Thursday, February 28, 2013


Tonight is opening night for OLIVER!, and my Oliver is playing one of the orphans. My parents will be flying in from Atlanta to see the show and spend a bit of time with us this weekend. We're all very excited and some of us are very nervous. Break a leg, Big O! We love you so.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How We Do It: Part XXIV of a series

Last night I drove Henry to baseball practice, parked and turned off the engine. I pulled out an IEP that Sophie's teacher had sent home for me to approve -- there had been some small changes made in wording, decreed by the downtown beast that is LAUSD -- and my eye caught the box at the top that detailed the dates of Sophie's first and most current IEPs. Date of Initial IEP Team Meeting pulsated, and before I could even blink, the numbers coalesced into some kind of black arrow that pierced me right in the middle of my forehead so that tears gushed out and Sophie's three-year old self in 1998, her curly head and lopsided smile, her slanted walk and the hold your breath promise inherent in the unknown appeared in the car and I was fifteen years later undone. This is how we do it, the moment only mindful of the weight, not so much a black cloud but an arrow to the mind's eye, a rock that crushes the flesh, water and blood.

On the way home, Henry and I exclaimed over the moon in the eastern sky, a gigantic golden disc that retreated as we drove toward it, moonstruck.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

1/2 Hour Break

I'm sitting in my pajamas and robe at my desk with a glass of water and a sleeve of Girl Scout cookies, on a break from a job that entails being on an open conference call for nearly six hours. I wanted to tell ya'll really quickly that I've actually had a wonderful discussion with a friend of mine who is a Libertarian and that she might have convinced me to come to a community meeting of an LA mayoral candidate who is a Republican. All cliches are welcome here as comments.

I'll start:

May wonders never cease.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Light, Candy, Oscar and Laundry Monday

That's a photo of the boys' desk in their room, and yes, there are still Christmas gels on the window and yes, I let them keep that huge jar of candy balls on the desk and have found, actually, that they eat less of it when it's right there in front of them. I thought the light coming through the window this morning was beautiful, even as I folded laundry while sitting on Henry's bed in the quiet, and I'm determined to go for a walk this morning and begin, anew, some exercise. I've got nothing more to say about the Oscars last night other than I thought them exceedingly stupid, particularly Seth McFarlane, and I wondered why in the hell Michelle Obama was there virtually with those weird people in military costume standing behind her, contorting their faces uncomfortably. I can't stand Quentin Tarantino and his violent, ugly movies, so I was disappointed that he won Best Original Screenplay over Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom and I also hate musicals (did you know that about me?) so the musical numbers were excruciating to watch except for Adele who I think is fantastic and projects an aura of honesty and sweetness beyond her celebrity. The high moment for me was Daniel Day Lewis, of course, with whom I've been besotted forever, so thank goodness the night wasn't a complete waste of time. So there you go. A mini-critique of the Oscars from another self-absorbed blogger. Now I'm going back to gazing at the pools of light in my house while I clean.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

My OSCAR Picks even though I'm finding it unbearable so far

The four letters after that didn't make the picture frame, but they spelled O S C A R, and I wouldn't say I loved them, but I live in the middle of it all. As the helicopters begin their roving in our neighborhood and the blimp flies overhead, I'll slide some mozzarella sticks in the oven for the boys and tell you my picks -- both whom I want to win and whom I think will win:


Zero Dark Thirty -- think
Silver Linings Playbook -- want


David O. Russell -- want
Michael Hanneke -- think


Daniel Day Lewis -- think and want


Jennifer Lawrence -- think
Emmanuelle Riva -- want


Christoph Waltz -- think
Tommy Lee Jones -- want


Ann Hathaway -- think
Jacki Weaver -- want


Moonrise Kingdom -- think and want


Argo -- think
Silver Linings Playbook -- want

***And if Les Miss wins anything, I'll throw up a tiny little bit.

Santa Anas, Cannabis and Dreams

We had Santa Ana winds last night, but the roses and lemons remain intact. Maybe they brought in dreams, though, because I had some intense ones. Houses with rooms, men I once loved, Sophie and bodies of water blew through my night, and when I woke at 3:45 or so this morning, the moon was shining through the slats of the blinds, insistent. I went back to sleep and woke to Sophie having another seizure -- she's having a bunch of seizures these days, again -- but I dissociated myself from despair and remembered I have a small vial of cannabis that I haven't dropped onto her tongue yet so maybe I will, maybe the Santa Anas that drive some mad will drive me to that.

Here's a poem. Don't fall into the abyss of conjecture that it speaks to me today because I read it last night.

Tomorrow I will start to be happy.
The morning will light up like a celebratory cigar.
Sunbeams sprawling on the lawn will set
dew sparkling like a cut-glass tumbler of champagne.
Today will end the worst phase of my life.

I will put my shapeless days behind me,
fencing off the past, as a golden rind
of sand parts slipshod sea from solid land.
It is tomorrow I want to look back on, not today.
Tomorrow I start to be happy; today is almost yesterday.

Dennis O'Driscoll

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Damn Wonderful Santa Monica Saturday

Another beautiful day

It's another beautiful day in paradise, but instead of regaling you with pictures of roses and lemons, or arguing about drones and democrats,  I'll just post this very amusing video of Jimmy Fallon and FLOTUS:

I hope you have a good one!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Sophie rocks a black turtleneck

Is there an acronym used in texting for that title? SRABT? Because she does. 

Please excuse the unmade bed and the blur -- it's really hard to get a still shot of her.

Literary Supper

This picture makes our bungalow look a whole lot bigger than it actually is!

Last spring The Husband and I offered to host a literary supper for our charter school's fundraiser. People sign up and pay to attend a small gathering, and all the money goes to the school. Last night, we had about a dozen people over, some we knew and some we didn't, including our school's principal who led us in a great discussion of Toni Morrison's powerful, spare novel Home. The Husband made an amazing stew of lentils, sausage and chicken with a big green salad and crusty bread. We drank wine and laughed and talked -- a lot about the book and a lot about the world in general. We ate Hallelujah Cake and talked some more before everyone left around 10:00. It was a wonderful community gathering and made me grateful, again, to live in such a diverse city and to be a part of such a progressive school.

Here's the recipe for Hallelujah Cake, which I've posted before and which comes from my Texas friend Johanna. It's a weird recipe that goes against the pastry chef in me's grain, but it works and it's incredibly good. Evidently, it's named for the exclamation one makes when you take a bite.

Hallelujah Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Butter a cake pan. I used a large oval Le Creuset, but you can probably use a 9X12 rectangular

Sift the following ingredients together in a mixing bowl:

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
pinch o salt

Melt together in a microwave:

1 stick of butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
6 heaping T of good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup of water

Pour that wet mixture into the dry mixture and then add:

1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Mix well and pour into baking pan.
Bake for about 30ish minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

When cool, spread with this icing:

Mix the following together and beat in an electric mixer:

1 stick of butter, melted
8 heaping T good quality unsweetened cocoa powder (I use a very dark Belgian one)
1/3 cup milk
1 box of powdered sugar

Thursday, February 21, 2013


I only recently learned what that acronym means and did so by googling it. Today I LMAO when I got this in my inbox from MedScape:

Acute Provoked Reflex Seizures Induced by Thinking

Does that make you LMAO or am I truly going insane?

Sequestration, Shame and Children with Disabilities with a P.S.

Just so you know, I'm not an expert on any of this government business, and every time I see The Tan Man's face (that would be Speaker Boehner**), my insides curdle, so you could say I'm very biased, but this is what I understand will happen if the Congress doesn't figure out the budget, and sequestration occurs:

The impact of sequestration on education programs is an estimated $3.5 to $4 billion. That includes a $1.2 billion cut to Title 1 grants for disadvantaged students and an estimated $900 million to Special Education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for the 2013-2014 school year.
More specifically, the resulting $1.2 billion cut to Title 1 could mean denying funding to nearly 4,000 schools serving nearly 1.6 million disadvantaged students, and more than 16,000 teachers and aides could lose their jobs and more than 10,000 special education teachers, aides and other staff providing support to children with disabilities.
U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan 

How proud are you as an American citizen to be living in a country that demands sacrifice and belt-tightening from children, the disadvantaged and the disabled?

I did a little, a very little, research and found out that one drone called a 10-MQ-9 Reaper (how hideous is that name for a piece of technology that kills?) costs


If you do the math, that comes to approximately how many drones that -- I might add -- have been implicated in killing children in distant lands --to balance out the coming cuts in education for the disadvantaged and the disabled?

How proud are you as an American citizen to be living in a country that spends more on high tech equipment that kills people than on the education of children who are disadvantaged and disabled?

I'm ashamed to be an American and I'm not ashamed to assert that.

P.S. And we haven't talked (or ranted) about the state of Georgia nearly killing a cognitively disabled man in prison for murder yesterday. Or the death penalty at all.

**Spell check suggests the word Boner when I type Boehner which perhaps provides the only bit of levity in this post.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hour by Hour

7 AM
The hellebore is a harbinger for Spring

8 AM
I get the OK from The Brothers to wear my pajamas in the car driving to school. I do throw on a sweater to spare them my braless tee-shirt.

9:00 AM
Breakfast while working: sourdough toast, butter and jam
Who the hell cares about carbohydrates?

10 AM
Working. My work is for a non-profit organization that provides services to kids in foster care. Heavy, worthwhile stuff. 

11 AM
Shower in the Barbie bathroom

(I know you're thankful I didn't include a shot of me, actually showering)

12:00 PM
Maurice Sendak's My Brother's Book arrives in the mail

Oh my. The illustrations are gorgeous -- nearly Blakean. Here's a page:

1:00 PM
Driving to Santa Monica to a doctor's appointment

2:00 PM
Waiting room at dermatologist's office

3:00 PM
Me, contemplating the forthcoming mole check

4:00 PM
Pick up The Brothers and Noah from School in Koreatown
It was a glorious day in Los Angeles -- at least it looked that way from inside of the car where I spent much of the afternoon

5:00 PM
Contemplating a fancy soda in a fancy Bristol Farms grocery store in the depths of not so fancy Westchester, where I was waiting for Henry's lacrosse game to start

6:00 PM
Henry's semi-final lacrosse game

7:00 PM
Still at lacrosse game, and they're losing, and I'm cold

8:00 PM
Back at the desk, reviewing federal grants for another job

Sibling Conversation, #4,567,805

Henry: Leave the bathroom door closed!

Oliver: No! It gets too hot in there!

Henry: That's good! I want it to be warm! It's cozy.

Oliver: You're disgusting. You left bits of disgusting stuff in the sink. Your disgusting bits.

Henry: You're a bad person. Does that feel good because you're not a good person.

Help me, Rhonda.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Henry and I went to our neighborhood village (yes, we have a village in our neighborhood, right smack in the middle of the Big City) this afternoon, and he got a haircut and I went to the bank and then we sat at Peet's and drank goofy coffee drinks. Oliver is in daily rehearsals for the musical OLIVER! and I admit that it's kind of nice to go out with the eldest son and just hang out. Bless that youngest boy's heart.

That's all I've got for this afternoon. I'm heating up leftover pork tenderloin in some kind of creamy mushroom sauce that The Husband made, Sophie just had a big seizure in her room while playing with her beads (overstimulation?) and it's very gray and very cold outside on this February night. I have to read gigantic federal grants because I'm on a review panel next week, and this post is a way to forestall the inevitable, so thank you for your time.

It's Tuesday, not Monday

I wish I could sing because Bob Dylan said something to the effect that anything worth thinking about is worth singing about. I think he might be right, and it would somehow make the thoughts easier if they were lyrics in a song. I'm thinking about my friend's dead grand-baby who didn't get a birth certificate because she had never taken a breath but she got a death certificate and it's holed up somewhere in a big building needing a signature needing release so the baby will be released. That would be a lyric in something more than a blues song, wouldn't it? The thoughts are worth thinking about but would they be a jazz riff, a lullaby or a dirge? For some reason I am thinking about those black clad Greek women in Zorba the Greek, and how they mourned. I'm thinking about the blurring of novel and movie, Anthony Quinn dancing, the full catastrophe, that music.

Zorba the Greek - Zorbas Dance (Movie Scene... by goldrausch

Monday, February 18, 2013

How We Do It: Part XXIII in a series

Hilton Head, 2010

Own your disaster; make it into a lake, build for it a shrine — not to show your strength but to show your weakness, which is a way of showing that you are yet human, that you are not yet lost. Shine the sign of your struggle into the sky. And then light it up.
Emily Rapp 
Emily Rapp lost her boy Ronan last week. Emily is a gifted writer, and her beautiful boy Ronan was only three. He had been dying, basically, since the day he was born, affllicted with Tay-Sachs, a particularly cruel degenerative disease. I have read Emily's writing for several years and am always stunned by its lyric honesty. I have not lost a child, but I've cared for one whose life is not unlike a baby's, for nearly eighteen years. Sometimes I come here to this blog and wonder if I've written too much. I wonder, sometimes, if I've written too much despair and too much pain. I wonder, all the time, whether I've written the same thing over and over and over again. I shrink from the precious, am embarrassed by the confessional, yet I come back and write, and I write not just here but everywhere, pen to paper, pencil jots in notebooks that lie in shreds. I come here and I go there, I fill things up and let them tip out, the writing out and reading in as essential as breathing. There is love between Sophie and me and there are vast distances. Does she recognize love? a man once asked as he popped peanuts into his mouth, his head tilted. Does she recognize you? the professional asked, her legs crossed carefully at the ankles, her yellow-lined notebook filled with the scratches of her brain. I imagine Sophie to know everything and to know nothing at all and there is great grief in that and inexpressible relief. I imagine that I have owned my disaster and very much built a shrine, a small and tidy one of white tile and cerulean blue, lapped by the ocean and just as easily erased as markings in sand.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Weekend sights for sore eyes

That's Uncle E with Oliver. Uncle E is much beloved and rarely seen, so we're all happy.

Good advice

He needs a haircut, but damn he's a keeper.

And so is he --

Watch out, high school --

The whole feast

I woke this morning at around 6:30, and in lieu of entertaining too-early thoughts, I finished Toni Morrison's book Home, which like all of Morrison's books is quietly lyrical when it isn't shocking, and when I put it back down beside my bed, I lay back and fell asleep in the grey light and dreamed of a baby, nursing at my breast and then I woke to blue sky and an implacable sun. The weather today is, again, astonishing, warmer than usual and knowing I'll offend, I feel annoyed by the pressure to enjoy it when I actually would rather sit inside and start up another book. Oliver is playing with the dog in the hallway, making her bark, she's a circus dog, he says when Henry shouts Stop wrapping that belt around her! and I tell them both to go outside for god's sake! and Michael feeds sauteed apples and waffles to Sophie. We are a fortunate bunch, I'd wager, the sun perpetual if weary, the books stacked up no matter, the dog a prancer, the whole feast.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Saturday Night West Coast Re-Post

It's time to dig into the old posts and pull one out. I'm especially fond of this one and admit to periodically yearning to pack it up and go. Where would you go and what would you take?


Go Bag

I have a very good friend who has what he calls a "go bag," a large backpack filled with all the items he deems necessary should he ever want to pick up and just go. Granted, he's single and middle-aged, unencumbered by small children, a spouse, family that lives nearby -- and the expression is one part fantasy and three parts how to stay sane when you're approaching the age of fifty and perhaps a little closer than you might imagine toward being utterly bored at your work and desirous of something different. For all my talk of living in the moment, and being grateful for what I have, etc. etc., I, too, fantasize about living a different life, starting over, picking up and going. Naturally, I don't wish to abandon my children but there's a frisson to be had imagining the release of all one's cares and possessions, hitting the open road, waking up to a truly different day. As I drive around Los Angeles, a city that I definitely love, as I stop at the post office to mail the catalog return, as I turn up the radio to drown out Sophie's constant humming, as I turn off the radio to better hear where the siren is coming from, as I watch my boys tumble out of the car and into the parking lot and on to sports camp, as I pull up my driveway, get Sophie out, bend down and pick up the circulars that litter the path to the house, step over the errant cleats and into the house -- well -- I imagine what might be in my go bag beyond the basic living necessities.

I'd bring a copy of Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, I think, and a copy of Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse, maybe The Collected Poetry of William Butler Yeats and something by William Carlos Williams -- Asphodel, that Greeny Flower -- but then there's Emily Dickinson and William Blake, Toni Morrison, Michael Ondaatje -- my go bag would be too heavy -- and anyway, where would I go?

Love all that has been created by God, both the whole and every grain of sand. Love every leaf and every ray of light. Love the beasts and the birds, love the plants, love every separate fragment. If you love each separate fragment, you will understand the mystery of the whole resting in God.

Fyodor Dostoevsky, via

Far from the Tree

I haven't read the book, yet. I told a couple of friends who asked that I feel like I've already read the book. I haven't read the book, but I think I'm living the book. I've read so much about it; I've read excerpts; I've read blog posts of those who have read it. I've even discussed it as if I've read it which I know is sort of ridiculous. I bought a copy, and it's sitting in a pile of books by my bed. Last week, though, I had a disturbing conversation with a mental health professional who had some disturbingly old-fashioned ideas about disability, about what it means to have a disabled child, a disabled sibling -- the toll it takes on a family, the horror, the horror. This conversation temporarily undid me until I had a few conversations with my people. The people of my tribe, those whose children have fallen far from the tree. I was lifted by those conversations from weariness to power, so now I might read it.

My friend Jody, who I've written about here many times, is of my tribe, and she has a gorgeous piece of writing on the community page of Andrew Solomon's Far From the Tree website. Please read it. And then read it again. And then think it and live it and then share it.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Art is as fugitive as fraud

the thoughts that came willy-nilly after reading this

Sometimes I read stuff online or I hear stuff on the radio or I listen to someone I know talking, and I'm overwhelmed by the suchness of it all and I just can't think about it, any of it, anymore. Someone over here is wondering whether or not global warming exists and someone over there is wondering why Cardinal Mahoney gets to go over to Rome and help pick out a pope when his decision-making abilities have surely been questioned as being less than ethical and then that someone over there thinks hero worship of the disabled is something to be denigrated and while I might know on some level what they're saying -- I know what you're saying, but -- sometimes it's too much suchness and I want to say calmly and matter of factly I don't care. I actually got a thrill when I watched Pretorius' silver blades running down the track and never once entertained the thought that he was less than or even more than despite, despite being the operative word. It was just a beautiful thing. So, I'm in the mood to call a spade a spade, a blade a leg, a blade a blade, a gun a gun and when a person has a gun something bad might happen. I personally don't want to defend myself or my kin with a gun and I have no idea what I'd do if threatened but when that person says they'd have no problem shooting the guy dead, it's too much such and I just can't think about it, any of it, anymore.

Pick up, drop off, drop out

That's what I'll be doing much of today -- picking up, dropping off, picking up and dropping off. Oh, and going to work and to a school conference. Plus, my Olympic hero Oscar Pretorius might have murdered his girlfriend and a meteor injured 1000 people in Russia. So, I'm picking up, dropping off and dropping out of here until later.


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