Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Winter Wonderland

Despite temperatures dipping into the teens, we've been enjoying the new snow. Well, Paul Bunyan pulled me out of a warm house to document the boys enjoying the new snow. Well, I've been enjoying the views of the new snow from the inside. I'm sorry. I'm becoming a fair weather winter participant. Sue me.

Warning: there is some screaming involved in the filming of this video. But that's only because Paul Bunyan thought I was saying, "NO!" instead of "GO!". It was a windy day.

P.S. This is not our house. We're poaching this sledding hill. But I think it's legal in Vermont. At least that's what Paul Bunyan told me. Of course, he might not say that if someone sues us.


video

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Chronological Puke Story Cont., in case you're interested, but...


Charlie Brown Christmas tree found.





Charlie Brown Christmas tree decorated. Without too many fistacuffs.




Five hour traditional cookie baking session complete. Without too many fistacuffs.




Stockings were hung by the chimney with care.




Night Before Christmas read. Check.




Everyone happy. Yup.


Including this Hussy who received this Hussifying outfit, which is exactly what I needed, which is better than any gift I wanted.






And then the vomit. It returned. Christmas night. Like a phantom green and red ghost haunting my Christmas. Twin A and Twin B. At the same time. It stole the spirit from me, although I'm not sure I ever had it. I thought the spirit drifted in during that 5 hour cookie baking session but then I lost a few of my ball bearings and it was gone. It came back Christmas day with skating on the pond and the homecoming smells of pot roast in the oven and the joy of brand new games. And then that ghost.

I puked, vomited, hurled, barfed, upchucked the next day. Just once. But I don't trust this ghost. It's been lingering in our house since Dec. 16th, despite my 3 hour Lysol-ing event on Christmas Eve. Every nob, light switch, door handle, chair surface. And yet my exorcism didn't work.

On this same day, the day after Christmas, Sydney decided to go on a walkabout down the hill to her favorite garbage can. I got in the car to find her and sure enough she was as round as a pot bellied pig. Paul Bunyan and I have discovered that if we pour hydrogen peroxide down her throat, it will induce her to vomit. And so we did this, saving us thousands of dollars in vet bills for emergency pancreatic care. I followed her around the yard, with my shovel, ready to get rid of the piles of vomit, because she's been known to re-eat her garbage. But then it got too cold. I thought I could watch from inside. And sure enough she slinked off. Again. I got in the car to find her. She had puked, vomited, hurled, barfed, upchucked twice, down the hill from us. I put her in the car to bring her back up to the house. She started to retch in the car so I quickly opened the car door and out she jumped, just in time to puke, vomit, hurl, barf, upchuck one last gigantic pile.

This morning, I found her pee all over the floor. Because when she taxes her kidneys like that, she pisses out everything she drinks, without even knowing she's peeing. I'm drowning in it. I can't let her out, because when I do she heads down the hill to eat her own vomit.

I'm retelling this all to you not because I know you want to hear it, but because it will explain why next year I will be pretending that Christmas time is not here. It will be the reason I want to skip it all together. I realize that the spirit of Christmas is about giving to others. But I look forward to the day when my charges stop giving me regurgitated food to clean up and my dog stops giving me a reason to shoot her. I gave this year. Yes, I didn't know I gave you something. But I gave you the stomach bug. Next year, how bout we'll just skip this little holiday and I'll knit you a little something for 2012.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

This year's edition.



Merry Merry Happy Happy to all those not on our mailing list.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Chronological Puke Story, in case you're interested, but I'm guessing you're not so stop reading now.

Monday. Just the boys. The pool. The swamp of goo. The thick oozing pond of Christmas crud scum. It seeped in through the cracks. It's my guess.

Thurs. evening: 11:48 p.m. Twin B has first episode in hallway. I step in it on my way to clean it up. Joy. 12:18 a.m. exactly one half hour later Twin A explodes on his pillow. And then nothing. Stomach aches on Friday. Saturday a.m. Twin A pukes on slate. He wasn't sure where he was going. Everyone still wants to go skiing. First day. Saturday 12 noon: Twin A vomits again in van on the way to the mountain. He is wailing, as he is vomiting, "I still want to go skiing." Paul Bunyan abides.



And I guess I do too.



Because we're mean, or nice, or selfish? And pepperoni pizza is perfect for a stomach infected with Christmas Crud....don't ya think? Because we're just plain dumb. You can say it.



And somehow everyone seems to enjoy themselves.



And no one throws up off the chairlift on top of the heads of the skiers below.




And no one has to pull over on the side of the trail to puke in the woods.





And she was happy because she didn't puke when her brother puked in the car. She had her fingers crossed and it worked.


And then Sunday Twin B pukes on the couch and then Twin A pukes on himself and then Twin B pukes at the mall and then jello and popsicles and crackers. And double fingers crossed that Big Momma doesn't get it. Because I'm tired of the annual purge. Ti-red.

Please tell me it ends. Please tell me they make it to the toilet one day. Please.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Very Confusing Night of Wombat Love

Every year around this time I put cheese in a pot and tell these random women to bring these specific items:

cath-bread
e-veggies
jen-ham cubes
jenny-bread
jules-bananas
katy-strawberries
lee-brownies
mud-gin
rebecca-apples
susan-pound cake
amy-chocolate 12 oz. of Swiss chocolate


If they complain they have to clean the cheese pot at the end of the night. The woman who was told to bring a pig's butt is going to be putting her own stinky cheese in a pot next year and eating it by herself.

And every year around this time I wonder what to give as a gift to the Wombat's Yankee Swap. I'm still in awe of Supa Cath's personalized cookbook from last year. Which was so beyond cool. And I'm simply over making my signature alpaca hat. So this year I went with chocolate. I made a Ghirardelli triple chocolate cake, wrapped with a crocheted bathroom set which included a rug, a toilet paper holder and a toilet seat cover. Lucky, lucky recipient.


Every year I'm in awe of these women who step inside my home from the snowy cold night and sit on my couch and drink wine from my wine glasses. I'm not really sure who they are or really where they've come from, like where they grew up and what their college days were like. I mean I know who they are. They are doctors and nurses and teachers. But really so much more than these labels too. Funny and smart and comfortable in their own skin. Which I love most.




And I guess that's all that matters on this night.




I'm still confused about what fates were involved in how they got into my life. Or how I got into theirs.





And I'm not sure why they bring their crappy gifts to the Yankee Swap because everyone should walk away happy. But I guess that's why it's so fun.








And some, well, some do odd things in order to steal gifts. It's just a little twist we've added to the Yankee Swap rules. It's our way of making each other look like asses for the sake of a laugh.



But anyway you look at it these female alien-like bodies come up my mountain to dip bread into cheese with sticks and then get all naked to steal each other's gifts...



then they dip pound cake into butterscotch, wash it down with wine and silently slink off into the dark snowy night in vehicles that run on batteries. I'm baffled by it.




And luckily they take their alien babies with them.




Because I'm not sure I could handle this crap lying around.


Here's the cheese sauce I recommend. I don't think you need a fancy dancy fondue pot but I highly recommend long sticks to use to stab your chunk of love bread into heavenly goo.

Three-Cheese Fondue with Champagne

4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 cups dry (brut) Champagne
1 large shallot, chopped
2 cups coarsely grated Gruyere cheese (about 7 oz.)
1 1/3 cups coarsely grated Emmenthal cheese (about 5 oz.)
1/2 cup diced rindless Brie or Camembert cheese (about 3 oz.)
Generous pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of ground white pepper

Bread.

Stir cornstarch and lemon juice together, set aside. Combine Champagne and shallot in fondue pot, simmer over a medium heat 2 minutes. Remove pot from heat. Add all cheeses and stir to combine. Stir in cornstarch mixture. Return fondue pot to medium heat and stir until cheeses are melted and smooth and fondue thickens and boils, about 12 minutes. Season fondue with nutmeg and pepper. Serve over candle (whatever) or canned heat burner, or better yet stir the shit up in any old pot and eat it right away, with sticks, like I said.

I'll give kudos for this recipe to a magazine that has the initials BA. And don't ever tell me I didn't give you anything. Eat bread and cheese. It'll make you fart.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Long Chapter in the Book of our Broken Bones

Paul Bunyan and I lived next to an old airport landing strip in Breckenridge. It was a brand new loft apartment on the second floor with a washing machine that was also a dryer. Some European model that didn't work for beans. All the buildings on the "strip" were new and as landscaping around new buildings go....that was new too.

It was our third Christmas together and I believe I was aware of the fact that Paul Bunyan was going to go across the street in the secrecy of the dark and cut down a beautiful brand new blue spruce for our Christmas tree, but I'm not remembering being completely against the idea. However, now that I've had time to think of the consequences and complete disregard of the fact that that beautiful tree was one of Colorado's STATE trees and that we probably could have been arrested and fined a hefty fine for the crime we committed, I can't help feeling mad as hell at Paul Bunyan for coming up with the idea. I can hold a grudge, let me tell you.

I think you've heard about my issues with cutting down trees, not to mention Christmas trees. But where was I going? Oh yea, after that Christmas we dumped the tree in some ally and after the snow melted and the last of the hiking and skiing was done for the spring, Paul Bunyan and I bought ourselves each a pair of used roller blades. I made sure that I had wrist guards and knee pads. Don't think I wore a helmet but that has nothing to do with my story. Breckenridge houses a beautiful bike path, which we rode up and down innocently. But if you know Paul Bunyan, you know that just isn't fun enough.

So he bee-lined it to the skate park. And if you know Paul Bunyan, you know that he doesn't always think about SAFETY FIRST. So without wrist guards he drops into the 'pipe' and breaks the shit out of his wrist. I may have, sorta, rubbed it in with a "told you so you stupid f---".

Fast forward a few years and here we were brand new to our funky little Japanese pagoda on the side of a mountain in Vermont. Claire was sleeping soundly in her one room studio, which we would eventually rip the roof off of and use some of its walls to make additional bedrooms for the two babies that were resting in my big belly, which was just at that moment resting on the rim of our kitchen sink. I was watching Paul Bunyan push up an extension ladder as far as its furthest rung would allow. He leaned that sucker up against a half dead tree and climbed to the very top of it. I watched him start his chain saw, which he so dexterously carried up the ladder with him, and then I watched him reach as far as his arm could reach to cut a dead branch from said dead tree. And sure enough I watched dead branch swing around and knock said husband from said extended (as far as it could go) ladder and I watched said nearly dead husband fall straight two floors down, right onto his wrist. I ran out as fast as a 6th month pregnant with twins woman could run and I ran straight for the chainsaw. Because that's how my brain works when there is an emergency. I don't think straight. I was only concerned with turning that thing off and then I stood there in disbelief as I watched my husband roll and writhe around in pain. And then I got pissed, like mad pissed. Because I knew these babies were going to be born in two months. And what he did was SOOOOO stupid. Like so stupid. So I made him drive himself to the hospital. He told me, later, that he almost passed out. But whatever, Claire was sleeping and what he did was just plain dumb. And frankly after the whole "shoulda wore wrist guards" episode, I was done talking about safety first.


Lots of metal commenced. His cast was still on when the boys arrived. But he still changed diapers. There was going to be no excuses.



Fast forward eighteen months. I had survived the darkness of sleepless nights (barely) and my biggest challenge when I was alone with all three was dinner time. I sometimes broke the rules in order to make things go smoothly and one of the things I would do was to allow the boys to stand on the kitchen chairs to help me. Safety first. I know. I know.

Well, Auggie fell backwards after leaning too hard against the back of one of our chairs. I had a plate in my left hand and I tried to catch his fall with my right. I managed to snag a rung of the chair with my pinky, thereby pulling it just barely out from underneath him. Thus, I probably was the reason he landed flat onto the slate floor. I called Paul Bunyan, who was in the ER and said that I thought Auggie had broken his arm. He said, "Nah, I'll look at it tomorrow." And sure enough...


it wasn't his sucking thumb.


And then the lights went out last week for four days. And the boys and the girl played so well together.

They didn't once complain and they scattered with their candles and headlamps and found toys that have been there all along but they couldn't/didn't see them in the light.





And then one day when I was gone. On the fourth and final day. When Paul Bunyan was sitting and watching. They began fighting. They were fighting about fighting. Wrestling about wrestling.



And Claire pushed Timmy down. And then it was a his fault, her fault, his fault kind of day.





And that's how the Chapter in this ongoing chapter in our lives ended. Someone is always to blame. It was his fault. Her fault. My fault.




But accidents happen and bones heal. But I just want us to maybe learn a little lesson, take something away from all this, because my father would want to make sure that we think SAFETY FIRST and not let history to continue to repeat itself.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Yea, some say we're dumb.


Some say we're silly. No, actually, stupid for getting the boys into hockey.





But what they don't see are team dinners at Chili's.





And they don't see caravans of minivans with GO TEAM! written in paint on the windows.





And they don't see hotel rooms with pools and hot tubs.





And fundraisers. And warm-ups with their names on them. And last minute goals and overtimes and shoot outs and incredible saves and amazing passes and unforgettable tip-ins.





Nah, they don't see any of that because all they see is waking up in the dark for early morning practices and cold ice rinks and too much traveling and expenses and stinky gear and did I say cold ice rinks? Because none of them have a fur coat like I do.




And maybe, just possibly, none of them are as crazy as we are.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Dark

Last year at this time Momma Earth sent her Commuter train charging up the valley. This year it was an Express thundering through . And we were four days without power. I made a patch and sewed it to my winter hat. FOUR. Next year maybe FIVE or SIX. As she sends her bigger faster trains our way.

There were snapped lines laying open and gnarled. Telephone poles hanging halfway down...limp. Trees resting on electric lines suspended over the road. We held our breath every time we drove underneath, ducking our heads as if that might help.

Mother Nature is pissed. And we're not listening.

She gave us a message in whipped up root balls and ripped off roofs.

We moved all the refrigerated items outside.
Lit a fire.
Flushed toilets with pond water.
Found headlamps.
Boiled water to wash dishes.
Ate on paper.
Lit candles.
Played games.
Read books.
Slowed down.
Stayed close.
By the fire.
Treated each other nicely.
Until a broken bone ended all the fun. (I'll extrapolate later)

And then the lights came on. The lines are repaired. And life races again. And lights are left on in rooms we aren't even in anymore. The dishwasher runs. The candles are blown out. And somehow I am sad. The darkness feels like deep snow. All quiet and encompassing. And I wish we could live like that. Like our friends Caitlin and Miles, who live in the woods, and go to sleep when the sun sets, and wake up when it rises. I wish the power wasn't so needed, or rather doesn't seem so necessary.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

In these times of thanks...

I couldn't get myself to take photos at Thanksgiving. Weren't in the mood...I guess. It was warm. All of it. I could get all Sappy, with a capital S. But I'm sure you're sick of it. It's oozing around here. Just like the two turkey carcasses sitting outside in pots on my porch. Haven't been able to get to the stock yet.

So, just to honor the day and not be so trite as to give thanks for my spawn and Paul Bunyan and all my wonderful WOMBATS who I was able to eat and get fat with (yawn), and because they already know how much I love and appreciate them, I'd like to give thanks for some of the smaller things in my life.

1. As much as I hate it, I'd like to give thanks for the chicken shit on my stoop. Because the chicken shit on the stoop, although it sometimes enters my house on the feet of the spawn and dogs, represents the freedom and overall contentedness of my chickens. And without content and happy chickens, I wouldn't have such lovely and beautiful all-natural eggs. And without beautiful organic eggs, I wouldn't have such incredible bacon, egg and cheeses. I wouldn't have so many fried eggs in my life. I wouldn't have omelets for dinner. I wouldn't have such delicious huevos rancheros. My life would be eggless. My baked goods would fall apart. My ice cream would be dangerous to eat. My Caesar salad dressing wouldn't exist. In short, my life would suck.

2. I give thanks, every day, for our new DVR recorder. Not only can I watch more t.v., but now I can also watch more of the t.v. that I shouldn't waste my time watching. I give thanks, every day, for being able to watch Jimmy Fallon, whose late night show is normally way too late night for me to watch and now I have a crush on him, thanks to the DVR. Not only can I spend more time watching the t.v. shows I shouldn't be watching, but I can fast forward through the commercials I don't want to be watching. It's absolutely lovely.

3. I give thanks for indoor plants that don't need water. They're not fake, they just somehow survive without water. They miraculously live off the love the in the air. It's crazy. I know.

4. I give thanks for the fact that if you're sitting on the toilet and you run out of toilet paper everyone will drop what they're doing to help you get more toilet paper. It's universal. Everyone knows what it feels like to be stranded and they'll do anything to help you out. You might be stranded on the side of the highway with a flat tire and no one will stop to help you but if you call from the bathroom on the second floor people will scramble to the paper supply in the basement and be there to hand you a fresh roll in a few seconds. Love that.

5. I give thanks for my central vac. I have pipes that run throughout the walls of my house that suck up, through a hose, all the dog hair, cat hair, spawn hair, chicken shit, and tiny Legos and sends them all to a HUGE metal container in my basement. In the container is a gigantic bag that I only have to change out TWICE a year. I love it. It makes my life happy. If only you could experience this love. Maybe you have. I can only hope.

6. I give thanks for caller ID. So I can screen your ass.

7. I really love my floss. I have a space in my teeth that sucks up animal muscle fibers. Don't know what I would do without you floss. I really hate to think about it.

8. I have to thank the gods who created seedless grapes. Every Thanksgiving my dad's side of the family used to serve 'fruit cup' as the first course at dinner. Palate cleaning, I guess. The fruit cup consisted of grapefruit, oranges, grapes, and bananas (sliced fresh before serving) with a dollop of the orange sherbert that looks fluorescent on top. Complete disgrace and scorn would fall upon the person who couldn't cut the seeds out of the grapes properly. It was a very stressful job. And you can bet that my family ate their fruit cup scrupulously. Well, it's been years since I had that kind of stress in my life. It was a gift. The grapes with seeds. This year. I don't turn away free food, but man am I grateful for the gods who created seedless grapes.

9. I am thankful for reaching a point in our lives where I don't have to help anyone with their snowpants, jackets, boots, hats, and mittens. Go! Get! Skidaddle! That's all I have to say. It's blissful.

10. Lip Smackers. Just Sayin'

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Vegas Circus Trapeze Act


In the Summer of 97' Paul Bunyan and I packed up his leased Nissan Pathfinder with a few essential items and set our compass West. I only really remember the wind in my hair. The music on the radio. The flat grassy places we would set up a tent on the free National Forest lands in the dark. And the majesty of the landscape we would open our tent flaps to in the morning.

See that Motel 8 in the background there? I remember walking out the door of that motel one morning and being mesmerized by the landscape that I looked out upon. A cement company's heaven.



It's been 13 years. It's still quite majestic. In some respects.




And rich with grandiosity.




And arrogance.



For 48 hours I lay suspended in many stratospheres. I walked the bridges that crossed socioeconomic classes.




Evidence of the divide was everywhere.





Where one casino can have caged lions, this one can only offer flamingos.




And giant goldfish.




But it's a classic. The Flamingo....sets itself apart by remaining so retro.




It hosts the Osmond's show.



And across the street Caesars houses Rod. And across the street from that the Paris has Barry Manilow too. I was introduced to these old men on my best friend Meredith's mother's 8 track. Circa 1979.




But I know Holly Madison across the street.

I feel my legs slipping out from underneath me in both directions.



I straddled the possibility of this:

Triple Diamond, Double Double Diamond, Triple Double Stars, Triple Cash! Ding Ding Ding....still ringing in my skin. I wanted to spend my loot. Think of what I could spend with the thousands I would win!!

I put a $20 bill in a slot machine. I cashed out at $32.50. I spent my $12.50 on a hot dog. A chili dog to be exact. My practicality seeped up through my sore feet. Money to be spent on the mortgage given right to the casino owners? Hardly a decision for me.



But I had one free pull to win a MILLION DOLLARS. I saw someone cross themselves before they pushed the spin button.



One push of the button could change your life forever. What if?



I'd go back to Paris. Take a hot air balloon over the city.




Pay the money to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower.




I'd pay for Claire and I to come back out and see Cirque du Soleil "O" again. I'd bring you along too. I may even purchase one of these statues for my garden. Or better yet, I'd feed all the hungry men and women on the bridges.





I'd buy art.




Or better yet, I'd feel more free to make it.


I hung from the trapeze swinging between this crazy world and mine:




I dangled from youth and forty. It's a tough place to hang.





But it was fun to revisit. We retold. Remembered. And at the same time, we heard birth stories for the first time. Wedding stories. Parent's tales. Kids' ways. Future dreams. Possible plans. We stopped for a moment between the then and the soon.




We played.



And giggled.



And howled.




And just for a moment.




We pretended to be back in Iowa City.




Drinking nickle beers at the Airliner.



And yet, we were in the desert.





On the early morning I left Vegas, I left behind the alcohol laced elevators, all the lights blinking and rolling and spinning like the minds of the drunk gamblers. I reflected on the 48 hour window that the universe allowed me to suspend myself in time. Between the past and future, between the rich and poor, between my youth and impending old age. I don't really know how a place can keep you from having reality reel you in. How the mortgage payment can evade you when you're there. How you're wrinkles and extra weight can disappear. How you can, just for a short time, pretend to be someone different. Someone with the chance to win big...even if you don't gamble.