What to blog about, what to blog about? Nothing ever happens around here anymore. *tapping fingers on keyboard* What to blog, what to…

Oh, RIGHT. There’s that ONE thing that happened last week. But I don’t think you want to hear about it. It’s gory and gross, and I definitely don’t want to blog about it. So guess I’ll just go straight to…

Ricotta gnocchi
Ice cream sundaes

Psst. I’m still here. I’m going to have to write this really fast and all at once or else I’m going to chicken out and not do it at all. I’ll start with a picture, but I strongly advice you to NOT READ ANY FURTHER AND ESPECIALLY DON’T LOOK AT THE PICTURE.


Just be thankful these aren’t the pictures we sent to the dentist, where the blood kept dripping on the phone.

Rocco went out for a bike ride and 10 minutes later the front door flew open and he said, “Mom, I fell off my bike and got hurt,” and I yelled to the lady I was talking to on the phone, I HAVE TO GO MY KID IS ALL BLOODY because a Mom knows, just knows when a hurt is for real and big. There was blood. A lot of it. I held a wet washcloth to Rocco’s mouth and asked, “Did you bite your tongue?” No. “Did you bite your lip?” No. I asked him with great trepidation to open his mouth. The image of what I saw there keeps waking me up at night. I called the dentist right away but almost passed out on the phone and spent the next 30 minutes lying on the bathroom floor, trying not to throw up and feeling like a terrible Mom. Kevin cleaned the rocks and blood off of Rocco, who was a little shaky but didn’t cry or panic, and by the time we got to the dentist he was back to talking a mile a minute. I had to keep interrupting him so the dentist could explain things. (“He’s so lucky!” she kept saying. “No root damage!”) On the way back I said Rocco could get a milkshake and he ordered a baconater to go with it. He ate every bite. (I guess the half a tooth he ate earlier wasn’t all that filling.) I’m so grossed out by this whole post I have to end it abruptly. I’m feeling faint again.

Random Funnies

The smoke is gone! It’s kind of crazy how quickly you can go from dancing joyously in the rain to grumping about how rainy it is. But still, I don’t take any breath of clean, fresh, misty air for granted anymore. Even taking the garbage cans out to the curb feels like a huge treat.

Anyway, here are a couple funny things I’ve jotted down in the past couple months, just for laughs.

Me to the boys: Would you rather be an ant or a house?
Rocco: I’d like to be a house because then no one could step on me.
Leo: An ant could step on you!

Me, explaining to the boys what shopping felt like in the early quarantine days: It’s like a real-life game of PacMan. You turn down an aisle, grab all the pellets you can, freak out and turn the other way when another moving thing shows up in front of you.

Me: What position do you think I’d be best at in football?
Leo: Cheerleader?

This next one comes from a family discussion about the dangerous combination of multiple choice tests and poor impulse control.
Rocco: I’m super good at multiple choice.
Kevin (after he and I exchanged eyebrow raises): Is that so? Here, let me give you a test. Multiple choice: What is the third letter of the alphabet…
Rocco: C!
Kevin: Incorrect. The correct answer was B: C. C was A.

Leo, as Kevin carefully selected each person’s cards in Monopoly Deal instead of randomly dealing them:
Leo: Dad shouldn’t be able to make my hand even though it’s Father’s Day.
Kevin: I made both your hands.

Me to Kevin: If we could go back to college and pick each other’s majors, what would we pick for each other? I’d pick massage therapy for you. What would you pick for me?
Kevin: Pole dancing.

Deep dish pizza
Peanut butter cookies

When Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

The smoke is making everything weird. Like with CoVid, I shouldn’t be writing this post, as the fires are nowhere near our city and the smoke is a mere nuisance rather than the calling card of complete and utter devastation. But here I am, writing this post anyway because that’s how I make sense of things.

Everything is pinkish gray. It’s like we’re living inside an Instagram filter, or maybe in the movie Inception. The trees, the petunias, the picnic table all exist right outside my window but they might as well be in a different universe. They’re themselves, but they’re not themselves. I’m living my life, but I’m not living my life. Everything’s the same, but nothing’s the same. If I were an animal in the zoo, I’d be a jaguar—the one that paces back and forth with its mouth cracked open, trying to take enough steps to get back to that one place with all the grass and sky and antelope. What was it called?

I don’t mind being stuck inside on a rainy day, but it’s quite a different thing to be stuck inside on a smoky day. The ash out there—it’s made up of pieces of forests, homes, of living things that weren’t fast enough or who took a wrong turn or who didn’t see it coming. When I remember that, the smoke doesn’t feel like a nuisance. It feels like a great, deep sadness.

In the 80s, we read about gray futures where people stay in side, where they’re afraid to go out or where they’ve been ordered not to. Even though we knew the books were forecasting a future that could happen, we never thought it really would. (After all, not one of those books included a massive run on toilet paper.) Maybe we still aren’t. But when you look outside, it’s hard to imagine we’re not.

We’ve already cleaned out all our closets. We’ve watched all of TV.  We’ve dusted all the baseboards, touched up all the risers, sorted the mismatched socks. So now all there is to do is look outside and wonder if this is real or if we’re figments of George Orwell’s imagination.

Now I’m at the bottom of this post and I’m not any closer to making sense of things than when I started! I’ve gone and covered you with my own cloud. Maybe a picture from the week before would help, like a lollipop at the end of a doctor’s appointment?


Ugh! Gross! Not that one—that’s from when I nailed my shin on the stairs.


No! Stop! That’s just another angle of the same thing!


Now we’re getting a bit weird (this is how the doctor found Rocco when he walked in for Rocco’s wellness appointment).


This one is just an example of bad posture.


Okay, now we’re just getting silly. Come on, Me. Put in a nice picture!


There we go. Something simple and sweet.


Something that exists just underneath it all.


Something that is waiting, like us, to see the sun again.


Or, even better, the rain.

Smoked pork shoulder
Cheese souffle
Buttered green beans
Blackberry peach cobbler

Writing: Unfinished Business

Whenever Kevin asks me how writing went at the end of the day, I give him a sour look. Even if I wrote a whole new scene or turned something from a disaster to a tour de force, I can almost never say I had a good day of writing. I’ve always felt weird about that. Why can’t I just say it was great? Everything’s great!

Then we experienced some plumbing issues at the Whidbey cabin, and now I know exactly why my answer is always an irritated, “I don’t know! Why do you keep asking that?!”

We went to replace faucets in the kitchen and bathroom. Should be easy. A no-brainer! We’ll have it all fixed up in no-time!

(Note: This is the same way I feel when I open up a scene to edit.)

But then things wouldn’t come unscrewed, and then leaks showed up, and then bigger leaks showed up, and then tubes wouldn’t hook up, and things broke, and things turned on when they should have been turned off, and there was black mold on the baseboards and it appears the hot water tank needs to be replaced.

We went to solve two problems and ended up with 20 more, and by then it was an hour past Kevin’s bedtime, so we just left it like this.


Okay, so the kitchen sink doesn’t work, but don’t despair—we can wash dishes in the bathroom!


Oh. Right.

It actually still works, so don’t freak out. If you want cold water, use the faucet above the sink and if you want hot water, use one that’s dangling upside-down in the cabinet. It works! I promise!

If we were talking about my novel, this is where I’d say, “I tried to make the beginning shorter but it got twice as long, and chapter 16 completely disappeared–I’m TOTALLY FREAKING OUT–and I realized that I have 4 denouements and all of them have to be there but I can only keep one, and I have to change all the colors in the book to numbers.”

This is also where Kevin would say, “But that’s great! You made progress!”

This, folks, is what progress looks like.


It’s a lot messier, a lot uglier, and a lot less satisfying than I ever imagined progress could be. But it works. Kind of.

It’s also why, when Kevin asks me how writing went today, I tell him I DON’T EVEN KNOW.

Still, as much as I hate answering the question, I love that he keeps asking because it shows he’s not afraid of me, which is good because I am often very afraid of myself.

If you’ll excuse me now, I have some dishes to wash in the swimming pool, which is decidedly color #2 today.

And if you know the name of a good plumber, send it my way—I could use some help with the novel.

Ginger-glazed halibut
Scalloped potatoes
Chocolate layer cake

Summer Wrap-Up

If you ask me what I did this summer, I say, “Well, we…” then squint my eyes at the sky, knowing we did something. We had to have done something, right? “We, ah…hm.” Squint.

Fortunately, I took pictures and thusly, this whole post is just a photo dump. I dedicate it to the grandparents, who are probably the only ones that get excited about photo dumps. Winking smile

Cranberry Lake


Denny Creek






Fort Ebey




Watershed Park


Lake Washington


Snoqualmie Falls


Botanical Gardens


Deception Pass State Park





Our “own” Whidbey beachIMG_20200829_120845~2

I only filled my car up with gas twice in three months. Not bad, for two tanks of gas!

Yakisoba with beef
Lemon bars

First Day of High School

I did manage to get a couple photos of Vincenzo on his first day of high school.

Here he is 20 minutes before first period:


Here he is at PE:


Here he is at…I don’t know. I wanna say geometry?


For the first time in months, Vincenzo voluntarily left his room today, saying, “I need to get some fresh air.” I’m surprised he still had the energy, after all that PE!

Salmon cakes
Crab cakes
Lemon bars

First Day of School 2020

I’m not sure…am I supposed to take pictures this year? I haven’t bought the boys a single piece of new clothing since last fall. Do we put on last year’s clothes? Wear pajamas? We have no new shoes, no new backpacks, no new anything. So…no first-day pictures?

Maybe I’ll cheat and put in a summer picture instead.


I was relieved to wake up today without the usual highly flammable emotions I usually have on the first day of school. This fall, I don’t have to have my emotional breakdown! I think I’ll skip everywhere from now on!

At the same time, I am a little remorse that I won’t have long days to myself to read and write, scrapbook, garden, catch up on life, and just plain think. (Dear Lord, am I spoiled.) Then again, it was so rare for me to actually have a day like that, with all the volunteering, subbing, appointments, cooking, exercising, and other Things I Stupidly Sign Up For, so I guess it’s a wash?

Of course, all this means that I have not much to blog about today. Usually I come home from the bus stop, awkwardly balancing the thrill that I have the house to myself for six hours with the heartache that the boys will not be filling up the house for six hours. I take short, shaky breaths the whole way, cry a little bit (but never as much as I think I’m going to), then sit down to edit first-day photos and be with my thoughts and blog something dramatically emotional, full of looking-back and convincing myself this is all normal and okay.

This year, I’ll just get up and make some waffles at whenever o’ clock.  I might go for a walk. We’ll all lie around, forgetting it’s not summer. There will be a single panicky moment of trying to find passwords, getting error messages on websites, and frantically texting three sets of friends to see if the same thing is happening to them. And then maybe we’ll go to the beach for lunch.*

I can handle that. I usually panic once a day about something, anyway.

Last night I did have one heart-clutching sentiment. My baby is in high school !  I grabbed Kevin by the arms. It’s going too fast! It’s going to be over too fast and I won’t have done anything and the only thing I’ll want to do is go back and start it over again, and I’ll be sad every day for the rest of my life!


Even without the dramatic, frenzied, emotional first-day send-off, it happened anyway.

They got a year older.

It seems like yesterday they were all waist-height and under, with their chipmunk voices bouncing off the walls, and I was wiping sticky stuff out of their fingers while they pushed away, reaching for something just over there.

It seems like tomorrow we’ll send Leo off to college (or clown school, or Honolulu, or wherever that kid ends up going) and I’ll look at Kevin and say, Welp. That was fast.

I started pressing on the brake with everything I’ve got the minute I first held Vincenzo in my arms.But the brakes aren’t holding and my foot is getting tired.


Okay, so a little emotion showed up after all. Well, la-ti-da! It’s time to go make the waffles.

Loaded baked potatoes
Buttered broccoliini
Chocolate cake

*School is only an hour long this week. I wish it would start like that every year. I never was one to jump in the pool feet-first—I’m a get-in-slow kind of girl.