Archive for September, 2011

Sleeping Arrangments

I’ve started sleeping downstairs. I’m not sure how long I’ll be doing it for. It isn’t very comfortable, so I am looking into a sofa bed, or some other setup that works better mid-term than our curved sectional.

Indy is okay. Hell, she is great, for her age, but the decline is inevitable. At this point she needs help to get up some of the time. Not every day, but some days, several times a day. The stairs are also a concern for me at this point, although she still chooses to go up and down them. I’ve put a gate up at the bottom and am restricting her stair activity. I especially don’t want her to take a tumble down them at night while we are sleeping, so I restrict her at night. She gets lonely though, and she has started needing to go out in the middle of the night sometimes. Overall, it just adds up to me feeling mentally better if somebody sleeps downstairs with her, despite having no first floor bedrooms. We definitely will not retire in this house.

My preferred option for a sofa bed is the MÅNSTAD. In looking for reviews of it, I found this adorable video on YouTube. I love the dog.

I think we’ll move a bed from the guest room downstairs and try dressing it up to look kind of like seating. It won’t be as good a solution as the MÅNSTAD, but will be far less expensive. That will save some money for more throw rugs, which also help Indy out. Hard floors are not easy on old dogs. I would like to walk a line between helping her out and keeping her company, without crapping up the look of the house so badly that it further depresses me, as if watching her age doesn’t depress me enough. meh

She is still generally happy, and quite enjoys walks and being near her family. One thing she doesn’t enjoy is getting a bath, but she is in desperate need of one, so next week that needs to be crammed into the schedule. Today, there needs to be nail grinding.

It sucks that her organ systems are doing so well while her nervous system is slowly failing.

She is such a good dog.

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Ice Ice Baby

Our Watson is totally obsessed with ice cubes. He loves them. He comes running from anywhere at the sound of the ice dispenser. We joke that it is because he was born in Minnesota, in the middle of winter, but who knows, maybe it isn’t a joke.

Whatever the reason, he absolutely loves ice. The only thing that limits the amount of ice that he would eat, appears to be us.

My husband is a hobbyist mixologist. I am a lush  guinea pig  lush. A cocktail is poured in our house more evenings than not (for health reasons, of course).

My husband goes over to the bar and picks up a shaker, and opens it as he crosses to the kitchen, where he fills the shaker with ice from the handy little dispenser in the freezer door. He then walks back over to the bar to start crafting a drink, and on the way he gives Watson an ice cube or two. Watson was always there to get one because he heard the ice dispensing.

Except now, he shows up at the sound of the shaker being opened.

Our dog is learning about bar tools.

Last night, my husband offered Watson two ice cube treats, one in each hand. He just did it because one had slipped, and he’d grabbed it with the other hand. He leaned down with both hands held out, each offering an ice cube. Watson froze like an ice statue. His eyes darted back and forth looking at each ice cube, and he was unable to decide which precious hunk of ice he should eat. A puddle of drool appeared on the floor as he salivated in anxious anticipation of tasty(?) ice, but which one should he take? His poor puppy mind was blown.

It was not purposeful, but of course now it is a great new game: offer Watson two things and see which one he picks. Hey, a little introspection and learning about your own priorities is a good thing, even if you are a dog. Be decisive, little Watson. Meditate. Know thyself.

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Big Damn News

Wow. I don’t even fully know how to wrap my head around it. Actually, I can’t. I’ll probably be able to later, but after today, I am still in shock. I’ll get to today later.

Our daughter is 16 years old and starting her junior year. She has been homeschooled since the start. She is now officially a public school student.

She still won’t be attending a traditional school. As a matter of fact, for people who have always used mainstream schools, she will still seem like a homeschooler, but for somebody like me, who has been homeschooling for a very long time (and for the vast majority did so as a willful underground homeschooler), it is a big psychological difference. Filling out all those forms in triplicate and sitting there while office people were handing out detentions right and left almost made me explode in hives.

While it is possible to homeschool for free (especially if you put a massively massive amount of effort into rounding up free resources and scotch taping them together into a complete curriculum) it is much easier if you pour some money into it. Like with so much in life, money gives you quite a bit of access and freedom. Right now we are in a place where we are putting money into starting a new business, so the smart financial thing to do is at least check out the government funded option.

So, we looked at the charter schools that offer online schooling, and we found an interesting hybrid option, that seems fairly idealistically education focused (I think many of the major online players are highly financially motivated). I am hoping it will be a very good fit for her.

Tonight, we go attend our first parent night. The horrors.

Anyhow, today… Ugh, today. I… eew. Today, we went in to complete enrollment, and I was completely mentally unprepared for how dreadfully long it was going to take. While the curriculum she is using is online, it is tied to a real brick and mortar school. A LARGE brick and mortar school. We had already been in to speak with the people who run the online program, and had been given a few papers and told to take those and a set of papers to prove we are who we say we are, to the main school attendance office. It took a day to assemble all the “show me your papers” papers, and then we dutifully made our way to campus. We arrived and went to the attendance office with our stack of paper work, and had to wait over a half hour just for somebody to talk to us (People there for enrollment needed to take a red number ticket). From what I overheard, the dean of attendance had made the office staff send out “summons” to every student who had missed one period or more since the start of the school year. The office was being overrun with students who were being written detention slips. It was all very disturbing, because the staff member would say something like, “Were you here yesterday?” To which the teen would non-respond by standing there. The staff person would repeat themselves. The teen would slowly shift their weight from one leg to the other. The staff person would repeat themselves and the teen’s mouth would drop open and a noise like “uuuuuh” would come out. The staff member would ask yet again and the teen would mutter “no”. Then the staff would ask if they had a note for the absence, which would then start the painful process of getting that question answered. We watched this happen dozens of times. Ouch.

It was finally our turn to speak to somebody (yay red ticket 61) and they handed me a new giant stack of forms to fill out. WTF? Why not hand that to me when I arrived? I sat and filled out the forms, which took another 30 minutes, and then I turned those in, at which point they gave me a gold piece of paper with check boxes, and I was supposed to go from the attendance office to the special programs office. At that office, a person checked one of the boxes and signed my form. Then we were sent to the health office. At the health office a nurse came and removed 3 pieces of paper from our giant stack. Then she gave us a new piece of paper to take home and fill out. Then she tested the kid’s hearing and eyesight and weighed and measured her (she appears to have grown an inch in the past 6 months since her last doctor appointment… seriously?) and then she checked the little box on our gold piece of paper and sent us to the counseling office. We went to the counseling office to unlock our next achievement, and a woman with excellently applied eyeliner, and a complete disdain for us, sorted our stack of paper into separate smaller stacks and carefully stapled those together in some magical fashion. This allowed her to check off a box on our gold paper and send us on our way to the cafeteria, when we were thwarted by the ringing of a bell.

We had to leave campus and go have lunch because the lady guarding the cafeteria couldn’t check our gold sheet while handling feeding time at the zoo.

We went and ate some crappy fast food, and made our way back to campus and unlocked the lunch room achievement. We went on to the last level to discover that the boss monster had already left, and we’d have to complete a portion of our quest another day.

In the meantime, she did get some classes picked out, and supposedly we will soon have an email explaining her userID and login information, so she can go check out the interface.

I am very hopeful that this will work out well. Supposedly there are multiple teachers to interact with via email, chat and phone, so she can get help fairly rapidly, which, in theory should free up more of my time so that I can work and potentially earn more money. We are still negotiating a few of her previously earned high school credits because national standards and CA standards don’t quite align, so it looks like she is going to need to squeeze in an extra semester of world history. Also part of her previous math work won’t be credited as math, but they will give her elective credits for it. My only concern is that she is so easily exhausted as she is still feeling the brutal effects of mono, and we homeschooled year around, meaning that on any given day, her total work load was typically lighter because she was working less hours, but more days. We are letting her take 1 AP class, even though she still isn’t back to full health.

After spending several hours on campus, it appears that I hate high school even more now than I did when I was attending it as a student.

Now I need to go nap, or soak in Benadryl, or perhaps just drink a lot of alcohol. Maybe all three.

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What’s Cooking?

One of my many happy things about being back in the Los Angeles area, is the food. I missed the restaurants, but I also missed the produce and the ethnic markets fiercely.

Lately I’ve been enjoying garden bounty: Squash from one person with an overflowing garden. Lemons from another with heavy trees. Tomatoes from a friend who is growing more than her household will eat.

It is such a wonderful thing. Because it is fresh, the flavor and nutritional values are higher. Because it is free, the financial benefit is awesome. Because it is what is available right then, it forces me to think of ways to make use of them, which often leads to meals I wouldn’t normally think to shop for.

Most of all, for me, food is so much about caring. When the ingredients are gifted to me through my network of human connections and interactions, it ties me to the positive. As I cook, I think of where ingredients came from. I think of whom they are going to feed. I think about ingredients loved by people I love. I think of the last time I prepared a dish, and who I fed that time, or of whom I would like to feed with it. I follow the threads in my mind as I chop and mix and sample.

Onions and cucumbers came from the CSA last week, and my daughter requested a cucumber salad. As I prepared it I thought back two summers to being in New York City, when a different CSA delivery led to a different cucumber salad. It was prepared by a dear friend as we worked together in the kitchen to create a feast from CSA items and food treasures collected at a nearby market. I know this is part of why my daughter wanted the salad too, because of her memory of that NYC salad, and because the friend was extra on our mind because she had a birthday this week. Every future cucumber salad will always remind both of us, of that one, and no other will ever be quite as good, because some food moments are so right.

With my bounty of tomatoes I made gazpacho, which is pretty much a perfect summer treat. It makes some use of the lemons as well. Lemons can be used pretty much daily in cooking, especially during the summer, which is the perfect time for multiple salads. Anything to stay cooler.

I’ve been cooking on the grill a lot lately, even things I wouldn’t normally cook on the grill (like banana bread). This is because it is fuck-all hot and I don’t want to heat the kitchen up further. The rest of the tomatoes I slow cooked into a delicious tomato sauce using the grill. I suppose all this unattended cooking out there could eventually lead to my house burning down, but whatever, in Southern California I can survive without housing longer than I can survive without food.

Half of the tomato sauce is in the freezer waiting for another use. The other half, I simmered ground and seasoned lamb patties in. Those I served over portabella mushrooms, stuffed with a mixture of spinach, goat cheese, extra garlic, basil, and pine nuts (and cooked on the grill, of course). The abundance of squash has been sliced up, lightly salted, spritzed with ACV and grilled. Everything gets grilled.

The heat has been leading to a desire for cooler and more refreshing cocktails as well. I brought home mint the other day so the bartender could make me mojitos. The peels from the cucumbers for the cucumber salad, I used to flavor vodka overnight, along with mint sprigs. Then that made cucumber mint spritzers the next night.

The heat wave finally broke yesterday, after a week of evil yellow ball in the sky trying to kill us all weather. It is still summer though. It will still be a grilled dinner tonight with refreshing cold side dishes and beverages, just with less lethargy and overheated misery.

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