Monday, August 25, 2008

My Dad, A Senior Working for Other Seniors

My dad is very active in his church community in suburban Denver (Spirit of Christ, Arvada CO). He heads the senior group, Young at Heart, and has innovated all sorts of outreach programs for older people there because he knows that the best way to stay young is to stay engaged. He gets lots of complaints when he starts new programs, say lecture series or computer classes, but the complainers always come around and everyone is happy (and learning something new). I'm so proud of him for forging new paths and for expecting more from his community and himself.

Last week, there was an article about his 400-member group in the Denver Catholic Register. My nephew Sam thinks that his grandpa is famous... Me? I just think he's awesome. In fact, as he gets older I think he becomes even more active, and he continues to challenge himself to do even more for the people around him. There should be more people like him who are active in their communities and show the real spirit of the Catholic faith.

Friday, August 22, 2008

What's on your iPod, part 3

You can tell when I'm procrastinating (again) because this little bit of humiliation suddenly seems like such a great idea...

First 20 in random shuffle, no skips:

1. A Method, TV on the Radio Confession. I really liked TV on the Radio but we were listening to this album on the way to my first Wilco concert and I've been distracted ever since. Sigh. They're cool. But they're no Wilco.
2. Noise Annoys, Buzzcocks. One of my favorite bands from high school. Got to see them at 9:30 Club a few years ago, and we had to leave because it was so painfully loud. But I still like them.
3. All the Nasties, Elton John. Enough said, Tiny Dancer.
4. You Were Right, Badly Drawn Boy. I really like this guy and every time that he's come to the DC area, I've been dissuaded by some worrywart who thinks that he can't possibly be as good in person. Sometimes I think I live with an elderly woman.
5. Mr. Tambourine Man, Bob Dylan. Of all the Dylan songs, why this?
6. Higher Ground, Red Hot Chili Peppers. I hate the no-skip rule.
7. Love Reign O'er Me, The Who. Now we're getting into it. This takes me back to rainy afternoons driving around Denver wondering why it wasn't cooler. And pining away for boys who played in punk bands but where obviously all wrong for me. (See? I'm maturing -- perspective.)
8. Sheep, The Housemartins. I gotta delete some of this stuff.
9. Night Walks, Black Mountain.
10. Eddie's Ragga, Spoon. We got to see Spoon at Black Cat right before they really broke. Manomanoman, that was a good show.
11. Pale Blue Eyes, Velvet Underground. I don't know why, but I associate Velvet Underground with Sunday mornings.
12. What Goes On, The Beatles. It took all this time for the Beatles to arrive on this shuffle? New record.
13. Nowhere Man, The Beatles. Two-fer! Paul and Maggie can sing this song...almost all the way through. There's something a teeny bit disconcerting about a three-year old warbling this one.
14. The Sky Is Fallin', Queens of the Stone Age. Guilty Pleasure Band. Much like Guns n' Roses. And Van Halen. And Poison.
15. 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, Paul Simon. I no longer believe that the iPod knows what it's doing. My little sister used to sing this song over and over. Without understanding what it meant.
16. Coma Girl, Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros. I'm still sad that he died.
17. In Between Days, The Cure. High school. I wore black tutus, striped tights, turtlenecks and witch shoes to high school. And that was a subdued day. I'm looking forward to my own children enjoying their uniforms.
18. Glory, Television. Tom Verlaine's voice reminds me of a friend of ours. It's hard to get past that.
19. Reflection, Prince. I really liked this late-era Prince album.
20. Sky Blue Sky, Wilco. How can it take *#@!!&*^ 20 ##*(&!! songs to get to my favorite band?!
Okay, your turn. I have to get down to work now. And I have to get rid of some of the junk on my iPod. It's true. I've actually run out of room.

What to do with the bounty?

We're at that point in summer where the vegetables are so plentiful and so good that there's a little overload. What to do?Why, minestrone, of course! This recipe from the New York Times is a great starting point. You can use pretty much any vegetable you have on hand (I'm making it with zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes, sunchokes, carrots, celery, garlic and onions, plus basil, thyme, oregano...) And you can forgo the Parmesan rind if say, you're a vegan or some sort of freak. (Like me.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I bet you're wondering where I've been...

I did not fall off the face of the Earth.
I did not fall asleep in a ditch somewhere.
The children did not win (though it's been close...)

I've been busy...

First, we spent a lovely weekend at Lake Gaston, Virginia with our best friends. The prettiest member of several Cheverly bands that you know and love and her very kind parents opened their house to all of us for the weekend. By "opened their house" I mean fed us, housed us and took us on the boat. Repeatedly. At all hours of the day and night. (Actually, I slept through that...)

And why, you may ask, did we go all the way down to the VA/NC border?

So that Things 1&2 could see their very first WILCO show!!!!!!!!! They had a great time. We all had a great time (even though the crowd, as Jeff Tweedy mentioned repeatedly, smelled very nice...but not like the pine trees surrounding the amphitheater. You know, concert nice.) Cary, North Carolina, has a great concert venue -- the Koka Booth Amphitheater. If you ever have an opportunity to see a show there, do it. The band was great, and Bon Iver, the opener, was really cool. I want to see them again.

On the drive between Lake Gaston and Cary, we went to Raleigh, which has a great comic book store. Any comic book store that employs nerds willing to find the perfect comic book for a three-year old girl is tops in my book. They had one copy of a Barbie comic book and we all made a big deal about it being rare in in plastic. Maggie was thrilled. The boy needed no help in the store... there was also a good used bookstore and lots of coffee shops. Fun, fun, fun. (But not as cool as Richmond, where we stopped on the way down to the lake.)

So we had a terrific long weekend with great people and I got more sleep than I have in months. Fantastic. And then...

Okay, I'm one of those people who think that jury duty is a good thing. I've been called several times, but was never put on a trial. Until this week. All I'm going to say: Do not do drugs. Do not use guns. If you have to use drugs, do not use guns at the same time. We'll all be alot better off if you just take my advice.

Monday night, after a quick yummy dinner at Eat First, we went to see Grizzly Bear at the 6th & I Synagogue in DC. A band I'd never heard of, Violens, opened (but I will seek them out!) It was the most polite show I've ever attended, and we were probably the only people there who had to get home to a babysitter (thanks, Abby!) Also, Charles said that every guy in the restroom while he was there washed their hands. Impressive fans, Grizzly Bear.

My jury duty ended early (plea deal) and I went to a little coffee place in Upper Marlboro that I've driven past so many times: More than Coffee! They make an incredibly good black bean and corn salad -- warm, tossed with oil and lots of cumin, and served over lettuce. (And really good soy cappuccino...) So after a relaxing lunch and a stop to buy school supplies for the boy, we got to spend Tuesday afternoon at the pool. You know those days when the cold water is especially welcome because you've been laying in the hot sun? Yeah. And we ended last night with a fantastic vegan meal made by some new friends and shared with some old ones.

So. In less than a week, four bands. Three states. The pool. Lots of great friends and food. Civic duty. Not a bad way to wind down summer...

Monday, August 4, 2008

What to do with 50 tomatoes...

* Slice. Season. Eat.
* Chop. Make into salsa. Eat.
* Chop. Stew for several hours to make marinara. Eat.
* Slice. Make vegan pizza with pesto. Eat.
* Eat.
* Eat.
* Eat.
* Eat.

Did I mention that we got some peaches, too?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Blogs I love...

This morning while waiting for a bunch of photos to upload to flickr (a bunch meaning 144), I was catching up on a few of my favorite websites. One of those is craftzine, and I don't think I've ever left that site without sending a link to someone or being inspired to try something new. It's a goldmine. Today I really struck gold. And inspiration. Elsa Mora makes beautiful things. And I love her writing -- simple, honest, self-aware and occasionally funny. She did a great project with her mom using a blank book. Reading through the thread, I found two fantastic quotes:

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give".Winston Churchill.
We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”
Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

You know how sometimes something really obvious hits you over the head? Elsa's writing did that for me this morning. (Okay, okay, it may also have something to do with the weird lovey feeling I have because our house is full of peaches, tomatoes, sunflowers, and other fantastic things from a day spent at the Cheverly Community Market and Clagett Farm. Also, I made salsa at 10:00pm last night and our house smells great!)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Funniest blog.

Do you read Achewood? It's a (near)daily online comic strip that just gets better and better (and seems to be getting more popular, too). The characters are consistently well done and the story lines are fantastic and weird.
Philippe is a five-year old otter who lives in California and has interesting friends. I frequently think that Chris Onstad (bacon lover) has somehow gotten into Paul's head...or I did when Paul was five.
Now I just love Philippe for Philippe.

Trying to Have a "Smart" Conversation Goes Nowhere

We went out last night to celebrate the birthday of a the coolest girl in the band, and returning to the Chev, I tried to strike up a conversation with MasterP about the recent discovery of water on Mars. (Note: I am overcompensating for days of partial parental neglect due to overwork, so I'm really trying to pull out all the good mommy stops. I feel like Homer Simpson when he started paying attention to the kids... and they asked him to stop.)

The conversation:
Me: Did you hear that they got a thimbleful of water from Mars?
Charles: Really?
Me: Yeah, the NASA scientist said that the champagne was flowing in the lab. (See how I can work champagne into so many conversations? It's a gift...)
MasterP: Does that mean that there are little green martian men on Mars? I'm going to go and get one and come back and scare people with it!
LaMag: I'M going to go get a PINK one and she'll be a princess named Strawberry Shortcake!!!
MasterP: MAGGIE!!!! You can't have a pink martian. They're GREEN. The pink ones are from someplace else. Pfeh.
LaMag: MMMOOOMMMMMYYYYYY! Paul is mean and he says I can't have a pink martian and I want a PINK one!

At this time, the headache that I'd been battling all day returned. With great vengeance.