Wednesday, June 29, 2011


On thursday morning, I plucked cherries from the tree we share with the neighbors. The birds seem to be lazy this year because there were hundreds of large, sweet, purple-red berries left on the branches.

Usually the birds strip the tree bare the second the cherries ripen. I managed to pick three cups of fresh berries...

...exactly enough to make a Gluten Free cheery and pecan cobbler.

We were preparing for our Graduation Celebration on Saturday, June 25th, and were expecting close to 30 friends and family members to join us for champagne and bbq pork shoulder. Thursday night Rick marinated the pork and then early Fri morning started smoking it in cherry wood chips on the bbq. It took 9 hours, and then we had to finish it in the oven, letting it roast until 11:00 at night. By then, I was sick of the smell of smoked meat and wondered why the hell we didn't just have hamburgers! 

I'm glad we didn't, because the pork was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. People literally moaned with delight while eating their pulled pork sandwiches dripping with bbq sauce and coleslaw, North Carolina style. And the cobbler? SWOON. It was the absolute best thing I have ever baked. I found the recipe on the blog Gluten Free for Good. I don't know if it was the fresh cherries or the pecan crumble top that made it so good, but the other thing that makes this recipe great is how easy it is. Go ahead, give it a try.

The weather was perfect and my friends crowded onto my recently cleaned deck, chatting, laughing, drinking champagne and eating. My friends have very diverse backgrounds: politically, spiritually and economically. Everyone from Tea Partiers to Socialists. I like spending time with different types of people, hearing different viewpoints and debating the merits of the Obama economic plan. But what my friends have in common is intelligence and the ability to have a good conversation. Strangers talked with each other like long lost friends and we didn't have to resort to party games to keep the mood high. 

Even Queen Teen came outside and joined in the talk. A friend of mine knows ASL and he sat beside her and started signing. She sat up straight and watched him with wide eyes and then signed back. They chatted like that for several minutes. I've never seen her more engaged when someone tries to talk to her. Here was a person speaking her language, OUTSIDE of school, just for fun. What a treat! I could see in her smile how thrilling it was for her to have a conversation with someone that wasn't tied to classwork, how wonderful to be a part of the party instead of just a silent observer. Obviously, I need to provide more opportunity for her to chat with ASL users outside of school. 

She was also ecstatic because there were four other girls at the party, one in particular who hung out with her in her room and played. Later, I popped in The Frog Princess and all the girls watched it together while eating strawberries and tortilla chips. Queen Teen grinned with delight to have so many kids watching a movie with her. 

So many good friends at my party, new and old. Three friends I have known since high school, and one of those drove all the way from Fresno with her family. My brother and his wife were there, and my mom got over her nervousness to drive to Ukiah from her home in Lake County. Laura, my master teacher and soon-to-be-coleague came bearing a gift: the map and key to the MCOE car. "I need the key back, though," she said with a laugh. 

Later that night, when the last of our friends had left and the food had been put away (and I'd scraped the last of the Gluten Free cobbler off the bottom of the pan. Oh my god, it's good!), Rick and I finished an open bottle of wine in our back yard and stared at the starry sky. The night was still warm. Crickets chirped loudly and the night blooming jasmine filled the air with sweetness. Contentment filled me for the first time in ages.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Time and Injury

Several weeks have flown by and now the sun is beating down on my back yard, a hot 102 degrees. What happened to June?

Remember my post about how being a mom is like living the Theory of Relativity? I seem to have proved the point.

Throw in an injury, and my blogging time dissipated like the clouds that used to block this blistering air.

this is gonna slow me down
And now I have the problem of deciding what to write about, because so much has happened since June 3. First of all, I got a job, starting in August, which is mighty exciting but also scary. Queen Teen finished her freshman year of high school and is now charming the socks off a fresh batch of boys in Summer school (that better be all she charms off). My newest nephew was baptized at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and my oldest nephew graduated high school. And then June 19th was my wedding anniversary (12 years). There have been two meetings discussing what to do about Queen Teen's increasing anxiety problem, and then we missed two doctor's appointments at Stanford because she had a melt-down about her hearing aids.

But mostly, I've been battling post-graduation depression. Not fun.

I reached the point where even reading my email created so much anxiety I had to keep my laptop closed or break out in hives (gee, I wonder where Queen Teen get's her anxiety disorder?). Writing with an injury was too painful, and reading other people's work required too much concentration. Everything was exhausting. The things I used to love, like working on my play or playing "The Sims", became chores. Nothing made me happy, and I felt like I was going crazy. I just wanted to eat sugar and watch "Roseanne" reruns all day.

My best friend told me that she also suffered from depression and anxiety when she finished grad-school. It sounds like a lot of people do. Why haven't I heard of this before? Seems like something they should tell you in school.

"Now class, you'll probably experience a severe bout of depression about two weeks after you finish school. This is normal and temporary. Even people who have never experienced depression will suffer with overwhelming feelings of exhaustion, futility, and hopelessness. You're not crazy, you're just going through withdrawals from the constant stress you were under for the past three years."

Hearing that just before I took my last final might have helped.

I'm slowly feeling better, but it's a struggle. Solitude seems to help, so does working in my back yard. I can check my email now, but I still have trouble with the volume of information on Facebook. And I've started running again, just short jogs, which helps with the anxiety.  I visualize all the strain and worry piled up like a "Transformer" behind me and then I start outrunning it. I'm actually thinking about trying a marathon next year.

There are times I wonder why I went to grad school. Why did I do this to myself? How did I manage to go to school and take care of Queen Teen's needs at the same time? What was I trying to prove? Soon I'll be working, and even though it's part-time, I have no idea how I'll manage. Will I manage?

Of course I will.; I always do. Today, I need to rest my mind, talk things out with my councilor, and give my hand time to heal. By August, I should have my balance back.

Friday, June 3, 2011

When it won't stop raining, make your own sun

...and then tape it to your ceiling.

(The sun is on 3' x 3' butcher paper, created by Queen Teen and her mom, and now hangs proudly on the kitchen ceiling. It's a good thing to dance under)