Archive | July, 2008

Wordless Wednesday — with words

30 Jul

Canada Geese chasing off an unwelcome third wheel!

Overheard, two tables away
while waiting for my pizza to come
“Ooooo!  I love this song.”
“This song.  It’s crap.  It’s the worst kind of rap and pop crap.”

And then the child said nothing more.
What more could be said
in the face of such disapproval
in the face of such an eager child
shutdown shutout shutup

When she’s 16 and keeps her earbuds in all the time
When she’s 20 and won’t tell you about her boyfriend
When she’s 25 and doesn’t return your phone calls
Will you look back and remember why?

The cats in the cradle, my friend.
What goes around comes around.
Don’t waste it.
Pretend to enjoy the song, see some good in it.
Tell her why.  And, maybe she’ll tell you why when she’s grown.

All content written by Liza Lee Miller unless otherwise noted.
© 2008, Liza Lee Miller.Creative Commons License

Included as part of Poetry Friday, hosted this week at The Well-Read Child.


Ruby Tuesday – The Floor is Finished Edition

29 Jul

Kitchen Floor

Some of you no doubt remember this picture of the lovely Ruby showing off and matching our new flooring.  She did not cooperate for another picture on the new flooring.  Probably because an 8 yo and a 9 yo boy were trying to “help” with the process.  No fool she.  Still, I love the way she matches the floor.

floor finished

After a brief haitus, we got back to work and finished up the floor.  Greg would measure and tell me what size to cut, I used that saw you can see behind Greg and cut the boards.  When we couldn’t use the nailer anymore, too near the wall, I put glue on the boards before giving them to Greg.  The floor looks gorgeous!  The bamboo that we used [click] is incrediably hard.  Our heavy-duty nailer (borrowed from Greg’s uncle who is a contractor) worked great.  At places where the nailer wouldn’t work, glue was the only answer.  In the kitchen, Greg experimented with top nailing the boards in but it didn’t work, required pre-drilling, and didn’t give satisfying results.  I really can’t stress enough how hard this bamboo is.  Makes me feel good about having it as our flooring.

floor finished

This is after my Scooba finished cleaning it up for me yesterday.  Isn’t it lovely? It took it ages because of all the dust and debris from construction.  I had to empty the tank a couple of times and clean out all the vacuumed up debris.  I love the Scooba.  I would have whined and grumbled my way through cleaning it.  I’m not sure it’s a timesaver, however.  I found myself standing and watching it work.  🙂

next project started

Of course, we have never been able to bask in our success.  We are always on to the next project.  So, we started working at the edging around the door.  That’s the next thing to go . . . that ugly, gigantic, single pane glass slider.  Can’t wait to say good-bye to it.

How much fun can one boy have?

28 Jul

Happy, toothy 8 year old boy

When Gage was up visiting my parents for a week, I took advantage of his being gone to clean his room.  He generally keeps it clean with reminders but with the busy year we had last year, it got away from him and then . . . fohgetaboudit.  By the time he left for his visit, I wouldn’t/couldn’t walk into the room to kiss him goodnight.  So, it took me two days, 3 boxes for Goodwill, 3 bags of garbage, and an incrediable amount of patience but it got done.

When his room is clean, he has room to play and have fun.  He has had this toy since he was 3.  It’s a special toy and so we keep it up high and only get it out when the room is clean and he’s feeling mellow.  He can put it together and run it himself now but I went in to keep him company.  His running commentary in the video is hilarious to me.  What a boy!

What am I doing wrong?

27 Jul

Ever since I was a child, I have known that there was a grown-up way to speak and that it included liberal use of swear words.  As a child, I spake as a child and did not start using swear words — around grown-ups — until I was given permission by my parents.  Hey, I was a good kid that way.  But, since then, swearing is something I am quite comfortable doing.  Oh sure, I keep it to a minimum in certain situations — I don’t, for example, swear much around my children.  I don’t swear at all around students at school.  I know it has its limitations. But when I’m with my friends, my husband, alone . . . I swear.  I swear, I swear!

As a writer, I was taught to write with multiple voices.  My personal writing is like my own voice.  My more formal writing is just that: more formal.  That said, when I used to make my living as a technical writer at Stanford, I was never asked to please make my writing less formal — even my formal voice is relatively personal and approachable.  The Queen of Jargon, I was not and am not.

Still, I am surprised that my blogging voice is so . . . safe.  Look at these ratings:

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?

OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets

blog readability test

But here,  with you kind people, here, I speak plain English with a minimum of swearing.  One of these sites mentioned that the only bad word I’d used was “poop.”   I don’t know if there is even hope for me.  I guess my English teachers who taught me to write in a formal, yet straightforward way would be pleased.  I just never thought that my personal voice was a personal voice that was speaking to little kids . . . did I steal Mr Rogers’ voice?

Oh, woe is me.

Brave Soul

26 Jul

On the high dive

Challenge yourself to succeed
Reach deep within; muster the courage
To just jump off the high dive

She hasn’t succeeded in jumping off yet.  We are setting mini-goals.  The first was to stop hiding and simply walk up the ladder and walk back down again.  That was easily achieved.  Next, she was to walk out to the end of the board and walk back again.  She did it.  Goals met.  I do not want her to jump yet — I want to see her walk out there with confidence.  We’re not seeing that yet.  I know she’ll jump.  She knows she’ll jump.  She just has to make it happen.

Watching your mind work so hard
Twisting and turning every problem
My heart is proud of your intellect

My girl is smart and her brain and body can be at odds.  Her body knows that high dive is high but that it will be fun.  Her brain has started to realize what can happen if you fall.  She is battling herself and I know she’ll win.  She is so strong and amazing in her technicolor polka dots.  You go girl!

All content written by Liza Lee Miller unless otherwise noted.
© 2008, Liza Lee Miller. Creative Commons License

Eating Chicken for Days

25 Jul


There are a lot of recipes out there for roasting chickens.  Here is what I do.  It’s exceptionally easy and delicious. I tend to make this a lot when we are feeling poor.  It worked better before we had kids as Ruth only eats chicken in nugget form (although she recently discovered that I can make excellent chicken strips and therefore she’s going to let me stay in the family!).

Roast Chicken

  • 1 whole chicken
  • EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • Garlic (fresh or powder)
  • Herbs (fresh if you’ve got ’em, Italian Seasonings if you don’t)
  1. Clean the chicken thoroughly.  Wash it, remove all the innards.  Sometimes I salt it inside, sometimes I don’t.
  2. Put it in the roasting pan.
  3. Cover it with a nice layer of EVOO.  Just pour it on.
  4. If you used fresh garlic, mash it all over the chicken with your hands.  Toss some in the cavity.
    If you are using powder, then just coat the thing in garlic powder.
  5. Cover it with herbs.  Personally, I usually use Italian Seasonings and I again coat it in them.  If I’m using fresh herbs then I am more sparing as they have way more flavor.  I do like to go cut fresh rosemary from my yard and stuff it inside the bird — nummy.
  6. Cook it at 350F for 1.5 hours.
  7. Let it set and then carve and serve.  Utterly delish.

Variations on the recipe — substitute butter for the EVOO.  Bernsteins Restaurant Style Italian Dressing also works great — skip all the herbs and spices then as it’s very flavorful.

But, your work is not done.  After dinner, pick the carcass clean.  Get all the good delish meat off and save them for other meals.  I recommend Chicken Quesadillas.  YUM!

Next, put the chicken carcass and all bones (yes, even the ones from the plates, believe me germs will NOT be a problem) back into the roasting pan with all the drippings and goodies and into a 400F oven for 1 hour.  It will be brown and your house will smell even more amazing than before.  Now, scrape the whole mess into a large pot — be careful and don’t pour hot fat onto the floor (thankfully I didn’t burn myself!).  Cover with water.  Add any vegies you have lying around — celery, onions, carrots, whatever.  If I know I’m making soup, I’ll save peelings and skins from these things in a bag in the freezer.  Put it on high until it boils and then down to low to simmer on your stovetop for 3 hours. Set a timer as you will forget it and finding it at 6 am burnt to a crisp is no treat.  Trust me.

When it’s done cooking, let it cool.  Then strain out all the bones, meat, vegies.  Save any good meat you can for more of those nummy chicken quesadillas!  If you are really being good, you can then strain it through cheese cloth.  Refrigerate the results.  In the morning, spoon all the fat off the top and you are left with a divine brown chicken broth.  Delish broth that you can use to make all kinds of wonderful dishes with.  For me, I plan to use it as broth to eat the amazing pilmeni that my grandmother makes.  NUM!  I also use it with Top Ramen noodes instead of the crappy packet of flavoring they offer.  Wonderful!  Toss some of those leftover chicken bits in there too.

I know it would be nice if I had a good picture of my roast chicken — sorry, too busy carving it so we could eat it — or my broth or something but really, I don’t take good pictures of food.  So, just imagine how good it must look.  I know that the smell alone of the roasting chicken reduced my 8 year old to a quivering, whining, mess of “BUT I’M HUNGRY!”-ness.  And, Ruth even allowed as how she didn’t hate it.  🙂

**EDIT: I made pilmeni for lunch with my chicken broth — it’s a lovely, rich brown broth and utterly delicious.  The pilmeni was so pretty in there that I had to take a picture!  Pilmeni are the Russian version of wanton, ravioli, dumplings, etc.  They are comfort food at it’s finest in a healthy broth.  Delicious.  (And, by the way, I have no idea of that recipe I linked to is any good — it was just easy to find!  🙂 ) **



Oh, don’t miss the latest I and the Bird at Hawk Owl’s Nest . . . I don’t think there are any recipes but I’m sure there are plenty of great posts about birds!  I plan to spend a big ol’ chunk of my day tomorrow reading every word.

Birding Frustration

24 Jul

Where the Cormorant was
Wren posted a shot on her blog that reminded me of this commercial.  Oh, sure the commercial makes it SEEM like the photographer is fine with it all but we all know she’d be stomping back to her car thinking, “Why do I always miss the shot.  Dratted birds!”  [click]

Wordless Wednesday – Recycled Edition

23 Jul

Given my slump, I’m recycling an old favorite photo from last summer.

Flame Skimmer on fish sculpture

Ruby Tuesday – Mid-Summer Slump Editon

22 Jul


So, mid-summer.  We were supposed to be heading north to Oregon today.  But, that so didn’t happen.  We’ve scrapped the trip — made that decision a couple of weeks ago when it became clear that the crossroads between gas prices, my lack of paycheck for the summer, and the high cost of the kitchen remodel were not going to meet nicely but rather collide horrifically.  So, we’re in a bit of a slump.  No big vacation.  The kids’ swimming lessons were extended — and Ruth is taking diving lessons rather than continuing on with her basic swimming lessons.  Ruth is going to get a trip up to June Lake in early August.  We extended our camping trip that we are going to do to add on a family leg at Sequoia National Park.

In some ways I’m glad.  I have gotten very, very few of the things on my list done this summer.  Very little writing.  Very little classroom organizing.  And, a lot (although nowhere near enough) household organizing.

So, we’re in the doldrums a bit.  I know, I know.  Life is soooooo hard when the weather is perfect, you aren’t working, you and your loved ones are healthy.  Poor, poor, pitiful me.

Still.  Mid-July is a bit blah!  For Ruby too.  She’s not seeing nearly the squirrel incursions that she did last summer.  Poor dear is a victim of her own success.

An Award

20 Jul

Thank you so much to Crafty Green Poet for giving me this award.  Juliet lives in Edinburgh and writes marvelous poetry.  She cares deeply about the environment and that shows in her poetry.  She also publishes the online poetry journal, Bolts of Silk.  I find her work to be inspiring.

For my nominees, I chose blogs that I read regularly even though I don’t comment on all of them.  They add a richness to my life and inspire me to reach beyond my comfort zone to consider the small wild flowers, to look for beauty, to write as well as I possibly can, to open my eyes and experience the amazing opportunities offered by life on this gorgeous planet.

My nominees are:

  1. A Mark On My Wall — Vicki shares her life, her thoughts, and the animals at the zoo.  She makes me think . . . a lot!
  2. Gardenpath — Sandy has the most amazing vision of the world of wildflowers and dragonflies and poetry.
  3. The Marvelous in Nature — Seabrooke shares the natural world around her — even when it is flamingos.
  4. Somewhere in NJ — Laura also makes me think a lot.  She takes the most amazing photographs.  Her musings on the world are wonderful.  And, she has rabbits.  And a goofy lab.
  5. The House & other Arctic musings — Clare shows his readers the world — large and small in the Arctic.  I am constantly amazed by his writing.
  6. Birdchick –Sharon fuels my love of birds and my secret, voyeuristic love of bees.
  7. Julie Zickefoose — Julie seems to live a magical life full of birds, art, music, familial love, and a wonderful Boston Terrier.  Her writing is also inspirational to me.
  8. New Dharma Bums — Robin Andrea and Roger are like a conscience for the world — they don’t post everyday but their thoughts are always meaningful.

I at once love and hate blog awards like this.  It feels so good that someone selected your blog out of all the ones they read to give a big gold star to and yet when you are “passed over”, it feels a bit deflating.  And, then if you are chosen, you have an obligation to pass it along which at times can seem overwhelming and take all the fun out of it.  I want everyone to know that I don’t want to pass along any of those feelings of sadness, guilt, or burden.  Please know that I read more than 40 blogs a day in several different categories.  I am really picky and cull my list of blogs regularly if I ‘m not getting benefit from them.  I read some blogs with millions of readers and some where I may be the only reader!  🙂  I benefit from every blog I read and consider you all to be inspirational.  Furthermore, I will not be offended if you are either unimpressed with the whole weblog award thing or simply don’t have the time or energy to respond with your own list of amazing blogs.  Honest.  Blogging without Guilt!  It’s a good thing!

The Rules:

Please take this as the honor it is and pass it on to some of the sites you enjoy. The rules of accepting are as follows:
1) Put the logo on your blog.
2) Add a link to the person who awarded you.
3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4) Add links to those blogs on yours.
5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs.