Archive for November, 2008

Cookie Exchange: Ouch

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

One of the mommies in the group I’m a part of posted a Pre-Thanksgiving Cookie Exchange on the mommies-message-board. I’m in, I thought immediately, even though I had no idea what a cookie exchange consisted of apart from the obvious: I get to have cookies—maybe lots and lots of cookies.


According to the message board, I was to bring one or more bag(s) containing 6 of my own cookies. Breezy!


T has been sleeping for longer periods at night due to a little tough love on our part. Thus, I’ve felt more awake lately. When I RSVP’d a big enthusiastic “yes” for the cookie exchange, I was sure I could make at least 3 dozen cookies if necessary. From scratch.


What I couldn’t account for was the nasty colds T and I picked up the week of the cookie exchange. Nor did I account for a lapse in his previously encouraging sleeping habit due to not feeling well: all that tough love out the window. Nor could I (as I languished on the king sized bed continually dominating our living room, nose on fire, baby passed out in his crib) remember the last time I made cookies from scratch. Too bad. Because it’s a lot of work for cookie-making-impaired types. Like me.


So I bought a box of Trader Joe’s gingerbread mix which also doubled as a cookie mix and started off the baking experience the night before the cookie exchange by adding an egg when I was supposed to: not add an egg. Then it hit me to add shredded coconut after the first batch of plain-jane cookies with oddly cakey centers came out of the oven. And then I added dried cranberries with orange flavoring which I had in the cupboard for my salad making ventures. Then I added powdered sugar. Then cinnamon and allspice. And my cookies taste okay. Better than okay, according to my husband (he’s a nice guy).

But they’re the ugliest cookies I’ve ever seen.


Like the bride of Frankenstein casting her eyes upon her groom for the first time, I freaked and immediately Googled “cookie exchange rules”. There are some pretty tough-nut mamas out there participating in these things each year. Very strict rules—like no pre-made cookie mixes. These mamas would label me a cheater for sure. And never allow cookies as ugly as mine in the exchange. They, like me, would run screaming from ugly cookies, or perhaps spray them with Raid. Speaking of labels (Cheater, Corners-Cutter, Maker Of Misshapen Cookies) we are short on them in this condo. But I scrounged up a sheet left over from a previous life in the 9 to 5 world:


Once T wakes up from his nap, we’re off to the cookie exchange at the park with our ugly cookies. I hope I’m not the only Cheater. And I hope I get to choose a few fresh bags of tasty cookies and not be disqualified and so return home shamed with only my own cookies in their stupid bags.

At least our colds are gone.


Saturday, November 15th, 2008


Once again, fire in Santa Barbara/Montecito. Blood Sister phoned two hours after the blaze ignited. Her power was out and I became her eyes with our TV and laptop. She and her family had rushed to the hill at the top of their Mesa street. They watched flames illuminate the ridge of Santa Barbara’s riviera. Then the smoke hit. Then ash. KCAL 9 was the only station in LA reporting consistently on the fire when I tuned in–but they didn’t know much, I told Blood Sister. One of the KCAL newscasters asked a Santa Barbara official on the official KCAL 9 Newsline/Hotline if the Starbucks on OLIVE HILL ROAD was threatened. Slight hesitation from the Santa Barbara official. No, the official replied in a terse monotone, Olive Mill Road is not threatened as of now. Well, thank the stars Starbucks is okay, Blood Sister commented wryly. Then the newscaster wanted to know about Oprah’s mansion. There are many homes up there, the Santa Barbara official stated (as would other Santa Barbara officials in days to come for newscast after newscast). From mansions to modest. I don’t know about Oprah’s place at this time, the Santa Barbara official concluded. Well, the newscaster pressed, how about Rob Lowe’s estate?

Montecito roads are narrow and winding—very pay-attention roads, especially at night. Horrible roads for fire trucks to maneuver in a major fire crisis.

Um–they’re evacuating above Westmont College, I told Blood Sister. All I saw on the TV screen was wind-fanned blaze. I touched my forefinger to the screen, counting out loud for Blood Sister. When I got to 24 houses burning, I stopped counting.

Not only the rich live in Montecito or the foothills of Santa Barbara. There are plenty of fixer-uppers, funky ranchstyles and tracts from the 40’s/50’s. It’s hard to make a living in Santa Barbara, but plenty of people find a way that doesn’t involve major moviestardom. My family have been there since 1968. My mom is a piano teacher. One sister, a realtor. The other, a gallerina. I have friends who are teachers up there. Poets, writers, artists up there. I’m going back for good one day with my little family.

When we can afford it…

Blood Sister’s power snapped back on and we disconnected. This morning she tells me my niece was evacuated and showed up on her doorstep at 1am, panicked, hoping she’d grabbed the “right” items—photo albums, her mom’s important file box. No one had been able to reach my niece’s mom vacationing in Virginia. She’s due back today, but won’t be allowed up to her home. Blood Sister’s ex-husband was also evacuated and many of her friends. Her house has become Fire Central (how her husband answers the phone). It’s terrible. It’s awful. And we’ve been through it before. My sweet little toy-town hometown is a fire magnet.

In 1977 the Sycamore Canyon Fire (Santa Barbara) burned 195 homes in something like a scant 7 hours. I remember looking up from my beach towel the day after and watching the wall of smoke approach the ocean at my back. At the time, I had no idea how devastating that fire was, or just how close it came to roaring into downtown-ish.

When we were kids and living with my dad on the Mesa, he was always spotting wildfires from our house and packing us up in the car—day or night—to go and have a look at the flames. Look at that, girls! he’d tell us as we gazed dutifully out our station wagon’s windows at firefighters battling vicious flames (these days my disaster-fanatic dad would be busted by CPS). This is a once in a lifetime sighting! my dad would proclaim, although it never was.

After hanging up with Blood Sister, I stared numbly at the fire on TV, then called it a night when my husband stuck “Madascar” into the DVD player, his copywriting homework for the evening. Around 3am I woke with a start. My son had been quiet for almost 7 hours. Unheard of. I snuck into his room and detected reassuring breathing, so returned to bed. At 5am he woke us with the usual gaspy/angry cries. I fetched him into our bed and noticed with horror that he was hot–hands, feet, head. On went the lights. We administered the Tylenol. We took his temperature. 100 degrees. We discussed the fever. T had been given 2 shots the day before and I worried he was having a reaction. We decided to wait until morning and call the doctor, vs. totally freaking and rushing him to the ER with our heads spinning around on our necks. We turned out the lights and all slept. By 7am my baby’s fever was gone and, according to the TV, 100 homes burned to rubble by the Tea Fire.

It’s 90 degrees in Noho today. The A/C is once again humming and rattling away as though having an agreeable conversation with itself (one we’re all forced to listen to). The devastating, scorcher Santa Ana winds are supposed to reach us any second now. I’m preparing for dust devils in the silly sad vacant lot that sticks around next door. How do I prepare for dust devils? With a sigh. I’m preparing for the eruption of more brush fires by keeping the TV on. My dad calls: Do you remember the time….He reminds me of various infernos he drove his little girls to witness. I glance at the TV as my dad reminisces from the extreme-ocean-cool of Dana Point, CA. Oprah is on. She is talking to Rob Lowe…

11/21/08 For more information on the Tea Fire and the Santa Barbara Ten (I resort to: OMG!!! What were they THINKING???) check out the best source of information for all of Santa Barbara: Santa Barbara Independent The goats are here, the goats are here…

One Year

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

From this:

To this:

I look at the thousands of photos taken since minute 1, and ask the cliche: how did this happen? From carefully swaddled bundle to rocknrolla/gibberisher with teeth. And shoes. And big boy jeans. And real poops vs. odorless splurge. Eyes, ears that miss nothing: airplanes, shiny moons, hummingbirds, TV remotes to be dunked into the cold cup of coffee carelessly left on the piano bench…So many lessons for the mama to learn. So much adaptation to accept—with mustered grace—despite dried banana in my hair—but I’m beyond caring about that. A tiny mind is in the world, roaming, figuring things out. I will continue my note taking, watch his health, cultivate patience, keep up—when I can’t keep ahead.

One year!
Thank you, thank you, thank you.


A Little Part Of History

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008


I expected the worst, I did. And I mean: frustrating confusion, no results for 48 hours or more, crucial Country-Welfare decided by courts or—how my mind spiraled. Soul Sister called from Wiltshire, GB, mere hours before Election Day. He’ll be our president, too, she told me. I pondered this statement for a long while after our conversation, during which she asked me what I thought O’s chances were. I babbled that I expected the worst—-Soul Sister’s US-Rep-of-Current-Events, terrified of that responsibility (what if I’m wrong, what if I’m right, what if, what if, what if Tina Fey has to keep it up for 8 years…).

What did I feel the night of? I felt: where is your faith, even though you have every right to be frantic about fair election practices, ET AL, after the last 2 elections? And then—voila: ABC called it with stunning conviction. I emailed Soul Sister immediately with: O WON, O WON, O WON. Then I reclined with my husband on the king sized bed currently dominating our living room and we absorbed the joy emanating from the TV: NYC, Chicago, Los Angeles celebrating, and we appreciated the elated whoops echoing from far across the silly sad vacant lot that sticks around next door, whoops, laughter sailing in through our open windows. How, how interesting it’s going to be. As Blood Sister emailed the next day: Thank you Rosa Parks, thank you JFK, MLK, thank you Hillary Clinton (Hillary, darn!)…Thank you for standing up.

Here’s to faith in all of us.

And an end to Booing.

Boo Break #4

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

The thinking man’s mummy.

Boo Break #3: Pirate Revisited

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

Me, when I don’t get enough sleep.
oh the horror