Friday, September 26, 2008

Blake, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and me




Blake introduced me to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' The Boatman's Call as soon as our courtship began. Well, technically it didn't begin as a courtship as much as a fling with my piercer, but I digress.

I entered this mysterious and private world of Blake, a heavily-modified man with penetrating blue eyes, living in a large house but only inhabiting a small corner of it. The soundtrack to this one-man planet was so much different from my own--slower, more intense, romantic, filled with a slew of instrumental sounds that were lacking in my own limited musical selection. I had been listening to simple, fast-paced skater anthems suited well for drinking beer in a can and playing video games. Nick Cave was better suited for slow dancing, making-out, or kicking back wearing silk and velvet with a cup of tea or a scotch. Later, as I was educated on the history of Nick, I learned his earlier music, from his band The Birthday Party, was also rowdy beer-drinking musical fare, but this was not what captured me. Our romance blossomed over the piano ballads of "People They Ain't No Good" and "Lime Tree Arbor." When we were married less than a year later, our friend played "Into my Arms" at our wedding, summing up our contrasting natures that Nick so often writes of: the unreligious man scorned by God and the sweet optimistic Jesus-loving girl he falls for.

I don't believe in an interventionist God
But I know, darling, that you do

But if I did I would kneel down and ask Him

Not to intervene when it came to you

Not to touch a hair on your head

To leave you as you are

And if He felt He had to direct you

Then direct you into my arms

....

And I believe in Love

And I know that you do too

And I believe in some kind of path
That we can walk down, me and you


During this year, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds released an album called No More Shall We Part which Blake and I listened to endlessly together, more melancholy songs of love and longing, and religious scrutiny. By this time I had laid the last of my Christian predispositions to rest, after struggling to fortify and justify the religion I was raised with when I went off to college and found that it could not in good conscience sit with me, so this side of the lyrical nature sat with me even more deeply. We caught the tour for this album in Portland when I was 6 months pregnant with Mayan. Apparently, they had not played in Portland for 14 years so this was an extra special treat, and completely sold out. The modest floor of the Crystal Ballroom was packed and cigarette smoke filled the massive space up to the ceiling. Besides the smoke, the red stage lights, and the image of Nick pounding away at the piano to most of our favorite songs from the new album such as "O Lord" and "15 Feet of Pure White Snow" with a cigarette dangling from his mouth, what sticks out the most was how terriblely painful my poor swollen pregnant feet felt squeezed into my adorable heels. I ended up asking someone near the back wall to move so I could sit down by pointing to my large belly with a pitiful look on my face among the noise. Just as we decided to creep out early to beat the rush, the encore song started and it was "Into My Arms" so we swayed together near the back to our (and I am sure MANY others) love anthem.

The years flew by. The music continues to grace our everyday lives. I will never forget how when I was in labor and I asked my body to "bring it on" so we could see our baby before morning, and within a few minutes the iPod shuffled to the song "Bring it On" from Nocturama. I leaned on the cedar walls and drank in the experience, letting all of my fears and desires about giving birth at home course through me and be purged out through the music.

This garden that I built for you
That you sit in now and yearn

I will never leave it, dear
I could not bear to return

And find it all untended

With the trees all bended low

This garden is our home, dear

And I got nowhere else to go
So bring it on

Bring it on

Every little tear

Bring it on
Every useless fear
Bring it on

All your shattered dreams

And I'll scatter them into the sea

Into the sea


George-Ephraim was born within four hours.

Imagine our excitement when we learned that 6 1/2 years, two more children, and 4 albums later Nick and his band would be returning to the Crystal Ballroom--this time promoting Dig, Lazarus, Dig and doing an all-ages show. I deliberated for months on what to do with the baby when the show came--I asked Breana months in advance to mark her calendar in case I wanted her to be a "car nanny" and watch a hopefully sleeping George a few blocks from the show. I ordered a pair of special infant headphones in case we decided to just bring him with us. But in the end, since it co-incided with the visit from D and G, I resigned myself to put the boy to sleep in his hammock and hope for the best. I even went out the day of the show and bought a natural rubber pacifier for them to pop in his mouth if he woke up prematurely. The timing could not have been better: we arrived, Blake dressing in all black and me in a vintage dress, heels, and lipstick, at the door of the Ballroom just as the first song began. Viewing was tricky since we were the last ones there but we ending up in the balcony with decent views of the whole band, and just a few yards from the upstairs bar that rarely has a line. The set list was heavy with the new material and alternated with some very old classics, many of which were played at the last show. It is hard to have any expectations of hearing certain songs when there are songs over 14 studio albums to choose from. I was just happy to see a jovial and charged Nick (the birthday boy we learned) gyrating and pointing and pounding away around his amazing band crowded together on the club's stage.

From the Oregonian review:
He might have preferred a place with a bigger stage. The concert showed the strengths (energy, intimate downtown setting) and weaknesses (small stage, very uneven sound) of the Crystal Ballroom. Cave and the Bad Seeds are a big deal worldwide, capable of filling arenas and concert halls in Europe and his native Australia. In an interview earlier Monday, Cave called touring the U.S. "an act of love" because bringing a full band to clubs is a break-even proposition, at best. Shoving six musicians as talented as the Bad Seeds into the corner of tiny stage makes it difficult for them to perform and get the sound separation they need.

My mind, of course, floated back and forth wondering if the sweet babe was at home screaming bloody murder, and as I deliberated over ordering another beer or just quitting while we were ahead and bailing early, I got the text: "All's well." We enjoyed the second half together feeling relaxed and happy and reconnected as married couple. Nick seems to alwasy do that for us.





For posterity's sake, the set list:

Night of the Lotus Eaters
Dig Lazarus Dig
Tupelo
Today's Lesson
Weeping Song
Nobody's Baby Now
Midnight Man
Mercy Seat
Deanna
Moonland
Red Right Hand
We Call Upon the Author
Papa Won't Leave You, Henry
More News From Nowhere

(encore)
Love Letter
Lyre of Orpheus
Get Ready For Love
Hard-on For Love
Stagger Lee


Thursday, September 25, 2008

The visit

I'm a little sad. And a little drunk.


But I am a lot happy and grateful. Thank you, D and G.


Thanks for the sake.
The groceries.
The games.
The chopping.
For holding the baby while I cooked.
The compliments.
The cheerful "Good morning!"'s
The passing on of family heirloooms.
The books.
The ability to go with the flow.
The word play.
The hairspray sacrifices.
The late night.
And, finally, the invaluable and simple understanding, as only a family can offer.









Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Lukie-biotics

Bugs think Isadore is a tasty treat, and they always have. These bites at times get swollen and infected, but usually nothing a little ointment doesn't clear up. On one of last warm nights we had, we stupidly left the window open by her bed and the next morning she had a bunch of what looked like mosquito bites, two of which were on her hand and were causing some swelling. I spent the day icing it and using homeopathics and various ointments to no avail. that night she actually cried in pain unitl I finally gave her some ibuprofen to help her sleep. I though for sure a night of no scratching would cause the (assumed) allergic reaction to subside but nope, it looked awful. I brought her into the pediatrician that afternoon and the minute they saw it they exclaimed that it was not an allergic reaction but that her hand was infected. In addition to a course of antibiotics (they were worried about staph), she instucted me to do what I had to to keep her arm raised as much as possible. "Something you don't normally do...like let her watch some nature videos," the doctor said, which made me realize she must think we are uber-pure hippies with zero-tolerance for tv and media, which gave me an inner chuckle.

When I spoke to my sister (an ER nurse) later that day she told me that she frequently has to construct makeshift slings to keep peoples arms raised in cases like this. So I promptly got off the phone and looked around the house....I ended up using a camera tripod and an American Apparel scarf to hoist Lukies arm in the air. I plopped some puzzles and books in front of her and she patiently occupied herself until dinnertime. The swelling went down by the next morning and we'll be wrapping up the antibiotics next week.

Parenthood is such a trip, as these little experiences add themselves up, and we learn a little something each time. For one, I realized that I just sometimes really don't know if something is serious or not, because by the time I got to the ped's office I was sure I was wasting their time with a mere bug bite, but no, they had that medical "eye" and knew it was out of the realm of "normal." Second, it didn't occur to me that something as simple as building a sling out of common household items could be so helpful...once I knew there was a serious problem and my "alternative medicine" toolbox was cashed, I only saw the "big gun" medicines (over the counter drugs and antibiotics) which are so rarely used by our family. Finding a combination of different treatments is such a case by case balance.

You were a champ, Lukie-Lou!




Tuesday, September 16, 2008

what we read this summer

This summer we decided to cut back our cable and read more books. Blake and I both were readers once-upon-a-time but since we've been together (nearing 8 years) we've really only each read a handful of books. It was a wonderful experiment and a successful one at that. In classic Blake-style, he went at it in full-force...one of the many reasons I love this man is his determined and impassioned nature. I had to laugh when I saw the reoccurring theme of his final list--such an atheist! *chuckles and shakes head* Nearly half of his list are things he read in his late teens and early 20's that had profoundly influenced him and he very much enjoyed the greater depth the 2nd time around now that he is older (like the Miller stuff). I, myself, am proud of my own list which is well-rounded and done while caring for a newborn. Technically, I think we started reading in the spring and just finished our last book on the list a week ago. But whatevah.


B's books:
Tropic of Capricorn (Henry Miller)
Blackspring (Henry Miller)--possibly his fave H.M. book
Crazy Cock (Henry Miller)--not his favorite H.M book
The Will to Doubt (Bertrand Russel)
Why I Am Not a Christian (Bertrand Russel)
The Portable Atheist (Christopher Hitchens)
Me of Little Faith (Lewis Black)
Nothing Sacred (Lewis Black)
Beware of God (Shalom Auslander)--Blake's favorite new author, check out The Foreskin's Lament
Up Til Now (William Shatner)
Aku-Aku (Thor Heyerdahl)
Growing Up In New Guinea (Margaret Mead)
The Painted Bird (Jerzey Kosinski)--oy, Blake says, you should be forewarned for this one....VERY heavy--geezma jones....

Lou's books:
A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Hosseini)
The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)--best read of the summer for me, I am so unoriginal :)
The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Jessie and Susan Wise)
How to Grow More Vegetables (John Jeavons)
Animal Vegetable Mineral (Barbara Kingsolver)
Blink (Malcolm Gladwell)--author of The Tipping Point. A recommendation from Blake's dad.

Mayan's books:
The Tale of Despereaux (Kate Dicamillo)--we LOVED this, a tad intense, better for 6 and up. While googling this I found out that it is being made into a movie)
Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)
Where the Sidewalk Ends (Shel Silverstein)--Mayan first full poetry book
The Witches (Roald Dahl)--too freaky for Isadore


Did you have a favorite read this summer, bloggers?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

things i'm into right now

I swore I had done a post like this before, but then realized it was on my mySpace blog.....*shudder* Go ahead and add mySpace to my "things I'm NOT into right now" list.


These are not just fun but also help practice my finding-images-on-the-web-and-adding-them-to-my-blog skills. Enjoy.




1) PG Tips. (Thanks, Allison.)


I've been hooked on black tea in the morning for a long time now (and mid-day...and sometimes late afternoon...) which can get spendy if you like the goood stuff like I do. Choice Organic is my favorite brand which runs for about $4-5 for a box of 25. Allison turned me on to PG Tips last week, which may not be organic but its "the #1 tea in England!" and those English know their tea. Each box is just $8 for 80 cute pyramid shaped bags!!! And for anyone taking notes, I like my tea black with a little sugar.



2)My glasses.

For some reason the last contact I put in was very uncomfortable, so I picked up my old glasses. I was temped to ask Blake to buy me a new pair, just because there are so many cute frames out there but you know I just couldn't bring myself to do it because these ones are really perfect in every way, from the shape to the size and color. Even the brand name is cute: Oliver Peoples.



3)Knitting.

Thanks to my knitting friend Joi, I finally took the plunge and picked up some needles. Not only does it feel good to be doing something productive and old school with my hands, but I can't tell you how much more zen-like I parent when I am working my needles and yarn. Also, when my friend Allison came to visit a few weeks ago she showed me some tricks which have greatly improved my knitting speed. Thanks, ladies!! Blake kept pointing out baskets when we were out thrifting and garage-saling, but I (again) scoffed at their old-ladiness, but yesterday he presented me with a VERY cute basket perfect for my knitting supplies--what a good man!



4)Craigslist

Things we are currently selling: organic diapers, unused inflatable birth tub, and the Mercedes. Things we are always searching for: older Mercedes wagon (in my dreams...), 10 foot plastic kid slide for the play structure, chickens, the perfect new kitchen table. Things we have recently bought through Craigslist: 1/2 of a cow, firewood...



5)Pashminas


I've been struck with a hint of modesty in the past few months, strangely enough. Suddenly the light shawls and wool pashminas that our relatives have gifted us from India the past years are now my cover-up of choice. Who knows--maybe its all the Russian babooshkas and Muslim women I see around now living in the city, but it predict it will become a staple in my fall wardrobe...plus its very convenient for nursing George. Although don't expect me to be rocking it over my head, hijab-style just yet!



6)Used kids book and homeschool workbooks.

Why buy new, I say (and who can afford it)? for the price I dish out on library late fees, books at thrift stores and garage sales are so effin' cheap! We've always been big readers to the kids, but after reading about classical education this summer, we just leapt huge into having around and reading books all the time. So I am filling up the shelves like crazy--and the best part is you never know what you'll find--by accident we've discovered some amazing books, like twists on fairy tales (James Marshall does some great ones), the author and illustrator Tomie dePaola, some storybooks about the amish and life in the old days, and the kids new favorite, A Bad Case of Stripes by the guy who did the How I Became a Pirate book, David Shannon. Today I scored a Charlotte Mason Grammar Lessons book for 10 cents!!!



7)IQ Teaser.

I got this in a bag of toys and games from Red, White, and Blue for A DOLLAR FIFTY (for this AND a wooden ring toss game, AND an alphabet game for Isadore AND an unopened Barrel of Monkeys). When I was growing up, some friends of ours had this in their living room and I loved to play whenever we visited. I handed it to Blake the other night and he obsessed for over an hour. Everytime he'd put it down, within 30 seconds he'd be at it again.



8)Boston Legal on DVD.

We are on Netflix again and our friend Nicole, knowing what a huge Shatner fan Blake is, suggested we check it out. We are only a few shows into it but we're both really enjoying it. I especially like getting the know the James Spader character who is one of those asses that you just can't hate, and even root for (kind of like Dr. Gregory House.)



9)Drying our own herbs.


We've got golden oregano like crazy so we're finally harvesting, drying, and putting them into shakers for gifts this year. It feels amazing to have fresh herbs and produce from your garden adorning the countertops. We also have sage, basil, lavendar and rosemary.



10) My gold flats.

Though they may reek to high-heaven, I just keep dumping baking soda in them everyday and slipping them on because, really, a gold flat is the perfect transitional footwear to go from summer to fall, and all the way through the holidays, is it not?


Dear readers, what are you really into right now??

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

homeschool days

On days when Mayan goes to work with her Papa, I have fun with my solo student Isadore. Among other things, she likes to hone her fine motor skills by writing and drawing pictures on her chalkboard. All the while, George-Ephraim plays himself right into a nap (see below: still gripping his Skwish toy, no less.)




Since studying a little about classical education this summer, we've developed a (flexible) weekday routine. Everyday each child spends a little time practicing handwriting (Isadore just one letter at a time and Mayan copying sentences from her favorite books), doing mathwork books, playing with puzzles and games, reading (Mayan quietly and also outloud to me and sister), listening to books on CD, and of course, storytime. A few times a week we do a casual science lesson or history lesson, and in general just continue to talk about the world around us and make connections. Right now, it's all about soaking it up and making connections....

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Indian Summer RULES

I chose not to tend a garden this spring because I'd have a newborn and didn't feel up to it. I did grab a few tomato plants from the grocery store, more for ceremonial purposes, and thought "If they grow, they grow; if not, whatever." Then Blake was given a piddly little zucchini plant from a Lebanese couple who own the Mt. Scott plant nursery and I scoffed at it and told him it was compost. FOR SHAME. Blake planted it, tended it, all the while tying up the late-growing but heavy fruitful tomato plants....

The zucchini plant has yielded many, many pounds of heafty, glorious zucs, as well as the heirloom tomatoes. I shall never scoff at a scrawny, non-organic give-away starter plant AGAIN. That plant has been feeding us countless nights this last month, and also provided us ziploc bags full of green goodness for freezing and enjoying during the winter months. Blake has teased me merciliessly for my lack of faith, and as well he should! I love you, my green thumbed and determined B!!!!!!


The tomatoes are Moskovich and Purple Cherokee. Also shown here: our dried oregano and lavender (which is mixed with oat groats for stuffing little sleepy time pillows.)


Hey, this is to show SCALE, sickos, so get your mind out of the gutter.

I am sure many more of you out there are dealing with the onslaught of zucchinis so at the request of my neighbor-lovah here is the zucchini fritter recipe:


Zucchini Fritters (from Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson)

1 1/2 pound zucchini
5-6 scallions
9 oz feta cheese
small bunch parsley, chopped
small bunch fresh mint, chopped
1 Tablespoon dried mint
1 teaspoon paprika
scant 1 cup all-purpose flour
salt and pepper
3 eggs beaten
olive oil for frying
limes


Coursely grate the zucchini and spread on tea towels to absorb excess moisture.

Put chopped scallions in a bowl and add crumbled feta. Stir in the parsley and mint, and also dried mint and paprika. Add flour and season well with salt and pepper. Gradually add beaten egg and mix well before adding the grated zucchini.

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large pan and drop heaped spoonfuls of the lumpy batter into to hot oil, flattening down the little cakes as you go. Cook for about 2 minutes each side until golden, then transfer to plates.

Serve with lime wedges and more chopped mint sprinkled on top. These are good at room temperature as well, and awesome for brunch or merely stuffing in your face straight from the fridge before running out of the door. Great non-messy kid car food, too.


Monday, September 8, 2008

Georgie Boy update

George continues to be a happy, and increasingly drooly, child. He has lost most of the hair on the sides and back of his head and now the long curly center hair remains--kind of a Kewpie doll slash military faux-hawk. He is a big, strong, healthy boy with lots of smiles to share with everyone.


Leave the girls alone with him for two minutes and look what happens. A little doomagotti playing sahdu....