Friday, August 26, 2005

Lunch at Mela, Dinner with the Grands

After getting everyone off yesterday & doing some writing, I headed out for lunch at Mela. I listened to the sermon J's boss brought back from his trip to California. It's interesting enough, but quite facile. I guess that's good...not everyone is looking for theological meat & many are only ready for oatmeal. J really likes it, but I think it isn't rich enough in language, or something, for me. She likes the emphasis on good works. My grandmother told her last night at dinner that she's a Methodist. LOL!

On the way to my restaurant, I saw J's Bug, parked at a new barbecue place. Realizing that today is Stevo & Eric's last day at the plant, I figured they may have gone there for a goodbye lunch, so I stopped in. Sure enough, there my sweetie sat with a bunch of guys from work. No Eric, but I bid Stevo farewell...and got to see J. I always love the chance to see her in the middle of the day. The food looked good, but I had work to do, so I headed on to Mela.

The change they have wrought in that place since Marriott bought it is incredible. It is, rather than Midwest steakhouse/supper club-themed, utterly lovely, with asymetrical lines and colorful art glass. The food, it turns out, is fabulous. I had some chorizo flatbread pizza with a splash of lime, a beautifully-arranged asparagus-spinach salad with grilled chicken, and the best sorbet I've ever had. It was lime basil sorbet & it was astonishingly delicious. Wow, the stuff dreams are made on! The service was pretty good, too, although I had ordered beef on my salad & got chicken. Oh, well.

After lunch, I hung out with the boys at home. They worked on homework at the table while I got started on dinner. By the time J got home, I had the key lime pie for today's farewell potluck chilling in the fridge & was pulling the spaghetti chicken casserole from the oven as she walked in the door. I love to cook. I turned off Meet The Parents, which I had been watching as I worked. I loaded up some ingredients, the already-made things, a bag of salad, and my cookbook. We summoned the boys back downstairs & headed over to the grands' house.

My grandmom showed off her gorgeous new roaster & got the boys ensconced in the living room with Far Side books & tortilla chips. Then, we grown folks talked in the kitchen. J told them about her surgery, which is scheduled for when I'm in school, & they will be there with her when she has it & will take her home. She has to be in at 6 in the morning, so maybe I will be able to be there. Class doesn't start until later in the morning, if I get the classes I am planning on. I prepared fried corncakes, delicate little pancakes of white cornmeal & regular flour, with J & my grandmom nibbing as I cooked. I think I'll try making them with yellow cornmeal next time. I usually prefer it. My grandmom added some of their 93 y.o. neighbor's home-grown tomatoes, with a side of mayo, and a bowl of red grapes to the table & we sat down to dinner. We always have such a good time with them. After dinner, my granddad got out two little keychains that record short messages. He had gotten one for himself & one for each boy. I am so glad my grands like my boys & my wife so much. Pie was over the moon with his, but Boot was too sleepy to be very interested. He had dozed off in my granddad's recliner. These early mornings are rough on that boy.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

What I'm Eating In September

1-Lemon-pepper pasta & chicken, salad, bread
2-Fondue, bread, veggies, fruit, white wine sangria
3-J's choice
4-Golden pork chops, corn on the cob, baked pears, biscuits with cinnamon butter
5-Moons Over My Hammy, hash browns, fruit salad
6-Zucchini frittata, asparagus, salad
7-Pulled pork, white beans, fried okra, cinnamon apples
8-Crispy chicken, 4-cheese pasta, peas, plum tart with lemon curd
9-Cabbage soup, good bread, fruit
10-J's choice
11-Steak with Merlot sauce, chèvre mashed potatoes, broccoli
12-Spicy Thai chicken, peanut noodles, sugar snaps in lemon butter, salad
13-Pizza Lorina, salad, fruit
14-Bacon cheeseburgers, cucumber & dill pasta salad, green salad
15-Grilled shrimp with prosciutto, pecan vegetable pilau, mandarin spinach salad, gypsy tart
16-Chancho a la Chileña, rice, avocado salad
17-J's choice
18-Uppity Book Women food (Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons)
19-Farmer's breakfast, Caribbean broiled grapefruit, biscuits with orange butter
20-Italian sausage soup, rolls, salad, citrus lemonade
21-Turkey bacon melts on soudough, chips with chive dip, salad
22-Lemon pecan chicken, mashed potatoes, acorn squash, fruit brûlée
23-Margarita pork kebabs, potato skins, veggie kebabs, cappuccino chunk cookes
24-J's choice
25-Chicken fritters, fried taters, cauliflower, chess pie
26-Mexi meatballs with creamy avoacado sauce, rice, salad, fruit
27-Tomato, basil, & broccoli chicken, veggies & dill dip, jicama watermelon sparkler
28-Roast chicken, scallion-sesame potato cakes, green beans
29-Lentil soup, crusty bread, salad
30-Anniversary dinner out

God's Name, Musings on Predestination, & a Visit to Grandma

Yesterday, the early rising was much harder. Either Boot didn't hear his alarm or it didn't go off, but I was awake to get J off to work, so I got him up. I was exhausted & headachy & just wanted to sleep. So, I let Pie sleep an extra hour & laid back down myself. Of course, when the alarm went off, I still didn't want to get up. But, I did & got him off to school. Then, I read Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger for awhile & got ready for Bible study.

It was a really interesting session. I am going to miss Wednesday morning Bible study so much when I start school. But, Brendan is starting a Tuesday evening adult ed class after Rally Day, so I won't be bereft of his interpretations. He was talking yesterday about how HWHY in Hebrew is a verb, the best translation of which is our infinitive "To Be"...which, of course, is inadequate. So, God's proper name, Yahweh, is, in fact, a verb. He also talked about how devout Jews substitute "adonai"-lord- to this day because of the tradition of subbing it so that the Lord's name isn't accidentally taken in vain. He described how "Jehovah" is a bizarre word created from two different languages & translated into a third. He said that since a verb cannot have a gender, the name of God cannot have a gender. And he talked about how addressing God as "God" rather than "Yahweh" creates distance. The funny thing was that our clerk of session (who tends toward a bit of holier-than-thou-ness) addressed him, unthinking, as "Pastor" rather than as "Brendan", just after we'd been talking about how "God" is a job description & not a name & that we tend to address God by job description.

We also talked about Predestination & about, if God saves us by God's grace, why there will be a judgement day. Brendan's first part to the answer was "We're not God. We don't know." I always think it's very brave & honest of him to come up with an answer like that. He also talked about how our conception of what judgement day will be is probably not the same as God's, since we have such a limited, human notion of things. He also talked about how none of us can know, without a doubt, that we are saved. I heard the clerk say, under her breath & with great assurance, "Well, I know I am". I thought, "How arrogant." But, that is so very human. We all want to have the answer. We all want to have control. We all want to feel that we are better than someone else. I am falling into it right now in my judgement of her. But, really, it is God that is doing the doing. We can't control God. Prayer, yes. Gratitude, yes. Living as God would have us live, yes. But control of God in not in our grasp. Of course, I happen to believe that I am right with God, for the most part, but I am not sure because I am not God.

Another thing that Brendan talked about that struck me is this: What if God chose damnation for Godself so that all of us might be saved? What if that is God's judgement? Or, maybe judgement day goes like this: Adolf Hitler shows up before God on judgement day. God makes Hitler really know, not just intellectually but emotionally, the pain and suffering he caused. In that knowledge, does Hitler not suffer damnation? But, since God is a merciful and loving god, could that not then be a learning experience for Hitler, that his soul might be refreshed and cleansed by God's infinite love & mercy? With God, all things are possible. We should never put our human limitations on God. We should never expect God to meet our human expectations.

After Bible study, I spent some time chatting with Beth Baker about her artwork (I didn't know that she did art, but she's been taking various art classes for years) & about books. I recommended The Artist's Way to her. She said she feels she is good at the technical part of art, but finds the creativity part difficult. I bet she'll really like the book. Then, I stood outside with the grands talking to Jack Linden about their visit with Mai & Mai's new-to-the-US family members. Thinking about Mai makes me hungry for her cooking...the best Vietnamese food I've ever eaten has been cooked either by Mai or by one of her family members. Then, my granddad mentioned Bush & his 6 week vacation. Jack said, "Oh, I don't want to talk about him. I was having a good day. Why'd you have to bring him up???" I had no idea that he wasn't a fervent Bush supporter.

We had lunch at The Golden Jersey Inn. They have a new round of painted cows in & we sat just below "Frieda Cowlo", a wonderful cow version of Frida! How fun! I had a delicious new Buffalo chicken sandwich. Plenty of hot sauce. Mmm-mmm. My grandmom is having laser sugery for glaucoma next week. Hope it helps! After lunch, it was almost time for Boot to come home. I spent some time planning out next month's menus, then took Boot to the Youthful Offenders group (which doesn't seem to have fazed him, although his behavior since he returned from his father's has been nothing but pleasant & helpful so far). I ran some errands & did more menu planning while he was there.

Once J got home, we went down to visit her mom, stopping by Taco Bell for dinner on the way. J & I had a long theological discussion about the things I learned in Bible study today & the ideas Brendan presented. She opined that Brendan seems to have a very intellectual approach & wonders where his spirituality is. I think he is more comfortable, as a pastor, expressing things intellectually. We don't know him deeply, therefore we can't know what his personal spiritual side may be. I do think that in his life, he does tend to take an intellectual approach to most things. Less vulnerability that way. Must be interesting to be married to Laura.

It was a really nice visit with J's mom. We watched "Animal Planet" & gabbed about all kinds of things. She was so happy to see the boys. They were delightful, if a tad silly. She is having her pacemaker replaced today (I pray it goes smoothly), so J wanted to make sure we visited so that she could have a great night the night before & hopefully go into surgery calm & happy. It is supposed to be outpatient, so we'll call her tonight & see how it went. All the way home, J kept thanking me for driving down and kept petting me & being so sweet & affectionate. She has been thanking me a lot lately. She's always affectionate, but it seems stepped up lately. It's nice to be so actively appreciated by someone. I am truly blessed to have her.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Back to School

I got up at 5:30 yesterday to get J off to work. Boot got up at 6 & I hung out with him while he ate breakfast & waited for the bus. He was so nervous. He is always intent on being places on time, doing things the right way. When the bus came, he asked the driver if it was bus #__, just to be sure he was getting on the right one. I was so proud of how well he did at getting up & ready. After he left, I made myself a pot of tea & looked at Maya Angelou's cookbook. There aren't many recipes I felt compelled to try, but there were some very good stories. So, it was well worth the time.

I got Pie up at 7:30 & got him ready to go. I am working on making them both more self-sufficient. Pie, our baby & thus spoiled by all three of us (Me, J, & Boot), did quite well at everything from getting his own breakfast to making sure he had everything he needed. He did have a colossal milk spill, but other than that, I was very impressed with that boy.

I did some e-mail catch-up & some writing. Got that call from the middle school asking about Boot's absence...what a heart-stopper. Went grocery shopping & worried that my boy might get on the wrong bus to go home. But, he arrived just fine & liked school just fine, although he says that most kids are stupid (he is coming from a school with mostly professional families who put a big emphasis on education to a school with kids from all different kinds of social strata) . He started on his homework straight away. He was in an amiable mood all afternoon. I hear that he was very helpful for J last night, too...shucked corn, helped set the table, etc.

When I was making dinner, I realized I hadn't heard a peep out of Boot for awhile. I stuck my head in to make sure he was fine & found him sound asleep on the bed. I think these early mornings will take awhile to get used to. The good news is that he'll be easier to get to bed at night. Pie told me that his first day back to school was great & fun. He told J it was boring. My guess is that he was playing to the audience of his brother on that one. He had to bring in 3 objects that showed something about his personality. He chose a video game (no surprise there), 3 puzzle pieces, and a set of measuring spoons. I hope he continues to love cooking.

I roasted the chicken (with a garlic & coffee rub) & baked the potatoes. The rest, I left for J to do while I went to Committee Night. Beth was arriving just as I did & I was glad to have someone to walk in with & sit with. So high school of me! But, I was glad & she felt the same. Our meeting was held with much hilarity, but we got a lot accomplished. Every time Mary writes about the "dysfunctional Presbyterians" on her blog, I crack up.

I walked out into an evening that felt distinctly autumnal...I love Fall! When I got home, J had the kids fed & put to bed. She fed me, too, with the food I had cooked plus a perfectly cooked ear of corn & a plate of pineapple & kiwi. We started to watch a really interesting Japanese film with a mythological theme, but had to go to bed. I re-read part of The Quark & The Jaguar to her...and she slept through most of it again...then, read some of Eric Idle's book before going to sleep myself.

I am hugely excited over fall events. The circus where I rode the elephant is coming back to town! I want to go watch them set up again if I can. It was so exciting to wait in the foggy dawn & finally see that long caravan of trucks arrive, with tiger roars & tents to raise. I hope I get to stay long enough to see the raising of the big top this time. I'd love to ride an elephant again, too. I also saw notification of a haunted hayride, pumpkin patch trips, and other fall delights! Wooooeeeee!!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Mary, of one of my favorite blogs (, tagged me for a meme asking me to name 5 idiosyncrasies. Like Mary, I could list scads. Here are the five I've chosen:

1. I walk about the house closing cabinet & closet doors, as well as drawers, after everyone. It drives me crazy when they are left standing wide open. Even simply ajar is too open for me. My wife, on the other hand, almost always just leaves the door standing wide open after pulling out a glass. She is better with drawers, however. I also like to have the entertainment center doors open flush with the cabinet, rather than only partially open, while we are watching t.v.

2. I love the time 11:11 & always make a wish if I happen to notice the clock on that time. I will also wish on 10:10, 12:12, 9:09, etc. But, 11:11 is the best.

3. There is a series of farms on a nearby road. One farm has a German Shepherd, a duck on the pond, and pigs. I always look for these animals. If I spot all of them, I feel like it's good luck. Two other farms have cows & horses. If I don't spot ANY animals out on a given day, I am extra cautious. Crazy, perhaps, but I did get inspired to write a children's book about the farm.

4. Every night before I go to sleep, I write down 10 things I am grateful for that day. I think it brings more good things to me when I appreciate the good things I have. Also, if I can't find at least 10 things to be grateful for each day, I am being an unappreciative sod. If I were God, I would be annoyed with me. I find that I am in better spirits when I do this practice. I have been doing it almost 10 years & find that I am much more happy & content than I was. Of course, that's not the only reason, but it really helps my attitude.

5. I frequently wear my tiara or a feather boa about. I mean, to places like the grocery store or library. I find it improves my mood & makes people smile.

Okay, who shall I tag? How about...
1. Andi
2. Laura
3. Wendy
4. Rae
5. Estelle

Last Day of Summer Vacation

I hated to do it to them, but I had to drag the boys out yesterday. I am sure they would have preferred watching t.v. & playing video games all day, but Boot had an orthodontist appointment. Pie took along his Gameboy & I my book. We ran into Jessi, from church, & the kids, just back from Michigan, there. Boot was done before long at all. The good news is that he doesn't have to wear his rubber bands anymore. There is no bad news.

Once home, we had lunch, then I worked on filling out emergency cards, etc. J called to say she was actually going to her appointment with the surgeon. Turns out they don't want her to wait until the end of September to get that gallbladder out, so if there's a cancellation it will be this week, otherwise, late next week. We may not be going to the church camp reunion, after all. I just hope she has the surgery when I can go to the hospital with her & can help her while she recovers. Thursday of this week would be perfect. Her mom is also having surgery Thursday, a pacemaker replacement. I am worried that J's surgery will be during my first week of school. I know my grands will be with her at the hospital, but who will care for her while she's recovering? I am sure they would, but she won't want them to. I am also worried that they will end up not being able to do the surgery laparoscopically.

When she got home, we went out for Mexican, then to Pie's school open house. He has Boot's teacher from last year, as well as Kitty from church for Science, Boot's (strict) Math teacher from last year, & his own (very strict) first grade teacher for Social Studies. We spoke to all the teachers (including the band teacher...Pie wants to play sax), then got ice pops & headed home. Since we'd already gotten dinner out of the way, J baked chocolate chip cookies & we had milk & cookies while watching cartoons. It was a nice way to end the summer. Of course, I stayed up far too late. I read a neat little book called Snow Melting in a Silver Bowl by Nancy Brady Cunningham to J as she went to sleep. Then, I spent awhile reading more homosexuality in the Bible information. I want to finish this book & the Seeow book Brendan recommended before classes start. Right now, I am going to try & breathe right. I just got a call from the middle school about Boot's absence. I watched him get on the bus this morning, so I was a little freaked out. Turns out, he somehow didn't get noticed during homeroom & he is definitely there, so she was able to relay that info to me after a very long wait listening to silence. My god, what a horrible thing to hear on the other end of the phone when I watched him get on the bus!!! My heart just about stopped & my mind started going a mile a minute. Was he kidnapped? Did he run away? Did he end up at the wrong school? Whew! Well, at least I know they'll call promptly if he doesn't show up.

Birthday Party, UCC, & Thai Food

Friday, I spent much of the day writing. I had my review to finish, the dining guide to proof, and such. The boys spent the day ecstatically enjoying the last bit of summer vacation to its fullest...Pie didn't even get dressed, in fact! That child would be nude all the time, I am certain, if he were allowed. In the evening, they begged not to leave the house. So, we ordered pizza & watched cartoons with them for a nice family night in.

We took the boys to the mall looking for back-to-school clothes. After dropping an appalling $120 on two jerseys for Boot (thank God he doesn't desire Abercrombie jeans, as well) & getting him a locker magnet, it was time for Garnet's 1st birthday party. We got to Evvi's mom's just in time to avoid a blustery thunderstorm. Garnet, darling in a bitty yellow party dress, was playing with her stacking cups while 2 young party guests admired her. All the children there were delightful & lovely. Of course, I am biased toward Miss G, but the whole collection of children was great. Our boys hung out watching car races in the den with the menfolk. The party was a nice low-key one, with socializing, a wonderful video of Garnet's first year, and terrific tea party foods: little sandwiches (curried chicken salad...Evvi's doctoring of bought chicken salad rendering it superb, plain chicken salad, pimiento cheese, cucumber), scones with clotted cream and jam, and some fried chicken, as well. J kept going back for more cucumber sandwiches. I find it interesting how much she has come to love those, she who claims she doesn't like cukes. Garnet opened gifts, much more interested in the tissue paper than in anything else, as one-year-olds are wont to be. I hope she likes the unicorn we gave her. I love stuff like that & since she isn't old enough for a good tiara or boa yet, I figured a unicorn was a good gift. Keith's comment, when I said our gift was the bag with the fairy on it, was "Could have guessed that one!" LOL!

We wanted to stay longer, but Laura was preaching at the UCC & we didn't want to miss that. Nor did we want to miss Brendan's Sunday sermon at our church. So, Saturday evening service it was. I was really glad we went, as was J. The kids, not so much. It was a small service, with beautiful music. Laura's sermon was a good one, too, on vulnerability. I like her preaching style. I also got to meet the "other Laura", who will be my OT prof this fall.

After church, we had dinner at Meadowlark, much to the children's displeasure. They ordered burgers, eschewing the other food as "too fancy". However, the burgers are prepared with a burgundy infusion & they were too odd for the kids. Honestly, I tried a bite & wasn't too keen on it, either...too sweet for me. We ran into Laura & Brendan, having dinner with Kat & David. I love having a pastor who dines with a parishioner & her Buddhist husband, and with the lesbians. The boys ended up having spaghetti with butter & parmesan (Pie) & a hot dog, much disdained for being all-beef (Boot). Neither was at all interested in dessert. J had their fabulous steak, rubbed with salt, pepper, & rosemary, then grilled & served with herb butter & fried shallots (the way James Beard liked it), along with mashed potatoes & veggies. I wanted to try something new & nearly ordered the spaghetti carbonara, but had to have the garlic chicken again, after all. Baby limas are cooked with spinach, capers, & stock, then ladled over jasmine rice. The chicken is laid atop that, then treated to a dollop of soft goat cheese. It's fabulous! For dessert, I tried the caramel black-bottom pudding & spent all of dessert wishing I'd gotten J's dessert instead. The pudding was fine, but had no chance of topping the exquisite banana fritters with handmade ice cream. Their banana fritters are tops!

After dinner, we took the boys to Target & made Pie get one outfit. He was thoroughly resistant, but ended up approving the red collared shirt & soft navy slacks I chose for him. We allowed them to each choose one inexpensive toy or to go in together on a more pricey one. They chose to get these magnetic building toys that look kind of like jacks. Very neat! Pie was so excited over those. Boot got some more clothes, as well, jeans & shirts. Once home, we put the bitties to bed & finished watching the Eddie Izzard DVD that Brendan & Laura had loaned us. He is so smart & so funny.

In the morning, we went to Sunday School (we just finished a book by Richard Peck called A Long Way From Chicago) & church. I was glad we hadn't missed Brendan's sermon & the last hymn was great, lyric-wise...a peace song. The children's sermon was funny, too, because it was about Joseph's brothers selling him into slavery & about his forgiveness of them later. Our boys were up there, along with Jason & Mark, so the brother theme was not at all lost on the kids. When they got back to our pew, Pie said, "And what about the older brother getting sold into slavery???" We visited at coffee hour for awhile (while the boys played with their friends, who they ended up spending the afternoon with), then headed out to have lunch with Brendan & Laura.

Earlier in the summer, they had tried a new Thai place & loved it. So, we met them there for lunch. The people there were very friendly & the food was magnificent. Brendan & Laura highly recommended the coconut soup, so J got a bowl of that while I tried the spring roll...and spent the rest of the appetizer-eating wishing I had joined the 3 of them in the exquisite soup. I will definitely have it next time! They ordered a dish that has been taken off the menu, basil chicken. I tried Brendan's & it was great. I had fabulous pad Thai while J had a wonderful rendition of Massaman curry. Wow! B&L eat there just about every Sunday & I can see why. We had wonderful conversation, too, about food & books & the upcoming seminary year & theology & homosexuality in the church. It was great soul nourishment.

After lunch, we went poking around Y.S., spending an inordinate amount of time in Epic. I had an iced Milky Way from Dino's & then we split a hummus sandwich from Current, sitting out front to eat our snack & watch the world go by. We ran into Alix & Nick & their kids, who joined us for a bit. Alix wondered if we'd seen Victoria recently. It turns out she has left town, having given up custody of Oak to Kevin. I can't believe she would just leave him behind. I know she never seems to finish any project she starts, but to just give up her son? I am so sad that she can't seem to get it together. She's smart & funny & creative, but has some inner demon that makes her procrastinate on everything & refuse to follow through on anything. She has had good men (Kevin being one of them)...and good women, for that matter...head over heels with her & has turned away. She has been given opportunity after opportunity, only to screw them up. Anne gave her the money to pay off her tickets & get insurance & a license. She never got the license or insurance. J was going to get her a good job at the plant & she never bothered to show up. Alix says she even had a deal set up to go to broadcasting school, a free ride, and just never followed through. I just don't get it & I find it so frustrating & sad. As J said, all those golden opportunities will dry up & then, where will she be? She could have done anything her heart desired...she is smart enough & talented enough. Is it fear of failure or simply inertia? Or fear of success???

After our snack, we went to the family night at church, a showing of Jonah. I never would have thought I'd like Veggie Tales, but I do. It was fun. Afterward, we picked the bitties up from their friends'. Beth & Matt had a fire blazing in their firepit. Beth's sister was visiting & her sons were off at McDonald's with Jennifer. Boot & Mark were playing video games inside while Pie & MacKenzie caught butterflies & moths. Jason was busy building his own "stove" outside. We sat by the fire & talked, had a great time. It was a perfect evening for sitting on the lawn talking with friends. But, it was growing later & we had to head home. The boys had eaten dinner with Beth's family. J & I had sherried mushroom soup, roast beef sandwiches, & salad for our dinner.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Chicken & Theology

Yesterday, I spent time looking up the syllabi & book lists for my Fall semester classes. I printed out a couple of pieces from the Nag Hammadi library & a copy of the Didache, the reading for the first day of my church history class. I read those to J at bedtime. I found one piece, The Thunder, Perfect Mind, to be particularly interesting & beautiful, with several references to the feminine divine. I also poked around the UCC & Covenant Network websites. There's a CN church about 1/2 hour from here, as well as 2 affirming UCC churches. I want to check the More Light & TAMFS websites today.

I also went shopping for a half-birthday gift for J & a 1st birthday gift for Garnet, whose party is tomorrow. I found a delightful little fairy, but decided that it might not be safe for her yet. When she is older & less likely to choke on small things, she shall have it. But, I did find a sweet gift for her. I also found a fossil with what looks like a tiny crescent moon for J's gift, along with a gorgeous fairy card. I left those on her pillow for her to discover upon arriving home. She loved them & was especially enchanted with the beautiful envelope. She loves fancy envelopes.

I got in a trip to the library, one of my favorite of holy places, as well. A couple of inter-library loans had come in, a book Brendan recommended I read before starting seminary about homosexuality in Christian community (written by one of his Princeton profs) and Bernadette Brooten's Love Between Women. I also picked up some kids' books on diverse families, a bunch of books for parenting teens, and a couple of cookbooks (Maya Angelou's & a new Cuban one). I just love it there.

J got stuck at work until quite late, so the boys & I went out to visit my grands without her. We picked up chicken on the way. That turned out to be a bit of an ordeal & I wished I'd just roasted a dang chicken. But, Pie's dinner request was for fried chicken & I wanted to honor that. At KFC, they couldn't figure out what I wanted so I had to go inside, where they informed me that they don't have any roast pieces, just sandwiches. So, we went to Lee's & they do sell roast pieces, but only had 2 thighs left. Luckily, that was just right for my grands. The boys wanted fried anyway & I would have preferred roast, but wasn't harmed by fried. We had a nice visit. My grandmom told me about the memorial service for their neighbor's son, who killed himself on Monday. Their neighbor is a very kind old man. His son was living with him. He said it's going to be awful lonesone without him around. The neighbor's wife died this year, too. Poor guy. I have been thinking about working with grieving people in ministry. That is probably going to be the toughest part of the job for me. Glad they'll deal with that topic in seminary! I also found out today that a college friend of my mom's, a wonderful woman whom I have gotten to be friends with as well, has died. She was so cool, very intelligent and a lot of fun to be around. The last time I saw her was when J & I, along with the boys, visited St. Pete. She lived there & we got a sitter one night to go out for Cuban food with her. We went to Habana Café in Gulfport & laughed ourselves silly. From making my first baby blanket before I was born to good friend in my 30s. Damn, Pam, you'll be missed!!!

Anyway, back to last granddad gave Pie a printer to take apart, much to Pie's delight. He loves to take things apart. We took some Dole Caesar salad & some fresh pineapple to go with the chicken & my grandmom made baked potatoes & sweet corn. My granddad had stopped on the way home from table tennis at a roadside stand to pick it up. Yum! I love this time of year. After dinner, the boys watched cartoons & ate cookies while I helped my granddad round up the trash to take up to the road.

Then, we headed home to feed J, stopping only to drop the trash off at the top of the hill. She was ensconced on the couch in her pink pajamas, watching Without a Trace when we got home. The boys were allowed a few more minutes of t.v. time before bed. I fixed J a plate & sat with her while she ate. Then, we went up to bed to finish watching the show there.

My editor is on vacation next week, so I have agreed to send him my review early. I'd better hop to it.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Another Dinner Out

Wow, am I ready to be home & cooking for most meals. I am getting tired of eating out all the time! I spent the afternoon yesterday writing & napping & cleaning. Then, when J got home, we went to dinner at RJ's Metropolitan. It was a good meal, don't get me wrong. I had a good turkey sandwich, Pie had another of their superb burgers, Boot tried the cheese steak, and J had a veggie crepe. But, my dishwasher is only being used for glasses & lunchtime salad plates! My stove is yielding up only boiling water for tea! My cookbooks are getting dusty!

After dinner, we came home & went to bed. Watched CSI in bed & petted my sweetie to sleep, then read more Bible history. Not terribly exciting.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Rites of Passage

Yesterday morning, J came home from work in plenty of time to go to Boot's Diversion appointment. It went well. He admitted that he had done wrong & was proclaimed eligible for the program. He is to attend anger management classes & a youthful offenders group. He is to write letters of apology to me & to his mom, to turn in to the court. He will work off the court fee in community service. And the whole family will attend a 7-week "Strengthening Families" program, to work on strategies to help him handle his anger, I guess. In addition, he will be going to regular counseling sessions.

We saw his therapist for the first time since November today (she had released him because he was doing so well) & a bunch of homophobic issues came up when he was talking to her. He just wants "to live in a normal family", he says. Us being gay "is just wrong", he says. This is all new stuff, nothing he's ever expressed to us or to Miss Rose until the last 5 weeks with his father. I don't know if it's an age thing or crap he's been fed over the summer, but I certainly have my opinion on that. I don't know why Pie is so resilient. He's never had the anger or the distance that Boot has. Miss Rose is working on setting up a support group at the counseling center for kids from LGBT families. We also showed her the nastygrams J's gotten from the father over the last year.

On the way home, I gave them some lessons on what we'd have to do if we were to follow all 613 Biblical commandments literally. No bacon or ham for Boot, who adores them. No crab for Pie, who swoons over it. No mixed fabric clothing (nix on any non-pure jerseys for Boot). No mixing seeds (sorry, Pie, but there are already azaleas in the flower bed so we can't plant your zinnias). No video games or football on the Sabbath, just prayer & worship. Etc. I also told them that the Biblical penalty for cursing your parents (Is that in Deuteronomy or Leviticus?) is death. And that I disagree with that penalty. I told them about how Jesus came not to destroy the law, but to uphold it, but that he placed 2 commandments above all others. Love God with every bit of you & love your neighbor as if he were your very own. That means treating everyone the way you would like to be treated. Everyone. Tall order, but there it is. I forgot to talk to them about how theologians believe that God created such a strict code of law to prove to us humans that we need His grace in order to be saved. The only human who could ever uphold all of the Law is Jesus. And, in James, it says that if you break even one part of the Law, you have broken it all. So, if you eat bacon, you are also guilty of adultery. If you don't follow ritual purification procedures after menstruation, childbirth, or seminal emission, you are also guilty of murder. Etc. I did explain the difference between a purity code to differentiate the Hebrew people from others, such as the Canaanites, (which is what Levitical law amounts to) and morality. Don't know if they were paying attention or not, but I hope some of it sinks in.

Anyway, after court, J went back to work & I took the boys out to lunch at RJ's Metropolitan. Pie got a huge cheeseburger, Boot had a chicken quesadilla, & I had eggs Benedict. Then, I let them play the claw machine & get puzzle balls out of the machines (glad I had some change on me!). I spent the afternoon writing & cleaning house. In the evening, we went to Boot's middle school orientation. We met his teachers, checked out his classrooms, and helped him learn to work his locker combination. He ran into friends he hadn't seen all summer & we got to chat with their parents. I think his teachers are going to be people we like to work with. We stopped at Bob Evans for dinner, since cooking would take us past bedtime (for all of us!). We came home & went to bed after dinner, knowing that we had an early morning today. Boot set his alarm for 6 & got himself up, dressed, & fed. I think he's going to do great this school year, although he may need some afternoon naps.

With all this craziness, I am ever so thankful for my Diva sisters! Liz has been reminding me that her three sons, who are wonderful men now, put her through an awful lot...arrests for all three of them in their teen years (as well as homophobia) & they got through it & grew into such great, responsible guys who adore their mama & look out for their baby sister. Whew!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Boys Return

I spent much of yesterday dreading 6 o'clock when the boys would be home. I was worried about Boot's mood & not wanting a nastygram from their father. I did go take lunch to J, hummus sandwiches, and sat & talked with her a bit in her office. I also took a piece of cake to the accountant, who was having a rough day. The afternoon was spent running errands & getting my hair cut. Oh, I started listening to The Bee Season by Myla Goldberg in the's great so far! The boys arrived at 6, with J coming home shortly after. She took Boot out to get some jeans for school & khakis for his Diversion hearing. I cooked. Every time I passed Pie's bedroom, he said, "Hello!" & told me he loved me. Reassuring.

We ate roasted chicken (it turned out perfectly...I had rubbed it with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and herbes de provence), mashed potatoes, corn, and salad. The tomatoes J cut up for the salad were incredibly gorgeous, a lush, juicy red. The contrast with the green of the romaine was stunning. I mixed up some balsamic vinaigrette for it. Pie ate & Boot sat with us. After dinner, Boot brought us the dread letter & went upstairs. It was nasty, indeed, and quite threatening. But, that is his thing & not ours. We are doing nothing wrong in the way we're rearing the children, so I don't fear him. I find him annoying when we are forced to take notice of him, but largely inconsequential in my daily life. I pray that someday he can release his bitterness and allow Spirit to bring him happiness. Hey, anything is possible.

After we tidied up, we went to bed & had our candles & incense time. Then, I read Naomi Wolf to J & petted her to sleep.

Good Food & Gallbladders

Friday afternoon, I took my aunt Jeanie, cousin Leah, and her friend, Carey to The Winds for lunch. The grown folks had Tuscan bread salad while the teens ordered organic sandwiches, grilled. Carey had never been there & rated it "Awesome!". We splurged on dessert. I had cherry pie, Jeanie had their incomparable chocolate mousse (made with Scharffen Berger & Kahlua), Leah had Jeni's strawberry buttermilk ice cream, and Carey had cheesecake. I had never tried their cheesecake & I have been missing out big-time! Wow, it's the best I've ever had & I was jealous of his dessert all afternoon.

After lunch, we went poking about town. The teens looked at Manga books, Jeanie got herself some lovely earrings, & I petted kitties. Then, they dropped me off so I could bake a chocolate nemesis cake for Jeanie, Leah, & my baby uncle's summer birthdays. Jeanie told me that her birthday cake this year was so bad that she took a couple bites when she first woke up (her birthday tradition is that she's allowed cake for breakfast) & threw the rest away. So, I wanted to make up for that.

In the evening, we met back up at BW3 for trivia & wings. We had a grand time. Jeanie & I each won a round of trivia, with J helping us. After we finished, they came back to the house for cake. I whipped some cream & fanned out some strawberries on top of the servings. Jeanie declared it the best chocolate cake she's ever had. I hate to be immodest, but it's the best I've ever had, too. My baby uncle ended up having to work, so he didn't make it down.

Saturday, J & I went in to the plant for awhile so she could get some work done. Then, we got a bite to eat at Red Robin (J ordered chili cheese fries & a burger with avocado, 2 kinds of cheese, and jalapenos on it...this becomes important later) & did some shopping. J started to feel unwell, so we started for home. On our windshield was a note that our tire needed air. Sure enough! J was so impressed that I actually know how to air up the tires. She hasn't a clue how. I felt so butch. LOL! Then, we went right home. By the time we got in, she was miserable, pacing & groaning. It was obviously another gallbladder attack. I convinced her not to wait on getting to the hospital. So, we were in the ER until almost 4 in the morning, but they got her feeling better & I think this time, she'll actually follow through on surgery. Until she can have it, she is really being careful with what she eats. Poor thing! She was so miserable.

We slept right through church on Sunday, unfortunately. I had really wanted to go, but we were exhausted. J was feeling well enough by noon to get her massage, though. It was her first one. I had given it to her for her 40th birthday & she spent 2 & a half years avoiding it. She loved it! In fact, I just called the massage therapist to schedule another. She admitted that she had been a bit nervous to be doing a massage on J because "you two are starting to get so famous in the women's circles & I really wanted to do a good job for her"! Isn't that odd? I had no idea we are getting famous in any circles. She had also heard about the Uppity Book Women from a couple of friends, so I invited her to that. I hope she can come sometime.

Anyway, we poked around the mall a bit more Sunday, made some returns & had dinner at California Pizza Kitchen. Their pea soup is yummy! We went to bed early, as J had to get up at 5.

Recipes for My Favorite California Restauranteur

You asked for it, you got it:

Hamburger Gravy
2 lbs. hamburger
1/2 c. flour
3-4 c. milk, depending on desired consistency
1 small onion, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. dry mustard (optional)
Garlic powder to taste

Brown burger in skillet. Add onion & cook until translucent. Mix flour into meat & cook 1-2 minutes. Add 2 cups of milk & all seasonings. Simmer, adding more milk as needed. Cook to desired consistency. Adjust seasonings, if needed. My wife likes this best over mashed potatoes, with corn to mix in. It's also good on egg noodles or rice.

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni Salad
1/2 c. reduced-fat ranch dressing
1/4 c. lowfat mayo
1 tsp. hot sauce (more, if you're like me)
1/4 tsp. paprika
8 oz. diced, cooked chicken
1/2 c. chopped celery
2 c. cold, cooked macaroni
1 c. diced tomatoes

Mix the first 4. Add the rest. Chill 30 minutes before serving.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Last Two Weeks Kidless

Summer's ending, school is coming. I am very excited about the prospect of starting classes & seminary life. Things may be a little hectic, but I am sure it will also feel nourishing. I have spent much of the time between posts doing housework, writing, & things like that. We finally, $365 later, have a new garage door opener! We are both thrilled. For the first time since Boot played with & destroyed J's remote, we both have them. The garage door is also amazingly quiet & not creaky like the old one. Maybe we'll finally be able to get that picture of Caligula on the living room wall to stay straight, without all the shaking of an aging garage door!

I guess since I am so behind, I'll go by highlights. On the 2nd, J came home from work & said, "We're going to dinner at The Winds." Who am I to object to a directive like that? It was delicious. We had cheese service & corn chowder & beef tenderloin (with a side of cheesy polenta) & raspberry lemon napoleon. Oh, J had a fabulous chicken pasta for her entree. I also tried a Kir Royale for the first time. It was fine, but I would add more cassis if I made it. I've been drinking Pucker & Sprites here at home & those are fun. I'm a cheap drinker...about one mini bottle of Pucker, at $1.29, each week. The blue island stuff is my favorite so far.

The 3rd, I had lunch out at the grands & got to talk to my cousin, Aaron. He's really smart & fun to talk to, just like his half-brother. He didn't talk for years & years, but now that he is grown, he has started. I am having such fun getting to know him. He is planning to become an animator. For dinner, I made a not-so-good curry (I was in the mood for chicken tikka masala instead, but J loved the curry & so did Andrew, J's foodie supervisor). I watched the rest of Spanglish (which I did not like the ending of) while J worked on training material for her leads.

I spent much of last Thursday following Brendan's advice to get myself solidly grounded in exegesis for the tricky passages on (or allegedly on) homosexuality. I read a book called Openly Gay, Openly Christian that had a lot of information in it. I also started on What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality. I wish that I had known about that class in time to take it. Maybe my OT prof will teach it again. I wonder if she covers that at all in the intro to OT. Thursday night, I made a couple of chicken pot pies to take to dinner at my grands' house. My grandmom still isn't feeling well, so I wanted to make something fairly plain, and soothing. It seemed to fit the bill. We also took a honeydew & some salad to go with it.

Friday night, J was so exhausted from all the overtime she's been working that she fell sound asleep on the couch within minutes of coming in the door. So, I ran out for Indian food. The woman who waited on me said, "Thank you for writing that great review. We were all really happy about that." It made my day. I am so happy that I was able to do them a good turn. I think they have a great place. J was able to wake up just long enough to enjoy her chicken tikka masala & bhatura. Then, we went to bed & she slept until 9 the next morning.

I hadn't told her what I had planned for Saturday, but I had scheduled us for facials at a local day spa. I'd given her the gift certificate for Christmas & she still hadn't redeemed it, so I took matters into my own hands. I read Jennifer Louden's The Woman's Retreat Book and sipped Aveda Calming Tea (fabulous...licorice & mint, with a touch of sweetness) while she had her facial. I knew she would love it & I was right! She came into the lobby looking completely blissed out & asked how often we could do that. I loved mine, too. My favorite part is when they put the hot, damp towel on my face to wipe off the products. It feels so nurturing.

After our facials, we had lunch at the bar in The Winds. We had olives & almonds, of course. Then, we shared the Thai beef salad & the insalata caprese. We ordered roasted plums with pistachio & honey sauce for dessert & they were very bitter. But, the rest was great. We spent the rest of the day poking around town & around the mall. J found a brown tweedy suit for work & I got an aqua paisley shirt with solid aqua tank. We got some crystals for Pie's Christmas stocking, too. Dinner was a working dinner at Lincoln Park Grille. We shared a couple appetizers...chopped chicken liver with rye bread & artichoke fritters. Then, she had French onion soup while I tucked into a fabulous blue cheese salad. My entree was lamb chops, with ratatouille and an underdone baked potato. Her ribeye with garlic butter was infinitely better, although the lamb chops were actually really good. The fountains splashed across the street & it was a really nice evening. I always like dinner outside, though.

Sunday, we went to church, then spent a little time in bed before we got going again. We picked up food for book group, then headed off to the company picnic for awhile. I got to see all kinds of darling babies, including David & Kerry's Jake! I got to meet Kerry's sister, too. I need to send Kerry a list of possible dates to do the Cheesecake Factory, the Winds, or dinner at one of our places.

After the picnic, we got home & prepped for the Uppity Book Women. I dug out our spare copies of Lysistrata & made the food. We served fresh figs drizzled with honey, dates, grapes, marinated feta, olives, hummus, tabouleh, pita chips, and mini pita rounds. Hyacinth, coming for the first time, brought a Greek Jewish dish made from spelt & was good & I wish I had gotten the recipe. Beth also came, despite her family being in the midst of vacation preparations. She is so brave, driving down to Orlando with a teenager, 10 & 12 y.o. boys, & a 7 y.o. They are all really nice kids, but I imagine it gets long! We had a wonderful discussion of books we read over the summer, decided the next 3 books, and read all the way through Lysistrata. Aristophanes had such a delightful way with words. I am amazed that a man could have written such a great feminist play. I am also amazed by the bluntness of it...of course, our translations varied differently, but they were all pretty forthright. I hadn't read it since high school & didn't remember how vulgar a lot of it is. Funny, but vulgar. The wordplay was just downright fun!

J was off Monday & Tuesday. We sent a package to the kids on Monday, with a football jersey for Boot & a Star Wars chess set for Pie. After lunch at the local dive diner (incredible patty melts), we snugged in for an afternoon of movies. We watched Alone in the Dark (not so great), Heathers (which J liked more than she expected to), Underworld (imaginative & fun), and part of Riddick (boring to me, but J liked it). Yes, it was Dark Movie Day. LOL! I had also rented Meet The Parents but somehow doubt she'll sit through that one.

Tuesday, we went down to Jungle Jim's with my auntie Jeanie, cousin Leah, & Leah's best friend, Carey. He is a nice kid & we all had a bunch of fun. After our 3-hour spell in Jungle Jim's, we had lunch at Bahama Breeze. I had a Cuban sandwich with black beans & yellow rice. Mmm. It's so exciting to have a restaurant close by that serves Cubans, even if they aren't as good as the ones in Miami. We had planned to go to the mall, but Jeanie got word that Karen Kline is in town & wanted to visit with her. J suggested that we take the kids to the mall while Jeanie visited. So, we did. What fun! Carey is gay & hasn't come out to his parents yet, so I think it was nice for him to have adult gay folks to be around. He seems quite centered & wants to find a life partner while he's still in high school. Isn't that sweet? I do have friends who are high school sweethearts, so it's not a stretch for him to think it can happen. I hope it does. I sure wish J had been my high school sweetheart. Of course, she would have been in college, but hey, I dated older guys anyway.

Apparently, Leah just adores being around me & J, which makes me happy. She's my only girl cousin &, while I love my boy cousins, it's so much fun to have a girl one. I had to wait 19 years for her, too! Jeanie told me that Leah wants to come stay with me & J next summer. She'd probably be bored to tears, but I'm fine with her coming.

Wednesday after Bible study, I went to lunch at my grands'. Twang & Nyoko came down for the afternoon, bringing Cosmo the Yorkie with them. He is adorable. Of course, Faith Hill didn't think so & barked & barked at him. Rowdy & Frisky were fine with him. Nyoko brought all the puppies dog treats she made. We had a wonderful visit and a great lunch. Jeanie made sandwiches with fresh mozzarella, basil, & tomatoes. Yum! I didn't stay very late because I wanted to get some errands (school supplies! Yippee!) & stuff around the house done. J was again wiped out after work, so we had Russian sandwiches (add avo & red onion) & she finished watching Riddick while I went through some old magazines. I would love to spend an entire day going through & getting rid of the baskets of magazines.

Yesterday, I started reading Don't Know Much About The Bible for a refresher course. I also got a start on cleaning up the basement. It's become a catch-all place & J & I want to make it into a library & crafts area. So, I went through the boys' corner first, bagging up the stuff for their rooms. They have big bedrooms, they can keep their toys in them. Actually, I think most of it is stuff they don't even play with anymore. Fodder for Freecycle. Last night, we made spaghetti & bruschetta with fresh mozzarella, basil, & tomato, drizzled with good olive oil. Oh, and some wonderful asparagus with key lime butter. J wanted a "mindless movie with lots of violence" so we watched Blade: Trinity. You know, I actually ended up liking it. The non-Wesley Snipes male lead was so funny & personable. Jessica Biel played one kick-ass vampire hunter, too. But, I want to watch more romantic comedies! I still haven't seen Love, Actually.

I am waiting for the call from Jeanie to go to lunch. I am taking her & the kids to The Winds, then we're poking around town some. My baby uncle, Jazzbo, is coming down to spend the night tonight. I just adore him...I hope he knows how much. We want to take him to BW3 for trivia & wings tonight. I am also making a chocolate nemesis cake for the summer babies (Leah, me, Jeanie, & Jazzbo). I wish Heather was going to come down, but Star & Leo need her.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

What I'm Eating in August

2: Steak w/spicy chili sauce, baked potatoes, steamed green beans
3: Shrimp in beer, chips, salad, fruit
4: Chicken curry, rice, salad, fruit lemonade
5: Buffalo chicken macaroni salad, salad, fruit, gingersnap lemon icebox cake
6: J's Choice
7: Book group-Lysistrata food
8: Cheese-stuffed French toast, home fries, fruit
9: Salmon & cress sandwiches, spinach & strawberry salad with maple dressing, sundried tomato dip, pita chips
10: Sweet & sour chicken, rice, veggies, chocolate-banana wontons with ice cream
11: Skirt steak diablo on rosemary foccaccia, salad with walnut oil-white wine vinaigrette, corn on the cob
12: Waffles with lemon curd, bacon, hash browns
13: J's Choice
14: Romantic dinner for last night off summer w/o kids
15: Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, peas
16: Cheese-stuffed burgers, rosemary russets, liqueured nectarines
17: Pie's Choice
18: Chicken saltimbocca, cavatappi amatriciana, salad, limeade
19: Beef w/citrus-sour cream sauce, green beans, salad w/creamy vinaigrette, cheese-herb biscuits
20: J's Choice
21: German meatloaf, fried potatoes, limas
22: Back-to-School pizza night
23: Garlicky grilled chicken, baked potatoes, corn on the cob
24: Boot's Choice
25: Pork & asparagus stir-fry, rice, salad
26: Orientation picnic at seminary
27: J's Choice
28: Pizza lasagna, garlic bread, salad
29: Chorizo & white cheddar breakfast burritos w/black bean salsa, salad, fruit salad
30: Anniversary dinner out
31: Pie's Choice

Around the House Day

My Monday was relatively boring & probably not worth writing about. I saw J off to work at 5:30, then slept for a couple more hours. I awoke still feeling exhausted from the previous week. I went to the plant & picked up food for the funeral meal at church. I delivered it & chatted with Betty for a bit. Then, I went home & had a nap.

I felt no more refreshed when I awoke, but was on deadline, so got up. I wrote my review & spent the rest of the day paying bills, dealing with the crazy situation with Boot & his father, and cleaning house. When J arrived home, she brought me a lovely rose. She had some work to do, so I kept cleaning. When she finished her work, we headed for dinner at the fair. The boys' father had told J that he "has someone else looking into this matter", so we cracked ourselves up coming up with absurd scenarios we could create to mess with the P.I. Funny, I never imagined myself so important that I would have my very own P.I. trailing me, yet it's happened at least once in the past 4 years. Their poor, silly father, wasting his money trailing us. Work, Bible study, dinners out, errands, visits with family & friends. Very incriminating & scandalous, our lives.

At the fair, we saw a "professional rodeo cowboy", as his shirt proclaimed, limping across the parking lot. We burst into gales of laughter at the idea of concocting a secret affair I'm having with a cowboy. Unfortunately, the fair was $6 to get in, even at 8:30 p.m. So, we had dinner at Tim Horton's instead...and got scads of doughnuts for her to take to work. Oh, and a few for us. We snugged down in bed with milk & doughnuts once we got home.

Rough Weekend

On Wednesday afternoon, we had to have Jasper put to sleep. J was unable to get away from work until quite late, with the result being that we returned from the vet just as the boys were being dropped off. When J told them, they seemed unaffected, probably the result of having been at their dad's for the past 3 weeks & learning to turn off their emotions. J & I miss him, though.

We got some videos & let them rent a game apiece, then ordered pizza. They wanted to play their games, so J & I watched Constantine while they did that. It was a fun movie, intense & action-filled, with enough of an interesting theme to keep me hooked.

Thursday, J had to work. The boys had a pediatrician visit first thing in the morning. They are fine, aside from Boot's having gained 15 pounds over the course of his visitation. Dr. M was not pleased with that, but it happens every summer then he slims down once he's back with us.

After the doctor visit, I took the boys up to COSI for the day. We had a delightful time, playing with water, touring Progress (Pie did 5 hula hoops at once!), enjoying the echo-free room, pondering shrunken heads, doing a directed-building exercise (Boot organized all the blocks by shape & color), and watching rat basketball. They made their gift shop selections (Pie got $10 worth of polished rocks while Boot chose a magic wiggle worm and some goo that makes fart sounds...I got a couple of geodes for J, too) We had lunch at Charlie's Import Foods. I had a great reuben & an even better cabbage roll while Boot chose a ham & turkey club & Pie opted for a simple turkey sandwich.

After some downtime at home, we met my grands & my cousin Aaron for dinner at Los Mariachis & had a great time there. I tried the pork wth salsa verde for the first time & it is absolutely my favorite dish there now. Wow! Great stuff! After dinner, we watched The Bad News Bears, Boot's choice for family movie.

Friday, J took the day off work & we took the kids to Ohio Caverns. The cave tour was neat. Then, we let each boy buy a bag of dirt from the gift shop, to pan & see what kinds of treasures they could find. There's a "stream" set up outside the gift shop & we spent a long time there. Pie chose the gem bag (and, as he repeatedly pointed out, got lots of emeralds), Boot chose the arrowhead bag, and J did a fossil bag. They got lots of neat stuff & it was fun to hear them each exclaiming over their finds.

On the way home, we stopped to poke around an Amish farm market & get drinks. Then, J decided we should stop by the local bike shop to price Schwinns & see what styles the boys like. She told them that they are not getting Schwinns to replace their stolen bikes (their father had sent a nastygram along with the kids about how he expected us to pay at least $225 for replacements), but actually, we were considering surprising the kids with them when they returned from the next 2 weeks with their father. Well, Boot was unhappy with this edict & began to act out. Out of respect for J, I won't detail what happened here. Suffice it to say that it very closely mirrored what happened on the Friday of their Summer 2004 long weekend with us, only much more serious. 3 weeks straight with their father does not seem to be healthy for them. I am, frankly, rather dreading their return 2 weeks from now. It always takes a week or two to get them back to their usual pleasant & civilized selves after they've spent the summer with him.

Anyway, after the ruckus, we ordered Chinese food & J took Boot to the video store. We ate dinner & then watched the Godzilla movie Pie had chosen.

Saturday morning, we drove down to Cincinnati for J's mom's birthday party. We had reserved the family kitchen & dining room at the home & had picnic food (fried chicken, pasta salad, watermelon, pretzel salad) & a birthday cake. I had a ball chit-chatting about girly-girl things with J's cousin Diana. The boys played with their cousins.

After the party, we did some shopping. Boot sold some of his books to Half-Price Books & I picked up a couple travel books there, as well as running into former co-workers. We bought the boys a new video game & had drinks at Borders. We stopped for dinner at Tumbleweed & had great steaks & ribs. Then, we watched half of Are We There Yet?, another of Boot's movie picks.

We slept in Sunday, then started to go to the fair. Pie protested many 10 year olds do you know who would be pouting over having to go to the fair??? Boot was excited. But, the rides didn't open until Monday & the boys said it would be no fun without the rides. So, we picked up some grill-out food (cheeseburgers, at the boys' request) & went home. We finished watching Are We There Yet? then Pie was allowed to play the new video game while the rest of us went outside. I watched J & Boot toss the football for awhile, then they fired up the grill & made lunch. We all ate together, then it was time for the countdown to the arrival of the father. When J gave him a letter about what happened, he was incredibly rude to her, and was griping about how he didn't have meds for Boot, how the prescription was expired (not til October, buddy), blah blah blah.

We figured that once Boot told him what happened Friday, he would call or come back to make a big stink (even though I was the victim, not Boot). So, we headed out to do some shopping for school supplies so that we wouldn't be home if he showed up pissed & crazy. We had a grand time & I even got an olive dish for less than $2. Then, we came home to eat leftover Chinese & hit the hay since J had to be up at early-thirty for work. I listened to the voice mails after she went to bed & surely enough, an irate message demanding that J call at 10:30 (how he manages to make a 6-hour drive in 4 and 1/2 is beyond me). So, I stayed up until then so I could at least let him know we weren't blowing off his call. He was incredibly rude to me, as always (I think he is the rudest person I've ever encountered) & ended up hanging up on me after saying "You and I have nothing to say to each other". Too many bad movies, fella!

So, I'm glad it's over but dreading the fallout.