Saturday, May 31, 2003


Just an update...

Our vegetable garden is full - and Bill has planted other things behind it and nearby...we've got rhubarb, baby peas, carrots, broccoli, nasturtiums, tomatoes, squash, peppers, asparagus, beets, soybeans, and more that I can't think of at the moment. He's also growing hops, which are amazing - they grow about a foot every day, I think. And our flowers are all doing well.

The irises, in particular, look great this year. I love them - tall, elegant, stately. We've got two kinds of purple, two varieties of white, and a newly discovered rust color that we didn't know we had. And we bought some more...

Gotta run - Alex is crying - he's got a viral infection -sore throat and ears. Not a happy little guy today.

More on the garden later...

Wednesday, May 28, 2003



We are sitting at the table, dinner is over, for the most part. (Ground turkey browned with small-diced mushrooms, a shallot, salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, worcestershire sauce, and a little ketchup, dished up with warm flour tortillas, fresh guacamole, some salsa, shredded monterey jack cheese...) (and for Alex-cut up waffles dipped in some of the guacamole...some of the ground taste of the salsa (he made a face)...and juice from his sippy cup)

Anyway...we are sitting at the table.

Alex has the remnants of dinner all over his hands, arms, face, and in his hair.

He and my husband are blowing raspberries at each other - loud, juicy, joyful noises. Bill. Alex. Bill. Alex. Bill. Alex....

This went on for about 5 minutes.

I watched a tennis match...with volleys and lobs...of rude noises, smiles and spit...back and forth...back and forth...back and forth....

They are funny males.

Monday, May 26, 2003

It Always Rains on Beer Brewing Day

It's true. Well, almost always true. Just about every day set aside for brewing is wet, chilly, and generally unpleasant - at least for the madmen standing outside watching the water boil....

So, yes, it is raining, and has been raining for enough days in a row that I'm wishing our boat was big enough to be called an ark.

And today is the day Bill and John set aside to brew up a batch of red ale to offer at our clambake/cookout in July.

Bill started heating water at 7 this morning. He got everything measured out last night, ground the grains, got all the equipment ready, and checked off these tasks on his "to do" list. (Beer-brewing is the only thing in his life that motivates him to actually type up a to do list. Everything else he wings.)

And John was supposed to arrive at 8 this morning, but, because he is John and is chronically late, we all knew 8:00 am was pure fantasy. However, this morning he surpassed himself. The phone rang at 9:30 - "I overslept. I'm leaving now." He is here now and they are getting ready to start the second batch of beer, which is a raspberry stout, and will improve with age, so this will not be consumed until the fall or winter. (11 12-ounce bags of raspberries in this 5 gallon batch. It's an investment, but it's very, very delicious stuff.)

Alex is taking a nap right now, which has afforded me these few minutes to type uninterrupted.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

5:49 pm


I am searing large sea scallops in olive oil. I've already made a warm potato salad.

Bill is sitting at the dining room table looking over his beer-making notes.

Alex is in his high chair eating Cheerios and having a conversation with himself.

Saturday, May 24, 2003


We just got home from seeing my nephew, Calvin, receive his Junior 1st Degree Black Belt in Karate. He is 10. The ceremony, with all its demonstrations, was spectacular - though I missed some of it because Alex wasn't quite as happy to be there as most of the rest of the audience. Bill and I took turns letting Alex crawl around behind the bleachers, hoping he would work off some steam and consent to sit still, quietly, for the rest of the evening. That didn't happen.

But - I got to see all of the demonstrations Calvin was in, including and especially the solo piece he choreographed to the first part of Rush's "Tom Sawyer." He was something to see - all motion, focused energy, a serious blur of white-clad arms and legs.

I took pictures - I hope they come out. I used 800 speed film...we'll see. I think my last shot will come out, at least. At the end of the event, each student was called up to receive a new jacket with their name embroidered on the back, their new black belt, a handshake, and a rose to give to his or her mother. I got a nice shot of Calvin giving my sister her rose.

I watch Calvin with both pride and amazement...and disbelief. I can't believe my sister's little baby boy, with his chubby little legs and his fat cheeks, has grown into this long-limbed boy in perpetual motion, whose feet are the same size as mine. Little Calvin, who called me "Ah-dee-dee" (Auntie Jayne) when he was sister's first child, who, in some ways, was my first practice child. He, and then his sister, Natalie, paved the way for my eventual mommy-hood.

Calvin, you were exciting to watch tonight, and I am proud of how hard you have worked to get to this point. Keep up the good work. But just remember: you will always be my ticklish little nephew, and I can drop you to the floor with just a wiggle of my matter how black your belt is. :)

Love, Auntie Jayne

Creme Brulee

Tuesday night when everyone was over I made Creme Brulee, which is an egg custard slow-baked in a water bath, then chilled, then sprinkled with granulated sugar, and then the sugar is caramelized either under a broiler or with some kind of blow torch. After it melts and browns, the sugar hardens, so when you dip your spoon into the dessert, you hit a crackly layer of sugar and then the rich, creamy texture of the custard. It's a nice contrast.

The recipe I used is from my Baking & Pastry Formulas book, which was one of my two "bibles" when I was a baking and pastry arts degree candidate at Johnson & Wales University a couple of years ago. I didn't finish, which bothers me if I think about it too long. But I learned a lot while I was there, so it was not wasted time.

Here is the recipe for 12 servings of Creme Brulee (which translates as "Burnt Cream"):

(Just about all the measuring was done by weight, not cups, so it helps if you have a kitchen scale. If you don't have one, send me an email and I'll figure out the conversions for you)

You need:

12 4-ounce ramekins
2 13 x 9 metal cake pans
A fine-mesh strainer
A couple of bowls
A whisk

9 ounces of egg yolks
4 1/2 ounces of granulated sugar
vanilla extract to taste (or any other flavor you might want to use. This is the basic recipe.)
3 pounds of heavy cream

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together.

Whisk in the vanilla extract.

Whisk in the heavy cream.

Strain the mixture; remove any foam on top.

Distribute the mixture evenly among the 12 ramekins.

Place the ramekins in the metal cake pans - 6 in each. Leave space in between each ramekin and the sides of the pans.

Pour some warm water into the pans, and then have more warm water ready to pour.

Place the pans on the center rack in your oven. Pour more water into each pan until the water comes about half-way up the sides of the ramekins.

Close the oven and bake until firm. And in this case, firm means "set" but not "hard as a rock." When you shake the ramekin (gently), there should be a little jello-like wiggle in the center.

The length of cooking time will depend on your oven. Check them at 30 minutes, and then about every 10 minutes or so after that. The nice thing about baking things this way is it's a slow, gentle process. The only way to overcook them is to completely forget about them for a few hours.

Anyway, when they are done, CAREFULLY take the pans out of the oven and set them down. I say CAREFULLY because the water in those pans is hot and if you aren't CAREFUL, the water could slosh out and splash you and that would hurt and might cause you to drop the pan, in which case all the rest of the water would splash everywhere...and worse still, there would be 6 shattered ramekins with custard splattered everywhere that you'd have to clean up and throw out. This stuff is too good to waste like that, so, like I said, BE CAREFUL.

Remove the ramekins from the water bath (or bain marie, to trot out my culinary French), and allow to cool. When cooled, put them in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight if you have time, until thoroughly chilled.

Before serving, take them out of the fridge and sprinkle some granulated sugar on the surface of each custard.

Now there are, like I said, a couple ways you can brulee them. One way is to put them under the broiler in your oven. If you're doing it this way, fire up the broiler and put the top rack about 6 inches below the broiler. Place the ramekins on a cookie sheet and slide them under the flames. You might want to just do a few at a time. Keep an eye on them - this isn't a recipe for blackened custard. You want to caramelize the sugar, so you want to watch for an amber/brown color. The color probably won't be even - it may look kind of blotchy. That's okay. Take them out before they burn! Hurry!

OR, if you want to have fun and play with fire, get a blow torch (they make little hand-held ones you can buy) and carefully move the flame back and forth over the sugar until it melts and browns. Keep the flame moving - sugar will burn quickly. This doesn't really take very long, and it certainly impresses people if they've never seen it done before. Fun party trick.

A few moments later, the sugar on top will harden and, voila! You did it! Your friends will be impressed as anything - and it was so easy!!!!

Have fun!

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Last night some friends came over and we had a small baby shower/get together for Julie, who is expecting her first baby next month. There were just 6 of us: Julie, Kerrie, Roxana, Kim, Blair, and me. No - make that 7 - Kim brought her daughter, Madison, who is 14 months old.

Madison and Alex got acquainted and played on and off most of the time. Madison is tall. She made Alex look small, which of course, at only 11 months old, he is. But compared to the little babies in the infant room at daycare, he's been looking big to me at times. But anyway, last night, he went back to being small.

Very different - girls and boys. (Astute observation, I know.) Alex likes to bang things - cupboard doors, toys against the floor... and Madison sat down and "read" a book. Alex likes to chew on books. Alex likes to tear pages from the phone book. But they both like to eat. And they crawled around, chasing each other and laughing at each other. It was great.

Back to the adults. We all know each other because we either work or have worked at the same place. Actually, Julie's the only one who left and didn't come back. Kerrie is her sister-in-law. And Kim and Roxana have been friends since they were kids. We're all at various places on the mommy spectrum: Rox has a son (11) and a daughter (7), Kerrie's son is 7, Blair's daughter is 5 (I think) and her son is 3...and then there are Kim and I who had our first babies last year...and now Julie.

Julie looks great. She arrived first and we were talking a bit about being pregnant...she said it's gone by fast and she's enjoyed it. But she's ready to have the baby. She's due next month. So exciting....

Everyone brought food, and we sat around in my dining room eating and talking and laughing. Eventually Alex started getting tired but was too wound up to go to sleep, so I brought him downstairs to Bill for a little while to calm down. Julie opened presents, protesting that she hadn't expected us to give her anything - this was just supposed to just be a visit...but the truth is, it's fun to shop for baby things. Little tiny clothes for little tiny people. Sizes Alex doesn't fit into any more...sizes he only fit in for a week or two...sizes so small he never would have fit in them unless he was born early.

And now it's another day. Feels like it should be later in the week than Wednesday.

Time to get ready for work.

Saturday, May 17, 2003

Saturday morning.

Alex woke up around 3:30 and wouldn't go back to sleep - who would with a diaper in need of such attention? I changed the diaper and got him a bottle and brought him into bed with us. He fell asleep and at some point rolled over onto his chest and knees, little bum up in the air, arms tucked under him...Bill was asleep on his half of the bed, and I think the cat was on the other side of him, though later on she moved over and slept near Alex's feet. I teetered on my edge of the bed until Alex woke up (always immediately alert and smiling) and crawled to the window to look out at his kingdom. This morning he kept pressing his lips against the glass, breathing, and then pulling away. I don't know if he just liked the feeling of the (very cold!) glass, or looking at the condensation his breath left, or what. Anyway, that was earlier.

Right now he is with Bill - on a beer-ingredient-getting mission. On Memorial Day John will be coming over and he and Bill will brew a red ale (I think) for consumption at the second annual clambake/cookout we'll have in July. They've got something else already made, too, either a lager or a pale ale. I've lost track. And he's also getting some of the ingredients for a raspberry stout. He made it last September for me, sort of. And it's very, very good. Especially after it's aged a while. So he'll make that some time soon and in the fall the flavors will have married and mellowed. Yum.

Anyway, so I've got the house to myself (and the cat) and I don't really feel like doing anything. I loaded a laundry basket with some whites and lights, and some hangers for the stuff that is already dry down in the basement and need ironing...but I haven't made it downstairs yet.

I'm also working this weekend. I've "got the phone" for work, which means I'm on call for any emergencies that pop up. Fun fun fun. Real emergencies are rare, but my stomach still clenches whenever I check the voicemail on it. Some people will call and leave messages that are not emergencies at all. They just happened to get someone's voicemail at the office and for whatever reason can't leave their message there - so they call the emergency number. And start off their message by saying "Well, this isn't really an emergency but I'm returning so and so's call from yesterday just to let her know I got her message and those dates are fine." Which is nice, because it's not an emergency, but still - there's the stomach-clenching feeling when you hear "you have one unheard message" no matter what.

I work for a moving company, by the way. My department handles corporate relocations. Three of us rotate the phone - the director and two managers. I'm one of the two managers. I took the phone in rotation even when I wasn't a manager. The pay is better now; I just have to learn to relax my stomach...


(...gee, this is a fascinating read, isn't it?)

I've been rereading Susan Powter's book Stop the Insanity. (Non sequitor, anyone?)

I was talking a week or two or three ago about trying to lose some weight, get in better shape again, eat better, and so on. And so what did I do? I bought several boxes of SlimFast bars for work and vowed to eat one for breakfast, one for lunch, and then "a sensible dinner." Only I was starving. So I'd eat one for breakfast, a snack, something terrible at lunch because I was HUNGRY, and then another bar in the afternoon. So that worked really well. And did nothing except make me feel horrible.

I've been drinking too much coffee lately, too. Need to cut back on that and drink more water. I bring a 64 oz bottle of icewater in to work with me, and it sits there on my desk, beads of water rolling off it and onto the dishtowel under it...and I drink the coffee. Or the iced coffee. So that's not doing me much good, either. The two plants I have at my desk have been drinking more of the water than I have. And they look great. So...

So the other night I picked up the Susan Powter book. I'd bought that when it came out, in 1993, partly because I was working for Barnes & Noble at the time and had a great discount, and partly because underneath the loudness and the crewcut, she makes sense. It really is simple - eat (the right stuff) and move. So far I'm halfway through the book. I've read it before, several times, so I'm kind of skimming along.

And I'm making progress, mentally, if nothing else. I called in to work (we have a couple people in the office on Saturday mornings) and asked one of my coworkers to toss out all the rest of the Slimfast bars in my desk. Fake food is not the answer. I should know better, but for a little while I thought - if I jumpstart things, and drop 5 or 10 pounds really fast, that'll get me motivated to do all the other stuff I should be doing anyway.

Of course that hasn't worked.

So, try, try again.

It just boils down to choices. I can eat anything I want - but whatever I eat will have an effect on how I look and feel. I can remain a mostly sedentary slug, or I can put my sneakers on and start moving on a regular basis. And running up and down the stairs with a laundry basket doesn't count.

So. Here I go...

Friday, May 16, 2003

I'm not all that happy with my "Orange Juice and Water" post from the other day. I don't think I did a good job conveying just how torturous that evening was, and as a result, it looks like I'm really stretching just for the purpose of having something to write about. I think I come across as mean and snotty. It gives me the same little uncomfortable feeling I'd have as a kid if I'd done something I knew was wrong.

Thursday, May 15, 2003


Some things I like about spring:

Dogwood trees in bloom - especially the tree next door (Ann's tree), which is a showy pink just a shade or two shy of fuchia.

The smell of lilacs in bloom. We have a dwarf lilac and two "regular" lilacs. Our regular lilacs are very young, though, so the dwarf is actually bigger.

This spring - Alex exploring the world outside for the first time. Last night. Bill was putting the rest of the edging around one of the gardens in front of our house when I got home from work, and while I went inside to change, he put Alex down on the grass nearby and continued digging the trench for the edging. When I came back out, Alex was sitting there on the front lawn - a tiny little blond kid in blue sweat pants, a grey tee shirt, and white sneakers surrounded by mostly green. (Some is brown. We're working on it.) Our other neighbor, Shirley, was on her way out, but she had stopped to say hello to Alex, whom she hasn't seen in months.

After she left, Alex alternately walked or crawled everywhere he could...through the dirt my husband had dug up ("Look! He's helping!") and then along the side of the house and into the back yard. Along the way he'd stop and investigate little things...some dead grass (No, don't eat that), the branch of one of the Rose of Sharons that divides our property from Shirley's. He stood up and shook the little branch a few times, then continued on his way. I walked along beside him, barefoot, herding him a bit so he wouldn't decide to race-crawl into Shirley's back yard. He thought this was hysterical. He'd look at my feet, look up at me and laugh, and then crawl faster. He explored the back yard, and then crawled back to the front yard where Bill was finishing up. I took Alex inside, took off his muddy clothes and wiped the mud drool from his mouth.

Early this morning, lying in bed, I heard the birds singing...and on the monitor I heard Alex say "pa" - and that was it. Little practice words slip out when he is sleeping. I love that.

Gotta go. Time to wake everyone up.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Orange Juice and Water

Last Friday when I got home from work, Alex in tow, I went downstairs where my husband and his brother (who arrived from Seattle earlier in the day) were hanging out, waiting for me to get home so we could all go out for sushi. (No, Alex didn't have any raw fish. But he had some miso soup, tofu, rice, a lemon wedge, baby food lasagne from a jar, and ice cream. And lots of waitresses smiled at him.)

Anyway, one of the first things Bill said to me was "Oh, by the way, someone's coming over here on Monday night." ("Oh, by the way" is usually not a good start to anything.) So, immediately suspicious and irritated at the pending intrusion, I asked who it was, and he told me someone was coming to run some tests on our water.

A few weeks ago we filled out a little postcard thing that offered us the chance to get a case of Tropicana orange juice. There was no fine print, no purchase necessary, nothing. So I filled out the card and sent it off. I figured maybe we'd be entered into a drawing or something. And after mailing it, I forgot about it.

So on Friday, someone called Bill referencing the case of Tropicana. But it was not anyone from Tropicana. It was someone from RainSoft - a company who, among other things, sells water purification systems for the home. The deal was, if we let one of their reps into the house to do some tests on the water, we could have the case of OJ. They said it wouldn't take any more than an hour. The rep would arrive between 6:00 and 6:30 Monday evening. They wanted both of us to be there.

And Bill said okay. Just some tests on the water. And he was kind of curious to see what the tests turned up, as knowing the levels of minerals and pH and toxins in our water is useful to him, both in brewing beer and in keeping fish alive in his 55 gallon tank.

They called on Sunday at some point to confirm the appointment.

And they called a few minutes after I got home from work on Monday - somewhere around 5:30 - probably to make sure we hadn't skipped town.

We fed Alex dinner, but figured we'd wait til after the tests to have ours. Just as Alex was eating his last couple of dessert Cheerios, a little after 6:00, there came a knock at the front door. Bill answered it and I sat there grumbling to myself.

The rep was a woman named Heidi. Bill led her into the dining room where I was wiping wet bits of cheerio from Alex's chin. We shook hands and she exclaimed over Alex for a moment.

Heidi was a narrow-shouldered woman with wide hair. She was about my height, but only because she was wearing black boots with about 4 inch heels and her hair was kind of tall, in addition to being wide. It was also very thickly highlighted and immobilized by some artificial means. She was very tan. She obviously has spent years in the sun.

And she had a very blinding, wide, lock-jaw smile. My face started to hurt part way through the evening, just seeing her smile. When she smiled, the look in her eyes would intensify and capture yours, willing you to agree with whatever she had just said. Her head would nod slightly, one of those bobble-head dolls people put in the back windows of their cars.

She carried a big black leather briefcase - twice the width of any briefcase I have ever seen. And a smaller metal case with all her vials of chemicals and her other props inside. She put the black bag on the kitchen floor, and placed her metal case on the counter near the sink.

We told her right off the bat that we were kind of puzzled by the need to have our water tested in order to get our juice, and she quickly assured us that we would get our case as promised. When we told her there was nothing on the tropicana card that linked them to a water purification system sales pitch, she just smiled her big fixed smile and shook her bobble head and said she didn't know anything about that. She also said she was in ADVERTISING. This wasn't a sales pitch. Oh. Yeah. Right.

First thing she wanted was some water from our hot water heater. I put Alex in his playpen in the kitchen so he could watch and maybe keep things interesting by throwing toys and saying "uh oh".... Bill brought Heidi downstairs and a minute or so later they came back up with a glass of slightly murky water. Heidi pointed out the few specks of sediment at the bottom of the glass and recommended we flush about 5 gallons from the water heater every year. Pure water heats more efficiently. We were to hear that word - "pure" - a lot.

Next thing she did was tell us the first test would be to check the pH level in our water. She started to explain what pH was and since we both know what pH is (Bill tests the pH in his fish tank on a regular basis), we nodded that way you nod when you want the person talking to skip that part and get to the next part. Bill even said, at some point in her lecture, "and pH increases exponentially, right?" (it does) - and she did one of those smiles again and bobbled her head...and continued until she had finished her scripted speech.

She did the pH test - our pH was 8.5, which is higher than desired - more drinking chalk, perhaps.

Her next test was for hardness. She ran some tap water into a vial, and then, with all the naturalness of a flight attendant pointing to the exits, she added a conditioner to the water - 5 drops. "One, two, three, four, five." Then she added another mystery liquid to the vial. She said the water in from our tap would turn red if the water was hard. (Of course, the stuff she added to it was red, but it turns out that didn't matter.) Anyway - 5 drops. "One, two, three, four, five." I suppose she counted along with the drops so we would know she wasn't sneaking an extra drop in there and skewing the test score. Then she pulled out a third vial and said she would add that liquid one drip at a time to our hard, red tap water, and the number of drips it took to turn the red water blue would tell us the harness of our water. Which sounds like a word problem...So she started. "one" - then swirled the vial to blend the liquids together. Still red. "two"...swirl swirl swirl...."three" swirl swirl - AHA! It turned blue. So our magic hardness number was 3. Which somehow worked out to mean that, if left uncorrected, the dissolved rock particles sneaking in through our tap would eventually form a solid chunk of rock in our sink. Good heavens! (There was much gravity of expression and concerned nodding of her head as she shared this with us.) And then she broke out her water filter. A cylinder about 8 inches long, about 2 inches in diameter, almost filled with black and gold particles. There was a rubber tube that went in one end of the cylinder and came out the other. One end had a larger rubber piece that gripped the faucet spout. She ran some water through her filter and showed us that her water was not hard at all. Know why? It's pure water. The charcoal (the black bits) and the resins (the gold bits) filtered out the rocks and left us with pure water that didn't turn red at all.

She tested for nitrates too, but had very little to say about that once our test score came in. Nitrates in your water are a result of animal feces and other happy things that your water may have encountered on its way into your rocky sink. Our nitrate level was very low, so no fun for her with that one.

I don't remember the order of the next bunch of tests.... She sent us on scavenger hunts - "I need a wash cloth, a towel, a mixing bowl, two clean glasses, and laundry detergent." Off we raced. My bowl won - it was bigger. But you know, I don't remember what she used it for.

She poured our tap water into two coffee mugs. She talked about the chlorine used by water companies to get rid of bacteria and other bad-for-you things in the water before it gets to your home. But she said that there is no need for there to be chlorine in the water once it's in our house. She poured something into one mug that would indicate whether there was chlorine present. There was. She had Bill stir the water in the other mug with his fingers for a couple of minutes. When he was done, she tested that water. No chlorine. His skin had absorbed it. Interesting.

She demonstrated how her PURE water needed only two drips of PURE detergent to get all nice and sudsy, and our evil tap water needed 10 drips. She made Bill shake up the vials of soapy water. "So whadday think???" She would say, after telling us that each drip represented a dollar's worth of laundry detergent and we were using 5 times as much of it because of our evil water than we would if we had some of her pure water. "Wouldn't we all like to save some money?" Smile, stare, bobble.

Then she looked at Alex (who was back in his high chair, eating cheerios and clapping when Bill shook the vials. And she said "Do you give him a bath?"

And that was the turning point. Do we give him a bath? No, we hose him off out back in the summer; in the winter we let the dirt harden and then chip it off with a nail file.

I gave her a look and said "Yes." She didn't say much, just basically told us that the ring around the tub after the bath was due to the bits and pieces of rock and junk in our evil water. I always thought it was the dirt we'd washed off him. But what she didn't say was that Alex's soft baby skin was soaking up all the chlorine, and we are basically poisoning him by allowing the evil water to touch him. She didn't say it, but it hung there above our heads. The seed was definitely planted and fertilized: You are BAD parents if you don't filter your water!!!

At that point I stopped listening politely and started looking up at the clock frequently, (45 minutes had gone by and she wasn't slowing down), smiling less, and silently cheering Alex on when he started getting a little fussy. He was tired. But I didn't want to put him to bed while she was there. I wanted him to disrupt her show. And no, my mother didn't raise me to be rude. I took it upon myself.

"Can you get some butter?" I stomped grumpily to the fridge. She had me smear butter on the microwave and wash half of it off with my dishwashing liquid and evil water. Then she washed the other half with her PURE water and a paper towel. Big surprise, there was no difference. All the butter was gone. She was very proud of that one. PURE water is a natural solvent.

And then she made me wash my hands. With Ivory soap, which, in case you didn't know, is PURE soap. (I think it's 99 44/100 % pure, according to the package...something like that) Anyway, she rinsed one of my hands off with her PURE water. She told me to fold my fingers down across my palm and slide them back, from the heel of my hand toward the base of my did it feel? "Slimy" I told her. She glared a smile and said those were the natural oils of my skin. Her PURE water allowed them to remain. My other hand was rinsed, of course, in our EVIL tap water. Did the finger slide test...slippery, but not slimy. She said that's because all the oils were stripped away by the rocks and other bad stuff in the water. As it dried my hand would begin to feel tight. She dried my hands off with a towel and asked how they felt. "Wet" I told her. She clenched her smile face and told me they would dry, and my left hand, rinsed in PURE water, would feel silky smooth, like I'd just used a luxurious lotion on it. (I don't use luxurious lotions. They make me sneeze. I use Luxurious Unscented Lubriderm.) The other hand would turn to dust and fall off eventually. She asked me to smell the PURE hand. Sniff. What did I smell? Soap. Now smell the other. Sniff. What did I smell? Soap. An alarm sounded somewhere in her head. WRONG ANSWER! WRONG ANSWER! ALERT ALERT ALERT! She asked, still smiling, if one had a stronger soap smell than the other. Sniff. Sniff. Nope. And she had no response to that. She just smiled, stared, and bobbled her head at me.

About that time I was thinking to myself, Heidi, you have just spent over an hour telling us we have bad, evil, rocky, poisonous water. And that you have PURE and VIRTUOUS water. We are drinking and absorbing and exposing our baby to all sorts of chemicals and dangerous minerals because we don't use a filter like you do to get your PURE water. And yet, Heidi, you smoke. (I could smell it on her breath while she was washing, rinsing, drying, fluffing and folding my hands.) For one thing, if you're going to pitch healthy stuff to people, suck on a breath mint first. Second, have you been checked for cancerous moles? Or have all the years and years in the sun rendered your skin too leathery for moles to grow?

Soon after that she wound up her show with story hour - she showed us pictures in a ring binder of the good environment 50 years ago and the bad environment of today (someone colored the sky with a gray crayon). And there were charts and graphs and cost comparisons of cleaning product usage when you had EVIL water vs. cleaning product usage when you had PURE water. (Hm...wonder which situation costs you more?)

And finally Bill asked how much longer she was going to be, because it had already been over an hour. No offense to her, but we were annoyed that in order to get orange juice we had to listen to her sales pitch. She asked us just to fill out a little survey and she'd clean up her props. Then she asked if she could use our phone. And we let her. (Dummies) And she called in to "Charlie" to tell him "no, the Makers aren't interesed in fixing their water tonight." Guilt trip. Guilt trip. Guilt trip.

She packed up her things and left. Bill went out to her SUV and came back into the house carrying a case of 10 oz bottle of Tropicana orange juice and saying, over and over "I'm sorry. I am so sorry. Jayne, I am so sorry. Do you want me to get you some ice cream? I am so sorry. I will never do that again. Want me to go out and get you a really nice dinner somewhere and bring it back? I am so sorry."

I enjoyed that part. He did that for a while, then, "Do you want some orange juice?" NO!

We put Alex to bed and then sat downstairs and rehashed the entire experience. The tests themselves were interesting and have given us things to think about. (I decided not to take a bath that night, for example, though I have been wanting a nice long soak in the tub for a while.) It boiled down to two things. First - the fact that we had to listen to the sales pitch to get our orange juice. (I know, we could have said no when they called. But...wait....I wasn't home when they called....) And second - Heidi. She was nice enough, but she had clearly memorized her script but didn't know the subtext well enough to improvise when she should have. She could have skipped the whole pH thing. She also could have picked up on our diminishing patience and maybe skipped a test or demo and cut the pitch short. And it wasn't just memorized - it was choreographed. At one point when we were on the subject of the ring around the bath tub, she actually did a plie' and waved her hand as though gracefully wiping away grime and rocky build-up from inside the invisible tub in our kitchen. Honest.

Okay, I'm done complaining about it. I am tired. Perhaps it's all the rocks I've been drinking.

Good night.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Mother's Day

Just a quick post for now - I wanted to wish a Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there...but especially to mine, Janice, and to my sister, Meredith, to my sisters-in-law, Nina and Diane, and to the memory of my mother-in-law, Elsa, who passed away in November, and to my Aunt Joan, to my godmother, Aunt Audrey, and to the memories also of my grandmothers, Emma Jane and Audrey Marie...and to all my friends who are moms, or moms-to-be...

Today we've got people coming here for brunch: my parents, my sister and her kids (my brother-in-law has to work), my husband's two brothers, who both happen to be here from out of state, and possibly one sister in law, if her back isn't bothering her too much this morning. And of course, my husband and Alex. And me.

Had shrimp, lobster, and corn on the cob last night with Bill and his brothers - Ray and Bob. Ray is here from Seattle, Bob is up from Florida. They're here because they/we are finishing up the sorting through of furniture and so forth from their mom's house. The remaining furniture (that none of them take) will be sold, and so will the house. As Bill pointed out, it's a weird coincidence that the one weekend Ray's and Bob's trips overlap is this particular weekend.

It's a bittersweet reunion. But last night was fun, and later this morning will be fun too.

Gotta go - lots to do!

Friday, May 09, 2003


Well, hey, this is news - Alex has been taking his first steps. Usually when he's not thinking about doing it. The first steps he took were (big surprise here) in pursuit of the cat.

All his firsts have been cat-related.

His main motivation to crawl was to try to catch the cat.

His first intentional word(s): kitty cat (or teeteeta)

And now - the first couple of steps.

We were downstairs. I was sitting on the floor, he was standing near me holding onto a big rattle kind of thing shaped like a barbell with rings around the middle...and chewing on it. And then the cat came into view - maybe she hopped up onto the arm of the couch - I don't really remember. But I do remember Alex - both hands clutching the rattle, eyes on the cat, first one step, then another. He stopped then because the cat went off in another direction suddenly. But that was the beginning.

One of the women at daycare told me they're betting on which kid in Alex's class will officially walk next. He's ahead of some kids who are older than he is. I think most bets are on Alex.

And just a few minutes ago he took about a dozen steps across the living room. He was holding his bottle and staring at the tv. (Bill and Ray were also staring at the TV...they were watching something on the travel channel about top ten places to get a tan...the place at the moment was Waikiki, and of course there were bikini-clad chicks with perfect bodies, perfect tans, perfect smiles...laughing and riding around on a catamaran and getting splashed, shriek shriek shriek...)

Anyway, those twelve were the most steps Alex took to date. He's asleep now, probably worn out from his day. Daycare's not for the wimpy either...another kid bit him today (didn't break the skin but it left a mark), and he wacked his face on something there too - there's a faint bruise on his right cheekbone...but he will get banged up and bumped and the wilds of childhood.

OH - and I got my very first official Mother's Day gift/card today. Last year didn't count - I was still pregnant on Mother's Day. This year is the first. And from Alex (and daycare) I got a purple sheet of paper with Alex's white handprints on the top, and a poem below.

Here's the poem:

Sometimes you get discouraged
Because I am so small
And always leave my fingerprints
On furniture and walls.

But Everyday I'm growing
I'll be grown up someday
And all those tiny handprints
Will surely fade away.

So here's a final handprint
Just so you can recall
Exactly how my fingers looked
When I was very small.

Definitely calculated to make the tears well up...and yes, it worked on me. But I don't care. It's true...he won't have these tiny little pudgy hands forever...and I'm glad they made this at daycare for me.

I have to get a box to store all these things in. A scrapbook is out - I will never keep up with it. A box would be fine, as long as I remember to write the date on things...

He's almost a year Yes, it's true - it does go by fast. I'm excited about each new development, each milestone...but at the same time, I want to linger here...I want him to keep crawling for a while longer...and leave little handprints everywhere....

I guess it's been a while...

I've been busy, lots going on. I'll write more later - maybe tomorrow morning if I can get up early enough.

Went out tonight for sushi - Bill and I, Alex, and Bill's brother, Ray, who is here from Seattle for the weekend. Alex enjoyed some miso soup, a tiny piece of tofu, some baby food I brought with us, a piece of lemon (yes), and some ice cream. The other three of us feasted on sushi, sashimi, maki rolls, and fried oysters with a horseradish sauce(an appetizer tonight). Yum. Haven't been out for sushi in quite a while.

My first date with Bill was for sushi. I should write about that as well some time.

What else...

Oh, who am I kidding? My eyes want to close, and I should really go hang out with Bill and Ray and Alex. So - until tomorrow morning or some time soon....good night.