Sunday, December 31, 2006

A Million Miles...

Away, away, away...

This week, while it's gone by too quickly, has felt like a million miles away from work. That's the best present I could have asked for (besides the FANTASTIC box of McPhee goodies I'm still sorting through! Thank you Rooty!).

I finally, after a year, maybe two, reorganized my office so it's a space I can actually work in. I've had time to work on my submissions for the Oregon photo show, do some laundry, clean the house, go to the grocery store, the hardware store, repair a few things around the house, visit family, and cook.

Here's a quick, tasty dinner to go with your margaritas - throw some rice in a pot to cook (I used basmati, but whatever you like). While that's doing its thing, make yourself a margarita (or another) and thinly slice a small yellow onion and cut up a chicken breast or two into evenly-sized chunks (1" cubes or about that). Season the chicken with salt & Mexican spices (whatever's handy) and set it aside.

Throw the onion into a hot pan with a little high-smoke oil (canola or similar). Don't use a non stick pan - they're for sissies and don't allow for caramelization. Caramelization = flavor.

When the onion is translucent (5 min or so), throw in the chicken. Cook that for 5 min or so on high heat - let the chicken get some color, but keep it moving in the pan so it doesn't burn or dry out.

Before the chicken is totally done, once the pan has some nice caramel color in it, deglaze it with whatever tequila you have on hand. Last night I grabbed the Don Edwardo reposado. A half cup or so, and let it simmer for a few.

Take the pan off heat and add a little cream or half & half - all I had was half & half, so to thicken it up a bit, I made a little half & half and cornstarch slurry and added that after the first dose of dairy - blend it well with the rest of the sauce. Check the seasoning & adjust as needed. The chicken should be done after the rice has finished, allowing the rice to further steam once it's off heat.

If I'd had some fresh or frozen veggies, I'd have thrown them in after the chicken, but sadly, haven't been back to the grocery store yet. Instead, we had a salad.

Serve over the rice and wash it down with another margarita. Ole!
Happy New Year's Eve!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Leafy Karma

Karma's funny. A couple of weekends ago, Crazy Neighbor Bob used his little electric leaf blower to blow all the downed leaves in his yard across the street, in front of our house and a few others.

Rather than rake up his own leaves, he did the lazy thing. All I could do was shake my head & remember that the street sweeper would come in a few days & clean up his mess for him.

It wasn't so much about the laziness, but it was rainy and the piles of leaves he'd created were wet and slippery when turning into or out of our driveway.

The next time CNB fired up the leaf blower, I heard yelling outside. I poked my head out the front door and heard what sounded like another neighbor yelling at Bob to stop blowing all his leaves into the street in front of the other houses.

I chuckled to myself as I watched CNB, evidently with a shred of social conscience, rake up all the leaves he collected into big piles and deposit them into his green bin. There was nary a stray leaf in his or our front yard.

That evening the weather kicked up again with wind and rain, and the next morning his yard was covered again in leaves and our yard was almost totally clean.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Strange Dreams!

chilly sunrise
It could be the nog, or perhaps the soggy weather - my dreams lately have been all sorts of weird.

Early this week I had another flying dream, where I don't fly so much float... I needed to get home or to work or somewhere - I was somewhere in downtown SF, but it was smaller - the whole city was smaller and the buildings/hills much bigger, like an exaggerated cartoon city.

I didn't want to go a particular way, so I decided to fly, or float, to where I needed to go. I was able to do this by stomping my heel down onto the ground and that propelled me up into the air. In moments I was gazing past Seacliff at the beach where a large group of surfers were hanging out. I don't remember ever arriving where I was headed - I was too caught up in the great view.

Then a couple nights later I had a dream that David decided he did want kids, so we had a kid - it's just that easy! But then after the kid was several months old, he decided he didn't actually want a kid, so he left. And then I had to move and get back into an apartment I once had in Seattle. (I've never lived in Seattle.) To David's credit, after hearing about this dream, reassured me that no matter what, he would not leave!

The next night was another float/fly dream, this time somewhere in central CA near the aqueduct. I drifted over a bluff and was suddenly able to see a secret military air base where top secret (black ops!) planes were doing training exercises. I was freaking out in the dream about seeing all this. I do not remember where/why I was floating around over there. There's not much to do over there, especially if you're just floating around.

Then last night - the weirdest one yet. I was walking home from somewhere, somewhere in the south bay like Cupertino, but it was getting dark and I was about to head into a sketchy part of town (an area with only four starbuck's?). I crossed a street and ended up walking through the edge of a park area that looked like a quarry - rocks and stones were everywhere.

I started chucking rocks at shadowy figures as if to demonstrate I was a stone-throwing badass - don't mess with me (which always works). And then someone started talking to me and suddenly it was a forested area where a bunch of homeless people were living in trees.

Now I was there with a few friends, and we were asking the tree-dwellers how they stay warm & dry as they showed us their setups. One forest tenant had a single-wide trailer suspended in the trees. We all went up to check it out.

We sat around the living room, which was a good-sized room, bigger than the trailer itself, talking and watching TV. A little while later we decided we'd better take off so we could catch the bus home. I thought it would be smart to make a pit stop first. I dashed across the hall from the living room and sort of crashed into the bathroom, unsteady on my feet.

The trailer bathroom was tiny - like an airplane bathroom, but even more narrow. You had to fold the sink up, like a Murphy Sink, out of the way, to get to the toilet. I sat down on the toilet and just as I sat down, the whole trailer felt unsteady below me, and I thought, "could this thing fall out of the tree?"

And then it did. It was falling, and there was no way out. I held my breath and braced myself as well as I could. I knew if I didn't die, I'd have to be dug out, because the sink had me totally blocked in. And I'm a tad claustrophobic. But what can you do?

I woke up. I woke up and man, did I have to pee.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Year-End Reflexing

It's that time of year... What did it all mean? What lies ahead? What IS Cool Whip? Who invented pants?

I read something today that reminded me of years past, and I realized how different life is now than how it was, not so long ago. Ten years can seem like a good chunk of time, but it's easy to forget when it seems like life was always this easy.

Ten years ago I left a craptastic marriage, aka "the past life," with no idea how the future might play out. It was one of the hardest days of my life, but it all worked out, and really well.

It wasn't like I could just announce I was leaving and then go. I'd tried that twice before. It didn't go well. Things were broken, things were thrown - it was made very clear I wouldn't be leaving without a lot of further breakage. So I played along...

During one nasty incident, while I looked like I was nodding along with his ridiculous rant, I was adding up paychecks and time spans. At that point I knew I'd be out in a month.

The very next day, I started packing little bits out with me, storing things at work, and securing storage space a few blocks away. About a month later, he happened to have all-day meetings in the south bay, and that would be my day.

I feigned a headache that morning and said I would be staying home sick. He left, and I watched to make sure his car left the garage and drove away. I ran down to my car and unloaded the stockpile of boxes I had locked in my trunk.

I packed boxes, packed my car, and made multiple trips to the storage unit - from 9 a.m. til 4 p.m., the absolute latest I could comfortably go. Before leaving, I wrote a note then talked to the landlord, who couldn't have been more understanding, thank goodness. And then I drove away.

As I drove over the bridge I called my closest friend at the time and told her I needed a place to crash for a couple of weeks. She said No problem and that we'd go out to dinner to celebrate. She knew what I'd been trying to do for months.

I was terrified and elated at the same time. I was starting a brand new life, totally on my own. Exhilarating and wonderful, but wouldn't have been possible without help.

Thank you Susannah, for opening your heart and home to me. Our nights at Macaroni are still some of my favorite memories. Thank you Bryan - it wouldn't have been possible at all without the great job I had and your support and understanding. And thank you David, Mom, and Dad for being there when I was ready to find you.

Life is so good now. So much to be thankful for, so many people who have helped me in ways they may never know. But the point being, it's always possible to start over. You know, if you want to. And if you don't, then cool - rock on. Good times.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Death Cab!

Last Thursday night we ventured out to the Paramount Theater to watch Death Cab for Cutie. The Paramount is a beautiful venue, and we had seats way down front. Fantastic show. It's fun to watch good musicians who love what they're doing. Sadly, all I had with me was my phone. Bask in the grainy goodness.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

It's Festivus!

It's that time of year again... Get out the silver pole.

Jeffy's amazing mushroom treats

Snow dusted cookies

All this festive decor and amazing food was found at Jeffy's annual wreath-making event on Saturday. Most auspicious - the annual beaver transfer - from last year's wreath to the new...

Now that's some beaver shot.
Happy Festivus!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Blondes Have No Fun?

Sooo... Here's a little something I've noticed over the years, something I was recently reminded of while looking at a TV ad for the human papilloma virus vaccine...

If you ever find yourself watching a tampon commercial, or a birth control commercial, or an STD treatment commercial, or these days a commercial for the HPV vaccine, you might notice - there are ususally NO blondes in these ads.

Many years ago I found myself watching a tampon commerical and at the end, learned that only brunettes get periods and when they do, they use tampons - not pads. Blondes use pads, like Kathy Rigby did. Though she probably didn't have many periods. Extreme athletic training can have that affect.

Then later, when birth control (the Pill) ads became more common, I learned the same lesson. Only brunettes need or use birth control. This is not an issue for blondes. If you are blonde, you don't have sex that requires birth control. Or you don't have sex.

Check out the stock photos used on the following sites:
- birth control 1, birth control 2, birth control 3
- tampons 1, tampons 2,
- valtrex, famvir
- HPV vaccine

While it's not absolute - the websites linked above do show an odd blonde now & then. But if you watch the TV commercials, they're like Snuffleupagus. The HPV vaccine ads and website imagery seem obviously skewed to minorities. What's that about?

Sooo... do your own analysis... if you notice one of these commercials on TV, watch it. Maybe it's just me. I've had blonde, strawberry blonde, brunette, and buzz-cut hair, so there's no personal bias here. But I do think it's interesting...

Monday, December 04, 2006

My Navin Moment

As in, Navin Johnson... Who after finding his name in the new phone book said, "Things are going to start happening to me now..." And then the shooting started. "He hates these cans!!!"

Not only does my work continue to be published in our little local magazine, in this month's issue on the back page they included a little blurb about me. So cool! That's all I needed for Christmas.

And I'm waiting to hear back from Oregon's High Desert Museum about a possible photo exhibit next March - not sure if I'll be included, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Now if only my new lens would hurry up & get here...