Saturday, April 25, 2009

Time in a Bloggle

It has been a year since I started this blog. I know it has been a year (although it certainly doesn't feel like it) because I started blogging as a way to keep in touch with our family and friends while we went on a 3-week road trip that included a visit with Jules's doctor in Los Angeles. What a great trip that was! Of course, the news at the doctor's office was great (no tumor growth) and then we enjoyed LA, Disneyland, Northern California, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, and several other stops. It seems like a dream, that we're home and in a routine (of sorts) and not planning any sort of big vacation.

So where has the time gone?

Looking back at the early pages of the blog, at the memories of that trip, I am amazed at how much everyone has changed in a short year. Joel looked like a boy a year ago. Now he definitely looks like a teenager. And Camille and Jasper look so young on those pages! Jules is losing boyishness, and Ellie looks different, too. And oh...crappers. Here it comes. It is creeping up, right through the heart where I feel the sense of heaviness, working up to the throat where it will settle like a lump for a few seconds before filling my mind with.....a little sadness.....and loss. But wait. I stopped it. I got a little heaviness in the heart, yeah, I feel it there. But it went no further. I have not let it fill my mind. Nothing is missing. There are no ghosts, here. Nobody has been lost. They have just changed. Change is what we do. Change is good. And it sure beats the alternative, as they say.

I am getting better at grasping the reality of impermanence. Initially, my grapple with impermanence led to a sort of fixation on "now". Everything was about the now. Everything was about presence; about being present. The understanding that the present is all we have took root with a sort of irrational need to cling to each and every moment. There was this sense of, "Oh God...there went another moment I wasn't paying attention its gone. Oh geez - and there went another! I will catch the next one. I will! Here it comes! God, there it went." Yes, that was my mind chatter. Annoying, right? And when I was able to grasp a present moment, it took on such monumental importance that its passing felt like something to mourn. I tried to memorize the faces of my babies...their smells...their sounds. With such intensity I tried! As if the baby was all there would ever be. As if the baby (not the person within the baby) was what was important to hold onto. And of course, the babies grew up. The babies are gone. But there is no real loss. There is only change. I am not the child I once was. But I am not gone. And the dead are not gone, either. Not really. Just changed. And death is the ultimate change...loss...that we all fear, is it not? Is that why we try so hard to hold on? To slow down the approaching end of the party that we all know is coming but prefer not to think about? I don't know. I just know that time will keep marching, we will all keep changing, no matter how hard I try to be present or try to remember or try to hold on.

I am somewhat able to stand back from it all, now. Instead of trying to catch each and every moment...of trying to be present in each and every moment...I am learning to watch it all, instead. With a smile. Instead of trying to attain presence, I would rather see time (my life and the people in it) as a shower that washes over me. I don't try to grab any of it. I don't have to actively participate in perpetuating, stopping, grasping, clinging, or letting go of any of it. I just stand and feel it caressing down my skin. I breath it in and I breath it out. I don't go after it. I just watch. I don't try to collect the memories pooling at my feet; dripping down my body on all sides. I feel it there, I feel it passing. It doesn't bother me. Instead, I turn my face upward and focus on the shower coming down....there is no present, no now. That was just buzz from popular mystics making the talk show circuit...there is no pause button that freezes the present moment...there is just the shower coming down. And all I have to do is be still. It needs nothing from me. It will continue to originate from some unknown source and disappear into another. It just is.

I will watch it run through my fingers with the curiosity and awe of a child watching a balloon disappear into a bright blue sky. I will not cup it in my hands to slow its flow...because I can't. Because I don't need to. Because even if I do, it is still going to slip through, eventually. And I'll miss something else if I try to hold onto a little puddle...I might not feel the rest of it pouring down around me. And I want to feel all of it.

So happy birthday to Sardines in a Can. There has been a lot of change in the past year...the past month...the past hour....and it is all good.

Sardine Mama

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Republic of Texas. Again.

Hoooo Boy. Rick Perry at the Austin Tea Party. And I've been called unpatriotic? This guy is talking secession from the union. The Union. As in, The United States of America. That little union. We have produced some whoppers here, that is for sure.

Of course, part of me (I am a born and bred Texas girl) is proud of our insanity. We are the biggest state (not counting Alaska which has the population of Austin) - so we might as well be the most insane. We always have been. Remember the Alamo? God, who doesn't love the Alamo? I LOVE THE ALAMO. However, it was nutters. The whole thing. The battle of just a few guys against an entire army - drawing the line in the sand - the whole crazy "come and get us" thing....only here. In Texas. And we are still defending the Alamo. When Ozzy Osbourne peed on it we put him in jail. You bet we did - and he deserved it.

So if Texas decides to secede (again) and have Chuck Norris as president? Insane. Stupid. I'd be embarrassed. (And probably a lot of other things because we kinda sorta depend on a lot of federal stuff to ya know....exist....). But I'd be just a little teensy weensy bit proud in a creepy sort of way. Because this is Texas. And yeah, we do things our own way. We are clinically and officially crazier than hell but it works for us. It makes us scary. It draws tourists.

Of course, I'm pretty sure that the first thing the new Texans would do is deport vegetarians, homosexuals, tree-huggers, aetheists, Buddhists, Pagans (gasp) and other social elitists. Also, they would deport non-English speakers (half the state) and anyone needing any kind of government assistance. The new slogan would be: Get a Job or Get Out...Love, The Friendship State

In San Antonio, Ted Nugent provided entertainment at the Tea Party Protest at the Alamo. You know, instead of Rick Perry. Perry, in his little gimme cap, was probably more entertaining than Ted Nugent. Sweet Poon Tang Nugent. Family Values kinda guy. Strangely appropriate that he should be hangin' at the Alamo. It wasn't all that long ago that he got booed in San Antonio for saying something like, "If you don't speak English, get the *uck out!" Yeah, baby. You go. At least you didn't pee on the Alamo. Because that? Would have been offensive. Was it after or before the San Antonio incident that he used the n-word during a Colorado radio interview? Hmmm... I can't keep track of all of his sweet talk. Because he is a sweet guy. Just who I would invite to help deliver a message about taxation. Because, you know, we've never had taxation, before. And while we're on racism and secession and taxation and other shuns - isn't it funny that the last time we seceded it was over slavery? And now we have a Black president and we're tossing around the s-word again? And inviting Ted Nugent to entertain us? Hmmmm......

Well, if we secede - we're good militarily. God knows we've stockpiled enough weapons (since the Democrats moved into the White House Texans have stormed gun shops in a state of hysteria) to invade Mexico. Right? You betcha. Oops. Sorry. That is not Texan. That is Alaskan.

See our fearless leader make his umpteenth embarrassing blunder of the century here. God bless his little heart.

OK, Conservatives. Don't be gettin' all pissy with me. I'm done. And I'll defend the dang Alamo with you. Because, like it or not, I'm that kind of girl. A Texas girl. A Liberal Texas girl. Rare - but precious.

The Lone Star Sardine Mama

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dear Jeff

I am single-parenting this week while the hubby is in Denver. He's working there, but he's also getting to visit with his big sister. And she is a sardine fan. I'm assuming they might check in on us. So.........pardon me while I have a private conversation. You don't mind, do you? Just pretend you're in a department store and I'm the girl behind the counter. The one on the phone. I'll just be a sec.

First of all, honey, I have a blog. It is no big deal. I just post really personal stuff and pictures about our family and know, um...on the Internet. Now onto the important things. Make sure and give all the sardines-in-law hugs and kisses from the folks on our end. If you want to give them the full treatment, you'll have to crawl all over them while shouting.
Your kids. Miss you. I think I miss you. I'm too tired to tell right now. Here's what's been going on:
Ellie had a very cool and impressive Master Class in front of an audience with Dr. Angela Cheng. Dr. Cheng was in town performing a concert (she is a spectacular Canadian pianist) and graciously gave 3 master classes to young local pianists the very next morning. Ellie played a Haydn piece that Dr. Cheng had performed the night that was a bit nerve-wracking...but she did great.

Right now she is at a piano lesson. Dad took her. Joel went with him to get new shoes. Because I noticed he has been barefoot for the past 6 days. Apparently, he has no shoes. He says he used to have off he went. Come to think of it, surely he didn't go barefoot? Oh my god - I didn't look.

Yes, I remembered to turn the soaker hoses on for the corn.

Yes, I remembered to fill the cow trough by the house.

Yes, I forgot to turn it off and it overflowed.

Yes, I went into town for chicken feed and yes, I picked it up by myself and now I can't turn my head all the way to the left. Don't feel bad.

Ooohh! Look! Another eggplant came up!

No, I didn't remember to water the Mexican heathers we are going to plant this weekend. They shrivelled up something awful. But yes, I have watered them now. They have perked back up.

I found my favorite cast iron skillet out in the yard - it is now rusty. Nobody is owning up and at least one person has thrown you under the bus and said you left it out there. Hmmm. I'll probably be over it by the time you get home.

It is a warm, sunny, windy day. The little ones are in the splashy pool. So is Jules. Yes, he is 11. Yes, there is 3 inches of water in the plastic tub. No, he doesn't know there are better and funner things to do. He is homeschooled. So we can shield him from the outside world and keep him ignorant about things like waterparks.

Here is Jasper, taking a nap outside.

Here is Camille. She was dancing when you left and she'll be dancing when you get home. Which is soon, we hope. Because the trash needs taking out. And because you are missing out on a great Batman chapter book that Jasper got at the library. Truly. It is awesome. So come home or you'll miss the whole thing.

Tonight we're going to the movies. I will spend most of my time in the bathroom or in the concessions line. Friday? You're taking me to dinner. Because tonight? I'm having chalupas. As in "a small wooden boats, you idiot" (private joke). And you are having? Something way better. And then? Back to a hotel. To sleep in a big bed. Alone. Maybe watch some tv. So... maybe we'll do both dinner AND a movie when you get home. One where I get to watch the whole thing like the other grown-ups. So.....hurry. Because there are 5 of them and 1 of me.
Your Sardine Mamacita and School of Fishies

Monday, April 13, 2009

'Tis Done. It's Sprung.

Well, you've waited longer than a day, haven't you? Sorry. Entering into a relationship with me (even as a blog follower) is stepping down the occasional path to disappointment. I'm a big dreamer and a small doer. A big picture girl who gets lost in the details. A planner, not an executor. A....well, now I'm bored again. A girl with a short attention span - that's what I am. Oh, and the big mind-blowing post? We'll see where this leads. I have no plan.

Anyway - Happy Easter, Happy Pesach, Happy Renewal!

We have had such a dry winter - everything was so brown and crunchy. But we received a wee tad of rain and things have greened up a bit. Not a ton. But enough to lift my spirits. And although I am definitely an autumn person - spring is way cool and I am enjoying it. Our garden is underway - not fully sown but we are working on it. The corn has come up.

And here, on my patio, are my sprouting tomatoes and eggplant.

I was up early this morning, and I wasn't the only one puttering around

Being productive...

Or just nosy....

Anyway, we had a busy and joyful weekend. It was also exhausting. And it started on Thursday with my dad's 80th birthday. We had friends and family over for a fiesta dinner. Jeff made his world-famous (ok - maybe not WORLD famous) Cuban Enchiladas Mole. This is not a Cuban recipe. And my husband is not a Cuban man. But he is a meticulous man. The kind of man who takes 20 minutes to change a diaper but dang it - that diaper is snug and perfect when he is done - truly engineered to get the job done. His enchiladas are hand-rolled, one at a time, and each one has the exact same amount of cheese and mole sauce inside. Each one is rolled to the exact same specifications with the exact same outcome of perfectly symmetrical dimensions. It is painstaking. He made 3 pans, and at approximately 30 minutes a pan, we're talking an hour and a half of rolling. I could roll 3 pans in 25 minutes - but they would not be perfect in any sense of the word. I don't have the luxury of perfection - as someone is always wanting me to hurry up and move on to the next demand/request. So I have turned into a slap-happy task performer. I am fine with that. See how I manage to turn every discussion back towards myself? Hmmm....I am currently exploring that. My egocentric tendencies....

Back to Cuba. So I couldn't duplicate his mole sauce if my life depended on it. It is a combination of what he remembers of his own mom's enchilada sauce and his own unique twist on things. Mole sauce has chocolate in it. It isn't sweet - but you can taste it. Yum. A rich, dark sauce. My contribution was my dad's favorite salad - black bean/corn/pigeon peas/cilantro/onion and balsamic vinegar. I also made guacamole which I served on (forgive me) shredded iceberg lettuce. I put the guacamole in the center of a bed of lettuce, put a ring of chopped tomatoes around it, then a ring of shredded cheddar, and then sprinkle the whole thing with crumbled goat cheese. Nice presentation, if I do say so, myself. And I do.

Jeff also made Mexican rice and I made homemade carrot cake for desert. My sister gave my dad Pink Martini concert tickets and he is thrilled. His ring tone is Hey Eugene. My dad's name is Eugene. How fortuitous.
Saturday morning began bright and early (at 5:30 to be specific) as Ellie's and Joel's STAND chapter was holding a rummage sale with the proceeds benefiting the Genocide Intervention Network. Somehow, when that was over, all of the STAND kids ended up back at my house playing video games. Nice group of kids. Then we headed over to my dad's for a Seder meal. I know. Wrong night. But we do it when we can. And we could on Saturday. It was a perfect end to the day. The Haggadah we use has many beautiful and relevant passages to feeling the misery and pain of sharing acting to end it was moving and as I read my part I couldn't help but feel my heart swell at what my teens had spent the morning doing. Trying to end a genocide. And for me, this sort of action supersedes any religious act.
So - how about some more food descriptions? If the relatives don't give you a heart attack during the holidays - the food will! God. But. We. Had. Great. Food.

Here is the kugel I make. It was really really good. It is resting on my little Blue Nordic dessert plate. My fave.
We also had prime rib roast (which one of my vegetarians succumbed to), veggies, matzo ball soup, and chopped chicken livers, WHICH, by the way, you should not knock until you've tried. We like them mixed with onions and hard boiled eggs and spread (still warm) on matzo. Delicious. Aforementioned vegetarian caved to this, too. Lots of wine (in fact, I awoke with a minor headache the next morning) and bickering. It was awesome. Elijah, as usual, snuck in while nobody was looking, drank some wine, and snuck back out. What, I ask you, is up with that? What is it with the religious figures and their cloak and dagger tactics?

And speaking of religious figures, the next day was Easter. For someone who doesn't practice a religion, I am ridiculously religiously bi-polar (in a secular sort of way - although it is often spiritual). So LATE LATE LATE Friday night - while buzzing with Passover wine - I did what any good Jewish girl would do. I began stuffing Easter Eggs. And gettin' the ham ready. We are not doing ham next year, by the way. Just not enough carnivores left in the house. Jules has also joined the veggie ranks.

Last week, Camille wrote a letter under duress. It went something like this: Dear Easter Bunny. Don't leave so much candy. Love (sniff sniff) Camille. Yes! I did it! We had VERY LITTLE CANDY this Easter. The Bun-Man left cascarones (confetti-filled eggs) and eggs stuff with lame items and just a few pieces of candy. Of course, they got chocolate bunnies - but they got the little ones. I am making progress in this area. Another big huge family meal followed. Then we headed across the road to Aunt Maxine's farm for more food and family. It was a truly wonderful, and yes, very holy, week. But aren't they all? Or at least, shouldn't they be?

OK - so, nothing mind blowing in this post, either. I told you. With me, you will suffer the occasional bout of disappointment. I was going to post about String Theory. Really! I am not kidding! If you don't know what String Theory is - tune in next time. I'm going to discuss the mysteries of the universe. Heck - maybe I will even SOLVE they mysteries of the universe! Yes! That is it! On the next post - I, Sardine Mama, will solve the mysteries of the universe and explain String Theory. So, yeah. You will not want to miss that. Oh, and you might not want to miss my post at my other blog, Social Skills...Who Needs 'Em?

This is Sardine Mama signing off more formally as The Blessed (but not virginal) Mother of Five Fishies

Monday, April 6, 2009

Wait for It....

So I actually meant to do this post a couple of weeks ago but didn't because every time I got on the blog I had to brag about stuff because the little fishies have been busy winning things and having birthdays. And then I never got to my heavy, mind-blowing post that I wanted to do.

I'm gonna do it now, but it probably won't be as good as it would have been had I done it when it was all still fresh in my mind. Because freshness? Is important. My poor brain is like a colander. I'm pretty sure that breastfeeding caused this. Anyway, of all the stuff that gets poured into it on a daily basis - only the big chunky things stay in. The smaller, slippery things go right through the holes.

There is also space to consider. My brain, if anything, is shrinking. So when smart people try to teach me things - stupid things like how to work the remotes or program my phone or some such nonsense - I have to remind them they are risking information leakage. If something new goes in, something old goes out. And it might be something important. So do you really want to keep trying to get me to learn how to change the channel on the television now that you have rigged it up to run through the DVD player (which I never learned to use) because you never went and got one of those magic boxes when the government did the spooky thing with the digital something that has now added a bunch of religious stations and stuff to my television which only makes it take twice as long for me to locate American Idol? Do you REALLY want to keep trying with that? Because if you are successful - I COULD FORGET WHO YOU ARE. Permanently.

Besides, that's what I have people for. They download things into other things and change my ringtones and stuff. That is why I homeschool. So somebody is here should I need to change the channel.

Anyway, so you can see how hard it has been for me to hold onto this information so that I could do this super blog. But first - some bragging (sigh). Because they just keep doing stuff.

We'll do this quickly:
Ellie placed 3rd at the De Bose National Piano Competition in Baton Rouge.

Joel placed 2nd in his first-ever Tae Kwon Do tournament in a category that is called something I cannot remember. But it involves doing forms. And he looked sharp. When he sat down he said, "Wow. I impressed myself." He also placed 3rd in sparring. He was beat by an awesome woman who he referred to as old. (She is at least 10 years younger than me). Afterwards, we took him out to eat. He wore his white pants and a t-shirt. He looked like he was on weekend leave from a mental institution.

Here he is, refusing to make a normal face for the photo. This has been going on for almost a year - the face thing. He needs a hair cut. And his pants are kinda gray-ish and his jacket is bright white because it doesn't get washed as much. And he wore a goofy shirt under it. And he needs to do something about the peach fuzz on his upper lip (like shave maybe?) but he says it isn't long enough for mustache wax and that is what he intends to do with it. He also says that facial hair was popular in the 80's. He is impressed by the 80's. He also wants a mullet but I WILL NOT ALLOW THAT. And he listens to Queen. Not to be funny, either. And he is the sweetest, happiest, and kindest kid I know.

Oh! And Jules got glasses. He is thrilled with them. And he looks handsome.

Oh! Oh! And I finished the re-write of my short story - it is being critiqued by people who know how to be nice to me, and then it is going to be submitted to a contest. AND I wrote 2,500 words yesterday (in addition to finishing the re-write on the ss). I am taking Stephen King's advice and I'm going to write about 2,000 words a day on my novel. Except that I am blogging, instead. You people are corrupting me.

So NOW onto the fabulous post. Although now I am kind of tired of typing and I hear some noise coming from the den that is possibly going to need my intervention.

Oh yes. This definitely calls for an intervention. I might have to put the new light saber in jail (on top of the refrigerator) for a little while. So prepare yourselves - because TOMORROW will be the big mind-blowing post.

Today? Was another newsletter.

Sardine Mama