fledge capable of flying, from Middle English flegge, from Old English -flycge; akin to Old High German flucki capable of flying,
Old English flEogan to fly -- more at FLY
intransitive verb, of a young bird : to acquire the feathers necessary for flight or independent activity

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Ginger Lime Ice Pops and Black Velvet Apricots, because you need to know

Black velvet apricots. Ever heard of 'em? Me neither. I needed apricot-apricots. Well, actually, peaches, but the peaches were still rock hard, as were the apricots. But these "black velvet" apricots things were ripe, so let's take a bunch of those, Mr. Farmer's Market Man.

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Oh. Em. Gee! These are delicious. "Black velvet" apricots is what some marketing genius decided to call the baby of a plum and an apricot when they got busy. Plumicot. Aprilum? Anyway, very yummy. And with blueberries in a pecan-oatmeal crumble? Don't get me started!

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Black Velvet by Alannah Myles on Grooveshark

Now, doesn't that song sound like a long, lazy hot afternoon?

If you are in the throes of such a hot, lazy summer day, may I offer you a ginger lime ice pop?

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Here's my (Sorta) How-To

Boil enough water.
Add enough sugar or honey.
Remove water+sugar-and/or-honey from heat.
Shave enough fresh ginger knob* into the hot water and let cool.
Squeeze enough limes.
Strain ginger from water.
Stir lime juice into cooled water. Taste and adjust as you like.
Decorate popsicle sticks (very important: do not skip this step!) and place into holder.
Pour mixture into popsicle form and freeze.

*The root thing, not the cheeky jerk from that pub in Bristol!

Pour remaining mixture in glass over ice, add fresh mint, raspberries...and...and...let's see what do we have?...Tequilla! (Na-na-na-na-nah-na-neh-naaah!) Drink mixture and dance like Pee Wee Herman (also very important).

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Tequilla by Gipsy Kings on Grooveshark

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Craftmageddon or a party for a 13 year-old






So, yeah, that sweet little girl you met on this blog, well, the traitor went and grew up into a teenager. Thirteen years old. Each time now when someone asks how old my children are and I say my daughter is thirteen, I, without fail, get a two-note chuckle followed by, "Just wait," in response. Wait? Wait for what?

I can only imagine. Anna was born with a special dose of attitude I call Annatude. Two priceless examples: The girl is, oh, six or so and I reprimand her for leaving the water running in the kitchen. Her response, hands on hips (which has since become a family joke), "Where's your proofidence?!" Proofidence. Right. The second example is when the girl was about eight, I think. I presented some pretty bare boned facts about her needing to come along while I ran some errands. "Not in my world. And right now, I'm in my world."

Living with that world in my world takes a special kind of patience and humor, I think. The girl has had the eye-roll and the scoff down pat for some time now. Her older bother and I have toyed with the idea of an phone app to interpret most of these scoffs: Heavy sigh = "I don't want to eat dinner, I'm Skyping with Ellie", tongue click + short grunt = "my brother is an idiot", growl = "my mother will never understand me, never!", low-pitched grunt = "my dad is so embarrassing." Needless to say, Anna did not find this amusing. Not in her world.

I guess teenage girls are just somewhat difficult to please, am I right? So, for her birthday party, I want to give her what she wants, exactly what she wants. Overall, she wanted "A small group (check). Everything black and white (if that's what you want). Crafts (what kinds of crafts, dear? grunt + burst of breath through front teeth = "don't ask me--you're the craft expert. Not too complicated. And not stupid").

I'll admit, I did become a bit of a Pinterest victim, but the four little projects this "craft expert" choose worked well for girls this age, I think. There was a well-timed 50%-off coupon in my inbox, so I had some custom mugs made up at Zazzle with each of the girls' names and then "you + me = awesome" (see the "we" there in red? Get it?).



Before the party, I tested different paint pens, Sharpies and the like. I found that puffy (fabric) paint, believe it or not, worked about the best. It didn't scratch off and survived a few bouts of hand washing in hot soapy water.


Next, the girls painted some wooden picture frames with chalkboard paint (I know, I know, chalkboard paint is so Pinterest 2010. But when black-and-white is all you're given to work with...). Before painting the girls used stick-on letters to add their names or messages, which were then peeled off once the paint dried.



And lastly, I had the ladies make two different kinds of scrap memory books. The girls can add photos and things to these later. These memory books, I think, were the biggest hit with the gals.






We made these round kind that open up to display (How-To LINK). I pre-cut all the papers like this...


And then they made these little square squash book ones. These are so easy and fun to make (How-To LINK).



I own a random glass chandelier. Because I do. I take it out of the garage and hang it in the yard when things need to get fancy. I added these tissue tassels. I haven't seen tissue tassels on backyard chandelier on Pinterest yet. So there! I hope that makes up for the overuse of chalk.


I also fell victim to a Martha Stewart butterfly punch. Easy to do. Anna and I made these black and white butterfly garlands on fishing line and hung them from black paper parasols.


Do this: Make homemade fruit pops and serve them in tumblers. Use fancy straws in case you blog. Pour French lemonade over them: So fancy! (this mom poured French champagne over hers, hee-hee).



Oh, for all my whining, I love my baby girl. When she's happy, I'm happy. And she was happy with her birthday party. Happy, happy, giggly, giggly, sweet, sweet, hugs and kisses for me happy.





Friday, June 6, 2014

Copy cats

Oh! Hello there...



I have mused in the past about the cat/man divide and how I prefer to maintain this boundary. Again, it is nothing personal, it is just the chemical warfare that reeks havoc with my sinuses and eyes and lungs that is cats. But again, whatever I want or need is of no matter to cats. If our feline overlords decide that they like you, then like you they will and you will like it (say that like Colonel Klink)!

For some time, a black and white spotted cat and a grey and white tiger striped cat decided they liked us. Or at least our yard.

Shortly thereafter, one very early morning, before the sun came up, I stepped outside my front door and -- zoom! zoom! zoom! -- three tiny exact copy cats of these two big cats ran right over my feet!

Kittens.

Oh boy.

Kittens.

We have kittens. Strike that: As I just explained, we don't have kittens. Kittens have us.

Fortunately, the kittens also have Mama Cat watching them. She is doing a fine job, too. But kittens!?

Thank you, Internet, for giving me a few tips on the situation. We are offering them bits of food and we sit as close as we can, so that the cats will hopefully become socialized. I hope they will become trusting enough to let us touch them, so that at least we can get them spayed or neutered. Best case scenario, someone will be willing to take them in. For now, they seem pretty young still and they are probably best staying by Mama Cat. Dad Cat is actually not such a deadbeat and shows up once in awhile, too. I hope he's not just being a Tom Cat. I don't need more copy cats.

Anyway, here I'll let the kittens work their cuteness voodoo on you, too...




This one I call Braveheart, because she has the most courage.


This one we call Meow Zedong, because he's kind of a dictator, bossing his sisters about.


And this one. This one is so shy and stays back and lets her brother and sister do all the exploring. We just call her Grey One or PC2 (Pretty Cat, Too).








Friday, May 30, 2014

Not so black and white


I was at this park watching all these little, little kids inline skate on this really crazy, difficult course. It was insane! These little kids, maybe 4 or 5 years old, doing these jumps and flips and going so fast. And I thought, uh-oh, this is something else my kids cannot do. Something else that I've neglected to offer my children. All the kids will grow up being able to jump and flip, but not my kids. At any rate, it was time to leave, so I got in the car with my husband. He was driving. Jack was walking with his friends up ahead a ways. I asked my husband to stop to pick him up. He drove past him, saying it was not a good place to stop. Stop, I say, and let him get in the car! Jack is running as fast as he can to catch us. But my husband speeds up. The world is not waiting for Jack, my husband says, Jack needs to pick up the pace, this is good for him to run. Jack hears this and then he turns away from us and starts running down a foot path, which we cannot drive down. Jack just keeps running and running away and we cannot follow him. I want to apologize to Jack. I am not sure if I want to apologize for not pushing him enough, because he cannot flip and jump on inline skates, or if I want to apologize for pushing him too much, making him take all those AP classes and not slowing down a bit. "Jack!" I to yell aloud to the boy running away from me..."Jack!"... And my yell wakes me up.

It was a dream.

My subconscious is not subtle. While pushing the kids to excel, will I push them away? Will I always feel so guilty for not doing enough and for doing too much? I know several families, who have a child graduating from high school. These sons and daughters have awards and scholarships. They know to which excellent universities they will be attending in the fall. Those parents got it right. I wish it were all more black and white to me.

But it's not, is it? The one thing I really want to get right, help my kids to the best of my ability become the best version of themselves, I might be getting wrong. 

It should be simple. Black and white simple. Like a Saul Steinberg drawing. Which is actually very sophisticated and layered and complex, even though it is simple.

"The artist is an educator of artists of the future... who are able to understand and in the process of understanding perform unexpected – the best – evolutions."

- Saul Steinberg


Saul Steinberg
Untitled, 1948.
Ink on paper, 14 1/4 x 11 1/4".
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.


This is my blatant infringement. Can we agree on "homage"? 


I left this thread loose, hanging out of the needle. It may not last long there. Or maybe it will.


Okay, that's a tad dramatic...but I do believe doing something creative does lend itself to a considered and experienced life, don't you?



Anyway, that Saul Steinberg infringement homage is the outside to a roll-up sewing tool kit. I'm always doing a bit at home, then a bit at my office...and I'm always leaving this or that tool somewhere. So, I'm hoping something like this will help me keep my stuff together. If I can't keep my sh*t together, at least my stuff is together.



I quickly made some "smalls" to put in the kit.



I liked making these itty-bitty smalls. In about fifteen minutes, I've sewn something. And something super practical. I like to carry around a tape measure. And I like to have itty-bitty Post-Its handy. So these do the trick pretty well.

I also made a book cover for my old copy of The Hobbit. Anna doesn't think she needs to read The Hobbit and/or The Lord of the Rings, because she saw the movies. If I were Queen of the World (am I am available for that position), I would make sure everybody read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings before seeing the movie. Or at least after. So I made Anna this book cover to help encourage her to read this book.



By pulling a tab at the top, you can move the owls eyes up and down. By pulling the tab all the way out, you have a book marker.





Behind the eyes I used stamps to write "Read more"... a bit of dyslexic stamping on that "E" there... *sigh* 

Even black and white gets complicated. Anyway, this keeps me from getting bored, right?

“The life of the creative man is lead, directed and controlled by boredom. Avoiding boredom is one of our most important purposes."


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Blood determines lineage, but I have a working hypothesis that hearts determine families.

Ever been to Tijuana? "T.J."? Even if you haven't, I'll bet you think it's shorthand for anything-goes partying, a bit of lawlessness, cheap prescription medicine and pervasive hopelessness. What Tijuana really is, is a border town that is experiencing tremendous growth in population, as people relocate from rural areas in hopes of a better life. The search of a better life sometimes ends up rather bad. And often, it is the children that get the worst of the bad. Poverty often brings abuse, neglect and abandonment in its wake.

I won't make any assumptions about the Mexican foster care or child welfare systems, because I really don't know anything about them. However, I've seen a thing or two relating to the American foster care and child welfare systems, and, suffice it to say, that no matter a nation's wealth or relative position in the world, every nation often falls short in their obligations in protecting and caring for the youngest and most vulnerable among us. Child abuse, neglect and abandonment all belong to our collective human shame.




The hills are covered in ad hoc dwellings. The ingenuity of many makes it a shame to call them shanties. The people do the best they can with what they have and that is something to truly admire. 



"Find your honor in trustworthiness. Laugh and sing during difficult times." 

But there are people and there are places that are doing good by our children. Yesterday, I had the honor to visit one such place, a wonderful, happy place. Corazon de Vida, is, year by year, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, giving child by child a fighting chance at a great future. About 60 children, ranging in age from infants to teens, are cared for, clothed, fed, educated and nurtured, day in and day out, at this home in Tijuana.




Corazon de Vida ("heart of life") is a U.S.-based 501(c)(3) non-profit charity dedicated to empowering children. This is from their Web site:

OUR MISSION

To raise contributions in the form of money, materials and volunteer work to support and empower the children of Baja.

OUR VISION

That every child in the world has someone committed to the possibility that their life hold the same excitement and opportunity as the most fortunate child on Earth.

OUR BELIEF

We believe that every child’s life is valued and holds the same potential, excitement and opportunity as any other life. It is up to us to work together to make sure our care transforms into each child’s hope for the future.

OUR GOAL

To End The Cycle of Poverty and Homelessness






"I don't know if I should be happy or sad," my son Jack says to me after our visit. 

Blood determines lineage. But what about hearts? I have a working hypothesis that says hearts determine families. Corazon de Vida is not an orphanage per se. It is a home. And a home is a place for families. Families are where children are loved, nurtured, cared for, given boundaries, responsibilities, brothers and sisters, a place of their own and a chance to grow and blossom into the greatest version of themselves. Some of these children may be reunited with their mothers as their circumstances improve. And some will be with Corazon de Vida until they are 18. Or older. Because family is forever.

Mexican public (free) schools go up to the ninth grade. After that, schooling costs tuition, as does a university education. Children of Corazon de Vida will be sponsored--given room and board, school uniforms, books and the rest of it--for as long as they are in school, past their 18th birthday if need be. "I want to make these kids become millionaires one day," remarked Corazon de Vida board member Nicholas Sandoval, "That way, they can come back and end the cycle." Right on, brother!


A volunteer donates belly tickles and hugs.


This home runs its own school, which also teaches children from outside Corazon de Vida.


A hand up (not out).



Teenagers at Corazon de Vida are given private rooms to share with one or two others. Each child has his own belongings and clothes, so that each child can develop his own sense of self.



"Every child’s life is valued and holds the same potential, excitement and opportunity as any other life."



Everything at Corazon de Vida Tijuana is super clean, organized, well-maintained and neat as a pin. The children are instructed in how to keep their toys and spaces neat and do their small part to make this home their home.


I think I can...I think I can!


Board Member Andrew travels from Los Angeles to Tijuana 2-3 a month times to volunteer and give some love.



A roof. A shoe. A gaggle of boys. And my son right smack in the middle of all this. Yep: looks about right.


It's only a foul if it's called! Final score: USA - 6, Mexico - 10. (Also, 6 Mexicans against my one gringo, but, in the end, the final score is all that counts, right?)


Here's something my surfer boy might have a better shot at.


Sweet, sweet baby girl.


To save on the grocery bill and teach the kids a thing or two about botany, the home has planted vegetable gardens.


A blessed home.

If you look in your own corazon and see that you may have even a small donation in your budget, please consider a gift to Corazon de Vida. It only costs about $60 for all the needs of a child for a month. Think about it: Could you clothe, feed, house and educate your kid on $60 a month? I've already discussed this with my daughter Anna: She has a birthday coming up and one of her "presents" will be a donation to Corazon de Vida. Her idea. (Did I ever mention how wonderful my Anna is? Well, consider it mentioned!) 



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