Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy fetching Halloween, people.

I'm hoping things go better today than they did 

Last year, Halloween was rough.  If you want to read about my tiny little nervous breakdown, you should click on the link above.

I haven't lost any of my children yet, today. The day is still young, though. Young and toasty. It was 94 degrees yesterday. Which is too hot, for nearly November, you must agree. 

I should wear a bikini for my costume to make some sort of anti-heat political statement. Fans of both McCain and Obama could rally, sweaty-pitted, together, against the desert in which we reside, which is obviously getting us down. (And if something is getting us down, then it is up to the government to fix it, right-e-o? No, sorry, I'm being passive aggressive again. I'll stop.) But really, what use is there in punishing my fellow men, the already-suffering victims of our weather? I haven't been to the gym since I did some crazy yoga moves back in August, and yanked out my shoulder, so things are likely to be a little loose, if ya know what I mean. Plus, I'd need to buy a bikini, and I don't have time for bikini shopping this morning. 

Although, if I wear the bikini, I don't have to do the laundry until tomorrow.


Happy Halloween, people.

P.S. Coldplay's video for Lovers in Japan is free to download from Itunes right this minute. Sister-in-law Jane just emailed me!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sesame Street is my new favorite show (oh, and Tommy's, too)

Um, Tommy is totally into ELMO right now, and so I've seen a lot of Sesame Street lately, mostly in fast forward, so's we can get to the goldfish, Dorothy, right quick. But I slowed down just in time to see this, people:

"It must be those angles, put a smile on your face. Not to mention the hypotenuse." 

Is hilarious, people. SAHM hilarious, anyway. Which, of course, might not be hilarious at all, because I've been cut off from the outside world and forced to watch things like Barney, Yo Gabba Gabba, and something I don't know the name of, but is obviously trying to gravy train The Wiggles. And I know it is unbelievable, but those people are MORE ANNOYING THAN THE WIGGLES. I'm getting a bit misty-eyed, wishing for something catchy like "fruit salad."

So I guess what I'm trying to say is: thanks, Sesame Street. Thanks for throwing me a bone.

Cause again today, they had a song called "Plain White T" to the tune of "Hey there, Delilah." I can't find it on the internets yet, but let me quote a bit from verse 3 for you:

Hey there that's Tina
She's a T wearing a tube top
and a terrific tam-o-shanter
yes, she's T number three
and I decree
her, Tim and me,
we are all T's
the letter T.

OOH, I'm the letter T...
and she, she's the letter T.
And he, he's the letter T
We make the 'tuh' sound guaranteed

Tuh, tuh, tuh, tuh, tuh, tuh...

If you've got it on your TIVO, you should check it out. Because it is pretty awesome.

Monday, October 27, 2008

New Reality: Some thoughts on the economy by El Ross Grande (my Dad)

A few weeks ago, when the Stock market started to plummet, I watched the news and listened with rapt attention as the white-teethed anchormen told me... nearly nothing. I began to realize how little I understood about how our own economy works (tried to avoid such knowledge in the past, I'll sheepishly admit.) Then I realized, these politicians and newspeople might know even less than I do about it all, otherwise, they might actually tell me something I don't already know. Which scared the crud outta me, if you want to know the truth. So I called my Dad. Because, he's got a B.S. and part of a Ph.d. in Economics (Vietnam War was creating a glut of doctoral students, so he took his MBA out into the world and (barely ever) looked back at the world of academia. I don't think he really changed his major to Parks and Recreation like my Mom said. At least not for long, anyhow.) So, after about two hours on the phone, my Dad had talked me down a bit, and explained to me why we can't let all the banks who made cruddy loans fail, even though it seemed logical to me that in a market system, we take the bad (banks fail) with the good (high times during the real estate boom). I'm still a little ticked off about the whole thing, honestly. Because, why should everybody else has to live the with the natural consequence of their actions, but not banks or insurance companies?

Anyway, my Dad knows what he's talking about, not only because he learned it at school, or at work, or watched the MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour every night for like 30 years even though we all made great fun of him for it (sorry, Dad), and even reads the Wall Street Journal, and other deadly boring stuff like that; but because he's sort of medium-oldish, and he's been around to see some stuff. People my age and younger weren't even old enough to consciously remember the last real recession we had, although, I can vaguely recall sitting in the back seat of our Chevy Nova (I loved that car, and cried when we sold it to smokers), waiting in line for hours to get some gas. And I think fuel shortages from the middle east oil embargo precipitated our economic troubles in the early 80s. But really, I have no idea what I'm talking about, because who teaches history majors anything about what actually goes on in the world? Nobody, that's who. 

So, here's a guest post from my Dad. I've only ever had one other guest post, and it was also my Dad, from back when I was still partly under the delusion that this was a book blog. So, check it out, too. Now, if only I could get my Mom to write something, as well...

In July of 1932 the Dow Jones industrial average closed at 41.63. In the three years since the famous stock market crash of 1929, the market had given up about 91% of its value. The most popular song that year was Brother Can You Spare a Dime?. A comedian at the time said," My broker told me to buy stocks for my old age. It worked wonderfully; within a week I was an old man. Many businesses are better off than ever", he concluded, "take red ink for example, everyone is using it."

Banks were in so much trouble that depositors were terrified of losing their money and people literally tucked their money into their mattress. Checking ground to a halt. Most transactions for the average household were done in cash. If you needed to pay your rent, you walked over to the landlord and handed him a fist full of dollars. There was no FDIC, so when a bank failed, people really lost everything. My own grandfather was angry until the day he died that he had not known enough to get his $2500 out of a small bank in Safford, Arizona in time. That was a life savings for recently married 30-year-old Ralph Layton. I can still feel his pain and frustration. He had to put off his dream of building a home and buying a farm for his family. Easy loans for homes and farms would not be around again for a few years, so he set out to save again.

Life suddenly looked bleak, as people understood that realizing their dreams was going to take longer than they'd hoped. By the end of the great depression, most people who had a job felt grateful just to be able to feed their families.

People who knew what it was like to fear starvation could not turn away another hungry family. Welfare, as we know it, had its origin in the depression as well. My Mom remembers running into the house in Central, Graham County, Arizona, to tell her own mother that the "Okies were coming" so she needed to get them something to eat. (Those "Okies" were from all over the midwest, and beyond, but they all got called Okies.) So, in spite of hardship, there were some good things about that time.

The financial crisis today has the same cause as the problem that created

the depression. A bubble created by easy and abusive use of credit, burst, and the entire system had to deleverage. When banks have bad loans, they must increase their own capital. If they cannot, they fail. When people cannot obtain credit, the money supply deflates and the price level drops. When that happens quickly, everyone panics. They become angry and confused, as homes, investments and jobs are lost. It feels the same to us as it did to our grandparents that experienced the great depression. This time, I hope, the government understands that they must use every tool necessary to prevent the money supply from deflating, and maintain our confidence in the financial system. Of course, the bigger the panic, the greater the task. Safeguards like the FDIC, the welfare system, the bank regulation, the Federal Reserve's efforts to increase the money supply and guarantee our deposits tend to make this one a little less scary, but it still gives us all a big headache. I think it helps me understand how my grandparents must have felt in 1930.

A friend of mine that I worked with at Nestle for many years was planning to retire next year. He told me yesterday that his 401K was now a 201K, and he would need to work another 10 years to retire with the same income that he had planned to have next year.

Or, maybe like the rest of us, and our grandparents before us, he will need to adjust to this "new reality."

My Dad, Big Ross, with my son, Little Ross, at Skyline, nearly 10 years ago.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

So, let's say we skip right to Thanksgiving? I already made the rolls.

Last night we had an Enrichment activity where we learned to cook a turkey in a paper bag, and shared holiday recipes. 

Which is lovely, of course, but that is not why I attended. I didn't really want new recipes for Thanksgiving, because I always get assigned to make Aunt Ardy's rolls. And, no, I didn't go just to socialize with all the nice ladies that I don't ever see anymore because I am in Primary, although that was lovely, too. I went because people would bring samples of their recipes, and I have rule that I shall not ever turn down a Thanksgiving dinner, whatever day of the year it is served. And really, I wouldn't want to turn it down. Would be crazy behavior.

Like, why can't we just skip all this Halloween stuff, and have Thanksgiving in October with our obviously brilliant Canadian friends? My kids don't even have costumes and the ward party is Saturday night. I went to Spirit the Halloween Superstore yesterday to preview the goods, and the place was literally 50% sexy-fill-in-the-blank-lady costumes (really? Sexy Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz? With stiletto ruby slippers?), 40% really scary crap that made me wet my pants a little bit, like plastic bloody legless old man stump people that scream and crawl at you on the floor, 5% sexy costumes for tweens (seriously, the section was called naughty innocence, or something repulsive like that. Is horrid proof that the end of the world is nigh), and 5% regular children's costumes, made of crappy pup tent fabric, for nothing less than 30 bucks. Without any props or regalia, which cost extra, and have mostly already been purchased by braver moms who were able to talk themselves into coming here last week, and who probably had the foresight to wear Depends. I cannot bring my children here anyhow, because remember how Jane still sleeps in my room because I showed her Michael Jackson's Thriller video, like 6 months ago? This place is way worse than Thriller, freaky-wise.

 So I left. And I dulled my sorrow with paper bag turkey. Which is surpisingly juicy. 

I brought some of Aunt Ardy's rolls along with me to Enrichment, as part of my deep cover as an inquisitive holiday chef. Because, I really felt like destroying my perfectly clean kitchen. And because they are good rolls, if you like buttery pillows of heaven. And if you don't, I think we might need to break up, and I don't think we can even be friends.

And while I made them, I started to think about Ardy. And I got pretty sad, because Ardy and Uncle Dick were killed in a car accident a little over a year ago. But then I thought about this one time, while I was still in college, when we had been over at their house in Dimple Dell Park, in Sandy, Utah, when Ardy was trying to send me and cousin Melanie home with piles of food, as usual; and as usual, we would take it and scarf it down like a pack of rabid hyenas after a 10 day fast, and then return, the next day, to our awesome 90's low fat diets that didn't work because it was pretty much all carbs all the time; but who cared, cause honestly, we were pretty foxy with or without those 10 pounds. You know, the good old days. 

That long ago Sunday evening, Aunt Ardy said something that changed my life a little bit: "pie for breakfast, cake for lunch, cookies for dinner," (okay, it might have been candy bars for dinner, but the spirit of the mantra is still intact). Something clicked in my brain when she said that, and ever since, I make no pretense about the treats. I am proudly all about the treats. Pie for breakfast is a great idea, and if you are lucky enough to have pie at your house at 7 am, you really ought to eat it. Only maybe not every day, cause then your pants get tight, and that is super miserable. But as I thought about pie for breakfast, I wasn't so sad anymore. So I think Ardy was comforting me with rolls and thoughts of pie. It totally worked.

Ardith Taylor Eakins, while on one of her missions (either Myanmar or Cambodia). Look at that weirdo missionary behind her. What a card. Maybe one of you will be like "hey, that's my husband," and I will be happy to know that that little weirdo was able to get a date. Cause honestly, he's a weirdo.

So after all that, I forgot to bring the recipe for the rolls to the potluck, er, I mean, important learning experience that will bless the lives of my family with my new culinary expertise. So I said I'd put it on the internets. 

So here is the recipe. 

Ardith's Rolls, 

(Kelly's version)

3 eggs

1 1/4 c. very warm water

1 t. salt

2 T. or 2 pkgs. yeast

1/2 c. sugar

1/2 c. or 1 cube melted butter, (plus another cube for later on, keep that one cold)

4 c. flour

Stir eggs, water, sugar, salt, and butter thoroughly with the Bosch whip whip attachment. Add yeast and stir again. Let stand for 10 minutes or until when you stir with a wire whip you cannot see granules of yeast. It must be thoroughly blended. Add 3 cups of flour, 1 at a time, beating well after each with the wire whip. (I beat the first 3 cups with the whip attachment, then change the beaters to the cookie paddles.) Add the fourth cup of flour, and beat 5 minutes with the cookie paddles. I usually add a little more than four cups of flour, just because it looks too sticky to be believed, but maybe it is better without? Ardy seemed to think so!

(if you don't have a mixer, beat the first three cups of flour in with a wire wisk, and the fourth with a wooden spoon.)

Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place (oven). When it is double in size, quite heavily flour a flat surface and pour the dough onto the floured surface. It will be very sticky. Turn it over once and pat the dough down with your hands until it is about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. Cut using a glass about 2.5 inches across for smaller rolls, or 3 inches for larger ones.

Grease a pan lightly. Cut a round of dough, place a small pat of butter near the middle, tuck it all the edges to form a ball around the butter pat, and put it in the pan. Put the rolls right next to each other, but not quite touching. I do them fairly small, and get about 6 across the short side of a jelly roll pan. place the next row a little ways off to give some raising room. Each batch makes about 45 of these smaller rolls, or 36 larger ones.

Let the rolls rise until about double in size or a little less, about 30 minutes. Put them in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes. They need to be reasonably brown on top to be done in the middle, but watch them closely. They brown fast!

I usually double the recipe, and use a total of about .85 pounds of butter. I take the rest of the pound, and melt it to brush over the top of the warm rolls. Just cause I can.

Dick and Ardy, with cake. Which means, of course, that it must be lunch time.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Field Trip! I'm posting at Light Refreshments Served today

Hi nice people! I'm over at Light Refreshments Served today. Come on over and decide if 4 is the new 7. (And if you feel like it, leave lots of comments saying I'm awesome, so they'll invite me back again someday.)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Duchess, finally, and in the middle of the day, like a fancy-lady. But without any bon-bons. Which is sad.

So on Friday morning I was on the phone with my blog friend, Janell, aka Frumpy, who is recovering from brain surgery! No, seriously, it is incredible, but she had a tumor removed, and is okay and recovering, which is wonderful news. It was so great to talk to her. Hi Janell! But anyhow while we were talking, my sister Jen kept calling in, over and over, clickety-click-click, and I was like, stop calling me from the Bahamas and rubbing it in, cause I am on the phone long distance right now, and I can't listen to how your cabana boy is a bit slow with the diet cokes, but how the ocean is warm and clear, the sand pink and soft. So when I finally called Jen back she was like, HELLO, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? And I was like, none of your beeswax. And she was like, oh never mind, cause when we went to the airport last night to go on our trip to Disney World and the Bahamas, we accidentally got the wrong day, so our flight is actually tonight instead of last night, but try telling that to our boys who are all lathery about Disney and what-not, but then had to drag all the luggage home, and then go to school today, and school instead of Disney is a big bummer, even a parent knows that much. But the good news is The Duchess opens today, and it starts in 30 minutes, so get ready! Oh and bring Tommy over cause I've got the babysitter already, and why don't you click over when I call you, it was obviously an emergency, hello? 
And I was like, hel-lo, I was busy talking to Janell, long distance and it was very important, you know, but then also in my mind I was secretly feeling very popular for 10:30 in the morning? Because, so many calls. So then I had to rinse the shampoo outta my hair cause Janell caught me in the middle of my shower, even though I told her I wasn't busy, but long distance is long distance, and gets special treatment, so I rinsed out the shampoo and jumped, wet-headed, into my blue van, but not before Tommy had stripped off nudie while I was in shower numero dos, and greased himself up head to toe in Aquafor (which is like lotion only with wax, and which we sometimes use as diaper ointment), and had to be wiped down a bit, but was still pretty greasy, let's be honest. It took some time to wrastle him into the car seat's 5-point harness, slick as he was. I threw my hair up and accessorized on the way over. I think the overall effect was good:

Here we are (above) just after the show. I told Jen, is declasse to put the knockers on display before noon, but she said no way am I putting these away! Is special occasion! 

So we missed the first 10 minutes of the movie cause I was hurrying but I'm not very quick and speedy, as most of you know, but we saw the rest of The Duchess, which was good but pretty racy, don't say I didn't warn you, and also so so sad, but in a good way, with some costumes that could seriously knock the socks off a body, if any body wore socks in the desert. It is way too hot for socks; but actually, now that I think of it, it isn't that hot today; is pretty nice actually, so a person could wear socks if she really wanted to wear socks, but who does? Not me. So I didn't. But if I had, they would been knocked off anyway, so the no socks thing was a good preemptive measure. So then I went back home, feeling like a fancy lady, watching movies in the middle of the day like that. I thought to myself, I could really use some bon-bons, which I've heard are the official snack food of the fancy-lady. I wonder if the Fresh & Easy has bon-bons? Am unsure. Anyhow, the whole movie theater was packed with effete, midday-movie-watching ladies like me. I was also pretty fancy cause Jen bought us matching Duchess necklaces on Etsy, which are so, so cute you might just die when you see them. I hope not, but it is possible, I warn you. Is not actually Georgiana on the necklace, but is close enough, you know? I could tell you it is Georgiana, and you might not know the difference, but I am nothing if not honest, eh? Maybe is Marie Antoinette? But before, not after you-know-what happened. Cause who wants a headless lady necklace? Is only creepy, not cute. Marie and Georgiana were late-1700s contemporaries and also buddies, cause G came to visit Marie here:
Jen and Kelly at Marie Antoinette's crib, May 2006.

So now Jen and I can wear our neck gear whenever we go see period films, or go to Europe, which is like, pretty much all the time. And I know I sound nerdy, but I am actually quite excited by my new regalia. Our Duchess necklaces are a little like the Starship Enterprise uniforms that Trekkies wear to the conventions; but more subtle, of course.

I am nothing, if not subtle.

What makes you feel like a fancy-lady?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Last night: The Paris-Kapalua topless red eye train to nowhere

So, you know how sometimes "your friend" starts telling you all about this dream she had last night? And to her, it is SOOO fascinating, but really, it isn't, and as she drones on, you stop blinking, and then you start daydreaming that you are all alone doing your laundry or anything more interesting than listening to this bizarre fiction of her subconscious?

I mean, NOBODY wants to hear it. Well, nobody but Carl Jung. And Freud. Okay, fine, and Perls and Adler. But the rest of us? No.  

Oh. And by "your friend" I meant, me. 

Cause that's what I'm going to inflict on you today. My dream from last night.

It's my blog, I can bore you if I want to.

So it all started with a dinner reservation in Paris. Which is a good start. But then, I needed to go back to our hotel room and change. (Since I'm not going to bore you with trivial details, I won't tell you I needed to change because I was topless. That I'd heard about all the topless ladies on the French Riviera and decided hey, when in Rome, right?  Well, I don't know about the Roman dress code, it is probably pretty conservative, considering the Pope lives there; but it turns out that in Paris, you wear tops, generally. So there I am, standing in front of Fouquet's, wearing a short pleated kilt, knee socks, and trying to cover my chest with my arms and hands. It was more modest than you might think. My arms are ape-long, my hands are extra-crazy-large, and on my chest, there isn't so much to cover. Anymore.)

I decide to take the Metro to the hotel, but when I get on, I find that it is an express train out of town. I panic. Someone gives me a t-shirt that says "Kiss my grits," and a cell phone, but I can't seem to figure out how to text anybody in french. So I sit on the train for hours, hoping it will make a giant loop and take me back to where I began. Finally, I hear the conductor say the next stop is Kapalua. Which is on Maui. In Hawaii. 

I am hungry. Some nice Polynesian lady gives me poi. It was gross. I wanted my fancy Frenchy dinner. Then I remember that at home it is Thursday, and I forgot to hire a babysitter for Thursday. So my kids are all alone at home. So I am getting more and more stressed out, but still, I stay on the train.

I wake from this dream and start making kids' lunches for school. I am very tired of making sack lunches. Kids must be tired of eating them. I would actually rather clean toilets than make lunches. Then Sam rips the entire backside out of his Scooby-doo underpants while playing Legos (no idea how this happened, or why he is playing Legos when he should be getting ready for school), and wants to know if he should put them in the regular trash or the recycling. TRASH, OKAY! USED UNDERPANTS SHOULD NOT BE RECYCLED! IS NOT SANITARY!

So, I'm still thinking about my dream, and wishing I hadn't bought those three bags of Pecan Sandies Cookies with Dark Chocolate and Almonds, even thought they were super cheap. Even if someone wants to pay me $20 to take them home, I should just say no. Cause I eat them, for breakfast, while I blog about my crazy subconscious. MMM, tasty. But must stop eating. Might be going to New York next month. Need to save up calories for Carnegie Deli.

So, back to the dream. What does it mean? What might the experts say? 
Freud believed that dreams were often dangerous and repressed wishes and fantasies that the patient’s subconscious was trying to repress for the sanity of the patient.
So I secretly want to be topless? My conscious mind does not. It is a huge fan of underwire bras, actually. Or maybe I secretly want to be in Paris? Er, is no secret. Or maybe I secretly wish I was back on the Granada Hills High School Drill team, so I could wear that kilt? No, is nightmare, not secret dream.
Jung disagreed with Siggy. He believed the patient dreamed in order for the subconscious to actively communicate with the conscious mind with helpful archetypes of universal struggles all people need to deal with.
I think my dream dealt with two universal human struggles 
1. Do I vacation in Paris or Maui?, and 
2. What do I wear so I don't look like a tourist?
Alfred Adler agreed with Freud and Jung that dreams were the unconscious way to deal with things we feel powerless over in daily life, and that dreams were driven by our troubles in life, but not a war between the conscious and the subconscious. Dreams should be interpreted to incorporate the findings into helping the person actively deal with the issues during waking hours.
So what is my subconscious trying to fix in my waking life with this dream? In the interest of science, I will disclose that I often have dreams where I am in my favorite places, but can't seem to do anything.  Many times I am lost in London, trying to get to a West End show on the Tube. I end up very frustrated. I have been very busy this week. Maybe it was a little "stop and smell the roses" note from my unconscious mind. Could be. But why, then, was I topless? Is a mystery.
Frederick Perls, the Father of Gestalt therapy, wasn't big on dream symbols, but rather pragmatically sought to integrate rejected parts of the person’s whole which are expressed in dreams.
So according to Gestalt, my inner Parisian exhibitionist isn't getting enough air time. 

He's got a point, there. She is totally repressed. 

Oh, and BTW, I am well-qualified to interpret dreams because I took a psychology class at Pierce College (San Fernando Valley) during my senior year of high school (mostly so I could leave school early every day and get In-n-Out with my friends). I remember I turned in the etiquette paper I'd written in 5th grade. I called it "Psychology of Social Etiquette", and I got an A+. I'm not making up that plus, either. An actual plus, in college, on a paper I'd written at age 10. And I'm not saying my 5th grade paper was college-level. I'm saying maybe the JC system needs to raise the bar a bit. Seriously.

So what do you think? To which theory of dream analysis do you subscribe? Do you have any crazy dreams? This is your chance to share, cause your real-life friends don't want to hear it. 

But I do. I want to hear it.

Monday, October 06, 2008

And the Green Jell-o t-shirt goes to....

JOLENE! Jolene of Jo-Jo's Circus! 

Congratulations! Jolene seems to be a lucky girl. I think she won a magazine subscription over to my sister-in-law's blog last year. 

My daughter Jane chose your comment at random, Jolene, and you are the winner of the McCain/jello t-shirt! Or I can send you the other one, with Mitt crossed out, and McCain written in. Or you can have the bib. Or, if you like Obama, and since I know where you live, I can just make you green jello. I have a fancy mold I got for 25 cents at the DI in Twin Falls, Idaho. 

Okay, fine, it isn't very fancy.

Let me know whatcha want, and I will ship it out!

Thanks to all who entered!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Lucky to be alive, obviously.

Sam's kindergarten teacher sent this note home to me:

"Love him! He told us he was on the Titanic, but he was able to escape on a small boat. We were  so relieved he made it out alive."

Reminds me of the time when Jane told her Primary teacher she'd been attacked by a shark.