Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Quinn's List

Well, after much cajoling, I finally got Quinn to e-mail me his Christmas list. My first thought was, "this is much shorter than Logan's," but then I read line no. 15, which refers to Logan's wish list. Anyway, you can tell the boys are growing out of the Lego's era and are now thinking about clothes and gadgetry.

Christmas list:

1.Itunes gift cards

2.new slim jeans

3.new plaid shirts

4.Harry Potter movies 1-6

5.gift cards to Movie Theater

6.new ski jacket

7.street surfer (skate board with two wheels)

8.spore creepy and cute

9.new wii controller

10.mechanical pencils

11.wii games

12.ipad J

13.itouch J

14.Boogie Board tablet J

15.munchkin cards (see Logan’s Christmas list)

16.U of O bookstore gift cards

17.cell phone J

18.new earbuds for ipod (skullcandy)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Logan's Xmas list

Well, here it is, the 2010 christmas list by Logan. Quinn's is still on his computer so I'll have to retrieve it later and post. Note that Logan modified his list after playing the card game Munchkin for a weekend with Rachel and Quinn. He has detailed instructions at the top of the list which read: "strike through item means I don't want it any more;" "Stuff in red is a priority;" "Red means if that's the only stuff I get for christmas I will be happy!" Since I can't format the list as it's written, I'll indicated the striked items with an (x) and highlight the items written in red.

  1. Palm Pixie--phone
  2. Wii games
  3. Nice mechanical pencils (the kind that Doug gave us last year.)
  4. Plaid shirts
  5. ipad
  6. computer games
  7. Any shirts (casual, nice)
  8. Pant: slim, not skinny
  9. Shoes (I get to pick)
  10. Wii controller
  11. charger for wii remote
  12. wii resort
  13. books, or bookstore gift cards (X)
  14. itunes gift cards
  15. Nice fitting jacket
  16. 1-6 Harry Potter dvds
  17. movies
  18. Wood shop stuff (X)
  19. Trumpet lessons, probably for high school
  20. warm-ups for dance (X)
  21. New munchkins (X)
  22. blow gun
  23. models, like what MorFar got me
  24. Rosetta Stone in French
  25. Pencil lead
  26. non-drying clay in multiple colors
  27. money
  28. Kettle chips, Sea Salt and Vinegar flavor (X)
  29. Gift card to movie theater (X)
  30. Boxers (X)
  31. The Other Guys dvd (X)
  32. Anything else you think we might like
  33. Tons of gift cards to UO bookstore
  34. Munchkin 2 -- Unnatural Axe
  35. Munchkin 4 -- The need for steed
  36. Munchkin 6 -- Demented Dungeons
  37. Munckin 7 -- More good cards
  38. Munchkin -- Fairy Dust
  39. Munchkin -- Waiting for Santa
  40. Munchkin -- Santa's Revenge
  41. Munchkin -- Marked for Death
  42. Munchkin -- Reloaded
  43. Munchkinomicon
  44. Munchkin Blender
  45. Munchkin -- Boxes of Holding
  46. Munchkin -- Go up a level
And there you have it. I particularly like his request (which he later nixed) for Kettle chips and pencil lead. You have to admire his pragmatism! I'll post Quinn's list as soon as I can get a copy.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Space Cowboys

Me: "Okay, I'm going to the store to pick up our turkey."
Logan: "Why, when's thanksgiving?"
Me: "Really?"
Quinn: "You're getting a turkey?"
Me: "Um, yes, it's thanksgiving in two days and we always have turkey."
Quinn: "Oh, I always thought we were eating chicken."

And so the hormonal drugging continues. On another note, I have selected all the recipes for thanksgiving AND I even got all the shopping done. Unfortunately, I have no time to prepare any of these menu items as we are super busy getting our new store built, but fortunately, my mum comes into town today, soooooo, she'll be busy!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Another day

Logan: "Are pumpkins involved with Thanksgiving?"
Me: "Pumpkin pie!"
Logan: "Awesome. Are we going to have some?"
Me: "Logan, we've served it every year!"

Morning surprise

snow covered leaf
Originally uploaded by Tamara Irminger
Just to make the logistics of preparing for a Thanksgiving-- that I've given little thought to -- a little more tricky, mother nature decided to offer up a dusting of snow. Now in most parts of the country, snow is just a matter of fact, but here in the Pacific Northwest, we SHUT DOWN. No one seems to know how to drive or maneuver on slippery roads, and so I will most likely be walking our turkey home from the market rather than risk getting hit in the parking lot. Part of the adventure, I suppose...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

No closer

Well, I'm still no closer to figuring out what to serve for Thanksgiving, other than pomegranate gravy. I know we'll have fondue (it's a staple amongst us Swedes) and wine, of course, but beyond that it's still a guess. If you happen to see a manic woman wheeling about the grocery store on Thursday morning, it will most likely be me. I'll probably be muttering some obscenities yet all the while feeling grateful and thankful for my rich and wonderful life.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Today Logan was reading a magazine that had Thanksgiving recipes, which, of course, included turkey and he made the statement that we've never had turkey before. Whaaaa? Has he truly never noticed that we eat it EVERY thanksgiving? It makes me wonder what he thought we were serving all these years? Our neighbor's cat? An over sized parakeet? I for one, could easily forgo the turkey, and maybe this is our chance. Jim's going to make gumbo again and I'm thinking of doing something totally off-beat...not quite sure what, but I'm up for the challenge. The only knowns at thanksgiving are wine and dessert, the rest is a total guess. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Apple-Hazelnut Bread = Autumn

There is just no denying that summer has come to a sorry end. Many Pacific Northwesterners are saying, "what summer" as it seems that we had only a handful of spectacularly warm, sunny days. 2010 has not been a great year for weather in these parts, but there are a few comforts that I enjoy now that my calendar month reads September and I'm bundled up in sweaters and leggings: Apple-Hazelnut bread and bold, red wine. I always know that my body is preparing for the shorter, darker days when I start craving hot-chocolate with whipped cream, red wines, and other comfort foods specific to the waning months of the year. I posted the following recipe a few years back, but because it is so delicious and simple and epitomizes Autumn like no other baked good, I thought I'd bring it back to the forefront of your minds. As I type this I have two loaves baking in the oven. They'll be ready in less than 30 minutes and you can guarantee that I'll be slathering a few slices with butter and fleur de sel as soon as they're out of the oven.

Apple-Hazelnut Bread

Adapted from Sabine Maharam

Serves 12

13 ounces apple (2 to 3 medium), peeled, cored and chopped into sticks 1/4 by 1/4 by 1 1/2 inch

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

Cooking-oil spray

1 cup whole hazelnuts

1/2 teaspoon ground clove

1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons dark rum

2 cups spelt flour

1 tablespoon baking powder.

1. In a large bowl, mix the apples and sugar. Cover and refrigerate overnight. (Do not skip this process, as the apples will expel water, needed to moisten the bread.)

2. Preheat the oven to 360 degrees. Grease a 7-inch round springform pan or an 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Stir the nuts, clove, cocoa and rum into the apple mixture. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Add the flour to the apple mixture and stir until combined. Transfer the dough to the pan, pat down and bake for 70 minutes. Cool in the pan. If you like, serve with butter and fleur de sel.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Thank you to the New York Times magazine for last week publishing an excerpt of the following poem. I was so excited to try the accompanying recipe for tomatoes stuffed with cheese that I almost failed to read the article that went along with it. Glad I did, because I read just the beginning of this poem and knew I wanted more. I quickly googled Matthew Dickman and found the full poem. Here it is for you to enjoy. I read it aloud to Jim and we both sat there somewhat stunned and spellbound. That is what good writing is all about. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Matthew Dickman


Last night my neighbor was looking a little enlightened,
you know, the way bodies do
after spending the afternoon having sex
on an old couch while responsible people are suffering
with their clothes on in cubicles and libraries.
He had that look vegetables get
in really nice grocery stores where the tomatoes aren't just red
they're goddamn red!
He was like that. Like a glowing, off-the-vine Roma
sitting in his living room picking pineapple off a Hawaiian pizza
and telling me about his father who was a real mother
fucker. I ask him if he still loved his dad, or if he loved him more
now that he is dead. Sure, he says, I love anything that's dead.
Someone's hand floats up onto the beach
while the body is still lost below the current, a vase of lilacs
turned brown, the black archipelago of mourners marching
up the hill. My neighbor is there to greet each of them
with a box of chocolates and a barbershop quartet in the background.
When my father died, he says opening a beer, he was no longer
my father. He was no longer a man. It's easy to love things
when they're powerless, like children and goldfish.

This is the way with enlightened people. They say things
that are so infuriatingly simple when the world is not.
So I put down my Pepsi and pull out the big card.
What about Hitler? I ask. You can't love Hitler!
My neighbor puts a piece of pineapple on his tongue like a sacrament,
sucks the juice out of it, chews it up, then turns
his head slow like a cloud and says I can love anybody I feel like loving.
And I say that's ridiculous.
And he says what's ridiculous is that you don't. And there he is again,
shining in the grocery store, pulling the bow off
the heart-shaped candies and putting one softly into his father's mouth.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Dork Fest, and Who is That Kid?

Well, it’s happened. I should have known. I’ve heard stories but never thought it would apply to me. “I’m not like that,” I scoffed. “I won’t ever forget,” I reasoned. “Hah!” says the universe. And so it is. The crime? I have boxes full of photos of Quinn and Logan as babies and toddlers and young aged school kids, and I can’t for the life of me tell who’s who in a good portion of them! I’ve even asked Q & L to help try and identify who’s who, and we still don’t have consensus! The farther away from their infancy we travel, the more elusive their identities become. The other affront?! Jim and I are looking OLDER. Umm, hello, when did those lines appear, and when did Jim get so much grey in his hair. This is that slow crawl to old age that you hear about but never believe. But photos don’t lie, especially photos that aren’t digitized and “photo shopped.” There is no denying that time has marched on, in spite of our acknowledgement or recognition. I guess the only positive in looking through boxes of old photos is seeing that at least my wardrobe has improved. Holy smokes I can’t believe my complete lack of style! And to think Jim still found reason to fall in love with me even though I was wearing oversized t-shirts and baggy jeans and those silly Dr. Marten knock-off brand boots. Can you say cringe fest! Yikes. And my hair! I was being butchered for years and he never said a word…Sweet man. Regardless of our complete lack of style and our inability to recognize our own children, looking through boxes of randomly sorted photos does remind me of how rich and full our lives have been, and for that I’m grateful. Even if I looked like a dork.

Friday, July 2, 2010

House of Quiet

I keep getting asked how I’m doing being home ALONE for eight full days, so I’ll try to answer that question here. First off, I’m doing fine, but I have discovered a few things these past few days. Many mothers think of time away from their crazy family life as some kind of mommy-porn. I totally understand this, as I’ve threatened more than once to leave on a month-long silent retreat at some Buddhist monastery. Sometimes the noise level of kids and husband and dog and neighborhood kids is overwhelming. But I tell you what, I miss the noise and the craziness. I’m sure there is something to be said about the sound of silence, but I think I prefer the sound of chaos. It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed the solitude and peace of being alone, but enough already. I’m so accustomed to my life orbiting around Jim, Quinn and Logan that with them gone and me having to fend only for myself, I feel a bit dizzy. I just don’t take that much work, I guess. Whether it’s cooking or cleaning or working or whatever, very little effort goes into maintaining a single existence.

So what am I doing differently with the boys gone? Not a whole heck of a lot. I’m cooking with more garlic, and I play my music louder, but really it feels a little pathetic to eating and drinking alone and I find myself talking to the cat, which makes me think how easy it would be to become one of those crazy cat ladies. I’ve had lots of tangential thoughts ranging from death to Paris to places people live. I’ve spent more time visiting with friends, and I’ve been logging long hours getting caught up with work, but even then, I still have more free time than I know what to do with. I’m running daily and reading late into the night, I’m attending friends’ children’s dance recitals, I’m throwing an “estrogen” party to get my girl-fix, but really I’m counting down the minutes to Jim and the boychicks returning home.

It’s strange really, because it’s not that I don’t know how to be alone, or what to do with myself, that isn’t the issue at all. I guess it is more the realization that when you are living your life with intention and choice and consciousness, then you don’t really need a break from that because it is all so damn good. So maybe that is what I’ve gotten most from this week—that life is good and I’m as happy as is possible and that I don’t need a break from bliss. I revel in the hormonal surges of teenagers, the demands of owning our own businesses, the monitoring of the comings and goings, the conversations, the cooking, the picking up, the reminding, and the loving. My life is a verb, and I much prefer it to being a noun.

Five more days to go until my house of crazy bliss is back. I’ll be waiting with open arms, but in the mean time I’ll embrace the quiet and peace, knowing that it will soon be over and I may look back on this week and wonder why the heck I was so ready for it to end.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

13th Birthday

13th Birthday
Originally uploaded by Tamara Irminger
Dear Quinn and Logan,
I am more than one month late in acknowledging your birthday on this blog. I guess it is very similar to the chaos that surrounded your arrival 13 years ago. Your birth completely blindsided dad and me, as we had two months left until your due date. You were impatient and ready to enter this world, regardless of our preparedness. Just as we couldn’t stop your entrance into this world, so can’t we stop the passage of the 13 years since.
I know I write about the passage of time often, and you’d think that by now I’d finally get the fact that life isn’t slowing down, but rather just speeding up. I feel like I’m watching my life as a movie and someone just hit the fast-forward button. The picture has started to blur and I’m frantically trying to find my bearings within a spinning kaleidoscope. Certainly, the chaos that consumes our lives ebbs and flows, it just seems that we are in one of those times when the universe converges and everything is happening at once and demands our attention NOW. And yet, there you two are to give me momentary pause, reminding me to slow down and take notice of the here and now. I have only these brief moments because your lives are becoming your own now. You are starting that important part of your developmental journey where you break away from the shores that we’ve kept you tethered to, and you are beginning to sail on your own. What profound feelings of sadness and pride and belief and trepidation and wonder. Really, it comes down to that: wonder. That in 13 short years you’ve grown from helpless loaves of love to these chiseled young men. Somewhere in between feedings and having your nose wiped, you developed a sense of humor, values, opinions, musings and certainties.
I suppose that because your maturation happens slowly it is harder to notice. You becoming you is just part of the blurry background. It is when I pause and breathe deeply and listen intently that I notice who you are becoming. While you’ve both always been very independent, your independence now takes on a whole new dimension. It is not just about being capable, but being competent and confident. I realize, of course, that we still have a number of years left before you are really ready to make it on your own, but I see the sensitive, intelligent, compassionate, empathic, talented parts of your selves take shape and I know that you are well on your way to becoming adults that will make this world proud.
Of course, there is still plenty of time for some total bone-headed decisions. I guess that is what adolescence is about as well, making some really foolish choices so that you have time to learn and hopefully recover from your mistakes. If I think back to my own adolescence I shudder. I was opinionated, stubborn, independent, sassy and a royal pain in the ass, I’m sure. So as we have those “moments” with you, I just have to take a deep breath and remember that this is a phase just like all the others and that the ultimate goal is to deliver you to adulthood with enough battle scars to give you confidence to navigate the topography of life on your own while still remembering that we will always have your back.
I am so thankful that the outcome of your premature birth was healthy and that we were given the pleasure of knowing you, holding you, and loving you two months earlier than we originally anticipated. Happy 13th birthdays my loves.
With love,

Friday, May 21, 2010

Big Boss Man

I just downloaded Jimmy Reed into our itunes library. This is music that takes me straight back to my childhood. My dad's way of unwinding after a stressful day would be to listen to Jimmy Reed and play solitaire for hours. This was the fuzzy background of my youth. Cards being shuffled, Jimmy Reed, my dad singing along...As I listen to these songs I am now the one singing along and bobbing my head back and forth. I'm adding my own modern twists: red wine and thumbing through the New Yorker. I guess this is how traditions are born. Thanks, dad.

Monday, April 12, 2010

For Jo

To Jo, who could subsist on poetry as much as I could...

Washing the Elephant

by Barbara Ras March 15, 2010 (New Yorker magazine)

Isn’t it always the heart that wants to wash

the elephant, begging the body to do it

with soap and water, a ladder, hands,

in tree shade big enough for the vast savannas

of your sadness, the strangler fig of your guilt,

the cratered full moon’s light fuelling

the windy spooling memory of elephant?

What if Father Quinn had said, “Of course you’ll recognize

your parents in Heaven,” instead of

“Being one with God will make your mother and father

pointless.” That was back when I was young enough

to love them absolutely though still fear for their place

in Heaven, imagining their souls like sponges full

of something resembling street water after rain.

Still my mother sent me every Saturday to confess,

to wring the sins out of my small baffled soul, and I made up lies

about lying, disobeying, chewing gum in church, to offer them

as carefully as I handed over the knotted handkerchief of coins

to the grocer when my mother sent me for a loaf of Wonder,

Land of Lakes, and two Camels.

If guilt is the damage of childhood, then eros is the fall of adolescence.

Or the fall begins there, and never ends, desire after desire parading

through a lifetime like the Ringling Brothers elephants

made to walk through the Queens-Midtown Tunnel

and down Thirty-fourth Street to the Garden.

So much of our desire like their bulky, shadowy walking

after midnight, exiled from the wild and destined

for a circus with its tawdry gaudiness, its unspoken


It takes more than half a century to figure out who they were,

the few real loves-of-your-life, and how much of the rest—

the mad breaking-heart stickiness—falls away, slowly,

unnoticed, the way you lose your taste for things

like popsicles unthinkingly.

And though dailiness may have no place

for the ones who have etched themselves in the laugh lines

and frown lines on the face that’s harder and harder

to claim as your own, often one love-of-your-life

will appear in a dream, arriving

with the weight and certitude of an elephant,

and it’s always the heart that wants to go out and wash

the huge mysteriousness of what they meant, those memories

that have only memories to feed them, and only you to keep them clean.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

This is Water

I know, I know. I haven't posted anything since last year, to which I can offer only paltry excuses. I am writing now, only because it is 3 am and I am trying to adjust my body clock to Paris time and what else can I reasonably do at 3 am? I could mow the lawn, but it's dark and the neighbors wouldn't much appreciate my efforts. I could finish packing, but I rather like the last minute adventure of wondering if I have everything I need as I'm running out the door. I could read the NY Times, which I plan to do when the clock strikes 4. Actually, I am happy to finally have the time to sit here and bring everyone up to speed. Maybe I should schedule early wake-ups more often.

I'm not even sure if I remember where to begin. Our lives have been such a whirlwind since last November that I know some periphery details have escaped me by now. If I hit the rewind button and bring us back to November, you may remember that we once again hosted Thanksgiving at our house. As usual it was great fun. We ate, we drank and we all sang to American Idol on the wii. Who knew that my uncle had a great singing voice and could rock it? From Thanksgiving we steamrolled right into christmas and new year, which seems like a blur other than Jim's cousin from Vancouver came down for a visit for three days. Lovely. We went to the Oregon coast and had one of those rare December days where it was sunny, calm and relatively warm. We had to keep reassuring Leslie that it wasn't always like this on the coast, usually we are stuffing cotton into our ears because it is blowing so hard and bitterly cold. After Leslie left, we headed to my brother's in Hood River for three days of skiing/snowboarding. The boys' dearest friend, Rachel, and her sister Hannah came with us, which was an adventure in and of itself.

We rung in the new year/new decade chilling out with some dear friends. They left by 11 pm and we decided this was a year that warranted staying awake until midnight. We snapped a photo as proof that we were all awake at the stroke of midnight and then quickly scurried off to bed.

In early January Jim and I headed to Maui for five days. Let's just say that sun, warmth and beach in January is something we'll be doing from here on out. I don't even have to go into detail here as I'm sure you can imagine the bliss of sitting on the beach, watching whales breach, seeing sea turtles bob in the waves, and basking in the love and glow of one another. After returning home from Maui we left the next weekend for Banff, Canada for a family wedding. We drove. Enough said. The following weekend we were back in the car driving to Seattle for the boys' audition for summer ballet schools. They were accepted back to Pacific Northwest Ballet school on full scholarship for the summer intensive. Back to Seattle we'll go for five weeks. The best part is Rachel will be going there as well this summer, which is just about as close to perfect as is earthly possible.

February happened. I can't recall what, precisely, took place, other than we tried to play catch up at work and on the home front. The big news in early March is that we FINALLY finished building our office which meant that we could give the boys their own rooms. Do you realize how major that is. THEIR OWN ROOMS. That is right up there with granting Palestinians their own statehood. I'm pretty confident that if we were able to accomplish separating the boys and dividing up nearly 13 years of shared inventory, then peace in the middle east is next. In fact, we have become so skilled and deft and negotiating "that's mine, this is yours" that we should probably be the ones to broker the next middle east summit. Whew, and then some.

And now, now we are only hours away from boarding a plane for Paris. A week in Paris and 10 days in London to follow. How can I even elaborate on that statement? PARIS & LONDON, people.

So enough with what we've been doing. I'm going to completely switch gears and tell you that if you read nothing else, ever, then please spend your time reading David Foster Wallace. Jim and I are on a DFW kick. Jim is working his way through Infinite Jest, and I am reading a collection of his essays in Consider the Lobster. I'm too rummy right now to even begin to describe/elaborate on what reading this genius is all about, but it's mind-blowing. If you do nothing else today, read his commencement speech "this is water". It will change your life and perspective. I'm not kidding. I want to have "this is water" tattooed on my forearm as a permanent and constant reminder on what matters most and the CHOICES that I have. Who needs self-help/positive thinking babble when you can have all of the best ideas distilled into a succinct few thousand word speech that will completely and utterly recalibrate your thinking. I realize this paragraph has come out of left field and has nothing to do with the earlier summation of the past few months, but the ideas that I've really wanted to blog about have been connected to DFW, and I'll leave my more elaborate posts for another day. Suffice it to say, that this is water, this is water.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Stroke of midnight

Stroke of midnight
Originally uploaded by Tamara Irminger
Happy New Year. We all made it to midnight as the clock struck twelve, and documented the occasion with this photo. I'm not sure why this new year feels more significant than others, but it does. Perhaps it was the magic of a blue moon falling on the last night of 2009, or maybe it's because Jim begins his "golden" year this year. Whatever the reason, we look forward to the many adventures that await us around every corner. Happy 2010!