Wednesday, September 30, 2009


...she said, as she checks off another round of fixes:

Replace cracked water glass inserts in kitchen cabs?


Replace pond pump?


Get water bell to work correctly?


Install Never MT endless soap into kitchen soap dispenser, prime for 4 hours, sucking, cleaning, pumping, determined to get it to work, only to realize it's not the new Never MT gizmo, it's the old gizmo, up under the top of the dispenser that isn't working. (This is after getting the soap up over 3 feet of tubing, but still 2" away from the top!)


Replace soap dispenser? (aha!)


Figure out if I can use the guts of the new dispenser in the old one 'cuz I like the curves of the old one better.

not yet, but I'm working on it.

Replace toaster oven.


Replace hinge on dishwasher door that just snapped to the floor one fine evening recently

hmmmm....might have to pull out some floor tiles to get to that.

Scrub kitchen floor tiles with bleach solution--first time in months!


Remove and wash slipcovers.


Drop wedding rings at the jeweler.


Make decision on whether to replace, reshank, or redesign rings due to their worn state. (Hence the repeated ring rash.)

need husband to co-partner in this delicate decision.

that would require a trip into WHollywood with him alongside me.

Have naked fingers while wedding rings sit at the shop for almost 3 weeks.

check. (irony still noted.)

Oh, and tomorrow I'll post pictures and tell you about my latest repair and the joys of learning code....

triple check.

Excuse me while I go and have a (celebratory) cocktail!

I believe I earned it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Few Small Repairs...

Been trying to repair, replace, fix, update things around here.*

Everything is taking longer than expected.

I need to let go of my expectations and need for instant fixes.


Placing hand on heart, tucking in to the center, I inhale a deep swell of air, ribs expanding, then after a pause at the top, blow it all out and open my eyes. Looking around I am instantly transported to a lighter altitude, one of possibility. It's bright up here. Ideas come lightning fast.

How quickly I fall into fixing, of working out the details of physical manifestation. I am reminded of the frustrations (and slowness) of working in density. It rarely comes quickly. Or easily.

* Why is it things always fall apart in clusters? I went through this last year.  Must be going through another upgrade...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fig Explosion!

For the last month or so, figs have been literally falling from the sky. A veritable bounty of Black Mission figs so fresh to bursting, mere steps from my back door, have been calling out to me, beckoning, offering her lusty wares while her heady scent perfumed the air. Remarkable for a tree that nearly snapped a year back.

But a girl can only drink so many Figgytinis while nibbling on figs with crumbled gorgonzola, or even figs straight up while the rest of the family turns in indifference.

Meanwhile, if I didn't get to them, the birds and bees and squirrels and raccoons and the ground would. We were already attracting every winged creature in the 'hood while mounds of rotting flesh sat at the trunk's base decomposing.

What to do with all. that. fruit?

A moment of inspiration came when my sweet friend Clemence of Gourmandise Desserts (check out her sugary site!) suggested making jam.


I'd leave you the recipe, but alas, it was one of those in-the-moment, impromptu improvisations. A just-do-it and don't-think-about it creations.

Introducing, the Black Mission-Meyer Lemon Fig Jam....a recipe in pictures.

Gather figs ripe to bursting.

My precious little sweethearts.

Rinse and cut into quarters.

Add thinly sliced Meyer lemons and a ton of sugar. (My bad, I didn't weigh it, just did it by sight.) Let it sit and macerate for at least a half an hour so the juices release and marinate together.

Into the stockpot under medium-high heat.

Boil it down....And boil it some more...until it thickens and globs on the back of a wooden spoon.

Boil the jars and lids separately. Remove with tongs and fill with hot jam. Carefully wipe rims and replace lids, then return to a water bath, boiling the filled jars for another 15-20 minutes. Remove and listen for the little "pop" that announces that the lids have all sealed.

Ah, my precious little jewels.
(And another big tupperware filled in the fridge.)

Just needs some nifty labels and a raffia ribbon around the top.

I tried slathering some of the jam over a pork tenderloin and roasting it in a hot oven, making a quick pan sauce out of the drippings with zinfandel and butter.

It's all blurry with goodness.

The ubiquitous fresh fig salad over just picked-from-the-garden arugula, crumbled gorgonzola, and drizzled with olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar.

And in another moment of inspiration,

I created this Fig and Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Galette.


OMHOG was that good. Pinch me good.

Makes that whole strawberry-rhubarb combo taste like Marie Callender's. (I'm just sayin')

Have a Figtabulous day!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Feeling Into It

Eyes closed, heart open, hands extended outward, reaching, feeling into it, into the void, the cusp of possibility, edges blurry, momentary glimpses, rising then dissolving back into the mist, as I feel my way forward.

Nothing is certain yet something is certainly imminent, as certain as that jackhammer next door rattles and stops, rattles and stops.

Renovation's begun.

What's next is yet to come, but I am feeling an abundance of potential... it draws near.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Moving On...

We survived the 09.09.09.

No big dramas or melt-downs.

In fact, it was rather pleasant. Shall we say, buoyant?

Miss S started her first day at her new school yesterday. She not only survived, she liked it.

She also liked riding the bus, something we weren't so sure about. (She gets to ride a school bus to school now. In some weird twist of fate, her bus stop is smack dab in front of her old school.)

When I arrived to pick her up in the afternoon, she was swingin' and happy with her mates (she rides with 3 other friends from her former school.) Love it!

In a fortuitous moment of happy happiness, seconds after her bus pulled up, another school bus pulled up right behind hers, and 3 more former classmates stepped off the bus from their first day at their new school. Defectors unite!

The sight of half a dozen happy 2nd graders (and a 4th grader) hugging, smiling, and prancing around the front grounds together in some giant reunion of sorts, was a sight to behold.

Happy, happy!

Btw, 10 is her favorite number. Guess what room she got?

More happy, happy!

Today, I'm off to repair my wedding rings that are bent out of shape and giving me such ring rash I can't wear them. (Irony noted.)

Next up, replacing the cracked glass in our cabinet doors, and the broken pond pump.

I feel a clean sweep coming...

Friday, September 04, 2009

Catching Up to Now

Wow. It's 9.4.9. Counting down to 9.9.09.

I guess the best place to start is where we are: eeking out the last vestiges of summer before we start a new chapter, a new school year, and for us, a new school.

For someone like me, that last little phrase does not get written lightly. There are all kinds of weight and connotation and massive amounts of emotion and transition stirred into that little phrase, but change we are.

We are leaving "the little school that could" - the one I hoped it would anyway - the one I had invested almost 4 years of my life to, sacrificed significant hours and income to, leveraged political ties and social relationships, my capacity to mother and at times even my marriage to. We are leaving behind the little experiment.

There. I said it.

It's a relief, really. As if a giant weight-of-the-world has been lifted and I am suddenly unpinned, weightless. Free of the responsibility of the ensuing issues and dramas and politics and constant challenges at that little school.

On Tuesday, we will be starting orientation at a new school. We were given a rare opportunity, and after an agonizing week of deliberation, we decided to take it.
In a crazy stroke of backwards luck due to budgets cuts and thus increased class sizes all over LA, Miss S won a coveted lottery spot for 2nd grade at a fantastic school – one she never would have gotten into unless someone had either moved away or, I hate to say it, died. It’s a magnet, a charter, a Nat’l Blue Ribbon school, a CA Distinguished school, and an International Baccalaureate program that weaves a focus on Humanities and Global-Perspectives into the overall curriculum, and it’s public so it's tuition-free. It's a great school. It will be a big change for all of us.

Mostly we are counting down to NEW.

Mostly I am rethinking what to do with all this freed-up time.

Mostly I have been relearning how to float.

I have become quite buoyant this summer.

* * *
To back up a bit, the last time I posted back in April my life was churning ahead full-speed. I did a series of radio shows taking on the CA State Superintendent, then the President of the UTLA teachers' union, then the Superintendent of the LA school district offering my in-the-trenches perspective on our dysfunctional public school system. I was asked to speak on Brooklyn's Public Think Tank Radio. Recent press had my Guidebooks flying out the door and me booked solid with speaking events, especially a new model I devised called The House Chat, taking my public school demystification sessions into the living rooms of groups of "strollermoms" and "preKindermoms" all over this fine city, teaching them the ins and outs of our school lottery systems and urging them to get active and involved early on, stoking the grassroots passion and activism I love to inspire. I also began offering individual one-on-one sessions in addition to my usual round of "Choosing A Kindergarten" Nights at many local preschools.

I was awed when my chats inspired a group of strollermoms to launch a fundraising booster club years ahead of the completion of their new school, and another group asked me to come back and teach them how to transform their lackluster neighborhood fixer-upper school. I had goose-bump moments speaking to a class of Early Childhood Education teachers about why, really, we teach, and questioning what, in the end, are we really trying to teach our children, our next generation of citizens, and how together, with collaboration and parent participation, we have this amazing opportunity to not only connect with, but inspire our children, our communities, and shape our future.

On top of this I was waging letter-writing campaigns to our local school board members fighting the good fight against budget cuts, teacher pink slips, losing our Ast Principals (we lost some of them in the end but not without a fight), speaking out in local town halls and local e-blasts, while at the same time helping to establish our school's new by-laws and next year's operating budget, as well as creating our monthly school newsletter, and performing all the myriad tasks I do for our little school.

By the time early June rolled around, I was exhausted.

I put down my sword. I relinquished my 2 -year stint as creator/editor of the school newsletter. I let go of the grant I was overseeing when I realized we couldn't complete the project within the grant's deadline due to yet another ridiculous roadblock with District Facilities flagged by our by-the-book new principal. I stopped trying to wedge in our Professional Development sessions, budgeted for by parents and pre-approved by the former principal, when repeatedly faced with an unyielding Scheduler, um, calendar. I was simply unwilling to become not just next year's Room Parent, but a "Grade-wide Parent" (here we go holding up the school again) to compensate for the lack of volunteers on the other side of the social-economic divide, meanwhile facing either a teacher we all wanted fired or another one who hadn't taught 2nd grade in almost 5 years and having no say in the matter.

Optimistic, yet exhausted, I Just...



Even still, with all this investment of time and effort and resources, it's hard to just walk away.

My heart, my passion…my very blood is coursing through that school. I have been part of the collective vision and outreach of that little school since my daughter was in preschool, circa 2006!

But when the call came that last week in June dangling this amazing opportunity for Miss S, that's what we did. We made the choice to walk away. 

To try something new.

I can't imagine what I'm going to be doing with all this free time….

I just keep reminding myself, all is unfolding in divine perfection.

This moment is fine.

Don’t need to see the whole map.... 

Got 4 more days to float....

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Mama Got A Facelift!


Don't you think it's been long enough since I posted?

I do.

So in light of my homecoming, not to mention the start of a new school year, I decided to give myself a whole new look. Courtesy of The Cutest Blog On The Block.

Hmmmm.... Where does one begin after such a long hiatus?

Why, with a cocktail, of course.

You may remember a story posted some time back about my Mission Fig Tree. No? Well, by all means, check it out here.

In the meantime, I am celebrating her abundant harvest with the following delightful summer sipper...

The Figgytini

The Figgytini

In a cocktail shaker, muddle together the following:
1 overripe fresh Black Mission Fig, cut in half, scoop inner flesh with a teaspoon (discard skin)
juice of 1/2 a Meyer lemon (lime will also work)
1/2 tsp of raw cane sugar (adjust depending on ripeness)

Half-fill shaker with ice. Add:
1 1/2 oz Makers Mark bourbon* (I find this compliments the figs tremendously more than vodka does)

Shake, shake some more, strain, and serve in a chilled martini glass. (You really need to break down the ice to make this one work.) Garnish with a wedge of fresh fig and a lemon twist, or a sprig of mint.


That's it for now, but I'll be back tomorrow with more to share....