeks

Pregnancy and cooking don't mix. At least not for me. I vaguely remember it being this way last time but specific incidents were so painful that I've permanently blocked them from recollection. Since January my poor family has witnessed (and sometimes eaten) a parade of bland soups, charbroiled rubbery meat, and assorted dinners with missing ingredients. Thank goodness for Quizno's.

Last night for dinner I decided to make a delicious sesame shrimp salad. It's light, savory and best of all, a fairly easy recipe; the only potentially tricky part calls for toasting noodles, sesame seeds and sliced almonds. Under normal circumstances, this would be so simple that I could do it without a thought. Under pregnant circumstances, I lost track of time while chopping green onions and tearing lettuce, and thereby incinerated one batch of sesame-almond-noodles, which had to be quickly evacuated from the oven and out the back door amid clouds of acrid smoke. I ruined all my almonds, but determined to get it right, I made a second attempt with just noodles and sesame seeds. Sadly, that got singed around the edges, but enough of the middle was edible that I gave up and used it. In the end the salad tasted fine, and by that point I was just relieved to be done with it.

Scorched sesame isn't my idea of aromatherapy.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Wii will rock you

The Wii has invaded our home. It started back at Christmas when Jim got his year-end bonus from work. I told him that as far as I was concerned it was his money to spend as he wanted. And he wanted a Wii. For the next five months we were on constant Wii alert whenever we made our monthly shopping trek down to Yakima. Jim scoured Costco, then Toys'R'Us, and sometimes even Target or Walmart. They were always sold out. Toy'R'Us would taunt him by saying that they would be getting a shipment in the next day (Sunday), but since we don't shop on Sundays this only served to further infuriate him, to fuel his obsessive quest. Jim even went so far as to get his friends in Seattle to try and scout one out there, but they didn't have any more luck than he did.

Then in May, the quest attained its goal aided by an unlikely ally: me. I was down in Yakima alone, shopping for baby quilt fabric, and decided to do a Costco run while I was there. Strolling down the aisles of the electronics section, I happened upon a pallet that contained the grail: and only eight left! It's true; I'm an enabler, but I'm an enabler who realizes that her husband is a six year-old trapped in a thirty-six year-old's body. Jim is an avid (bordering sometimes on obsessive) gamer. Mostly it's a healthy way for him to get some time to himself and unwind after work. It only gets out of control when he's stressed out. He often tries to cajole me into playing with him, but my approach to computers is more pragmatic: they're tools for me to accomplish some task more quickly and easily, be it communicating with family and friends, writing, or managing our family dinner calendar. So I usually politely decline and leave the games to Jim.

Ever since we got the Wii, he and Jimmy spend some time each day playing together, usually Wii Sports like bowling or golf. In fact, it was only a week or two after we got it that Jimmy beat his dad at Tiger Woods golf. He's already an ace with bowling, and last night he knocked out his babysitter in a boxing match. Just last week Jim actually got me to bowl with them one evening after dinner. I'd only admit to it under coercive measures, but I actually had fun—and my average is much better on Wii than at the bowling alley. I hate to say this, but I can feel it; he's starting to bring me over to the dark side. Or should I say, starting to bring Mii?

Friday, June 01, 2007

I'm small town now

Yesterday I got to thinking about how much I love living in this town. We've been here for almost two years and the feeling snuck up on me; it wasn't always like this.

Jim and I lived here for nine months shortly after we got married, and I was convinced that I had landed in the sixth ring of hell. For one thing, we both had terrible jobs. Jim worked at KFC until he got fired for giving me and his mom free soda pop. I worked at a dairy/espresso stand for $5 an hour plus tips, schlepping lattés and icecream, gaining 50 pounds, and getting up at obscene hours to work shifts the college kids wouldn't. After Jim got fired, that was our only income. We were living in a trailer in my in-laws' back yard. Because they were building their house, my inlaws also lived in a trailer—ours had the working toilet, and theirs had the working shower. It was a hard time for me and Jim individually, as well as for our relationship with each other. Perhaps the only good things that can be said of it are that I learned how to sheetrock walls, I met Gertie, and Jim and I managed to survive with our marriage intact.

In hindsight we jokingly refer to it as our "trailer trash year", but at the time it was brutal. When we finally escaped to the west side of the mountains, high-paying jobs, and the UW, I was convinced that I would never go back. I grew up in Seattle and I'll always love it: the lush landscape, Puget Sound, lots of memories—even the notorious rain, for which I cherish a wistful nostalgia, especially during the icy span between November and April. But... after nine years of the rat race, I came to believe that Seattle's a great place to visit.

So last night I was in a rather reflective frame of mind and started thinking about what it was that brought me back. And those thoughts distilled became a poem.

This Is More

A city girl moving back from small town life
I dreamed of more:
more shopping, education, jobs, friends, choices—
not feeling trapped
when I left, I got more:
more pollution, pretension, traffic, obligations, stress—
knowing I was trapped
I thought it a pittance
to purchase happy convenience
and paid a soul-sucking decade
until a brief visit
had me descending again
past well-ordered patchwork fields
into this vivid green valley
through rolled-down window
I caught and remembered
fresh cow smell
softened by mellow just-cut hay
after a single day
I knew what I most missed:
majestic Milky Way
winding its celestial dance
over my lowly backyard
library, store, fairgrounds
park, pool, post office
all in a one-mile walk
that slow, sure pace
of twenty miles per hour
down Main Street
my own home-sewn dress
winning a lime-and-yellow judge’s choice
county fair ribbon
so many slanted-sunshine
lazy lawnmower afternoons
unfettered by urban urgency
and yes, fresh cow.

Did I mention I’m home again?
this is more.