Monday, September 22, 2008

bake sale!

Q: what's better than a good, old fashioned bake sale?
A: a good, old fashioned bake sale for a great cause, with a modern twist!!!
head on over and take a look at all of the cookies that are for sale, including 2 batches from my own oven...

Dar's Peanut Butter cookies

and... (my tribute to NYC) Black & White Cookies
(I can't promise mine will look this perfect, but I will promise they will be delicious!)
p.s. thanks,
for letting me borrow this picture since I didn't get my actual ones baked in time to photograph myself

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Huntington Harbor c1982

I miss you, Uncle Rudy... hope you and Topaz are safe.
(last docked near Galveston, TX)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Murphy, we're not in Brooklyn anymore (part 2)

the East River from my neighborhood in Brooklyn

the river forming East of my porch, Kansas (thanks, Ike)

Friday, September 12, 2008


Growing up in California you miss out on a few things. Snow days, dogwood trees, summer rainstorms, lightning bugs. And the changing of seasons. Sure, December tends to be a few degrees colder than June, and it generally rains in the "winter" months, but you never get that pull of the season really changing like you do in other climates.

I need seasons. Mentally, emotionally, even spiritually. I need the tangible example to throw in the face of the "you're always going to feel this way" melancholy moods when they hang on me like wet jeans. I think that before I moved away from the West Coast I was stuck in a sort of limbo, like in the Mid-West and East when it's not quite cold enough for your favorite sweater yet but all of the color is gone from the trees. Sure, the occasional sunny day would hit, but for the most part the weather was of no help when it came to wrestling with depression.

The first winter I lived in Detroit was the worst they had had in 15 years. We got our first blizzard on October 8 (16 inches that stuck around), the last one in April, and nothing but cold and dreary in between. We were living in a basement, so the lack of light did a number on me. I cried a lot for no particular reason. But I will never forget the first sprig of color I saw on a rare clear patch of ground around early May. It was green with a tiny crown of purple petals. It almost hurt my eyes it was so magical and bright against the sludgy snow. I sobbed like I had found a long lost sibling. That was a great moment, even worth what it took to make it happen. How else could I be so effected by a blade of grass? ("...not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these")

In Detroit I discovered the joys of geraniums. Very hearty (so I almost cannot kill them) and cheerful through many temperature changes. Today they just looked so beautiful to me, perched in their pots as autumn was whispering her arrival. The change of light, the slight drop in temperature. Remembering that soon the trees will be glowing with reds and oranges and yellows that don't exist anywhere else in the world. A little nudge out of my "mood". Deep breath. Forced smile that sticks a little longer than the last one. I think I need to bake a pie.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


You know your birthday (or anniversary) is near when it shows up as the expiration date on perishables. When I bought these eggs a couple of weeks ago I had a "gasp... is it really coming again?" moment. But I had to get back to my shopping and couldn't dwell on it because it wouldn't be good to start sobbing in the dairy aisle.

We were living in the suburbs of Detroit on 9-11-01. I was late to work because the house across the street was on fire and I couldn't get out of our parking lot. The radio in my car didn't work, so I had a cd in. When I rushed into the store where I was working (a major home decorative fabric retailer that isn't worth mentioning), ready to pour out my big story about why I was late, everyone was gathered in the office. My "you'll never believe what just happened" disinigrated in the air as one of my co-workers put her arm around me and said "honey, a jet just crashed into the World Trade Center". (I can't even type that without tears)

There are moments that are forever frozen in time, and that is one that cannot leave me. I remember every thought that raced through my mind in a second, trying to process the impossible. "No, wait... what Bruce Willis movie was that? This is a "War of the Worlds" broadcast, it can't be real."

I called Aaron and woke him up, told him to turn the TV on. He asked what channel, and I said "I don't think it matters".

As the day went on (our manager still opened the store and "suggested" that we carry on as normal... with the radio on over the PA system) the shock rolled over me in waves. I will never forget the woman I got stuck with for hours that day. Middle-aged, fake tan, fake boobs, shortish. She was really concerned about finding fabric for draperies that would pull out the mauve in the flame stitch on the wing-chairs in her living room.

The next August we moved to Brooklyn. On the first anniversary I didn't really know what to do, so I took the train into Manhattan. I wanted to just be near the people and the city I had grieved for. I think I hoped they would recognize me, that they would know how I would come home from work at 6 and still be sitting in front of the TV with my keys in my hand, purse over my shoulder when Aaron would get home at 11, just not wanting to miss when they found someone. I wanted them to know how I ached too as hope dwindled, that I sent work gloves with messages written on them and biscuits for the rescue dogs.

I wanted to be a New Yorker, but I felt more like I was crashing a funeral so I just came home. I realized by the silence and the look on their faces that I could not comprehend what their grief was.

Over the next 6 years of living there and becoming a New Yorker, I realized that there would forever be 2 classes... pre and post. I never met a pre 9-11 New Yorker that did not have some personal loss that day. Every fire station that I ever walked past had a memorial to the brothers they lost. Not that they lost some, but that these were the ones who were lost. We all have a story about that day, but it's not the same as the stories of the people who were there.

This is the first anniversary of that day that I am not in New York. It hurts. It forces me to realize that even this sorrow is a feeling of empathy, not of personal grief. When a tragedy happens that effects you on a deep level that you don't understand, I think our nature is to dilude ourselves into thinking that it makes us part of it. The feelings are real, but when you are on the inside you don't have to be reminded of a day like this by the stamp on a carton of eggs.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

my dear sewing machine

Between ages 13 and 26 I burned out 3 sewing machine motors. (I started working on patience more into my 30s)

You know it's bad when your sewing machine repair man begs you to please buy one "you can't break". Honestly, all I knew at the time was I had 7 purple bridesmaids dresses to finish in about 3 days and anything he gave me that would get the job done would have made me happy. Bless his heart, he talked me into spending about $600 on my Janome New Home My Excel 23x, rather than just getting yet another "disposable" one.

I love that machine. Deeply, madly, truly. We've been through a lot together, and it has been just as kind to me when I have made it disgrace itself with purple taffeta bridesmaid dresses or Route 66 upholstery fabric pillows with fringe and a zipper as it was making my lovely silk wedding dress. In fact, I think it was kinder in those moments of what I like to refer to as "whoring my talent", patiently understanding that I needed to pay the bills.

The first time I moved to Kansas there was a tornado warning in the middle of the night and I was down there in the basement with my machine. (never lived that down)My theory is that as long as I have it (we have eachother) I can always start over. Can't you just see me in one of those terrible late night interviews outside in my ragged jammies, talking about how it "sounded like a freight train", clutching to my beloved machine!?

And when I was thinking of adding to the "family" and buying a serger (which, by the way changed my life), I decided to be as unbiased (no pun intended) as possible and really do the research. But what I came up with is that New Home is the best. So much less expensive than the others, and the only thing you can't do is be part of the Husky or Viking Cults. (who am I to talk?!)

So, here are the practical reasons I love my particular machine:
  • it doesn't beep at me, the motor is computerized but there are no digital annoyances telling me what to do or scolding me when I do something wrong (although I will build an altar for the person who invents a bell that goes off when the bobbin thread runs out during sewing)

  • the needle up/needle down button (makes corners a breeze), also the needle always stops in the "fully up" position so there's no need to turn the dial on the side when removing what you were sewing (LOVE that)

  • automatic button-hole maker (pop the button in and it automatically makes the button-hole the right size!)

  • drop-in bobbin with the see-through top
  • conveniently located thread cutter
  • flip-open "junk drawer", which also comes off to reveal the free arm
  • all of the pressure feet, what they are for, and how to use them is right there in front of your face
  • pressure feet pop right off with a red button, so no screwdriver needed!
  • rolled hem foot
Although, the relationship you develop with the item you use (and depend upon) most in life really does happen over time. Late nights, last minute alterations, baby clothes, Easter dresses, curtains and everything in between are what make the bond develop... but being a great machine is what keeps it in that place for you to love.

(p.s. yes, I fully realize that I am crazy to have spent so much time on this post professing my love for my sewing machine while it sits 5 inches away waiting to accomplish the pile of work we have.)

Murphy, we're not in Brooklyn anymore

out my window, Brooklyn
rap video shoot

out my window, Kansas
jr. high marching band practice

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Mrs Imiss

Today I almost called my grandma. The flood of "I miss" began as the "oh, yeah, I can't because she died" wall came tumbling down. Dam. (Damn dam) *sigh*
Must be the rain outside my window and the drop in temperature bringing on the melancholy mood. All I can think about today is what I miss...
*grandma, even her propaganda (this election would have made her crazy)
*baking (I think I have some brownie mix to pacify me until I can get the kitchen in proper post-move condition for making some Irish Soda bread)
*the Pacific Ocean (oh, dear... any ocean or body of water larger than the giant puddle in my Kansas driveway)
*the kitchen in my last home, with its high counters and deep sink and drinkable tap water
*Mr. Softee (more later on the ban)
*My nieces and nephews
*feeling like the Queen of Ireland, mastering driving on the wrong side
*looking over at the King of Ireland in the passenger seat