Monday, June 28, 2010

A Quick Post to Keep You Off My Back

Call me a bandwagon jumper, because in this case I am one. I watched my first entire soccer match on Saturday when the United States played Ghana in the World Cup, and it took me around three seconds to be hooked. Never in my life have two hours flown by so fast!

In the spirit of international unity, we ate an ethnically eclectic brunch during the game. German pancakes and Indian eggs wrapped in Mexican tortillas, topped off with good old Gig Harborian beer (for Paul, anyways).

But the best part was Chloe and Nicholas...they watched Paul's and my faces as we watched the game, and every time we cringed in disappointment or jumped off the couch in excitement, they rolled around on the floor, collapsing into gales of giggles. "Look at their faces!" they shrieked. "They're both chewing on their fingernails!" "They look so funny!" 

It's hard to be embarrassed when you're busy yelling at the overly-dramatic Ghanian players who waste so much time...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Grasping Sand

For me, the beach is a place where things remain constant. I bury my feet in warm sand or mince carefully, barefooted, across jagged rocks, and I know that despite anything we humans cause or suffer, the tide will always leave and return--the rocks will never cease to tumble in the waves.

With my toes in the water I can stop time and exist entirely in the present. Just me, the wind, the waves; maybe a seagull, maybe a tern. Maybe a family with a dog. We are all suspended in the moment, and the world cannot reach us.  

Monday, June 21, 2010


I did it! I cooked something fabulous. It made Paul's toes curl and his eyes roll back in his head.

Butter chicken over Basmati rice and pita posing as Naan bread (because the grocery store didn't have Naan. Hah! Get it? Bad grammar!)

Of course, it wasn't perfect. Paul asked that I make it spicier next time. Spicier? I was sweating like a (woman of questionable morals) in church...but then I'm the Norde/Swede/Dane...

He said, "Baby, you just sealed your position in my life with this dish. Now you have to stay."

Was that a proposal??

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What's For Dinner? No. Really. Tell Me. What On Earth Do You Want For Dinner?!?!

I hate to even write this post because I have a feeling it'll make me feel like a cow. But still, it's what's on my mind.


I've been doing this whole housekeeping for two/six thing for about 10 months now (holy crap! has it been that long?), and I think I'm doing a decent job. As of right now the dishes, if not clean, are neatly rinsed and stowed in the dishwasher, and the majority of our clothes and towels are washed, dried and more or less folded (put away? what? who does that?). Ok, so maybe the garbage cans are still at the bottom of the hill (garbage day was Tuesday), and maybe the bathroom sink really needs to be scrubbed (how toothpaste gets in the places it does, I have no idea), but it's not like we're living in filth!

But cooking...I can't seem to wrap my mind around that one.

I have grandios visions of gourmet meals that I will present to my loved ones--piping hot, healthy, and fresh from the oven. In my dreams I serve them fresh vegetables and healthfully prepared yet delicious entrees with just the right amount of presentative flair. Dinner is a festive occassion on which we only stop chewing long enough to share about our successful day and to exclaim over the genius of the chef (you!).

In my mind, our evening meal looks like this:


But in reality:

Don't judge. Paul loves this lump of mystery meat.

There are a few specific things that stand in the way of my dreams of becoming a culinary genius.

-Schedule With Paul's crazy work schedule and commute and my after work classes and homework, an evening that finds us both at home and hungry at dinner time is a rare thing. When it does happen, it's usually 9:00 pm, and we're both exhausted and starving. Who wants to cook? Enter corn dogs, tater tots, chicken nuggets and grilled cheese. That is, unless I give up entirely and announce that we will be eating Capt'n Crunch for dinner.

While searching for this photo, I came across a recipe for Cap'n Crunch-coated chicken. W.T.F.

Additionally, purchasing fresh ingredients is nearly impossible when you have no idea when you might be cooking next. Most of the produce I buy is sadly wilted by the time I get around to needing it. Mind, I usually find incredible inspiration in the grocery store and purchase it anyway, absolutely positive that we will be eating at home and together every night this week.

-Taste If I had my way, every meal would consist of mushrooms, asparagus, steamed baby carrots, spinach and avacado (ok, maybe not all together, but you get the idea). If Paul had his way, every meal would be wholly beige in color and preferably fried (maybe an exaggeration, but again, you get the idea. Vegetables are not welcome at our house unless they are canned and not green).

-Skill Bluntly put, I don't have it. Sp...eyyyye... Sp...eyyyyye....suh.... Spice? What is that? You do what with it? Where do you get it?

I try. I really do. And every time I try, I seem to fall just a tiny bit short. Most meals are followed up with, "This is really good baby! Maybe next time you should try..." (He tries, too. I have yet to serve something he won't eat. Even the chicken sausage given to us by Troy. "I'm not a fan," he said. But he ate it, and I didn't even tell him that the green stuff in there was spinach!)

So I spend my days googling recipes and reading cooking blogs. And my stream of thought usually goes something like this: "He won't eat it...he won't eat it...he won't eat many sticks of butter? He won't eat it...How long do they want that to roast? Yeah right, like I'm even home that many hours in a day. What the heck is cardamom? He won't eat it..."

I do have a crock pot (two, actually), and I realize that this should open up a whole new world of delicious recipes. Pulled pork and real pot roast, delicious stewed chicken over rice and beef stew (although he won't eat it). But let's remember that I leave the house at 5:40 a.m. and he usually gets home at 8:30 p.m. Dinner that's been in the crock pot for 15 hours probably doesn't taste that great any more.'s a girl supposed to win?

To Paul's credit, he's perfectly happy eating the same boring things night after night. When I ask for suggestions he is always encouraging. "Baby, what you make is fine! You're doing wonderfully." Right. So...burritos again?

I'm the one who needs new tastes on her palate. I'm the one who holds herself to high standards, and I'm the one who can't quite reach those standards. Also, I'm the one who gets lazy and picks up Quizno's on the way home.

So, I'll keep plodding away at my attempt to make good meals. And when I mess something up a little bit, I'll just try again with a few minor tweaks. That's how you learn, right? I may be a little old for a beginner, but I have a lifetime of cooking ahead of me. I'm bound to get something right over the years.

At least we're not eating Hamburger Helper every night...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

This Blanket of Silence Suffocates Me

As of last Friday, Lady Looney is no longer speaking to me. Now, you may assume from my previous posts and maybe from personal conversations that this is a good thing.

No longer do I have to deal with the nagging, the nosiness, the blatant WTFery. I don't have to bite my tongue to keep from correcting her fantastically made up assumptions, nor do I have to stop all activity to attentively listen to her accounts of nagging her husband. I no longer feel like she is keeping a log of every bite I eat and every time I sneeze.

Now we sit in silence. Not the easy kind of silence that occurs between companions. This is a heavy kind of brooding silence that screams, "I mad at you!"

You must be dying to ask. "What did you do? Did you finally lose your cool? Did you go off on her? Did you say the horribly  mean things you've been dying to say for eight months?"

The answer to your question is no. None of the above. In fact, I have no idea what I did. But whatever it is, it obviously warrants a thorough silent treatment.

It's miserable, actually, to sit in silence all day. To know that your attempts at niceties are completely unwanted and will be studiously ignored is an exhausting thing. The silence weighs heavily on me. It makes me nervous and it hurts my feelings. Mostly because I didn't do anything!

But I can be just as stubborn as she is, and I'm not about to come crawling back to make the peace. I'll get used to being ignored.

Sigh...this sucks.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Happy Flag Day!!

...and, oh yeah!

These are my parents. Aren't they cute?

Thirty years ago today, they looked more like this...

Happy 30th Anniversary Mom & Dad!


I think I'm getting old. Or...maybe I'm not so old, but I'm definitely out of shape. (Duh)

Ten years ago I was the captain of a championship volleyball team. Ten years ago, I could play a five-set match with no breaks. Ten years ago I had a deadly-accurate serve that no one could touch. Ten years ago I thought nothing of throwing myself flat out on the ground to dig up a hard serve.

Last Saturday, Paul and I bumped a volleyball around with the kids for about half an hour.

On Sunday, I could barely walk. My butt and quads were not happy with me. My shoulders and forearms, while not quite as upset, were still pretty pissed.

Having said that--I'm dying to play more.

Friday, June 11, 2010

His Promise Shines Brilliantly

My phone chimed at 8:09 this morning, and the preview window announced a text from Paul. My heart leaped a tiny bit in my chest. I love seeing his name pop up on my phone.

But the message gave me pause.

"Are you ok?"

"Yeah," I texted back. "Are you?"

"Yeah I just noticed that you left your ring and necklace in the bathroom today and I wanted to make sure."

I had noticed the same thing this morning on the way to my rendezvous point with Tiffany. I always take my jewelry off when I dye my hair, but today, for the first time ever, I forgot to put them back on.

My finger started to itch the moment I noticed the missing ring. It's absence is conspicuous as I go about my routines--the familiar slip of gold against my skin, the feeling of small diamonds leaving their impression in the palm of my opposite hand. There is a permanent indent around my ring finger where the band should be.

I feel naked.

 My ring is small, understated, and in my opinion, brilliantly beautiful. Five diamonds sparkle in a horizontal line, held together by a thin band of yellow gold. It travelled from an Iraqi jeweller's booth and across the world to take its place on my finger, and it is my most prized possession.

It represents a promise from Paul that I desperately needed last February. With simple clarity, it told me that at long last, he was mine.

Someday it will be replaced with a different ring that represents the next step, the next promise. While it may be relocated, my little ring will never be replaced in my heart, and it will never leave my hands.

Not for long, anyway.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What Ghosts Lie Within This Fort...

"Wait for it...wait for it," I tease my Durango full of kids. All four of them came with us to Whidbey Island this time--Lilli, Lauren, Chloe and Nicholas. My mom is beside herself with excitement to see all of them together for the first time. I am beside myself with anxiety that everything should go well this weekend. My family was about to get the Abundis experience as ten of us descend on their quiet home.

This moment, this anticipation has always been one of my favorite parts of visiting Fort Casey. The Durango winds slowly up the hill, through trees and past old military housing buildings--barracks and officers' housing and an old chapel. To the left, the tops of two great, rounded mounds run perpendicular to the road for several yards before plunging straight down again to the ground below. Their coats of well-manicured grass do nothing to disguise their inorganic shapes. "What the heck?" the kids ask.

"Just wait," I reply. I've only told them that Fort Casey is like Manchester on crack.

Finally, as we nose out of the trees and into the parking lot, Fort Casey spreads out before us--a diorama from another age. "Whoa!!" Gasps explode from the back seat, and I smile. I love sharing bits of myself with them--childhood memories that I've taken for granted.

But I feel a twinge. The great, grassy field that serves as a foreground for the Fort is smaller than I remember. Still, it is emerald green and slightly swampy from days of rain, and families play tag, catch and football in this wide-open space. That hasn't changed.

It's taken four cars to transport all fifteen of us, and as we park, kids pile out of various vehicles and embark on the same dash across the grass that I made so often as a child. There's a magnetic mystery to the hulking concrete buildings that lightens your feet and pulls you towards it. Or maybe it's simply the allure of a wide open space that begs to be raced upon.

Fort Casey rises abruptly at the far edge of the great emerald expanse.  The long, concrete bunker was built in the late 1800s and early 1900s as a third of the "Triangle of Fire,"a three-sided defense of Puget Sound against invasions by sea. Defunct before it could be used, the Fort now serves as a popular tourist stop for history buffs, adventurous families and bored teenagers.

As a child, and even as a teenager, Fort Casey terrified me. I would dread the annual field trip to the park, and would spend days trying to mentally convince myself that this time I would be brave. Its labyrinths of dank, unlit rooms spoke to me of death and decay, and my overactive imagination convinced me that the spirits of the dead still remained. In my own mind, this area had been used in war.

Today, the Fort terrifies me for a completely different reason. As children, we raced across the tops of the two story buildings, jumping over stairwells and dodging the sudden 20-foot drops to the ground below. Engrossed in our games of Capture the Flag and School Tag, we never gave thought to the risk of life and limb.

And as I watch Paul's children, their cousins and my nephew play in the same way that I had, my heart lodges itself firmly in my throat. Each time one of the kids ventures too close to a ledge or careens down a stairwell, my stomach wrenches and I panic a little more. Why did our parents allow us to play here, unsupervised? Did they not love us? How are we all not dead, or at the very least maimed?

Finally, I turn my back and force myself to trust Paul with the safety of his own kids. Now I understand why my mom would walk away as my dad encouraged her young daughters to clamber up the faces of jagged beach rocks and explore the edges of island cliffs.

The object of my fears is not the only change I notice. As my family and I walk across that once-endless expanse of grass, I realize that the face of the building is not the same as I remember. Half of it, and one of the watch towers, too, has been painted a drab olive green. As much as I wrack my brain, I can come up with no good reason for this defacement, and the disappointment breaks my heart.

And as we finally reach the stoic walls of concrete, I notice another discrepancy. The great gaping portals to the blackened rooms that once invoked such trepidation in my young mind are now sealed with thick metal doors. I'm quite sure that a piece of every child that grew up on Whidbey Island is trapped behind those metal doors. A piece of our history has been barricaded there--a piece that we are no longer permitted to share with our children.

I watch the kids play with each other and with their dads today, and I realize that they are making their own history. It's different from my own, but their world is different from mine, too. They're discovering Fort Casey--an amazing place that is half striped-grey concrete, half drab green; a place where they can run and explore the different levels, and speculate about what lies behind the mysterious, sealed doors. And maybe someday they'll bring their kids here, and they'll be disappointed that the Fort where they once ran with abandon is now barricaded sedately behind thick viewing ropes.

Yesterday, I told someone that people change, and we have to let them. I guess the same goes for places, too...

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Weekend in Bullet Points

-I fell asleep last night in a murderous rage. And I mean murderous. Pummeling. Curb-checks. Death by flame and gasoline. I woke up in it this morning, too, but I'm doing my best to calm it down. Really, I am. Mondays don't need any help to be crappy.

-Paul and I went shopping Friday evening after work. We wandered around Safeway for far too long, trying to agree on something for dinner. We finally agreed on grilled ham and cheese and tomato soup (the fixings for which we had entirely at home), so we left Safeway empty handed.

But on the way out the call of Starbucks was too strong to resist. As the barista made our deliciously-caffinated treats (venti white no whip mocha for Paul, tall stirred caramel macchiato for me), we teased each other, joking and laughing and remaining generally oblivious to the world. I can't even tell you what we joked about, but I know it included Slingblade impressions...mhmm.

As she handed us our drinks, the barista said, "You guys crack me up. You have so much fun together!"
  1. It never occured to me that the barista would be listening to us and
  2. We do have fun together, and I love that about us. Have you met my boyfriend? He's fun to be around!
-It seems like every time I boil something with milk, I conveniently forget that milk foams and boils over unbelievably quickly, resulting in a flooded stove top and the stench of scorching tomatoes and milk. Paul, being the wonderful man he is, mopped up the mess for me <3. And as an added bonus, I discovered that tomato soup brightens copper pot bottoms!

-I accidentally fell asleep watching Airplane (I know, how could I? I think I was nearly kicked out of the house!)...but after my mini, misguided nap I got two of my three finals completed. Yes!!!!!..... This quarter has actually been pretty easy (despite the crack-smoking 'teachers' and the absolute tragedy that is OC), but I'm still very glad that it's just about over. Only two more to go.

-Saturday found us wandering around town. I know Paul was trying to prevent my slow-weekend boredom. I get annoying when I'm bored.

Additionally, he was meant to have an appointment. He waited all morning for the call, and we decided to go into town so that when the call came, he would be closer to the meeting point. Of course, the call never did come and I'm not in the least bit surprised. No returned call, no return text. Not even a "Sorry, I can't make it" call. Rude and lazy. Again, no surprise. It's par for the course.

-As we waited, we decided to look for replacement grills for Paul's BBQ. We found what we needed at Lowe's, conveniently hidden behind all the brand new grills. Paul's eyes wandered to the rows and rows of shiny outdoor cooking tools.

"Ya BBQ is pretty rusted out on the bottom."

"Is it? How long have you had it?"

"Around 10 years... This one is really nice. And it's on sale!"

"This one is way nicer, and it's only another $20."

"I love the way you think, Baby!"

Fortunately for Paul, I had no reason to say no (like I would anyway. He pretty much has me wrapped around his little finger). Before I knew it, the Durango was loaded up with one of these!

Complete with a burner on the side! What do you do with a burner on a BBQ? Boil corn?

-And boil corn on the cob I did (in the kitchen, though)! In addition we had ginormous steaks, creamy baked potatoes, side salad and a cheesecake. Dad and Kathy came over for dinner and we had a great time hanging out, eating way too much and talking about everything and everyone. I always learn a lot when I'm around Doug...heh. Paul and his dad argued religion and politics and whatever else they could find to discuss, and Kathy and I spent the evening rolling our eyes at the boys. Thanks for coming out, Dad and Kathy.

Kathy was in a food coma. Natasha was starving, as usual. And holy crap, look! Dad is petting the cat!

-Once again, my favorite thing about our new grill is that it is our new grill.

-Sunday can be summed up as follows:

Except for with Thomas Kemper's Root Beer instead of Bud Light

-I love weekends like these, but I know the crazy schedule will return next weekend, and I love that too!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wordless-Thankful Combo--It's A Short Week

*Click the photos...we look better that way
**Thanks to Tiffany who took these and made a rockin' header for me!
***Click Tiffany's name for even more fabulous family photos

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Letter of Complaint to the Following:

Dear El Nino (again, see missing tilde explanation):

I know it's your year to shine, and shine you have. Wait, I take that back. Shine might be the incorrect way to describe a weather pattern that has almost completely elimintated evidence of a sun.

I understand that rain is necessary. In fact, Washington has had an easy time of it in comparison to other areas. We are not flooded, we are not frozen and we are not on fire. Our grass and trees are a beautifully vibrant emerald green (even though they are in desperate need of a trim. A trim that we have difficulty giving them because it won't stop raining!) Our summer is sure to be fruitful and without drought or famine (if that summer ever arrives).

Having cited the positive aspects of torrential downpours, I must also include a list of complaints:
  • My driveway is now an 1/8th mile uphill mud slick. While it is still navigable, we are required to get out of the vehicle before entering the house, resulting in the thick mud-caking of our shoes. This coat of mud is then transfered to my wooden floors, requiring me to sweep far more often than I want to. (Have you seen how much mud can be trapped in the tread of a pair of combat boots?)
  • I have not had a good hair day since last February, when you decided to bless us with 70 degree temperatures.
  • My grandiose plans of summer fun and frolic are thwarted on a weekly basis. By you!
  • I am depressed. You see, the human body requires a certain amount of Vitamin D to operate correctly, and without the sun we find ourselves severely malnourished. This results in low energy, a feeling of foreboding and the loss of patience towards small children who desperately need to play outside.
El Nino, I could go on and on, but my basic message is this: GO AWAY. You've outstayed your welcome. You are not wanted here anymore.


cc El Nina (your irritating, summer-squashing sister)