Saturday, December 31, 2011

Loving those latkes!

I'd never made everyone's favorite Chanukah food before, potato pancakes. The smell of fried food makes me queasy. Heck, I don't even like going inside a McDonald's.

But something inspired me to try this year and so I borrowed a friend's electric fry pan, bought 10 lbs of potatoes and went to town.

I have a new respect for people who make these. They are a ton of work. Dirty work. We don't have a food processor so Dave lovingly (okay, I bribed him) shredded all those potatoes. Then I found an old Gourmet recipe online and added salt, pepper, eggs, lemon juice, onion and flour.

The thing is: for every six I made, I ate one. So making tripling the recipe took 4 hours from start to finish. I set up the fry pan in the back yard and when all was said and done, I completed the task in the dark, with a flashlight. The thermometer read 36F. I am the Frozen Chosen.

Dang they were good.

We had some friends over for the last night of Chanukah and polished them off. With sour cream and applesauce of course.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

No one deserves this.

Never in my life did I expect to publish the contact information for the National Domestic Violence Hotline. But here it is: (800) 799-SAFE. If you need this, or think you need this, call. And call a friend, too. Call me.

You never know what goes on behind closed doors. We've all been shocked when a friend announces that their marriage is over. There are a lot of things people keep to themselves. A close friend went through years of fertility treatments and didn't discuss it beyond her immediate family until she had three kids. I wish I'd known.

My father and Thing 2 spent yesterday with the horses. And when he dropped her off he mentioned that a mutual friend had just fled her home because of domestic violence. I was quite upset by this. Not entirely surprised but disturbed nonetheless because she didn't deserve this. Domestic violence is not limited to those less fortunate or uneducated. This friend is part of the one percent.

Later in the day I read Penelope Trunk's blog and she was parked in a hotel room because her husband beat her again. I fretted over this, too.

Fast forward to 6am today when I see Paige's text that she read Penelope Trunk, too.

And so I blog.

Monday, December 26, 2011

S'mores for Sale

The Pinks are not Girl Scouts so they don't sell Girl Scout Cookies. They don't sell magazine subscriptions. Nor wrapping paper or frozen cookie dough to benefit the school. They don't set up lemonade stands when I'm on duty.

I'm uncomfortable with them selling things. I'm happy to buy from your child when he or she asks but I don't want my kids selling things to people who may feel obligated to buy.

That all being said, I did let them sell s'mores at Tahoe. We figured out how much the supplies cost and then deducted them from the amount they took in. We discussed pricing options and how they would affect their profits. One for $3? Two for $5? One for $5 on Christmas Eve after the Squaw Valley Torchlight Parade? Into a red-ribbon-tied cellophane bag went two marshmallows, one square of Ghirardelli chocolate and one graham cracker. Once someone bought a package they used our marshmallow skewers to make the gooey treat. One thing we did not consider: marshmallows freeze and become hard to attach to a skewer when it's very cold outside.

As we thought might be the case, The Pinks provided a valuable offering and were met with enthusiastic buyers. There are several fire pits at Squaw and we discussed why it would not be appropriate to sell s'mores near the ice cream shop, the crepe shop and the roasted corn truck. The Pinks seemed to understand that we want to support the local economy, not take from it.

I'm glad we did this. Thing 2 is tenacious. And I'll never see those buyers again, anyway.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ho Ho. There's no snow.

We're at Tahoe this week. It's tradition. We come as soon as school breaks for the holidays then stay until Christmas. The crowds descend on Tahoe the 26th and by then we're on our way home, watching the cars creep up Hwy 80.

This year is different. The air is still crisp. Our neighbors are here. The shops and Village buildings are done up in their seasonal best. But one thing is missing: snow.

It's been a nearly dry year. There are three chair lifts open thanks to aggressive snow-making efforts. The ski teams dominate them. It feels a little bit off, like when you accidentally put your shirt on backwards.

The new facilities at Squaw are beautiful. I spent one morning working in the Olympic House. There are new cushy pleather chairs, strong wifi and an expanded menu at Wildflower that now includes a hearty, mountain-style breakfast and lunch. Man cannot live on those cookies alone, as addicting as they are. There are big screen TVs and a children's play area. And big, clean windows looking out on the now-barren mountains. The KT-22 deck has private cabanas and three large fire pits with Adirondack chairs.

The Harvey clan just departed after two days with us. (I'm glad they skied with us; this proves we're not fair weather friends as the last time we met up with the whole entourage was in the record-breaking temps in Villa Bartolomea last summer.) My parents came up last night. My brother and his family arrive this afternoon.

We skied at Alpine Meadows yesterday and the conditions were better than I'd envisioned. There was a fair amount of open intermediate terrain and, although we shared it with the crazy snowboarders, we had a good day skiing as a family. Squaw and Alpine are now co-owned so our passes work at both resorts and there is a shuttle bus connecting the two until the chair is finished next summer.

Now if only it would snow.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

It's started.

One of my children, who shall remain nameless because she doesn't like me blogging about her, came home from middle school and handed me a school-generated form letter. It offered us the opportunity to allow her to read the required high school Health class text this fall then test out of the course, which she'd otherwise have to take a year from now, as a freshman.

This threw me.

Why is this an option? What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing so? And where was the contact information on said form letter so I could ask these questions?

I tracked down the course syllabus and learned that the curriculum includes discussion of STDs, mental health, prescription and street drugs, eating disorders, alcohol's impact on the central nervous system and those movies that show how black your lungs become after using tobacco. Bring it on. I want her to sit through an extended explanation of this instead of glossing over it on her own.

It took me a while to track someone down at the school district to answer my other questions.

Apparently testing out of the course is an option because some parents don't want their teens exposed to all of the content. And by self-study, one can skip sections and still pass. Great. Freedom of choice and all that.

The very nice lady at the district office told me that there is no academic advantage to testing out of the class; the only other option a student has during that period is be a teaching assistant. The easy decision became that much easier.

The thing is, I didn't plan on thinking about high school course options until it was closer to high school. And to do this, one needs to know what it takes to get into college. My blood pressure started rising.

This brings me to the next task I didn't plan on doing so soon: going to some college web sites and seeing exactly what the requirements were. Ugh. I got through the UC System and NYU before I felt a panic attack coming on.

I went into my daughter's room late that night and watched her sleep. It's when she looks youngest, the most innocent. I'm hanging on to that.

Monday, December 12, 2011

I'm sorry for your loss.

In the last month five of my friends have lost an immediate family member. I am pained by each of these deaths, and for the friends coping day-to-day.

Of them, two died of old age, two died from tumors and the third lost his life to the Big C. People always want to know how someone died. They also want to know why couples divorce. I tell you this so you won't wonder how to nicely ask me.

This is rather a sick thought but I've wondered how I would console my own children if something happened to Dave. I would be so distraught myself but still I would need to be there for the pinks.

Death sucks. It's devastating at any time of the year but more so during this time of year when the days and nights are filled with eat, drink and be merry.

I am fortunate that my parents and mother-in-law are still in good health and local. I try hard to appreciate them although we always think we can do better, see more of them, do more for them. Just hours ago I irritated my mother by telling her that we will not be celebrating Hanukah with them at their home on Dec 27 as we will have done so three nights the previous week up at Tahoe. Bad daughter.

Many years ago I read Tuesdays with Morrie. My takeaway was that death is the end of a life, not of a relationship. That has brought me comfort over the years.

I am also comforted knowing that there are more angels among us.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

13.1

Over the weekend Dave, our friend Dave and I participated in the Las Vegas Rock & Roll Marathon. (We signed up for the half.) It was a quick trip -- in and out in less than 24 hours.

This race was different than the other ones I've done: it began at dusk so you could enjoy the glory of downtown Las Vegas and the strip at night. The thing is, it's cool to start with and only gets cooler. It was a beautiful run down the strip, which was uplit for Christmas, and not so beautiful through the seedy areas of town. I now know where to find the bail bondsmen, drive through wedding chapels, tattoo parlors and lawyers that offer a 50% discount.

This is the biggest of the Rock & Roll events. In fact, 44,000 people ran. That's a lot of feet on the street and a lot of infrastructure to support all those feet, which included closing Las Vegas Blvd. for seven hours.

It was a treat to catch up with Dave, who my husband sees frequently but I do not. And it was fun to run with Dave, my husband, because we never work out together. He is in much better shape than I am and was quite gracious in modifying his pace to match mine.

I was happiest when we were back inside the hotel at the end of the evening. Rain was falling, the wind was blowing and the temps were in the high 30s by then. The race organizers did not anticipate the amount of people who would need aid at the end of the race and it was a lot of chaos. They also did not anticipate the number of bathrooms needed along the course, which was lacking in bushes or cars to dip behind.

One of the things I enjoy most about events such as these is the diversity of the crowd: people of all colors, shapes and sizes wearing tutus, Elvis costumes, inspirational t-shirts, crazy hats and wigs, patterned socks. While it wasn't Bay-to-Breakers style, it was quirky and silly. And a good time in that oh-I'm-going-to-be-in-pain-tomorrow sort of way.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Totem

We took The Pinks to see Totem, the most recent Cirque du Soleil show to visit San Francisco. We're Cirque junkies, having seen every one that has come through the Bay and quite a few of resident ones, too. Mystere, in the Las Vegas Mirage Hotel, is my favorite although O is more technically impressive.

Totem was very good, one of the better shows. My favorite act was the five unicyclists juggling metal bowls with their feet. I also liked the Russian Bars, which had 10 men dressed in South American-inspired clothing. They did acrobatics while being flung from bar to bar. The most interesting act, and one I thoroughly enjoyed, was a scientist juggling fluorescent-filled balls while he stood inside a funnel, using the funnel as a relay for the balls. And the kids and Dave? Oh yes, they liked it too.

Friends joined us for dinner at Public House, a Traci des Jardins restaurant near the big top. The gussied-up sports pub food was top notch (I expected little else from des Jardins, who won my affections many years ago with Jardiniere.) and it was good to catch up with two of the Week 1 Italy Families.

The above picture is of Thing 2 posing with one of the entertainers at intermission. Totem plays in San Francisco through December 18. Go!