Monday, June 27, 2011

The Virtues

I cleaned my oven yesterday.  I can't handle the smell or corrosiveness of spray oven cleaners and my oven is not self-cleaning.  So, I mostly scrubbed and scraped it with borax, steel wool and lots of elbow grease.  As I had my head stuck in the oven I thought about the witch in Hansel and Gretel for a while.  And then I thought about my current sewing project.  Then I thought about my garden.  Then back to the witch and on to sailboats versus motor boats.  Finally after about an hour and a half I settled on "virtue."  I thought about how virtuous I felt for having done this thing, battling this grease and grime and giving of myself in such a selfless manner.  I mean, I literally was exchanging two hours of a gorgeous summer day to clean my oven.  What could be more virtuous than that?  And since I still had the grates to clean I started thinking about "the virtues" and wondering if there really were seven, but then I thought I was getting mixed up with the seven deadly sins and I figured that one of those must be oven-frying chicken thighs at a high temperature so that they are extra crispy making it necessary to clean the oven before another thing was baked in it, which led me back to the seven virtues.  "Surely," I thought "cleaning the oven with steel wool on a gorgeous summer day had to be one of the seven virtues."  Sure enough, I Googled "virtues" and there it was right up there next to chastity, temperance, charity, kindness and humility.  Oven cleaning has to qualify for both "patience" and "diligence", so I think I earned double the virtue.
But then I thought maybe I shouldn't have reminded Noel four or five times about how hard it was to clean the oven and how proud and virtuous I felt, because I kind of knocked the "humility" virtue all to heck.  Oh well, two steps forward.  One step back. 

If you were wondering about the point of this drivel, it's this.  I was going to give you the recipe for delicious, crispy oven-baked chicken. 

But, I wouldn't do that to anyone.

I'm not even sure I'll ever use my oven again.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Bob the Builder

What is it about men and their tractors? 

It seems to me that it starts with boys and their Tonka Toys.

They never get over the pure joy of digging in dirt with machines.

Russ came down today to dig and fill and smooth and basically polish our landscape.  He also prepped for a new patio and firepit.

Noel was beside himself with excitement just to be around heavy equipment.

Me?  I had fear and trepidation in my heart most of the day as I saw dirt and gravel and rocks and bushes move about in a jolting dance.  I felt most comfortable with my shovel and rake because I don't even know the names of this equipment.  They laugh when I say, "Are you going to use Digger or Scoop?"  They seem to be amused by my "Bob the Builder" vocabulary, but I know they know what I mean. 

At the end of the day it seems that all the dirt and gravel and rocks and bushes are happy to rest after their frenetic dance. 

I've come to the conclusion that I love men and their toys. 

I don't understand them, but I love them nonetheless.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I saw Jose again today.  He was waiting for me on the porch.  He introduced himself to me.  I know you, I said.  I saw you at Valley View School and before that I met you at Caroline’s party a couple of Christmases ago.  An hour later when I left he called to me, Thank you for remembering me.
I drove away wondering if that is what we all want…to be important enough to be remembered.
Should I tell him that I also remember that his birthday is in December and that he doesn’t really like to celebrate it?  Perhaps.  But I will wait for another day.
I will present it to him like a gift.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Choose Your Own Adventure

When my kids were younger they used to love a series of books called Choose Your Own Adventures.  They really were fun.  The idea was to read a chapter or so and then you’d have to make a decision.  Like...”If you think Harry fell off the cliff, turn to page 4.  If you think he jumped in the lake, turn to page 6.”  So, every couple of pages you’d make a decision that totally affected the outcome of the story.  They were exciting because you had control over the plot, but also because you could always go back and read the different paths and outcomes.  I love this idea and pretty much apply it to every daydream I have.  To this day it still amazes me how wonderfully everything turns out no matter what decision I make.  I must say, though that serendipity, coincidence and kismet seem to play at least a small role in each one of my daydream adventures.  So, if you promise not to tell anyone else, I’ll share a few of my favorite dreams.
Coffee cup in hand, I make my way downstairs to my computer.  Leaning over, I turn it on, not suspecting the incredible surprise awaiting me.  I sit down and sip my coffee as Windows loads.  Damn, that ‘Live Messenger’ window pops up again.  Gotta ask Casey how to get rid of that annoying screen.  My computer seems to spontaneously load stuff.  Where does it all come from anyway and how does it get in?  Perhaps it all comes secretly in the night, catching my computer unawares while it sleeps.  So anyway….I reach for my mouse.  If you think I click on my drop down menu choosing to open my stock account turn to page 4.  If you think I should open my e-mail turn to page 6.
Okay, humor me here folks and let’s say we all go to page 6 together.
Page 6  I click on the envelope icon and my Yahoo e-mail inbox loads. I scan down the entries past the forwarded jokes and offers to buy LL Bean windbreakers.  I see an unfamiliar entry.  “Geez,” I think “why is someone at Simon and Schuster Publishing writing to me?”  I click and read the following as a look of pure satisfaction comes to my face.  
“Dear Shelley:
On behalf of the editors and publishers at Simon and Schuster I would like to introduce myself to you.  I am Judith Curr, executive vice president and publisher.  Really, we all feel as if we already know you because we have thoroughly enjoyed your blog over the past several months.  In fact, we can hardly wait between your blog posts and look forward to your poignant, sometimes witty and always entertaining writing.  We are anxious to offer to publish your essays, hopefully beating other publishing companies to the punch.  We are prepared to offer you an advance to publish a collection of your essays.  Could we fly you to New York next week to discuss this?  We’ve made reservations at the Waldorf for you.  If this is acceptable please call us as soon as possible so that we may finalize the arrangements.  I truly hope that I can be the first to welcome you to the Simon and Schuster family.
Judith Curr
Well folks, if you think this is a tad unbelievable, please turn to page 4.  If not, you can send me an e-mail congratulating me on my overnight success. 
Ummmm, I’m thinking you might want to turn to page 4.
Page 4  Reaching for my mouse I click on my “favorites” bar to link to my on-line stock portfolio.  As the Sharebuilder page loads I wait breathlessly because I’ve sold all my other stock to buy only Apple stock.  I’ve never done this before.  I’ve always had a balanced portfolio, but the other night as I was trying to go to sleep I was overwhelmed by the urge to buy Apple.  I immediately got out of bed, put “sell” orders in for all of my other stock and put it all into Apple.  Not only that, but I bought $40,000 worth of Apple call options. (Please don’t ask me where I suddenly got $40,000.  That sort of little detail is totally irrelevant here.  This is a dream, so just go with it.)  So, today I’ve been wondering how it all went.  Of course I don’t have one of those new-fangled Smart phones so I couldn’t track Apple while I was at work today.  But I did have the car radio tuned to my favorite AM radio station KGEZ.  They play 50’s and 60’s music that I love.  I actually know the words to these wonderful old songs and get rockin’ in my Prius as I motor down the highway.  Well, anyway….as I said, I had the radio on and the Wall Street Journal report came on.  Apparently Steven Jobs himself came off sick leave today to announce an innovative service called iCloud.  Now, as I sit in front of my computer I have no idea what an iCloud is or how, for instance it might differ from a cumulus cloud.  But, I’m hoping that it’s all a good thing.  And by the looks of my computer screen, it is a very good thing.  My stocks have doubled and my call options are up 1,068%!!!! Oh my goodness!! Thank you to the voice in the night.  Thank you to Steven Jobs.  Thank you to Apple users everywhere. 
If you like this outcome and want to suggest ways to spend my new-found money, please drop me a line.  If you think that perhaps the stock and option dream may be a little far-fetched, turn to page 7. 
Alright, alright…so we all go to page 7.
Page 7:  Stopping at the post office is not my favorite task at the end of the work day.  Sometimes the only way I can get myself to stop is by convincing myself that my invitation to the royal wedding has finally arrived.  I know that the wedding has come and gone, but I could always frame it.  I figure it would be a great conversation piece.  Sometimes I only check the mail because there may be a fun, new magazine waiting for me.  Usually this tactic doesn’t work because I don’t have any subscriptions.  You never know, though. 
I stop, just in case. 
Stooping down to retrieve the stack of mail from the post office box I see an official looking envelope.  I see that it is from Gerber.  I hastily tear open the envelope and read the following.
Dear Shelley,
               We received your recent letter and pictures detailing your innovative line of children’s clothing.  We at Gerber are simply amazed at the simplicity of the design, but know that these great little togs will make parenting so much easier.  Why didn’t we think of this before?  We see that you have had the foresight to copyright the idea and trademark the name.  We simply must manufacture this line of clothing and are prepared to buy your idea.  Please have your attorney call us without delay so that we can negotiate a fair price.
Warm regards,
Sally Tilton, CEO of Gerber clothing division

If you would like to purchase some of my new hugely successful line of children’s clothing, please contact me.  Otherwise, please turn to page 11. 
Okay.  I’m assuming we’re going to page 11 to see what awaits.
Page 11:  I’m motoring down the highway in my little grey Prius on my way to see another of the kids I treat.  This is craft week, and I’ve been beading necklaces and bracelets with the kids to work on their fine motor control and listening skills.  Some of my kids have Autism, some have cerebral palsy; others are simply delayed in development or have “sensory issues.”  Regardless of their diagnoses they are hands down the best group of kids in the world.  I’m privileged to work with each of them every week and to be invited into their homes.  In between my appointments I get a chance to enjoy our wonderful Montana scenery.  The sun glinting off the snow-laced Mission Mountains simply cannot be described.  Later, I’ll go home to my house that is near gorgeous Flathead Lake.  Noel will hopefully be home from work and we’ll have dinner on the deck now that summer has finally arrived (at least for a couple of days).  We’ll talk about our days that are laughably different.  He will speak of the defense team for his client accused of murder and I will recount some great story about one of my tender little children and their struggle to cut or to assemble a puzzle.  We’ll be secure in the knowledge that we both enjoy our work even though our days are so hugely different.  Maybe one of our children will call just to check in.  They do that a lot nowadays and we never get tired of picking up the phone to hear, “Hi Mom!” or “Hi Pa!”  Casey will most definitely call to talk about their move back to Missoula.   Yep, he and Kylene and sweet Margot are moving closer.  Unlimited baby snuggles are just a few weeks away!
I break my reverie to realize that I have chosen my own adventure.  This last daydream is not really a dream at all.  It is the reality that I live every day.  Even though it would be grand to have a best-selling book or unlimited money…even though it would be a kick to design children’s clothing, I realize that the life I am living is the one I’ve dreamed of all my life.  And really…I wouldn’t trade it for any of my fantastic, slightly unrealistic adventures.  And that really is the way of it, isn’t it?  I know it sounds corny, but I have always lived by the idea that “what you think about and thank about you bring about.”  In other words, if I am grateful for what I have and appreciate all that life has to offer and if I envision what I want, believing that I will get it, I eventually will.  Wow, that was a mouthful.  But, after all, every thing begins as a thought.  Hey, I think I’ll say that again. 
Every thing begins as a thought.  I like that.
Well, I’ve chosen my adventure and I think I’ll turn back to page 11 and read a bit more. 
But, before I do I want to wish you well on your journey.  Dream your adventure.  It’s so much fun.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Lucky Girl

Last weekend.  The MGM Grand in Las Vegas. 

Noel, me, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison (George's widow) in the audience.

And a few others.

Paul McCartney at his finest. 

Indescribably wonderful.

Almost 3 solid hours with no breaks.

Check one off the bucket list.

I am a lucky, lucky girl.

Here's a video clip of the concert for you.  Click the link below to route to You Tube

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Fast and Easy Enchiladas

Noel devised this recipe last week and I loved it so much that I hopefully suggested that he could make them again soon....real soon.  And he did this evening!  He even perfected his recipe and they were better than I'd remembered (a nearly impossible feat, because my memory is exceptionally vivid.) 
I just needed to share. 

Cooking spray
4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken or other shredded cooked chicken
12 ounces grated cheddar cheese (or a mixture of cheddar and jack)
1 ½ cups sour cream
½ small red onion, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6  8-inch flour tortillas or 8  6”corn tortillas (or mix and match)
2 cups store-bought salsa
1 can enchilada sauce (10 ounce)
Directions:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place tortillas in oven to warm (it makes them easier to roll). Spray 9 X 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. (He used two square baking dishes so we could put one in the freezer...lucky us!)
Place the chicken in a large bowl.  Ad 2 ½ cups of the grated cheese, the sour cream, red onions, ¾ cup salsa and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.

Spoon about ¾ cup of the chicken mixture onto the center of each tortilla and roll them up.  Place the rolls, seam side down, in the prepared baking dish.  Pour the enchilada sauce and the rest of the salsa over the tortillas.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake until heated through, about 40 minutes.

Remove the foil and sprinkle the enchiladas with the remaining ½ cup of grated cheese.  Return the baking dish to the oven until the cheese is melted and edges of tortilla are just beginning to get crisp, 5 – 8 minutes.  Serve hot.  Compliment the cook many times and maybe you'll get luckly and have them two weeks in a row!