Sunday, October 30, 2011


The leaves are damp with the fall rains and dim with the greying skies, but they softly glide to the ground laying a carpet of color for us to kick through. The late afternoon hush of sun lays weak rays for us to play through, as I wait for the school bus under one of the biggest, beautiful-est maples on the Island.  I crunch through the leaves to meet Grace, and Daisy gets lost in them, and I smile because there are leaves still on the trees, and leaves on the ground and they make me happy, because they make me feel like a kid again.. Ahhhh... finally a true season. Spring was a bust. Summer was a bust. But fall...she's come to spread her early nights and crisp days upon us, a little late, but here none the less. I'm light on words today, but warning: heavy on the pictures. We've been knee deep in October, and rightly so, since November will shove me into a tirade of emotion in the very near future, so I will forcefully make my head stay in October. Here is what we've been up to:

Beaterman has lost his pride among other things. He has taken a "permanent leave of absence" from the yard. Bye, beaterman. You were so good to my girl.

Ooooo...A gift and a spooky note from the Halloween Trickster...

Decorating the house with spooky bats. Thank you Amy Miller, I saw this on your pinterest and had to make them!

Getting carving lessons from the master carver himself.

I ditched the cleaning part and made pumpkin spice donuts to nosh on.

Mmmm! Roasty toasty seeds! As I was buying these pumpkins, a man walked up to me and gave me a five minute lecture on how wasteful it is, carving and buying pumpkins for Halloween. No dude, the seeds!! We eat the seeds!  Plus, be quiet.  Hush your Halloween blasphemy.  Please.

No, Grace. I don't think I can share my doughnuts with you. What's that you say?

Lets make a deal. You carve the pumpkins, and I'll eat the doughnuts.

No? Okay. I'll share.

There was also a carnival to go to. Y'all remember the Burton Carnival? They tried to revamp it this year, and it was pretty fun. DJ and Bouncy houses rule.

So does Balloon guy who made my girl a flower.

Stopping at the Roasterie is a must too. We always say we will contribute some carvings, but never do. Next year, fo' sho.

The pumpkins are mesmerizing, and so fun to look at sitting on the porch of one of Vashon's oldest, most beloved places.

So Vashon. I love it.

An unusually quiet deck.

Some talented carvings. Most happy, not scary. Some political, but not forceful. The work of many creative minds.

Oh, she cooks. And wears her best while doing so.

This dress from the trickster cracked me up. It was a squinch too short and gave her a little bubble butt since it sat so high. She didn't know and didn't care which made it cuter.

Here is an easy recipe I got off of pinterest. Get a bag of square pretzels, and put them on a foil lined cookie sheet. Top each one with a Hug Hershey kiss. Bake for 3-4 minutes and no longer in a 350 degree oven.

Immediately after removing them from the oven, lightly push one candy corn on top of each hug.

Now, you have a salty sweet Halloween nugget to eat while you watch Charlie Brown.

Had to throw in a picture of dawg, because I love her.

So, as you see, October has been busy, which has been good. Not much time for the quiet ache to settle in earlier than normal.  Tomorrow is a big day, and the next day will be clean up and then back to the grind. Over here, we go straight from Halloween, right into Christmas. The tree waits till the end of November, but as the Halloween bins go up to the attic, one by one, the Christmas bins sneak their way down, to fill up the vacant spots. It seems early, but the house is so naked without it. But for now, and the next twenty four hours, enjoy this ghoulish day. Candy! Costumes! Candy! Giggling kids! Halloween in the cutest town ever! Candy! Swirling leaves! Scraggly tree branches! Black cats and Broomsticks! Oh, and did I say, Candy!
       HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!!!!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

My Mount Everest

So, I suppose everyone has a fear in life that they hope to conquer.
 It may be a fear of the water, and they hope to learn to swim, but settle to be happy with dipping in a pinky toe, or maybe it is a touch of agoraphobia, and fear public places and choose to stay in the periphery. I call these fears "Mount Everest's".
 For some people they are things that come easy, but for others, it is a paralyzing fear they wish to break, and it can become quite embarrassing, especially when it is something that is considered to many, so routine. I have a couple of fears I have to conquer, but one of my biggest ones is (please don't laugh) : drum roll please...driving on the freeway.
 It is my Mount Everest.
I can tell you the exact date it started. It started on November 18th, 2002. Before that date, I had no problems driving on the freeway, and could go anywhere I pleased, and really miss that feeling of knowing I could go anywhere I wanted, only relying on myself to take me there. Me, a set of wheels, and the open road.
I knew in my heart of hearts that day, that it was the last day I would spend on earth with my baby girl. My sixth sense had kicked in and let me know that weeks before hand, and I so badly wanted it to be wrong. I wanted to spend that day at home with Vanessa, in a comfortable place, being with her, and doing whatever I could do to make that day count. Instead, I was headed to the hospital, my mom and Vanessa in the back seat, taking her in to get a mandatory blood draw for her second open heart surgery the following day. It was the very last place I wanted to be, and the very last thing I wanted to do. I would have had a thousand needle sticks if it meant they didn't have to draw her blood that day. 
My breath started to catch as we boarded the ferry to Seattle, and I tried to self talk myself down. By then, I was having panic attacks (the really aggressive kind) on a regular basis. That day though, I had to do my best to keep it under control because I had to do this for my baby. We were in the fight for her life, and I wasn't going to let her down.
It wasn't until we hit the West Seattle bridge that I knew I was in trouble. I couldn't talk. I couldn't breathe. We were stuck in traffic. Hospital. Just get to the hospital and scream for help. Somebody will help. Help my baby. Get her well. Help me. Please. Save Her Life.
I faintly remember my mom playing with her in the back seat as I merged onto I-5 and tried to push the pedal down and my foot went numb. I couldn't feel anything. Traffic thinned, and cars zoomed forward, and I must of been moving, because I don't remember anyone honking. My heart was not pounding, but fluttering, and I saw black spots in the midst of the pavement and cars. Oh god, I'm going to pass out. On the freeway, with my baby and my mother in the back seat.
To my right I spy an exit, not our exit, but an exit.
I can't see much because the tears are building a thick dam in my eyes, I can't breathe, and my leg trembles and bounces as I try and push the pedal and barely do, and make it off the exit and off the freeway and land hard in a grassy knoll just off the exit ramp. My poor stunned mother is speechless in the backseat as I wail and let go. I cannot do this. It dawns on me to just floor it and drive as far and as fast away from the hospital and I seriously entertain the thought, but know it is the wrong thing to do. It was an extremely desperate moment, one that haunts me, and I'm afraid will never let me go.
My mom slides into the drivers seat and I move back with Vanessa and sob. I really don't want to take her to the hospital. I just want to be home, holding her on this very last day, not taking her to get a painful blood draw for the nightmare we were going to be pushed into the very next day. Just please God, give us this last day.
I stumble through the procedure, and am totally defeated. It took two tries since her fragile veins were so weak, it wasn't so easy. Traumatic for us both, I wish I could take it all away for her a million times over, and I apologize to her profusely.
We exit the hospital and I can't get behind the wheel, so my mom drives us home, and we stop and get Tully's ice cream. On the ferry we spoon it to her and she smiles and kicks her feet when the spoon gets close to her mouth, and her eyes never leave the ice cream cone.
 It was her first and only taste of ice cream.
Since that panic attack, I haven't been able to drive on the freeway. If someone drives me, I'm OK, but I can't be behind the wheel without my Dark Passenger who makes it impossible for me to think straight. It brings me right back to that day, and showers me with that ultimate desperation of wanting my daughter not to leave, of wanting to do anything, and everything to save her life, of not being able to, of that last day I spent with her, and how much I still ache for her.
The freeway doesn't scare me, it's the feelings it conjures, and I pace at the base of my Mount Everest, and look up and wonder if I will ever summit, and proudly drive that flag into the ground. I think I will feel the wind through my hair again, and grip the wheel with a confident smile, but who knows.
So, be kind to people's fears. There is usually some reason behind it. Some may share the reason, some might be too embarrassed. It has kept me back from so many things, and so many visits to people and I feel too lame to say " I don't drive on the freeway," so I usually make up some lame excuse. I do plan to summit one of these days, but it may be far off. Vanessa's death is still so close, and feels so fresh, and I have lots and lots of conditioning to do, but I will do it someday.

I will.

 My someday.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Halloween Hooters (not the kind you think)

So, when someone says the word "Hooters", there is usually one thing that comes to mind....chicken wings, right?   ; )
Around our house they mean cookies, specifically Halloween cookies. We make owl shaped cookies that look, taste, and feel like Halloween. Imagine late autumn golden light streaming through your window, woodsmoke that lingers on your significant others plaid clothing as they give you a hug 'cause you made cookies, and buttery sugar goodness wafting through your house as you pull these sweet little Halloween treats from the oven.  Painted a nice picture, eh? Well, that didn't happen at our house, but it still is fun to think about as I baked these up. Jeremy was up on two story scaffolding while I baked and Gracie didn't feel like helping until I got to the part with cashews and M&M's, so I made these by myself, enjoying the thick heat from the first fire in the wood stove while listening to the original score from the first season of "True Blood". It was very relaxing to me. Just what I needed.

These are as tasty as they look. They are not hard to make, but they do require some steps. Make these if you get a chance. Put some Halloween in your heart, and yum in your mouth. Here's how ya do it:

                                                 Halloween Hooters

                                     1 Cup packed brown sugar
                                    3/4 Cup butter, no substitutes

                                     1 egg

                                     1 teaspoon vanilla extract

                                     2 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour

                                     2 teaspoons baking powder

                                     1/4 teaspoon salt

                                     1 square (one ounce) unsweetened chocolate, melted

                                     1/4 teaspoon baking soda

                                      large handful of M&M's

                                      large handful of whole roasted and salted cashews

                  In a mixing bowl, cream together the brown sugar and the butter. Add the egg and the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Add it to the creamed mixture. Remove two thirds of the dough and set it aside.  Combine the melted chocolate and the baking soda in a small bowl. Beat it into the remaining one-third of the dough to make a chocolate dough.

                    Take the doughs, and roll the dough without the chocolate into a 8-inch square on waxed paper. Shape the dough with chocolate into an 8 inch log. Place it on the edge of the white dough. Taking the ends of the waxed paper, gently roll the white dough around the chocolate dough log and pinch the seams together so it completely covers the chocolate dough. Wrap dough log and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours.

 Go have a cup of Cider.

Unwrap chilled dough log and cut into 1/4-inch slices.

To form the owl's face, place two slices side by side on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and press the joining seam gently together. Pinch the dough at the top of the circles to form ears. Place M&M's in the center of each circle for eyes . Place a cashew in the lower center of the face for the beak.

 Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Cool for two minutes on the cookie sheet before removing to a wire rack. Offer to family and friends. : )

Cider pressing was also on the agenda for this crisp autumn weekend.

Hard cider. Yes, please.

So was a photo shoot with a dear life long friend of mine.

Spookieness happened too. Yesterday I turned on the light to the bathroom and not one but two lights blew out. No biggie. Then, I took my girl out to lunch and watched the kid at Zoomies punch in our order and sat down and waited...and waited...and went to the counter to see about our food and he said, "weird, it never went through, so we have to go make it." Ugh. Annoying, but a little weird. Went to the Pharmacy after that and tried make a payment and the payment system decided to go down....right then. Okay, weird. So I stayed away from computers for the rest of the day. Spooooo-ky, or not, maybe just coincidence.

Light this evening was golden, and we happened to be outside dumping a rat out of the rat trap in the hen house as a family. Cheap thrills, I'm tellin' ya. But, there was this stillness in the air, a seriousness about the fading light. Fall is here, no question.
 My heart leaps into the red and golden pile of leaves with fervor, but under it is a darkness pulling at the fringes of October. November is coming, it warns, and it's collection of heartaches and debilitating memories. I can almost hear the boots marching it's way towards us, and I shudder.
Tonight though, I closed my eyes, reached out my arms and hugged October hard. Someday, I might learn not to hate November, but not this year. And probably not the next. For now, I'll just bury my head into October's arms, and hope that the let down is easy, and I am placed gently into the arms of November without falling through like I usually do.
Crossing my fingers, but not holding my breath.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

All That Glitters

October has shaped itself into a very busy month. The calendar has pen scribbles all over it, my mind is a slippery mess of purple, orange and black thoughts and I feel the rhythm of this train gathering speed and I am running, to try and keep pace. I think part of it is the impending twilight that creeps faster through my windows in the evening signalling for me to get things done sooner, while daylight is still true. An earlier evening means I get to hopefully hit the couch at a descent hour, since night boasts an early darkness, and watch The Tudors marathon on Netflix with Jeremy. No complaints here, but it means for fuller days ahead.

The traditions of autumn are in my face staring me down: Pumpkin bread baking. Halloween Trickster. Pumpkin Patch visiting. Owl Cookie baking. Firewood prep. Apple Pie baking. Pumpkin butter making. Glittering pumpkins.
What's "glittering pumpkins?" you say? 
 Oh, I'm so glad you asked! I just knew you wanted to do a craft with your children that is a guaranteed mess of all messes that includes glitter that you will find floating around the house for the next three months. : )

Grace and I have been doing this for the past three years and Jeremy moans and groans every single time.

"You're going to do that again? Are you serious?", he says.

 "Yes," I answer, "It is tradition."

It may be a hot mess, but you are rewarded with the cutest little glittery happy pumpkins to gaze upon all month long. They catch the light and sparkle plenty with their cute coats of colorful diamonds cheerfully shedding happiness all over your house. Actually, I get very paranoid about this and have taught Grace to put them in one spot in the house and never, ever touch them again. We oooh and ahhh at them, but don't touch them once they are camped out, unless she is too anxious to show someone, and they are whisked away leaving a sparkly trail for me to clean up (sigh.), but by then, once the glitter is airborne, that's it. Sparkly House. What I find amusing is random glitter in kitty fur, glitter on my car steering wheel, or when Jeremy goes to work with some glitter on his cheek and comes home that evening with it still on. He he. It is a fun project and we've glittered bigger stuff like gourds and squashes, but that just means a bigger mess, so now we just stick to baby boo's or Jack be Little's. Small pumpkin, small mess... Not.  Here's what you do:

1. Gather a handful of small pumpkins.

Or cats, whatever.

2. Prep your space. Spread newspaper down, and in a paper plate put a little mountain of glitter. I use Martha Stewart glitter which has worked very well. Set a spoon next to the plate. Brief you child about glitter, and the importance of turning your head away if you need to sneeze. From experience, that is of utmost importance.

3. Hold the pumpkin by the stem and cover the whole outside ( but not the stem) with glue. I used Martha Stewart glittering glue.

4. Once covered with glue, hold the pumpkin by the stem over your paper plate. Spoon the glitter over it while gently spinning the pumpkin around to cover the whole surface. 


5.Set another piece of newspaper down and put the finished glittered pumpkins there to dry overnight. Lather, rinse, repeat. : )

I do hope you might find some sparkle in your heart to try this. You may hug me, or kick me later, it depends. It is a messy, but fun craft. The scarf wearing, seeing your breath, cider sipping, crimson leaf falling, woodsmoke in the air, crunchy under your feet weather has begun. Time to settle into the traditions that make your family memories buff out to a shine. Or sparkle with glitter. Happy fall to you, everyone. ; )