Thursday, June 29, 2006

Indians and Greeks

J was able to get us tickets for really decent seats at our first Cleveland Indians baseball game. They played the Reds Friday night. We showed up in plenty of time, were able (through diligence) to find $5 parking instead of $20 parking and had time to get a bite to eat before the game started. I spent much of the game being vigilant so that no foul balls would conk me in the head. Have I mentioned that sports and I do not mix? I spent a decent portion of my formative years dreading gym class because I was afraid of the ball & hated to run. I was always picked second to last for teams and invariably got blamed if our team lost. My grandparents say I was born a pacifist, so while I have always loved things like swimming and canoeing (a true water baby), I have never been a competitive sports fan. I imagine the attitude of my classmates toward my abilities did not encourage a love of sports, either. Imagine my surprise several years ago when I was coerced, after using my dressy shoes as an excuse only to be confronted with a spare pair of size 11 sneakers, into playing volleyball with a bunch of lesbians at a party and was actually able to serve fairly well. Or my astonishment when I played miniature golf with J & the boys last summer and beat the pants off them. Boot is convinced that I could be a good athlete and love sports, if I would just try. I have let go of a similar illusion regarding him and books.

So, despite my need to be vigilant & the kids' decrying of said need, I had a delightful time at the game. I can actually follow baseball to the point of knowing if someone scored or not. I don't know the names for all the pitches or plays, but I dated a boy who played baseball years ago & learned some then. I credit that same jock boy, who wasn't good for much else, with my football knowledge. I also love to watch the players' little rituals as they prepare to bat. That's my favorite part of the game. After the game, there were fireworks. And what fireworks! It was one of the most spectacular shows I have seen. Pie sat open-mouthed in wonder through the entire show. He adores fireworks. J & I were also rapt. Boot looked bored the whole time...surprised he wasn't text-messaging back & forth with his god...I mean, dad. Ah, teenage ennui. I was bratty enough at almost 16 to try to stay in the car when my grands took me to the Grand Canyon. When required to get out, I glanced at it and then said, "Okay, I've seen it. Can we go now?" What an absolute BRAT! In my defense, I had been on the road with my grands & staying in Los Angeles with our Vietnamese friends for 3 weeks and just wanted to get home to my mom & friends. Still. I was rewarded for my brattiness by also getting to see the Hoover Dam.

Saturday morning, after some sausage gravy & omelets, we spent much of the day at the pool. The kids complain that I never do anything fun at the pool. I "just sit in the water & read" instead of having fun. I blamed the cold water for awhile, then realized that my idea of fun in the pool and the kids' idea (and J's idea) are radically different. Even when I was a kid, I was never into dunking, splashing and squirt gun wars, nor did I indulge in "Tip The Raft" or "Race You To The Deep End" type games. J says it's because I never had brothers. I imagine my grands would say it's because I was born a pacifist, like my uncle Vic, who became a Canadian citizen in the late 1960s. The games I liked to play as a kid, the games all my girlfriends played, included "tea parties" on the bottom and contests to see who could do the most somersaults in the water ( I have been known to do 6 in a row), the longest hand stands, the bravest swim down to the drain, the quickest quarter retrievals. We would "dolphin dive" across the pool and see if we could keep our eyes open while emerging from the water and, yes, gossip on our towels during rest periods (that is, when we weren't flirting with cute boys at the concession stand at the bottom of the hill). So, the rough-housing J & the boys love to do in the water looks, frankly, unpleasant to me. I don't like to play like that. So, why should I? The boys make me feel as though I am boring or a bad stepmom because I don't play like that. Then, I look around & see that J is one of only a few adults actively engaged in such play. I am simply being grown. Now, if they would play the kind of pool games I like, I might join in. In the meantime, I will stick to trashy pool mags like Jane and conversation with the other girly girls.

After swimming, we had dinner at Alexander's with my uncle & aunt. It is always great hanging out with them & Saturday night was no exception. We sat on the patio talking for hours. They are getting ready to re-do their floors, all by themselves, with wood flooring. I am impressed! When they invited us to come by & visit the dogs, we nearly said yes before realizing that might be more than our bored boys could withstand.

We hit the first church on our shopping list Sunday morning, a congregational church in town that is not listed as "Open and Affirming" but which we thought would at least be close-by. I was happy to see a woman associate pastor and thought the church was lovely. The people were nice, although they seemed fairly conservative. The music for the day, selections from the Bill Gaither collection, made me long for good old karaoke church Christ-Pop like "Forever" and "Open the Eyes of my Heart", so dreadful was it. J kept writing me notes saying, "Make it stop!!!" Why can't we have the blues in church? At coffee hour, we met a very nice lesbian couple, so if we attend there, we won't be the first lesbians. That would be a nice change from the Presbyterian church we've been going to. Groundbreaking is all well & good, but it gets tiring after awhile. Boot, our little misogynist, hated the church as soon as he saw that there is a woman pastor. Pie just doesn't want to have to sit still that long.

After church, we allowed the kids to have a video game break. We fed them, then went to the Greek festival. When I was a kid, I would never have passed up an opportunity to go to a festival, but I was obviously a very different kid than these. We toured the beautiful church, with a retired priest who is definitely a vampire hunter when he is not leading tours. He was very kind & very interesting, with lots of historical knowledge to pass on to us. When we got to the "holy of holies" (not really, but the inner sanctum where the Word rests and women are never allowed), he said, "Now, I am going to show you something you have probably never seen before." When he withdrew a book from the altar, I expected something very old or very ornate. However, it was simply a Bible with Greek on one page and the English translation on the other. Heck, we OWN one of those! The priest held it up to J, expecting her to be amazed that it was in Greek. Instead, she began to read it aloud. What a great surprise for that priest! He turned out to be the one amazed, asking her, "Where did you learn ancient Greek???" She told him about her Master's degree in Judeo-Christian Studies in the Greco-Roman Period. A marvellous discussion ensued and we all had a great time. After the tour, we looked at the vendors' booths and had a bite to eat. J got a plate of fabulous chicken & artichokes with lemon-dill sauce and a tyropita. I had a combo plate, containing pastitsio, a Greek meatball, rice, a spanakopita, and dolmades. Before we left, we picked up a couple of pastries, too.

Sunday evening was spent at the pool, at the request of Boot. We grilled hot dogs & they played in the pool, while I read on a lounge chair & made bruschetta Caprese for an appetizer. It was a lovely evening until Boot got water in his eye & went stomping home. Temper, temper. The rest of us hung out in the hot tub for awhile before heading home ourselves.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Custody, Round Three

And so it begins, another round of ridiculous allegations, edgy kids, miserable wife and money down the drain. A couple weeks ago, J's attorney notified us that her ex-husband, SS (or Fat Bastard, if you prefer), was suing for a return to shared parenting, all visitation at his home near Erie, us meeting him halfway for visitation, J providing him with "copies of all psychological evaluations or reports performed" on the children, the right to claim Pie on his taxes and 8 weeks' visitation in the summer. We found this fairly outrageous, for a number of reasons.

As if that weren't bad enough, yesterday we got a letter notifying us that he is going for full custody again. Don't yet know what the allegations are, as the letter just said that he believes the children would be better off living with him. Complete nonsense & it makes me wonder what lies he is going to coach the children to tell this time. Last time, it was that we dressed Pie in a dress and make-up and made him walk around the block as punishment for pooping his pants, that we gave Pie laxatives to make him poop his pants at his dad's (Uh, no, you're just stressing him out so much that he has encapresis, Dad!), and that J & her former partner smashed beer bottles all over the kitchen floor and laughed about it. Her partner was dead from heart disease when these allegations were made. Disgusting. So, the pre-trial is today & we could really use your prayers. We find out what the allegations are today, I suppose. I am so tired of all this. He has taken her to court for custody twice & has settled before trial twice, once for large sums of money...he was getting $1200 a month in child support as the non-residential parent for 2 years, plus he got spousal support and half of her 401K. Now, he pays $1200 a year for both kids. He lives in his mom's basement, so has no bills to pay. He is just an outstanding fella, let me tell you.

Checking in on The Grands

Since my grandfather had to do a round of chemo, we figured it would be a good idea to visit & cheer him up last weekend. Besides, it was a good excuse for a visit! We left as soon as the boys had been picked up by the Odious One. Since we went in J's Bug, we didn't have any books on CD to listen to, so we played a game where J would ask, "What's the most romantic...?" and we would both answer. Most romantic movie (she said "Altered States", I said "Something like 'Practical Magic' or 'How to Make an American Quilt'. Maybe 'Hope Floats' "), most romantic meal, most romantic setting, etc. The great thing about our relationship, among many great things, is that we never get bored of one another's company. Near Columbus, we stopped at Macaroni Grille for dinner. It was delicious, from the rosemary bread with olive oil right through the main courses. I loved the bread so much that I would've happily skipped the appetizer. J chose her own pasta blend (bowties with garlic cream sauce, artichokes, sundried tomatoes and caramelized onions) while I ordered the chicken scallopini, which was terrific.

With our tanks refueled, we again hit the road. The grands had gone to bed when we arrived, so we climbed into bed, too. In the morning, we had a nice visit with my granddad while my grandmom got her hair done. She came home with McDonald's apple pies for all, thinking that Boot and Pie would be with us. So, we had apple pies for breakfast. J spent the morning making French onion soup, then the two of us went shopping for groceries and a pair of capris for me. I actually found 2 pairs, on sale for $20 apiece. J found a great new swimsuit covered in lime green and lemon yellow flowers. We also got some candles & candleholders for our new living room, as well as some things for the boys.

Once home, we visited some more & J made dinner for the grands. We all had cups of soup, then J presented my grands with pork chops, rice, and green beans. After more visiting, we had a late dinner on the patio at The Winds. It was a lovely meal with superb food. We started with a bread basket, containing the most wonderful ciabatta, and olives. Then, since they were out of our beloved Nueske's bacon-wrapped, goat cheese-stuffed figs, we tried softshell crabs (which I liked & J hated) and had the cheese service. My favorite this time was an old favorite, a triple crème called Belletoile. J couldn't decide if she liked the Fiscalini bandage-wrapped cheddar, the Oakvale Farmstead aged gouda, or the Pimientino best. She thought the Pipe Dreams goat cheese, which I love, tasted like "stinky toe cheese", but found the Belletoile to her liking. For the soup, we chose a cup of the Catalan garbanzo stew. Then, we split the halibut with bouilli butter served over Israeli couscous with tomato lemon broth. Wow, was that fantastic! J was just going to have a bite of my dessert (chocolate espresso cheesecake) until she saw cannoli cake on the menu.

In the morning, my grandmom went to church while we met the power-washing guy at the house for an estimate. Then, we went to my grands' & I visited with my granddaddy at the kitchen table while J cooked for us. When my grandmom returned from church, we had a Father's Day dinner of beef stroganoff on noodles, corn and ciabatta. Once we had eaten and cleaned up the kitchen, it was time to hit the road. It was a great visit & I am so glad we went, even though we missed Cleveland Pride to do it.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Da Vinci Code & Teenage Woes

I have been spending a lot of time unpacking this week, but have also had time for some fun. We promised Boot way back before his 13th birthday in December that when he turned 13, we'd take him to a PG-13 movie that his brother was not allowed to go to. He has been wanting to see "The DaVinci Code" since before it came out, so this week, I took him. We had a really good time together, splitting popcorn & talking about the movie afterward. I hated the book, thought it very poorly-written. The movie was better. Boot can't understand what the big deal is & why the movie & book have been so controversial. Of course, I have no answers for him on that because I don't get it, either. Both of us think that since it's fiction, there is no reason for it to threaten anyone. Also, so what if it is true?

When J got home, we went to the bookstores, Borders first & then, at cranky Pie's insistence, Barnes & Noble to try & find an Ironman book. Boot got a Boondocks book & Pie did find his Ironman book. I personally like Sandman comics better, but he is not interested. Probably just as well. J got another vampire book & a book on tantra, along with some books to send her dad. I got Lamb by Christopher Moore and a Red Hat Society novel.

In the car, the boys, who were both wired, started talking about how women suck & all the things women can't do. I teased them, saying, "our little misogynists" and Boot started going on & on about how much we hate men. Excuse me, but I could name any number of men I simply adore. I have no reason to hate men, since I don't have to try & be in a relationship with a bad one. I go by the individual person, not their gender. Although the boys' father has accused me of "engaging in gender politics" I am probably one of the least likely to actually do so. I was about to enumerate the men I adore as we pulled into the parking lot at The Winking Lizard, but Boot got out of the car, surly & temperful. We had chosen to eat at The Winking Lizard at Boot's request. Left to our own devices, we would surely have chosen Brio. But, his bad mood was well-activated & when his mom requested that he leave his cell phone in the car, he refused. Ever since his dad got him this cell phone for his birthday in December, the rule has been that he may text message his dad as much as he wants, but that when we're doing family things like eating dinner out, as well as for school & bedtime, it is to be left behind. He usually complies, although he & I had one showdown on that in which he grabbed my arm hard enough to leave a red mark. No compliance that night, though. I followed up J's request with, "Boot, do you want to put that in the car?" "No" was his response. Thinking he hadn't understood, after J's original "Leave your phone in the car" & my request, I said, "Boot, you're going to leave that in the car." He became belligerent & stalked over to the dumpster. I thought he was going to hide behind it so J couldn't take his phone, as she was following him trying to talk him into putting it in the car. Nope. He chucked it in the dumpster. Crazy! "I am so mad at you that I am throwing away my most prized possession, the one that you are annoyed by! Take that!!!" Of course, he didn't say that.

So, we got them back into the car & went home, where Boot went in his bedroom & refused to eat. J made Pie some soup & sandwiches, we had some goat cheese & caper puffs from the freezer. In the morning, J tried to get him to call his dad & tell him either what happened or that he lost it so his dad could have it turned off. He refused, saying he'll tell him this weekend. I bet he'll try to blame us somehow. Wonder if Pie will lie for him or tell the truth. Wonder if it's at all safe for him to tell the truth. He's had bad repercussions for truth-telling before, from both of them, but especially from his brother. Sometimes I wonder if Boot has to act badly toward us when he's had a particularly good time with us because he feels like he's betraying his father. Other times his temper has flared out of control have been when we've spent the day at Ohio Caverns or at COSI. I think his dad has him all messed up. Luckily, he woke up yesterday in a fine mood & apologized. I feel awful for him because he should be allowed to love & enjoy both his parents, without guilt. Whatever we may think of his father, we do not talk smack about him around the kids, ever. I don't think his father employs the same policy toward us. I expect they get fed all kinds of misogynistic & homophobic crap by him all the time.

More successful family dinner times have been when we've grilled down at the pool. J made sausage sandwiches & burgers the other night & hot dogs last night. They played in the pool & I read & enjoyed the hot tub. Boot has been helpful, cooperative & fun at those times. Weird.

So, I am left wrestling with how to get a teenager to comply when he doesn't want to. Losing privileges doesn't phase him. Nothing seems to.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

More House Work

As soon as J arrived home from work Friday night, we loaded up the car and headed for my grandparents' house. Every single time we go that way, Boot pesters us for Popeye's chicken at the Goasis near Mansfield. Since there's also a Starbucks there, a great boon to sleepy drivers, he usually gets his way. This time, we decided to have dinner there. Pie had sausage pizza from the Pizza Hut, J got soft tacos & nachos from the Taco Bell, and Boot & I had chicken. Then, we hit the road again, arriving at my grands' around 11:30. The boys were exhausted & went right to bed. They never do sleep in the car much. I remember wonderful car naps from when I was a kid & miss that now that I am the primary driver. The only driver, usually, except that J drives herself to work. We had a brief visit with the grands & then went to bed ourselves.

In the morning, we sat in the breakfast nook, eating English muffins with havarti, watching the birds, and chatting with the grands. J says it's her favorite bed & breakfast. Then, we set out for Cincinnati to see the new twins in the family. J's nephew & his wife are brand-new parents to two tiny boys born June 6. We met J's parents & brother at the nursing home. J's brother ferried their mom, while their dad rode with us and told us nonstop tales of World War Two. When we pulled up to the hospital, the twins' mommy was standing in front, waiting to show us the way to the nursery. She's in much better shape than I expected. We got to look at the babies first through a window, then we got to take turns going in, after a hearty scrubbing. They are tiny and adorable. When J's sister-in-law asked if I'd like to hold the oldest (and biggest, at 4 pounds & 8 ounces), I hesitated because they are so very small. But, I did hold him as he slept. The smaller boy, 3 pounds & 11 oz, is the more lively of the two, with wide-open eyes and active little legs! The baby I held generally just sleeps sweetly unless he is eating or being changed. It was good to see everyone while we were there.

We had a late lunch at Bahama Breeeze on the way back to my grands' house. Boot was unhappy that we didn't go to a more "American" place & Pie wasn't hungry at all. But, we adults were very happy with our lunches of seafood pasta. We had a wonderful goat cheese appetizer, too. It was a zesty hot dip served in pepper halves with little toasts for dipping. Luckily, our dinner was a late one! Between meals, we had a wonderful visit with my grands. Dinner ended up being Chinese take-out, with my grandmom and I running into town to pick it up. We visited some more after dinner and then headed to bed.

We had gotten to bed late, so skipped Sunday school in the morning. Church was good, with lots of visiting before and after. Brendan's sermon on the nature of Trinity was interesting. Fairly metaphysical, but he managed to put it in words the average congregant could understand easily. He talked to me a bit about his struggle with that afterward...and also said, "And yes, the Gregory I mentioned in the children's sermon was Gregory of Nyssa." I had wondered. It's fun to be getting the education to really get his message more deeply. At coffee hour, we spent most of our time visiting with Beth & Matt, Brendan & Laura. Laura told us about her recent trip to New York to do research at Columbia for her book and Brendan wanted to hear about Cleveland. Beth & Matt invited the kids over to play with their kids, while we worked on the house, and the kids jumped at the chance. I'm glad they got to spend some time with their friends.

We, on the other hand, worked all afternoon, packing up all the rest of the things in the house. It was mostly books for storage and Christmas decorations. The window cleaning company had come (and had torn our porch screening from the edges! Grr!) as had the carpet cleaners. The house looked so much better than when I had left it. Now, if we can get the cleaning woman out there! She was supposed to go Sunday, but we were there until 6 & never saw her.

We did take a break from our packing to run up to Current Cuisine and grab some hummus and a pastrami sandwich to split. We picked up the kids then and they helped at the house for awhile. Beth & Matt have offered to loan us their van to ferry the rest of our belongings to Cleveland! They are so kind. They also plan to visit, which is wonderful!

Once we'd finished at the house, we went & had dinner with the grands. Chinese leftovers and more birdwatching. I love to be at their house. It's so green and alive outside! Pie was enthralled with the hummingbirds. At the end of dinner, just before we went to pack up our belongings, they told us that my granddad is going to be taking chemo again this week. They didn't tell me his leukemia was no longer in remission. Of course, they don't feel that the chemo will be a big deal & they didn't want to worry us. They haven't told their kids, either. He has taken this kind twice before, with remissions lasting 4 years and a year and a half. It has never made him sick or made his hair fall out. He will have it round the clock this week and will not be able to go out. This coming weekend, we will be down there again, to cheer him up and to celebrate Father's Day. J is looking forward to cooking for them. I hope the chemo doesn't make him sick this time, either. And I pray that it does the trick.

Friday, June 09, 2006

To Market, To Market

Last weekend was our first weekend in Cleveland without kids. Friday night, we celebrated by zoning out in front of the t.v. We are wild women! J was tired from the work week and I wasn't about to insist that we go out anywhere.

But, Saturday was tremendously fun! We started out the day with a vanilla latté on the way into Cleveland. We found the West Side Market with ease, although a parking space was a bit less simple to procure. However, it wasn't that bad & soon we were strolling down one of the semi-outdoor produce aisles. We decided to get the produce last, after exploring indoors. It was exciting to be around all those different kinds of people speaking different languages. It was glorious to see all the lush colors and shapes of the fruits and veggies, too. Across the street was a little square with vendor's tents set up. Cheap jewelry vied with t-shirts and rap CDs for our attention, reminding me of being on Yonge Street in Toronto or in New York. There was a jazz band playing on a small stage in the square, too, and we stopped to listen to them. We also considered having our fortunes told, but instead decided to make them ourselves..."You will eat very well"!

Inside the market, we found all kinds of delicious things to buy...and delicious possibilities for later. Our first purchase, bought on J's whim after sampling some, was Lithuanian sausage from a stand with all sorts of sausages. We are trying Hungarian sausage next. Our breakfast came from a stand selling English treats. Unable to choose between a Cornish Pasty and a breakfast pie, we got both. The pasty was fabulous & we wished we'd gotten more of those. We picked up meats & spices, bread & pico de gallo, blue-cheese-stuffed olives & pepitas, raspberries & baby artichokes. We promised ourselves that we'd get a peach pie next time, an empanada, handmade pierogies from the booth that sold dozens of varieties.

After the market, we took groceries home & then I prepared for J's surprise. She'd been haranguing me to tell her for days, ever since I announced that I had a surprise for her. I made her close her eyes as I toted a picnic basket and beach bag out to the car. As I drove through Bay Village, she guessed that I was taking her to the water. We went down an enormous flight of stairs, still fantasizing about one day buying a waterfront house, and there was the lake. We lay on a blanket, me reading aloud to her, as the waves broke on the sand, seagulls wheeled above, and little boys played with boogie boards in the water. We enjoyed a market picnic of Stilton with strawberries embedded in it, soft pillows of ciabatta, cashews & pepitas, and enormous, sweet-as-summer raspberries.

When it was time to go home, neither of us were ready. So, I took us to Mitchell's, where we sat in a streamlined space and ate fabulous ice cream. Then, we popped into the grocery and headed home. J made filet mignon, hers with mushrooms/onions/garlic, mine with Maytag blue cheese. We had steamed asparagus to go along with it, dipped in lime butter.

In the morning, we'd planned to go church shopping, but J didn't want to get up, so we lazed. Then, we had brunch at IHOP before going shopping for throw pillows and bookshelves. We found the perfect shelf at Linens 'N' Things, for only $29. However, the only one they had left was the floor model. They started calling other stores & assured us that we could have them shipped to this store or to our home. After waiting almost an hour, we wearied of not getting answers & just bought the floor model, assured that we would have 2 more soon. After running a couple more errands, we went home to greet the boys. Then, we went to check on the shelf status & pick up a few groceries. Well, the closest store with those shelves is almost an hour away and unwilling to ship them. Also, they have been discontinued and we cannot order them online, either. It would have been nice to know all this before we bought the one. The sales person who had been making the calls & the manager were both incredibly rude to us, treating us like we were idiots for not knowing. I am unsure of whether I should just bite the bullet & drive over to get them or not, but I am sure that I am not excited at the prospect of giving that company any more of my business, after being treated that way.

J was already fuming because of the treatment when we discovered that Heinen's closes at 6 on Sundays. She felt like biting someone then...too many Laurell Hamilton books, perhaps? I was able to raise her spirits with dinner, though. I made gouda-stuffed chicken and she loved it!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Superheroes & Silver Foxes

I told you all about finding the lake yesterday, what a joy & delight to my water-loving soul it was. The rest of the day went much as planned. I did some unpacking & made ají for J so that she could have a good snack once home from work. While she worked on a letter, I poked around our new cable channels. There's a lot more Spanish language stuff, which is fun for me. I watched part of a show on Our Lady of Fatima in Spanish & also a Cuban children's program. I listened to Cuban pop about the world of sex and to classic salsa. Then, J discovered that around here, we get the Logo channel, MTV's new gay channel. Time Warner in Western Ohio wouldn't carry it. I guess it's either an Adelphia thing or a blue corner of the state thing. Either way, I'm glad. There was an interesting show on about gay history.

When J finished her letter, we took the kids to see the new X-Men movie. I think it's funny how much I have come to like those X-Men movies...normally, I would rather see something like The Lake House. Oh, we saw a preview for a movie coming out next February called Ghost Rider. That looks like fun. We also saw a preview for the new Fast & Furious movie, which we will not be taking Boot to see no matter how much he begs. I imagine his father will, but no way. The preview just drips with objectification of women. Yuck! This time around with X-Men, my favorite character was Wolverine. Usually, it's Storm. J adores Wolverine. The kids decided that J would be Rogue & I would be Jean. Not sure how to take that. I'd rather be Xavier or Wolverine, frankly. J thinks I would be Storm. I think she would be Xavier. Boot would be the Blue Beast and Pie would be Bobby.

After the movie, and despite the ridiculously large tub of popcorn we couldn't finish, we had dinner at the Winking Lizard. They have gone totally smoke-free inside, which I appreciate, so we were able to sit right by the iguana's tank and watch him throughout the meal. He is just cool. He was doing a fair amount of watching us, too. Last night, I dreamed they had a giant lizard at the library & it jumped on a patron & tried to eat her head! I also dreamed about a really cool silver fox showing up at our place. He freaked the cats out, but was very affectionate with me. I wasn't sure I should touch him, thinking he might bite or something. But, when I touched his rough fur, he purred. Yes, I know they're canine. This dream has some kind of allegorical meaning, I am certain.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Launching "La Luna Cooks"

My foodie/chowhound blog is now up at for anyone who'd like to see it. One post as yet, detailing things we've eaten in Cleveland so far...and with recipes for Pan-Seared Filet with Merlot Sauce, Warm Pecan Vinagrette and Strawberry and Chocolate Pie. Have fun!

My New Life in Cleveland...with Loose Ends

Today, I am installed at my desk by the front window of our new apartment in Cleveland. There is still much unpacking to be done and I still have to go back to the house to pack a few things I ran out of time to pack there, things like lamps and slow cookers. And arrange for the floors to be redone & all that nonsense that goes along with selling a house. If anyone is looking for a lovely 4-bedroom, 3,200 square foot house in Greene County, Ohio for under $200,000, I'm selling it! I already miss the space & the big trees. I don't miss the yardwork & maintenance involved in home ownership, though.

Our new apartment, large by New York standards, I expect, seems like a tiny, tiny thing to me. However, it is lovely & the people here are friendly. We have spent a great deal of time down at the pool, we have discovered restaurants (like the Winking Lizard Tavern) and bookstores (Borders has a great food writing section) and grocery stores with gorgeous starfruit and handmade pierogies. What's more, the public library is fabulous! I have my card now. The first day, before I got my card in the mail, I was only allowed to check out 10 books. One guess as to how many I got. I just finished reading the first of them, Julie & Julia: 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen by Julie Powell. It's a great account of a temp secretary who decided to cook her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year. I had heard of her blog & had been meaning to read the book. Well worth while for any fan of food writing.

As exciting as finding the restaurants, the library, and all that...possibly more finding that we are about 10 minutes from the beach!!! It may not be the ocean, but Lake Erie is pretty damn big. I have been pining to live near a large body of water for quite awhile now. I knew the lake was close, but not this close. I looked up the best-sounding beach on Mapquest last night & found that it's incredibly close. So, this morning after taking J her glasses & a chai latté at work (and meeting her friendly new employees), I took a side excursion to see if the beach is, indeed, as close as Mapquest told me it is. It is! I passed the city limit sign for Bay Village and was immediately struck with house envy, which only grew worse the closer I got to the beach. The village is full of beautiful Victorians, complete with gingerbread and well-groomed lawns. Just the sort of place we'd have to hire all sorts of people to maintain. But, droolsome nevertheless. Maybe I should become a handywoman instead of a minister. Nah. Right by the water, the houses began to really look like lake houses. I expected to see signs with the homes' names on them up by the road. If I ever become a rich & famous writer, I will buy J one of those houses. And we will name it something deliciously inviting. The beach has picnic tables and, as evidenced by the happy-looking Latina I saw in the parking lot with wet clumps of sand all over her feet, a decent sandy beach. I am taking J there as a surprise on Saturday, after we check out the West Side Market. I may even make Ina Garten's filet sandwiches with bleu cheese sauce. What fun!

Speaking of fun, the news we got from J's attorney is not. Her ex, SS, is hauling her to court for yet another round of custody nonsense. She chooses a job that drops his travel time for visitation to about an hour and a half (from about 6 hours), getting considerably less pay that the offers she had in far-flung places like Monterey and Nashville, and this is the thanks she gets? What a tool. In fact, one of the most thoroughly unpleasant men I have ever come across.

Anyway, I should resume unpacking so that when I bring the rest of the things I left behind, there is room for them. I want nothing so much as an orderly, restful home and clutter and chaos are neither orderly nor restful. I want to get the apartment in order quickly so that I can spend the rest of the summer working on a cookbook, relaxing by the pool, and exploring Cleveland. Oh, and launching an additional blog, a specifically foodie one to be called La Luna Cooks, here on Blogger.